Another Cover, Another Controversy

If you’ve been following comic book news lately, you’ll likely have heard about the controversy surrounding a cover for the newest run of Iron Man, starring Riri Williams, an African American teenager, as Ironheart. The cover in question, drawn by J. Scott Campbell, drew criticism for having Riri in revealing clothing, drawn in a stereotypical “black sassy” fashion and for having very light skin among myriad other reasons that people dug up. This is just my two cents on the issue.

First, it was a variant cover. Many of the people upset by this cover have no idea what that means because they don’t read comics. Variants are alternate covers for a particular issue, with the internal pages left untouched. They are almost always rarer than the standard cover for a comic book and usually sell for a higher price at stores. Furthermore, the average comic book reader does not usually buy them and in some cases see them as the store could have them stocked in a separate location. I buy variants if they are done artists that I like, but usually opt for a regular cover because they are cheaper. That said, 80 to 90 percent of the people that had the intention of buying this issue, probably would not have even seen it and if they did, it would have been among many, many other variant covers to be noticed. This cover was for enthusiasts, not the average consumer.

The other issue is that offended parties wanted the cover removed because they don’t want people to see it. Unfortunately making a mountain out of a mole hill like this had the exact opposite effect. This cover probably received 10 times the exposure just because of the controversy. Everyone has seen it now and people want it more than ever because they know it was pulled (including myself!). The value of this issue has probably skyrocketed considered it already was a rare variant that is now in scarcer supply.

All this just to appease people that don’t even read comics. The same thing happened not too long ago with Rafael Albuquerque’s cover of Batgirl #41. Again, we had a variant out commemorating the Joker’s 75th anniversary, which depicted the Joker standing next to a scared Batgirl, an homage to the pivotal graphic novel “Batman: The Killing Joke.” It is by far one of my favorite comics, but incredibly dark. Again people were offended by the cover and I’m willing to bet none of them read The Killing Joke.

The comics industry needs to grow a backbone and respect the opinion of people who actually buy their products, not people looking for any reason to be offended.

A Message to All Internet Users

Recently at work, we launched a new product that allows users to view PDF documents in their browsers without having a dedicated software like Adobe reader installed, using the PDFjs library from Mozilla. Aside from being a convenience for users, the software allowed us to do things like track user activity to see how popular documents were. No doubt, the library is amazing, but it requires some of the latest web technologies, such as web workers, to function. This is trivial in modern browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox. Heck, it even probably works in Opera. But of course with any web development project, the worst part of it all is working with Internet Explorer. Unlike FF and Chrome, which update seamlessly in the background, IE users are stuck with whatever major version they have unless they upgrade it themselves or realize there are better browsers out there.

Here is the issue for me. The web is an amazing place, so different from the screeching dial up modems of the 90’s. There are sites that help you reconnect with old friends, fund raise for a family member’s medical procedure and even watch High Definition videos of cats playing with laser pointers. None of this — including the cats — would be possible if browsers didn’t update and support the latest features. However, IE continues to lag behind it’s more successful rivals. And because of the lack of support for some parts of say, HTML5, developers are forced to waste spend time trying to get their applications to work on these old browsers with esoteric hacks and ugly directives.

If you’re any sane person using the internet, you want the latest features on the websites you visit. As developers we want to give them to you. Really, we do. It’s our job. But you’ve got to help us help you. Stop using outdated browsers like IE9 and IE10. Using something that actually follows standards allows us to spend more of our time making cool apps and less time frustrated over getting basic features and styling to work in Internet Explorer. Heck, use Edge if you want to, just use something that didn’t come out half a decade ago.

This is particularly a problem for large corporations that force their employees to use outdated software in the name of “security.” News flash: The latest version of software is often the most secure because it patches up the holes that exist in the earlier versions. Making employees use IE9 for example isn’t making anyone safer — quite the opposite. You’re putting your business, data and customers at risk by trusting obsolete software. Newer browsers mean faster browsing speeds, more security and the latest features. If you wouldn’t use a typewriter to send correspondence to your customers, why would you use a slow, buggy browser to access your products?

Please. For our mutual benefit, upgrade to a modern browser.

Thank you.

Using jQuery’s jscroll Plugin

Recently I was looking around for a quick way to implement infinite scrolling and found the jscroll plugin for jquery.

The problem was that all the examples online were broken and they all seemed to copy and paste from each other which made it difficult to figure out what worked. Finally I got something working and just wanted to post the options that I was using for anyone else that needs help with it.

The HTML

The JavaScript

Backend API

Depending on your framework, create an endpoint that returns a response containing your content and a link to the next item to load (a link element) at the end. It is important that this response contains the HTML necessary for the item you are rendering and is not just a JSON response.

Freelance Photographer

This was from a conversation between two classmates years ago when I was in high school. Thinking about it today still makes me laugh and I wonder if either of them might one day stumble upon this and remember, too. (Names changed for privacy.)


 

Alan: What does you mom do?

Judy: My mom is a freelance photographer.

Alan: What does that mean? Free of job?

Judy: No! It means she works whenever she wants to.

Alan: . . . Yeah. Free of job.

My Top 5 Mistakes in Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo

While I love using Ubuntu, I’ve made my share of (sometimes disastrous) mistakes while using it and wanted to share them so no one else falls down the same dark paths that I have walked.

5. Not using the Long Term Support (LTS) Versions

Each version of Ubuntu just keeps getting better and better, but sometimes upgrading to the latest version isn’t the best choice. If you don’t have a lot of patience (or a slow internet connection) this could be problematic as an upgrade could take several contiguous hours, which not everyone can spare. Then of course there are the problems upgrading from one version to another, such as certain programs not working correctly or packages being corrupted, etc. Avoid it all by just sticking to the LTS versions. You’re not missing anything important by playing it safe; rather, you’re saving yourself hours of headache because you’ll only need to update every 5 years instead of every 6 months.

4. Using the command line for something that could have been done through the GUI easily

Learning how to use the command line is important, but if you know your stuff already it’s better to just take the GUI route when you can. Why? The GUI is usually robust enough to avoid making the mistakes you’d make if you were allowed free access to the guts of your Linux distro. The Software Center already knows everything that is has to do, so there is no guess work and no need to cross your fingers. A single mis-typed character on the command line could send your entire computer into utter chaos and you’d never know why.

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