James Mead by James Mead

Monday Links - 226

How we used email as a customer support system at mySociety

Initially we used an email address as the support mechanism for Harmonia, but after a while we decided to use Intercom. I found it interesting to read how mySociety used email filters and human discipline to tackle some of the same problems that Intercom and other similar products solve. This also plays into our internal discussion about using Google Groups as a Collaborative Inbox to handle incoming company email. JM

A Woman’s Place

I enjoyed reading this story about a company, “F International”, which in the 1960s recognized the potential of mothers with young children to be remote freelance programmers. It’s rather sad that the company gradually lost it’s original very healthy culture as it grew, but as far as I can see this tends to be the almost inevitable outcome of rapid growth. And as the author notes, “it seems remarkable that the same industry is still fumbling with the issue of gender equality”. JM

Functional Programming Principles in Scala

With our current work on FutureLearn, I’ve been keeping an eye out for interesting MOOCs. A former colleague, Ivan Moore, and a recent acquaintance, Rob Chatley, have both been working their way through Martin Odersky’s Coursera MOOC. Given their positive comments and the fact that Martin designed the Scala programming language, it sounds like a very worthwhile challenge. JM

Contextinator – dividing your browsing into projects

This might be useful for anyone who has a million tabs open, but my main reason for including it is that it reminds me a little of one of the goals I recall Chris talking about with respect to roosmarks. Roughly put, it was about managing research, and returning to sites/pages with the context of that research (and any conclusions you came to) available. Perhaps he’ll try it out and get some more ideas? (Also, it’s a Google Chrome extension, and he loves those1) JA

Heyli.st for Scottish Ruby Conference

Built and maintained by Heylist, a service we wrote and I recently “relaunched”. I felt it really shone on Saturday night, as people were arriving in Edinburgh or Crieff and trying to coordinate meeting for drinks using twitter, but without any hashtag. It’s just a shame that Twitter Lists are so unloved by twitter clients. JA

CSS Architecture

This is long but I found it an interesting insight into the motivation behind some of the CSS approaches we’re seeing these days, particularly with things like bootstrap gaining popularity. I definitely have some reservations to this approach, but don’t have enough experience to suggest any alternatives. One particular thing that I’m uncomfortable with in this post is the assertion that you should use “classes for styling and styling only”. I tend to use classes to add meaning to the page to make it more easily machine readable (trying to scrape websites that don’t do this can be a real pain), irrespective of whether those classes are then used for styling. CR

  1. Chris, let us know if our characterisation of your love for all things Google ever becomes annoying…

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