Colin Devroe

Blog Posts

Tools and Toys reviews the iPad Air 2

11 November 2014

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.

Amazon Echo, err, Alexa

7 November 2014

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.

Seven days of travel feet

3 November 2014

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.

Here are my first 7 days of travelfeet:

#travelfeet 1: After being in business for two years, we now have Plain business cards. We get asked all the time for business cards and we simply kept putting it off. Probably due to our relative distaste for business card culture. Oh, and all new coming very soon.

#travelfeet 2: Today, over lunch, @kyleruane and I were brainstorming on an idea that would combine much of what we‘ve learned so far (both good and bad) and applying it to a new product. Our perspectives are so much different now than in 2012. Never stop adjusting, learning, moving. It was exciting to see so many travel feet on day 1!

Watch #travelfeet 3 on Instagram:

#travelfeet 3: Fluffernutter in the rain. Today has been a fairly productive day. Sometimes I don‘t feel productive even when I have been. Have you ever felt that way? I think the key, for me, is doing several different tasks rather than one large one. It makes me feel like I accomplished something. So for years I‘ve split my time in doing two or three smaller tasks and one larger one for the day.

#travelfeet 4: Out to lunch with my buddy @crlw20.

#travelfeet 5: For those that do not know, I cut my own hair and have done so for years. My hair is very simple to cut so I‘ve never thought it worth the trip/expense to have someone else do it. Now you‘re probably thinking “no wonder it always looks so terrible!“ Now you know.

#travelfeet 6: Working at the KH to finish the new projection system set up. That‘s @thesubieguy.

#travelfeet 7: These are a pair of socks that my sister @wrenjenn gave me. She‘s given me a ton of socks. I try to wear a pair she‘s given me whenever I give a public talk. I gave the public talk today in Stroudsburg. 155 people in attendance. A warm and welcoming congregation. I need more socks from Jen.

I’m very much looking forward to the next seven days.

Podcasting is the next big thing

3 November 2014

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

3 November 2014

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

31 October 2014

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.

Finding friends on Twitter

29 October 2014

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.

Out of those 2,000 Twitter found 487 accounts. Not too bad. Scrolling through those about 100 of them were somewhat active accounts. By active, in this case, I mean that they’ve tweeted or replied to a tweet within the last 60 days or so.

Out of those 100 active accounts that Twitter found by digging through my contact list, about 12 of them were really engaging or interesting or super active.

By engaging I mean sharing any unique content, taking part in discussions or hashtags, or replying to tweets regularly.  I was surprised how many accounts simply regurgitate content from other Twitter accounts. Probably 50 accounts, out of the 487, were accounts that were simply retweeting tech news sites. Bleh. Several others were Twitter accounts that obviously had a lot of mentions that simply went unanswered. Bleh again.

By interesting I mean real, hand-written tweets. I don’t mind if people tweet mundane daily things like “getting coffee” or “taking a poop”. I find that far more interesting than the tech-news retweeters. Bonus points for people that share some of their life via Twitter.

And by super active I mean that you can immediately tell that the accounts are used most every day.

Out of those 12 engaged, interesting, and super active accounts I followed a handful and threw the rest into a private list to keep an eye on.

Finding friends on Twitter is hard. Or, more correctly perhaps, finding active friends on Twitter is hard.

Somewhat related: Mark Zuckerberg 17 hours ago:

There are now more than 1.35 billion people using Facebook every month — over 860 million every day.

Perhaps Facebook is winning on daily activity while Twitter is winning on messaging utility? I don’t know. Maybe Twitter is just plain losing right now.

Rockets are hard

29 October 2014

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

29 October 2014

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?

29 October 2014

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

29 October 2014

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

29 October 2014

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

29 October 2014

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

27 October 2014

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.

Travelfeet 1

27 October 2014

#travelfeet 1: After being in business for two years, we now have Plain business cards.

We get asked all the time for business cards and we simply kept putting it off. Probably due to our relative distaste for business card culture.

Oh, and all new coming very soon.

Om on the blogging challenge so far

27 October 2014

Om Malik:

The blogging challenge, however has brought a rigor and discipline that was missing for most of the year. Almost three weeks into the challenge, I feel like a slugger in the middle of slump who is finally starting to recover his swing — connecting, but still missing the power. The desire to blog is back, writing longer pieces will come next and perhaps finally I will get the enthusiasm to write a book I eventually want to write!

I’ve never written professionally the way Om has. Sure, I’ve written on blogs that made some ad or sponsorship revenue, but I’ve never considered writing a discipline.

But, blogging for me is more about thinking. Sometimes a post will end up being something that people need or want. But most posts are really written for me. For me to jot down my thoughts on something or, really, for me to come to a conclusion on something.

It happens all the time. I’ll begin writing a post about something and have an opinion one way — only to find out by the time I’m done that I’ve changed my own opinion. That’s why I blog. And this recent challenge has got me thinking clearly again on a lot of things.

Side note: Not all things I write get published. Not by a long shot. So if I start off writing about something with the opinion of X only to convince myself to have they opinion of Y I sometimes end up not publishing it.

WordCamp San Francisco 2014

24 October 2014

On Sunday at 11AM I will deliver my State of the Word address, our annual look at where we’ve been and the road ahead, and even if you can’t make it you can livestream the SoTW and the entire weekend for just $10 from the comfort of your own home.

I wish getting to San Francisco didn’t mean throwing an entire week directly into the bin — otherwise I’d probably attend this every year (like I did in 2007).

Don’t Call It Wordsmithing

24 October 2014

Ken Ziegler:

As copywriters, we have a duty to our profession to remind our peers that there is no such person as a wordsmith in practically any office where copywriters operate with self-respect, dignity, and the freedom to express themselves in words without fear of being slandered by the most terrible of all imaginable portmanteaus.

I don’t know what he’s talking about. I codesmith, paybillsmith, and husbandsmith all day long.

365 days of travelfeet

24 October 2014

I took a few weeks off of Instagram. Then, I thought, if I were to come back I’d like to have some reason to post. Something with a few constraints (beyond the square crop) and something regular. So, I’ll be posting #travelfeet for 365 days straight. I hope. I’m going to try.

My niece and a few others have already decided to join me in doing so. Maybe you’d like to?

The rules are simple:

  • Take a photo of your feet at some point during the day
  • Share it on Instagram (and anywhere else you’d like)
  • Hashtag that thing with #travelfeet
  • And be sure to caption it with a bit about your day

That’s it.

I’ll be posting them here on my blog as well. We start on Monday October 27, 2014. I’m @cdevroe on Instagram.

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