Kurt Vonnegut Buying an Envelope

When Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope: “Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet?” And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope […]

Course Review: Writing in the Sciences

A review of the Writing in the Sciences online course that I recently finished. The course is taught by Dr. Kristin Sainania a Professor of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University. It is a free 8-week series of canned videos, online quizzes, and homework assignments designed to improve your writing. Course Structure Each week […]

Async is the Key to Distributed Work

I wrote A Year Working Remotely after my first year at Automattic — a company now at 1,000 fully distributed employees across 76 countries. This is a 6-year follow on sharing additional learning on work and productivity. A colleague Alister wrote a great post, Three Years of Working from Home, that covers personal care tips, […]

Lessons from Walt Disney

On a sunny day, my family and I went up to San Francisco to visit the Walt Disney Museum. The museum is located in the beautiful Presidio near the Golden Gate Bridge. I simply hoped to enjoy a nice day out of the house, maybe something the kids would like–I didn’t expect to be inspired […]

Using the Pomodoro Technique

I recently started using the Pomodoro Technique to help me focus. I find it a useful productivity tool to fight distractions. The technique is a rather simple process: Set a timer for 25 minutes, Work focused on your task, When the timer goes off, take a short break (5min) Repeat After completing a few sets, […]

Notes on Technical Writing

Over the past year, I’ve worked on and off documentation for WordPress. I started contributing during a freeze around launch to help developers transition to the new platform. I found writing documentation is something I enjoy, plus rewarding to help and educate people. Though it’s not a primary part of my job, I’ve continued to […]

Bauhaus Centenary Block

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Bauhaus design house, our team created a celebratory block for the WordPress editor, see our announcement post on Automattic.design. The Bauhaus Centenary block is available as a plugin with three styles – basic forms, year, and ribbon – that embraces the character, variety, and edge of the Bauhaus […]

On Fruit Trees and Code Bases

A fruit tree planted in a nice sunny spot, given water and time will grow. It may not grow how you want or expect it to, but grow it will. Each branch of the tree does it’s job and sprouts new branches. All of them competing for sun, getting in each others way, and shooting […]

Switching from Ubuntu to Manjaro

I surprised myself switching off of Ubuntu to Manjaro for my primary computers. UPDATE: I switched back after 4 months. I’ve been a user of Ubuntu for many years. It is a wonderful desktop platform. Ubuntu made Linux on the desktop easier by having a straight-forward installation, including necessary drivers, and creating an OS to […]

The Story of the Laggy Mouse

A story as old as time, not all the stories involve computers and peripherals, but the tale is known by all do-it-your-selfers, home-depot-excursioners, and other fixers-of-small-things. It is a story told around camp fires, in fact one version of the story starts “So we were out of firewood…” My version starts with “So my mouse […]

Using Firefox user.js settings file

The Firefox user.js file stores user settings, the file is loaded each time Firefox starts. This a convenient way to save your browser customizations and apply them on different machines. The prefs.js file already exists in your Firefox profile directory, find the location using about:support in the top bar. The prefs.js file looks like it […]

Summer Sabbatical

My company, Automattic, has the wonderful perk of a 3-month sabbatical every 5 years. Amazingly enough, I’m already an old-timer and been there over 5-years, so this summer I took my sabbatical. I timed it to be off the same time as the kids for summer, so I didn’t work for June, July, and August. […]

Ethernet, FTW!

I’ve been interested in running a caching DNS server off my Raspberry Pi for awhile, and with the recent Cloudflare announcement of their new DNS service and discussion around it, seemed like a good time to set it up. Pi-hole I setup my device with Pi-hole a great bit of software which was easy to […]

Terminal Heatmap Chart

Awhile ago I created a simple script to create bar charts on the command-line for when I published my running year in review, 2017 example here. I published the script on Github and surprisingly have received a few contributors over the years, recently a couple of students from Greece did a nice upgrade to numerous […]

Automate deleting your tweets with a Raspberry Pi

I’m a tweet deleter. I do not think of Twitter as a great archive of knowledge but more a mere feed and notification system. It is basically an internet wide RSS feed, so no need to treat anything in it too preciously. Delete away everyone. I’ve written a couple of one off scripts previously to […]

Esperanto

Esperanto is a constructed language. It was created in 1887 by a Polish-Jewish doctor L.L. Zamenhof as an easy language to learn. His goal was to foster harmony between people from different cultures and countries; a lingua franca for the world. “The place where I was born … the inhabitants were divided into four distinct […]

Podcasts, Authenticity and Old Media

Modern times seem to opt more for authenticity and rejecting the overly refined, polished, and fake. You see this in the popularity of Reality TV and social media, both have the appeal of non-scripted and authentic content. I also see this desire in podcasts. I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, I’ve been listening for […]

On Social Media

Unfortunately there is no better way to publish photos, writing, or other personal content without using social media. The corollary is also true, there is no better way to follow content from someone you are interested in than using social media. The open web and RSS were not successful enough to escape out of the […]

Voice is the future and Google is best

Almost a year ago, I was lucky enough to be given an Amazon Echo from someone whose family wasn’t that comfortable with an always-on device listening to them, so he gave it to me to play with. My life is quite boring, listen away devices. So my family likes the Echo, it works well enough […]

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

My review of the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop. My two previous laptops were the Macbook Pro 15″ (Late 2013), and Thinkpad X1 Carbon (2012, 1st gen). So much of the comparisons will be to those two. My main debate was between the XPS 13 and Thinkpad X1 Carbon, a few reasons I ended […]

Ten Year Anniversary

A lot of talk today about the ten year anniversary of some such device; ten years ago I was doing something much more important, signing up for WordPress.com. Though it might of been to blog about said device.

Switching to Colemak

On Dec 23, 2016 I switched my keyboard layout to Colemak. Colemak is an alternative keyboard layout moving keys around with the intent of a more practical and improved ergonomic layout. This reduces the distance your fingers travel when typing English. UPDATE: It didn’t stick and I switched back to QWERTY after a couple months, […]

Playing with Technology

Listening to a Latino USA podcast they talked how MySpace encouraged people to learn technology. If you wanted to customize your page, you had to learn HTML, CSS, and how the web worked a little to modify it. This encouraged some to further learn technology and even be able to turn it into a career. […]

Signing for a Delivery

Is scribbling something illegible on a piece of paper or LCD pad really a good way for signing for something? We do it when receiving packages, and paying with a credit card, it not only seems archaic but really pointless. Typically the person asking us to scribble does not confirm our identity in any other […]

Webvan vs. Uber

Webvan is often considered a spectacular failure during the early dotcom era. Looking at what it was trying to do and when, it is not a surprise. Their IPO raised $375M which looking at the financials below was not nearly enough for its lofty goal. The Webvan business is not that different than several new […]

The cost of inspiration

The mission was a failure! What a waste of money! These are a few dissenting views of the Rosetta / Philae space mission, especially now since the lander’s battery has been depleted. People are debating if the planning was done right, did it accomplish all of the science experiments. All of this for just three […]

A Day in the Life

I wake up at 5:30am, the girls got my body trained for this time, and even with them now sleeping in I can’t break the habit. I make my morning coffee, get a good stretch in and read my morning news, its a Monday so I check in how all my fantasy teams did and […]

Eliminate Work in Progress

I was listening to the recent Bootstrapped with Kids podcast and they were talking about doing too many things at once and the pain it was having on the business. A good listen to hear how development methodology effects the business. A few key tenets of software development; doing small releases, eliminate work in progress […]

Open Souce Funding Models

A look at various funding models for open source projects. Most of the major open source projects require a fair amount of development and maintenance and have many full-time people working on them. People volunteer their time, most of the members of the numerous open source software foundations are unpaid and dedicate their own time […]

A Year Working Remotely

A year ago I started at Automattic, Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar and other internet services. We have over 200 people in 20+ countries and 80+ cities and serve a billion visitors a month — and we have no office. Here is my recap of a year working in this distributed environment. […]

Docs that make you better

I’m excited to be getting a new camera and being a dork, I’ve been reading the manual online waiting for it to arrive. An interesting thing if you read photography manuals, the documentation does not simply document the camera and features but gives advice on how to be a better photographer. The Fuji manual I […]

The Siren Call of the Upgrade

Apple introduced the latest OS upgrade and increased the enticement by making it free for everyone. Looking over the feature list, there was nothing in there I really cared about. The dubious promise of faster and better performance, it has compressed memory! My system didn’t seem slow and I only run it on a iMac […]

It’s not about the coffee

A few companies are launching fancy robotic coffee kiosks intended to take on Starbucks and high-end coffee shops, from Quartz An army of robot baristas could mean the end of Starbucks as we know it It appears the main selling point is speed, consistency, reliability and the perfect cup of coffee. I think they are […]

Don’t Guess, Know

Most bugs I create come from not really understanding the system I’m working in. The system might be a framework, programming language, a standard or whatever. A very common example, and I suspect the origin of 98% of all code, is the copy-paste-tweak methodology. This is how the web got started, View Source was the […]

Take Control of Your Content

The last few weeks I’ve been taking back control of my content from the larger sites. A have a few reasons for doing so: (1) the Instagram hubbub got me thinking about content and control; (2) I started a new job at Automattic, purveyors of fine blogging software and want to eat some dog food; […]

How does Apple do it?

I often hear people ask, how does Apple do it? How are they able to release amazing products time and time again, products that redefine markets, products that are beautifully designed? The answer seems very clear to me, focus. Apple has a single minded focus and commitment to producing great products. This is not just […]

Why Microsoft OneNote kicks so much note taking ass!

I recently tried out Microsoft OneNote, I’ve heard great things about the tool previously but being a Mac user for so long I didn’t have the opportunity to use it. Lately, I’ve been using VMware Workstation on my Mac so I can run Outlook and properly schedule a meeting. The latest Office update I got […]

Strange red light from my MacBook Pro

A very strange thing just occurred with my MacBook Pro. The audio output stopped completely, it was working earlier today. I tried to change the volume, and it showed as muted but with full volume, a bit weird. Plus it started emitting a strange red light out of the headphone jack. A little searching and […]

Goodbye XML, Hello JSON

About four years ago I wrote an article on the limitations of XML, I’m here to back that up with some numbers. All of the same issues apply to XML today as they did then. It is still a bloated format, still requires external libraries and still takes plenty of code to parse. Our search […]

Distributed Social Networks

As the NY Times article todayshows, social networks are sprouting up everywhere. Small niche sites such as the Portland Trailblazers, BarackObama, Nike, and now Ning’s wicked service which allows anyone to build their own in just a few minutes. But how many of these disparate sites will someone want to join? Does some one need […]

Cicero’s Rules for Good Conversation

In a futile attempt to catch up on my ever growing pile of magazines, I came across a good article in the Economist about the art of conversation. Cicero wrote in 44 BC the following rules, which all could still apply today, even to the latest form of blogging “conversations”: Cicero’s Rules for Good Conversation […]

MySpace architecture and scalability

Baseline magazine has a good article on Inside MySpace. The article discusses the technical issues MySpace has had to deal with growing to 140 million users. If you are interested in technology, scalability and large site architecture, definitely check it out. It is interesting to read about all of the account milestones they reached and […]

Computers, we have a long way to go

After trying to remember the HTML character code for the fancy quote mark for the 1,00th time, I realized we have a long way to go with interactions with computers. I’m not talking just pretty GUI’s and simple keyboard and mouse interfaces but the whole HCI gambit; computers are supposed to be smart and make […]

One Gigabyte

Here’s an interesting observation from my father: About 1972 or so, I worked for a company called ISS, which built disc drives. One of the products was called a 7330, (a copy of the IBM 3330), a roughly washing machine size device that stored 30 MB and cost about $50,000. To store 1 GB of […]

Are you an artist?

I was reading Orbiting the Giant Hairball today by Gordon MacKenzie, a Creative Director at Hallmark. In it he relays the following story. After going around to elementary schools and talking with students about his art he would ask the students about all the beautiful pictures hanging around the school. He would ask them to […]

What should I do with my life?

What should I do with my life, an article by Po Bronson discussing his last book on the topic of life’s meaning. I found the book very interesting and inspiring in many ways, maybe because I’m still struggling with the problem myself. Read the article, you might find it stimulating, here’s a few snippets from […]

Bad Attitude or Civic Duty

Paul Graham has a fairly interesting article about the rebellious attitude of hackers, nerds and other intellectuals. He compares it to the same rebel nature of the country’s founding fathers like Jefferson, who he quotes: The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept […]

Firefox and Safari Compared

There are a few compelling reasons I want to use Safari as my primary browser. These include: a faster native browser, iSyncing bookmarks, smaller footprint^1^ and nicer OS X fit. Each time the latest Safari comes out I try it out hoping I can stick with it. However, I always end up going back to […]