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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Amongst suggestions that the Karen meme has outgrown its use, could UX research principles help us design and build anti-racist social systems?

It appears we’ve reached peak Karen. The name’s popular use is increasingly drawing criticism for being “racist”, “sexist” and “elitist”. Some more thoughtful arguments for retiring Karen suggest that everyday racism is too serious a topic to boil down to a light-hearted stereotype. The fact that the demonisation of people of colour by white women is considered funny arguably betrays the patriarchy’s role in pitting those not white and male against each other.

As a software developer and UX enthusiast, I’ve some experience using personas. At some point, it struck me that Karen (and her little sister, Becky) could be seen as examples of personas, illustrating — albeit in comical terms — some of the destructive habits of white people. As usual, people of colour have already done the work for us; I would most likely have only limited understanding of Karen and Becky were it not for the excellent writers at The Root. Having spent years creating and explaining the nuances of these personas with patience and hilarity, this publication continues to show us how we (white people) have managed to twist these personas to the extreme, and risk destroying their usefulness as a result. …


XKCD comic depicting on diner building a system for passing salt and other condiments to the other
XKCD comic depicting on diner building a system for passing salt and other condiments to the other
xkcd: “The General Problem” (https://xkcd.com/974)

Much of our world today relies increasingly on automated solutions. The results often enrich our lives by enabling workers to spend less time on manual tasks and more time for creativity, innovation, and enjoyment.

Particularly relevant is the current push towards development of contact-tracing apps and other solutions that could help all of us take steps to protect our health, and that of our loved ones, while benefitting from as full and rich a life as possible. …


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This month, there has been a renewed interest, apparently boosted by support from high profile organisations such as GitHub in replacing some (at best) inappropriate terms used in version control and software development. From my observation, most developers are interested in exploring these alternatives, and are actively engaging with colleagues to ascertain what might be involved in renaming default branches from the widely used ‘master’ (evoking hurtful imagery of slavery) and using alternatives to ‘blacklist’ and ‘whitelist’ (e.g. ‘blocklist’ and ‘allowlist’). During these discussions, I have so far become aware of three main concerns about taking this approach:

1. Is this really necessary? We don’t mean ‘master’ in that way. …


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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Sorry about that title…

So, I’ve been hearing a lot about GraphQL over the past year — no doubt you have as well! With some time to spare, I decided to play around with a simple data fetching and filtering use case. As someone who has only ever developed REST APIs, I wanted to get a sense as to whether GraphQL could replace REST, or, more likely, be more appropriate in some situations.

For my entire development career, REST has been my understanding of best practice API design and, to me, supports a lean microservice architecture, easy debugging, and a degree of self-documentation. …


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Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

In recent years, many organizations have benefited from software development teams that produce single page applications using JavaScript and other popular front-end technologies to create delightful micro-interactions and maintainable, human-readable modules of code.

Many of these applications are also coded to display useful content to the user as quickly as possible, using asynchronous functions, server-side rendering, minification, resource preloading / prefetching, and caching, amongst a range of other performance optimization techniques. Many developers and product owners benefit from audit tools to track the progress they are making in speeding up page load times and thus retaining visitors and maximising conversions.

One of these tools is Lighthouse from Google, which provides a clear and comprehensive report rating a web page for key performance metrics such…


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Photo by Florian Krumm on Unsplash

Do you ever wish you could write a simple web form that allows users to upload all sorts of sensitive data without having to develop a complex encryption mechanism?

Here’s a surprisingly painless solution using the Simple Storage Service provided by Amazon Web Services. The following code snippets use JavaScript; Node in the back-end, Angular in the front, but the AWS documentation includes examples for a range of modern technologies including C# and Java.

Please note, this article includes isolated code snippets to provide guidance, but it isn’t a complete how-to and assumes you’ll be able to make any necessary changes and additions in order to integrate the logic with your own API and front-end. …

About

Cloud Quinn

I am a full-stack Software Engineer, TDD, Agile and UX Advocate. I take pride in delivering fast, secure, accessible applications that delight users.

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