Circle of life

I remember loving playing video games when I was just a little lad. I’d stay up and play Doom on my Sega when I was supposed to be in bed. Then having nightmares of a monster saying, “it is well hidden,” before murdering me. My parents never understood why I loved video games and why I’d rather play those than go outside. Honestly, I still don’t understand but I chalked it up to just being the way I am.

Now, as a parent, I get to experience the same thing. My kids love certain games and I am terrible at them. So I get to lean on them to help me play and solve the puzzles. A lot of it boils down to me not having unlimited time to dedicate to them, but another part is I’d rather them experience the joy that comes from teaching me.

As parents, we are expected to teach and lead our children, but as they grow, more can be taught to kids by reversing the roles and letting them become the master in certain areas. Video games are one of these ways. What better enjoyment as a parent than seeing your kid light up as they explain something they’ve figured out without you?

ChatGPT vs Google

I’ve heard more and more about ChatGPT being a threat to Google and its dominant position as a search engine, and I must agree. Today was a prime example where I was trying to get help writing a specific regex. After twenty minutes of not finding what I wanted from a Google search, I figured I’d just try ChatGPT. Within a few seconds, it got me closer to what I wanted than any of Google’s search results.

This is just one example, but I’ve noticed and I’m sure you have too, how Google is terrible with a lot of searches now. For instance, try to find a product review from someone that is not a low-effort semi-spam site. I’m pretty sure everyone is just appended “reddit” to their queries now, but it’s time for a real competitor to come up and give Google competition.

Tweetdeck Beta

The other day I heard some rumblings that Tweetdeck still worked after all the good 3rd party clients got the axe. I logged in to try it out again and it said I could use the new beta or preview version.

I must say it’s much better than the old Tweetdeck but nowhere close to Tweetbot. However, if you want to try it now, @claudia_rndrs shared a JS tip on how to enable it:

document.cookie = "tweetdeck_version=beta"

The main benefit is I can now use a list as my main feed and see everything all together. Unfortunately, if you have multiple accounts, you can’t combine feeds.

Football Ticker: Negative Score?

Today I was watching the NFL post-season games and my wife asked me why the score was negative. I didn’t think much about it, telling her it is supposed to designate who has the ball.

Then tonight, I came across a Reddit thread with the same scenario and it made me realize how terrible of a design this is. Just goes to show how a design one thinks is clear can be confusing to others.

Extreme questions to trigger new, better ideas

Great article by Jason Cohen:

How do you come up with fresh, transformative ideas?

“Brainstorming” is hard—staring at a blank whiteboard, wondering whether someone could make a real-life “dark mode” whiteboard, then realizing that’s what a blackboard is, only dustier.

The following prompts jostle you out of tiny thinking. Each stretches some dimension of reality to an extreme. So extreme that it is nearly nonsense. But dramatically different perspectives can reveal distinctly new ideas. An idea that would be a 60% solution in an extreme hypothetical case, could be a 2x or even a 10x idea in reality.

This reminds me a lot of the book “How to live” by Derek Sivers and taking extreme positions or ideas and seeing how they could or couldn’t fit your life and business. As he says in his book, “Creativity comes from shaking things up.”

Minimal Setup for PhpStorm

Brent has a neat video showing how he sets up his PhpStorm to be super minimal:

I decided to follow along and I think the results ended up pretty nice.

I couldn’t go full light mode, I’m just not a fan unless I’m working outside. Also, keeping file explorer on the right because I’m not a monster.

In the screenshot I’m using the Nord theme with Inter font, and everything else is setup based on Brent’s instructions.

Twitterrific: End of an Era

It’s a sad day for 3rd party Twitter clients as it seems Elon’s Twitter has decided to fully announce they aren’t allowed anymore. As such they are all shutting down and this is from Twitterrific which helped shape early Twitter:

Twitterrific has been discontinued.

A sentence that none of us wanted to write, but have long felt would need to be written someday. We didn’t expect to be writing it so soon, though, and certainly not without having had time to notify you that it was coming. We are sorry to say that the app’s sudden and undignified demise is due to an unannounced and undocumented policy change by an increasingly capricious Twitter – a Twitter that we no longer recognize as trustworthy nor want to work with any longer.

Since 2007, Twitterrific helped define the shape of the Twitter experience. It was the first desktop client, the first mobile client, one of the very first apps in the App Store, an Apple Design award winner, and it even helped redefine the word “tweet” in the dictionary. Ollie, Twitterrific’s bluebird mascot, was so popular it even prompted Twitter themselves to later adopt a bluebird logo of their very own. Our little app made a big dent on the world!

Reading Twitter with Feedbin

With what appears to be the demise of 3rd party Twitter clients one feature that I’ve sorely missed is multiple panes all with my different lists open. It’s how I’ve read Twitter for years and for me it was a nice simple way to stay up to date with random things from a quick scroll through.

Since that is gone and probably never coming back I found a little workaround using Feedbin to subscribe to my saved lists. Plus this also has a secondary advantage:

Feedbin treats tweets differently. The idea of the feature is to fully unpack the tweet. If a tweet links to an article, Feedbin will attempt to load the full article and display it alongside the tweet. Feedbin will also include full-size images, videos and gifs with native YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram embeds.

Here is an example of a Tweet from Leo Babauta from Zen Habits with his article inline:

Now I can just open up Feedbin, scroll through everything new and I’m seeing the same content, better formatted than I ever did with Twitter app.

The Art and Science of Spending Money

I really enjoyed this article from CollabFund on money, but this quote included by Richard Nixon really struck out to me:

The unhappiest people of the world are those in the international watering places like the South Coast of France, and Newport, and Palm Springs, and Palm Beach. Going to parties every night. Playing golf every afternoon. Drinking too much. Talking too much. Thinking too little. Retired. No purpose.

So while there are those that would disagree with this and say “Gee, if I could just be a millionaire! That would be the most wonderful thing.” If I could just not have to work every day, if I could just be out fishing or hunting or playing golf or traveling, that would be the most wonderful life in the world – they don’t know life. Because what makes life mean something is purpose. A goal. The battle. The struggle – even if you don’t win it.

I always tell my wife I’m going to retire and play golf everyday, but in reality while it’s a sport I could see myself playing everyday I’m just never going to be good enough to make money from it. It’s a fun hobby that gets me out of the house and lets me meet new friends, but it doesn’t give purpose like a job does.

I have many friends from different walks of life that could all retire today but they don’t. They show up everyday and still put in the work because that is what motivates them. What drives them, and what makes them successful.

Death by a thousand cuts

When your favorite app changes things it’s a little annoying. Maybe a button you hit 30 times a day moves to a new location. Or maybe you’ve spent 10 years consuming Twitter via Tweetbot and now every morning for the past three days when you open the app it doesn’t work.

All the things on the whole aren’t bad, just a little annoying. But with each slice of pain the less I want to invest and spend time in your app. Do that enough and you lose users, maybe one or two at first, but it’s like a wave building steam growing bigger and bigger.

To me it has a lot of parallels to MySpace. Everyone used it, then no one. But it wasn’t over night, it was a slow fade as Facebook gained market share, then it was gone.

Cryptic Hints

I’ve been using Github for Mac as my Git client for years now. Rarely going to the command line but this morning I figured I’d do a quick pull from the terminal and was greeted with this cryptic message:

I have no idea what any of those options are. Honestly, I really don’t care. I just want to pull the latest code down. So now I’m wasting time trying to figure out what all those options are and which one I need when I should have just used my GUI like a real dev.

Thanks to Stackoverflow, I think I found the answer for future reference:

The warning presents three commands as options, all of these will suppress the warning. But they serve different purposes:

git config pull.rebase false     # merge (the default strategy)

This keeps the default behaviour and suppresses the warning.

git config pull.rebase true      # rebase

This actually commits on top of the remote branch, maintaining a single branch both locally and remotely (unlike the default behaviour where two different branches are involved – one on local and the other on remote – and, to combine the two, a merge is performed).

git config pull.ff only          # fast-forward only

This only performs the pull if the local branch can be fast-forwarded. If not, it simply aborts with an error message (and does not create any commits).

Microsoft Buys Land in NC for datacenter

According to BizJournals, Microsoft is buying up land in the piedmont area of NC for a datacenter:

According to deeds filed with the county, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has acquired over 440 acres in Catawba County since last month. The land, which includes parcels throughout the county at the announced sites of Microsoft’s operations, was purchased for a total of nearly $18.6 million. Based on the announced acreages for the sites included in the $1 billion Microsoft project, the company still has several hundred acres left to acquire.

County real estate records show Microsoft has acquired an approximately 160-acre site off Hickory Lincolnton Highway, and west of Highway 321, for nearly $6.5 million. The company also bought a nearly 16-acre site off Tate Boulevard for $836,000, real estate records show. Those were the announced sites of Projects Pine and Star, which called for a $365 million investment as part of Microsoft’s overall plans in the county.

Microsoft paid nearly $7.5 million for 157 acres to the north of Conover along N.C. Highway 16. The land appears to be part of the project site for Project Agate, which was announced as a $332 million investment at a 219-acre site along N.C. Highway 16 near Conover. 

Microsoft purchased approximately 113 acres at West Maiden and Zeb Haynes roads in Maiden for $3.7 million. The land is a portion of the site for Project Yoga, which was announced as a $332 million investment at a 292-acre site at the same location.

In this same area we also have a big Apple data center, and from 321 you can see solar farms. I’m always curious if they are buying this land because of something with the region making it great for a data center, or if it’s just because Apple is already there and they can get the same terms on tax breaks from the state.

Meme Templates

I love meme’s and like seeing them across my various social feeds. They also seem to always generate a lot of shares and comments. If you have trouble keeping up Nathan Allebach has a google doc with tons of meme templates, perfect for your next viral post:

║\
║▒\
║▒▒\
║░▒║with
║░▒║this
║░▒║blade
║░▒║I will
║░▒║write
║░▒║dumb
║░▒║memes
║░▒║
▓▓▓▓
[█▓]
[█▓]
[█▓]
[█▓]

Personal Finance Books

For the past few years every January I go back through all my personal finance books to try and pinpoint what I did well in the previous year and what I need to change going forward.

This year is no different and as I was reviewing my favorite books, I thought it might be good to share with others the ones that I enjoy that will help you get your finances and retirement in order.

These are just a few of the books I have related to personal finance but they are considered classics for a reason. Also, all the links are affiliate links to Amazon but I’m sure your local library or Libby will have them for free.

I love the simplicity in the millionaire next door and the simple path to wealth, but one thing all personal finance books preach is that it’s not what you make, it’s what you save that makes you rich. Do you have a favorite personal finance book or one that changed your life? Let me know in the comments as I’d love to read it.

Temporary 100-Percent Deduction for Business Meal Expenses

Typically for a business expenses you can deduct 50 percent of the amount for meals related to business functions. Last year the IRS made a change to this to allow a temporary 100-percent deduction for expenses that are paid or incurred after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023, for food or beverages provided by a restaurant.

Of course, always talk to your accountant but here is the pdf notice with complete details. The CBH website also has a break down in more plain English on the plan.

Use Commas with Alfred’s Calculator

One annoyance with the Mac app Alfred is by default it doesn’t support commas in numbers when trying to do calculations:

This has been an annoyance of mine for a long long time, but Benjamin Borowski on Twitter shared a hot tip on how to enable that and it’s pretty simple, you just have to find the right setting.

Alfred settings -> features -> calculator -> Input -> check “ignore thousands grouping separator”. Then you can use the thousands separator:

Perspective

From Twitter as we go into a new year:

For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900. When you are 14, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday with 22 million people killed. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until you are 20. Fifty million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

When you’re 29, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, global GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. When you turn 39, World War Il starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet.

When you’re 41, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war and the Holocaust kills six million. At 52, the Korean War starts and five million perish.

At 64 the Vietnam War begins, and it doesn’t end for many years. Four million people die in that conflict. Approaching your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could well have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.

As you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends. Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? A kid in 1985 didn’t think their 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. Yet those grandparents (and now great grandparents) survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art. As 2022 ends, let’s try and keep things in perspective. Let’s be smart, help each other out, and we will get through all of this. In the history of the world, there has never been a storm that lasted. This too, shall pass.

iTerm2 Settings to Make Your Life Better

iTerm2 is my terminal app of choice and I’ve been using it for years. Up until now though I’ve only customized the fonts and colors and left the rest of its settings the defaults. After finally getting annoyed trying to move the cursor around in a long command I asked a friend how they do it and apparently in Mac’s default Terminal app it’s just option + left/right arrow, but that didn’t work for me in iTerm2.

If you are not familiar with what I’m talking about imagine you are running something like:

php artisan custom:commmand --file=really-long-string-or-path-to-uuid-file.txt --anotherflag

Then you realize you spelled command wrong and need to move the cursor from the end to somewhere in the middle. By default, option + left arrow doesn’t move by word, instead it inserts some sort of character.

As I went to figure out how to change this I found the keymap settings and inside the presets is an option for “natural text editing”. This changes iTerm2 to use the standard keys to move around the line just like any other app. For example, command + left/right to go the start or end of a line, option + left/right to move by word, and more.

While you are in the settings another good change is under the general tab to make new tabs open in the current sessions directory.

These two settings alone have made iTerm2 much better for me to use, and I’d recommend you give those a try. If you are an avid iTerm2 user let me know what other settings you customize to make the app better for you.