Throw Back Thursday: Julia Sets with Sass

Written by Pete Corey on Dec 18, 2014.

The other day I was looking through my old GitHub repositories, and I found JuliaSass. This was my fisrt time experimenting with Sass and Haml. I had been using Less at the time, but I learned about Sass’ support of @functions and I was inspired. I decided to build a Sass script that would generate a Julia Set fractal. Haml would be used to generate a huge number of divs, and Sass would be used to calculate and set each div’s color based on the fractal’s coloring algorithm.

The resulting CSS file was over 50000 lines long and took over 1 minute to generate on my machine. Needless to say, this is a horrible idea, but I thought it was a cool expiriment.

Check it out!

Aspect Ratio Media Queries

Written by Pete Corey on Dec 16, 2014.

The other day I was playing with a fullscreen CSS layout using viewport units. I had content that was a fixed aspect-ratio, and I wanted it to fill as much of the screen as possible without overflowing. At first, I was setting the element’s width to 100vw, but of course, if the aspect ratio of the window was greater than the aspect ratio of the content, the content would overflow off the screen. In those cases, I wanted to bind the height of the content to 100vh, instead of binding the width to 100vw.

My first naive attempt to do this was to use Sassmax function to compare 100vh with 100vw:

$size = max(100vh, 100vw);

In hindsight, this is obviously not going to work. The result of this expression is going to change as the viewport aspect ratio changes. Fundamentally, this is something Sass can’t deal with. Sass kindly explained that to me:

Error: Incompatible units: ‘vh’ and ‘vw’.

After some googling, I came across aspect-ratio media queries. This is exactly what I needed! To build my layout, I use an aspect-ratio media query to alternate between binding against vh and vw based on whether the screen is in a horizontal aspect ratio, or a vertical one.

I whipped up a quick codepen to show this off. Resize the viewport to see it in action:

See the Pen aspect-ratio media queries by Pete Corey (@pcorey) on CodePen.

Joining the Tiling WM Master Race

Written by Pete Corey on Dec 15, 2014.

Recently I decided to elevate my Linux Mint 17.1 development environment from its plebeian out-of-the-box Cinnamon origins to its rightful place among the glorious #TilingWMMasterRace. I thought I’d document the process of installing and configuring bspwm to help others looking to do something similar.

bspwm for dummies

For the initial setup and configuration of bspwm, I recommend you read and follow Bill Indelicato’s excellent guide, bspwm for dummies. It’s worth noting that in addition to the packages he lists, you should have build-essential installed when trying to build bspwm on Linux Mint. The steps in his guide can be distilled down to:

sudo apt-get install vim dmenu rxvt-unicode git build-essential xcb libxcb-util0-dev libxcb-ewmh-dev libxcb-randr0-dev libxcb-icccm4-dev libxcb-keysyms1-dev libxcb-xinerama0-dev
git clone
git clone
cd ~/bspwm && make && sudo make install
cd ~/sxhkd && make && sudo make install
mkdir -p ~/.config/bspwm ~/.config/sxhkd
cp ~/bspwm/examples/bspwmrc ~/.config/bspwm/bspwmrc
cp ~/bspwm/examples/sxhkdrc ~/.config/sxhkd/sxhkdrc
chmod +x ~/.config/bspwm/bspwmrc
echo -e “sxhkd -f 100 & \nexec bspwm” > ~/.xinitrc

sxhkdrc changes

I run my linux dev environment as a virtual machine, which means that using super as my bspwm control key can cause issues. Thankfully it’s incredibly simple to remap these sxhkd hotkeys in ~/.config/sxhkd/sxhkdrc:

sed -i ‘s/super/alt/g’ ~/.config/sxhkd/sxhkdrc
sed -i ‘s/alt + alt/alt + ctrl/g’ ~/.config/sxhkd/sxhkdrc


~/.Xdefaults is where you configure the look and feel of urxvt. I started with a template ~/.Xdefaults I found online, switched to use Ubuntu Mono and borrowed a nice color scheme I found in this helpful article. You can see what the final result on my github.

.xinitrc and .xsession

On a system without a graphical login manager, you could simply log into your system and run startx to run ~/.xinitrc and run bspwm. However, Linux Mint uses the MDM Display Manager, which means that X is already running when we log in and we need to take an extra step to get bspwm running. Thankfully, all we need to do is make a symbolic link to ~/.xinitrc called ~/.xsession. When MDM logs us in, it will execute ~/.xsession, which will effectively execute our ~/.xinitrc and run bspwm.

ln -s ~/.xinitrc ~/.xsession

After making this link, log out, select “Run Xclient script” session and log back in. You should be greeted with a black screen. Hit alt + enter to open a terminal.

sxhkd -f 100

After initially following the steps in bspwm for dummies, I noticed that doing mouse based window resizes was incredibly slow. After a little research, I found this reddit thread that suggested a fix of limiting the maximum frequency for motion events to 100. You can check out sxhkd.c on github to see how this works. Look at max_freq and motion_interval. When a max_freq is specified and a motion_interval is calculated (> 0), the motion_notify method will return early, preventing sxhkd from spamming bspwm with commands.

Final Thoughts

This should leave you with a minimal, functional and clean bspwm setup. There’s definitely much more that can be done from here, but the road you take is up to you. Check out all of my dotfiles on github.

My current bspwm setup