For a couple years now (2010 and 2012) I have made a resolution to only listen to music released in that year. That is, I only listened to music that was new and had been released in that year. This does not include re-masters or re-releases. I even avoided compilations.

The first year I stuck to the rule pretty closely. But my wife, annoyed at having to YET AGAIN listen to Four Tet for the 100th time in 2010, asked that on the weekends and when I was at home to play something we both liked on the speakers. So in 2012 I did that a few times.

But every Tuesday when new music is released, I would make a giant playlist of albums and burn through them. My week was spent filtering out the best from that week and then adding them on Rdio (or outright buying them).

The project does exactly what I want it to do, it keeps me from wallowing in the old standbys (Bad Brains, Pixies, Ramones, Pavement, The Misfits, The Thermals, Jawbreaker, 70’s Reggae…) and get put a little off-balance by new music. I still find myself gravitating towards the heavier punk-like guitar driven stuff, but I try to listen to most genres (I did go through phases of top 40, rap and hip-hop, ska, and alternative/indie in the 80’s and 90’s after all, so I have a bit of knowledge there).

This year I want to do something different. This year I want to pick a year from the last 30 years of music and only listen to music from that year.

And I thought it’d be fun if you picked it for me. As usual you can follow along on my Last.fm profile: Last.fm/user/torrez.

So please help me choose the year I should restrict my music listening to.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/B32VSRM

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What Will Ad Tech Look Like Without Cookies?” This is a very interesting question raised on PandoDaily. I think a lot about ad serving and ad tech so this kind of stuff is always interesting to me.

It reminded me of a trick that people already do to create zombie cookies that rise from the dead even after you think you’ve deleted your cookies.

The ETag is part of the HTTP spec that provides a mechanism for cache validation. When you request a resource (image, css, html) from a site some servers provide an ETag string in the headers. Your browser will make a note of the string and the next time your browser requests that file from the servers it will send the previously attached ETag string along with the request.

If the ETag string you send, and the ETag string the server has in memory for that file are the same, the server tells your browser the file hasn’t changed and does’t waste bandwidth sending you another file. Just use the one you have.

The ETag string can be anything. And ad companies use this fact to identify you by sending you ETag strings that are linked to a cookie they gave you in the past. So you delete all your cookies but your browser sends the ETag along with some ad serving .js file and bam, your old cookie is back.

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I did a large amount of my Christmas shopping before our yearly vacation this year. And one thing I tried to do was order from places that weren’t Amazon. I did order a few things from Amazon, but I made an effort to search other places first.

I don’t particularly mind Amazon—I just think it’s fun to try and support other businesses and manufacturers on the web. Cool?

  1. Jetpens Jetpens has a huge selection of pens and reviews. Only recently after taking a new job that required a bit more sketching and writing did I start really getting particular about which pens I used regularly. In addition to some inexpensive yet durable traveling pens, Jetpens also carries gorgeous mechanical pencils, pencil cases and bags, paper and blank books and assorted office (drool…) supplies.
  2. Adafruit I have to admit I didn’t really appreciate the maker movement until this year. I saw a MakerBot churning away at XOXO and it sparked something in my brain. Then Chris Anderson’s Makers: The New Industrial Revolution was released and now I am irretrievably hooked on the subject. I have a Twine, a Raspberry Pi, an Arduino, and way too many ideas of stuff I want to make. It feels just like 1998 did for me when the web was this massive, exploding software playground. I don’t think I actually bought gifts from here, but if you are buying gifts for me…hinthint.
  3. Tonx If you don’t have a Tonx subscription and you love coffee you are missing out on an amazing service. Every two weeks a new, freshly roasted batch sourced from some place in the world is shipped to your door. Included is a small card describing your coffee’s flavors as well as a bit about the place it came from. EVERYONE who loves coffee would appreciate this service.
  4. Dodocase Two things I want you to know about Dodocase: a couple weeks after my iPad case arrived I dropped and broke the corner. The case is partly made of bamboo and that corner just snapped clean off. Pretty clearly my fault, but I did tweet at them that it had happened in case this was abnormal and they immediately sent me a replacement. I wasn’t expecting it but now I want to recommend them to anyone looking for the type of case Dodocase makes.

    The second thing is that if you have a Kindle Paperwhite you really have to get the Dodocase for it. It sticks onto the case with tape, which one wouldn’t think is going to be very sturdy, but now after a couple months with it, I think I love my Paperwhite twice as much with the case. Tablet and phone cases are a pretty personal thing, and I don’t know if a Dodocase makes a good gift for someone not expecting it, but if you know someone wants that Moleskine-like look and feel I highly recommend it.
  5. 20x200 Affordable art shipped to your door. I heard Jen Bekman speak at XOXO about the art world’s reluctance to provide the ability to shop by category, price, and color. 20x200 is such a great story about taking an idea, routing around the naysayers, and putting in front of customers. We own a few prints from 20x200 and they are prints I surely would not have thought to buy without finding them on 20x200.
  6. Killscreen Magazine Know someone really into video games? No, I mean REALLY into video games? Get them a subscription to Killscreen magazine. I receive the paper edition, but it looks like they have ebooks now.
  7. Assorted things I like: this Maker’s Notebook lays flat, has page numbers and a header on each page you can fill out about which project the page is about. Distance Magazine: “smart essays about design and technology.” TopatoCo! Diesel Sweeties Store!

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Matt posted about Facebook vs. Twitter on Medium. We were talking the other day about this and I said something that occurred to me during our conversation. Facebook vs. Twitter is essentially real names vs user names. And it makes sense that most of my friends from the old days of the web, when user names were king, have gravitated to Twitter. While all the people we were getting away from have taken to Facebook.

I did create a Facebook account many years ago, but deleted it. Then when MLKSHK was starting up I created another so I could make a MLKSHK page, but Facebook itself has never, ever been interesting to me.

After I left FM I had lunch with a Facebook co-founder. We could not be more in disagreement about real identity versus fake names. I left that conversation feeling like perhaps I had it all wrong and I should give in to the world of real names, but Twitter has validated my feelings about what some people want, and I love that.

I ❤ Twitter

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For my birthday a couple of weeks ago my friend Omar gave me a Raspberry Pi. I’d been aware of them since in 2011, but I never got around to buying one.

ID859 LRG

I’ve been toying with it the past few nights as I have had time. After buying the case above, I had to scrounge up a USB keyboard, then an SD card, then a monitor I could use that took HDMI input. At every turn it was some piece of tech I had discarded or at some point put away in a box. I didn’t even have an extra micro-USB cable so I am using the one that came with my Kindle.

But now that it is running I have fallen in love with this little computer. It is one of those things you think you understand until you actually get one in your hands and powered up.

Now I can play with these little ideas I’ve had, on a computer in my house, that didn’t cost $1,000, and only pennies to keep running 24/7. These are small ideas: a little Spyonit app I’ve been wanting but didn’t feel like paying an EC2 instance for, a big Twitter API idea that I have been toying with that will simply publish static pages to S3, and another idea I had about coordinating backups.

There is something indescribably pleasing about this thing. It feels like the time when I owned computers purely for fun. (And at 512Mb it has even more RAM than those computers.)

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When Apple bought the biometric security company Authentec I decided to buy one of their USB fingerprint readers to see what Apple saw in them and maybe learn a little bit about some tech that might be showing up in future Apple products.

In the time I bought it to when it was delivered to me they stopped selling them on the site. Also, the store and developer site were taken down so I wasn’t able to write any of my own software to use it, and even if I could, nobody could buy a device of their own. But I could still install the tools that integrated with OS X’s security system and that was still interesting to me.

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Since I rarely take my laptop out of the house, it’s not too big a deal to have this nub of plastic hanging off the side. Plus I wanted to see what it’d be like to use my fingerprint to unlock and perform administration functions.

Sliding your finger along the scanner takes some time to get right. Even after using it for a few weeks I still only get about a 75% hit rate, but it can still be quicker than typing my ten character password.

In the past month as discussions about password security and authentication crop up, I keep thinking about how great it feels to not even think about a password when using the device.

I use 1Password for 99% of all my passwords and while I still would recommend using it, I can now see a future when 1Password is no longer needed.

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I went to XOXO. If you want a summary of what happened Anil live blogged it. If you want a shorter summary Jason has it.

Though I agree with Jason in that no summary will really capture what it was like because “you had to be there.”

But this isn’t about XOXO, it’s about something I saw there. It’s about something I have been obsessing about since I saw it and it’s about a possible future.

I have been aware of the MakerBot and 3D printing for many years. Sometime in 2002 a friend mailed me a Klein bottle he secretly made on his company’s multi-million dollar machine. The curves of the bottle were made up of tiny segmented angles that when viewed from a distance looked like a smooth curve, but up close you could see where the computer was. It was very pretty and very fragile (oops).

This weekend among the toys, art, games, and electronics being shown in the Market there was a MakerBot working away on a watchband. In front of the device were some of the items it had made, and I was surprised to see that the plastic quality and accuracy was much better than I would have imagined.

You can still see those segments in this Klein bottle printed on a MakerBot. But the difference is that it is much cheaper to use and maintain.

But it still didn’t click for me. What clicked is when my friend told me how she got her new ring. She said she complimented someone on their ring at XOXO and that person just went and printed one for her. Now they both had the ring.

DSCF2549 preview card

You can make one for yourself here.

Rather than thinking about the MakerBot as a printer or creator of objects. It feels more like one end of a doorway between computer models and physical objects. Sort of how printed (on paper) words as representations of text files can be OCR’d right back into the computer for archiving.

Anil Dash has already walked down this road. In his post a MakerBot (when paired with a 3d camera) could “teleport” your cool ring or wine stopper to a friend by scanning and sending the bits to their fabricator. Rather than thinking of it as a fax machine or simply a printer of new things, you can think of it as a kind of “teleporter” of existing things. Either from here to your friend over there or from here to yourself a few years from now.

It’s funny to me that I had read Anil’s post last year, but only after touching and seeing a MakerBot work did it really click with me. My mind has been racing with ideas of a future where you could scan all your possessions and archive them along with digital photos for unarchiving. All the chairs, salt shakers, lamps, computer keyboards, picture frames, alligator clips, and stuff you keep around because you might need it someday could be archived on disk in case you do need them someday.

I really, really want a MakerBot.

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Screen Shot 2012 08 31 at 10 34 24 AM

I link to this tweet and photo not to make fun of her, but only to point out the absurdity of filters. I do hope she had the option set that saves the original version of her photo. That would have made for a great picture with no filter at all.

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Do you remember Airtime? I like to think of it as the thing Olivia Munn, Joel McHale, and Jim Carrey use daily. These days Airtime is still working out their business but here’s an idea about how I would like an Airtime-like service to work.

I would like to be able to look at a directory of stuff. Things. A live-view of Niagra Falls. An original Star Wars movie poster. A 1976 Gibson Bicentennial Thunderbird. A living WWII Veteran. A demo of an OP-1.

Hell, I’d even love to connect to a Best Buy representative who could demonstrate the latests TiVos.

All these people or owners of these things could register with the site specifically for these things. I could call up the 1976 Gibson owner and have a look at it. Not necessarily to buy anything, though that would be nice, but just to chat about or get a review.

Currently Airtime let’s you designate interests (cooking), but beyond interests I would like to find experts or informed owners of gadgets and collectibles who have put themselves on the service because they want to take calls and talk about a life experience (WWII) or fanatic interest.

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Two new services showed up last week that captured the tech web’s attention. Branch, an invite-only hosted conversation app, and Medium, a next generation publishing app.

I think both are fine apps and I think they will do quite well with the tech world. Outside of it I can’t really say, I think I am too in the Valley to see out of it. But the things that caught my attention last week were:

  1. The pre-order for Little Printer
  2. The release of human.io

Let me take a step back: I am trying to use my computer less. That is, I work on computers every day as that is what our business does, but outside of my time at the office I want to be on the computer less.

I have started learning about circuitry and playing my guitar more. I also pick my kid up after school and we go to a tumbling class (for him) or a park. I love my computers, but I love the rest of the world more.

Berg’s Little Printer

Shop 01

At first glance Berg’s Little Printer looks like it came from some alternative 1990’s universe where the Macintosh SE was not only wildly successful, it destroyed every other computer manufacturer on the planet. I have to admit 50% of why I care about this device so much is in the design of the product and the design of the site. The API documentation is also quite pleasing. I cannot wait to hook something up to their service and watch it go.

The other 50% is about what the printer does. Yes, it does use a thermal printer to print to rolls of paper you can find at your local office supply store. But that part is not really even core to what this is about. This is not about printing, it’s about BergCloud.

If you make things for people on the web and you take some time to read the API documentation the little gears in your head will start turning. This isn’t just a printer you print documents with. It is a content delivery service that doesn’t require a computer.

When you see the future you want you buy it; so I did. I hope to be submitting an app for acceptance to their service before they launch.

When smart people balk at the $260 price tag I don’t think they fully understand that part of that price goes towards access to the BergCloud service. I think if Chris wasn’t so focused on hardware entrepreneurs bootstrapping companies he’d be able to see the larger picture. There’s more than just cheap hardware here.

While it might be off-putting to know that there are some pretty steep walls around the BergCloud garden, I find the opportunities within service they built pretty exciting. There are so many reasons we dig our phone out of our pocket in a day that it’s fun to think we could cut some of those reasons out with a small disposable newspaper. And knowing that there will be a small well-vetted collection of apps that feed into that newspaper fits with the decluttering process I have been undertaking outside of work.

And it is cute.

Human.io

Human.io is a different sort of thing. It is an iPhone app that provides an interface to people. Developers write “micro-applications” that can present questions or request work from people. Some have called it an “IFTTT for people” and I think that is somewhat true, but there is a lot more there that hasn’t been fully brought out.

Clients

Human.io is made by Tasty Labs, makers of Jig. I think they have a similar problem that IFTTT in that this sort of human->computer/computer->computer software requires a lot of good documentation and plain English examples. IFTTT managed it with a really clear site that still took a few months for people to fully grok*.

I think Human.io is a bit more Mechanical Turk than IFTTT. The thing that MT was missing was what Human.io provides: a very simple way to construct micro-apps to present elements that extract work from humans.

I can’t even write about Human.io in a language that doesn’t end up sounding too geeky. It’s a hard thing to do and I wish them luck. It’s a very exciting service I just wish I had an idea to build on it. Every time I sit down to do it I come up completely empty and frustrated. The problem is I don’t have a need yet so I have to keep it in mind when I do.

Why I like it is that it creates an ecosystem for quickly gathering data from humans that can be statistically analyzed and used for larger purposes. Weathermob is an app that crowd sources not only the weather but your friends’ moods. This is a step up from something like that. You could build Weathermob on top of Human.io.

But you could also build a service to classify a set of images. Or you can geo-target interview questions. (I do wish they had a drawing UI element that let me ask people to draw things.)

Again, it’s hard to exactly classify Human.io but that’s what is so exciting to me. There is possibility there rather than more conversations on web pages. If you like conversations on web pages I think Branch is great for you.

I don’t want to sit at a computer and read conversations on web pages. I want to get out and do stuff. I feel like Little Printer and Human.io are going to help people do that.

* I don’t use the word “grok” often. It is apt here.

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The not telling people “I am busy” plan.

I’ve been working on this plan for a while now. I just added it to my daily Lift habits so I thought I would write about it.

When I first started working in tech I regularly worked 10 to 14 hour days. I’d be home by midnight, sleep, get up, shower, and drive back into work. I had the energy to do it, and it seemed like a good use of my time, even though I was being paid for the same number of hours of the day as my friends in HR or accounting.

It felt like I was doing critical, valuable work. I had been made to feel like it was critical, valuable work.

Everything was an emergency. I had a high-strung boss who would alternate between panic that everything was going wrong and panic that something was about to go wrong. We’d set unrealistic deadlines for ourselves. We would congratulate ourselves on shipping 90% of the product only a week or so late. Go us.

But the truth is: nothing we did was all that important. Had we really been doing critical work we would have taken more breaks, spent more time sleeping, resting, and thinking. Instead we burned ourselves out because everyone else was burning themselves out. We “heroically” pulled all-nighters and then spent the next couple of days recovering physically and dealing with whatever dumb decisions we made at 2am while hopped up on Coke.

When I left Federated Media and started my own company I decided I wanted to try working a bit slower and with more focus. Since I could control the number of meetings I would have in a day (zero) and I could (mostly) control the flow of work, I decided on doing a few things differently.

I work until 6pm. I leave my work computer locked up in my office and make time to walk to work (with just my keys, phone, and wallet). We often take an hour for lunch and we talk and think a lot about what we’re building rather than just building.

During the six months we were making MLKSHK we shipped like crazy. When I look at the code now it makes me smile to see all the many things it does. That three four people were able to very quickly and thoughtfully get that much stuff out the door in such a short time makes me really happy.

So the final piece I have been working on is never telling people I am busy. Because no, I am not busy. Yes, I have a lot of stuff to do, but I leave it at the office after work and on the weekends. I have many things I am interested in, but I can always make room for something if it is worth doing.

Rather than say: “I am too busy, I don’t have any time for X.” I realize I can be honest and say I am not interested enough in X to do it.

EVERYONE has a lot of stuff to do because there IS a lot of stuff to do. Some of it is work. Some of it is hanging out with your family. Some of it is just laying on the couch reading a book.

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About 13 years ago I wrote an application called XuMouse.

This is what it looked like on Windows 98.

xu95.png

And here is what it looks like now.

NewImage

Damn thing still works. Looks the same. Still doing what it does. FOR THIRTEEN YEARS. (Thank you, Microsoft Windows backward compatibility team.)

Every couple of months I get an email or phone call asking for a new copy. It seems that a lot of people run applications from their desktop or from the original archived file rather than installing it, so I point them to the correct URL or mail them the file. I keep meaning to make a new landing page for it but even when I did have one the email and calls still arrived.

Most, if not all, of the people who contact me are elderly. I believe many of them use the application to play games like online slot machines. It’s why I originally wrote the thing, there was a web site that gave you credits for pulling a slot machine lever and I thought it’d be funny to get a million credits. (I did. They were useless.)

The zip file, which you can download here, contained a README that asked for an email to tell me you were using it and say thank you. Many of the emails I receive are just to say thanks.

The app was free. I never considered charging for it because it literally took one night and maybe 10 lines of code. The zipped file is 7k and relied heavily on Microsoft’s MFC framework.

Something I barely remember doing 13 years ago for free still manages to cheer me up when I someone comes asking about it. That’s sort of all I really wanted out of that project.

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Many years ago I was sitting in my apartment watching television when my home phone rang.

“Hello?”
“Hi, Mr. Torrez, this is your Visa card provider.” (Flashing red light.)
“Yes?”
“Could you help me by providing your credit card number to verify this is you?“ (Clanging alarms.)
I read the number to the caller.
“Thank you. In addition I also need your social security number to update our records.” (Explosions. Gunfire. Rocket powered grenades screeching over head.)

I still remember carefully relaying each digit as I walked around my apartment; eager to get this over with so I could get back to my show.

This was a very dumb thing. I was just a dumb person doing a dumb thing. Right now I can picture myself pacing around that living room, being my helpful self, while my identity was being stolen and I was the accomplice. I want to yell at myself every time I think about it.

The thing is: I knew this scam. I mean, I knew how these social engineering scams worked. As an even younger idiot I used to read about these scams in online message boards and think about how stupid people are.

I’ve been out of the hack/crack scene for many, many years, but in those days for every system actually subverted, many more were simply handed access by an employee just trying to get through their day.

If you knew the lingo and could speak with confidence you could get access to so many systems. For all the money invested in security and encryption, the weakest link was always the humans. Always go for the humans.

My friend Mat just suffered through the repercussions of a social engineering hack. Bravely recounting the possible loss of all his photos from the past year he had to also endure the mocking and finger wagging from people wondering why he didn’t have backups.

It is true: you should not only make regular backups of every machine, you should test your backups by regularly restoring your system. The only thing slightly less depressing than losing all your data is finding out your backups had stopped working months ago.

Mat knew full well he was going to endure that kind of scrutiny. He’s taken the hit for people who might have grown lazy over the past few years thinking their data was safe if it was in the hands of billion dollar corporations.

So thanks to Mat we are now talking about steps you should be taking to secure your data:

  1. Turn on Google’s two-step verification. It now works for hosted domains if you use a custom domain with Google.
  2. Buy some local storage for backups. This is great roundup by my favorite gadget review site.
  3. You might want to also use different credit cards for Amazon and Apple since this played a role in how Mat’s account was compromised. This is pretty much a bullshit fix you shouldn’t have to do. Thankfully Amazon closed that hack today. But who knows which other services will continue to provide this option?
  4. Use a password management application like Lastpass or 1Password. There is a little bit of complexity in setting it up and it is almost unbearable without the browser plugins/extensions.

And by all means, if someone calls your house claiming to be from your credit card company, give them all the info they need. Their jobs are really tough and they just want to help you!

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I forget how nice it is to write something, see someone get inspired by a bit of it and run with it. Weblogs are still the best place to unpack and share ideas.

Matthew Crist took my post about following and attention and built unfollowing.net.

It is currently offline due (I suspect) to Twitter’s rules about automating certain actions on behalf of users. I know there are a myriad of good reasons why they do this, but hopefully they can work something out where users can easily choose to reboot their list of who they are following. I think it’s a nice way to get out from underneath what some might feel is a burden and get back to what they love about Twitter.

Personally, I don’t want to unfollow everyone. I cited Paul Ford’s example to point out he figured out what he needed to do and it worked for him. Others have let me know they also unfollowed a lot of people and I think that’s pretty cool. They’re doing it because they still care about it. I think that’s why this subject strikes a chord with others. Nothing can replace it, they just want to lower the burden and distraction.

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In an effort to reboot my reading habits and focus on longer blog and journal posts I asked friends to fork my OPML from Google Reader and then post their own.

I then wrote a script to merge all the lists into one mega-list. Removing duplicates, removing vanity search feeds, and inscrutable feeds that have disappeared or don’t really work.

Now at night instead of reading Twitter I am filtering through all 3,500+ feeds. I am in no rush. I am reading in order and if a feed looks good I keep it, if it doesn’t I unsubscribe.

Tonight I thought it’d be interesting to write another script that would pull each feed, check to see the most recent post date and then compile it and post the results in a chart. This is completely unscientific and I don’t think you can draw any conclusions, but I will say that the results were opposite of what I thought they’d be.

My prediction was that most of the feeds would be dead or last updated in 2008. Instead what I found was nearly half the feeds were still being updated.

The first bar in the following chart represents all dead feeds. 1,087 feeds were dead. They were either 404’d or the entire domain was gone. From there (starting at April 2004, consisting of one blog) each bar represents the number of feeds that have a last published date in that month and year. The bar on the far right represents feeds updated this month July 2012 (1,418 feeds).

The Chart

Again, unscientific, not at all what I expected, but fairly good results for where blogging has been for the past few years.

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To continue a theme here, my friend Anil just wrote about the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO).

People have asked me if I am going to unfollow everyone or simply quit Twitter and I’ve been replying that I don’t think that is a solution. I enjoy Twitter more than any other site (probably more than MLKSHK?) and so unfollowing would remove something that I do enjoy.

I cited Paul Ford unfollowing people because he figured out what he needed to do, but that’s not my answer.

I think Anil nailed it. I have to learn to enjoy missing out by not thinking about it as “missing out”. Consciously deciding not to check in because there are other things I want to do with my time is what I have been doing the last couple of nights.

So far it is working pretty well.

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A few years ago a web community I manage decided to have their meetup here in San Francisco. Every year the members vote on a city and so I was lucky SF won out. They’ve held them in cities like NY, Portland, Toronto, Chicago and this year it is going to be in Boston.

At one point that night the entire group decided to walk from the place where we ate to a bar about four blocks away. As these things go our group quickly turned into a long line of people walking along the street. This was a Saturday night so there was the usual crowd of bar goers and people out for dinner.

While standing at a red-light (half our group continued walking, talking, and not worrying if the group behind them would catch up) a woman also waiting to cross asked, “What is this?” She was smiling like she was about to discover something that was cool. She looked hopeful.

“You will laugh if I tell you,” I joked. I was fairly intoxicated. I couldn’t think of anything better to say.

“No, tell me. What is this?” She looked at the group. We are from all parts of the country (and world) and so we are dissimilar both physically and the way we’re dressed.

“We are all members of a web site. We met online and are now meeting in person.”

She laughed. Not even in the, “okay, I get it” way or “that’s cute” way but more like the “that is very stupid” way. She said something like, “Yup, you were right,” and continued on her way.

Every once in a while I think about that moment in the Mission when the woman was so eager to know what and who we were. Like she was missing out on something. 50+ people talking and walking in a line down the street is a compelling scene; especially in a part of SF so fixated on trends.

This weekend I went camping with my family and six other families. Not only was it a relaxing day with families with whom we had a lot in common, it was a nice time away from the internet as well. There is no cell service where we camped and I can’t imagine WiFi signals have bounced around those redwoods very often.

I’ve been posting about this a bit, but I think my time off pushed me even further along to where I was going. I won’t say “off Twitter”, but I feel like focusing more on things around the edges of Twitter.

And maybe I am just looking for examples—seeing patterns where there are none—but a few things have appeared that makes me feel like other people are feeling the same way.

Today Mule launched Evening Edition a one-page summary of the day’s news. I love so much about this, but what I love most is that it is well written and concise. Go back a few days to see how much good stuff there is to publish when you aren’t concerned about page-views and stuffing ads down your reader’s throats.

A few months ago Dave Pell launched NextDraft, a mid-day email that summarizes and links to everything worth reading in the day so far. The commentary is hilarious. The selected links are always on target.

Dustin Curtis’ Svbtle network has almost single-handedly brought blogging back. (Not that it ever went away!) But people are excited about writing and that could not make me happier.

Right now at this very moment the parade of people walking down my neighborhood on Twitter are talking about Marissa Mayer leaving Google for Yahoo!. Twitter is great for single issues like this. Jokes tossed out, pithy sentences get flung around via retweets, and ultimately everyone settles on an opinion (or two) and the parade moves on. I rarely remember who said what. It’s always a bit of a blur to me.

Paul Ford unfollowed everyone he was following. Paul’s a far more perceptive and thoughtful guy than myself. When I noticed he had unfollowed everyone (only following a few geography accounts) it stuck in my head for a few months. I even asked him about it when I saw him in person and he sort of shrugged it off. Paul figured this out months ahead of me. I want to figure it out too.

It’s taking me a while, but I feel like I am getting closer figuring out how to let the parade march by and go happily along my way.

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I’d like someone* to make an app where people can subscribe to newsletters, but they’re only mailed when you click a button that is a proxy for “I just sat down for coffee” or “I just sat on the toilet” or “I am delaying going to bed.” Perhaps it’s an iPhone app where I can pick through channels I want to subscribe to and a button that basically permits the email to be sent.

If I never press the button I am never sent the email. If I do press the button only the latest ones are sent to me.

I get nextdraft.com every morning. It usually arrives a little after noon, which is a great time because it’s usually when I am having lunch. A great time to get caught up with what’s going on. It’s nice, but some days I don’t have time for it so I don’t want it in my inbox.

* not me! Maybe you!

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I don’t know what happened this week but suddenly I am really into Kickstarter. I’ve supported a few things in the past, but never really got into it until now.

I discovered I could not be followed on Kickstarter because they rely on Facebook accounts, so I thought I’d list my recently backed projects here for fun. (kickstarter.com/profile/torrez)

Jack Cheng 'These Days'

Jack Cheng’s book “These Days” sounds so good to me. For some reason backing books is an easy decision. I love books and I love the story of self-publishing. So whether it’s fiction or a book someone thinks needs to be written I want to help them. Plus when I was a kid I wanted to design computer interfaces for movies.


Glenn Fleishman 'Crowdfunding: a Guide to What Works and Why'

Crowdfunding: a Guide to What Works and Why”. Glenn Fleishman’s writing a book about crowd funding. Duh.


blink(1), the USB RGB LED

blink(1), the USB RGB LED” Simple. Obvious. Affordable little project I can hack with. It’s so obvious yet nobody I know of has done this. I love it. I can’t wait.


Celebrated Summer

Celebrated Summer” is a book by Chris Ernest Hall. Here is his bio: “Chris Ernest Hall has written a lot, but never been published. He’s worked on a lot of failed software products. He lives with his mother and three cats. THE END.” Straight off the cover and title are a tribute to Hüsker Dü, so if I was browsing in a book store this would already be in my stack for buying. But something about that synopsis (and bio)…I can’t put my finger on it. But I want to read this EXACTLY as much as I want to help Chris publish it.

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You probably didn’t notice this, but some of my posts here recently have taken on a theme. I am working through some ideas about how I am using my time, and behind the scenes I’ve been making a few changes.

Just an example: I unfollowed almost 200 Twitter accounts in the past two days. I realized I was following a lot of noisy, repetitive, echoey accounts. Not friends, or friends following me already, but those accounts I accumulated over the past year or so that weren’t really doing me any good.

After I wrote I Give Up I started thinking about those things in my day that I give too much time to, only to be rewarded with a lack of time and no new skills or knowledge.

I missed this the first time it made the rounds, but game developer @jonbro linked to it this morning and so I spent an hour drinking coffee and enjoying it.

There are some really good gems in this that I found revelatory. Especially the part where he talks about stripping down some of the most popular types of games (both video and gambling) into their core mechanics. These are actually very boring activities dressed up in bleeding-edge graphics or temporary feelings of accomplishment.

While watching, this talk started resonating the way other things in my life are set up to appear to be enjoyable experiences but are actually pretty grueling. Twitter without the stars (favorites) and feelings of missing out looks more like an unrewarding use of time for me.

I am not ready to chuck it all and quit Twitter, there is still a lot of value in it, but I certainly have enjoyed what my purge has given me back in time saved and updates from people I actually care to listen to.

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I have to admit I was a little surprised to see Twitter re-iterate what Ryan Sarver had previously stated over a year ago. I thought everyone understood that Twitter was going to be pushing back on apps that didn’t offer unique experiences than the timeline on Twitter.com.

Essentially Twitter let developers know on Friday that they were going to be enforcing the previously stated guidance that 3rd party developers and consumers should not be making apps that essentially duplicate Twitter’s timeline stream. LinkedIn immediately complied and removed the inclusion of tweets into the LinkedIn update stream. (Which, in my opinion, actually made that stream more useful.)

Dalton Caldwell wrote a piece called “What Twitter Could Have Been” that reveals a bit about the company I didn’t know. Apparently there was a split between those who wanted to make Twitter more of a protocol and those who wanted to seize the opportunity to make it a platform for serving ads.

After reading Dalton’s piece I was reminded of another company that chose protocol over ad platform. Though “chose” is probably the wrong word. AOL pretty much stumbled around while their instant messaging service became one of several competing chat protocols. It seemed like one day all my friends were on ICQ and the next we had all migrated to AIM. But soon after it didn’t really matter what protocol you were using, everyone ran multi-protocol chat apps and we could network hop between conversations in a single interface.

AIM did make some attempts to make money from the service. They threw banner ads into the official app. I think they even charged for a version of their client. They flirted with an API but never really seemed to commit. Only until it was well over did they make an attempt at what people had been wanting all along with their new AIM app released last year—but they killed that too.

In the end AIM is just another protocol for chatting with friends. Instant messaging is my absolute favorite way to keep up with people, but I couldn’t tell you if I am talking over AOL’s wires or Google’s. The core ability to time-shift conversations is unlike any other means of communication for me. Instant messaging feels like it hit a false dead-end, where it can’t be monetized so people aren’t putting effort into innovating.

I am happy to see Twitter doesn’t want to go that route.

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When I lived in Los Angeles, and was much poorer, I took many odd jobs. One of those jobs required me to drive around the city collecting money from those acrylic, honor-boxes typically found next to cash registers at liquor stores.

I’m sure you have seen them, but if not they look something like this. You put money in the top (coins or bills) and take a candy from the bottom. The paper usually has a picture of a sick child or equally sad graphic asking for your donations.

This was a scam.

At least the guy I worked for was running a scam. When I first replied to the ad I didn’t know it was a scam. When I drove to every liquor store and nail salon on the list I didn’t know it was a scam. When people who ran the establishments saw me that first day and excitedly told me we had a “good haul” that week, I still didn’t know it was a scam.

I felt good doing it. I was collecting tons of money. (Literally, I had to go to the bank twice a day to deposit the coins that I rolled by hand.) I liked meeting people and there was a bit of camaraderie as I went about my job behind the counter of their business.

Over the weeks when I had to meet my boss (who was a lawyer by day) to hand him deposit slips or get checks to buy more mints he slowly revealed how the whole thing worked. It wasn’t a scam in the way you might be thinking. The boxes were legitimately rented to my boss from a charity. I cannot remember the name, but it was one I remember recognizing at the time.

The price for renting a box was $2.50 per month. The mints were purchased through the charity for (I think) $15 a box which contained hundreds of mints. Like I said, he’d give me a check to swing by the charity and get more mints when we ran low.

So where was the money I was depositing going? I don’t know. But after I got to know him I certainly had my ideas. When I would drop the box rental checks and checks for mints off at the charity I did notice on the form I was supposed to mark whether they were for mints, boxes, or simply donations. I never dropped off a donation.

I often think about this experience when I think about how seemingly simple situations and businesses can be far more complex when you actually dive into them.

The charity received money for the box rentals and mints. My boss made a terrific amount of money. People felt good for donating their spare change or dollar. They also got a mint. It was actually a pretty good mint.

And me? I made minimum wage plus a few dollars more. And I will admit I probably ate more mints than I was supposed to.

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It’s not a list, it’s a series of paragraphs. It’s actually about tech blogs again. Did you read the one about the best dressed geeks? Yeah? Cool!

The stuff below might be incorrect! Ah well, best dressed people of tech win again.

Did you read the story about Parkmobile? Apparently some guy used a non-governmental service* that let him pay for his parking meter while he was at a baseball game. The city was made aware of the location of his car by Parkmobile (which shared his license plate number) and dispatched a truck to tow him because he had unpaid speeding tickets.</p>

That is: a private company informed the city’s parking enforcement of the location of someone’s car that had unpaid speeding tickets.

People who commit speeding violations are terrible, and anyone with unpaid speeding tickets is twice the jerk, but there is a feeling in my mind that using a private company would shield me from a connection to my city’s police department. That their privacy policy would restrict the sharing of my license plate or name or any information I’ve stored with them with the local government who can then act on that info.

I didn’t see this story in the tech blogs so I thought I’d write about it.

* The entire article is pretty wordy and paced slowly for dramatic effect, but the relevant bit is three paragraphs from the bottom.</s>

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After World War II ended in 1945 a few Japanese soldiers (known as Japanese holdouts) refused to surrender either because they were never told the war was over or simply refused on principle. They continued to hold their islands/positions as instructed by their superiors ten, twenty, and in some cases thirty years after the war had ended.

I know about this footnote of history because the phenomenon seemed to show up often in TV shows and pop-culture produced in the decades following the end of the war. It was a peculiar bit of trivia that, based on real fact, could be dramatized and injected into a show like Gilligan’s Island (So Sorry, My Island Now).

I think TV writers liked it because it can reflect the romantic notions of honor and loyalty, or the stupidity and stubbornness of humans to accept change.

Michael Pusateri posted something he titled “Inventing a Problem” about the latest Apple outrage: an unhackable, unserviceable laptop. Quite a few people got worked up about this fact even though Apple delivered a non-serviceable laptop way back in January 2008. Please read Michael’s post, he has some good arguments that I agree with.

I am a member of a small, private web community that has existed for over ten years. Over those years I have noticed a certain type of member who without fail gets worked up over a change in technology. When Apple dropped the 3.5" diskette they were there. When smartphones began losing physical keyboards they were there. When the Macbook Air debuted without an optical drive they were there. The reasons for their protests are manifold: IT departments will have to redo their policies regarding software installation!, people will design web sites too big for smaller screens!, people will have accidents because you can’t type by touch!, it goes on and on…

When the new Macbook Pro with Retina display was released a few on the site complained that rich designers (who could afford “Stevebooks”) would start designing sites that wouldn’t look good on cheap computers. Setting aside the existence of CSS media queries that can select the correct image for a browser’s resolution and the ever-growing adoption of responsive layouts, I think at the core of this response is that technology is about to drastically change and this scares people.

Now, as I said, I am a member of that community. I too join in on the booing when change starts happening too fast. Even recently fretting over the impending change to the gTLDs.

But in the last couple of days something happened and I can feel my view of the world changing.

Let me rewind a bit: we bought my mom a third-generation iPad. She took it home, used it for a month, and then returned it to us saying she thought it was much too nice to be sitting on the shelf while she used her Macbook Pro. She really likes her Macbook Pro.

I happened to be going on a business trip this week so I took it with me. I actually used the thing as it is intended: I checked and wrote email, I read some books, I watched a couple of documentaries, I shopped. Every time I would think of grabbing my laptop I found myself flipping open the iPad instead.

Yes, I know millions of people have bought these and use them exactly in this fashion. It’s just that I am one of those people who used to pore over CPU specs on Anandtech. I would wait to buy new hardware if it coincided with a game release. I daisy-chained my 3dfx Voodoo card. I overclocked my CPUs for reasons I don’t even remember.

I have a sub-domain for my weblog. I manage my DNS. I use a personalized domain for email. I have been using the internet for TWENTY years! Like some hipster who has been following a band for years I spent 10 of those years not shutting up about the internet, and then the second 10 years wishing everyone would get off my internet.

But somewhere in between that new iPad, the unserviceable laptop non-story, and that idiotic comment about the new Retina displays something in my brain snapped. I give up. I surrender. The war is over. I can’t care about this stuff anymore. Getting annoyed at the pace of technology is fruitless for me. Being cynical about any new bit of technology that doesn’t fit into my view of how stuff should work has been a dragging anchor in my life.

I will admit right now that I am typing this on my Macbook Air. I could not find a blog editor that could publish to Typepad that I was comfortable with, and until MarsEdit for iPad gets written I think I will keep using my laptop for blog posts and of course programming tasks.

But sitting right next to the Air is my iPad in a beautiful DODOcase that just screams “Pick me up!” and so I am going to do that now.

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Every month I open my bank and credit card statements and do a quick scan of everything I was charged or paid for. Most of the time it’s what I expected, sometimes I have to spend a couple of seconds thinking what a “LMNOP**CORP**TACO” is, and once in a while it’s completely perplexing and I have to either call the phone number or do a fair amount of Googling.

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A few weeks ago there was a charge on my card with an entry like CONDENAST**SERVICES and a phone number. I called the number but nobody answered. I called back the next day and left a message. I called back the third day and the person on the line didn’t know, but we figured it out after she asked me a few questions. (it was my ArsTechnica subscription auto-renewing)

The process of starting up a new Quickbooks or Mint account and tagging and classifying my payments is onerous to me. But I also hate having to go back every month and get a glimpse of my money at one moment in time. I want something that will notify me when a payment or charge occurs giving me a chance to classify or make a note or even schedule a time to followup on the charge.

Just like carrying a Fitbit and having a quick way to see how many steps I’ve taken in a day, having a view into my bank account in real-time as money is deducted would be very welcomed.

So my question is: does anyone do this? Does anyone know how I could pull my bank and credit charges into one place to then fire off actions when something new is seen? I’m assuming OFX but if there is something easier I can simply plug into I’d rather do that.

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Someone asked me today about the CI stack we have at Simpleform. Then someone else asked about our logging. Then I got into a conversation with someone about Backbone. So here is nearly everything we use and build stuff with.

First I spend most of my time in Tornado. Right now we’re working on an API that sits in front of Mongo so we are using Tornado and Bitly’s asyncpymongo. As long as I’m listing libraries I’ll also mention we are using Mock for testing and Boto to interact with Amazon’s AWS.

We make extensive use of Amazon’s Web Services. That is EC2 servers, RDS, S3, Elastic IPs, CloudFront, whew… It’s scripted with custom scripts that fire up Puppet clients and servers that build out and configure the environment.

We also built a site for a client in Django this year and it went very well. I like Django. I’d use it more if it fit into the types of sites we build, but too often it feels forced so we go with Tornado.

Late last year I worked on a project that used CoffeeScript, Backbone, and Sass on the front-end. I had never used any of these tools and wasn’t particularly a strong JavaScript developer, so it was fun to see these tools from a different perspective. Since then I released Laterspam.org which used all three. I have another app I will release someday that also uses them.

I use Codekit to manage compilation, syntax checking, and minifying. If you’re on a Mac it’s a must have.

We also use Rundeck for deployments and Jenkins for automated testing. Logging is sent to Papertrail. And of course everything lives on Github.

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This is a simple idea I am going to assume ad networks are already doing, but if they aren’t, they should!

When you first get online at work in the morning some ad provider should note that this is the first time they’ve seen you in a few hours. The assumption should be that you must have just sat down at your desk so…

An alert should be sent to email marketers that they should send you their daily email now. This is email you’ve already signed up for, just the delivery time is now optimal since you were just “seen” online.

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Totally random idea I’ve been chewing on for, oh, 8 years?

Popup Yearbook. Page gets created. Everyone in a certain group is invited to upload one picture of themselves from the year. The page is locked after a period of time.

Stupid simple idea but a community site I manage does this every year and it’s a lot of fun to see the finished result.

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I don’t think I adequately explained what I am talking about in my last post. Here are some simple examples.

  • The task: I need to pay my worker’s comp insurance.
  • A test: Is the date of my next payment to my insurance company > the current date?
  • The push: I accomplished my task and added a new test to my list of things to ensure are correct.

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  • The task: I have to pay my mortgage.
  • A test: Is the price of my mortgage still equal to X where X is the previous payment?
  • The push: I have paid my mortgage and added a test to ensure payments are not consistent. (This happened to me once due to a drop in the amount and I didn’t realize I had been over paying, but not towards principal.)

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  • The task: I need to sign up for a new mobile phone and was quoted $X/month for a year.
  • The test: Create a test that ensures I am not billed at more than $X.
  • The push: Submit new test to my testing suite. Perhaps also a test that the cost does go up to the new amount as defined by the salesperson.

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Think “if this then that” for the businesses I use on a recurring basis. If the banks and mobile phone companies and gas companies and insurance companies aren’t going to make APIs for us, why not make them ourselves? Hold them accountable and provide stats to ourselves about the money coming in and out of our lives.

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I’ve been chewing on the idea of how to share the satisfaction one gets from writing tests and pushing code with people who don’t write code. Every todo app or productivity app I’ve seen gets this part wrong. If one could bottle the satisfaction from testing and shipping into an app for doing things they’d be gold.

For the non-developers reading this&8212;writing automated tests is essentially writing a set of scripts that test paths in your application. If your code accepts user names and passwords with certain rules, then a type of automated test will attempt to log into your site however many hundreds of permutations that exist to test that the rules work. It’s a validation that your code does what is expected, and will continue to do what is expected even if you change other parts of your code.

Yes, accomplishing the task is important, but nobody (that I’ve seen) gets the other two parts right. Testing would be a verification that the task was completed and done. Pushing would be announcing or registering your daily completed tasks and getting the satisfaction of cleaning them off your plate.

ElevatorThis is still too geeky and stuck in my head. I think people are working on this idea. At least I assume that’s what The Obvious’ Lift is.

But even if they aren’t, I’m hopeful someone eventually makes this. Even geekier I would say my dream is to someday have a set of scripts that test and verify all the things I have set up in my life (insurance payments, property tax payments, savings to cover year-end taxes).

Essentially a set of tools to verify the processes I have done or need to do and a way to instantly test that they are all in place and working. Pretty geeky, but pretty cool to me.

Updated

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I keep a Twitter account of things my son says. I know everyone’s kid is hilarious, but I think I am good at remembering to write them down. Here are some of my favorites.

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Years ago when we were just getting comfortable with the idea of “friending” another person with a computer—that is, storing a value in a database that represents your belief they will also store a value in a database that, when queried, will display for others to see—a strange little site appeared out of nowhere.

It was called Breedster, a play on the name Friendster, and it briefly took over people’s lives only to (as planned) utterly destroy and eat itself.

Every year or so I think about Breedster. Part of why I am writing this is so I can spare Google attaching the terms: “social site, friends, bugs, std, disease, eat poo” to my profile every time I want to tell someone about it.

Yes really. I wasn’t as active on it as most people, but the gist (from memory) was you were a bug hatched from an egg, ate food (or poo in a pinch) for energy, and then had sex with others to create more eggs of your own. The whole point of the game was to consume food to have energy to have sex and then repeat.

A few weeks into the game, when players were inviting as many people as they could to then have sex with them, something strange happened. First it was simply disease found in poo that would sap your energy over time. But then it was a sexually transmitted disease that people had already unwittingly contracted.

Their eggs would no longer hatch. Bugs died due to lack of energy. The whole site became infected and everyone died.

This is from memory. I may have gotten some details wrong (and would appreciate any corrections) but what I loved about Breedster was that they were exploring an idea in real-time with hundreds of other people and had the good sense to see a conclusion. A few people, like me I hope, think about that site every so often and marvel at how cool it was that they did that.

We’re so comfortable now with, as Adam calls it: the “Ad Supported Like Economy”, that it doesn’t even bother us we effortlessly move back and forth from asymmetrical (Twitter) following to symmetrical (Facebook). That we willingly store our relationships in relational databases for ad networks to scan and learn about us so that we can have a pinch of validation of our ideas, photos, taste, and meta-tastes.

I put Jonah Peretti’s tweet at the top of this post because it reminded me of sites like Breedster. They had an opinion about these new social sites and rather than write a blog post or complain bitterly on the nearest PHPBB forum, they created something that burrowed so deep into my brain that 8 years later I still think about it.

UPDATE FROM THE DRUNKMEN (MAN) HIMSELF:

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I can’t really add too much context to why I had to listen to this song this morning. I can only say it was while waiting for a car to take me to a conversation about startups. I had to listen to this song so bad I broke my “only 2012 music” project.

Needless to say: if you have Rdio you should hear it. If you can find it someplace else I think you should hear it.

It’s just a brutally honest song about trying and failing and trying again.

The song is ten years old. Dakota shared it with me back in the days when he was putting out a song every couple of weeks. I was writing on my weblog and shipping code left and right. Then something happened and it’s ten years later and I am waiting for a car to take me to a conversation about startups.

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Chris Dixon tweeted something the other day I liked.

It received a lot of retweets and favorites but I didn’t see any more about it. I suspect it’s a bit related to my tweet from a few weeks ago:

When we were getting our privacy policy together we spent a few days talking to our lawyer to get something drafted that was fair and reasonable. We posted it and asked for feedback. While nothing changed in text from the date we posted it, we had conversations with users to help them understand what it all meant. I think it was good for our early users to be comfortable, but I really wish I had a toolset like Chris described to make it easier for us and our users to understand.

I discovered Aza Raskin already had Chris’ idea and took it much further, but since he doesn’t have dates on his posts I can’t tell if it’s a recent or old post.

It will be a shame if this doesn’t happen.

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  1. I liked what you said.
  2. I loved what you said.
  3. I want people to see this on Twitter or Stellar.io.
  4. I liked what you said to me, but I don’t have a very good reply and the train is coming.
  5. I don’t really get what you said to me, but it appears to be a joke.
  6. Accident. I don’t know how to undo it.

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I missed the video of this talk the first time around. There’s a shout-out to MLKSHK in the middle, but that’s not why you should watch it. Jon Bell delivers a captivating talk about “Design Relevance”.

I can’t stop sharing this with people.

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Happy Notes now has banners on the left side of the page. You might remember I had this idea a couple weeks ago. Before I throw them on MLKSHK I am going to get the bugs out of the admin by serving them here. (You’ll have to visit Notes to see them.)

These aren’t exactly ads. I don’t intend on them only having links out to products you can buy. On MLKSHK I hope to be able to use them for serving content people want and links to things I think are worth seeing.

There are enough ad networks out there serving typical ads. I want to do something different.

More later!

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Here are some gaming related links for you:

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I’ve been thinking about ad networks a bit more. Ad Tech is this week and an old co-worker stopped by my office and we ended up talking about them. Then Justin, another former co-worker at Federated Media, posted this discovery last night. (Justin and I talk about ad serving a lot. Too much probably)

So I had this idea. I think it is a good and simple one for normal people with weblogs.

The short of it is I like the idea of running a tasteful, small ad on my site like the ads from The Deck. But I realize using some fly-by-night penny ad network for punching monkeys really just opens you, my readers, to what those ads are really doing: tracking you with cookies. Or worse: installing malware.

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The old joke is nobody clicks ads, but the truth is their business is not just getting you to click an ad. Their business is to set or read a cookie (or allow another unnamed party who bids high enough to) and then sell or merge that information with other databases so they can really target you later on.

Install Ghostery and you will see some of your favorite sites (that’s Techcrunch on the right) are serving you a mess of tracking codes that you really don’t think about because it’s happening behind the scenes.

I have volumes I could write on the subject of ads, ad networks, and cookies. But the what this post is about is simply a desire for more options that work for everyone, publishers, advertisers, and readers. They are rare.

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A few days ago I had a couple of ideas in the shower:

I just wrote the first one as a simple script that demonstrates how to do it with Twilio. If I actually had real free time I would build a little web UI where you could fill in the numbers, set a time, and get your own personalized conference room (with all the features you find in a regular conferencing system) to dial you and the participants when it’s time for the call.

But maybe that’s something you want to build?

The one thing I learned from this is Twilio is pretty damn cool. The documentation is good and the API is a good one.

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A few weeks ago, standing at baggage claim with my family, I checked Twitter to see Austin Kleon mentioning me with a screenshot I didn’t recognize of something I wrote here a bit ago.

Totally out of context, I had no idea what was going on. By the time we were in our car I discovered Austin had used the line from that blog post in his book “Steal Like an Artist”.

Now a few weeks on, after reading the book, I can say I am so unbelievably proud to have such a tiny part to do with that book. It’s a subject I have talked about with friends, but never with the clarity and precision Austin does in this book. You should buy this book. You should buy two copies of this book because someone is going to borrow your copy and never give it back to you.

I have always wanted to write a book. I have these little ideas and thoughts I end up either throwing here or launching into over beers with friends. I also have had these thoughts about taste and how just simply having it and knowing you have it is good enough to get started. But this book is better than the book I could have written on that subject.

So maybe I never get to write that book, but holy crap am I happy to know I have a couple inches of space in the book that so perfectly nails it.

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My dream writing platform is not Dustin Curtis’ new application called Svbtle. It’s a great looking application. I am jealous he was able to get it out the door. But as far as I can tell it’s not the one I’ve been looking for, so I figure it’s time I write this.

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I have been thinking about writing platforms and talking to people (some of which worked on the platform you’re reading this on) and even keeping notes in nvAlt whenever a new idea pops into my head.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think I will never have it unless I make it. And that is:

  1. an impossibility because I have a company now with employees and clients and no time to waste on side-projects.
  2. a really dumb idea that has always been a dumb idea (FOR EVERY DEVELOPER WHO HAS HAD IT) right up until the point at which you publish something with it and people read it.

Previously my solution was to skip over points 1. and 2. and jump to point 3: write a front-end that publishes (using the Atom/MetaWeblog/Blogger/MovableType APIs) with an abstracted connector. That is, you push a publish button and my web app figures out how to publish on your service of choice. Your site continues to serve but the underlying application (Typepad/Wordpress/Blogger) is hidden behind a sort of driver that does not know what system it is publishing to, just that it has content to save and update.

This is fine in theory, but turns out to be the sort of pain in the ass you are wanting to avoid by bundling all the worst things about writing a blogging engine into one code base. You spend a lot of time reliving the stupid arguments of 2003 while learning how to publish to the MetaWeblogAPI. You then get to revisit the creation of an entire blog publishing standard from 2004 (that materialized out of an entirely separate argument people had with the self-proclaimed godfather of RSS for reasons related to his self-proclaimationizing ways) when learning how to use the Atom API.

These standards are the wrong path. They solve jumping straight to option 3 but basically uphold the sometimes head-scratching standards people conformed to when there were very good reasons to conform to them. They’re outdated. They are holding blogging back. I can’t use nearly 10 year-old standards.

That brings us to my pain points with every tool out there. My idea of an ideal tool is just that. It has all the little quirks and features only I want and I don’t think I will ever get everything I want without taking a year off and drinking a lot.

Now, I know Typepad and Say: have a hell of a lot more things going on at their company than spending time adding new features to Typepad. I am a minor speck in their publisher galaxy and that’s fine. I think the application is still the best place for me to write since I use MarsEdit and rarely have to use the web interface.

But since Typepad doesn’t let me save drafts to the server (like Tumblr) so I can share them with friends (and since we’re spitballing: have my friends make edits in place), blogging is a very solitary sort of activity. The best posts (I think) I’ve made have been because Anil or Mat looked them over.

I need a new tool. I have reasons I don’t use Tumblr regularly (it is clearly the best publishing platform for blogging) and perhaps I should give it another look, but I think if I sat down with my nvAlt and described what I want it would not look anything like Tumblr. It wouldn’t look like anything that exists.

I hate that.

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One of the things about having a child is you find yourself returning to things you loved as a kid. We went to Disneyland recently and every single damn ride was AMAZING. I was watching my son’s face light up as we turned corners inside of It’s A Small World when all of a sudden I was grinning at the dancing kids and singing along.

Same with Legos. Painting. Rolling around on the floor. And rockets.

I was a HUGE model rocket collector and launcher. Here’s a family launching one if you’ve never seen one go before:

We built every sort of rocket and dramatized stories around each launch. We pretended to be astronauts and walked slowly around empty fields like we were performing astronaut duties like fixing transponders (whatever those were).

So the other day I saw this:

It’s a Windows/Mac game/simulation that lets you do an incredible amount of planning, building, and launching of rockets into space, and to the moon if you wish. Apparently they plan is to also allow your astronauts to explore other planets as well. So cool!

My son is 3 so not quite ready for this, but I cannot wait until we finally get to the point where this stuff is interesting to him.

http://kerbalspaceprogram.com/

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The Curator’s Code (more) is a cumbersome solution based on a good intention. Attribution should be stored in the meta-data of a tweet or post, not in the post itself. Unstructured text only complicates the job of any software trying to make sense of these codes.

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Twitter once promised to allow arbitrary meta-data in the form of “annotations”. The tools themselves could be encoding this within the post or tweet object for you rather than inserting into free text that can’t be parsed and aggregated. It’s too bad Twitter never did it, it seems like more and more we need meta-data to clear up the growing list of symbols and bad tech (URL shorteners) that clutter Tweets and blog posts.

Attribution and appreciation are good things! And we should seek to include them whenever we create/curate. But I think the execution of the Curators Code is flawed.

If anything the team that made this should petition Twitter and other publishing tools like Tumblr and Typepad to agree on a standardized method of encoding this kind of stuff in meta-data.

(By the way, I hooked up Typepad to my @andre_torrez Twitter account in case you would rather get notified of new posts there.)

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So not only does my little idea exist, but they’ve solved some of the problems I thought I’d have dealing with films a user hasn’t seen. Flickchart takes a Hot Or Not approach to rating movies, and gives you a way to skip movies you haven’t seen.

I’ve been playing with it for an hour or so and it seems to be building a pretty good profile of the movies I like and don’t like. Check it out: http://flickchart.com.

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Last night I wanted to watch a movie so I went to iTunes and started sorting by stars when I realized something: I don’t generally like the most popular films in theaters, so why am I using everyone else’s star ratings to find good movies?

What does a four out of five star ranking actually mean?

Then I remembered an old idea I kicked around a bit before MLKSHK that I hope someone will someday make.

I originally registered the name dropsort.com which describes how I think it would work on the front-end.

The one sentence way to describe it is this: Drag and drop movies* to order them from left to right, ranking them as good to bad. The data generated from these, what I call “taste fingerprints”, would be used to help find other movies that people have ranked above identical taste fingerprints of others.

That is, if I ranked some heist movies like this:

Me

And you ranked some heist movies like this:

You

The service would possibly suggest Sneakers as a movie you might enjoy because we ranked The Getaway and Reservoir Dogs the same. (I say possibly because it should rely on a larger set of data, not just my single ranking.)

The assumption here is if people rank movies in a certain order relative to each other as you rank the same movies in a similar order, then there is a likelihood you might enjoy a movie they ranked higher than that match.

You could do this with genres, but also arbitrary categories like Woody Allen films or films shot in a certain location. As long as someone creates a set and enough people contribute rankings there would be enough data to make guesses for you.

I will build this someday if you don‘t.

* or books, or video games, or iOS apps.

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I’m a quitter. I quit using Vico the text editor for Mac that replicates many of Vim’s features in a Mac-like UI. (Earlier post on the subject)

NewImage

I had a big day of coding last week and found myself flipping to Sublime Text to deal with a tricky multi-line selection. I was surprised to find out in the few months since I’d left Sublime Text it had received a multitude of updates and fixes. The tabs work and look better. It became difficult to switch back to Vico that day, and a this Monday when I needed to write a lot of code I went straight for Sublime Text.

Vico was very good and I was certainly faster. I could write code faster when I wasn’t having to learn a new keyboard command. And that was basically the problem, I got sick of learning. Yeah, I have to reach over and use the touchpad every few minutes while editing, but since I do that already in this (MarsEdit) and Google documents and any other edit window that is not Vico it seemed strange to have to switch my mind to vim editing.

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I switch Twitter desktop applications often. For reading on iOS it’s either Twitterrific or Tweetbot, but on the desktop I want something much more robust with all the noodle-y little features a heavy user like myself would like to waste/save time with.

(So I decided to write them here, but it’s times like this I wish I had a wiki-type site instead of a weblog so I could keep editing this file and have it rise to the top.)

  1. Show me what my friends have liked. Similar to stellar.io but I want it in an app and without a follow limit. Also I would love to see the most popular or retweeted tweets for the past 24 hours in one view.
  2. Ability to turn off all retweets or only show retweets. I love retweets because they usually have great links in them, but I also dislike them when they get in the way of simply catching up with people.
  3. Save for later. I hate using favorites to track save things I want to read later.
  4. Twitter’s Tweetie-era app still allows for keyboard commands. This is essential for me. I am not so sure they will stick around when Twitter launches the next version given their iOS (BUY TAMPONS SPONSORED TWEET) release.
  5. Ability to quickly add someone to a must-read list. I keep some private lists for stuff I absolutely can’t miss, but adding and removing people from it is so hard to do.
  6. Pre-load every image and display it inline. I hate waiting for images to load even though they’re already thumb-nailed inline. I have bandwidth to burn, please use it.
  7. Separate Webkit view for URLs. Two reasons for this:
    1. I can trace where the URL was originally opened from.
    2. If it has tabs I can keep my work browsing separate from my Twitter browsing.

Itchy coding fingers wish I could make this. But…if I were going to dedicate some time to a desktop application it’d probably be an email app that was smart enough to know what to do with email as it arrives. Hotel reservations? Add to iCal. Super extensible rule plugins. Keyboard navigation. Better filing. Blah…blah…blah.

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Mat’s post about Twitter making a tiny change to the way @ replies work reminds me of an idea I had. Someone please do it.

Basically every night a set of scripts run that test whether all the things we know about Twitter: how replies work, how RT’s work, how URLs are shortened, how following works, and it publishes the results into a nice one page screen people can check in with when a new version rolls out.

In addition the data returned in JSON responses would also tip that there are new features to check out.

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I have started tagging games I want to play or games that I want to check-in on later with the tag: playmelater on Pinboard. A while back I registered the domain name playmelater.com to make something like a Svpply for video games, but I doubt I will ever get to it.

It’s something I do want. I hope someone makes it. Every week it feels like there are 10 new games to check out, and these aren’t just big publisher games but small independent games I will surely lose track of unless @brandonnn tweets about them.

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If you haven’t seen this talk yet, I wanted to make sure you did. One thing though: as you watch it remember it is not about a text editor or a new way to write code. There is a much larger statement being made so don’t get caught up in the “ain’t that cool” factor.

Bret Victor - Inventing on Principle from CUSEC on Vimeo.

I wasn’t sure if I should post this on our Simpleform blog or here. I have this blog post coming about my new life as a small business owner and how differently I carry myself these days. The work is similar, but different. We still ship code, solve problems, and have a good time, but there is much more concern about planning and our future than there was with MLKSHK.

This talk arrived at a very good time.

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Shigeru Miyamoto talks about Zelda, Mario, and…Toad.

I have an important question. Nintendo has also just released Mariokart 7 for the 3DS. In every iteration of Mariokart, I’ve always preferred to play as Toad. Who’s your favorite character?</p>

That’s the most challenging question! I’m sorry that I cannot come up with an interesting answer. Somehow, it’s habit to me, but I play with Mario. He’s a very balanced character.

Who’s your least favorite character?

Toad. [Laughs]

My favorite character is your least favorite character?

I understand that he has some popularity. Somehow. </em>

Our household loves Toad! Somehow.

File Toad

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I’ve had this idea bouncing around in my head for a while, and I want to do it, but the project would require a lot of time that I do not have. So here is the idea for someone else to take and make.

The point of this site is to help people build sites they are dreaming of building (THE IRONY).

Description: A site that you sign into with Github. You create a new project and then point it at a publicly accessible Git repo containing a suite of tests that you wrote for your project. Yes, you have to write all the tests first.

But here is the cool part: people can fork your project of tests, build the app that the tests are testing and then issue a pull request. You then can initiate tests (here be some magic) via a brand new EC2 instance that gets fired up, and if all tests pass you can accept the pull request and thank/pay/whatever the person who submitted the completed or partial project.

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A thing I’ll be doing to track my music for the project is summing up my favorites for the month.

Though January was rough, so far I think I found three good albums I’ll be listening to all year. If you have Rdio then you can play the albums in-line. Otherwise I included links to their Amazon pages where you can play them.

Palomar was a nice surprise. Turns out I actually remember when the band was getting started because a member of a site I run was in it and he sent me an album. Small world. [Amazon]

Dead Dog reminds me of the bands I used to see in the mid-90s in Southern California at places with names like No Life Records, The Ukranian Hall, Dizzy Debbies, or some random strip-mall record store in the Valley or Orange County. Loud and fuzzy 2-minute songs that were always under the spectre of being shut down any minute. That whole time in my life I was incredibly young and just wanted to hear loud music, get drunk, and have an excuse to do really stupid things. Anyway, here’s Dead Dog. [Amazon]

Cloud Nothings. I haven’t figured out this album yet. It’s unlike their last album (which I liked). I can’t stop listening to it. There’s really good stuff in there. [Amazon

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When you swing a guitar without strap locks.

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“What can you tell a person you been wit’ for forty years?”

Italianamerican (dir. Martin Scorsese; 1974)

</span></span></p></blockquote><p>[via Kung Fu Grippe]</p></p>

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An interview with Jason Kottke on The Verge. Jason’s blog is still, consistently, the blog to read. Even more so now that he’s able to draw from Stellar.

I have two invitations to Stellar to hand out. Just ask: @torrez.

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I’ve become fond of a weblog called Everyday Carry. When I decided to dust off my newsreader I asked some friends for their OPMLs so I could see what they were reading and Everyday Carry was one that came in a bundle of consumer-centric feeds Adam Mathes read for Decommodify.

The basic idea is people send in photos of what they carry every day, with a little summary of what the items are and possibly a little backstory on how they acquired the item. The goal seems to be minimalism crossed with preparedness, and so there is a theme amongst the enthusiasts that I’ve been able to observe. Most carry a light, a bit of rope, a hook of some sort, a small number of keys (usually one), a knife, a wallet, and a watch.

Each post has a followup by the editor thanking them for the contribution and praising or offering a gentle suggestion about how they could achieve a more efficient everyday carry.

There are no Amazon encoded links to buy your own, that feels noteworthy.

Some time ago I decided I would not carry a bag and laptop into work. I keep my work iMac at the office and commute with only my keys, a wallet, and iPhone (with standard earbuds). My keys have an Inka Pen keychain that has saved me more times than I can count.

I don’t imagine I would ever submit to Everyday Carry, but the site is a bright spot as I read through my feeds.

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I can hardly believe this is true: Gary Taxali was commissioned to design the backs of six 25¢ Canadian coins.

The backstory is a great read, including the bit about the origin of his own last name.

Birthday f C3 A0te

[via Drawn!]

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Only listening to music from 2012 so far: sucks. I pretty much stayed away from 2011, but only a couple weeks into the new year and there is seriously nothing. Help me if you know something good, because I am dying over here. I heard the new Sleigh Bells way more than I could deal. And the Miniature Tigers new song is okay…but not what I was hoping for. Come on new music Tuesday!

Meanwhile I decided I can’t stop participating over on This Is My Jam because it’s just too much fun. So far I haven’t been able to share any new music with anyone over there, but I have my fingers crossed as we hit the end of the month and get past all the albums the labels dumped after the new year.

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Paul Graham’s Y Combinator request for startups #9: Kill Hollywood.

…What is going to kill them? Mostly not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What's going to kill movies and TV is what's already killing them: better ways to entertain people.

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In light of the GOP debates this past week someone linked to this excerpt of the fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy but I have forgotten who it was. It’s the sort of thing you need to read in its entirety so I am not going to quote it. Just go read.

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Here’s your yearly reminder that Fez is landing on the XBox soon. If you know what Fez is, you’ve probably already jumped to the next blog post by now. But if you don’t know, the developers have put together a page explaining what Fez is.

There are no enemies in FEZ. No bosses, no combat. In fact, no conflict of any kind. You can die, but there is no penalty for doing so. FEZ aims to create a non-threatening world rich with ambiance, a pleasant place to spend time in.

Fez is also prominently featured in “Indie Game: The Movie”:

Indie Game: The Movie Official Trailer from IndieGame: The Movie on Vimeo.

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I’m happy to discover Tom Gauld has a book coming out soon called “Goliath”. You probably know his work if not his name.

Maria

“Goliath” is a graphic novel telling the story of David and Goliath from the giant's point of view.

Screen Shot 2012 01 18 at 10 08 10 AM

You can pre-order it on Amazon.

[via It’s Nice That]

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Adam really said it better than I was able to say it. He even uses a word that was on the tip of my tongue but I could not find: “spectacle”. Here’s a portion of his post:

The implicit, underlying assumption of much of journalism is that reality isn’t interesting enough, or comprehensible enough on its own. It needs to be reinterpreted through storytelling with a bias towards conflict, personality, stereotype, conventional wisdom and other tropes that make what is boring and unfamiliar to the writer more palatable to a large audience.

YES. That.

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After my post yesterday I received some nice email and question about what exactly I do think a tech site should be covering. I have a lot to say on this, and I don’t have a ton of examples right now, but I thought I’d write the first ones that come to mind here and then just reply with the URL to this post.

In short two things interest me: the first is small teams or businesses that have managed to bootstrap themselves without angel or VC money. There are SO MANY ways to fund a company that knowing someone did it with a product that people actually wanted is so much more valuable to me as a reader. I think one could spend a year chasing down the people who have bootstrapped or overfunded their idea on Kickstarter and then went on to deliver another great product. A weblog with a hard requirement like that would be a daily read.

Look at Wirecutter on The Awl network. Did not take funding. A one man operation. Makes money with ads and Amazon referrals. Hell yeah! That’s a great story.

The second thing that interests me is actual emerging tech ideas, not manufactured ones. I am talking about the sorts of people who tinker with APIs and services to come up with a new way to publish or share.

This year I think the big thing will be taking back your data from the cloud. I think owning your own data and having file-level control of your photos and blog posts and personal relationships on your computer is going to become much more popular than it is now.

OpenPhoto was a Kickstarter project that successfully funded an open-source solution to managing your photos through Dropbox or S3. It was built with $25,000 of supporter’s money. I mean, look at this!

Jekyll is a “blog-aware, static site generator” that has been around for over three and a half years. The idea is that you don’t need a centralized blog posting service to generate and host your static files, you can have them generated locally and pushed to a static web server. Quite a few people have been thinking about this for a while now. Brent Simmons has been working on one since 2009, Marco Arment just pushed the source to Second Crack on Github. I just saw a new one yesterday that looks great but is extremely custom and probably won’t be released any time soon, but the need is there.

These “own your content” apps are still in the toothpick and wad of gum stages, but someone is going to get this right and it’s not just going to be a great story but a new way of thinking about how we publish and own our content.

What’s boring: $10 million in funding to make a new Facebook. Yes, you can hire a ton of people and make perplexing videos on someone else’s dime for quite a while it seems. I thought the first version of Color was actually cool if not cold and a bit cumbersome, but since then they haven’t done very much worth posting about yet we get new blog posts and profiles about the founder every few months.

All that said, and given I linked to a quote about PandoDaily in the previous post, I also think posts like this are absolutely worth discussing. Anyone up for a stop Jimmy Wales protest avatar?

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Tim O’Reilly on SOPA and lobbyists (emphasis mine):

The mismatch between Silicon Valley and Congress isn't just that Silicon Valley isn't engaged enough with lobbying Congress, but that Silicon Valley has this outmoded idea that your ideas succeed when they are right, as proven in the marketplace, rather than because you were better at making a backdoor deal than the next guy.

Tech Industry Buys Itself a Mouthpiece

"It's a long list," Lacy conceded in the announcement. "And there is a simple reason we spread the syndicate widely: This is a news site built for the startup community, so the more of them that are a part of it, the better."

I know where Tim was going with that paragraph and his posts on SOPA/PIPA are must-read thoughts on the problem, but I think that sentence reflects for me the thing that is a bit discouraging about Silicon Valley.

I still want to see an independent tech weblog that covers the many startups and subjects I never see listed on the current tech blogs. I hate seeing a glowing post about some new startup and know the writer and CEO regularly joke with each other on Twitter. I hate when a popular startup is given a pass because most of the writers attended the founder’s bachelor party or got an exclusive on a new feature.

This is the game that goes on and the righteous belief that there isn’t one bothers me.

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I started playing this game last night called Swift Stitch and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I guarantee it is unlike any game you’re playing now. (Unless you’re playing Vib Ribbon or Tron.)

There is a demo for both Mac and PC as well as a web embedded (you can embed Unity games!?) demo so you can try it out.

Her post-mortem on the game is definitely worth reading.

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This is ONE 48" firework shell:

[via Coudal]

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Last night at about midnight this idea popped into my head. It was so good (to me) that I decided to write it on my iPhone, while half-asleep, because it was keeping me from going to sleep. I posted it.

Now that I woke up and read it I realize there are a lot of gaps there. Also I don’t even explain the problem very well.

So here is a repost of the idea with URLs explaining what I meant.

As a web developer one thing that is very easy to do is file uploads. There are so many ways to get a file from your computer to my site that people will argue about the best way to do it (it’s Nginx Upload Module, btw).

The problem is when someone using an iOS device hits the “browse” button on their iOS device. There is no file system available and so the button does nothing. Here is where Apple could solve all of this by making the “browse” button open your camera roll and allow you to select an image from it. (Surprise: this is what Android does.)

Since Apple doesn’t allow this many people end up making iOS apps that do everything a mobile site could do plus image upload. If there were just a way to fire up the camera or camera roll from a web page and choose an image to upload, many web developers I know would be very happy (me).

It turns out there is a way to launch an iOS app from a web page. It’s called a protocol handler. Here is an example of it being used in the application Terminology.

The URL terminology://q=word (yes, that’s a valid URL) only works if you have the Terminology application installed, or some other iOS app has registered to handle that URL. So if someone puts it on a web page only people with the app can click the link.

Here is my idea: make an application called Community Camera.app. Community Camera.app registers to handle any URL like camera://url=[…] where […] is a URL that accepts an image upload.

Someone clicks the camera:// link and it opens the Community Camera app with a location to post an image file. The user then either takes a picture or selects an image using the standard controls and then Community Camera.app POSTs that image data to the URL that was passed in.

This way anyone who wants to make a web site that accepts image uploads from iOS devices simply needs to provide a camera://url=http://theirsite.com/upload/token/asdf1234 link on their page. The script at /upload/token/asdf1234 should do three things:

  1. Accept a file upload and return an OK or FAIL message.
  2. Accept the image arriving using the token value. Each token should be a disposable key used for the transaction.
  3. Return a URL for returning back to the web site.

After uploading, the Community Camera.app tells the user if the image was accepted and a button to continue goes to item #3.

Sometimes I get these ideas and I forget them. I really want someone to do this and so I got a bit excited and posted that cryptic post last night. Thanks for reading!

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Someone make this: an iOS app with protocol handler “camera://” that lets me pass a URL for the application to post an image to.

Every web app that needs an iOS app just to get a photo or image into the site could use this non-site-specific iOS app by simply passing in something like:

camera://url=http://some.com/new-image/token/asdf1234

The app launches, user selects image or takes a photo, and then the iOS app posts that image data to the URL passed in via url=...

Now anyone with a web app can offer image uploading as long as that community camera/image picker is installed.

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I’ll have an announcement to make tomorrow if we can find a printer to print this contract http://simpleform.com/

Please follow our new weblog using the RSS feed or the Tumblr widget. Yeah, my first actual Tumblr blog, what the what?

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Ugh, Nick’s post linking to 37 Signal’s post about not using puzzles and and riddles to hire people reminded me of the time I interviewed at [redacted].

I was awful. Embarrassingly awful. I can’t even describe how ridiculously bad I was at talking through a problem on paper. Looking back I probably should have just said, “Oh hey, can we try something else?” But I wanted to prove I could do it and just ended up getting it all so wrong I wanted to just get up and walk out of the room.

A friend went through the gauntlet of hiring and he was hit with all the puzzles and algorithms you hear about. He studied really hard for them and did really well; he had his pick of jobs to take. But talking to him now it seems that he ended up at a company lacking any culture and a few odd people he doesn’t care to interact with.

I think I do pretty good hiring people. I tend to do much more talking and challenging ideas than I think most people do. Yes, reading their code is probably the most important thing you can do before hiring, but if you can’t hold a conversation with someone and can’t see having lunch with them, then why even get to that point?

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I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a first person hockey game. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but usually it’s third person or top down.

This looks like so much fun.

Made by the Cryptic Sea for Windows or Mac.

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I had this sitting in MarsEdit as a draft for longer than I meant to. Last year I created a bookmark folder called Best of 2011 and throughout the year dragged a link in there to every post that knocked it out of the park. I edited the list down a bit after re-reading them:

  • FOMO and Social Media by Caterina Fake. (This is not the correct URL for the piece, but her site is in transition and the URLs are a bit broken.) I noticed a lot of the posts in the folder were those wake-up call posts that sort of jar you back into reality. I have known of Caterina for years, of course, but we had never met until this year and I am really glad I got a chance to. This post arrived at a time when we were creating MLKSHK and I think it altered its direction a little bit. It certainly altered my perceptions a bit.
  • It’s the End of the Web As We Know It by Adrian Short. The title of this post is over the top but such is the state of the web right now. Inside the post there is an important point about where we are sliding as we give Facebook and Twitter our identities. I have more to say on this subject. It angers me when I see people only allow a Facebook option for creating accounts on sites that have very little to do with the Facebook service. I hope to write that post soon.
  • Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction by Bret Victor. This is the web I want. You don’t just read this post, you use this post. What an amazing piece of work this is. See also: A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design for another good post from Mr. Victor.
  • The Web Is a Customer Service Medium by Paul Ford. A lot of people put this on their lists of great posts last year and it deserves it. I just read it again and I want to push a Like button or fill in a little red heart or drop a nickel in a Paul Ford hat. I suppose I will do what we used to do in the old days: link it.

Finally, not posted this year, but I saw it this year. I will leave you with the Venn diagram (hah! seriously!) that influences my work life right now: How To Be Happy In Business.

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Watch Dutch artist Max Zorn create translucent street art using only brown packing tape and a scalpel.

via The Presurfer

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Occasionally I will be writing this year about progress on Simpleform’s transparent books.

Last week I learned how to retrieve and parse my bank account’s transactions. They’re in a format called OFX which sounds awful but is actually pretty straightforward. If you ignore 95% of it, in the end it is a list of transactions identified by GUIDs which I am stuffing in a MySQL database.

My goal is first to collect it, then clean it up locally by adding better descriptions and categories, and then push reports to a server that we can all see.

I will share this code.

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