Brett McLaughlin

Brett McLaughlin is a bestselling and award-winning non-fiction author. His books on computer programming, home theater, and analysis and design have sold in excess of 100,000 copies. He has been writing, editing, and producing technical books for nearly a decade, and is as comfortable in front of a word processor as he is behind a guitar, chasing his two sons and his daughter around the house, or laughing at reruns of Arrested Development with his wife.

What is HTML5?

Once you really understand HTML5, you'll change the way you think about the web.

HTML5, when used both as the 21st century web suggests and as the original HTML specification allows, is best at interconnecting things.

What is Node.js?

Node isn't always the solution, but it does solve some important problems.

Learning Node might take a little effort, but it's going to pay off. Why? Because you're afforded solutions to your web application problems that require only JavaScript to solve.

We are iPad. Resistance is (not) futile

Apple may have closed the iPad, but you don't need permission to open it.

A lot of people are upset about how closed the iPhone, and now the iPad, are. Cory Doctorow wrote a lengthy piece about the evils of the iPad and its awful closed system. I agree that Apple has taken far too much away. I agree that it is infantalizing to require us to send in the iPad to get its battery replaced. But, my gosh, when did developers ever need permission to break things? When did Steve Jobs become not just rule maker, but some sort of deity that actually prevented me from ignoring said rule maker, and doing whatever I could with my device?

Is the "e" in ebooks the new blink tag?

How one vowel creates a limiting design paradigm

The first group/publisher/company/person who moves away from the ebook and to content — content that can be delivered to a variety of media, digital and non-digital, with display and style applied separate from and after content creation — wins.

Where's the continuity?

As seen in comic books, continuity has long been considered a function of good fiction. Here's a simple question: in your reading, your writing, your speaking, your programming, what are you doing to create and absorb context and continuity? I believe there are ways to achieve this in almost every field, and I believe this is an important part of what sets the elite apart from the non-elite in terms of communication.

Where are the learners?

I tend to browse around Flickr a lot, and came across this image of an empty classroom. So what's missing here? Well, it would seem obvious… except to many technical book authors. See, for most folks, the obvious answer here is, "There are no students!" But for the average technical book author — and to be clear, I'm one of that crowd, so I'm speaking personally and from experience — we would all, loudly, cry out, "There's no teacher!" What a fundamental disconnect.

When do your beliefs become knowledge?

I've been reading a lot of philosophy lately — Kierkegaard and Dawkins, Lewis, Hume, Calvin and Augustine, you name it — for a class I'm taking, as well as for my own enjoyment. One of the interesting things about philosophy is that it's a discipline that takes the understanding of understanding seriously. As a teacher, that's fascinating to me; has education — specifically, the way we in 2009 are trying to educate — really examined what knowledge is? Have educational systems considered what the wealth of literature says about knowledge, and responded to it responsibly?

Your brain really is forgetting… a LOT

I’m currently reading Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life by Dr. Sandra Aamodt and Dr. Sam Wang. The enormity of the title notwithstanding, I’m enjoying the book, and ran across this rather amazing quotation:

There is good evidence that we “erase” and “rewrite” our memories every time we call them, suggesting that if it were ever possible to erase specific content, playing it back first might be an essential component.

Ask… no, wait… TELL Tim

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with Tim. He mentioned that he'd recently taken his first ride on a Jet Ski. Several torturous minutes later, he got off, still alive and capable of detecting faint signals. But his back was suffering… badly.

Our brains are sort of… well… stupid

I've long heard people complain about how commercials represent the basest forms of humanity. Yesterday, I was reminded of this again, as Twitter was all ablaze with people in outrage over the latest commercial run during the Super Bowl. All of this tends to make me roll my eyes a bit, and go, "Well, duh… of course commercials…