Colin Devroe

Blog Posts

Jeremy Keith wrote 100 words for 100 days

3 July 2015

What an amazing feat by Jeremy Keith:

I missed the daily deadline once. I could make the excuse that it was a really late night of carousing, but I knew in advance that I was going to be out so I could’ve written my 100 words ahead of time—I didn’t.

I didn’t go twelve days before missing my first day and here I am several weeks in having missed several days. I utterly failed. So I applaud Jeremy with a long, slow clap.

I realised a few weeks into the project that the piece of software I was writing in (and relying on for an accurate word count) was counting hyphenated phrases as one word. So the phrase “dog-eat-dog world” was counted as two words, not four.

On the Mac I was using the Evernote client to count the number of words my posts were. On iOS I had to use Simplenote since Evernote didn’t show word count there (ahem, Evernote team!). After writing a few posts on my iPad I realized that Simplenote was counting the title in with the post count. So there are a few that are off by 3 words. Oh well.

Most of the posts used observations from that day for their subject matter—diary-like slices of life.

I read every single post Jeremy wrote and I really enjoyed each one.

Since I failed so miserably I may not continue to even try but, rather, move onto something far more different for me in my blogging. First, though, I need to reflect on why I failed so miserably at this simple task — given that I have written daily on my blog without issue several other times.

The answer that comes to mind first is the issue of writing on weekends. I generally write on my computer. I seldom write on my blog using a mobile device or a tablet. Barley works great on these devices and I could have done so… but it simply isn’t what I do. Even if I was using a different application or service I still wouldn’t write on weekends. So I think I set myself up for failure. (Side note: I saw Jeremy would do anything to get his post up. So I have no excuse at all.)

Either way (whether or not I continue) I think what Jeremy did was amazing. Kudos.

100 words 016

1 July 2015

It has been a whirlwind this last week or so. I'm writing this while 35,000 feet in the air as Kyle and I are off to San Francisco on a business trip. A trip we didn't know we were taking until late last week.

Isn't flying amazing? The process of flying, however, is about as terrible as possible. There always seems to be so many delays, issues, and problems. It makes for a tiring experience even if you don't fly often. I've only been on 3 flights so far this year and I'm already sick of the process of flying.

100 words 015

24 June 2015

Today was a beatiful day.

After lunch I went for a 2.5 mile walk around the city. Each time I venture out, either alone or with a Coalwork member or two, I try a new route. I'm surprised by the number of routes that can be made in such a short distance from our space. I try not to walk for more than an hour and I make plenty of stops along the way for photos.

I like my afternoon constitutional. It sets a good pace for the day and allows me to focus my mind or clear it completely.

Noah Read on posting snippets

24 June 2015

Noah Read, on his blog, on why he is posting “snippets” to his site which then get distributed to the social networks of his choice.

Some of the content is so great that it seems a shame to be dumping it into 3rd party services, which may be gone within a few years. Microblogging and social sharing will survive, whether or not the current players do.

Then, in a later post on decentralization:

The reason I write on my own blog instead of Medium is the same reason my social posts originate from my snippets feed and do not begin on Twitter, ADN, or Facebook. I control my own site and it will remain in my power after all these properties have died or changed their focus, chasing whatever they need to please their investors.

The trend continues.


24 June 2015

travelfeet in Scranton

We’ve been doing some walking in the afternoons lately.

100 words 014

23 June 2015

Yesterday a young chap walked into the doors of Coalwork wanting to see “what we were up to”. He moved away from Scranton but would like to see Scranton improve.

After talking for awhile about start ups, failures, successes, our respective backgrounds, whether or not there was money to be raised in this area, it came down to one thing; what was he going to do?

Talk is definitely cheap and talk is good… but at the end of the day if you want to see change you have to be the change. So, what are you going to do?

Monkey Keyboard

23 June 2015

Monkey Keyboard:

Monkey is a free keyboard for iOS and Android that allows you to drop stickers while you're chatting in WhatsApp, snatch a file from DropBox while you're writing email, or send your lover a Spotify song right in iMessage.

Looks very interesting. But free makes me leery.

10,000 free DuckDuckGo shirts

23 June 2015


DuckDuckGo just crossed ten million searches a day for the first time ever! We’re proud to be helping so many people take back their privacy. In celebration, we’re giving away ten thousand DuckDuckGo t-shirts to enthusiasts who help their friends and family take back their privacy as well.

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo on every one of my devices for several months. Love it. And a few days ago I got in line for my free shirt. I’ll wear it proudly.


23 June 2015

Dave Winer is at it again. This time with an open source “browser” that can read a “river” called riverBrowser.

riverBrowser is, at its core, a set of HTML, JavaScript, CSS that can read JSONP files and output them as HTML. What can this be used for? Well, it could — potentially — replace RSS for a number of applications.

Why replace RSS? Two reasons jump out at me;

  1. RSS is a fairly bloated specification. It is a bit verbose and the file sizes for even a small blog can get relatively large quickly. JSON is, by its very nature, a bit more succinct. This would result in faster load times, easier caching, etc.
  2. RSS is typically interpreted with a server side language while JSON is native to JS. It is a small detail but an important one. To properly read an RSS file in JavaScript you’d need an entire class dedicated to churning out a JavaScript object from whatever is in the RSS file. And I can tell you, from experience, this is typically an edge-case nightmare. By using JSON you immediately have an Object to start. No parsing needing.

What can be publish a river? Twitter, blogs, news, applications — you name it. Anything with “a feed”. Creating a JSONP river file thingy should be pretty straight forward. Here is the spec.

When I get a little bit of time I’ll create a JSONP file for riverBrowser for all Barley-powered web sites. Although I love RSS I can see how rivers could replace the now-dated specification.

Update: Dave Winer says I’m wrong about “rivers” replacing RSS. Looks like I have more reading to do. I’ll update this post when I figure it out.

Effortless publishing

23 June 2015

Manton Reece, writing on his blog, about quick blogging workflows:

I believe there are two important facets to microblogging. The first is the timeline experience: a reverse-chronological list of posts from your friends, like you see on Twitter. The second is that posting should be effortless: if there’s less friction between your idea and publishing it, you’ll write more often. So a big part of posting regularly is just having a system that makes it easy.

Shameless plug alert… but this is something I’m working pretty hard on with the next few iterations of Barley. I’m attempting to remove as many clicks, cruft, and workarounds that people have to do to write using Barley.

Barley is an inline editing platform. If you’ve used Medium you know what this looks like. You type directly onto the page. Unlike Medium, however, Barley allows for any HTML template in the world to be used. So that comes with a world of headaches. To combat those headaches we’ve kept the feature set as small as possible while still making the platform robust enough to make great content.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly digging away at the niggles that I’ve had, and our customers, have had with how the editing experience performs. You know, the way it feels versus the way it works. Barley is quicker and easier to use than ever and we’re just getting started with these updates.


22 June 2015

43North “Behold the world’s largest business idea competition.”

Five million dollars in cash awarded to the winners (plural) of this competition happening in Buffalo, New York. If you’re into investing this is a model to watch as it goes into its second year.

I’m watching closely.

Microblogging with WordPress

22 June 2015

Manton Reece, on his blog, about the fact that he’s using WordPress to “tweet”:

I’m very excited about the potential for microblogging. For the last year I’ve been working on a new platform around this stuff. By adopting some of these tips for WordPress, your microblog will be ready for my platform, but more importantly your blog will be open and extensible. Let’s get back to our roots with RSS and see what tools and web sites we can build.

Ben Brooks is doing it too.

Very, very Indie Web. And awesome. I plan on doing the same with Barley soon.

/via Ben Brooks.

100 words 013

22 June 2015

Yes, I skipped the weekend. I’m going to skip all weekends likely. Here is why. And you may just have to live with that.

Speaking of the weekend, this one was pretty good.

On Friday, I was able to play full court basketball for the first time since I was injured. It was painful but fulfilling.

On Saturday, I was able to do a little reading before heading to a wedding (which was very nice) and I managed to dance 7,500 steps. Dancing is decent exercise!

On Sunday, we played some shuffleboard at a local pub and had ice cream.

100 words 012

19 June 2015

At Coalwork we somewhat recently began offering $5 Fridays. A chance to come in and work for just $5 (regularly $15).

And today was the first day that someone officially took us up on the offer. In fact, two people — one from about 45 minutes away — popped in.

Scranton has never seen coworking. From our experience the people of Scranton haven’t either. The vast majority of people that have stopped in to see what Coalwork is all about have never even heard of coworking. But, those from elsewhere know exactly what it is.

We have a long way to go.

Eat less. Lose weight.

19 June 2015

Speaking of losing weight; an interesting piece in the New York Times by Aaron E. Carroll about how eating less is more important than exercise as a determining factor in weight loss.

In the adult population, interventional studies have difficulty showing that a physically active person is less likely to gain excess weight than a sedentary person. Further, studies of energy balance, and there are many of them, show that total energy expenditure and physical activity levels in developing and industrialized countries are similar, making activity and exercise unlikely to be the cause of differing obesity rates.

My fear is that when people read headlines like this they’ll think they don’t need to exercise. Read the entire piece. Exercise is important. Just not as important as eating less when it comes losing weight.

Dalrymple down 40

19 June 2015

Jim Dalrymple, one of the nicest people on the planet, is down 40 pounds — in part, due to the Apple Watch’s constant nagging to move. He wrote a follow-up to his excellent review of the product specifically about his weight loss.

While I’ll do my best to answer the questions, I have to say that I don’t know if any of these are the correct answers. I know what worked for me and that’s what I’ll talk about out here. The “fitness experts” can probably point out 100 things I’m doing wrong—I don’t care.

Go Jim go!


19 June 2015

Gestimer is “for those little reminders during the day” and has a pretty cool gesture-based UI for setting short-term reminders.

I think I’d like an interface like this if Gestimer plugged into Reminders. Neat idea.

/via Matt Gemmell on Twitter.

What is Code?

18 June 2015

Paul Ford, in a tome-of-a-post for Bloomberg/Business Week:

There are 11 million professional software developers on earth, according to the research firm IDC. (An additional 7 million are hobbyists.) That’s roughly the population of the greater Los Angeles metro area. Imagine all of L.A. programming. East Hollywood would be for Mac programmers, West L.A. for mobile, Beverly Hills for finance programmers, and all of Orange County for Windows.

You’ll need a beverage and a chunk of time but this is a must-read.

Paul Ford and Josh Tyrangiel, Business Week’s editor, were on Charlie Rose recently too.

100 words 011

18 June 2015

I’m happy to see Joe Casabona pick up the 100 words torch.

Dark Sky, one of my most-used applications on my iPhone, got updated yesterday. The update is terrific. It has the same information as it had before — except it is far easier to digest. It also has the added benefit of being more accurate and allows you to report the weather in your location.

I use Dark Sky to keep dry. Several times I’ve been out kayaking and when my life jacket vibrates I know to start paddling back to the car. It has saved me many times.

100 words 010

18 June 2015

I missed posting this yesterday. I have only myself to blame. Number 10 already!

Speaking of 10; yesterday I finally surpassed the 10,000 daily step goal. I’m using Pedometer++ (my favorite step-tracking app) to track my steps. When I hit the milestone the app exploded into this cool animation showing that I had made it. It was a great touch from _DavidSmith.

For anyone wondering; 10,000 steps is about 5 miles of walking. At a normal human pace this should take you roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes. Give it a shot and use Pedometer++ to track your steps.

100 words 009

16 June 2015

The best days are filled with variety. Variety helps to break up the day and keep me moving and productive.

Today started with some programming to finishing up a client project. Then, I drove to two client meetings where I was able to do a little training and a little fixing. Then, lunch watching Casey. Then, a two-mile walk with Kyle. Next, I worked on a new pasting procedure for Barley. I pulled my hair out but it was fun. This evening I had dinner with Eliza, played basketball, and now I’m watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

100 words 008

15 June 2015

Yesterday I missed the opportunity to drop a James Bond joke. :(

For a over a year I’ve owned a GoPro Hero3. I love this little camera. However, for the passed 5 months or so it has sat in my home office doing little else than collecting dust.

I took it out yesterday and shot a few photos at a picnic. In addition to amazing video it makes great images so now I’m kicking myself for not using it more. I’m hoping to get into the habit of using it so now I’m carrying it around with me everywhere I go.