89 YouTube channels to help improve your coding skills

Need some coding inspo? Check out these YouTube channels curated by Dev&Gear featuring Colt Steele, Chris Coyier, and Ania Kubów.

When I’m invested in a subject, one of the first things I do is scour the Internet for books, tutorials, and YouTube videos about it. They help me learn, gain insights from other people’s experiences and shape mine. So I was super stoked to find this “ultimate list of YouTube channels to boost your web development and programming skills” by Dev&Gear.

I won’t copy the full list of 89 channels (it’s bad blogging etiquette) but I will list some of the channels and people I’m already subscribed to or I’m otherwise familiar with:

What YouTube channels do you follow for web dev knowledge? Let us know in the comments.

How to run a social network for your friends

If you want a safer space on the Internet for you and your friends, Darius Kazemi has written a guide on how to run your own social network site.

Internet artist and coder Darius Kazemi wrote a guide on how to run a small social network site last July and the concept has become more prevalent this year.

The idea for the guide came from Kazemi’s own social network site called Friend Camp which he started in August 2018 for “about 50 of his friends”. Wanting to see more of the same, he wrote a document to give guidance on the setup. The entry level is accessibly low:

If you’re tired of Facebook or Twitter or wherever else and have thought that there’s got to be a better way, this is for you.

If you currently run a social network server for people besides just you, using software Mastodon or Pleroma or whatever else, this is for you.

If you have some programming experience, this is for you.

If you have no programming experience, this is for you.

And how a social network site could solve social problems:

Running a social network site is community building first and a technical task second.

And while community building is hard work, it’s often worth it.

This is my pitch to you: using big social media sites is easy, but you pay a steep price for it. You should consider running your own site, which is harder, but can be extremely rewarding.

If you want something with more control than Discord or Slack, this is a great alternative and involves open-source software. Costs are low too—Kazemi says Friend Camp costs about $30 a month to run and only takes ~2 hours a week to maintain.

Read the guide for more and consider becoming a patron if you can.

The Lenin Museum running on Apple II computers

The Soviet Union is long gone but Apple II computers still reside at the Lenin Museum, fully functioning and keeping the artifacts alive.

20 miles south of Moscow in Gorki Leninskiye lies the Lenin Museum (not to be confused with the Lenin Museum in Tampere, Finland).

Lenin died in the work settlement in 1924 and Gorki was renamed Gorki Leninskiye in his honour. But besides the homage to the former Communist leader, the Lenin Museum is home to a unique oddity: it runs on Apple II computers. That’s a remarkable feat for 2020 but Apple II’s were still a decade old when the museum opened in 1987 (they were discontinued in 1979).

The reason the museum uses Apple II computers at all was due to another technology: The Electrosonic ES4000. This from Atlas Obscura:

The Soviets were well-versed in the construction of impressive buildings, and the museum was designed by Leonid Pavlov, a constructivist architect who had already built several research and computing centers in a similar cuboid fashion. But creating machinery for a smaller-scale visual spectacle turned out to be a challenge. Lights, motors, and reel-to-reel players had to be synced to each other, each following a script to the second.

Fortunately, there was worldwide demand for equipment that could control such devices. In 1981, the British audiovisual company Electrosonic launched the ES4000. It was a set of computer accessories and software that helped technicians program the building blocks of multimedia exhibitions. The system was built into a computer Electrosonic was already using internally—the Apple II. (A 1987 copy of Apple User magazine spotlighted the ES4000.) The choice of an Apple machine simplified the distribution in many parts of the world. By sticking to a popular, off-the-shelf computer, the company could buy Apple computers locally and extend them with the ES4000 hardware later.

All rights reserved © Yuri Litvinenko
All rights reserved © Yuri Litvinenko

After working around a Soviet law that forbade trading directly with foreign companies, Electrosonic kept providing the hardware and the Lenin Museum is still fully functioning. However, according to Boris Vlasov, Deputy Director of Research at Gorki Leninskiye Museum-Reserve, maintenance of the Apple II’s are the responsibility of former staff, “who come out of retirement just to provide upkeep to the machines”.

Supercomputer provides a COVID-19 eureka moment

Oak Ridge National Lab’s Summit supercomputer has come through clutch in the battle to beat COVID-19.

The Summit supercomputer in Tennessee did some major data analysis on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples. Its aim: to help scientists understand COVID-19. After over a week of number crunching, researchers analysed the results and then the breakthrough.

The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of COVID-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms. It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July.

According to the team’s findings, a COVID-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms. But once COVID-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting. According to Jacobson’s group, the data Summit analyzed shows that COVID-19 isn’t content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors. Instead, it actively hijacks the body’s own systems, tricking it into upregulating ACE2 receptors in places where they’re usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs.

But here’s the kicker: researchers suggested vitamin D as a potentially useful drug against the virus as it could “prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN,” and “stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming.”

Can you fit your website on a floppy disk?

1.44MiB isn’t a lot in an era of gigabytes and terabytes but that’s the size of a standard floppy disk. But can you fit your favourite website onto one?

Fit on a Floppy checks the filesize of a website to see if it would fit on a 1.44MiB floppy disk. As part of the process, it checks the following criteria on page load:

But rather than just shaming a site, Fit on a Floppy also offers basic ways to reduce page size including tools and resources. Anyone working in SEO like me will find this quite nifty and interesting to see how the most popular sites fare.

And for the record, LOGiCFACE fits snuggly on a floppy (but there’s always room for improvement).

Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990 – Today by Rob Ford

Bask in the glory days of the World Wide Web with “Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990 – Today” by Rob Ford.

I’ve been heavy on early Web and Internet culture over the last few weeks and this book would be perfect for my studies.

Last year, Taschen published a publication titled Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990 – Today, written by FWA founder Rob Ford and it looks at some of the most innovative websites in the history of the Internet. We take fast, multi-faceted websites for granted now but back in the day, you’d get sites with surround sound, drag-and-drop navigation, and, of course, Flash sites which dominated the web design landscape in the late 90s and early-to-mid 00s.

You can find the book on Amazon (using the affiliate link above) or you can get it from Taschen directly. Also worth reading Rob Ford’s five landmark sites of the last 30 years.

The Version Museum

Relive the days of System 7, Photoshop 1.0, and Windows 95 with the Version Museum.

Ever wanted to see what the biggest websites and apps looked like in the 90s or 00s? You’ve got The Wayback Machine but with Version Museum, you get more than just sites:

Version Museum showcases the visual history of popular websites, operating systems, applications, and games that have shaped our lives. Much like walking through a real-life museum, this site focuses on the design changes of historic versions of technology, rather than just the written history behind it.

Version Museum launched in May 2019 and curated content is added regularly (without looting from nations in colonial wars).

Examples of sites, games, and interfaces include:

The Windows 95 welcome dialog box

If you need a trip down tech memory lane, I urge you to visit Version Museum. What’s more, entry is free and, by visiting, you’re automatically adhering to social distancing (but you should still use hand sanitiser if you don’t have access to soap and water).

Emergency on Planet Earth: 28 trillion tonnes of ice melted since 1994

So much ice disappearing could cause trouble for people living on low-lying land.

It’s another story about the Earth’s melting ice, I’m afraid. A survey of the planet’s polar ice caps, mountains, and glaciers showed a total of 28 trillion tonnes of ice had melted since 1994. And that melted ice could cause serious problems for thousands of people:

“To put that in context, every centimetre of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,” said Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

The scientists also warn that the melting of ice in these quantities is now seriously reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar radiation back into space. White ice is disappearing and the dark sea or soil exposed beneath it is absorbing more and more heat, further increasing the warming of the planet.

Whether people believe in global warming or not, the damaging effects are going to happen regardless. So instead of arguing, why don’t people deal with the problem at hand before millions lose their homes and die?

You can read the full review, Earth’s ice imbalance, in The Cryosphere.

This mini iMac is actually a custom Raspberry Pi 4

All you need to make a mini iMac is a Raspberry Pi 4, a 3D-printed case, and some ingenuity. Michael Pick showed us how in his latest video.

Raspberry Pi’s are so cheap now but I can never decide what I’d do with one if I bought another (I have two: one for OSMC and one for Retropie). But Michael Pick had a novel idea. What if you could turn one into a mini iMac (sort of)?

Well, that’s what he ended up doing. His tiny “iMac” used a cut-down Raspberry Pi 4 (spoiler alert: he sliced some of the USB ports with a Dremel which surprised me as you can just unsolder them) so it could fit inside his 3D-printed case. The only thing that isn’t sliced or printed is the handheld wireless keyboard. As for the Mac look, that was achieved using Twister OS, a Linux distro that can masquerade as a Windows/Mac OS operating system.

Stream the making of the world’s smallest iMac below.

c-jump: the geekiest board game ever

Do you like winter sports? Do you like coding? Are you aged 11 or over? Then you’ll love c-jump!

My board game knowledge stretches as far as classics like Monopoly, Scrabble, chess, etc. My favourite is probably Carcassonne but I’ve never played anything like Dungeons & Dragons which has a reputation for being pretty nerdy.

But I think I’ve found something even nerdier and it’s called c-jump. The educational board game was created by Igor Kholodov to help children learn the basics of programming with languages like C, C++, and Java. c-jump could be played with 2–4 players with the simple object of being the first player to move all their skiiers past the finish line.

That’s right—learning how to code in C++ with a board game involving skiiers. In terms of “the basics”, c-jump featured standard functions likeif-else statements, switches, and variables.

Some facts from the site:

  • This game is not only about teaching and learning: it’s fun and entertainment for the whole family!
  • Skiing and snowboarding is a perfect programming analogy.
  • c-jump game is ideal for home school education.
  • The game is based on the code of a real computer program!

As far as I can see, you can buy the game from the c-jump website for $24.95 within the US and $49.95 everywhere else (which includes shipping).

Happy 25th, Windows 95!

I couldn’t remember Windows 95 like the big tech writers could so I compiled a list of their anecdotes for the operating system’s 25th birthday.

What was your first OS? Mine was Windows 95 as it was for many people of my age (unless you were a Mac user maybe) and today it’s 25 years old. The release was a huge media event with Jay Leno announcing it with Bill Gates, the famous awkward stage dancing, and Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry from Friends giving a walkthrough of the OS.

Naturally, the tech blogs are awash with Windows 95 stories and retrospectives so rather than hash my own together with my limited memories, I’ve compiled a list of the best:

Also some other links about Windows 95 you might find interesting including:

And that Windows 95 guide with Rachel and Chandler? You can stream it in full below. Could I be anymore helpful?

17 Black STEM books for kids

This list of 17 non-fiction books school-age children showcase the Black scientists and inventors that have enriched STEM for decades.

Vanessa Willoughby of School Library Journal compiled a list of 17 non-fiction books that spotlight Black scientists, thinkers, and inventors. We welcome any content that promotes Black people in STEM, especially when it involves educating children to that fact.

As a preface to the list, Willoughby discussed the misrepresentation of marginalised people in STEM and the alarming rate with which Black and Latinx students were dropping out of STEM courses. While a report which analysed these figures couldn’t find a root cause, Willoughby suggested white privilege as one.

The #BlackinSTEM hashtag on Twitter seems to back up this theory, which not only aims to promote the visibility of Black academics in STEM but to call out the racism and microaggressions Black STEM students and professionals experience […] Racism is rooted in the dehumanizing idea that a community or group of people are a monolith; these books show that Black people have always been integral to the intellectual landscape of this country and the scientific community at large.

I strongly suggest you read Willoughby’s article in full and grab some of the books from her list if you can.