Obama on Colbert

09 December 2014

This is actually pretty good. Definitely written by the Colbert team.

Shit Sandwiches

09 December 2014

Kottke on the newly-release report on CIA torture:

This is surely the shit sandwich on top of an already unbearable year.

Hard to say. 2014 has been such a shit party platter that it’s hard to tell one sandwich from the next.


01 December 2014

I’ve never liked reading interviews, so I appreciate it when other people pick out the good parts, as Kottke did with this Chris Rock interview:

Q: It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?

A: Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.

Social Media Break

09 October 2014

I need to take a break from social media for a while.

Or try to, at least. Frankly, Twitter and Facebook have become minor addictions. I check Twitter while waiting for unit tests to run, in between tasks during the workday, while waiting for a bus. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do when I fall asleep. When there’s no new tweets, I check Facebook.

I know just enough about the working of the human mind to understand what’s happening: my brain is looking for that little hit of dopamine when I see an update from a friend, a funny joke from a stranger. In the early days of Facebook and Twitter, it was all fun and games; it was all college friends, and a great way to keep in touch with people.

Now, Twitter is my main news source, and news is rarely good. The funny jokes and updates about friends are just the mortar between bricks of depressing news from the world and the unbelievable ongoing shittiness of prominent people in my industry.

If Twitter is where I get my news, Facebook is the forum for arguing about it. It’s incredible how quickly it’s become the norm to have vicious back-and-forth arguments about politics and the like—and yes, I’m absolutely as guilty of this as anyone else is. Furthermore, Facebook exposes me to every racist, sexist, homo- and transphobic opinion not of just everyone I’ve ever known, but from everyone they’ve ever known, too (and from every stranger with an Internet connection, if I accidentally see comments on a public post or news article).

It’s just not worth it anymore. It used to be fun and fulfilling; now it’s just depressing and aggravating.

I’m uninstalling my Twitter client and blocking Facebook.com on my computer, because I know that’s what it will take. I check them both just out of habit, without thinking, so I need to put roadblocks in my own way. I’m not foolish enough to say I’m gone for good, or even for six months or a year or whatever. I just need a break.

Making the Move From Web to Mobile

25 July 2014

I’m very excited to announce that in a few weeks, I’ll be joining Vokal Interactive as an iOS Engineer!

This is a big move for me. I’ve wanted to develop for the iPhone since it was introduced in 2007, but never seemed to have the time to learn the language and framework until early last year. After a lot of nights and weekends, and some work-week time generously provided by Lullabot, I’ve got Shoot in the App Store, and I’m ready to take on some more challenging apps.

The downside, of course, is that I must leave Lullabot in order to pursue mobile development full-time. I love the folks at Lullabot and have really enjoyed my time here, but it’s time for me to make the switch from web to mobile. And by the way, if you’re looking for a great company to work with, Lullabot is hiring!

Observing Problems

23 July 2014

Daniel Jalkut, on Core Intuition episode 146:

I don’t have to solve the problems in order to observe…a problem. And it doesn’t necessarily mean, when you observe a problem, that you condemn all of the causes of the problem.

The conversation was about Swift, but he was making the point in a broader context, and it’s. It bugs me to no end when people take the “Well, you don’t have any better ideas” position in an argument. I see this the most in political debates on Facebook, as if one can’t comment on a problem in, say, immigration policy unless one has a fully-formed solution to said problem—a problem, mind you, that is inherently complex, or else there wouldn’t be any debate about how to address it.

I’ve also been guilty of taking this position myself in the past: it’s one to be careful about.

Matt Gemmell on First World Problems

08 July 2014

From First World Problems:

The dismissed person feels judged, but the dismissive one also needs to take a long, hard look at themselves. It’s a dangerous thing to appoint yourself as the judge of another person’s problems, and whether they really ‘count’ or not.

That’s the kind of thinking that caused mental health care to be marginalised for so many decades: the idea that it could be a lot worse, so by extension you should just pull yourself together and get on with it. It’s a systemic failure of empathy.

Now, that’s taking it to extremes, most definitely. There’s a gulf of experience between mental health problems and forgetting your iPhone charger. But it’s such a corrosive attitude to casually disregard and disdain whatever someone else is complaining about. There’s a thread of sociopathy to it.

Money Poisoning

03 June 2014

Jeff Simmermon on an episode of the podcast RISK!, about rich people breaking up:

My heart soared, because like: I’m a ball short. I got a touch of cancer. But, I’m quite accustomed to being depressed, alright? Like, I will adjust.

THESE people have money poisoning, and that rots your soul from the inside out. And you gotta rub cocaine and helicopter rides and smoked salmon and shit all over yourself just to feel excited any more. I don’t have that, and that feels real good.

CocoaConf Chicago 2014

14 March 2014

This past weekend was the latest CocoaConf Chicago, and it was a blast. I guess I never wrote a blog post about it, but this was my second: I attended CocoaConf Boston back in October, but definitely enjoyed this one more. CocoaConf has several speakers who go on the road with them and give the same talk a few times, so I attended a few of the sessions that went over my head the last time around. And, since this one was local, I already knew a bunch of attendees from meetups and SecondConf, and it’s always nice to go into an event already knowing some people.

I had been fighting a cold all last week, so I just decided to get a room there at the hotel so I could sleep more instead of driving back and forth to the city. I later found out that this was a pretty popular strategy among the local attendees, and it meant that I got to hang out with people at the hotel bar on Friday night, since I was feeling a lot better by then.

I also got to show off my app Shoot during the We Made an App For That session Friday after lunch, which was pretty awesome. I got a lot of good feedback and ideas from other attendees throughout the weekend, and won the prize for best presentation, which was quite flattering.

It was a pretty fantastic weekend. The Klein family puts on a great conference, and I’m sure I’ll be there when they (hopefully) come back through Chicago next year.

This time around, I tried to jot down a couple takeaways for each session, and for a lot of them, I also had a few items to follow up on.

Makeover Your Table Views for iOS 7: James Dempsey

I’m not quite sure what I thought this talk was going to be, but it mostly focused on upgrading table views from iOS 6 to 7 and Dyanmic Type.

Takeaway: I need to review the settings on my table view controllers (since the app was updated from iOS 6 to 7), and use the pre-defined styles whenever it makes sense to, since they will resize to the user’s font size setting.

NSIncrementalStore - Bet you didn’t think Core Data could do that!: Jonathan Penn

This was one of the talks I saw back in October, and it was a little out of my grasp then. This time, it made sense.

Takeaway: Using plist files for a persistent store isn’t a great idea, but I’m going to use it anyway on a utility app I’m working on. CoreData works weird: like, the managed object context asks the persistent store coordinator to fetch data, and then the PSC asks the MOC to fetch each object…from itself.

Taking Your Automated Testing to the Next Level: Brad Heintz

I was hoping this talk would be a little more practical hands-on type stuff, but it was interesting.

Takeaway: Write tests first. Red, green, refactor—and anything goes for making the tests pass. Xcode uses Xcunit, but there are other options; in particular, I need to look into KIF for testing the UI.


Advanced Core Data - The Things You Thought You Could Ignore: Aaron Douglas

This talk was a nice complement to Jonathan Penn’s talk, since it focused “above the line”: Jonathan focused on the persistent store coordinator while this talk focused on everything above that.

Takeaway: CoreData can get messy. It’s really hard to handle threading correctly, but incredibly important to do so.

Performance Optimization: Monitoring Metrics in Real Time: Brittany Young

I was hoping this talk would be more about measuring performance, but it was more about identifying what needs to be improved.

Takeaway: High percentages of users will just drop the app if there’s any delays or slowdowns. It’s important to measure performance because there isn’t much value in taking wild guesses about what’s wrong.

Tips & Tricks of Effective iOS Developers: Ben Scheirman

This talk was a collection of good ideas and things for me to follow up on.

Takeaway: Keep an eye on file length and the complexity of class dependencies. Pick a couple new-to-you keyboard shortcuts and practice them until they become part of your workflow. Make snippets in Xcode to speed things up.


View Controller Transitions: Jonathan Blocksom

This was another talk I saw in October. It made a lot more sense this time, but the practicalities of transitions still seems more complicated than they need to be.

Takeaway: I need to look into interactive transitions more, because I want to allow users to drag one view aside to see the next one.

You Bought What?! Lessons From Acquiring And Running Glassboard: Justin Williams

It was nice to see a more business-oriented session among all the tech talks.

Takeaway: Running a business is hard. People who aren’t paying for the service aren’t customers, but you still need to treat them well if you hope to convert them to paying customers.

Auto Layout is a unicorn, wild and free. Learn how — and why — to harness its power and magic: Ben Lachman

I think I’m getting the hang of autolayout.

Takeaway: Turn on Editor > Canvas > Show Involved Views for Selected Constraints. Don’t modify view.frame directly.

I Love Frank Turner

12 January 2014

I have not listened to very much new music in a few years now, for one reason or another, but for the last year, most of the music I’ve listened to has come out of Frank Turner.

This is not something that I would readily admit for some time, because most of what I’ve been into for the past decade has been punk rock, and Turner is quite about softer than what I usually listen to. And yes, I am fully aware just how absurd it is to be thirty years old and self-conscious about my musical preferences.

I’m not entirely sure how I found Frank. His song Poetry of the Deed was on the Epitaph New Noise Vol 1 three and a half years ago. I wasn’t a big fan of it then, but at some point I came across his song Glory Hallelujah, which I quite liked at the time. I’m not sure when I connected the two, but in March I bought his latest album: Englang Keep My Bones, at the time. It was a great album to start with (I like the stuff before that, but less so). I particularly like the first half of the album, especially these ones:

This album always does, and always will, remind me of the front range in Colorado. I would play it while driving to and from trailheads in the mountains on weekends, and it would be stuck in my head while hiking through the rock and snow. That’s always going to be connected in my mind.

His next album was released about a month after I bought the other one, but it was another five months or so before I bought Tape Deck Heart in September, which I really can’t explain. It’s another great album:

For the past few months, if I’m listening to music, it’s this album. I got lucky back in October and got to see Frank live here in Chicago. It was a great show, and I bought the rest of his back catalogue when I got home, after not knowing half the stuff he played that night.

Anyway, enough of the history. The fact of the matter is that his music is catchy, and tends to be a lot more interesting than most music I’ve listened to in years. I mean, I still love the punk bands I’ve always loved, but let’s be honest: with the exception of Bad Religion, they don’t tend to be that intertesting, lyrically speaking. His songs still adhere to the verse/chorus/bridge structure that has served us well for so long, but he messes with that structure pretty often.

And perhaps the thing that appeals to me most: he talks a lot about death…which sounds morbid, but I find it inspiring. We are all going to die, and soon (in the grand scheme of things). It’s worth keeping that at the back of one’s mind. We have a very limited amount of time to do what we want to do with our lives. It’s not something to dwell upon, but when I’ve had a particularly uncompelling week, when I’ve done nothing memorable or interesting with myself for a while, I find the memento mori valuable.

From The Road:

Ever since my childhood I’ve been scared I’ve been afraid
Of being trapped by circumstance and staying in one place
So I always keep a small bag full of clothes carefully stored
Somewhere secret somewhere safe and somewhere close to the door

So saddle up your horses now and keep your powder dry
‘Cause the truth is you won’t be here long
Yeah, soon you’re going to die
To the heart, to the heart,
There’s no time for you to waste
You wont find your precious answers now by staying in one place

From I Am Disappeared:

And on the worst days
When it feels like life weighs ten thousand tonnes
She’s got her cowboy boots and car keys on the bed stand
So she can always run
She can get up, shower in half an hour
She’ll be gone

And on the worst days
When it feels like life weighs ten thousand tonnes
I sleep with my passport
One eye on the back door
So I can always run
I can get up, shower and in half an hour
I’ll be gone

From Losing Days:

And I used to think that I
Would never live past twenty five
And when you think like that
Each day is a gift if you survive
But I’ve survived too long for my side of the deal
And as I reach that shore I’m not sure how to feel\

I keep losing days that used to take a lifetime
In the blinking of an eye
And all these small ideas are suddenly commitments
As greatness slips on by
Greatness slips on by

From Polaroid Picture:

But in the stillness of the moment it takes for a polaroid picture
To capture our faces forever,
The world has turned a touch on its axis, and the only thing certain
Is everything changes.

From Reasons Not To Be An Idiot:

So why are you sat at home?
You’re not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying “no”
So get up and get down and get outside
Cos it’s a lovely sunny day
But you hide yourself away
You’ve only got yourself to blame
Get up and get down and get outside

From Peggy Sang the Blues:

It doesn’t matter where you come from
It matters where you go
No one gets remembered
For the things they didn’t do