Picture of Michael Lee
:wave: Hey hey, I'm Michael Lee! This is my site about being a developer, a dad and a maker.

Spell It Out: 600+ acronyms spelt out

Written on February 22, 2019

A little over a year has passed since I started a little project called Spell It Out. I started the project when I started working at CloudBees. During my first few weeks there as I was learning about the different projects at various meetings, I observed that there was a frequent use of acronyms. Being the new guy, I didn’t interrupt the meetings because of my lack of knowledge of what an acronym meant, instead I would jot it down and either ask another team member what it meant or Google it.

Since running Spell It Out I’ve observed a few things around the use of acronyms.

First, it is totally ok to make someone pause and ask them to explain what an acronym means. I’m now on a different team at a different company and they have their own set of acronyms that they use. Now when I hear an acronym and aren’t sure what it means, I’ll usually ask what it means at the moment it is used. This usually leads to the person who used the acronym to be more than happy to explain what it stands for.

Second, I think most of the time the person who uses the acronym makes an assumption that it’s a commonly used acronym that the person hearing it should know it too. I don’t think it’s something that happens just with acronyms but in general. It reminds me of doctors. I’ve had doctors in the past blurt out a medical term for something I’m describing and look at you as if you’re supposed to know what it is.

I’m not sure if there is some correlation or if it’s a more generalized thing that humans do, but I’m observing that it happens outside of just acronyms.

Third, those who both uses and spells out an acronym in the same sentence are often seen as more inclusive. I remember being in meetings where people would use acronyms and no one pausing the speaker to ask what it meant. This would make me feel like I wasn’t on the inside or the know of things. When a speaker is able to both use and spell out an acronym I find them to be more caring and thoughful. And I appreciate it, even though they might be speaking to a group who might already know what the acronym means. I also don’t think anyone will scoff and be disgusted by someone who uses an acronym and also spells it out.

I’m not honestly not sure what I’ll add to Spell It Out to enhance it or make it better in the future. I know I have a desire to put context around acronyms so I might start there. For example the acronym GoF (Gang of Four) refers to the four authors who authored a book on design patterns in object-oriented programming.

I’ve also had an itch to put together an API to perhaps make a plugin that could be used to spell out acronyms as you find them when reading in your browser or computer.

What is sure is, I’ll keep curating and adding acronyms that I find almost daily to the growing list of acronyms on Spell It Out.

A few highlights since starting Spell It Out:

  • My first project I’ve shared on Product Hunt
  • Got mentioned on a national radio called Sound*Bytes
  • Hit 600+ acronyms :tada:
  • Added one Easter egg :egg:

Add CSS to 11ty

Written on February 6, 2019

One of the things that was a bit confusing when first setting up an 11ty project was getting certain files and folders in the project’s folder structure from showing up in the output _site folder.

An example might be if you wanted to add some CSS to your site and all your CSS files live in a folder at the root of your project called css. By default, 11ty will not output this folder into its _site.

In order to have 11ty copy the css folder through to the _site output folder, you’ll need to add what’s called a pass through in your 11ty configuration file.

First in your project folder, at the root make sure you’ve got a file called .eleventy.js.

├── .eleventy.js
├── _includes
├── _site
├── css
└── index.md

Next in your .eleventy.js configuration file, you’ll want to add this:

module.exports = function(eleventyConfig) {
  return {
    passthroughFileCopy: true

What eleventyConfig.addPassthroughCopy('css') does is tells 11ty to look for a folder named css and copy it through to the output folder. The passthroughFileCopy: true is needed in order to use the addPassthroughCopy function.

Now when you either serve from the command line or look in the _site output folder, you’ll see that your css folder has also passed through. Now in your template file you can reference your stylesheet like this:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/relax.css">

And it’ll render because it’s in your output folder.

First impressions on 11ty

Written on February 6, 2019

I started checking out the static site generator (SSG) 11ty tonight. It is pretty impressive so far. I’m digging the fact that it is a JavaScript based generator, it’s super flexible and pretty fast from what I’m seeing so far.

I’m liking it more than Hugo. Hugo has never really clicked for me. Although it’s got a pretty huge community around it, I always found it hard to understand and couldn’t get the information I needed from the documentation.

It seems 11ty is the opposite. It is different from Jekyll in that it is less opinionated, but where it shines is its documentation and flexibility. I’ve found the onboarding quite good even after just spending an hour on it. It has definitely piqued my interest and I’m looking forward to diving into 11ty some more.

What I'm currently reading - January 2019

Written on January 29, 2019

I recently finished another one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, David and Goliath. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Tipping Point. While David and Goliath started off really intriguing because Mr. Gladwell broke down and provided a different perspective of the familiar Biblical account of David and Goliath, the end of the book covered some really heavy subjects in history that I wasn’t quite prepared for.

I stuck it out an finished the entire book, but the last few parts of the book, I kept hoping that the subject matter would lighten up a little and that the book would finish on different note. But it didn’t.

As a result of how I felt afterwards from David and Goliath I decided I needed something that was a little light hearted. I was thumbing through Libby and saw that Matilda by Roald Dahl, read by Kate Winslet was available. I enjoyed the movie adaptation of it, so decided to give the audio book a listen during my drives to and from work.

I’ve been enjoying Kate Winslet’s reading of Matilda. As her ability to read while giving life to the various characters with the change of her voice is quite good.

Finally I’m reading Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle. I’ve followed Chris’ work since The $100 Startup. I’ve had his latest book for some time now but didn’t make it through the end. I’m dedicated to finishing it this time. The reason I wanted to read Chris’ book is that I’ve got some life circumstances coming up and feel that having a side hustle would provide some freedom and alleviate some of the anxieties from life changes.

Chris lays out in his book Side Hustle, how to generate, build and put a side hustle into the world in 27 days. I’m committing the next 27 days to going through each of the days in his book and seeing if I can create a sustainable side hustle.

Thanks Anders Borum for Working Copy

Written on January 1, 2019

One of the apps that has made an impact on me in 2018 was Working Copy for iOS by Anders Borum. Most, if not all of my projects are versioned using git and are stored in a remote server. Being able to access them on my phone has been a pretty phenomenal experience.

While I admit the limited real estate on the iPhone can be challenging at times for a git workflow that’s quicker on a laptop. But being able to make changes on my phone on the go and then push up those changes and have it appear on a live site all without a laptop has felt pretty magical.

Paired with some basic Shortcuts on iOS, writing blog posts and keeping Spell It Out up-to-date in the last few months of 2018 with Working Copy has made me happy. This is because I can capture things almost instantly and publish it right away.

For these reasons, I want to thank Anders Borum for his amazing work on Working Copy.

Whee!, a newsletter highlighting the funnest web dev things

Written on December 9, 2018

Years ago, the reason why I got into web development was because it was fun. I loved spending hours in front of my computer, experimenting, tweaking and reloading to see the magic of code transform things on my screen.

My new newsletter, Whee! is an attempt to stir that feeling of fun and excitement with experimenting and playing with code. Whee! is a newsletter that curates the funner web dev things around the Internet — whether it’s cool visual experiments on CodePen, an homage to 8-bit graphics in a new CSS library or programming concepts using the latest popular pop song.

My goal with Whee is to share my awesome findings with you every Wednesday to get you over that hump and into the rest of the week saying wheeeee! :raised_hands:

To get the funnest web dev things from the Internet into your inbox every Wednesday, sign up for Whee!