“I Turned Out Fine”

“I got bullied as a kid, I turned out fine, it teaches you to be tough”

“My family was verbally abusive, I turned out fine, it teaches you to argue your point”

“I didn’t get vaccinated, I turned out fine, my kids don’t need those shots”

In your opinion you turned out fine, and you are the one defining “fine”. If you are still breathing you think you turned out fine.

Because we all have such a narrow perspective on our own life it’s difficult to know if we could have turned out better or had our life made easier by not having to experience the negative that we now think is fine.

My Hand Surgery

I just finished having hand surgery and many people are asking me about it. Instead of writing the same thing over and over I’ll just make a blog post with all the details so I can easily share it.

I shattered my pinkie finger and ring finger and the goal was to put some pins in today and then send me on my way. It was worst than they thought and the bones were so crushed and dislocated that they had to cut my hand open and remove some of the bones.

After that they still had to insert three pins and into the middle finger bones for stability.

Before the operation they put a nerve block in my arm so I’m currently feeling no pain but I know it’s coming once it wears off.

My hand in a foam box to protect it.

I’m in a soft cast for two weeks then will be put into a hard cast. The most unfortunate thing is they are going to cast all the fingers together except my pointer and thumb. That’s pretty grim for typing.

After all this I’ll have to do physical therapy and will still probably get arthritis. Fun!

All in all I’m doing pretty well but I’ll know more tomorrow once the nerve block ends and the pain begins. Thanks to everyone that has checked in on me. I appreciate it.


p.s. This post is written and published with a cellphone and that still amazes me.

Teaching Through Everyday Life

I live in a neighborhood that has a home owners association which is fairly common in America. It is responsible for keeping up the shared public space, some of the infrastructure, etc. every year the bylaws require them to send out a financial summary for the next year. Included with these is an estimated operating budget and budgeted numbers which looks a profit and loss statement.

My kids are at the age where they have a grasp on basic math so I figured it’d be a good opportunity to explain how this works to them. At first the sheer amount of numbers in the page overwhelmed them but as we broke it down they could grasp it.

Later in life this might be beneficial to them or it might not, but it was a lot of fun for me spending five minutes showing them how it worked.

I can still remember when my elders would show me things that I’d never thought about before and those moments of teaching has remained in my memory since. Even if you think something is outside a child’s knowledge try to explain it in a way that they can understand. It’ll help you more than them.

Creating Autographed e-books with the iPad

I’ve personally never had an autographed book but always wanted one. It seems as the world is switching from physical books to ebooks autographed copies are going to be a thing of the past. In digital form an autograph isn’t something unique.

I was intrigued when I came across this post from Matt Gemmell on how he is doing autographs with his iPad.

Because I self-publish and thus generate the ebooks myself, I have full control of the process. My iPad Pro with Apple Pencil is the idea tool for not only inscribing and signing book covers in an efficient (and eco-friendly!) way, but also actually building and delivering the resulting beautiful personalised digital novel.

First, I have to do the actual signing. I use the Apple Pencil for this, and the regular Photos app. I have an album that contains just the clean cover art for each book, and when I get an order, I duplicate the relevant cover. Then I open the Markup interface to actually sign it.

He also personalizes each autograph copy with a message so it is unique which in my opinion makes it worth while. It wouldn’t make since to only autograph in this format.

While on the subjects of ebooks I’m still amazed at still how bad the tooling is to generate all the formats. Even in this’d post Matt says he can export to ePub but then has to switch to a separate desktop app to generate the Kindle format. Makes me really wish they would have all agreed on a standard like HTML is to the web.

Creating Comics

My kids love reading the comics from the local paper. Every morning I set it aside for them and after one has read them my one hoarder daughter takes them to her to save. I’m not sure why. Haha

We’ve been talking for weeks about create our comic strip and its been a real challenge. We will come up with something funny, but then can’t draw it. Or what we can draw we can’t make it funny.

I came across a few comics in other styles like the Oatmeal and I enjoyed how they make learning something fun. I decided to try my hand at this style with a simple evergreen Laravel topic. I just fired up the notes app and drew this out in a few minutes.

I’m going to try and make more of these because I think they are super fun and give me something to share. That’s what I love about being a creator.

Thanks

Today in America we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and it’s always a big tradition where you eat lunch and dinner with family and for a lot of people it’s visiting with extended family that you might not have seen since last year.

I always enjoy this holiday as a reflection of the past and to look at some of the decisions that has led to this particular moment in time. If one thing would have been different I might not be exactly where I am.

I want to personally thank you today. No matter how we differ I believe we each make each other stronger.

Thank you!

Spam Phone Calls

“despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage” — Smashing Pumpkins

Social media sites know that we are all just rats in a cage and they tempt us to keep coming back with notifications of all the people that likes, favorites, or comments on our stuff. They know what will keep you coming back for another hit and they do everything they can to keep it flowing. No one wants the party to stop.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is our telephone providers. All they care about is routing the phone calls to your number. They don’t care if it’s your grandmother or a robocaller. Because they don’t filter, most of the notifications, (phone calls), they send are junk. They are training us not to answer unless it’s from someone in our address book.

The problem with this is when a call is important we have no way of knowing unless we take the risk to answer, and the odds are not in your favor.

A Creator Studio In Your Pocket

As I wrote about yesterday, I broke my hand and I created that post typing it out entirely on my iPhone. This morning I did the same thing on Laravel News and now I’m writing this post the same way.

I find typing with one hand to be pretty difficult on a traditional keyboard but with the one on the phone I can fly. All those years of texting really pays off when you find in situations where you might only have one hand to use.

Even though I’m finding typing on the iPhone great there are still things that I’ll need in a normal workday that I’m going to struggle with and all of those are related to php. Just try to type ‘<?php echo ‘test’; ?>’ on a phone keyboard. It’s pretty dreadful.

Outside of my little annoyances I’m most amazed at the creator studio we all carry around in our pockets. I’m able to go from an idea to publishing in minutes and I can do everything from writing, to editing, to photography, and even video and video editing. All in this device that fits in my hand. That is amazing.

I know many people are going iPad as their primary device but I’m willing to bet those same people could even go a step further and go iPhone only. Granted the small screen might be annoying but I’m not sure you could have a more portable device. I guess it does lack the pencil support so I do see the benefit of the iPad.

If you would have told me twenty years ago that today I’d be publishing blog posts and taking pictures that could compete with a professional I’d think you are nuts.

It makes me think of people born in the late 1800’s who could have went from no power and outhouses, to lights, toilets, cars, and even flight. All within a 50 year timespan.

As many people are looking back and trying to relive a past I’m excited to see what the next twenty years will bring.

Boxer’s Fracture

Every November there is a local mountain bike race that I enjoy competing in called a Ride-n-seek race. The goal is you and a partner have four hours to complete as many checkpoints as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.

Today was the day of the event and I got up super early to head to the race and arrived early enough to get some cool fog photos and a sunrise through the trees.

It’s been raining in my area fir weeks now and I knew it was going to muddy going into the race and indeed it was. On about the mile we hit our first little wooden bridge and I crashed. The mixture of water and leaves made it like black ice. I was on the ground in an instant.

While getting up my wrist and hand was hurting but I didn’t think it was broken until I pulled my glove off and seen a huge bulge. At that point I tried to squeeze my hand. No luck.

Swollen hand

Knowing it was bad my team mate and I pushed back to the truck, loaded up my bike, and I headed to the emergency room.

After x-rays they told me my hand was broken and that I had done something called a boxers fracture.

X-ray of my hand

According to Wikipedia A boxer’s fracture is the break of the 5th metacarpal bones of the hand near the knuckle. Occasionally it is used to refer to fractures of the 4th metacarpal as well.

They said it would require surgery and they couldn’t do it today but they did need to set it. I had no idea on the pain that I was about endure.

First they stuck my fingers in a Japanese handcuffs contraption and used gravity to start the process of pulling the bones straight. Next they set it by hand by pulling and pushing my fingers. It hurt.

Making the best of it.

At this point it was time to head home and get some rest and tomorrow I get to schedule a survey.

All this reminds me that I need to check on disability insurance. I know I’m not in an industry where we are prone to danger but you just never know.

Flickr

Flickr was THE place to upload and share photos until Yahoo bought it and ruined it, much like they did Tumblr and everything else they touched.

A few months ago it was announced that Smugmug was buying Flickr and was to keep it going and then a few weeks it announced pro plans and a limit on the number of free photos you could have. To me, it feels like they are making a sincere effort to buck the trend of having you and your data as the product.

I’m all for this and with Facebook in the news so much this year about its scandals you know they are doing the same with Instagram. I prefer to be done with them, and I’ve basically left Facebook but still using Instagram because I haven’t found a decent alternative.

When I started checking out Flickr again the first thing I noticed was that it still used Yahoo login and registration system which gave me second thoughts about continuing. Especially considering how inept Yahoo has been on the security front. I ended up biting the bullet and reinstating my old account with the hopes they will be totally moving away from Yahoo.

What I’m enjoying with Flickr is how it feels like a professional tool with the focus on managing all your photos. Compared to something like Instagram where, to me, it feels the focus is on likes and interactions. Granted Instagram is simpler with less to think about, upload and go, but Flickr allows this too if you want, but it shines in uploading a bunch of photos all at once.  That is what I like and makes it easy to go back and relive the experience.  

I’m going to give Flickr a real chance and go all in on it for the rest of the year and see how it goes. If you are on it, give me a follow

Some of my current favorites

For more of my photos check out my Flickr page.

Family Dinner

Many households struggle in today’s hectic world to sit down and have dinner together and, according to a UCLA study, when they do, it’s typically done in the kitchen instead of the dining room. Take a look at the diagram below where the red dots are the position of a family member every 10 minutes.

A diagram from the 2012 U.C.L.A. anthropological study, “Life at Home in the 21st Century.” The red dots indicate the positions of family members every 10 minutes in a California home. Credit Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, U.C.L.A.

After seeing this diagram I started thinking about my own family and how we typically move about our home and where we are when we are together. It matched the pattern almost perfectly and what really stuck out to me is the kitchen island. We’ve grown accustomed to eating there, and save the dining room for holidays and other special occasions. The main reason for this is we didn’t want to mess it up and have kids spill stuff everywhere as they are known to do.

It reminds me a lot of my late grandma who bought a new couch in the 80’s and put a blanket over it to “keep it looking good”, instead of enjoying it. After 30 years it still looked good, but it was out of style and worthless.

Since reading this and thinking about it, we’ve made an effort to have every dinner together in the dining room 1. The side effects have been great, we’ve had better conversation, we don’t feel as rushed, and it prevents others from getting up and cleaning before everyone is ready.

Sources:


  1. When sharing posts like this I feel like I always need to clarify that I am luckier than most with my job. I work from home which makes it easy for us to have time for things like this. I know many don’t have this luxury.  ↩︎

Impressionable

There is an old saying, “you are the sum of your friends” and it’s true. If most of your friends workout, you are probably going to workout. If most do drugs, chances are you’ll be doing drugs.

Although I’ve heard this saying for many years and have always believed it, I have never experienced it first hand like I do with my own kids. All it takes is one new friend for me to notice a change at home.

Since we are all susceptible even as adults it’s something we need to watch out for and always remember what our own goals and drive is so it’s not diverted when we let our guard down.

Laracon 2019 Apple Music Playlist

The Laracon US site was relaunched for the 2019 conference and the new design is hotness. I love that it ventures so far from the traditional clean and minimal style of Laravel. Big props to the designer Jack McDade from Statamic for it.

In honor of the style I threw together a quick Apple News playlist with artists from that genre.

laracon-playlist Laracon 2019 Playlist

Now I really wish I could make this a publicly curated playlist so others could contribute, but I’m sure that would be a weird use case for most of the population.

Of course, if Apple Music isn’t your thing Janis Kelemen created one for Spotify:

I can’t wait for Laracon NYC and look forward to seeing everyone.

Update: Jack McDade created a playlist too. Check it out:

Update Again: Josh Lewis duplicated Jack’s on Apple Music:

iPad Only Frustrations

With the release of Apple’s latest iPad Pro I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blog posts where people are still attempting to ditch their laptops and make the move. For the past few years they all read the same to me and come to the same conclusion.

Going iPad only is great if you aren’t a developer, and if you are willing to change your workflow.

That’s all fine but it isn’t honest either. The people writing these posts are typically tech savvy and they know how to workaround the limitations. It’s not that easy if you aren’t.

My wife is an example of the other category. She only uses two devices, an iPhone and an iPad. She doesn’t use any accessories like an external keyboard and uses huge and awful bullet proof cases. In it the wonderful feel and beauty of the devices are gone.

All that aside she constantly has to come to me to figure out workarounds over common tasks. Just tonight she was attempting to fill out an agreement form for a local business so we could reserve a birthday party. The form was uploaded and online as a .docx and it was supposed to be editable, but it wasn’t. So now I’m going to have to figure out how to get her a version of it with all the information filled out so it can be emailed back.

Another thing that is constantly annoying is the on screen keyboard and trying to position the cursor, trying to select text for copying, and just general movement that is easy on a laptop.

Almost every day she hits little stuff like that and that leads to a frustrating experience. I know that Apple isn’t really at fault here because both of these is really related to developers and site owners not thinking about their end users. I’m confident in a few years these little things will be worked out and all this will be considered the growing pains.

I know this post is me pointing out little annoyances but I want to leave on a positive note and say how much better the personal computer experience is now with an iPad. I really appreciate the sandbox and the safety that comes with it. I don’t have to really worry about viruses, offering crazy tech support to my extended family, and how easy it is to pick up and use.

Just keep in mind that it’s fashionable to write about switching totally to an iPad, and for technically savvy users that aren’t developers I would be all in on it. I hope one day I can join this crowd and do everything it does now with the addition of web development.

Bloggers I follow

 

My virtual friend Michael Brooks announced on his blog that he is challenging himself:

Something I would like to try out for this month is post less on social media (excluding Instagram) and post more on WordPress. I rarely spend time posting to social anyway, but it could be interesting. Even if it’s just comments on other people’s blogs.

This will help me gain a larger blogging circle which I feel I am missing at current. I always want to encourage new readers to like and comment on my own posts, and I feel I should return the favour. If you can recommend anyone to follow, then please let me know.

Since I have quite a few different bloggers I follow I decided to help share who I’m reading by doing an export of my “blogger” category and share it with anyone who may be interested in finding more writers. Here is the XML export:

Hopefully, this will help you find some more independent bloggers and get some inspiration in the process.

Reading the days news

Almost every work day I have a routine where I try to stay up to date with the world through the paper, Twitter, and of course Hacker News for the nerdy stuff. Of course, all of these sites can be time-consuming and just staying up to date with these three could take hours a day. Here are a few bookmarks I use to cut the daily reading process down to a few minutes.

  • The local paper – I subscribed to the printed local paper a few months ago and I start my mornings going through it. I live in a small city and it typically has two or three local stories and the rest are sourced from AP or another establishment. I just read the local stories, pass the comics to the kids, and skip the rest.
  • Alternate Hacker News – A chronologic list of items that have made it onto the Hacker News homepage. This makes it easy to quickly scan and see if anything interests you.
  • NYT Today’s Paper – The New York Times updates their homepage many times throughout the day and all their social channels constantly push out new articles. It’s overwhelming, but they offer a web app that gives you all the stories from today’s paper which means it was the important news from yesterday.
  • Real Twitter – I’m not sure where I found this but it’s a search that filters the stream and removes replies and only shows people you follow. It makes scanning your timeline easier than the default.
  • Feedbin – This is my RSS reader of choice but it goes even further because you can subscribe to newsletters and even Tweets for specific people. I have a few people that I follow where I want to see every tweet they make and with this setup I can see it right in my RSS reader.
  • Nuzzel –  This service sends me a daily email with all the links the people I follow on social media share. It’s nice to not have to worry about looking at the Twitter firehose, but you do miss out on any commentary they may have shared with the link.

Those are all the sites and services I use throughout the day and maybe some of these are new to you and could help you save time in your consumption habits.

Gravel Grinding in Kings Mountain

It’s been raining a lot the past week and most of our local single track is closed until it dries out. I knew that meant either going and getting muddy at Poston Park which never closes. Instead of that, I decided to try and hit some gravel roads, but most roads in Gaston County are now paved.

Using Gravel Map I found a few near the Kings Mountain National Military Park and decided to head that way for a short ride today and it turned out pretty good. If you are interested in hitting some gravel roads around Charlotte it’s a nice quick little loop that can even be extended. Here is the route I took:

gravel-route.png

Turn by turn directions:

  • Park at the National Military Park visitor center. (Pay attention to the park hours because they lock the gates when they close.)
  • Turn right out of the parking lot
  • Take the first left on Piedmont Rd. (Gravel Road that eventually turns paved)
  • Turn left on Forest View Rd. (Paved but no traffic)
  • At stop sign turn left on State Road 55. (Bigger road with a little traffic)
  • Take the second left on the gravel Whitewolf Rd. (The first left Deal Rd that dead ends on a private road, but the map doesn’t clarify this)
  • At the top of the climb, the road splits, take the left on Apple Rd. There are no street signs.
  • Ride out Apple Road until you get back to Park Rd. Take a left back to the parking lot.

I added in a little extra while I was exploring and came out with almost 15 miles. Without those detours, I imagine it’s probably around 12 miles. You can see the Strava route for the GPX file and to get a better idea of the route.

Overall this was a fun little route, and I enjoyed just taking in the sights. I think it’s best to ride when you can’t ride anywhere else and are just looking to get outside.

Sleep on it

The old saying, “sleep on it”, meaning spend some time tonight thinking about the question and have an answer tomorrow.  It’s a common phrase in our language but how often do you literally put aside time to actually think about it?

Having a busy life outside of work with family, hobbies, dinner, everything else it’s really hard to set aside time to just sit and think. I’ve had to start using the time just before bed, mornings, or go for a walk alone.

Yesterday I was working on a new integration an app we recently launched and I had to work on adding a new API endpoint. It was all really straightforward.  However, last night as I was reviewing my day before bed I started thinking about the way I solved the problem and realized I may have made a mistake because I forgot about a constraint from the service that’s going to be reading it.  While trying to solve that in my head I realized I solved the entire problem wrong and I should redo my work.

What I do each night is review my day like I was a star in a TV show and I’m following myself around as the cameraman with the goal of looking at my decisions from a different standpoint. This is what helps me attempt to remove my biases, but of course, that doesn’t always work. It is pretty good at allowing me to see mistakes though, and that’s why I do it.

I know many programmers spend their after work hours coding and being on the computer but I implore you to take a break. Get away from the screen and you’ll actually do better work.

 

Striving for Simplicity

I recently launched Laravel Events and it was one of those projects that came to life because I wanted to better keep the community informed on what all local events were happening.

As I sat down and started planning the project I wanted to start with the goal of doing the absolute minimum to make it work. This is just a small side project, no money involved, just a directory, so it doesn’t have to be complicated.

At the core that would be a form to submit the event information, a way for me to edit/approve/delete it. That way it would account for spam, invalid listings, etc.

To do this I had to make a tradeoff, and that was once you submitted a listing you can’t edit it. In fact, I don’t know even know who submits. I’m storing zero data on you, and only the public event information.

I’m sure you are thinking, “but what about when they need to change something related to an event?”, and that has come up but since launch, it has only happened twice. It also only took me about 20 seconds to make the change for them so, in my opinion, it’s been a good tradeoff. Once it starts being a greater burden then I will rethink that part and editing.

When I see developers starting new side projects they almost always overcomplicate it. Keep things simple, until they are a problem, and then revisit. It saves a lot of time and headache in the beginning.

Wink. — Laravel Based Publishing Platform

Today, Mohamed Said launched a new blogging platform called Wink. that runs on Laravel.

Wink is a modern publishing platform carefully designed to only include what matters. Built on top of the world’s finest PHP framework, Laravel, making it easy for everyone to install and maintain on any cloud platform.

I love the minimal look to it too:

wink

Check out the announcement for more information and if you’ve been wanting to get into blogging give it a try.