Monthly Archives: November 2011

One Click PhoneGap Build to Android Device Script

I’ve been fooling around with PhoneGap Build, and I really love it. I love that I don’t need to fire up Eclipse or XCode to start fooling around with an app. All I need is a text editor and a browser. What I especially love is the ability to integrate a github repository to the whole process. It makes following proper development practice, while living in the cloud, very easy.

But I’ve been spoiled for the last year or so. Being able to immediately preview on a connected device has ruined me for the command line, multi-step, manual crap. So at least on Android I’ve fixed it for myself by building a nice shell script that takes advantage of PhoneGap Build’s Web APIs to create a one-step build.

What’s involved:

  • Commit all uncommitted files to git repository
  • Push git repository to github
  • Tell PhoneGap Build to poll github for changes
  • Poll PhoneGap Build until Android apps have been rebuilt
  • Download App
  • Use ADB to install onto attached device.

So I wrote a little shell script to do it all for me. I hope it helps someone else who is struggling with the same workflow issue. The script is below.

The Fetishism of Douchebaggery

In the wake of Steve Job’s passing there have been a number of takes on his character and impact. One of the common themes that have permeated a lot of reactions in the blogosphere and twitter is Job’s tendency to be a douche. Most people have been negative on this, but a recent article, The Jerk on TechCrunch by MG Siegler has gone the other way, stating:

the tech world could probably use more jerks.

I couldn’t disagree with this statement more, although I agree of much of what Siegler is saying in article. How is that? That sentence is the sound bite distillation of a bigger point: we need more and better criticism in the tech world. That is totally true and not contested; however, I contend you don’t have to be a douche about it.

Why not? Siegler argues that Job’s and in his case Arrington’s abrasiveness had a positive impact. Mostly because in both of these cases, they deal with someone in power being douchy to someone with less power. People have to listen to their superiors, even if they don’t like it.

Most of us in the business of driving technical change are advocating to equals or superiors. When people aren’t compelled to listen to your douchiness, they don’t. Poor delivery in these cases will almost completely ensure that no one will listen to you, no matter how right you are.

Additionally, it presumes that somehow Steve Jobs could be Steve Jobs, give respectful criticism, and people would have not listened. Granted, perhaps being Steven Jobs had to include that abrasiveness and so is unavoidable. But I think once he made it, once he was the great and almighty Steve Jobs, he didn’t need to use it as a tool anymore. Yet reports state he still did. I’d believe that his abrasiveness was a slight obstacle to his success that in his case was outmatched by the rest of his considerable positives. Steve Jobs had a huge impact on the world, far and beyond what most people accomplish. In this sense he was a “Great Man” in the classic definition of it. However that does not mean that everything about him was great, or an advantage. Grownups can admire people and yet still acknowledge flaws in them.

But in any case, I’m not informed enough to know if douchiness worked for or against Steve Jobs with any authority. However I’m firmly convinced that it won’t work for the rest of us.


Semantic HTML has Other Benefits

Just got done reading Our Pointless Pursuit Of Semantic Value at Smashing Magazine today. It’s a good read, and clearly spells out a true point: There is not a lot of value in wrestling over how semantic your code is for semantic’s sake. I totally agree with this. While SEO and accessibility are often cited as reasons to pursue semantics, quite frankly, there is a lot of thought that semantics don’t help as much as people think (examples of which the author notes.)
Does that mean that semantics are worthless, and you should just use a div and a span for everything? No, and I don’t think that’s what the author is saying.
Semantics means different things to different people, but I’ve always looked at it as the process by which I identify things in the markup. This identification is important because it’s what I use to go back and manipulate things through CSS and JavaScript. In that way the process of making your HTML semantic is a lot like naming variables in more traditional programming.
So I see the new set of semantic options in HTML 5 as more choice, and I welcome it. Why? Because it makes it possible to turn this:

into this:

It’s not a huge differece, and doesn’t change anything about the presentation, but does make it easier to read. So it allows me to write more easily understood and maintainable markup. Now that doesn’t mean I arbitrarily use new tags. I do consider the meaning behind the tags when I use them. But not so much so that I allow myself to get paralyzed by it. Do I care that 
address doesn’t technically mean postal address? Not in the least. Do I care that dl might not be blessed to be used exactly the way I am using it. Nope.

It comes down to this, using Semantic HTML in the hopes of communicating to browsers and accessibility tools might have some diminishing returns. However using Semantic HTML to communicate to other developers can still yield a lot of value.