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  • feedwordpress 21:46:38 on 2021/01/12 Permalink
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    Iceland Film 


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    I wanted to share with you all a short film I made with the help of Stephen Bollinger, with videos I made a few years ago on a photography trip to Iceland with Om and Mark. I hope it provides five minutes of serenity in your day.

     
  • feedwordpress 03:07:09 on 2021/01/12 Permalink
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    Thirty-seven 


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    I turn 37 today. I look around and I feel incredibly lucky to be writing this after a topsy-turvy year. I have health. I have friends whom I love. These are all good reasons to feel optimistic about the future. A few unconnected thoughts today:

    My father had me when he was exactly 13,300 days old, and this year I passed that number of rotations of the Earth.

    It’s hard to plan when so much is changing, so resolutions this year haven’t felt the same. But in times like these it’s even more important to plan for the long-term. A look back, once a year, is enough to remind of what remains.

    I’m so thankful for the internet. It’s where I learned and practiced my trade. It’s where I connect every day with the most interesting and eclectic group of people I could imagine, a modern day Florence during the Renaissance. I hope to make a lot more internet and enable others to do the same.

    Many years ago I said “Technology is best when it brings people together.” This quote has taken on a life of its own on motivational posters and images. When I first said it I think I had in mind WordCamps and meetups and other physical gatherings; this year it transformed for me seeing how technology brought together separated by the pandemic. This year has appeared divisive, so it’s easy to overlook how many times people came together. It’s like the old saying, it’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up. Fall thirty-six times, get up thirty-seven.

    All birthday posts: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37.

     
  • feedwordpress 23:45:46 on 2021/01/08 Permalink
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    Autonomous and Beautiful Home Devices 


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    Of all the smart home upgrades I’ve made, replacing all my regular smoke detectors with Nest Protects (Google’s smoke detector) has been the one that I regret the most.

    I don’t really need a smart smoke detector. It doesn’t need to talk, connect to wifi, and cost hundreds of dollars. I don’t need it integrated with my Google account which is impossible to share, so I need to be personally involved to replace one.

    But other smoke detectors are just so unsightly, and the Nest is light years ahead of the competition from a design standpoint.

    There’s such an opportunity for something that looks as good as the Nest, but doesn’t require two-factor authentication to replace. I didn’t want to call it dumb but beautiful, so let’s say “autonomous and beautiful” appliances and home devices. I still want it to be smart, but if you’re going to have the risk profile of a device that connects to the internet, it needs to be worth it, like Brilliant, Sonos, smart TVs, or connected cameras.

    I’m becoming more wary of any hardware that requires an app, just because of the natural decay of non-SaaS and non-open source software. Van Moof bikes are beautiful, but will it still connect well when iOS 24 is out and Bluetooth has been removed from iPhones for security reasons?

     
  • feedwordpress 23:51:50 on 2021/01/05 Permalink
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    Farnam Street and Postlight 


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    I recorded two interviews very far apart from each other, but which have surprisingly both come out today. The first is for one of my favorite sites on the web, Farnam Street. I was honored to be episode 100 on their Knowledge Project podcast. Knowledge Project is probably one of the podcasts I’ve listened to the most since it started. Please check out their other guests as well, they really do have the most interesting conversations with the most interesting folks.

    Shane and I cover turnarounds, how environment affects performance, pros and cons of distributed work, uncovering your lacuna, mental models, and patterns of decision making.

    On a completely different vein, I did a deep geek-out on technology and content management systems with Gina Trapani and Paul Ford, two of my favorite technologists, on the Postlight podcast. We covered a lot of tech history, my thoughts on Chromium and Mozilla’s Gecko engine, structured data, Gutenberg, and a lot more. If you’re a developer or a long-time WordPress community member you’ll enjoy this one, but it might be esoteric or technical if you’re not immersed in this world. Here’s a Spotify embed of the episode:

    In both we do touch on my idea that, on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for all proprietary software drops to zero. (Hat tip to Fight Club.) Proprietary software is an evolutionary dead end. You can think of open source packages like genetic alleles that have a higher fitness function, and eventually become the fittest organism. The longer I spend watching mega-trends in technology, the more I see that pattern everywhere, from encyclopedias to cryptocurrencies.

     
  • feedwordpress 04:37:14 on 2021/01/03 Permalink
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    What’s In My Bag, 2020 


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    Instead of sharing what’s in my backpack this year, I want to share the apps and pandemic purchases that were meaningful to me, along with a few words on each. Something I haven’t shared with you yet on this blog is… I went down a #vanlife rabbit hole and ended up camping and working remotely a decent chunk of the year. I learned a ton and feel much more resilient. So this is a phoneful and truckful update of my year.

    First I’ll start with apps, these all link to Apple’s app store but almost all have Android equivalents that I also use:

    • Calm and Waking Up — Very different but both incredibly valuable meditation apps. I had an 82-day streak with Calm this year! I wouldn’t have survived without these.
    • Fitbod — You tell the app what equipment you have, how much time you have, and it gives you a workout like a trainer would, rotating muscle groups.
    • Streaks — An app for starting and tracking habits. This is a funny one because I actually stopped using it because it worked. The things I was tracking on Streaks became daily habits and I stopped using the app every day. The same thing happened for me with Zero, my daily fast became part of my routine so I’d only use Zero if I was doing a longer one.
    • Tumblr — It was so nice to have a social network centered around creativity and humor.
    • Asana — Getting organized helped lessen anxiety.
    • Pocket Casts — I switched to this because it syncs between devices, and I used my Android device a lot especially while driving.
    • AllTrails — I spent more time in nature this year than almost any previous, and AllTrails was an amazing way to find great hikes.
    • The Economist — The most insightful news, and the weekly cadence helped me avoid the wild variance of the daily news cycle. My favorite news app.
    • YouTube — Wow, there’s a lot of stuff on here. This was the year I started to “get” why people spend so much time on YouTube. Some favorite finds were Jacob Collier and Mark Rober.
    • Walmart — Surprisingly good on road trips for curbside pickup orders scheduled a few hours ahead. Yes, I have now joined 95% of the US population.
    • Blueground and Avantstay — Good for longer stays in places. I found both through Airbnb, which is still the king.
    • Food apps in order of usage: DoorDash, Uber Eats, Tock, Toast TakeOut.
    • Camping apps in order of usage: AllTrails, Chimani, Recreation.gov, iOverlander, Boondocking, FreeRoam, Harvest Hosts.
    • App I deleted and re-added the most: Twitter. I love the things I learn from using it, but hate feeling like I’m wasting time.

    When on road trips I found Android Auto running off the Pixel 5 much more reliable than CarPlay, which would frequently freeze up on me. Things have improved with iOS 14, but I still always use the Pixel when I’m on a longer drive.

    I also have been living with my Mom since July, including her two cats and new Coton du Tulear puppy. Pets are humbling! It’s been great to learn how to support them best, as I last lived with animals when I was in high school and wasn’t that conscious of the responsibility then.

    Amazon says I made over 850 orders this year, more than double from any previous year. Here are the non-tech purchases that ended up having a big impact on me:

    Clothing and wearables, like much of the world I trended toward comfort and away from normal shoes and socks:

    Electronics:

    There you have it. As always, if you’ve tried something here and found an alternative that’s better, let me know in the comments!

     
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