Nicholas Young

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Blog

Fresh thoughts on engineering, accessibility, mobility technologies, and creative work.

Distill

One of the major challenges I’ve had to overcome with Node.js is a task that’s relatively simple in Ruby. You wouldn’t think this would be difficult, but serializing JSON can be frustrating, even though you’re working entirely in JavaScript. If you needed to quickly rename properties or embed values from items in an array, you were out of luck… until now. Data doesn’t always come out of your database in the format you would prefer, and Node....

Embracing JavaScript

In a previous life, I was a professional web developer. I’ve used JavaScript extensively throughout my career, but I always saw it as the necessary evil: a weird little language that existed solely to provide interactive features in your web browser. For most of it’s lifespan, this evaluation was accurate: every major vendor had their own additions, and developing cross-browser applications was damn hard. John Resig and jQuery were the only glimmer of hope....

Migrating from Feedburner: a Helpful Guide

Launched in 2004, Feedburner was a once popular tool that re-formatted often messy RSS feeds, prepping them for mass consumption. Over the years, it became a trusted platform for bloggers, podcasters, and anyone else with something to say. It provided basic analytics, spitting out reports of who subscribed to your feed, and where podcast listeners were. At the time, it was wonderful. I embraced it, along with most of my podcasting colleagues, who also launched their first shows in 2005....

Introducing The Machine

If we’ve met — online or in person — I’ve probably spoken to you about radio, and my endless love for the medium. This American Life, Radiolab, and Freakonomics Radio are staples in my weekly soundtrack. Nothing fuels my mind like a great conversation, and NPR is full of them. In a way, NPR is a porthole to my past, when hosts and disc jockeys cared about their voice, artists they promoted, and conversations they had....

Our Instagram Life

Tweet. Post. Comment. Like. This era has it’s own lingo; a jargon-addled psuedolanguage that sometimes barely resembles recognized speech or written words. Children, teenagers, and adults alike all speak it; as everyone desperately tries to capture fleeting memories with short blocks of text, a blurry photograph, or an unlistenable audio clip. Most attempts fail, falling short of the moment when they were written or snapped. Whenever I board the train, I’m surrounded by passengers who crane their neck downward, and catch up on the latest news....

Art is Greyscale

Doubt. It’s something we all face, but rarely discuss. Artists stare it down daily, in a power struggle between beauty and the absence of it. Between light, and the dark, soundless, matterless void. Amidst a sea of creative hurdles, some worthier of caution, we fear doubt the most. But why? We live in a world of calculated decisions. Every business or career goal is evaluated carefully, the numbers scrutinized, and potential up or downsides are extracted....

Remixed, Again

I redesign this site annually, but this iteration is radically different. Normally, I pick a new set of technical tools and work around any associated oddness they might introduce — however, this time, I decided to be bold. I reimagined my personal design language, employed a simple file-based CMS, and picked a new hosting provider. Like I said, bold. However, this post isn’t about technical details alone. It’s part of a (link: /notebook/its-not-about-your-tools text: much larger narrative) on choosing the right tools: ones that help you create better work....

It's Not About Your Tools

The evolution of the internet blessed us with always-on, globally-available communications. It has allowed me to conduct informal cultural exchanges with citizens of foreign countries, stay in touch with traveling friends, and collect an endless string of interesting contacts, some of which I’ve met while unplugged. Unfortunately, that isn’t all. It also provided a platform for every kind of bitching you could imagine, and you would be amazed how embroiled some folks get even with a limit of one hundred forty characters....

New Years Dissolution

It’s January 2, 2013, and dreams abound. The year is young, with 363 days ahead of us - each one full of promise and countless opportunities to transform your dreams into reality - but will you? This time each year, I watch friends boldly declare they’ll launch a new business and kick their 9-to-5, become a successful photographer, or learn to play an instrument. The problem is, they never try. As we walk through the next year, our once important goals are tossed out like highway litter, only to be found by the most astitute observers later on....

UrbanScapes: Beauty in the Broken

As a photographer, few things compare to capturing emotion. Whether it’s a band sweating on stage, a painter focused on their canvas, or the hustle of a city at night, I think about emotion every time I release the shutter. I’m freezing a moment in time; distilling emotion from an otherwise chaotic day, hopefully causing the viewer to pause and consider what they see. The Beginnings of Something Beautiful After moving to Chicago in 2010, I routinely walked the streets of my neighborhood, attempting to absorb the city culture....