- Faints on a plane.
My best of 2005 doesn't really stick to any one medium. I tried listing my favorite music this year, but some of it was recorded in 1993. I tried listing some favorite movies, but I couldn't think of anything I got on Netflix this year that wasn't a TV show or made in some year like 1993. So then I thought about books and there was just the one I thought was worth reading.
So here are my favorite things of 2005. In no particular order.
I just bought my second and third Fisher Space Pen. I accidentally left my first one in the car I dropped off at Hertz so I bought two more. I like to find something that works and stick with it, and right now it's these wonderful pens. Sure they write through blood and water, and you can write upside down, but the secret to why it's so great is that when closed it's about 3/4ths the size of a normal pen, when you take the cap off and place it at the end of the pen the size grows to a normal size pen. Add in the very simple, black matte, metal, "bullet" design and a ball point that seems to begin delivering ink a micrometer before it touches the paper, and you have the best and only pen you'll ever need. (Unless you are all about precision, in which case I have to recommend my previous favorite pen, the Sakura Microperm).
This year I went all out on Camper Shoes. I now have seven pair. Moving to San Francisco has meant I'm on my feet more, and some of the shoes (not all) do very well for walking. Now that the Camper stores are popping up in the larger US cities, they aren't as rare, so they don't make me feel nearly as unique as they did when I'd be on this page hoping I wasn't ordering a shoe that would fit on a keychain.
Mat got me into the Mountain Goats this year. It's an album. A real full album like the old days when you'd drop the needle on the record and sit in your room and follow along (not that I really ever did this but I'm told by old people with Who albums that they did). It feels like sharing any song from the album is like sharing a chapter from a book out of context, but before I heard the album Mat had given me this recording the MGs had done on the John Peel show which got me interested.
John Darnielle also has my favorite thing said this year, from this interview done in haiku:
Q. Preparing yourself
for an ominous ending
What is the magpie?
A. Only a traitor
undresses his metaphors
As if they were whores
Hell yeah I said graph paper. I love graph paper. I'm going to buy stacks of it. I like to use the 8 squares to the inch though that 16 square looks HOT. When was the last time you used graph paper?
I totally missed the boat on the TV show "Lost" due to work and moving. I hate jumping into something mid-season and so I figured I'd wait until it showed up on Netflix. For the holidays I was able to catch up using the iTunes Music store and that rules more than graph paper. I work a lot more on my laptop than I did at my old job. The fact that I can call up a TV show for $1.99 is pure joy. Though I have to wonder, why does 99¢ seem like a bit much for a song I could conceivably listen to 100 times, and $1.99 about right for a TV show I'd watch once? I can't figure that one out.
This town is swell. We love it here. The weather isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be, we're still in California after all, so Christmas Eve, when I was getting ready to drive down to my parents house it was clear and sunny, and I didn't need a coat. I dunno why everyone is all crazed about this weather, I've seen bad weather and this isn't it. I love being able to walk and get a beer, or coffee, or ride the train to downtown without worrying about parking. I do hate that I don't have easy access to stores like Target and Home Depot, though. Back in Long Beach it was easy to get to those stores if you had a lot of stuff to buy, now you have to plan a bit more. Plus I don't have my truck so you have to get creative with getting large things into the house.
To say it's a bit segregated would be an understatement. There are things about this neighborhood (Noe Valley) that annoy me and I think I'd like to be closer to the Mission if I could, but overall I like San Francisco and it beat out Italy when I made this list so that's pretty good.
Along with TextMate, Quicksilver is an application for Macintosh that I use religiously. I find it better and more agile than Tiger's Spotlight, and the plugins made for it are pretty varied. If you have a Mac you should try it out. Then check out Merlin's post on using its append to text file feature for your todo lists.
Speaking of Merlin, you should really meet Merlin. He's an interesting guy with great ideas and great hair. Seriously.
Anyway, Merlin "invented" the HipsterPDA and it's become my favorite organizational tool behind my .Mac residing todo.txt file. I've owned several palm organizers and learned how to chicken scratch letters on them only to have them trickle down to the bottom of my pile of crap I have no use for. Also, it's cheap!
Like I said in my Fisher Pen item above, when I find something that works well I stick with it. And this year was all about three products: Tom's of Maine Toothpaste, Dr. Bronner's Soap, and an array of Kiehl's products.
When I was a kid I remember toothpaste being toothpaste and not candy. It seems like toothpaste now is so sweet and candied that I don't feel like I'm getting my teeth clean so much as coating my mouth with stuff that smells good. It's like air freshner for the mouth when I really need to be cleaning it. Tom's of Maine just works. And it's in a simple tube that doesn't make me feel like I'm not only buying toothpaste but funding some toothpaste manufacturer's R&D budget to make some crazy dispenser.
Dr. Bronner's Soap isn't a very new product, it's apparently been around a while and I've seen it in people's bathrooms and heard about it from friends but didn't really come around to using the soap until this year. It comes in a bottle straight out of crazy world and being a sucker for packaging I bought a couple bottles when I saw them at Trader Joe's. Of the three companies I'm talking about, Dr. Bronner's wasn't featured in any Seth Godin book I know of, but it should. It's the purple cow to end all purple cows, and it's damn good soap.
I am a sucker for good marketing and good packaging. When I first saw a Kiehl's store I knew I was going to buy a cartload of stuff. The fact that I think the products (specifically the shaving cream, non-alcohol toner, and shampoo) work so well is why I keep buying it. Only later did I find out it was a Lancome company with a trumped up back story. Being a fan of Seth Godin's books means that sometimes you either feel like a total hypocrite or just an informed shopper when you fall for stuff like Kiehl's. It is good though.
A few things that were good but not great last year:
<ol> <li>A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007TFLLC/nutshell-20">PSP</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006FSLC/nutshell-20">Wipeout Pure</a> for my trip to Italy. Sitting on the train or waiting out jetlag in the hotel went by quickly with this game. I still can't hear the music and not think of Rome or Venice.</li> <li>Any game I was insanely excited about after E3. Nothing really kept me playing this year. All the GTA:III styled games turned out to be the yellow-fade of the gaming world. "Ooh, I get to drive a motorcycle around and run over people. That's a game?" Even <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007PIEAQ/nutshell-20">Psychonauts</a> became tedious and grating after a few hours. I did nearly finish <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009I6S0O/nutshell-20">Shadow of the Colossus</a> but it was during a time when I was swamped at work and couldn't really devote my evenings to it. I'll probably finish it up in the next month.</li> <li><a href="http://www.netflix.com/">Netflix</a> is a great service, but it feels like they hit a brick wall in terms of building their application. It's the same service it was (to me) as it was a year ago. They added some friend features and cleaned up the interface a bit, but nothing that really made me feel like they were devoting much time to its future. Where are the video games? Where are the PSP movies? Netflix is rapidly becoming the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cdnow">CDNOW</a> of online rentals.</li> </ol>
There were a few things I had been excited about this year that turned out to not be what I had hoped for. While PHP turned 10 years old, Ruby on Rails (or, as I lovingly refer to it: Ruby on Rims) went 1.0. I know, Ruby on Rails runs best on LightTPD, PHP runs best on nearly everything. I think Ruby as a language is wonderfully simple and a good language to be introduced to programming on, I think I just didn't mesh with the RoR way. I can't wait to do an app with it, I just didn't trust it when I first tried. It really isn't you, Ruby, it's me.
Gamefly was a huge disappointment. Their turn around times are atrocious and it's like their interface people have never used Netflix before. When I first signed up it took nearly 2 weeks to get my first games, and my original calculation of $50 a month for one game vs. $30 for unlimited games seemed to be thrown off. Waiting a week or so to see a new game in the mail is hardly what I expected.
Not to sound like some tech-pundit blowhard but what is Microsoft doing? They're almost completely off my radar now that I and nearly all my friends work on Macs. I realize that's dangerous, but come on, isometric views of my apartment? Big whoop.
A few years ago I was into programming AIM bots. I wrote one for Metafilter that would scrape the RSS feed and send out a couple hundred IMs to people informing them of the latest posts to Mefi. I ran into the "too many messages" wall and gave up on the bot. I didn't feel like creating a web of bots, like my friend Phil Fibiger did, and so I let the bot die.
A couple years later Andy rigged his AIM bot to the Infocom interpreter, and let loose a few Infocom games to the world. It was wildly popular, and tonight while researching some AIM bots for something entirely different, I ran into something I hadn't seen in a while. Andy had registered infocombots 1-3, and someone else decided to register infocombot4.
As they say on the Internet, hilarity ensued (read comment #6).
I just bought my second and third Fisher Space pen. I accidentally left my first one in the car I dropped off at Hertz so I bought two more (through Merlin's link). I like to find something that works and stick with it, and right now it's these pens. Sure they write through blood and water, and you can write upside down, but it's really all about the size-doubling form factor. When closed it's about 3/4ths the size of a normal pen, when you take the cap off and place it at the end of the pen the size grows to a normal size. It also doesn't have a clip, which are great if you wear pens in your shirt pocket, but not good when it gets stuck on sheets of papers as you try to pull it out of your bag.
The black metal housing easily beats my previous favorite pen: the Sakura Micron, which was plastic. Though the pen wrote well, the solid heft of the Fisher Space pens
My mom showed me how to make a chicken pot pie this weekend. I decided to use the recipe to make a cherry pie.
View the set.
DropSend - Once again I will say: it's not the idea, it's the follow-through. It's not if you have cool ideas, everyone can have a cool idea, it's if you follow-through and keep at it. This is what I wish Dropload could have been.
While moving my computer and office stuff to our new office (in the rain) I slipped on some painted wooden stairs while carrying my G5 and landed on my back and upper hip area. Nobody was around to see it, and I found myself at the bottom of the stairs completely in shock at what had just happened.
When I say "found myself" I realize I don't remember actually getting to the bottom only that I was laying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs with my cell phone in hand. For some reason, I called Chas, the sales guy in the office. Not an ambulance or 911, but Chas. So strange. I don't remember what I said to him, but I was babbling about helping me with my computer and I had fallen. As I was talking to him I was thinking "why am I calling him?" and I had to call him back to assure him I was fine and not to drive out to Ross just to marvel at my skinned knee.
I thought I'd write about it just now as I'm taking a round of aspirins because it just occurred to me how funny it was I had called him. He's a good guy to call when you're in trouble, I think.
Anyway, I'm in a terrible amount of pain, but I'm happy that my G5 started up like nothing was wrong, and I didn't break any bones. I got a crazy hip bruise that makes a crackling noise when I poke it (dried blood?) and my shin looks like I've taped a strip of beef jerky to it, but otherwise I'm okay.
I'm probably obligated to point out that Chas will not only drive to Ross to help you with your broken G5 but he'll give you a great deal on some weblog sponsorship. You too can Call Chas!
Seeing these boards this weekend stirred up some memories. I have to dig out and scan my 'zines and photos from that period. You gotta see my hair, dude. Fucking ruled.
A few went missing, broke, I sold or gave away. My favorite is still here though, the Corey O'Brien (link). I learned all sorts of kick-flips on that one. It was the second to last board I had before I quit and went to college. The final board I had was (not pictured) by Tom Knox.
Tom Knox was this kid who skated in Fresno/Tulare. He had a great style on street and would thrown in a 70's style turn in his runs of boneless airs and fancy kick flips. I worshiped his style, and about the time I was quitting he had gone pro. I went down to the skate-shop and bought the board even though I barely ever skated. I still have that one in the closet somewhere.
That blue Caballero is signed by Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, and Tony Hawk. Some skate jam in Fresno I think. My friend and I got up to go get his signature and he forgot his board where we were sitting, he ran back but it was gone. That was Damien, he died a few years later in a car accident. We were pretty good skating friends and used to take breaks and talk about our future and stuff. I still remember skating this parking block for 8 hours with him and learning how to do no-complies across this gap. Man that's hard to talk about, even now. I didn't even go to his funeral.
Notable Missing Boards:
--Original Powell & Peralta Rat Bones (gave it to Kevin Phillips who promptly sawed it into a hosoi copy)
--Hot Pink Tony Hawk, the one that was really narrow and had a lot of concave.
--Rob Roskopp #2
--Natas Kaupas - I just remember it being black. I'll have to find it online...
--John Lucero - It had an elephant on it. I loved that board but gave it away to some kid who ended up selling it.
Can someone help me identify that center Santa Cruz board? It had an "Enjoy Coke"-styled banner through the center.
TypePad's reaction to their service interruptions was very cool. How can you not appreciate their candor? If I didn't have a TypePad site I'd be getting one after watching this unfold.
My sister IM'd me when she received her email about this offer, completely blown away by the fact that they'd do this. My response was: "This is why I told you to use them."
This past weekend I was in a spot, I needed a programming book that nobody near me carries, I didn't want to wait for Amazon to ship it and I didn't just want a reference, I wanted a real book to read cover to cover, so online searches weren't doing the job. Just before I gave up hope, I noticed a little link on the Amazon page that said, "Other Editions: Digital". Before you could say "SUCKER" I had the Adobe Reader EBX file on my desktop waiting for me to crack it open.
I knew what I was getting myself into, I knew it'd be a pain in the ass and I'd have to use some crappy reader. I saw on the download page that I couldn't print, or even copy and paste out of it. When I finally installed it, I got a few more finger waving warnings.
Now that I've used it for a couple of days (only on my Powerbook because Adobe wants me to sign up on their site so I can get permission to copy it to other computers—as if!) I am so annoyed with e-books that I don't think I'll buy another Adobe Reader formatted one again.
I did some searches on how to crack the thing. Not because I want to share it or sell it, but because I want to copy and paste code into the editor I'm working in. That's it, I want to copy some text so I don't have to type it all in by hand... Oh and don't get me started on searching in an e-book, since they want to keep the content in the document they don't seem to build an index of the data, so searching for a word means using a really bad pattern matching tool window.
Although I usually go to the Internet + Google to read up on languages and such, there's nothing like having a good book with an index at your finger tips for finding something out quickly. Very few sites that act as reference databases do a very good job at teaching the intricacies of the language.
I own every single one of Cory's books. Half of them were downloaded and read/sampled before purchased. Is anyone out there leading the charge with computer books like Cory is with SciFi? How can I be a criminal and crack my Adobe Reader? I suppose the nature of computer books (they expire) is probably why nobody wants to take up that challenge, though it seems like it would compel someone to keep updating and caring for their e-book if they knew they could sell it over and over again.
I did think of one idea: the book allows me to pipe the content to one of the OS X voices for accessibility reasons, and if I knew anything about the voice system on the Mac, I bet I could capture that data and redirect the text to a text file and reformat it, but that doesn't work so good for code like it would for paragraphs of text.
Something I decided long ago with books, movies, and video games is that there is just too much good stuff out there to not move on to something else. I used to slog through things that angered me, but now I just put them away, or send them back to Netflix or Gamefly.
This past weekend I tried my first GameFly game called "Geist", a game I had been tempted to buy because for some reason I think first person shooters would be fun on my Gamecube. (The GC controller being a favorite for two-stick movement.)
By the third boss I was so over the game. For the same reason a lot of games lose me, I can figure out what I'm supposed to do, but either the controls or the AI is so impossibly frustrating that I feel like I'm being punished. After 40 minutes of trying to get the perfect shot off, I gave up and sent the game back.
I just value my time too much now to put myself through some frustrating piece of media I'm supposed to be enjoying.
I've been thinking a lot about the big three (books, movies, video games), about the pricing and value you get back. Video games, because of their price, always demanded a larger amount of patience.
Now that I've signed up for GameFly, and I don't have to drop $50 on something I'm going to be frustrated with, I feel a little empowered to just move on to the next game if I'm bothered by something. I think I might start enjoying games less because I'm not forcing myself to get past a particularly frustrating level.
This is weird seeing my sister and her friends in my old house back in Long Beach.
Also, they're eating corn dogs, baked beans, and potato chips for dinner. That's kind of weird, too.
I did something a few months ago that I just realized was having a positive effect on my day. I turned off the automatic checking of email in my client. Someone, probably Merlin, suggested this a few months ago, and I did it to try it out.
It just occurred to me that I have been working this way for a few months and I realized my interruption rate has fallen quite a bit. I'm one of those programmers who can either be programming or not programming, not both. If I'm doing some production or busy monkey work for they day, it's hard to step back into programming mode without a bit of jump-starting. Same for when I'm programming, getting sidetracked with minor items for the day tends to derail the project a bit.
Anyway, if you're feeling a little interrupted during your day, try it out.
Link: Netflix: Tokyo Story.
When you rent this movie, be sure to watch it early in the day because when it's over you will want to call your parents and tell them you love them and ask them if they want to come visit you in Tokyo.
Amber and I watched this way too late last night and couldn't make our calls home. Don't make that mistake!
Sometime after I was born my dad went out and bought a football and put it in my crib hoping it'd have some sort of effect on who I'd become. The story goes that the next day they checked in on me and the football was deflated and had been pushed into the corner of the crib.
Growing up that football was always in the toybox or closet, still devoid of air and never used. I always remember moving it out of the way to get to some other thing I wanted to play with.
My dad had high hopes for me playing football, but by high-school his genes had barely produced a 105lb. 5'8" pitcher with an OK fast-ball and curve ball that fooled very few (if any). It wasn't exactly what he had hoped for, but I know he was as pleased as hell that I had discovered I liked baseball, and he encouraged me to keep at it and get better.
My parents are those typical good parents. I noticed over the years how they adjusted their desires of what they wanted us to be or do, and celebrated and accepted who we became and wanted to do. I've never had one of them say, "Why can't you be a doctor like so-and-so's son?" or "Why are you wasting your life on the computer?" Instead, they encouraged anything we attempted and supported us like it was their own endeavor. I have memories of my dad leaving work early to be there for the first inning of every game I played, or my mom sewing patches on my sister's "punk rock" denim jacket.
What I'm trying to say is, when Apple did this:
They were not this:
I feel like however our logo turns out today, it's just some desires and wishes about what we'd like our creation to become tomorrow. If we're mindful of who we are, and who we become, our brand will reflect it. And our logo will most definitely change. It has to change. If it doesn't I think we will have become those bad parents who cling to dreams of their kids being something they're not.
I know I don't talk about work here very much, mainly because I'm so busy*. All my personal projects have been completely abandoned. I don't even feed my cat anymore, I just leave plates in the sink...
Ok, not really, we didn't bring the cat because our new apartment didn't allow them. My loss is my sister's, uh, gain(?).
I see the stupid light at the stupid end of the tunnel on this not stupid project. My fingers hurt**. I have written a lot of code. I'm not going to go into too many details but the phrase that's been in my mind since I started this was "This is going to be the finest stretch of code I've ever written in my life." So far, so good. Unfortunately the rule of fast/good/cheap is proving to be a pain in the ass. Not having a team (including a producer) has been the biggest problem. Days can get completely lost when you're the only HTML Production/Ad-Server guy in the office and you're needed for the day.
I'm also not used to not hitting deadlines, at least not missing them by such a wide margin. I pretty much
almost*** teared up in our weekly meeting when I realized I was going to be off about two weeks. And it wasn't just a simple two weeks but a very difficult slog of getting things done while new stuff was coming in. It was just one of those moments where you feel like, "Wow, I have a lot to do."
Also, and this is not to slag my friends at IM, but it's been an incredible amount of fun to work with smart, really smart, people who are good at what they do. These people impress me to no end.
I am quite happy with what we've come up with, although for a few months now I've felt like I was trying to push start a locomotive, I now feel like everything is moving far faster than I can keep a handle on. This weekend is going to be fun because it's one of my favorite parts of programming, the run-through and clean things up phase. Those annoying little functions you want to visit again because they could make more sense. Also, commenting and repairing bugs you come across, or expect to happen. I love finding ambiguities in code and clarifying what's being done for whoever should come across it next.
God, I sure did ramble, didn't I? The point of this post was to point to our logo. At least, a direction we're considering. Federated Media Publishing Inc.: New Logo: Your Input Wanted.....
I really need to post more often and release pressure of that posting hose I just let loose. Sorry!
*I used to tell people I was "busy" before. I have to laugh now at what I used to think was busy. :)
** They really do. It's depressing me.
*** Fine! I did. There were witnesses, I can't lie.
This made my day. Not because Mena thinks she said something dumb, she probably didn't, but because whatever I said had some germ of truth in it and Mena liked it. I say a lot of dumb things, but I say them in front of a small number of people who know that:
Anyway, I fret about things I say here (and now about things I say on LJ!) but it's nice knowing that people still get it, however poorly worded.
Also, thank god I don't have more than the 100 or so readers who keep visiting my site. I can't imagine what it would be like if things were scrutinized as much as they are on the more popular sites.
Q: Where do you go to search? Sean: Google and Google images, which is great for Powerpoint presentations. Q: You use Powerpoint in high school? Sean: Yup. I also go to iTunes and then BitTorrent. iTunes is a great catalog.
The best weblogs are the ones in everyone's "drafts" folder. So much of what I used to write and like to write about won't work today.
I heard a "blogger" on NPR this morning, totally unprepared and ineffective, trying to make arguments by doing this trick where she would just repeat her beliefs or start down one path and then simply stop, ask the moderator and the other people to FORGET WHAT SHE HAD JUST SAID and then stated her beliefs again, ignoring the question entirely. It was a lot of fun listening to her make a fool of herself and edit her little blog entry in real-time, but I really didn't get why she was so scared of a celibate gay man and not a practicing pedophile.
Webloggers of 1999 don't equal bloggers in 2005. I really need to accept it and move on. I recently found out that a few people had migrated to LiveJournal (yes, LiveJournal. Really!) because they could set controls on who could read and have more freedom to write about things they didn't want etched in Google for eternity.
I was kind of shocked when saw the names of people who were on it. It's like when you're wandering around the party thinking people had gone home and then you find them all in the back-room smoking pot and giggling at a television that isn't even on.
Anyway, I guess I've been wandering around the party these days. All the people I used to read didn't get boring, they just found someplace else to hang out (and didn't tell me! jerks).
That's what SHE said.
A lot of buzzing going on with that phrase Web2.0. It's a fine phrase. It's like Ajax, easier to say than XMLHTTPRequest Object and it provides some context for a conversation. But like Ajax, it's the same story as before: people like to get excited about new things, even if those new things are just the same old things synthesized or standardized in a new way.
Whatever you want to call it, whatever you think it means, I know one thing: the people who actually build stuff win this round. I could not be happier for Andy, Leonard, and Gordon. The right people got the right reward for doing it the way it's supposed to be done.
When I lived in LA we used to meet up once a week for a "geek dinner" where we'd get a chance to talk about web topics, ideas for apps, or see what cool gadget Leonard just got from Asia that we wouldn't see in our stores for 5 years.
Andy's original idea for our "geek dinners" was based around the famous Pho mailing-list meetings that would happen in Berkeley. His work on Upcoming back then, I think, was prompted by the idea of our dinnners, and how others would want to meet up in a similar way. We always had a problem choosing where to eat, and we'd invariably end up at the noodle place followed by boba.
While Upcoming evolved into something almost entirely different, it's a clear example of how things should work. You need something. You build it for yourself, you build it for others. You share it, refine it, and get rewarded for it.
That's every version of Web in my book.
I bought my copy of Agile Rails Development after using a copy purchased by someone else. Their name was at the bottom of each page, and though it was kind of weird seeing it over and over, it didn't seem like such a big deal...I bought my own copy soon after because the book was worth buying.
But now the more I think about it, I'm just encouraging these folks to start pasting my information in my documents, documents that could get pilfered in a laptop theft or accidental folder sharing—there are plenty of stories of P2P app users accidentally sharing their entire HD.
Whenever I see some strange DRM scheme I think about any of the introductions to one of Cory Doctorow's books. The ones where he points out he's given away hundreds of thousands of digital copies AND gone through numerous print editions. I still buy his books because they're easy to read as a book, would cost me a heck of a lot more to print it, and yeah, I want to support him as a writer.
Anyway, Cory tells it better than me, you can read it for yourself (gosh!) on his site.
Oddly enough I spent most of my birthday alone in our office, since everyone was out and working remote, I had I pretty quiet day in Ross.
My girlfriend and I ask each other how or days went at the end of the day, and tonight I will say it was a "good" day, though it's become harder to answer that question recently. Every day I make a list of the things I need to do, carrying over un-finished items from the previous day, and then with some respect to priority go about crossing them off. Repeat.
Before I started here, if I got a majority of them done I'd consider it a "good" day. If I got all of them done, giving myself the afternoon to screw with some new API, that was even better.
I don't know where I was going with this, or maybe I do, but though my days are "good" (in that I get a lot of things done) sometimes they aren't the things I need to be doing to get further with my main objective here. Having the flexibility of a larger company, with options for delegation (and producers waving schedules) and feeling out how to proceed with other engineers, are missed on a day when I am literally alone and running through my tasks.
That's why it's been hard to say I had a "good" day. Pretty much every day is a good one when I really think about it, but some days I feel like I ran five miles and only got about five feet. Today is one of those days.
PS, I'm about a million times happier in what I do now compared to before, in case that wasn't clear. I think turning 33 (1/3 of 100! I exclaimed to Amber this morning), sitting in the dark in this stable house, and seeing my days fly by with a bunch of crossed off items but many more pages to fill in my little moleskine, is a bit daunting. But I wanted daunting tasks, and daunting tasks I have.
PPS, I actually wrote this on a day where I got the chance talk to another engineer about the project and I think it reminded me of what I used to have, causing me to reflect on my current situation. Since he's contributing more and more now, I think it will help lift me out of this state.
PPPS, This is the first post in a long time I've written and not immediately sent to draft in MarsEdit for being so personal. It's my birthday, dammit.
I did not know the back-story of the song "Ring of Fire". It makes me love Johnny, June, and the song that much more.
I've had friends get married since I was in my teens. I'm realizing now, at age 33 I have very different reactions to my friends getting married.
When I was in my 20's: "OMG, they're getting married this weekend in Vegas? HAha, that's so funny. They are crazy and spontaneous!"
When I was in my late 20's: "So weird, they were meant for each other though. I wonder if he's still going to be coming to beer and pool night..."
When I was in my early 30's: "Wow, everyone is suddenly getting married! How weird. I've been to like 3 weddings since Friday."
Now I'm in my mid 30's: "They're just getting married because they want new stuff or she's pregnant. Fuck, that's it for beer and pool night."
(Not that this applies to anyone currently planning to get married. I just realized my reaction has changed. Please don't un-invite me. I bought you salad tongs.)
I think that's pretty cool.
This morning I noticed my mobile phone's battery was pretty low, so I decided to bring my charger with me to work. I rolled the cord up tight around the body of the plug and took it down to the car. I placed it in the back seat and it immediately began un-spooling, the potential energy in the cord releasing itself and sending my plug bouncing over the seat. Instead of stopping it, I thought to myself, "ooh, neat" and watched the cord tumble to the open doorway and leap off the side onto the ground where it cracked open with a snap.
I had about a good second or two to stop it, but no, my brain made the decision that watching my $15 phone charger acting like a spring was far more interesting than stopping it.
I don’t know why, but today I’ve been thinking a lot about Long Beach. Since moving up to San Francisco I’ve been pretty excited about this city, but today I kept thinking about 2nd Street, driving over to Fingerprints to buy another CD I don’t need, or just standing out on the beach in the warm (hot) sand.
I miss that stretch of Bellflower Blvd. where you can get anything you want, provided it’s electronics, housewares, food, or books. I miss weather that you don’t even notice…
And believe it or not I miss driving 3 miles to a parking-lot, circling for 2 miles looking for parking, and then walking nearly a mile to wherever you originally wanted to go in the first place. Yeah, I miss that.
Most of all I miss living in the same part of the state as my family and nearly every one of my friends that I know face-to-face. I miss the people at IM and the strange folks who lived on my street. I miss my pick-up truck and the way the door wouldn’t open unless you threw your shoulder into it.
I miss my scissors. In a fit of Express™ packing I left my drawer of random bits of string, scissors, rubber bands, batteries, buttons, and assorted plastic things that you find around the house and just know you’ll need someday.
We bought a set of scissors at Ikea yesterday, and when we got home I pulled them out of the bag and noticed they were tied together with a piece of thick plastic. I realized I didn’t have scissors to get to my new scissors, and it made me remember all the crap I gave up by moving here. (oh so poignant, don’t you think?)
It’s not all bad, of course, I’m doing this with the one person I couldn’t leave behind, and wouldn’t have left behind.
Dear friends, buy this shirt. All profits are going to the Red Cross.
Remember when Redd Kross was the shit? I do. Was that just an LA thing? Possibly. That is Redd Kross and not Kriss Kross. I must admit, in like 92 I put my pants on backwards on purpose for like 10 minutes and walked around the house. Watching The Box while unemployed and bored made me do shit like that. I will tell you all a story about my Taylor Dayne inspired shenanigans some other day.
If you are a making a website, and you have the need for a checkbox or radio button, please (for the love of god or God) use the "label" tag to make that text clickable:
<input type="checkbox" value="on" name="somethin" id="somethin"><label for="somethin">Check Me Out</label>
I can not stress enough how important that is. Check it out:
In a week where Jason brought to light a storm over AJAX on Wikipedia, I had a run-in with a particularly nasty Wikipedian who is HELL BENT on preserving an entry he knows nothing about. He's reverted versions of an entry that make no sense, purely because people are voting its deletion. He's like some sort of attack dog switched to "on" position and I doubt he'll give up without giving it his best.
I stupidly stuck my foot in the conversation when I should have just let it be. It's amazing how easy it is to get drawn into that machine, when all you want to do is correct a few nasty and incorrect assertions. It's a world I need to just experience from the outside.
Kind of like visiting a slaughterhouse, it's best just not to know.
While the world doesn't need another weblog template site, it sure could use a web app template site. Not a template system like Smarty, but a site where a good web designer with some knowledge of the types of screens (login, form pages, user pages, tag soup pages, etc) that a web developer would need could be prepared. Nothing sucks more than having an idea, building it in a couple hours, and then having to scramble to find something that doesn't look like total poop.
I'm not saying we need a bunch of Kubrick web apps cluttering the landscape, but I'd prefer to use a nice set of form elements and styled pages that take into account features of web apps that don't exist in weblogs, than running with my typical Helvetica/White Box/Auto-Margined And Centered/Floating On A Sea Of #C6C6C6 design technique.
Some day soon, I hope, I'll stop doing this:
@campaign = new Campaign.new
Otherwise things are starting to really progress rapidly now that I have a better handle on RoR. It's kind of like trying to get a car pushed from a standstill, once you get going it's pretty hard to stop, and sometimes it feels like you're going a bit too fast. I find myself asking questions about problems I see coming up two or three versions from now.
There is a difference, of course, between understanding Rails and how everything interacts, and being good with Ruby. I think I waste a little bit more time than normal solving problems with the language. PHP is such a peculiar amalgam of languages that I find myself wanting to solve problems with old methods I learned from not having certain built-in functions. I was always working towards MVC with PHP, so that hasn't been much of a problem.
Also, TextMate, my new favorite code editor on the planet, is a champ. Michael took a peek at the new bundles included (check the Window->Show Bundle Editor item) and blew my mind with all the neat triggers. See this post on their blog about some miscellaneous release notes for the recent beta.
Where I used to work there was a quote on one of the doors from David Ogilvy, "When you advertise fire-extinguishers, open with the fire."
I always liked that quote because it's something often missed when people are trying to explain what they're selling or even just trying to convey. I see this happen the most on web sites for applications that have a strong visual component. I can never understand why someone who wrote an application that does X doesn't have a nice screenshot on the front page showing it do X.
This entry started because Jason pointed me towards a MovableType plug-in called BigPAPI that does something very cool and very visual (allows plug-ins to affect MT's interface), yet there are no screenshots to be found.
I can't remember if I'd ever brought this up, but I had an idea for desserts at restaurants. It's always so difficult to decide on what dessert to get, and sometimes you don't even want a whole cheesecake or tort, so how about some restaurant serves spoonfuls of dessert?
Imagine it: 50¢ a spoon for cheesecake, apple pie, maybe two apple pies, a cherry pie, some angel food cake with strawberries...
I can't decide which is worse: finding parking on Friday night, or finding where you parked on Monday morning.
I'm going to follow Anil's lead and put a call out for something in the Cole Valley/Noe Valley area. Living a block south of Haight has been nice, but if I hear "Yo, bitch, I said 'STEP THE FUCK OFF!'" one more time from this window I'm seriously going to go down there and explain to the gentleman the merits of a respectful, two-way relationship. Or something.
Also: walking + hills = holy fuck.
Setting your ringtone to The Benny Hill Theme Song is a riot right up until the moment someone actually calls you.
We had a FilePile goodbye meetup at a great Long Beach bar called Joe Jost’s. I didn’t go there nearly enough in the time I lived in Long Beach.
Today has been a long todo list day. Some stuff piled up this week and I had to burn through them most of the morning. I'm creating most of my todos, so it's really my own fault, but one thing I've already realized is I have to do things in moderation. It's very easy to bite off more than you can chew when you're eating alone most of the time.
I'll be up in SF soon and in an office. Something about having a place to go means having boundaries on your day.
I do enjoy having a nice walk to lunch, though.
I don't mean to get all cliched blogger on you, but last night I had a dream I was on Jeopardy and the final Jeopardy question (yeah, it was a dream, dreams don't follow the Jeopardy rules) was "Name one song from Len's 1999 album 'You Can't Stop The Bum Rush' that was not 'Steal My Sunshine'."
I panicked. I had no idea. Yeah, I remembered that one song, but did they even have other songs? They must have if there was an album.
So today I actually went to Amazon and looked up Len's album and found out they had a song called "Cheekybugger". I committed it to memory.
We spent the weekend securing a sublet and driving around San Francisco neighborhoods. We got about this || close to taking the first one we saw (pictured on the right), but realized we'd be making a big mistake not waiting to see if we could do better. It wasn't a bad place, and the landlord was incredibly nice and helpful, but who takes the first thing they see? Not us.
One cab driver told us it was much better in San Francisco as he'd lived in "LA" (Woodland Hills) for a few years and was re-located to SF. His allergies disappeared and he said he felt healthier--despite being laid off almost immediately after arriving. Thanks, man.
The story did get him a better tip, though.
Any apartment hunting tips would be greatly appreciated. We like Noe Valley, the pan handle region (?), and Cole Valley but not set on them.
This has been my first official week of working at home. The thing I have discovered is I CANNOT STOP WORKING. I can't control myself. My computer is always on and I have some task or thing to think about. It's not like the work is incredibly overwhelming either, it's just that having no delineation between work time and home time, or work space and home space, which means I find it easy to just keep working.
It's not really a problem, I'm enjoying it, and soon I'll be back in the office and have the ability to leave work, but for now I find it funny how much more I'm doing and accomplishing compared to when I used to drive into work and be there for 8 hours.
Another strange thing that's happened is I'm not keeping track of what clothes I've been wearing. I had to go to the bookstore the other day and while standing in the middle of the stacks it occurred to me I was wearing a shirt I had slept in—two nights in a row. Yuck.
I also thought it'd be fun to try growing a beard. It has been a lot of fun if having a really itchy neck and not so much a beard but a b e a r d sounds like fun. There are pictures around my parents' house of my dad sporting his 70's style beard and sideburns. They look great. Manly. Cool.
I look infected. Like I just tangled with a black porcupine.
I think one of the biggest reasons I continue to be bothered by the Minor Threat reaction is that a few friends and other webloggers have said, "Some people probably thought Minor Threat and Dischord endorsed it!" (To paraphrase)
It reminded me of an argument I had with my sister a few months ago about seeing "Ocean's 11". She told me she'd never see it because George Clooney was in it and George Clooney was a liberal and he says things against our President that sways people's minds. Not hers, just people. Other people she didn't even know. She was looking out for them, you see.
This attitude of "I know what's best for other people" is a pretty pervasive attitude these days. We all seem to know what's best for everyone else because everyone else is weak and I'm the only perceptive one who needs to save them from being confused about shit.
I think knowing who Dischord is and who Minor Threat were provides a bit of immunity to the piece. It seems like all the ranting that's going on is by people who would never be led to believe Dischord would give a green light to that image. That was the point, I thought. Make it as close as possible because it's a skate tour ending in D.C. and you want people (people who know of the image) to say "What The Fuck?"
Heck, I said "What The Fuck?" when I first saw it. Then I laughed because something from my younger days was being co-opted by Nike—which was pretty damn funny to me.
Maybe years from now people will pose like that album cover to sell things the way so many companies have used Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues'" man-in-the-street-flipping-cards-over image. And nobody will care because it's just this iconic device that people use to sell shit and get your attention.
You know you've gone and fell into something good when you leave work on your first day and you see a deer walking across the street. And so you wait for the deer to cross the road, and the person coming the other direction, who has undoubtedly seen this sort of thing many times, calmly looks down at his cell phone or latte and waits for the deer to decide what the deer is going to do.
John just published a list of FM's values that make me feel pretty good about what we're going to be doing here. I'm proud to work somewhere that not only understands what weblogging is about, but understands how important it is to keep those conversations authentic or else it'll all just fall apart.
Like I said, I sure fell into something good.
My friend Mat and I talked a bit this morning about the Minor Threat / Major Threat ruckus going on right now. He called me cynical for equating it with some t-shirt vendor selling a shirt with "McPothead" written on it in a McDonald's font.
I'm not going to get into any debates about what punk is or isn't, that's for whoever to decide on their own. I just think that caring about imagery so much as to create a lifestyle around it is falling in the same trap so many people rebelled against a few years ago. Treating your beliefs like a pair of Jordache jeans is what they want you to do.
I love the remix culture, and I will try to consistently support it when I see it.
I'm in Marin this week living in a hotel where the only Internet access, described cheerfully by the woman at the front desk turned out to be "a data-port in the side of your room's phone."
After a few hours hacking away with incorrect information given to me by the Cingular rep (who chuckled when I said I was using a Macintosh) I finally figured out how to connect at a whopping 56kbps. I even made a phone call while connected!
Anyway, this guy's mobile phone modem scripts saved me from going insane. Everything you need to know is on his site.
I’ve become very sensitive to points and the idea of using a point system to incentivize repeated use.
FilePile is purely a status thing, though sometimes I wish I would have used them for something more tangible. Status works for most of the people on the site, but a few seem to go out of their way to earn negative points.
I quit my job yesterday. After nearly six years of doing web development at a marketing company I decided to take the leap into something I've become really excited about.
The day I gave notice coincided with the company's monthly all-staff meeting. As usual there were lots of jokes, cheering, silliness (I won a Belding-like award for setting up Bugzilla for a company project--it was an aluminum foil bowl filled with candy), there was a show-and-tell of some great print work we did for Newegg, a Yahoo Games E3 video they shot in our office which was a riot, more silliness, clapping, the announcement of the new hires with photos so we could keep track of all the new faces in our 100+ person office...
It was hardly the company I joined six years ago. Back then the 15 of us could comfortably fit around a medium sized desk and we were far too small a group to clap at anything. In December 1999 I was coming off a year of running a company with a friend and discovering that I wasn't cut out for the business side of things. I hated dealing with clients and found that most of my time was spent trying to get paid or trying to snag new business so in five months I could be calling them trying to get paid. So I came in from the cold and joined Ignited Minds--previously the very small marketing arm of Activision (where I had worked a couple years before) that had left, silly flaming logo in hand, to "market to people who played".
Of course then the bubble went "pop" and our little company just dropped a gear and kept going, doing anything and everything for clients to get the job done. I made Flash banners with little racing games inside them when we didn't have an actionscripter. I learned how to manage Linux boxes, MySQL servers, Apache servers, PHP, Perl, Python, ASP, I wrote COM objects that accepted file uploads (which through late-night testing lead to the creation of FilePile). We strung together content management systems and built all sorts of tracking devices and log analyzation tools that ran on machines that would reboot themselves if you looked at them funny. Looking back it was all a little punk rock.
Skip ahead a few years and I find myself the Director of Interactive Technology (Jeez, the more middle the manager the more flowery the title, I guess) at a very robust company in a nicer economic climate. I have a small team of developers who are some of the smartest most pro-active guys on the planet. My job is mainly taking as much credit for their hard work as I possibly can (har har, kidding). But really, I was just settling into the new job when I got a very interesting email from John Battelle about a project he was thinking about doing.
I had added the news feed for FMPub after seeing it mentioned on someone's site a few days before his email. I vaguely remember him saying it was going to be a transparent attempt at blogging about his new startup and I thought that it was probably going to be something worth reading so I added it.
Our first conversation happened while I was about to go to Italy for two weeks, and so my brain was probably already out the door. I didn't put his new company weblog and the phone call together, so I didn't think much of it at the time. We talked for a bit, I went to Italy, came back, didn't hear from him for a while and figured that might be the end of it.
The next time we talked he gave me the full run-down and everything clicked. Looking back on what I've done, the Droploads, the Dropcashes, the tools I built for Ignited Minds, the playground I built for the people of FilePile, it's always been about making web technologies more accessible to people with needs. Dropcash is my favorite example of this, as it places some powerful functionality into the hands of non-technical people with a specific need to show the progress of a fundraiser--with just a few lines of code. Dropload is just the use of a simple PHP feature and some database calls, yet over 100,000 people have needed it and used it. I like making those connections for people who can't do it for themselves. It's why I love to program so much.
I quit my job on Monday because FMPub lets me make these connections on a larger scale. It makes connections between passionate people with needs for a support structure and people who need that authenticity for their marketing efforts. As someone who has been an honorary marketer for six years, I know how difficult it is to get a message in front of people. FMPub is going to offer a remarkable dialog between the two camps and I couldn't be happier to know I will be helping that dialog happen.
I run Dropcash. We just surpassed the $73,000 (wow) mark for people using us to track their PayPal fundraisers, and we are looking to clear $100,000 by the end of the year.
A lot of people email me because Dropcash does almost what they want to do but they need it to do some other thing that is specific to their project. I think on a weekly basis someone asks me to code them up some PayPal function that any programmer could do if they saw the API. It's terrifyingly simple, and I think there are still a million ideas out there that could be offered up in the way Dropcash is.
This makes me think two things: 1. PayPal needs to do more with their API and tools. The fact that people email me asking how to do something that PayPal could already do for them in a couple hours of work is remarkable. 2. Someone could make a good amount of money providing PayPal solutions all day. And, I guess 3. Someone who wanted to be a PayPal API developer should just buy Dropcash off me to use as a calling card.
For whatever reason PayPal does what they think is best for their company and maybe $73,000 or $100,000 of pass-through is not a big deal to them. I just feel like there are a lot of opportunities out there for people to get money moving faster and easier, and nobody is taking advantage of it.
Matt's suggestions for enjoying audiobooks are dead on. I am partial to non-fiction as I don't trust the tone or timing of most people with fiction. But iTunes usually gives me a pretty good idea on what to expect.
I have two more links for audiobooks you might enjoy. Free and nearly free ones. First, there's the Project Gutenberg audiobooks read by computers or people. I'm not so sure I want Zarvox reading my Mark Twain, but I do like the concept.
Next there's the Telltale Weekly that is very close to free (starting at 25¢ a book).
People who might be getting this error in their new Ruby On Rails setup who have just edited their database.yml with their password that starts with an exclamation point might want to know that the exclamation point causes the error.
I found out the hard way; suspecting it was an FCGI problem, which it wasn't.
This is on a debian system. I haven't tried it on anything else so I'm hesitant to add it to the Rails Wiki.
Blame Seth Godin, but I've become enamored with the idea of writing short, concise books on the subject of programming. (Maybe not me writing them, but somebody writing them.) Along the lines of The Pragmatic Programmer or Code Complete but with the goal of examining a single concept.
As an employee of a marketing company I've picked up a couple of Seth's books and have been able to apply some of the concepts to our discussions. Since I didn't go to any sort of marketing school, finding myself in the middle of a medium-sized marketing company compelled me to do some digging into marketing concepts.
I like that Seth's books are piecemeal and stick to one subject rather than trying to tackle a ton of concepts at once. The books are, by no coincidence I'm sure, small and easy to handle. I never find myself wanting to skip chapters like so many programmer focused books (the above books included) and I never feel left out of the conversation--meaning so many books end up focusing on the languages rather than concepts, and when those languages are Microsoft-centric I get turned off by them.
Taking a cue from Seth I think there's a group of programmers with a world-view that their programming process, though good, can do with some small insight on how to make it better. That every programmer has certain areas of their process which could use some modification and would like to work on those specific areas rather than do a complete overhaul.
While walking in The Castro we come upon the words
G E T O
B O Y S
somewhat randomly drawn on the ground in chalk.
Me: That's weird. This doesn't seem like the sort of neighborhood where people would be into the Geto Boys.
Her: It says
G E T
B O Y S
Me: Ahhh, that's different then.
I give up. The SEO goons have won this round as I've taken Everything TypeKey down for re-tooling. You can still access the site, you just can't edit it. Please tell me if there are any missing pages or links to SEO spam.
Instiki needs TypeKey support!
I'm sick of five star ratings. Five stars in relation to what, exactly? I trust groups rather than individuals, and would like to make my purchasing decisions based on that.
I sound cranky for some reason. I'm not cranky, I just hope that if you're out there contemplating a five star rating system, you re-think what you want people to actually get out of the experience.
The SEOs who are going to burn in hell might have something to do with my mood today.
My sister and I have always called it "Memorail Day" due to the fact that the town we grew up in had a park called Memorial Park, and next to it a store that mistakenly (I think) spelled their name "Memorail Park Grocery".
The store's façade underwent a series of facelifts through the years, but the name has always stayed the same.
Unfortunately the only thing I can post from flickr is the above test post message. Nothing else works. I wanted to show you this picture of Uranus. Oh well.
My office is about 9' x 15' and contains a number of smells as a number of people walk in and out of it daily--sometimes they leave smells behind. I am rarely outside so I wouldn't factor those smells into the equation. The house is somewhat larger than my office, but contains two Ionic Breeze devices which do battle with the forces of cat breeze. So basically I live in a giant cube of ozone which leaves room for little else.
My girlfriend sent me to the Venice Boardwalk to buy incense with the instructions, "None of that god damned hippie patchouli shit." (I was sooo tempted to buy it, really, but then I'd have to smell it and sometimes jokes are only good when you recount them on your weblog). So yeah, I bought 25 sticks of Cherry and other things that weren't Patchouli for $1.
My coffee mug still has a bit of coffee in it.
Speaking of smells, here's something I think is particularly strange: I don't smell. Not like normal people at least. I've never bought a stick of deodorant or anti-perspirant. It's kind of weird but whatever, I could have no toes.
After sitting on the sidelines for a few years with my POS Danger HipTop while everyone else was using Flickr and Bluetooth and keeping in sync with their address book, I finally gave up on Danger and bought the Sony Ericsson s710a.
It's taking some time getting used to not having a device built for text based conversations, but I think this is a good thing. I'm trying to stop composing and chatting on my mobile device because I realize being outside and away from the Internet is probably when I shouldn't be on the Internet.
Today on the ride into work I was thinking about jobs in history that have been obsoleted due to style or technology. The milkman,
This old post of mine is still attracting people to share their memories of television in southern California. There are some great memories in there.
I noticed two Tiger things that I think are pretty cool.
My Pocket Ref just arrived in the mail (thank you Amazon Prime). I thumbed through one of these once at a friend's house while we tried to figure out how to tie a certain knot, but I had forgotten the name. The other night I saw it on an episode of Mythbusters so I immediately ordered it.
I'll probably never need to decipher proofreader marks, convert furlongs to feet, or signal a crane operator, but I've always been the sort of person who enjoys having that kind of data at my fingertips. Google and the web are still great for finding nuggets of information that possibly answer your question, but there's always that moment of deciphering and extracting what you were looking for. Pocket Ref features simple tables and entries arranged in a very readable manner that still beats the web. And you can put it in your pocket.
Good quote for my first day back at work where there's a lot of people running around with their only hammer smashing everything like it's a nail.
This Adaptive Path essay is both exciting and really pissing me off. Sorry, I was in Italy for a couple of weeks so I missed out on this the first time around.
The most retarded sentence in it is: "Curious, inventive people are making cool stuff again." Um, hello? WTF? "Again"? I really don't know how to respond to that other than to feel really insulted and feel like anything people made three or four years ago was somehow "boring" because there wasn't any money attached to it. It's like when people say something as asinine as "Music is getting exciting again!" and the rest of us are like, "No, you just weren't paying attention."
Anyway, yes, there's more money that seems to be available for people who have been building these apps, but the suggestion that people who make these sites are only now springing to life when money is available is kind of disappointing. I hate the equation that $1 million in funding == EXCITING OPPORTUNITIES. It's how you fools lathered yourselves into the last bubble.
The exciting part for me is seeing friends, acquaintances, and heroes from years past finally getting recognition for their work; and yes, hopefully money to keep doing the stuff they like to do.
It's never been the technology that makes things cool for me, it's how the idea is executed. Tags, Ajax, RoR, RSS, XML, blogs, Java, VRML... if your focus is on the neat technology shoehorned into some idea to make money then you're going to be up to your ass in sock puppets again.
I was in Italy with my gf for a couple of weeks. Two weeks of no Internet or web browsing (okay, 10 minutes of CNN.com + Kottke + Waxy in the hotel but the connection died and never came back). We went to Sardinia (Alghero), Rome, then Venice. It was highly enjoyable and relaxing—and nothing to do with the Pope, I swear.
As is my M.O., I told hardly anyone I was going. It felt nice to just disappear for a bit. Drop out. (Only Dakota noticed).
We just got back a few minutes ago and I wanted to check my mail and make sure nothing awful happened. Nothing awful happened. In fact I think I like this whole spend more than 36 minutes (my current commute) away from the computer.
That said, I should go to sleep. I have the wobbly jet lag bends. It's like 11am somewhere and I should be sipping an espresso and nibbling on some prosciutto (which my auto-correction is trying to change to prostitute...)
A horrible piece of writing, but I thought it was interesting that it happened, even if the "victim" sounds like one of those people who screams at the ice cream clerk that he didn't get enough sprinkles. The end tries to make you FEEL BAD FOR THE LITTLE $2 BILL NOBODY WANTS. Poor bill!Lame. Anyway, I have one at home I can't seem to spend. It's pretty.
I try very hard not to believe the Hype. Especially the eHype. When I'm not trying my hardest to not buy into it, I'm buying into it—hardcore.
Take Ruby On Rails. I'd heard some great things about it, but having spend the past five years doing nothing but PHP and some Python, I was just getting settled into PHP5+Smarty, doing the MVC thing by hand.
I didn't graduate with a CS degree, so a lot of design patterns and concepts have come to me through trial and error. I also read a lot about them and copy them when I see them in open source projects. I am very self-conscious of whatever I write falling into the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, so I try even harder to make things readable and well laid out.
Anyway, this weekend I dove head first into Ruby and Ruby on Rails. I get the Hype. The Hype is warranted. For prototyping and building the simple web tools I like to build, RoR looks to be the thing I always wanted.
And Ruby! Ruby is very nice and uncluttered. Yes, it has some peculiar PERL-like "let's stuff everything onto one line" type syntax, but it's nothing that doesn't readily make sense to me after seeing them in action.
If you were waiting for someone to tell you, "Yes, try Ruby on Rails" then I am saying it now.
So growing up we had these "opposite birthdays" where my mom would wish us a "happy special day" and possibly get us a small gift. I can't say for sure, but I think it came about after my sister moved out to attend college and my mom wanted to cheer us up. Since my birthday is on September 27th, my special day fell in late March. I chose March 25th due to liking the number 25.
I moved out of the house about 15 years ago, so our special days have turned into a phone call or a letter in the mail, occasionally she'll get us a small present, but most of the time it's just an observation of the tradition.
Easter fell a bit earlier in the year than normal, and I had to call my mom to tell her I might not be coming to her Easter dinner due to some stuff I needed to take care of this weekend. She reminded me that she only wants me home for two holidays (Christmas--Jesus, Easter--Jesus) (guilt), it was also near my special day (guilt) and maybe I could find the time (guilt) to drive a few miles north and see her and my dad (guilt). She also mentioned that she had purchased a "special day" gift for me off my Amazon wish-list and I should be seeing it in the mail soon (e-guilt).
Long ago my mom recognized how much I enjoy hearing how she did something on the computer after I nearly cried when she told me she installed a new driver for her mouse, so now it's one more "guilt bomb" she can drop on me. Not only did she BUY me something off Amazon, she did it all on her own, finding my wish-list and entering her credit card information. So now I *had* to come. Jesus had risen from the DEAD, I could drive 2 hours to eat a roast with my mom.
So I had a roast with my mom on Sunday.
I get back into the office on Monday and I see there's a package from Amazon waiting for me. I was curious to see what my mom chose from my wish-list. I have tons of things I didn't really want, so I was curious if she had figured out how to use it correctly. I also hoped there wouldn't be something outrageous like a Sony PSP or a new camera, as that would be crossing a line, buying my attention.
So what was it she bought me? Why what any Catholic mom would choose while strolling through their son's wish-list while trying to get him to come home for Easter, The Jesus & Mary Chain, of course!
I got the new Sony PSP in an amazing peer-induced hysteria. I showed up to work today and some of the guys were making a run for the Toys 'R Us down the road. Before I knew what I was doing I had committed to buying one.
Now that I have it in my hands it's an amazing gadget. Can I call it a gadget? Appliance? It's beautiful. The screen is beautiful. The fact that it has a USB port and real working, standards compliant (AFAIK) WiFi is incredible. The number of applications that could be written seem limitless.
We have a new IA at work helping with our site re-design and we've become lunch friends, usually talking about some idea for a site or project. Today while walking back from eating he brought up something that had happened the previous week. We had been at my desk and Andy IM'd me that Dropcash was mentioned in a Nature.com story of a talk given at ETech. I pointed it out to him, and then, according to him, downplayed it to the point of apologizing for even bringing up the subject. I am pretty sure I said something like, "Oh, it's this stupid thing I did..."
He said it was a peculiar reaction to something someone should be proud of, and we talked about how it's my general reaction to any projects I do being discussed.
I decided on our walk back from lunch, that this attitude is rooted in two things.
But yeah, I creep people out sometimes when I start sentences with, "I have this really stupid idea, but..."
Well, I happened to get an advance copy
I spent the weekend programming little Macintosh Cocoa applications. I just had a breakthrough with a certain feature in Cocoa and while walking around the house, flush with joy from having such a breakthrough, I realized that it's these little victories that come with programming that I enjoy.
I envy people who can focus on
This seemed a lot funnier when I first copied and pasted it from a chat window this afternoon. Now at 6pm it's not nearly as funny. They were files that we waited all day Friday for.
Me: We didn't get the files until Monday morning, so we're still getting a handle on the CSS.
Them: I sent the code Saturday morning
Me: We're not open on Saturday
Me: Or sunday
The Frontline episode, incidentally, is causing some commotion over the 13 expletives the soldiers utter during the filming. For all the violence and senseless dog killing, saying "goddamn" after an unarmed citizen (who at the time is writhing in the back seat of his car) is killed by a ricochet is a big no-no.
My local PBS station ran the censored version, which was surprising considering the article says the LA affiliate was going to run it. I'm wondering if DirecTV requested a different feed or KCET flaked at the last moment.
The idea of Jason doing this even scares me a little. Of course, if I quit my job to write on this site full-time I'd be looking for a new job by noon.
Good luck to Jason and anyone who tries this in the future.
I've been busy the past few weeks. I got sidelined with a cold and then I learned how to sew and program Cocoa with Objective-C. Sewing is actually a lot simpler than I thought it'd be, you just have to pay a lot of attention to what you're doing as the tiniest little slip kind of sends things out of control quick. There are things I didn't even think about, like weft and warp of fabric and how they affect the look of whatever you're making. My sewing machine
Similarly, programming Cocoa with Objective-C is more of the same. It's proven to be easier than I thought it'd be, and there are things I wasn't . I was a little unsure of it at first, as I stopped programming Windows stuff nearly two years ago. When I first switched to the Macintosh I had attempted to learn how to make some Mac apps but got stuck on the memory management stuff as it's not quite like C and not quite like C# so I shelved it and went back to web scripting.
Then my friend Steve gave me a head-start on an app I had been wanting to write (he basically wrote the whole thing except for eight lines that he mailed me later) and then I read this little C Language Tutorial for Cocoa which presupposes you have some working knowledge of PHP and maybe some C.
The tough thing for me about programming useful Windows apps isn't learning C# or C++, it's getting good at hunting down how to interface with libraries or APIs. For Windows I'd use The Code Project, which was a great place to get ideas for projects, but I couldn't seem to find anything for OS X. I still haven't, but the Apple Developer site has been a great start, and CocoaDevCentral has been great so far.
It occurred to me after we landed in Long Beach that my girlfriend had me smuggle this bath BOMB from SF in my luggage.
I decided to sign up for "Amazon Prime" which is Amazon's new promotion allowing people to pay a fee and receive unlimited 2-day shipping. I currently buy about one order a month from Amazon (usually in groups for free shipping), and probably buy two items at my local Borders or CompUSA. I realized that very often I don't buy things and simply add them to my wishlist where they rot and disappear.
I had dinner with Anil the other night and he urged me to add a small feature I had been putting off to Dropcash. Someone, it might have been me, said during dinner "How can you facilitate the movement of money and not make any money?" It's a real head scratcher, eh?
So I added the feature today. When your campaign goal is reached you receive an email informing you of this, and a link suggesting a small donation based on a percentage of your goal. I then round-robin PayPal addresses between me and Jason. We'll see how that goes.
More features coming soon.
My friend Matt pointed out how some people's sites he reads are evolving into a handful of links sprinkled with some jokey commentary. It's true, I'm one of those people he's referring to. I promised myself I'd get stuff up on this site this year and part of that has meant that I fall back on del.icio.us links, rather than what I should be doing which is just sitting down for twenty minutes and writing something when I have the time. Quality over quantity, maybe.
Part of why I've been so excited about del.icio.us and using it to post links is that I'm writing some API thing that will make it simpler for me to publish my links to TypePad. I guess I've gone a bit overboard. I see a lot of links in a day, and sometimes I just want to save them for my own use, so why not get them up on the site too? Unfortunately TypePad doesn't allow the finer tuning of widths and styles that might be needed, so I'm working to help get around that.
One thing about using TypePad is that it forces you to be a little creative with how you do things. It's kind of like what Matt (the hater) said about people liking limits. I chose to work with TypePad rather than my own MT install for a few reasons, but chief among them is that I liked the idea of being constrained with a very narrow-use blogging application. If MovableType is the car then TypePad is my scooter.
I picked TypePad because I find it makes me think more creatively about solutions for getting it to do what I want it to do. I figure there's a lot of people out there who might be dealing with those same problems but not know how to program, and that's just the kind of group I like to help out.
I took a vacation from the Internet this weekend. I found that a) I receive a tremendous amount of email that builds up after only two days if I'm not there to weed through it, and b) my weekends seem a lot longer when I'm not sitting on the couch with my laptop.
I didn't get to finish a little project I had been working on, but I've found that I really don't care all that much after all.
My new favorite place to go for lunch is Fresh In The Box. If you're in the LA area and want insanely good tasting food made to order, you have to try this place out.
Read through the site and you'll get a sense of what the restaurant is like. JPop bubbling from the kitchen, and out front there's Hip-Hop streaming out of an XM radio that sits next to Japanese artwork.
Note the link for jobs is the only thing that's written in Japanese.
All this hullabaloo over robots.txt destroying the web is crazy! I mean, why can't I decide what content on my server search engines can index? I think in five years we'll all forget about how they "destroyed the web" by allowing people robots.txt restrictions.
Seriously, describing content is cool. Cool!
Sometimes I feel bad because I can't write these long billowing posts about technology. I wish I had some good opinions on stuff like nofollow or atom/rss poop. But to me it's all just more toys. So thanks everyone for making more toys that might come in handy later if I need them for something cool.
The other day someone said they thought they liked it better in the "good old days" when the web was wild. I don't get that at all. I think the web just gets better. More toys for me to play with. Standards and co-operation. I don't make rollovers by hand anymore. I don't parse query strings by hand. Right this minute I'm in the middle of making a little toy that lets me do something I thought would be fun. I couldn't have done this in 1998 without writing my own web server.
Anyway, I probably embrace new stuff too much. I like new stuff. New stuff means it might be better stuff. I just can't be a grouch about the future because then I wouldn't have any fun.
I'm testing this explanation by Josh on how to auto-publish del.icio.us links through TypePad. There will be some mistake posts. Please excuse the mess.
Today at work someone signed an email with "Have A Happy MLK Day!" I'm not even certain what that means.
Standing in the home furnishings department of Sears, deciding which sewing machine I'm going to buy, while at the same time covering my ears and averting my eyes from every television showing the NFL playoff game I'm recording at home.
I can't decide if it's because I'm getting old or because I live in California, but when the waitress (at the sports bar where "the guys" were watching the game and drinking beer) asked me if I wanted any food, I skipped past the fried cheese, fried onions, and nachos to the fruit plate.
And a side of yogurt for dipping.
While driving home from work today I realized I have always been wrong about something. I don't believe in luck anymore. For a long time I thought that some people were lucky and some people were unfortunate. But it occurred to me that all people are equal. Those who look for good things to happen to them usually find them, and people who look for bad things to happen to them are never disappointed.
Nobody is charmed and nobody is cursed.
I don't know why that didn't occur to me before, but it's actually affected me enough that I wanted to write it down.
I actually went to a physical record store and bought CDs. Used CDs no less. Very rare for me since I spend my life in front of a computer.
While checking out, and probably due to having two Minders albums and some Dub Narcotic EPs, I got this promo CD single. I've never been a fan of Apples in Stereo but I do like this song. More on Ulysses.
They're playing today at Amoeba Records in LA.
While contemplating how I'm going to use my new iPod shuffle, I came across this cassette adapter ("with a brain", they say). Use the controls on your cassette player to control your iPod. One of the reasons I stopped listening to my iPod in the car was having to fumble for the device to move about. Now I can use the controls that are on my steering wheel.
Having lunches with friends you don't see very often is always an eye opening experience. Among the things Justin and I discovered over tamales was that TKPal isn't the bad name that I thought it was--at least not to journalists.
"You think it's good?" I asked. "It's just the letters from TypeKey glued onto the back-end of PayPal."
"Oh," he said. "I thought it was 'tk' like in journalism where a section or title of a page is 'to come', it's abbreviated 'tk' for some reason."
I actually knew this, because of the Breeders album called "Title TK" that Kim explained on 120 Minutes was an old journalism abbreviation. She hadn't come up with a title for her album (god knows she had enough time) so she just said to leave it "Title TK".
Anyway, good tamales were eaten and conversation was great. I really needed that.
That, in itself, is a pretty neat feature. Yay Ranchero.
So this morning I notice a new playlist in my iTunes. "It's Dave Winer!" I think to myself and happily start it up. Technology!
It's not that it isn't good, it's that Dave sounds like I'd think Jerry Garcia would sound. I don't want to listen to Jerry Garcia. I'm not making fun of Dave, I'm just pointing out that audio adds too many variables for me. Sound of the voice. Background noise. Ums. Uhs. NPR has me spoiled.
But yes also it isn't good. I really didn't pay attention to what he was saying, just how it was being delivered. I think podcasting is a cool use of technology, but so are LRADs.
It's just not something I can get excited about. Ranchero making it happen, yes, listening to random thoughts, not so much. I'm sure for Dave it's pretty damn cool to be able to do it, but it's not my thing.
Technology! I'm living it.
If you were thinking about integrating TKPal with your Movable Type blog, his wrapper is going to make it a heck of a lot easier to price each piece of content.
I probably have a list of ten or twenty things that either I regret or think about every so often. I was wondering the other day what would happen if I ever did sort them out. They are small things, nothing too important, just stuff I wonder about.
For example, in my third year of High School we had a substitute English for three weeks. For some reason everyone in the class instantly hated him (either due to his being an overly vocal libertarian, or just being the sort of person who would be an overly vocal libertarian, I don't know for sure, either way he was a prick). Nobody in the class listened to him, we would come to English class and just sit around for 45 minutes until it was time to go. This was an honors class, so it wasn't like we were troubled kids, the guy just rubbed us the wrong way with his discussion of personal freedoms and choices which had nothing to do with literature.
So at one point he decided to assign us to read a book. He said it was his favorite book and it was VERY funny. He went on for several minutes about how funny the book was and how much he loved it. He passed out copies to everyone and I remember reading the first few pages in which people were preparing for a fête. There was also something about a bomb in the cake, I think. I might be wrong.
The word "fête" is important, however, because I remember grabbing my dictionary to find out what a "fête" was. Either way the bell rang or he started going on about how freedom was an illusion wrapped in a riddle or something and I decided to read something else.
If this rings a bell, please send me an email. I'd like to read this book.
(If it turns out this is a book by Ayn Rand please don't bother.)
I've moved the wiki to /guide on Everything TypeKey (Gordon says "Don't name your wikis "Wiki"). There are a few reasons why I'm moving it, but chief among them is the fact that I couldn't reliably get a robots.txt file in the wiki software to protect against bots rolling things back, on top of that it seemed that nothing on the site was getting indexed for search.
I'll be redirecting the RSS feeds to the new ones via mod_rewrite, but please change them in your readers as well.
Also, I'd like to offer my services to anyone contemplating or trying to get TypeKey running in their project. I figure if you get 20 people to sign up to TypeKey that's 20 people who will be receptive to seeing it in my projects. The most negative reactions to TKPal or Dropcash or have always been the use of TypeKey.
I like the new Apple product box art. They remind me of that moment during the opening of The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show when Rocky and Bullwinkle were being re-incarnated or "grown" back to the surface of the earth after being killed--what the heck was up with that intro? Anyway, yeah, 70's cartoons and illustrations. Earth tones, felt, macramé plant holders hanging over the toilet. Good stuff.
Nothing released today is something I need, but it's always nice to see them really hitting that switcher market hard. The use of the word "mini" reminds me of BMW's plan to introduce people to the BMW family of cars early with their own "mini".
I like the ¢ sign. If you want to help bring it back, please use ¢ in your HTML.
If you're on a Mac, just type alt+4 which is the $ when shifted key.
If you're on a PC I think you type alt+0162.
I just turned live some new TKPal code with some great updates from Bill Zeller. He wrote a database class that generalizes the functions through drivers. So now there is a flat file option as well as a MySQL option.
I updated the instructions as well. If you previously downloaded the code, please go back and download again. Remember: you can always go back as often as you wish and download as many times as you wish.
I've been tracking my small updates to TKPal at Simpleform but I should mention here that Grouphug.us has gone and implemented TKPal site-wide. Pay once and get access to comment on any confession you wish.
Bill Zeller sent me a whopper of an update tonight that abstracts the database with a nice class so a number of databases will be able to be plugged in. My next goal is to get SQLite running with that class.
Once TKPal development has settled down, I'll be rolling out some TKPal uses. One of the great things about the system is it gives people who have thought of implementing some kind of PayPal functionality on their site some real code they can extend—all for the bargain price of $1.
Matt's post about Internet-wide comments reminds me of an idea I would like TypeKey to implement.
I like to build things on top of TypeKey, but I find myself having to always make a database to save random bits of information about the users. For example, if I've made a site where I had subscriptions I'd have to have a bit in a database to mark who has paid and who hasn't. I could rig a folder of stub files to tell me that, but that seems messy.
What I would like to see is TypeKey adopt something not unlike my PS2 memory card. Any site implementing TypeKey would have the ability to save data directly to someone's TypeKey account in any schema they wish. An API sitting in front of the TypeKey could be as simple as:
$has_paid = $tk->LoadData("has_paid");
Maybe sites with larger space requirements could pay for more "blocks" so that more data could be saved and retreived.
I guess I'm releasing TKPal tonight. Though I think it still needs work. Anyone interested in testing it is invited to download the files and have a go with it. I don't think it works exactly how I want it to, but I could probably spend some time tweaking it and not get it right. I really should streamline it a bit more.
Anyway, if it doesn't make sense to you, ignore it. It's just some code that allows you to sell portions of your web pages using TypeKey and PayPal. Most people won't have the requirements to install it on their computer, but those that do now have a little head start in implementing a system for doing that. Or at least an example of how one was done.
I don't really have any other way of releasing something like this for testing purposes, but that's what this is for now. I wouldn't implement this on your server yet.
My friend Dakota sent this to me. It's the sort of thing Dakota would send me. Dakota sometimes just sends me emails that say,"What are you doing?" I always resist the urge to say "Emailing my friend Dakota, what are you doing?" because I know what his reply would be.
I would like Microsoft Office to have a single document. If I were to create a "new" document and start typing "To:" the document would morph into an email, providing an address book link to the right of "To:". It seems to me like auto-correction could be configured to detect not what we type but where in the document we type it.
A list would morph into an Excel spreadsheet. Word documents and Powerpoint would be detected by adding and arranging pages. Visio diagrams spawn from using the mouse to drop points and figures.
Basically what I'm saying is I was just in Word and I thought I was in Entourage and I hit command-N and I got a Word Document and I wanted an email and yes I write things like this instead of just command switching to Entourage.
I also spent ten minutes trying to sub-title this document "Living in ______" where the _____ was another parody of the Anything Box song "Living In Oblivion". If you don't know what I'm talking about you are either too young or had better musical taste than me.
I'm a programmer. I mean, I think of myself as one, even though I've been promoted up a bit to a Director Of Something Or Other And Stuff. When people ask me what I do, I say I'm a programmer ('computer programmer' if it's the sort of person who might assume 'television programmer', though anyone looking at me and thinking 'television programmer' probably hates television).
A few years back Po Bronson apparently wrote a book called "What Should I Do With My Life?" that keeps popping up in my brain. I didn't actually read Po Bronson's book called "What Should I Do With My Life?", I merely noted that someone paid Po Bronson, some book printing people, and some marketing people to make and sell this book called "What Should I Do With My Life?" Follow that with all these bloggers talking about Po Bronson's book (can you tell I like that name? Po.) and well, I can pretty much guess it was a pretty good book about people wondering what they were going to do with their lives and Po offering some solutions on what they could do, and possibly what he decided to do (hint: get into self-help books, people seem to think "self-help" still counts as "self" if you pay someone to help you via a book for $14.95 instead of an actual session with someone who my be able to "help" you realize you're cheap and can't take advice from strangers in person.)
So the point I was trying to make, or at least what I was trying to talk about is that I don't think I can be a programmer (or Director Of Something Or Other And Stuff) for the rest of my life. I don't think I have it in me. I keep thinking about Po Bronson's book title and then about my own life and my lineage (Barbers, Field Laborers) and I think, "This isn't me. Who wants to sit in front of a computer while the world goes on outside? Not me. Not for very long."
(I may have added the "Not for very long." to possibly preserve the mystery of my timetable from whichever coworkers think googling other coworkers is an insanely great idea. Hello, Matt P.!)
I do make things for a living. Web sites that show up in magazines! But I don't think it's the type of thing I want to tell my kids or grandkids I made. "Yes, see, I made this web site...uh, a web site was..uh..I was a television programmer..." I think it's fine for now, but it's just not me. I was not born to program. I am a college dropout who fell into programming because people were paying programmers insane amounts of money to do problem solving which is something I've always enjoyed doing. I am a good problem solver, but I don't get all rubbery over traversing linked lists in a minimum amount of steps. In fact, I hate Star Trek. Programming is a way to solve problems and not get sunburns or cataracts like my grandparents so it's probably why I keep doing it. Now I am a manager and it's actually pretty fulfilling work, but saying "BEING A MANAGER IS FULFILLING WORK!" is kind of like saying, "BEING A EUNUCH IS FULFILLING WORK!" For now I enjoy the feeling of having a team and getting things done and motivating people and serving people but at the end of the day you can't really hold that in your hand and admire it. (Not that I spend late nights holding things in my hand and admiring them.)
I've always been somewhat clever with physical things. Making things. I'm flirting with buying a sewing machine. In fact, I will be buying one soon if I can get some money together. I'm going to try it out though. I'm looking at my bag, the one I carry around is fine, but it just doesn't want to do what I want it to do and it seems like I'm carrying a bag that a person who carries books around would carry. And we've already established I don't buy books, I remember book titles. No, I carry guitar tuners, a laptop that is too big for my bag, a metronome, an iPod (not really, I'm lying, I never carry my iPod around with me because as I pointed out earlier I am always at a computer), a voice recorder, pens, guitar straps, CD-Rs, you probably get the idea. I carry junk, but it seems like all the bags I see that carry junk have flowers on them. Not even cool flowers with lasers, but pretty flowers with no lasers.
Do I want to make bags for a living? Probably not. But the idea of making something like a bag I'd like is incredibly attractive. The idea of making ANYTHING I can carry and show someone and show off is far more interesting to me than a website or bit of code.
I made several resolutions this year. One resolution was to start writing and exploring my thoughts more. What do I want to do with my life? I don't know. But this year I'd really like to find out.
Note to potential book publishers who want me to buy their books: don't name them things like "What Do I Want To Do With My Life?" because I will assume it's a book about what people can do with their lives and I will just wait for people to talk about it at parties and I'll nod my head, pretending to have read it and every time it's my turn to talk about my favorite part in the book I'll take a bite of a cracker and let them skip my turn. A better title is "What Color Is Your Parachute?" which is on a similar subject but holy crap they have "parachute" right in the title. How exciting is that? Why is there a parachute? Did someone jump out of a plane? Of course they did! They are going to die! Or wait, is this a conversation between two parachutists getting ready to jump? Is one hitting on the other? If I had to buy my own parachute I'd want a clear one because of birds.
It's fun to see people use things in ways you didn't really intend. With this new thing I'm getting ready to release, I keep coming up with different ways to use it, but I'm sure someone will surprise me like David has.
I'm on the cusp of releasing something I think is pretty cool, so I've been writing and re-writing it to make sure it works how I want it to. One of the last steps has been deciding how to license it.
I have to admit I don't spend very much of my time thinking about licenses since I very rarely release open sourced code for use or example. I find the whole matter kind of boring (except for the 2 days after seeing Lessig speak or reading some of Doctorow's work for the EFF), and so it feels something like choosing car insurance.
I'm not writing the next great word processor, it's just a couple hundred lines of PHP to help people sell content on the web, and so that is bloody awful, and that is probably more my style. I can see why people just © and move on with things.
Along with books, CDs, and DVDs, I tend to buy a lot of t-shirts since they fall in that sweet $15-25 range. Jason not only blogs the shirts, but he tells you the price, and whether they accept PayPal or not. (Dear people who sell shirts, use PayPal)
I renewed a bunch of my domains recently and I realized I tend to launch sites around this time of the year (December/January). I think slow work weeks, cold weather, and new toys get the creative juices flowing.