I Drove a Tesla

I normally write about developer related subjects on my blog but today I’m deviating from that slightly. When my mum and brother visited Austin last week my brother decided to rent a larger car for a day trip, but not just any car, a Tesla Model X 90D. For those unfamiliar with Tesla it’s a company owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk. Their cars are completely electric, packed full of technology, and can even drive themselves. Needless to say I was pretty excited to get behind the wheel.

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AMP Validator Slack Bot ⚡

Since Alaska Dispatch News’ launch of Google AMP we’ve run into one issue that keeps popping up: journalists. AMP is quite restrictive, and sometimes human error can cause a document to become invalid. Two of our biggest examples of this come from malformed URL’s, and content pasted from another source due to additional attributes that AMP doesn’t like. While we’ve put in a number of restrictions that curb how their content is filtered through to the AMP site there’s only so much we can do until human intervention is required to solve the issue. But how do you know there’s an issue? Google Webmaster tools reports on AMP errors whenever it crawls the site, but that is not instant and not everyone has access to it, and by the time you’re aware you might have already missed the traffic spike which it may have produced. In order to make sure that all of our articles are reaching their full potential we decided to create a Slack bot using Python.

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Google AMPConf 2017 ⚡

I was in New York City on March 7th and 8th attending Google’s AMPConf on behalf of Alaska Dispatch News. It was two full days of talks and I’m now full of ideas on how to improve our mobile experience. In a previous post of mine I discussed that we were working on our AMP site, as of February 7th it launched and we’ve seen some great results, these are something I hope to share later once we’ve gathered more data.

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Making the Switch to HTTPS

HTTPS (HTTP Secure) has been around for a while, however it’s becoming increasingly important to implement it. Not only does it provide enhanced security, but it’s becoming more common for browsers to prevent access to useful API’s without it. For example without a valid certificate Chrome will block access to the Geolocation and Service Worker API. In addition certain search engines are also starting to favor sites using HTTPS in their site rankings.

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I Choose You Polymer

Lately I’ve been working on a web application using API data from one of my favourite websites, Untappd. Even though the API is not available to everyone, I wanted to create a way which allows others with a key to reuse components of my application. After doing some research I came to the decision to use an open-source Javascript library by Google called Polymer. It’s specifically designed for building web applications, and offers a number of pre-built components. The cherry on top is that Polymer works really well with service workers, another API I’ve been excited to try.

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Purging CSS

Something I’ve been working on lately has been reducing the CSS footprint of the Alaska Dispatch site. During the mad rush to launch it had become bloated and was failing to meet best practices. There were specificity issues, a rampant use of !important tags and the file size was getting too large.

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Alaska Dispatch News 2.0

After almost a year in development the site I’ve been working on for Alaska Dispatch News has been released. The website was developed on top of the Washington Posts Arc Publishing tools, and was even featured on their site. In this post I want to give a breif overview of how the website gets its content, and how the newsroom staff at Alaska Dispatch can utilize the tools to modify the entire site on a day-to-day basis with almost no developer involvement.

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