Nerd Alert: Issue Four



What we're reading this week

  Adam: As a distributed team we’re always on the lookout for tips to up our remote working game (Kaeti wrote up some of our tips a couple weeks ago). I’m not an extrovert but I still found this post by Automattic’s Steph Yiu on working remotely for extroverts to have a lot of great advice. As an added bonus, the post Steph links to at the end is another great read.

 Ben: Google offers web developers many tools to help figure out what’s making your page slow. Probably the most useful is PageSpeed Insights, which tells you how well your pages perform on desktop and mobile browsers.

  Kaeti: Designers and developers joke a lot about terrible client feedback (“make it pop,” anyone?). But if you’re getting vague, frustrating feedback it’s probably your fault. We can do a lot more as web professionals to teach people how to ask good questions and frame criticism in a way that’s productive for everyone involved in a project. This feedback framework is helpful both for clients and the folks building things.

  Meredith: Searching for navigation examples led me to this award winner,Trendviz. To visually explore their tool for news analysis, select a company (mostly pharmaceuticals) and navigate through their data — sorting by articles, topics, sources, relevance and tone of voice. They also published a white paper [pdf] about Big Data and its value (with a tool like theirs).

  Ryan: David Clark describes the importance of having a code style guide and how to incorporate automated style guide enforcement into your workflow with SCSS and SCSS-Lint. Clark breaks down each component part of SCSS, explaining his guidelines for each, some being well-established best practices and some being personal preference. He also includes a SCSS-Lint configuration file that will enable you to enforce his rules automatically.

  Will: A new year, a new GitHub streak. While the 365 day GitHub challenge might be overkill, there’s some good lessons to be learned from Brandon Amos who hit one straight year of contributions this week.

  Bert: We robots are nothing if not practical. (Psst, update your Git clients.)

This week's guest contributor: Abe Handler, software developer and data journalist with The Lens

Last week, I read a summary of the recently-released CIA report on torture in the Washington Post. The content of that report was of course unsettling — but the way the findings were presented really caught my attention. The Washington Post showed readers highlights from the document, and then made it easy to jump to the original quotes in context if readers wanted more details. A friend on Twitter told me that this document was an example of "stretchtext" — coined in 1967 by the same guy who came up with "hypertext." I'm thinking about how to bring more strechtext to my newsroom in the months ahead.

Each week we ask someone from outside our team to contribute a link, tool or idea. Are you our next guest star? We think you might be. Send us a note at


Work we admire by our journalism peers

From the digital team at The Times, Doctop.js allows you access to a Google Doc in the same easy way that Tabletop.js lets you use Google Sheets. Quite useful indeed.


Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Lose a couple hours with this beautiful animated sound kit. (There are some flashing images, so take heed if you're sensitive to such things.)

COOK: The science of pie crusts.

GIF: This is our last newsletter of the year. See you never, 2014.