# A few things

I am Joseph Basquin.
I live in Orléans, France.

email: here

#music
#photo
#programming

Don't read #tech articles except you really want to.

Some of my projects:
BigPicture
Jeux d'orgues
SamplerBox
YellowNoiseAudio
Ojourdui

## Make a zooming + panning user interface work on mobile devices (in progress)

What's cool with Zooming User Interfaces is that you have always free space available anywhere (either by zooming or panning) to write new ideas.

That was the key idea in 2014 when creating BigPicture (ready-to-use infinite notepad in-the-cloud) and the open-source JavaScript library bigpicture.js powering it:

It works as expected on desktop browsers. Now, the next big challenge is: how to make it work on mobile devices?

It's funny to even have to ask this question, since touch devices are natively made to do panning (slide finger on screen) and zooming (pinch with 2 fingers). So it should be straightforward to adapt BigPicture to mobile devices.

However here are the difficulties:

1. The transform/scale from CSS has limitations (probably max 10x or 100x factor when I started this project a few years ago), so we can't only use this to do a (nearly) infinite zooming user interface

2. It requires to be able to zoom on a particular part of the viewport and not zoom the other parts of the HTML document (e.g. a top navigation header). Here are many potential solutions:

3. Possible useful tools for this:

• Zoomooz (however, I read in comments: Zoomooz does not support multi-touch pinching events. Its only a library for zooming into elements on a page, but has no support for pinching behavior, so far as I can see in the documentation.)

• Hammer.js

• ZUI53

• TouchSwipe, a jQuery plugin for touch devices

Work in progress!

By the way, here is how to simulate touch events on Chrome for desktop computer: open the Developer console (F12), then there's a top-left button "Toggle device toolbar" (CTRL+SHIFT+M), here you go! For pinch-zoom events, use SHIFT + click + mouse up.

Your tests / pull requests / help to build a mobile version are welcome on this branch: https://github.com/josephernest/bigpicture.js/tree/mobile!

If you really like that open-source project, you can donate here: 1NkhiexP8NgKadN7yPrKg26Y4DN4hTsXbz.

## Writing, a text-editor in the browser

Since I've started using StackOverflow, I've always loved their text editor (the one you use when writing a question/answer), because it supports Markdown syntax (a very elegant markup language to add bold, italic, titles, links, itemization, etc.), and even MathJax (which is more or less LaTeX syntax in the browser). I've always wanted to use such an editor for my own documents.

After some research, I found a few existing tools, but:

• half of them don't support LaTeX / MathJax (for math formulas)
• some of them do, but have a 1-sec delay between keypress and display, and I find this annoying, see e.g. StackEdit
• some of them have annoying flickering each time you write new text, once math is present on the page
• most of them are not minimalist / distraction-free enough for me

Let's go and actual build one! Here is the result, Writing:

Here's the source: https://github.com/josephernest/writing

For sure you'll like it!

If you really like that, you can donate here: 1NkhiexP8NgKadN7yPrKg26Y4DN4hTsXbz

## Yopp — an easy way to send a file from phone to computer

Have you ever spent more than 1 second wondering:

"How do I get on my computer this photo I just made with my phone?"

or

"How do I get this PDF from my computer to my phone?"

Then you probably thought "Let's use Dropbox! ... oh no I'm not logged in on my phone, but what is my password again? Well, let's send the file to myself via email! Maybe I should just use a USB cable... but where is my USB cable again?"

Yopp is a solution for this problem, that you can easily install on your web server.

Thoughts about user experience & user interface design

This tool - Yopp - requires a total number of 7 actions to get the work done:

Open browser on phone [1 tap], Open Yopp page [1 tap if it's in the bookmarks], UPLOAD [1 tap], Choose file [1 action]

Open browser on computer [1 double click], Open Yopp page [1 click if in bookmarks], DOWNLOAD [1 click]

I'll be happy to switch to another tool if one requiring less actions exists.

I noticed that my likelihood/probability to use any tool (all other things being equal) is more or less proportional to P = 1 / a^2 (*) where a is the number of required actions/user inputs. If the number of required actions is doubled, the likelihood to use the tool is divided by 4.

Thus, even if it might sound obvious, one key element for a good user interface is to minimize the number of user actions to get a task done. If not, the user might unconsciously remember that the interface is unnecessarily complicated to use. He will then forget about the product, and look for another solution. (OK this is probably what will happen for you with Yopp if you don't have a web server already!)

As an example, I'm sure I'd use my city's bicycle sharing system Velo+ much more if I could take a bike by just swiping my card on the bike station's card reader (this is technically possible). Instead we have to: Tap on a screen (1), Choose "Subscribed user" (2), Swipe the card (3), Choose "Rent a bike" (4) (this one is particularly unuseful), Accept conditions already accepted many times before (5), etc. at the end it requires at least 12 actions! Any user who has done it at least once will process this data (required amount of inputs) and will probably make the choice of not using it for short distance trips.

It would be interesting to get more statistical data about the empirical result (*), this will be discussed in a future post.

## See the BigPicture — a zooming user interface

This topic has been present in my thoughts for a long time, probably years:

“How to be able to think/write about lots of unrelated various topics, and still have a way to look at the big picture of what you’re doing?”

2. bigpicture.js, a JavaScript open-source library that you can use in various projects
3. A standalone version of 1. (so you can take notes offline) is also available here: bigpicture-editor
4. AReallyBigPage, an infinite collaborative notepad. It has been a real chaos once hundreds of people joined in. Probably internet’s deepest page ;)

Such an interface is called a Zooming User Interface (interesting reading: The humane interface by Jef Raskin, one of the creators of the Apple Macintosh), and strangely, ZUI has been very few used in modern interfaces.

As of 2017, nearly every software interface uses a 2D, or even a 1D navigation process: a web page only offers two scrolling directions: north and south. Even nowadays's apps famous for their "new kind of interface" still use a 1-axis navigation: "Swipe left or right".

Is there a future made of new interfaces?

## TinyAnalytics

After having tested many open-source website analytics tool, and haven't found exactly what I was looking for, I started a minimalist project (coded in PHP) that only does this:

• number of visits per day

• display the referrers (i.e. the people who have a link to your website)

If you're looking for a tool lighter than Piwik, Open Web Analytics or Google Analytics, then TinyAnalytics might be what you're looking for.

## Get the reverb impulse response of a church

I recently recorded an impulse response of the reverb of a 14th-century church (more or less the footprint of the sound ambiance of the building). Here is how I did it.

• First I installed a loudspeaker (a studio monitor Yamaha HS-80M) in the church, quite high from the ground. I played, rather loud, a sound called a frequency sweep, that contains frequencies from 20Hz to 20000Hz, i.e. the entire human hearing range.
• Then, in the middle of the church, I recorded this with 2 microphones. Here is what I got:

Quite a lot of reverb, that's exactly what we want to catch with an IR!

• Now, let's use some Digital Signal Processing to get the IR. All the source code in Python is here. If you're into math, here is the idea: a is the input sweep signal, h the impulse response, and b the microphone-recorded signal. We have a * h = b (convolution here!). Let's take the discrete Fourier transform, we have fft(a) * fft(h) = fft(b), then h = ifft(fft(b) / fft(a)).

• Here is the result, the Impulse Response of the church:

Then, of course, we can do some cleaning, fade out, etc.

But what is this useful for? You can use this Impulse Response in any music production software (the VST SIR1 is quite good and freeware) , and make any of your recordings (voice, instrument, etc.) sound like if they were recorded in this church. This is the magic of convolution reverb!

Useful trick when you record your own IR: play sweep0.wav in the building instead of sweep.wav. The initial "beep" is helpful to see exactly where things begin. If you don't do that, as the sweep begins with very low frequencies (starting from 20 Hz), you won't know exactly where is the beginning of your microphone-recording. Once your recording is done, you can trim the soundfile by making it begin exactly 10 seconds after the short beep.

Some related reading in this topic, and this blog post.

## Browsers, please don't kill HTTP

I don't share Jeff Atwood's enthusiasm about HTTPS / encryption. What will happen if HTTPS becomes the standard and if HTTP is considered by browsers as "unsafe"?

It seems to me that then, the web will be separated in 2 worlds: professional websites who can afford SSL certificates and a dedicated team to maintain the certification process ... and the average small webmaster who just has a shared hosting and a Wordpress. The latter will be slowly "pushed out of internet" with the threatening notice Not secure.

Even with the free Let's Encrypt initiative, maintaining HTTPS requires technicity, much more than what the average webmaster has.

Result: if HTTPS becomes the standard and normal HTTP is alerted by browsers as unsafe by default, this will slowly kill amateur content, citizen-powered content.

Welcome to even-more centralized internet. Be sure Facebook and other big content providers will like this.

Edit (2018): I'm finally using LetsEncrypt too... In short, a2enmod ssl ; wget https://dl.eff.org/certbot-auto ; chmod a+x certbot-auto ; ./certbot-auto does most of the work. More to read here.

## Bloggggg...

Many things begin with

Let's start a new notebook!

(Well sometimes the notebook is abandoned after 3 pages, but hmm, let's not think about it). Writing helps to know what you want, what you don't want, and what you've done so far. So I decided

Let's start a blog!

Then I looked at many blog generator tools, and noticed it would be faster to actually write it myself in PHP, rather than downloading every existing solution and pick the best (so hard to make a choice). So I started yesterday evening, and today it's done:

### blogggggg, a blogging platform.

Here is how it looks like:

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