Colin Devroe on a kayak

Everything Colin

A collection of the things that I write, share, make and dream.


Tuesday Scrapple 1

Inspired by local blogger and reporter Andy Palumbo’s scrapple posts — I’ve decided to try my hand at it.

Today’s scrapple:

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30 weekdays of commits

Similar to the 30 weekday blog challenge… I’m going to challenge myself, and you dear reader, to 30 weekdays of committing code to one of your projects. Any project.

The projects I’m challenging myself to commit to, for 30 weekdays straight, are Barley CMS, Barley for WordPress, or Unmark.

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Combo Feeds on Barley CMS

This was fun to work on.

Since I did 30 weekdays of blogging I think now I’ll aim for 30 weekdays of committing code to Barley CMS.

Odd JavaScript issue

Update Fixed! With this tweet Jim Lind has saved my day.

So, I’m working on issue #52 for Unmark and I’m having what is quickly becoming the oddest issue I’ve ever had in my professional career.

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VSCO Cam for iPad

VSCO Cam is now available for iPad.

Good catch by Shawn Blanc:

With this update, your VSCO Cam Library now syncs across devices. You can tell if a photo is synced by the double-circle icon in an image’s top right corner. And, not only do the images themselves sync, so too do the edits you’ve made. But! Not only do the edited images sync, it’s the non-destructive edits. Meaning, you can edit an image on your iPad, save it, sync it, open it up on the iPhone, and revert it back to the original version. Slick.

Very slick.

Why podcasts are suddenly “back”

Marco Arment:

What’s apparent from most of the recent podcast stories is that most of their reporters have talked to very few sources and either don’t listen to podcasts themselves or have just started. Most podcast listeners and producers know that the truth is much less interesting: podcasts started out as a niche interest almost a decade ago and have been growing slowly and steadily since. Over many years, growing slowly and steadily adds up.

Slow and steady is good.

Tools and Toys reviews the iPad Air 2

Josh Ginter for Tools and Toys:

Overall, the thinness of the new iPad Air 2 makes it the best iPad to hold, use, and carry with you on a daily basis. The image of Steve Jobs using the original iPad on the couch during the famous 2010 keynote has come into full fruition with the iPad Air 2. This iPad is a true couch computer and won’t tire anyone out after long periods of use. The hardware has caught up to the initial vision of the iPad from four years ago.

I upgraded from an iPad 2 to an iPad Air 2. The difference is incredible and I’m absolutely loving this new iPad.

David Mark on Echo

David Mark writing for The Loop:

I think Amazon will sell a ton of these.

I’m going to pull a Dalrymple and say “Nope”.

Amazon Echo, err, Alexa

Amazon has this new tube-thing you can talk to called Echo. You can ask it questions by simply talking out loud. Similar to Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Google’s OK Google features.

I find the entire thing odd - though, perhaps as a first step beta thing it’ll be OK - but I found it most odd that the product is named Echo and you call it Alexa.

Dan Moren on Six Colors:

I’ve seen other people wonder if you can change its wake word from “Alexa.” If not, families with an Alexa in them are going to be pretty annoyed. Plus, if I can’t address it as “Computer” or “Jarvis,” I’ll be sorely disappointed.

I suppose the same could be said for families with people named Siri or Cortana. Siri, the name, is currently at an all-time high of popularity. Cortana, the name, is gaining ground quickly. I hope no one has any family members named Google. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Alexa, the name - on the other hand, is very popular and used for both sexes. So is Echo, believe it or not.

Moren can take Jarvis. I’d prefer HAL.

What’s Behind the Great Podcast Renaissance? 

Kevin Roose for New York Magazine:

According to Edison Research, 39 million people listened to a podcast in the last month, the highest number on record.


Seven days of travel feet

Seven out of 365 days of #travelfeet have passed. It has been an interesting week. The small group of friends that have joined in the fun have added over 125 travelfeet photos.

I’ll be interested to see if they continue or if some people drop off and others join, etc.

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Podcasting is the next big thing

Fred Wilson:

As is often the case, a simple little thing turns out to be the big thing. That little thing is that almost every car that has been sold in the past five years has had bluetooth connectivity to the car audio system. These days your phone is connected wirelessly to your car the minute you open the door and get in it. That’s a powerful thing. The phone has become the portal to the car audio system. And so if you can get podcasts on your phone, which is trivial these days, you can listen to them on the way to work or your way home.

Although I’ve listened to podcasts on-and-off since Adam Curry and Dave Winer collaborated on RSS enclosures — I’ve now begun listening to them far more than the radio or even streaming music in the car.

Here are a few that I listen to. Add to this list the incredible Serial podcast now.

Twitter is not a replacement for blogs

Marco Arment:

Too much of my writing in the last few years has gone exclusively into Twitter. I need to find a better balance.


By knocking down a few walls and moving some furniture around, blogging is preparing for a comeback, and we’ll all be better off for it.

Related: this, this, and this.


Muir Icons: Volume II

Sebastian de With:

Part of a continuing effort to make some nice replacement icons for applications for usage in the OS X Yosemite Dock. This time around, mostly requests from Twitter.

In Volume I he covered the Creative Suite from Adobe. In Volume II he covers some of the apps I’m more likely to use.

P. Morris, Beloved

Speaking of packaging albums in all-new and innovative waysP. Morris releases an album that you can only listen to with someone else who also has their webcam on. Think Chatroulette. Brilliant.

/via Andy Baio.

Finding friends on Twitter

Today I used Twitter’s Find Friends feature that connects to Gmail to get a list of your contacts and subsequently searches Twitter for them.

I have just over 2,550 contacts in my address book. Many are duplicates, due to how Gmail handles adding these addresses to your contact list. But, a cursory glance at the recordset shows me that I likely have about 2,000 people or business in there.

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Rockets are hard

Yesterday Orbital Sciences had a bad day. One of their rockets exploded during a mission to deliver goods to the International Space Station. Rockets are hard.

Elon Musk in Wired in 2012:

The results are pretty crazy. One of our competitors, Orbital Sciences, has a contract to resupply the International Space Station, and their rocket honestly sounds like the punch line to a joke. It uses Russian rocket engines that were made in the ’60s. I don’t mean their design is from the ’60s—I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the ’60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere.

More information on the Antares rocket.

HTML 5 is now a W3C Recommendation

This was slated for 2022 at one point. I’m very happy to see things leveling off with this recommendation by the W3C. As Jeremy Keith said in his comments about this event on HTML5 Doctor:

On the one hand, it doesn’t really matter whether HTML5 is W3C recommendation or not. After all, what really matters to developers is what they can use in browsers today. So, from that perspective, the way the WHATWG views HTML as a “Living Standard” makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, it’s awfully nice to have some stability in the ever-changing world of web standards and browsers. That’s where the W3C provides balance. They are the yin to the WHATWG’s yang. HTML5 reaching recommendation status provides a welcome punctuation in the ongoing story of the most important format ever created.

“the most important format ever created”

That sums it up.

No more Platinum albums?

Hugh McIntyre for Forbes:

In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark.

Streaming/internet radio is eating digital downloads for lunch. And I think this trend is going to continue until things hit some sort of basement. But then, and I honestly believe this, something new will come around that will bring music back from the brink.

Payouts to artists from streaming is, from everything I’ve read, a far cry from the payouts that artists could earn from the album sales of yore. So streaming, while great for all of us consumers, isn’t particularly great for the artists. Especially massively popular artists.

So while we get to have our cake and eat it too, more and more artists will begin to try to find other ways to make up that revenue. Touring is an obvious way to do that. But I think we’ll start to see different ways of packaging the content — both digitally and physically — in the future.

Jack White did this somewhat recently by recording and releasing a record on vinyl in the same day. Sounds a bit cheeky? Well, he smashed a sales record doing it.

What will the artists with established audiences end up doing to make different products with their content so as to make up for the lost revenue of digital downloads? I don’t know but I’m eager to see.


Slow reading email

Matt Haughey writing on this #tildeclub space:

One long-standing pet peeve with Gmail (and all similar email apps) is that they don’t offer a “slow” reading option. Email is a fast, efficient, intensive sort of activity, so the UI is as practical as possible, but if I ever need to write more than four paragraphs, I find myself often composing text in Google Docs or even Medium draft posts, both that get shared as a link over email. I know how much I don’t like reading tons of text in an email interface so I purposely push them to a place with larger fonts, more comfortable margins, and a way to soak in the words in a calmer UI. Go read stuff over there, where words are respected properly instead of your punch-clock email machine here.

What a great idea! I could never begin to count the number of times I’ve read “Sorry this email is so long”, or something to that effect, in an email. I don’t know why people appologize. I love long emails (well, the ones with a purpose for being long). But he’s right, reading them in most email clients is a fairly poor experience.

Don’t blame Powerpoint

Powerpoint is pretty terrible. The reason why many of us think so is because it is misused by so many. You can’t blame the tool, says Wayne Barz:

Many have wished for and striven for the death of the powerpoint presentation. I have always disagreed with this point of view. There is no doubt that most power point decks are terrible and yes, should be killed. However, it isn’t “Power Point” that is the problem, it’s the author!

He offers some tips in addition to a template you can download. But he urges you to read the tips - since they are more important than the template itself.

Lots of founders have asked me over the years to create a template for an effective investor power point. And, having yet again sat through one of the worst I’ve ever seen last week, I decided it was time to finally do it. However…do not just rush off to the attached template! Take a quick look at some of my recommendations below first…and then rush off to the attached template. I even stuck the link to the template AT THE BOTTOM of the page so you have to at least skim through the recommendations first!

Read first. Then download. Got it.

How Apple Pay works

Kirk Lennon:

One of the objections I’ve seen to Apple Pay is “How is it faster/easier than just sliding my card?” The truth is, it isn’t always. It’s rarely going to take longer than sliding a card, but it’s not always going to be radically faster either. However, it is much, much more secure. Merchants simply can’t be trusted with your card number, and the only real solution is to never give it to them. Apple Pay solves that, and it does so in a way that embraces industry standards and is easy and maybe even a little bit fun.

I copied the same bit as Gruber did on Daring Fireball, where I first saw a link to Lennon’s post.

If there is any reason to promote Apple Pay, beyond the fact that it is pretty easy and will someday help to eliminate the need for some of the stuff in our wallets, is that it is about a million times more secure than using a credit card. Infinitely. Perhaps.

Tell your moms.

YouTube Pop-up Bookmarklet

This is a bookmarklet that I wish I had written. But Michael Wheeler has beat me to it:

For those who find themselves wanting to pop a YouTube video out into its own window, this is the tool for you. Using the bookmarklet below, you can pop a YouTube video out into a resizable window so you can watch it while working on something else.

What’s more, this bookmarklet will automatically switch the YouTube player to HD playback.

I’ve been using this for a few weeks and I now consider this indispensable.

Some podcasts from Bijan Sabet

I should have tagged Bijan in my list of podcasts but he posted a few suggestions anyway. His are both photography related:

I’m really enjoying Marco’s latest creation, Overcast and as a result I’m listening to more podcasts these days.

I too am enjoying Overcast.

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