Hi! I'm Johannes Dachsel, a web designer and developer based near Heidelberg, Germany. This is my personal website.

What I learnt today: rabbits and childhood memories

Today was one of the rare occasions where I got to eat roasted rabbit. We were invited to have lunch with my parents and my mother made roasted rabbit, red cabbage and pretzel dumplings.

Delicious as it was, it reminded me of my childhood when my grandmother would make the exact same dish during Easter holidays. Although it must have been nearly 25 years ago, the memories are vividly imprinted in my memory.

It fascinates me how we can memorise things like smells and tastes over the quarter of a century. Our brain is truly unique that way, as there is no other way to preserve memories like this. Sure, we can write things down and try to describe tastes and smells as best as we can. But still, reading about it can never provide the same vibrant and tasty sensation that comes to mind when I think about my grandmothers roasted rabbit. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: working on saturdays

Some might consider working on saturdays as something workaholics would do. But although I agree that one should maintain a healthy life–work balance, I really do like the soothing silence of an empty office on saturdays.

No phone calls, no email and barely a soul that comes into my office to speak to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s an introvert thing, but I often feel a lot more comfortable in the office on weekends.

Being in the office on a saturday like today also seems to have a positive impact on my work. I get things done a lot quicker and especially when I’m doing design work, I’m much more focused. Ultimately it’s really rewarding, at least for me. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: taking a break

I’m sure everyone knows the feeling of getting stuck when doing or thinking about something. Be it a design problem I’m trying to solve or a bit of code that I’m tinkering with, I sometimes get to a point where going any further is just a waste of time and will lead to no outcome whatsoever.

Today I was in such a situation and I decided to take a long break. At first I felt a littly bit guilty about it, after all I should be working, right?. But I went to the gym to clear my head for a bit and then went back to finish what I had started in the morning.

Not only did I finish the piece of design I was working on quicker than I thought, I also found the time to write and to play around with some ideas concerning the rebranding of the small webdesign business that I run. Taking a break is worthwhile even when it doesn’t seem like it. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: pragmatism

Today I had to deal with a problem for which I had two choices of solving it. One solution was very idealistic but would have taken for ages. The other solution was very pragmatic and could be done in a couple of minutes.

I decided to go for the pragmatic solution because it was easy to do and the more idealistic approach could still be built upon it. It reminded me a bit of progressive enhancement and then I knew, that my decision was right.

What I learnt today: FormData objects

Today I tried to get my head around a problem where a file upload using AJAX didn’t work. That’s when I encountered the FormData object. A FormData object consists of key/value pairs that can be sent using a XMLHttpRequest.

If we want to send files asynchronously, the first thing we need is a <input>-element to hold the file.

<input type="file" name="myfile" id="myupload">

In JavaScript, to prepare the data to be sent, we have to create a new FormData object and append the file the user entered.

var fileInput = document.getElementById("myupload"),
    uploadFile = fileInput.files;

var data = new FormData();
data.append("uploadfile", uploadFile);

We then can use the newly created FormData object and send it using XMLHttpRequest:

var request = new XMLHttpRequest();
request.open("POST", "http://mydomain.com/submit.php");

If we are using PHP on the server side of things, we can then access the sent file using the $_FILES array.

There’s one thing to consider though: browser support for FormData starts at IE 10. But a fallback solution should be easy to provide as we can just sent the form using a regular HTTP request.

And that’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: writing newsletters

Today I sent out a post-event newsletter for this year’s Createcamp. I thanked the attendees for their time and participation, asked for their feedback and wether or not they would be interested in having another Createcamp in the future.

I really enjoy writing these newsletters. I’ve written three before and one after the event and I have to say, that I really like putting them together.

Instead of addressing the whole group, I always write like if I was talking directly to the person. That way it feels really personal to me and it makes it a lot easier for me to write. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: asking for feedback

I’m in the middle of putting together a feedback form for this year’s Createcamp and I have to admit that I’m really struggling with it. There are a ton of things to consider: what type of questions to ask, phrasing them or providing multiple choice options.

I guess asking for the right feedback isn’t the easiest thing in the world. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: the dirt eraser

Today I was told about an invention called the dirt eraser. Thanks to this little piece of magic I was able to clean my beloved sneakers to almost make them shine as if they were new.

They contain small resin particles that stick to any dirt parts and then take them off. The eraser has to be moisted a little bit, then it’s ready to go. It’s always fascinating what humanity’s engineering yields. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: underestimating

Today was the second day of Createcamp 2015 – a day where we got down to business and started designing and coding our project. I was pretty impressed by how much we got done in such a short amount of time.

After deciding the basic features we would need, we split up in three groups. Daniel and Marius designed and developed a database scheme, both Sebastians and Robin wrote a library for creating places on OpenStreetMap and Madeline and I started designing and coding interface elements.

It’s fair to say that I totally underestimated how far we would come on just one day and I was simply blown away when everybody presented their results. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: about plans and how they turn out

Today was the first day of Createcamp. I’ve looked forward to this for a very long time and I’m glad it’s finally happening. I made a ton of plans for this weekend but I didn’t really know how they would turn out. To be perfectly honest: I was rather sceptical.

But my scepticism was totally unjustified. The schedule I had put together and all the other organisational bits that I had mulled over time and time again really worked out today. Everything went smoothly and we’re already a little bit ahead of schedule which means, there’s more time for creating things over the next two days.

I’m really happy with the way things turned out today. And it gives me a little bit more faith for my future plans. That’s what I learnt today.