Live Events is Twitter at its Best

I’ve been on Twitter since January 2009, and live events are​ still the best use of the platform. Super Bowl LII (52) just ended, and it was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen.

What made it great was scrolling my feed as the commercials where happening as well as the game action. That is what made me always love Twitter.

Even though I think it’s great for the live events I keep coming back to something I read on the IA Blog:

There seems to be a weak undercurrent of old and young bloggers like us that feel sentimental or curious and want to bring back blogging. Blogging won’t save the world. But, hell, after two weeks now, we can confirm: it feels great to be back on the blogging line.

If you are one of those old or young bloggers, please join in. Drop Facebook, drop Twitter and drop Medium for original thought. Own your traffic. You can use them to engage in discussion. But don’t get lost in there. Write daily. Publish as often as you have something to say. Link to other blogs.

The curmudgeon in me wants blogging to make a huge comeback​ but I know it’ll never happen, but now that I’ve blogged something every day of 2018 it’s starting to get fun again. I just hope that enjoyment continues.

Take a Break to Solve the Problem

Today is beautiful in North Carolina. Clear blue sky, no clouds, but cold with the current temperature of 42F. Tomorrow’s forecast is rain, and although I had a few tasks to get done, I knew I better get a mountain bike ride in today.

With these goals set I knew I had two options. The first was to knock out all my todo’s at home, then go ride. With the temperature being crisp and chilly I knew by the time I would finish I’d end up deciding against riding. I’d come up with an excuse and sit on the couch and be lazy.

So instead I decided to pack up my laptop and head out to the trails and do my tasks while sitting in the truck and using my phone as a hotspot.

I was expecting all the tasks to take me an hour and a ​half, but I blazed through them in about 20 minutes and then got stuck on a logic problem with a new feature I was building. I decided it should wait because I wasn’t making any progress, so I unloaded my bike and took off.

My goal with the ride was just to put in some miles and as my mind wondered and daydreamed​​ came up with a solution to the problem. As soon I finished the ride I loaded my bike, jumped in the truck and banged out the code to complete my last task. It was a good day.

Much has been written on this phenomenon, and I know it usually works, but if it was a workday and I was “on the clock” I’d feel guilty leaving everything and going out for a walk or ride, even though I’d get the solution faster. On the surface, it feels like I’d be cheating my employer, but in reality, I’d be saving them money.

USNWC, Charlotte NC.

How To Properly Respond To a Tweet

One of the big complaints about Twitter and social media, in general,​ is how impersonal it feels. You can share with the world a new job, a new baby, or some other huge milestone and all you get is friends spending a half second of their life clicking a little heart button.

Maybe instead of sharing life moments, you decide to share an opinion on something you’ve been thinking about for the last five days. Then instantly get overwhelmed with pedantic responses ​and righteous indignation.

Many people are leaving social media because of this, and both Dorsey and Zuckerberg are getting a lot of anxiety from this epidemic and I’ve heard they aren’t sleeping well. I’ve found what I believe is the perfect solution to stop this vicious cycle. I think its time we all come together and do what our forefathers did. Write a letter.

Because this is a lost art, I’m going to go through each step and show you how it’s done.

Find, Print, and Cut out the tweet

Find a Tweet that you really want to respond too. Next, open Photoshop and create a new printable document (just a standard page size). Make a screenshot of the Tweet and add it in various sizes:

tweet-psd.png

Print it out and cut out each Tweet with scissors.

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Attach the Tweet To a Piece of Paper

Get some tape or glue or whatever and attach the Tweet to a piece of paper.

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Write your message

Now, get your most excellent fountain pen and write out your response. Your forefathers would write this message in cursive, and if you are responding to someone older, it’s acceptable.

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Put it in an envelope

You’ll need to buy an envelope if you don’t have any around the house. Just be careful when opening as we wouldn’t want a paper cut to send us the ER.

Fold your original letter into thirds and place it in the envelope. Next, lick or seal the back.

Bonus: Becoming Verified!

No gatekeepers​ here! If you want to be verified, you can be verified, and it looks way cooler than a digital blue checkmark.

This is an advanced step and you’ll need some supplies:

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Melt some wax on the back and use your seal to make your verified stamp.

Find their address

This step is a little tricky. You’ll need to find the persons mailing address, and few people put this on their “contact me” page. So you’ll need to do some detective work.

Once it’s found, write this on the front of the envelope, head to the post office to get a stamp, and send it off. In a few days, it’ll arrive at their house and they will get read your beautiful prose and your well-thought​ opinion.

Enjoy!

FAQ:

Q. Is this not too much trouble?
A. Yes, thank you Capt. Obvious.

Q. Are you telling me to really spend an hour of my life replying to a Tweet?**
A. Sure why not.

Q. What if I get stuck at any of the above steps?**
A. Then your 2¢ isn’t worth sharing.

Facebook Really Spams You to Come Back

Sarah Frier writing for Bloomberg:

It’s been about a year since Rishi Gorantala deleted the Facebook app from his phone, and the company has only gotten more aggressive in its emails to win him back. The social network started out by alerting him every few days about friends that had posted photos or made comments—each time inviting him to click a link and view the activity on Facebook. He rarely did.

Then, about once a week in September, he started to get prompts from a Facebook security customer-service address. “It looks like you’re having trouble logging into Facebook,” the emails would say. “Just click the button below and we’ll log you in. If you weren’t trying to log in, let us know.” He wasn’t trying. But he doesn’t think anybody else was, either.

I’ve been getting these emails too and what was weird to me is I have two accounts, one super old that I deleted years ago, and another that is current. I would get the same “It looks like you’re having trouble logging into Facebook,” email at the same minute. Which means either someone knows both my emails and can attempt the login really fast, I’m on some bot list or something else entirely.

Hearing this story makes me think it’s either a widespread bug on Facebook or they are indeed being shady. Unfortunately​, based on their history I’m not sure I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Streaks

At the end of December, ​I always take a week or two off and use it as a time of regrouping, planning, and just relaxation before the new year starts. 2017 was no different and during that time I felt like I wanted to do something different to start the year.

Some writing or creation that was totally for me​. I decided to attempt to blog something every day, and “something” was taken very liberal. It could be just a quote, or a picture, commentary on a story, or something that was on my mind. It didn’t matter as long as I hit publish every day.

Back around six months ago, I noticed that I was going through something internally where I stopped wanting to publish any new content on my primary site. As I looked inward to figure out why, I noticed that it all came down to popularity and traffic. The site had its best year yet and tons of people are visiting it all across the world, which you would think would make you want to publish more, but that wasn’t the case.

Just thinking about that put me in a mental shutdown. I became too worried about making everything perfect and worried about feedback and just negativity all around on my part.

Flashback to December and I had this in my mind when I made the goal to publish something every day, and I jumped in, but I decided to not share new posts on social media, to leave the comments open, and treat it like no one would be reading. I will admit as the month dragged on finding inspiration for content got harder and harder, but I struggled with it.

I made a few mistakes where I didn’t uncheck the social share options and had a few good discussions, but over all, I call this month a success. I meet my goal. I had fun. Most of all it has taken the negativity away from publishing.

I’m not sure what the rest of this year will look like for this site, but I hope to continue posting more, and I doubt I’ll share it on social media. So join the old school RSS feed if you want to stay up to date. Or not. 🙂

Watch The Total Lunar Eclipse Online

From the NASA announcement:

If you live in the western part of North America, Alaska, and the Hawaiian islands, you might set your alarm early the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 31 for a lunar trifecta: a pre-dawn “super blue blood moon.”

Beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 31, a live feed of the Moon will be offered on NASA TV and NASA.gov/live. You can also follow at @NASAMoon.Weather permitting, the NASA TV broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory.

“For the (continental) U.S., the viewing will be best in the West,” said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Set your alarm early and go out and take a look.”

The Jan. 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit — known as perigee — and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a “blood moon.”

For more information on what to expect check out this video:

 

Digitally Storing Book Quotes

In the past few years, I made the jump from digital books back to analog, and one of the first reasons I moved was because of the price. On a lot of books you can get the paperback cheaper than the eBook, and the hardcover for just a few dollars more.

But as I started building out my library a lot of other interesting things began to happen. I feel like I can remember where I read stuff better, I can flip through the book more comfortably, I can let friends and family borrow them, and it gets my eyes off the screen. Tons of wins!

However, one downside is converting quotes into digital notes for easier retrieval. In the past what I’ve been doing is marking the spot and then grabbing my phone and manually typing it all out. It’s a very slow process and not that great. The other option is to take a photo of it, but then those aren’t searchable.

Today I came across this post on using the Day One app as a Commonplace Book or what I call a Morgue File, basically a place to dump “all the things” so you have one place to look and search in the future.

In that post, they recommended an app called Scanner Pro from Readdle that is your camera on steroids. You can take a picture, and it will then OCR the text, electronic conversion of images of text into machine-encoded text, and allow you to copy and paste into whatever app you want.

It works surprisingly well but it is clunky because of all the steps involved going between two different apps, but still way faster than manually typing it all out.

Of course, a tool like this can be useful in a lot of other scenarios as well. For instance, digital scanning receipts for taxes, documents you need to email, and more. Scanner Pro priced at $3.99 is not a bad deal and I’m certain there​ are others on the market that might be free or even less expensive.

How about you? Do you have any tips for taking better notes and quotes when reading analog books? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Pitching Your Product to a Journalist

In my spare time, I run a tech news site, and I am constantly getting bombarded with pitches to cover everything from code packages, to SAAS apps, to new tools and utilities. Including things like this is why I initially started the site and I love it.

I love helping people by boosting interest in what they’ve spent their time creating, and I love the relationships it brings.

One of the downsides is time. I have a set number of hours every night that I can dedicate to the site either through writing new posts or managing the business side. But with a full-time job, a family, and other hobbies it’s honestly limited.

If you are making a pitch to me here are some things I am looking for:

  1. A Heads Up. Giving me a heads up that you will be launching in a few days is fantastic, and it helps me plan a post to coincide with your launch. That helps both of us. But I need a press release, so I can sit down and write it. I can’t follow up with 100 questions. I will honor an embargo, but I will not sign an NDA.
  2. That I can understand it. You’d be surprised how many things people send me that I have no idea what it is. I’m not going to waste my time attempting to figure it out. I’ll move on.
  3. That it’s ready. I will not cover your creation until it’s fully launched. No landing pages, no newsletter signups. It has to be purchasable, downloadable, or usable or I’ll move on.
  4. That I understand the use case. Please give some examples of why what you’ve created is useful.

Remember I am not expert in your domain and all I want to do is write an article on it. I don’t want to spend hours trying it out, and I don’t want to make mistakes in covering it. Help me by explaining what makes your product unique, why the world should care, and what features are essential. The more you can help me the more I can help you.

I know this post comes across as selfish, but as I look at my mailbox with dozens of pitches just sitting there, I needed to document ways that we can better work together.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Growing up in a state where the interstates are littered with car tags claiming “first in flight” the history of the airplane and the Wright Brothers is a story I’ve heard since elementary school.

In fifth grade, I had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Outer Banks and Kitty Halk. At the time, I had no interest in the history behind it and didn’t think much of the sand dunes and museum.

I just completed reading the history of the Wright Brothers by David McCullough and it was a fantastic look at the lives of both brothers, their father, and sister Katherine.

Besides a history lesson, a lot of knowledge can be gained from this book.

The brothers drive and determination was unwavering as they designed, tested, and flew the first airplane. Before this, they spent years studying scientific journals and papers, then spent a great deal of time just watching the birds fly. All to gain more insight into what they were trying to accomplish.

When they put their minds to it they scraped by with the profits from their business never accepting any outside funding. This is in stark contrast to the Langley project:

Not incidentally, the Langley project had cost nearly $70,000, the greater part of it public money, whereas the brothers’ total expenses for everything from 1900 to 1903, including materials and travel to and from Kitty Hawk, came to a little less than $1,000, a sum paid entirely from the modest profits of their bicycle business.

Work ethic was another area that I really enjoyed. Here is a summation of a story when one of the brothers was in France for the first debut of a public flight.

The flyer arrived all torn up and had to be rebuilt. A wealthy man allowed him to use a big room in his business as a workshop and even gave him men to help with the rebuild. These men could barely understand English and were more of a hindrance, however, Mr. Wright kept the same work schedule as the other workers. When the lunch whistle blew he took lunch. When the end of day whistle blew he went home. Neither brother ever worked on Sunday and it seemed like they knew all the pieces would come together at the right time. Unlike many of us today.

Neither brother ever talked about bad about a competitor and was always humble. Even after being ridiculed in the papers as loons, liars, and idiots. A much different world than what we see from leaders today.

If you are interested in learning more about the brothers you can buy this book on Amazon or start a free trial on Audible and Get it free

“You are not your code” is offensive

“You are not your code” is a popular saying in developer circles with the idea being that the code you create is just code, and you shouldn’t be offended if someone points out faults, makes jokes, or is pessimistic toward it.

In order to spend weeks, months, or years building something you have to have an enormous​ amount of passion for it. This intensity​ is what drives you to wake up day after day to work on it. It’s not just “code” to you. It’s a part of you. It’s a love affair.

To me, it relates back to school projects. If you put in the work and really tried then received a bad grade it’s personal. If you are lazy, don’t care, and just turn in the minimal who cares if you get a bad grade because you are not the work you put in. Maybe that is the difference between why the saying is offensive to some and not others?

Take this guy who built his own log cabin by hand:

If you were invited to come see it as his guest would you start pointing out the flaws in his work? If you did would he want to punch you in the face? Or would he say, no big deal it’s just nails and wood? You and I both know he’d be offended.

When you put yourself out there through any creative endeavor you are being vulnerable. You are sharing a part of you that isn’t natural and to be slighted is like taking a dagger right in the gut. It hurts.

Unless feedback is specifically asked, it’s best to point out the positives and keep your complaints to yourself.  As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below.

MLK on Slavery in Strength to Love

Today in the USA we celebrate the life of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

As I think about his life I’m reminded of an excerpt I read from his book Strength to Love:

Men convinced themselves that a system that was so economically profitable must be morally justifiable. They formulated elaborate theories of racial superiority. Their rationalizations clothed obvious wrongs in the beautiful garments of righteousness. […] Religion and the Bible were cited to crystallize the status quo. Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro.

He continues…

So men conveniently twisted the insights of religion, science, and philosophy to give sanction to the doctrine of white supremacy. Soon this idea was embedded​ in every textbook and preached in practically every pulpit. It became a structured part of the culture. And men then embraced this philosophy, not as the rationalization of a lie, but as the expression of a final truth. They sincerely came to believe that the Negro was inferior by nature and that slavery was ordained by God.

Years later and this can describe many of the race relations still facing our nation. He then brings it all back to this verse in Luke that quotes Jesus before his crucifixion:

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Dr. King was also a Baptist Minister and by tying it back to these ten words it would have been a powerful statement to those he was trying to reach.

Freebie: Heroicons UI

Heroicons UI make the perfect fit for any in-app UI. Their soft edges and consistent 2-pixel​ stroke give them a friendly personality​ that work great for both professional and playful UI’s.

This is a great new icon set by Steve Schoger that he decided to release free under the MIT license.

Steve Jobs on Creating

one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there
and you never you never meet the people
you never shake their hands
you never hear their story or tell yours
but somehow in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love > something’s transmitted there and it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation.

I love this so much. When I create things I take pride in it and put a great deal of care and love into it. That’s why I find the statement, “You are not your $creation” so offensive.

Using Day One as a Morgue File

As a developer, I have to constantly learn new things pay attention to the tech news, and just always reading and researching. In the past, I’ve never really collected this information. I would use read later services or maybe hit like on a social media post, but the chances of me going to back to find it has been slim to none. If I couldn’t find it again from a search engine then it was gone forever for me.

Over the past few months, I’ve made a change to my workflow and started using the Day One journaling app as a morgue file, which comes from the newspaper office meaning a collection of old clippings, photographs, and information. Things you come across as you are researching goes in here.

Since so much of my life is digital I can utilize the Safari share extensions to easily save websites, capture screenshots, and copy and paste little quotes I come across. If I’m reading a physical​ book I can take a quick photo and store it.

Where this system has really shined is it’s both simple to review and completely searchable. So now I can find things easier than before. Plus you can use tags, different journals, locations, etc. I personally don’t go that far, and instead, ​opt for quick entry and trusting the search system and my memory for finding it later.

If you are not keeping some type of morgue file I challenge​ you to try it even if you don’t use what I am. Eventually, ​you are going to come back to a problem you solved and need to remember why. This is brilliant for that.

Why Doors at Businesses Open Outward

I’d always thought business doors opened outward for customer convenience. The business assumes you are coming in to buy their​ products and come out with both your hands full, so opening the door inward would be difficult.

According to DumbLaws this is not correct:

All buildings erected in this state for theatrical, operatic, or other public entertainments of whatsoever kind shall be so constructed that the shutters to all entrances to said building shall open outwardly and be so arranged as to readily allow any person inside said building to escape therefrom in case of fire or other accident.

I like the actual law better than my preconceived notion and I think it’s fun to find out the truth versus just what you’ve always believed.

My Top Nine Photos of 2017

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These are the top nine images I put on Instagram this year based on likes. Going from left to right:

  1. Random iOS homescreen.
  2. A quote from the book Essentialism that is relevant for developers. “Essentialists accept the reality that we can never fully anticipate or prepare for every scenario or eventuality; the future is simply too unpredictable.”
  3. Wearing a Santa hat in warm weather.
  4. My daughter and I did our first 5k
  5. Giving a brief overview of LaraJobs at Laracon. Gosh, I hate being on stage.
  6. A screenshot of the daily Laravel News digest.
  7. Date Night!
  8. My dad’s Camero
  9. Date Night!

What to wear to workout when it’s cold outside

I live in an area where the temperature, for the most, is bearable year round. We will have weeks where it dips to freezing and maybe an inch of two of snow each year, but when it turns cold I never know what to wear to workout. Most of the time I put on way too many layers and overheat and when talking to a buddy over the weekend he sent me this picture as a guide:

what-to-wear-temperature

  • 60F and above: Tank top or singlet, and shorts
  • 50-59F: T-shirt and shorts
  • 40-49f: Long-sleeve light-weight shirt, shorts or tights (or nylon long pants), mittens and gloves
  • 30-39F: Long-sleeve medium weight shirt, and another T-shirt, tights and shorts, socks, mittens or gloves, and a hat over the ears
  • 20-29F: Medium weight long-sleeve shirt, another T-shirt, tights and shorts, socks, mittens or gloves, and a hat over the ears
  • 10-19F: Medium weight long-sleeve shirt, and medium/heavy weight shirt, tights and shorts, nylon wind suit, top and pants, socks, think mittens and a hat over the ears
  • 0-9F: Two medium or heavyweight long-sleeve tops, thick tights, thick underwear (especially for men), medium to heavy warm up, gloves and thick mittens, ski mask, a hat over the ears, and Vaseline covering any exposed skin

I thought that was brilliant and found the source which I hope to refer back to every winter.