Well, a new year has started, and it’s tradition to give an overview of where you’re standing. So here’s mine.
As longtime readers may remember, I was totally burned out at the end of both 2007 and 2008. I’m happy to report that that trend has been broken; although I was glad to have a little holiday at the end of 2009, I returned to work without noticeable problems. So that’s good.
However, I have decided that certain aspects of my professional life are in need of a change; notably my public speaking and my compatibility tables.
Basically I’m going off the conference track for a while in order to spend more time with my mobile phones.
I will honour agreements made beforehand, which means I’ll speak at the following occasions:
After that, though, I will be very reticent in accepting new speaking gigs. The problem is not the speaking itself or hanging around at conferences with interesting people and beers, but the travel.
I have to travel to Düsseldorf at least once per month, and that’s OK because it’s always interesting and I’m also paid for this effort. Besides, I can do it by train.
Conference travel usually involves flying, though, and the latest round of air-travel-related hysterics starts to grate on my nerves. Once more we see an addition of pointless security measures that won’t make us much safer but will annoy the hell out of everybody in addition to cheerfully violating every single aspect of our privacy.
I object to the whole scare stuff; this is exactly what the bad guys want, and right now authorities around the world are being, well, authoritative and authoritarian in order to reinforce the terrorists’ message. Stupid idiots.
I especially object to the requirement to put bananas in my ears for the entire duration of the flight in order to scare away the terrorists.
So I’ve decided not to come to SxSW this year. It will be hard on me once the happy tweets start to come in, but flying to the US is becoming less and less attractive, as is the formal content of SxSW. (The parties will be great, I trust.) I have no further US travel planned this year, and as far as I’m concerned I will not plan any, either.
In addition, conference speaking involves a significant investment of time, and I find myself less and less willing to do that, mostly because it leaves me too little time to do the fundamental mobile research I’m paid to do and want to do. Besides, I have an awful lot of writing to do about the mobile space, and that, too, is something that’s suffering from my being on the road so often.
Theoretically this loss of speaking gigs could be offset by invitations for mobile conferences, but it turns out that the mobile world has a strong cultural bias against paying flight and hotel for speakers.
So I’ll have significantly less conferences this year than the past few years. Actually I’m looking forward to that.
The second change is my view of my compatibility tables.
A year ago I already noticed that I became less and less interested in measuring the desktop browsers’ compatibility. Everybody just supports all the standards, even IE, and in my last round of desktop testing I did not encounter even one juicy new bug. Great for web development, boring for me.
I’ve been into the mobile Web for eleven months now, and there’s little chance I’ll ever return to the “fixed web” and its fast-decreasing problems. That will have consequences for the tables.
However, now that I’ve worked on the mobile browsers for a while it’s becoming increasingly apparent that I’ve been testing for the wrong stuff.
What I’m doing in the tables is atomic feature testing. Does browser X support the
+ selector, or
querySelectorAll, or whatever? It turns out that this is the wrong question for mobile.
So I’ve started to change my focus. For the past two months I’ve been doing fundamental research into several areas:
@media all and (max-width: 400px), exactly which element is measured to see if it’s smaller than 400px? The answer turns out to be so complicated that I have to redo all my tests to make sure I’m right. It seems I found at least three different models.
These examples show that my mobile research will have to move beyond the relatively simple tests I’ve been doing on the desktop for so long.
In turn, that means that I have to change my compatibility tables somehow. I’m not yet sure how I’m going to change them and whether I will give up desktop research entirely.
I will continue to host the old ones even if I decide not to update them any more, so you can still come here to find answers to the more basic compatibility questions. But expect some changes to the tables.
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