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:


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:


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

Future Planning

Yesterday, I came across this interview with Brunello Cucinelli who I had honestly never heard of and didn’t know much about but I was captivated by the interview and one part that’s had me thinking is the following quote on his business plans:

As for my business plans, I have three-year business plans and 30-year business plans but also three-centuries business plans.

In a world where it most people can’t plan what they are doing next week, he is looking ahead 300 years and trying to build a company that will last that long.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the now, and loose sight of the future. In the grand scheme of history, our entire lives are just a tiny moment and what we tend to think is so important just isn’t.