Colin Devroe on a kayak

Everything Colin

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

Wolfram and the World Cup

Speaking of Wolfram Alpha (I mentioned them yesterday). Wolfram Alpha was used to try to predict the outcome of the World Cup.

Again, Brazil is the favorite, but with a 32% chance to win now. After its impressive victory against Spain, the Netherlands’ odds jumped to 23.5%: it is now the second favorite. Germany (21.6%) and Argentina (8.6%) are following. There is thus, according to our model, an 86% chance that one of these four teams will be champion.

It has Brazil vs. Netherlands in the final with Brazil coming out on top. Looks like I have to disagree with Alpha on this. Go Netherlands!

Google I/O Keynote 2014

I do not think it is fair to compare Apple’s WWDC keynote with Google’s I/O keynote. It should be fair. But the two simply do not compare.

It should be fair because WWDC and I/O are both developer conferences. WWDC and I/O both begin by largely attended, well rehearsed, staged keynotes by top executives at each company. It should be fair because Apple and Google both have incredibly talented employees, great products, deep pockets and the incentive to do great presentations for both developers and the tech media.

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The myth of the cool office

This piece on The Wire is over a year old but this morning Unmark reminded me that I had read it last year around this time. I think it still rings very true today.

In general it speaks to how the perks of the modern-day tech company are really a waving-of-the-hands to entice people to work there — when in reality the perks don’t really add up to perks at all.

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Vox Media acquires Editorially

The team behind my favorite, yet now defunct, service for collaborating on the written word — Editorially — is joining Vox Media to work on Product.

From the outside this seems like an excellent fit for both teams. But, also important, it will work out for those of us that loved Editorially in two key ways. One: 

In addition to bringing the three of us into the fold, Vox Media is also acquiring the technology behind Editorially. We know many people have asked what we have planned for the Editorially codebase; happily, we can now report that we and the Vox Media team agree that the best thing for everyone is to share as much as we can. Together, we’re going to identify the most sensible way to release parts of the code via an open source license, so that others can learn from and build on our work.

And, happily, two:

Absolutely no user data — no names, email addresses, documents, or any other user data — will be transferred to Vox Media.

This is an important distinction. This rarely happens. However, since Vox Media is not a company that is looking to “buy users”, the Editorially team ends up being able to close this chapter of the story in a great way for customers.

All the best to Jason, Mandy, and David.

The great unbundling continues

Dave Morin, CEO of Path, recently did a small AMA on Product Hunt. He pointed out this article on Wired about Path breaking apart its mobile apps into other applications. Something I wrote about recently as well. Here is some interesting bits from the article.

It is hard to argue with this thinking. Just about every week “the masses” switch from one app to the next. Not just in social networking but also camera apps, messaging, etc. So if Path is repeatedly a source of new apps, rather than simply a single app, then perhaps they can be a choice.

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Have you ever wondered when would be a good time to go pee during a movie? Or, whether or not you should wait through the end credits? RunPee will tell you these things.

The design of the app leaves much to be desired but if it works it is an excellent idea for an application.

Frank Chimero AMA

Frank Chimero did a wonderful “Ask Me Anything” session on Designer News earlier this week. I loved this bit about the window of approval on your own work:

Writing and publishing a book is hard. Here‘s the tough part: you have a window of approval on your own work. For me, I typically only like the last 2000 words I‘ve written. This is hard if you‘re writing a 30,000 word book—you‘re constantly tempted to go back and “fix“ the previous mistakes to improve it. Doing the work makes you better, but also makes you dissatisfied with the work you‘ve already done. I suppose any big project is like that.

We all know what he says is true but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it described so well. On every project I’ve worked on for more than a month or two I see this same phenomena… the temptation to go back and fix things.

Writing a book must be incredibly challenging from this perspective.


Tom Taylor, the maker of Satellite Eyes (among other things), has been working on a way for people to receive print versions of the things they’d like to read online. It is called PaperLater.

He writes:

PaperLater lets you save the good bits of the web to print, so you can enjoy them away from the screen. If you’ve used something like Instapaper, Pocket or Readability before, it’s a bit like that, but in print.

Or Unmark, Tom, but who’s counting?

The Verge has a great piece on PaperLater today.

Each newspaper comes neatly formatted with an Andy Gilmore-esque front cover, complete with a note on the number of articles, word count, and a whimsical fact on the rarest words included.

I find this service intriguing. I can only think of two instances where I might want to use this service — 1) while I’m on vacation and, 2) if there was an article I’d want to frame like one about Barley or Unmark or our business in a publication.


In an effort to further confuse us as to which of their apps to use for what purpose… Facebook introduces Slingshot.

The app isn’t yet available but there is more detail on TechCrunch. The “reply to receive” is interesting and has been sort of present in other apps like Rando.

A small herb garden

A small herb garden

Eliza and I planted a few herbs this past weekend.

Great World Cup Goals by Richard Swarbrick

So cool.

You can see more great stuff from Swarbrick on his site.

/via Devour.

Tesla sort of opens up its patents

Tony Stark, I mean, Elon Musk on the Tesla company blog:

He also writes that “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

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Yaron Schoen in Net Magazine

My good friend, and co-writer of Space Bits, Yaron Schoen was recently interviewed in Net Magazine — which takes the name Creative Bloq online for inexplicable reasons:

I honestly am not so sure that the tech community fully embraced the role of the designer as much as it likes to claim it did.

I have to agree. At Plain we try to but even we fall short from time-to-time. I’m looking forward to seeing what Yaron’s team at Made for Humans does next.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, is coming next June. E! Online has a few preview images and says this about the synopsis:

Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the original blockbuster Jurassic Park. In director Colin Trevorrow‘s upcoming sequel, Pratt plays a scientist who conducts behavioral research on raptors. It‘s not clear who Howard is playing, but given her crisp all-white suit, it‘s safe to assume she‘s an ice queen.

If she’s a decedent of John Hammond I’ll be disappointed. Hammond’s family should know better. Then again, at 22 years after the original Jurassic Park, she could be anyone from the timeline.

Adam Magyar

Joshua Hammer on Matter/Medium in Einstein’s Camera:

Adam Magyar is a computer geek, a college dropout, a self-taught photographer, a high-tech Rube Goldberg, a world traveler, and a conceptual artist of growing global acclaim.

Good piece. What an amazing talent Magyar is. I suggest you check out his site.

Brett Victor: Seeing Spaces

Brett Victor designs tools. Tools that help you see, or measure and analyze, what you’re working on while you’re working on them. I’ve mentioned him before.

This latest presentation by Victor describes a space that can help people who make things do the same things in the real world as Victor’s tools have helped people do in the digital one. Pretty interesting stuff.

Why we write

Mandy Brown:

You cannot know what you know until you’ve written it. As you write, you learn what you know—or, more likely, what you don’t know, which, let’s face it, is most everything.

I have hundreds of unpublished drafts for this blog, yet, I’m so happy that I wrote them because I was able to come to a conclusion in my mind. I would have never learned unless I had written.

This reminds me of “Writing is how I think”.

The greatest show on earth

Horace Dediu:

For them WWDC had a great deal of meat. Indeed, for them, it was probably the most significant event Apple ever staged.

Again, agreed.

It took all my strength not to capitalize Earth. Perhaps Dediu meant dirt. So I’ll leave it.

Just Down The Street

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