Colin Devroe on a kayak

Everything Colin

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

The longblog

There is so much awesome going on in the resurgence of personal blogging. I can’t stop reading and linking and smiling.

Brent Simmons:

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Writing mostly badly but more often

Elizabeth Spiers, one of the founders of Gawker, on her newly revitalized personal blog:

So in the interest of rejecting later and discriminating less severely, here is my contract with you, the reader: I will write mostly badly and more often. Not so much that either of us want to slit our wrists, but more than I’m doing now. 

Me too.

What blogs were like before it became “professional”

Adam Kuban, who was behind the original New York pizza blog Slice, in an interview by Ben Leventhal:

I miss the early days when you could just get up a post about whatever and just kind of express yourself without really thinking about page views, thinking about SEO, thinking about how it will play on Twitter, if it’s shareable on Facebook … I do miss the sense that you were making it up as you went along.

That is why my challenge to a few people was about “personal” blogging. Not just writing or blogging in general. But about keeping it personal. Quick, only-slightly-edited thoughts published daily.

/via Lockhart Steele.

Listen closely and you’ll learn something

Never take for granted the fact that everyone you meet can teach you something. Here are just a few recent examples of things that I’ve learned in the last few days:

  • Last night, while visiting an older friend (I believe she is 88), I had what was easily the best rice pudding I’ve ever had in my life. To cut down on the need for sugar she added just a few raisons. I’d love to sit with her and watch her make it and write down each step so that this recipe is never lost.
  • Craig Mod, on Twitter, recently linked to this New York Times post about email strategies over the holiday weekend. I thought this tip was insanely powerful: “Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn’t in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence.” I’d like to set something up like this so that, when I return from a vacation, I have a relatively empty inbox.
  • Our new Coalwork neighbors have taught me a lot in just the first few days. One thing is that it is OK to rely on your neighbors. Sharing resources, leaving keys and backup plans with each other, and learning who provides the best services such as window cleaning, waste removal, etc. We all work together here. It has been a very welcoming experience.
  • While visiting a friend who lives, works, and part owns Keen Lake Campground I learned how much the environment, laws and regulations of the state, and the passage of time affect their business. This year these factors will likely cost them more than an entire year in revenue to keep their campground open and safe.

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What I did this weekend

Kyle and I spent the weekend setting up the first coworking space in Scranton, PA — Coalwork. We’ve been working on this for over a year. Not just us two but other members of the coworking community such as Nick Semon, Bruno Galvao, Michael O’Boyle, and Joe Casabona. I’m very glad to finally be seeing all of our hard work pay off. We spent the weekend painting, moving in our stuff, and getting ready for this week.

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15 Year Anniversary

Today is my 15th Anniversary. My wife Eliza and I have known each other our entire lives — in fact, her mother was pregnant with her when she visited my mother in the hospital after giving birth to me. So, really, this is like our 33rd or 34th anniversary.

For the first time in many years Eliza has no idea what she is getting as a gift. I’m terrible at giving gifts and even worse at keeping a gifts a secret from her. Usually she knows what she is getting weeks in advance. But not this year.

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Blogging every weekday for 30 days

Who’s in for the challenge? I’ll give it a shot.

Fred Wilson pointed to Lockhart Steele and Elizabeth Spiers. Spiers mentioned trying it for 30 days so I thought that was a good idea.

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My favorite kayaking podcast at is coming back on September 1st. Host Simon Willis:

We have recorded quite a few fascinating chats and the first will be an absolute cracker. The new podcasts start on Monday 1st September. We‘ll hear from Scott Donaldson who spent almost three months in a kayak, paddling 1300 miles across the Tasmanian Sea from Australia to New Zealand - almost.

Looks like a great way to break the hiatus.

Speed is the only filter in Instagram Hyperlapse

From a piece in Wired about Instagram’s new app Hyperlapse:

Once you start using the app, you quickly see that replay speed itself becomes a novel, alluring tool: For pets and people, replaying at about 1x gives you the sense that you’re creating a tracking shot like that Copacabana scene in Goodfellas. The higher replay speeds work better for shooting the sky out your airplane window, the scenery scrolling past during a train ride, or anything else that’s moving slowly or at a distance.

I hope people follow this suggested used. Try using 1x or so for human things (pets), higher for things that take a long time (sunsets) or are far away (clouds).

Yesterday, prior to using it myself much, I followed the #hyperlapse hashtag on Twitter and was seeing some pretty terrible videos. Obviously people were simply mucking about with it. But if they had followed the above suggested rules they would have gotten pretty far and had much better results.

Last night, during a paddle at Keen Lake (I’ve posted two photos of this paddle so far: here and here), I was playing around with Hyperlapse — learning its idiosyncrasies. I’m very much looking forward to using this application for many, many things in the near future… not just square crops on Instagram.

The golden age of Twitter is over

I said that this morning to Kyle. That the golden age of Twitter is over. I couldn’t think of a more eloquent way to put it. The Twitter we fell in love with is actually gone already. It no longer exists at all. In fact, it is tough to even see the remnants of that Twitter at this point.

I think what is gone from Twitter is far more multi-layered than what Frank Chimero published today in From the Porch to the Street — but, the main point he does hit is right on the money.

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Congratulate Before You Ask

When a new product is announced more often than not the first comment I read is someone asking for features which this new product does not have.

To illustrate; if your grandmother made you delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies and you — looking grandma directly in the face — ask “What, no ice cream?”

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Just pick one

Shawn Blanc, on making a decision on how to get fit:

Something I’ve learned over time is that when you’re facing a decision and you know you need to act, it’s often best to just do something — anything — and then figure it out as you go.

I can recommend, from vast experience in dieting, to just pick a diet and stick with it. All diets work if you stick to them. Once you get rolling you can try different things if you’d like, but to start the best thing to do is to just begin.

App rot

Marco Arment:

I picked on the iPad earlier because its problem is deeper and more visible than on the iPhone today: while the iPad has most of the pricing and competitive pressure of the iPhone, the iPhone’s immense installed base can hide the problems for longer. The iPad has a much smaller installed base, so iPad development is even harder to justify.

Like Marco, I too have noticed apps for the iPad are not being as well cared for as their iPhone counterparts.

First morning paddle

On Sunday I was able to get out early for my first morning paddle ever. Paddling in the morning is completely different than the afternoon or evening. I wasn’t prepared for the subtle differences, namely;

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William Shatner and Facebook Mentions

For reference: App Constellations.

First, William Shatner has a Tumblog. I’m cool with this.

Second, he wrote about Facebook Mentions — yet another app from Facebook specifically created to help “celebrities” with managing their Facebook accounts.

He writes:

I’m not quite sure why Facebook released this app for “celebrities”. It seems to be ill conceived. I will probably use it to post to my Facebook when I’m on my phone but it doesn’t allow for mail or groups. I will continue to use my regular Facebook App as well as the Pages app.

Since only select people get access to this app I’m glad he took the time to jot down his thoughts and I think his review is very good. In fact, I would have disliked the same things he did.

Man, Facebook is managing a lot of apps.

Rap Genius didn’t raise $40M

It turns out, it was bigger than that.

I’ve seen a few tweets and heard a few comments this weekend along the lines of “Rap Genius raised $40M? I quit.”

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Walking the Glen Gour to Strontian

Simon Willis, someone who has been a huge inspiration to my kayaking endeavors with his Sea Kayak Podcasts series, recently went for a hike. I love this bit:

Show me an horizon, an overlapping series of ridge lines or a valley stretching into the distance and I yearn to discover what lies behind those hills, just out of sight.


FrenchGirls hits 1M installs, raises $500k

Our friends at Appek, a company just a few miles south from Plain in Scranton, recently hit 1,000,000 installs for their selfie-drawing app FrenchGirls.

The concept is pretty simple; take a selfie, submit it, the community sketches something in return. What you get in return isn’t always a sketch of your selfie. Sometimes it is a message, sometimes it is a work of art. Either way, its pretty fun.

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Pinboard turns 5

Pinboard, the excellent bookmarking service, recently turned five. Here is Maciej Cegłowski on the Pinboard blog:

Now back to some beard-stroking: 
I see my role much like a small-town praire banker in the 1880‘s. My job is to project an aura of calm, solvency, and permanence in an industry where none of those adjectives applies. People are justifiably risk-averse when it comes to their bookmarks, and they are looking for stability.

What a great service Pinboard has been these last five years. I’m a paying customer and I recommend that you consider being one too.

Many have asked how I use Pinboard and Unmark. I see Pinboard as a place for me to store bookmarks not use bookmarks. Bookmarks that I’ve put into Pinboard are easier to find later on than they are to find in Unmark. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong or whatever but that’s how I use it. (More on how I use Unmark here)

Urllib3 and Stripe’s Open-Source Retreat

In April Stripe announced an Open-Source Retreat. A little over a month later they had chosen three grantees.

Though unannounced on the company blog, Andrey Petrov wrote about his experience working on Urllib3 at Stripe for two weeks over on Medium:

Last week completes my two week grant from Stripe to work on urllib3 full time, and I’d like to declare that these weeks were a huge success.

I recommend you read his entire post. What a great thing Stripe did. I hope we see more of it and I hope, in some small way, our company can take part in the future.

What Matt Krizan learned paddling the California coast

Matt Krizan paddled the California coast in a 36-day expedition. Dave Shivley wrote about what Krizan learned for Canoe & Kayak. Here is what happened on day two:

Four miles offshore, the zip-tie linking his left steering pedal to the rudder snaps. Krizan must act. He spots a channel through 8-foot faces breaking on what looks like beach, so he cautiously follows a wave in. Then he’s upside down. He rolls, but can’t reach shore before the next wave picks up his 18.5-foot Current Designs Nomad—60 pounds of reinforced fiberglass loaded with 140 pounds of gear, plus another 200 pounds draped over Krizan’s lean 6-foot-7 frame—and pitch-poles the full weight into the froth. Half an hour later, as the sun goes down, Krizan finally wrestles the flooded kayak to shore. He’s soaked and shivering, his hull is cracked, cockpit day-gear long gone, plus the deck compass and the maps on which he’d planned out his entire 840-mile transit of the California coast, the labor of eight months spent planning, cutting and laminating each chart with listed mileage and landings. Gone.

I’m still in my first season of kayaking but I plan to one day take on multiple day expeditions on lakes, rivers, and the ocean. I love these stories.

The future of blogging

I don’t know what the future of blogging is. I go back and forth between feeling that the glory days are long over to feeling that the best is yet to come.

Some think that today’s social web, while it has stifled blogging tremendously, will still end up providing some value to independent blogs in the future.

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