Everything is slowly turning more green. Love spring.
Reverse Engineer. Co-founder of Plain.
JW. Kayaker. Photog.
29 April 2016
Check out this guy (or gal). A screenshot from a GoPro video.
This past Saturday afternoon we had some beautiful weather and so I went kayaking at a nearby lake. This time of year is an incredible time to paddle since every animal is very active, making nests, waking up from the winter, preparing for the heat of summer.
The geese, in particular, were insane. If you follow me on SnapChat you’ll have seen some wing-to-wing combat going on. Fiercely territorial, these geese in the above image were dead-set on the land grab.
One other thing that makes this time of year great to paddle is that everything is turning green, blooming, sprouting, and reaching for the sun. Check out this tree blooming.
Something I didn’t plan on (but should have) was that turtles were beginning to wake up out of their frozen sleep sessions and scratch and claw their way out of the mud. So I ended up seeing a few turtles and having the opportunity to catch one.
One thing I took some time to learn last year was how to properly catch these guys without hurting them or myself. Many people will simply grab a snapping turtle by the tail, fearing their lightning quick snap, and end up seriously injuring the animal or slowly killing them. It turns out that by holding them up by their tail could dislocate their spine and give them a painful death.
So, last year, I watched a few YouTube videos and many people that are catching snapping turtles don’t care about harming them because they are going to eat them. And I’m all for turtle soup. I just don’t think you need to injure the turtles to enjoy some soup.
Anyway, the proper way to catch a snapping turtle is to grab the back, tail-end of their shell, lightly lift their back legs off of the ground, slide your hand underneath their belly, grab their chest/shell and pick them up. All of their weight will be on their chest which won’t hurt them and the worst they can do to you is scratch you with their claws.
This snapping turtle was about 6 lbs. So, a pretty small snapper even for our area. I’ve seen snapping turtles that were at least 3’ across the tops of their shells. I’m hoping to have a chance to catch one of those this year.
Oh, and when trying to catch a turtle I fell in.
Pro tip: Don’t kayaking in jeans and fall in. Rookie move.
I was in Eliza’s kayak which is virtually impossible to tip over but somehow I managed to do it by diving after a turtle. My phone was in my left pocket and I somehow managed to keep that pocket dry (as you can see in the above photo) and pull the phone out just in time.
Stay tuned for more kayaking and turtle adventures this year.
29 April 2016
My final images are made up of somewhere between 8 and 10 thousand images.
He takes as many photos of one insect as Eliza and I do all year.
29 April 2016
The Webkit team announces a change of policy by implementing new features with runtime flags rather than vendor-prefixes. Here is why:
Vendor-prefixes never felt right. The new policy seems to make a lot more sense.
26 April 2016
It is hard to believe that it has been over 6 weeks since I began posting status messages from my site rather than through Twitter or Facebook. Here was my first status update. Here are some observations that I’ve made:
I’m definitely going to continue on. My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.
26 April 2016
The Apple Watch could be called a flop if it sold so poorly and customer demand or interest was so low that Apple totally shelved the project. But they haven’t. I’m willing to bet they made a lot of money on the Watch so far (far more than any of their competitors in the same space). And I’m willing to bet that in 2016-2017 Apple will double down on the Watch and make some incredible improvements to every piece of it.
Today Apple releases their quarterly earnings statement and while they won’t directly comment on the number of Watches sold — or how those numbers breakdown between the different styles of watch — analysts have backed into a figure that settles in around $6 billion dollars.
Flop? From now on I am classifying anyone willing to write the word flop into a headline about the Apple Watch as a clickbait artist, scammer, or moron. You’ve been warned. No matter how you frame it; a product earning $6 billion dollars (and I’d say it is likely that even with brand-new tooling to create these devices, and the R&D done that led up to it that the Watch was still profitable year 1) in its first year is not a flop. Of course people are making comparisons to Apple’s competitors in the smartwatch space and even in the traditional watch space (which I do not feel is a fair comparison). However, Apple smashed all of them in the revenue numbers game; see: Fitbit (by 3x), Rolex.
How much better could it possibly have done?
Apple Watch can’t be neatly summarized with a one-word description like “hit” or “flop”. It has some serious, deep flaws, but it has sold well — especially considering those flaws. And the people who own one tend to really like it.
I can agree with John — that the Apple Watch isn’t a runaway hit. And I don’t mean just sales. There are some design issues with the Watch and it certainly feels like a version 1. As did the iPhone.
Me, again, in a different post in January:
My wife has an Apple Watch. I’d call her a “light user” of the Watch. She wears it every day but mainly uses it for glancing at text messages. There are a myriad of other uses but, just like the original iPhone, they are a bit too slow to be fully useful yet. You can use them but you don’t very often because they are too slow.
Speed, is an issue on the Watch. But this is going to improve by several factors with each iteration.
Here is Gizmodo’s Casey Chan on something he doesn’t like about the Apple Watch; buttons:
First, I still don’t know what the buttons do. This is ridiculous (and probably very stupid on my part) because, well, there are only two buttons, the digital crown and the side button. Most of the times, pressing the digital crown acts like an iPhone home button. But sometimes it’s a back button (like when you’re in the Favorites contact screen). It gets more confusing because you can scroll through a list with the crown but you can never select, you have to tap the screen for that to work. Most of these things you eventually figure out, but these little inconsistencies just add to the frustration of using it.
I’ve only used the Apple Watch very sparingly as I don’t own one of my own. But I can agree. I’ve never been as confused using any Apple product as I was using the Watch the first time. I remember using the Mac for the first time and every single thing I wanted to accomplish turned out to be far easier than I thought it would be. The Watch needs to get to this point too. And if Apple sticks with it — and I think they will — then I think they will improve on it.
Even with these two main issues the customer satisfaction numbers are very high. Higher than first-gen iPhone or iPad. And, anecdotally, I’ve never talked to an Apple Watch owner that didn’t like theirs.
Rumors aside I’m sure the next Apple Watch will be faster, lighter, thinner, and hopefully a bit easier to grok. If they can do that, they’ll turn the Apple Watch into a massive hit by any comparison.
20 April 2016
Hopefully getting a behind-the-scenes look at what it costs to run a site like Unsplash will help you with your own business, or at least give you a better understanding of what’s involved.
It is nice when people share information like this because, as he says in my pull quote, it does help others to see what is involved. Also, by sharing you never know if someone may notice something you didn’t and can end up saving you a lot of money.
Barley 1 costs just about $400 to host for the month of February. That’s about half as much as Unsplash spent on storing logging files. Perhaps with Barley 2 we’ll do some posts like this for those that are interested.
Don’t be surprised by the final number though. Crew is doing an amazing job hosting Unsplash and I believe they are doing it for beans. Imagine what that number would have been in 2005?
12 April 2016
I know that 8 years ago if I said “follow my friend Joel, he’s awesome” 2,000 people would do that when I had 7,000 followers and now 37 will do that when I have 1.2 million followers.
This is it in a nutshell. Twitter’s “problem”. I remember in 2007 being able to tweet, at a bar in Philadelphia, “I need a beer” and someone bringing me one within a few minutes. I likely had less 200 followers then. I have 3,000+ now and no one is listening to me at all on there.
I don’t know exactly how to fix Twitter’s issues. I have ideas, of course, but I don’t know how to fix this problem; everyone is on Twitter that matters already and yet nothing is happening on there. And yet everything is. What a weird situation!
12 April 2016
GoPro’s stock price and sales figures are plummeting. And as I sit here, going over everything they have, and comparing their strategy against other companies that had similar products and failed — I don’t know exactly what can save them. In fact, I rewrote this blog post three times as I’ve changed my mind about what might work.
GoPro needs software in spades, far beyond just something to make editing easier. The company that created the first mass-market visceral experience broadcasting device ought to have a hand in every dimension of the current live revolution, not just be one of its few cameras. That requires software.
As my friend Gary Vaynerchuk recently said in Daily Vee #29… just as large broadcasters can turn their companies around by having a hit show, software and hardware companies can turn themselves around with features. It is an over simplification (Gary knows this) but he is right. If GoPro had a hit application (or was integrated fully into one) it would turn everything around for them, especially in the eyes of the public investor.
Obviously, they won’t save anything without selling hardware. Hardware is where they make all of their revenue and it always will be. And, as Matt points out in his piece, they already make great hardware. So perhaps great software would stem the tide for GoPro?
Matt’s proposition that GoPro build the next Periscope is intriguing. It had me thinking all last night of what that could look like and how it would be received. Rather than allowing Periscope or Meerkat to integrate into GoPro (and they already have), Matt proposes that GoPro itself build a platform for live streaming video that would allow input from GoPro cameras and other devices.
This would be a huge gamble for GoPro. Live streaming isn’t easy nor inexpensive. Matt knows this very well so I know he does not make this suggestion lightly. And, GoPro already has experience in live streaming (sort of) with Herocast. So I’m sure the thought of putting a platform behind that has crossed their minds. Perhaps they even built something in a lab. To get live streaming right they’d have to put some major resources behind such an endeavor and the Board would definitely see it as Nick’s (the CEO) last effort to turn it around.
I love GoPro. But I’m not as optimistic as Matt. I fear the Board will call for Nick’s head after another bad quarter. And I believe it will take several quarters, a few acquisitions, and the recruiting of a few key team members (all in design, software and platform) in order to turn GoPro around. If Nick goes the whole thing goes I say because once a founder is kicked out recruiting can be tough.
Will they go the way of Flip? I hope not. Let’s just hope the team at GoPro isn’t sleeping and is way, way smarter than I am and can figure it out.
11 April 2016
Since I wrote "I’m perfectly happy using PHP” last week I figured I’d show the other side’s viewpoint as well. There are those out there that loathe the language. Evee goes off on PHP like no one else could:
PHP is an embarrassment, a blight upon my craft. It’s so broken, but so lauded by every empowered amateur who’s yet to learn anything else, as to be maddening. It has paltry few redeeming qualities and I would prefer to forget it exists at all.
Her analogy to a toolbox full of tools that you can’t really use properly is apt. I do feel like I write a lot of workarounds for things. I’ve always thought it was due to the depth of my knowledge of the language. Perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps it is indicative of it.
Some of the things pointed out are rather baffling, such as why the functions names are inconsistently styled such as using underscores or not, etc. But those are a matter of taste really. A language can throw out a style-guide and still be very useful if those functions do things that are of value. As pointed out there, it just gets worse from there.
If you’re into programming you might as well read the entire post. It is good.
8 April 2016
It’s easy to get caught up in the newest trend, and there are lots of great technologies being developed, but at the end of the day, just because something’s new and shiny doesn’t mean it will move the needle for your business.
Bingo. By the time I finish editing this post seventeen more frameworks, libraries, or pseudo-languages will have been released. And honestly, that is fantastic. Because out of those a few will take off, be well supported, and become great utilities for future projects to benefit from.
However, this doesn’t mean we need to use them in live projects immediately. Or, that we should jump from one framework to the next because you like the way the method names use camelCase.
Kyle goes on:
When it comes down to it, I’m most productive when I’m writing Rails code. Sure, I could build out my next project in Node.js, or Go, or whatever else is out there, but I’m going to be able to crank out the best, most productive code in Rails. I know it best. I’ve been working with it for almost as long as it’s been out, so I know all of its ins and outs.
This piece, as he explains, is a big reason to decide to use one language or framework over another. Not just your own productivity, as he states, but also for those that may touch the code in the future. If the framework is widely known, actively maintained, and many people use it in live projects, chances are you can add more people to the project and not have to teach them much about your project. They can likely dive right in and be productive very early on.
Lastly, this bit:
A mature framework, while it may not be as exciting, has had thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of hours of developer time spent getting it to where it is, which generally results in a more stable and secure platform.
If the project your working on ever hits any type of scale, you will want to know that hundreds if not thousands of other projects that run on the same technology has done so too. Early on, many people pointed to Twitter as a project that helped Ruby on Rails mature. And also to Facebook as one that helped PHP get a lot faster. Do a bit of digging when selecting what to use in your project, if a “big boy” is using and supporting it then you will likely get more sleep.
The very same reasons Kyle uses Ruby on Rails is why I use PHP. I do like the way Ruby looks far better than PHP. (Insert GIF of DHH saying Ruby is gorgeous here) I also think that the Rails framework is well structured for web applications. I do think Go looks succinct and interesting. And Node is likely better for some of the things I’m trying to accomplish. However, I’m faster with PHP, a lot of people know it, it is very fast and stable, and has been used in large-scale projects. So I’m perfectly happy using PHP.
I try my very best to stay completely agnostic when it comes to choices like these. (Kyle and I still get along great even though he’s a Ruby fascist.) In fact, longtime readers of my little blog here have likely seen my opinion of Microsoft technologies change dramatically since 2012 or so. Recently I saw someone’s C# and was all o_0! It looked very, very nice.
I love playing around with new things in order to see what else is out there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve built a new Ruby on Rails application or built something with React or this or that. You’ve gotta keep the juices flowing and one way is to push your abilities into new territory. I liken it to a guitar player that mainly plays rock music riffing with a classical pianist. Expand your horizons from time-to-time and it will only make you a better guitar player.
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t switch to something new when the time is right. In fact, one very good reason to play with new languages and frameworks from time-to-time is that when something you’re using needs to get the axe you’re likely better prepared than if you had your head in the sand. There may be a time to switch from PHP to something else and when that happens I hope I have an open mind and make a good decision. I’ll likely refer back to Kyle’s post to help me make that decision too.
6 April 2016
Anna Pickard on Ev’s blog about Slack’s release notes:
That means if something was a massive pain in the peach, or made people’s lives just a little worse, we don’t splatter it with jokes and pretty words to try and hide it. We say sorry, thank people for their continued patience, and let them know we’re working hard, all the time, to improve things.
Read the entire post.
Slack’s release notes are informative, thorough, and easy to understand. The trend towards writing “funny” anecdotes in release notes makes my molars hurt.
6 April 2016
Anyone documenting an API should look very closely at what Stripe has done. Much of their success is very likely due to them caring about their docs.
/via John Collison on Twitter.
6 April 2016
This video is absolutely mind-blowing. Everything about this was science fiction a few years ago. In fact, the video looks fake while you watch it because you can’t believe this is happening on Earth. And now with some regularity.
Watching this video makes me think that I’ll be alive when people (perhaps even with their kids) will take off, orbit the Earth a few times, and land as a recreational pastime. Decades after that, who knows? Dinner on a restaurant in orbit? Miners working for weeks or months at a time on the moon? Vacations to Mons Huygens?
/via Jeff Bezos on Twitter.
6 April 2016
I hate failure, and this was a failure for me. I will learn from it and focus my attention back on The Loop website, where it belongs. I’m sorry to the subscribers of the magazine, and hope you enjoy the upcoming issues I have prepared for you.
We’ve all failed. We have an idea, or an itch that needs scratched, or a vision for something and we use every fiber of our being to get it out into the world and it dies on the vine. Sometimes quickly, sometimes it is a long haul. Quitting something is incredibly difficult.
I’ve never met Jim. I’ve never shaken his hand or heard him play his guitar live. But, I’ve talked to him on the phone a few times, a few times over Skype, and email. And I can say he is easily one of the nicest people I’ve ever chatted with.
If you’re reading this, do me a favor and add The Loop (Jim’s blog) to your feed reader. And, if that isn’t your thing follow The Loop on Twitter. He’ll help keep you up-to-date on what is going on with Apple and you’ll help him be able to do what he loves best. If you really love what he does become a member of The Loop.
Jim tried to do something. And that is always worth applauding.
Well done Jim.
6 April 2016
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, on LinkedIn:
Each of us are part of our economies and our societies. Long-term growth is directly related to our ability to make our climate more sustainable, our economies more viable and our societies more equitable. Those changes can only happen if we ask ourselves two questions: What difference is our business making? And what difference are we making?
Satya’s Build keynote introduction made it clear that he believes technology can change society for good. We can all agree that it is changing society, but it is arguable whether or not all of it is for good. His position is that he’s both optimistic — that in the long run the changes will be good — and driven — that he and Microsoft will try to make good decisions about how technology fits into our lives.
He’s only been in the CEO chair for a little while but I believe he has a vision for the future of the world and of Microsoft that is based on his core beliefs far more than his predecessor. I welcome it. And I like him.
1 April 2016
The greatest living bearded blogger, Jim Dalrymple, on The Loop:
I still think it’s going to make for an incredible upgrade for those iPhone 5s users, but I also think it’s going to appeal to some current iPhone 6 users. A lot of people upgraded to the newest design for the technology, and of course, to have the latest and greatest.
John “interviewer of Apple executives” Gruber, on Daring Fireball:
I prefer the flat sides. (It stands up!) I prefer the small circular volume buttons. I prefer the power button at the top, rather than directly opposite the volume-up button. I absolutely loathe the camera bump on the 6/6S; the lack of said bump on the SE feels downright luxurious in contrast.
As I hold my iPhone SE today I can say that John is spot on in his review. And as an iPhone 6 user that switched to the iPhone SE I can tell you that I did it for the very same reasons he mentions. The form factor and latest tech. If Apple continues to keep the SE line 12-months behind the standard iPhone I will continue to use the SE. This size is perfect.
Oh, and if you’re wondering; gold, 64GB. The thing is a dream.
31 March 2016
Nat Friedman on the Xamarin blog:
Xamarin will be in every edition of Visual Studio, including the widely-available Visual Studio Community Edition, which is free for individual developers, open source projects, academic research, education, and small professional teams. Develop and publish native apps for iOS and Android with C# or F# from directly within Visual Studio with no limits on app size.
Microsoft is gunning for developers.
31 March 2016
Somewhat related: Photo stats and observations.
I began the switch to iCloud Photo Library a few days ago and so far it has been a mixed experience. Since weaving a good narrative is not in my wheelhouse, here is a laundry list of observations that I’ve made over the last few days.
As you can see, so far it has been a mixed bag. Uploading has been horrendous. Impossible even. Yet, every other part of the experience has been pretty great. Sometime in the near future I’d like to write up specific comparisons between Picturelife, iCloud Photo Library, and Google Photos since I’ve tried all three.
30 March 2016
Dustin Kirkland on his blog:
Finally, I imagine some of you -- long time Windows and Ubuntu users alike -- are still wondering, perhaps, "Why?!?" Having dedicated most of the past two decades of my career to free and open source software, this is an almost surreal endorsement by Microsoft on the importance of open source to developers. Indeed, what a fantastic opportunity to bridge the world of free and open source technology directly into any Windows 10 desktop on the planet. And what a wonderful vector into learning and using more Ubuntu and Linux in public clouds like Azure.
30 March 2016
Nearly all of the tech coverage I read about Snapchat’s latest update lead with “stickers” being part of the update. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bob the walrus. But how can they not lead with the fact that they’ve added realtime video and voice calling?
I remember the first time I ever tried video chatting on a Macintosh in 2004. That was over 12 years ago! I used iChat and spoke to a shirtless Chris Clark (who was then living in Perth, Australia). The video quality left a lot to be desired. But it was a miracle!
Last night I tried Snapchat’s Chat 2.0 update and started a video chat with Matt. It worked really well (once I stopped Photos from syncing). You can send photos, stickers, text, all while carrying on a live video conversation. If the person isn’t available to chat live you can leave them a video to watch later.
Some call Snapchat confusing but I’d be willing to bet that those that use it (hundreds of millions of people) would consider these features easier to use than Facetime or Skype.
It amazes me that live video chat is now a “throw away” feature when talking about an app update.