Sound is an underestimated medium in user experience. Think about it; your facebook tab is open and you are in the next room. Someone gives you a message and a sound plays signifying the message.

Now that’s sound user experience.

Where can I use it?

Most notable applications are webapps. You hear a delicious sounding click when you refresh tabs in summly. Tlk.io uses it to notify you of new messages.

The applications are everywhere but don’t go overboard. Place an option to decrease or better, mute the sound. Also, play quality notification sounds, not something like ringtones or such crap.

On the web, there are some interesting apis like the audio api and the new notifications api which can help you.

Some recommended uses.

Who says you can only use sounds in apps?
In battlefield 3, the game starts minimized because loading takes time. Till then you are free to browse. When the game loads, it automatically maximizes.

The developers could add a sound because you may have gone for a pee break or have to attend a phone call.

Even in dota 2, the game could detect if it is minimized and play a sound if the match starts telling the player to maximize the game.

Anyways, sound is an unexplored territory in user experience, especially on the web. It is interesting what the developers make of it now that we have powerful apis to play with.

My mom thinks hacking is illegal; you could go to jail for that.
My friends think hacking means hacking facebook or google (or any other social networking site)
And the world thinks hackers hack bank accounts, credit card systems, etc.

So is it just me who thinks hacking is something elegant like poetry?

My turn now

The first time I was enlightened by hacking was by reading the book hackers, heroes of the computer revolution

Then I read about Richard stallman and Edsger djistra.

Then as I learned about neural networks, digital art and design patterns, I saw that there was an entire generation of people who regarded hacking as something holy, something which is done together and alone, something just …. aarrggg, I can’t put it into words; it is overflowing me.

And then, in the real life, there are all these people who are misunderstanding hacking. Hacking is a skillset, something acquired over time when passion and hard work mix.

And the …

hackers are passionate people who care deeply about what they do. Its just that some people use their talents for causing destruction. Such people are known black hat hackers or simply, assholes.

Then we have a bunch of people who actively try to find out who the bad guys are using their skills. They are known as white hat hackers. I have seen young hackers getting recruited by the police for their IT and cyber crime department.

And then we have people like you and me, people who hack away just for the sake of it. Right now, I am coding a webapp with nirvana blasting in the background, oblivious to what is happening around me.

Ah.

Short answer :
No

But the fact that people are using different domain name extensions for branding tells a lot about where the current trend is going.

Example : save.me, call.me, meet.me, tlk.io, grove.io, etc.

But why are people taking such steps?
It seems that domain name squatters are the problem here.

Oh why me?

Last year, I was going to buy a domain. I had already checked out its availability and made a logo out of the name. Soon afterwards, when I went to purchase the domain, I found out that some squatter had already got the domain. The time period between me finding the domain and seeing it purchased was about one month.
And it redirected to godaddy.com (assholes)

What lesson did I learn?
Well, first of all, purchase the domain first. Second, go for something other than .com.
Why?

Because most of the good domains are already in the hands of the squatters. I fear all keyboard permutations upto three digits are already taken and all dictionary words upto at least four characters are taken as well.

And because all the good domain names are taken, good domain names combined with domain name extensions make up for good branding.
The only problem is that google doesn’t give other domain extensions the same level of importance it gives to .com

Closing thoughts

The problem of domain name squatters is already is a real one . ICANN, the body behind domain name extensions proposes releasing more extensions which will only elevate the problem.
It seems that only by taking some strict actions against the hoarders will solve this problem. Until then, other domain extensions like .io, .er, .me, etc seem like good choice.

.io seems like a good extension. I have seen it in a lot of webapps and it does look cool. Now all we need is a .js extension :P

Edit : it seems there are some people who don’t know what grief domain hoarding causes.

I am an avid reader of webcomics. I have been reading some of these since the last three years. Here is a list of them:

  • Smbc

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    This is probably the best comic ever made. You will love this if you have an appetite for geeky humor.

  • XKCD

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    One of the most popular webcomics, xkcd has been running strong for years. Also, check out the what if section.

  • Cyanide and happiness

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    This one is pretty nsfw. Just remember to put your brains aside and you will be fine. Also, check out the shorts section, they are pretty rad, especially, sad larry.

  • Ctrl + alt + del (CAD)

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    I used to read this one before. Cad follows the story of a young geek who plays video games and during the 6+ years of its existence, opens up his own video game shop, marries his girlfriend and makes a robot out of his xbox.

That’s all folks! Tell me if you read any interesting webcomics or make your own.

As a web developer, perfection can mean many things. Is the code perfectly valid or semantically correct?
Is any link broken. Or does this sidebar break in ie6 ?

After a long coding session, my stomach started growling

I decided to get some biting so I headed outside I went to my local food stall to get some pulav

Now I know this pulav guy for more than 10 years. He makes fantastic pulav and bhajipav. Refined by years of making the same stuff, he adds only the required ingredients and makes near perfect pulav.

Then it suddenly hit me. The pulav wasn’t perfect, it was perfect for me.

Conclusions

So does making perfectly valid sites indicate perfection. Perfection is based on perception which is different for everyone. Design a site and refine it until ‘you’ find it perfect.

I was quite unsatisfied with my tumblr theme so I started to make one from scratch. This is how it went.

Early on, I found out that making a theme for quite easy. It had a moustache like syntax for adding template blocks in your html. I also discovered that tumblr had some pretty rough limitations on how you can make themes.

For instance, I cannot upload static assets on tumblr. Heck, there is no ftp facility.

But at the same time, tumblr themes are lean and powerful. Consisting of only one html page, you can make a lot of stuff if you want to.

Stumbling along

First, I mapped out the limitations of my theme. Assets would be stored on dropbox, Fonts will be delivered via google webfonts and only the html will be copied over on tumblr.

Then I started designing. I realised there was a reason why dev blogs on tumblr are so minimalistic. So I started designing on the principles of less-is-more.

shash7 site preview

Preview of an initial prototype.

Fast forward to some days later when I grew frustrated by my design. The initial site was a single column page but it just didn’t fit in my head.

I threw everything away and started again. But there were a lot of problems in designing the grid and the right typographic combination. Finally I settled on using montserrat as a heading font and the evergreen georgia as the body font.

Finally

I started making some headway. I figured out the content is the king then why shouldn’t it come in the center (Because originally the layout was one column). Unlike traditional sites, the header is on the left and the sidebar is on the right. This gives the content lots of breathing space and looks fabulous, especially on tablets.

Then I started implementing the baseline. Boy was this tough. This was the first time I had paid such attention to typography. But it payed off in the end. Everything started making sense.

As for responsive web design, the columns were simply given a width of 90% on less than 768px viewports.

Conclusion

Did it work?

Absolutely. This is the first time I have implemented baseline strictly in my design. Also, the layout is paying off as the UX is really great and navigating the site is a breeze.

Now onto making some blog posts …

Ever wondered what is common between coding, composing music and painting?
You need a highly refined skillset to work in one of these fields.

Except programming that is. Nowadays, engineering colleges are churning out engineers. Problem is; these engineers don’t have an ounce of passion for their craft.

And that is where the problem comes. To excel in one of these fields, you need to be passionate. Which only 0.2 percent of engineers from these so called reputed colleges come.

But this is not what I want to talk about. Coding is like composing music or writing poetry. Sometimes it can be elegant and sometimes it can be infuriating.

But when you make a software, you are leaving you mark on this world although in a very small way.

Think about it. If you are an engineering student, you won’t have created anything new; just some spec work made on top of other people’s work.

But when you actually create something and see other people use it, the experience can be exhilarating. Its like giving life to something.

And that’s why whenever I start coding in javascript, I always start out with var App = {};

Recently, I have been reading a lot of paul graham’s essays. His articles make opening a startup a breeze.

What bothers me is that the majority of the people don’t live in a silicon valley type of environment. Also, they can’t afford to go there either as they have other commitments like school, college, jobs, etc.

The fact is, we need more firms like Y combinator in every city. Also, political support is needed for startups to grow and take root.

Then, in a few years we can probably expect startups like airbnb, loopt, etc to grow organically and attract other startups, VCs, angel investors, etc.