Colin Devroe


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

100 words 007

14 June 2015

I washed the dishes this afternoon and when I got to my least favorite dish to wash, the silverware, I was reminded of this post I wrote in March 2011.

Rather than saving the silverware to last I should have started with them and figured out a way to make it fun. Or, at least more fun. Perhaps by making a game out of it.

I need to take my own advice more often.

Side note: I’m sure most people would say pots were their least favorite dish to wash. I don’t mind them. But silverware? Can’t stand washing them.

100 words 006

13 June 2015

For years, well over a decade and a half, I worked at night and on the weekend. Many people do this and they like to do it. However, several years ago — right around the time I started Plain — I decided not to work in the late evening or on weekends.

I‘m willing to work, of course, when the time calls for it. However, I feel that if I work hard for 8-10 hours a day I‘m likely to not be as productive for any more than that. This helps me strike a good balance between my work and life.

Twitter’s Save Button

12 June 2015

Chris Sacca’s infamous blog post on What Twitter Can Be ranged from topics about its apps, the platform itself, and what Wall Street thinks of the company. There are several bits I plan to write about but today I’m focusing on his idea of a “Twitter Save Button”.

So much of the time, Twitter moves too fast. If we follow a couple hundred active accounts or more, the Tweets often come in faster than we can read them. As a result, we feel pressured to keep refreshing rather than dive in meaningfully and take our time to explore the stuff that interests us. At the same time, really intriguing Tweets and links go by and we don’t have a way to save them for later. Poof, they’re gone.

And, later:

Imagine if every single thing we saw on Twitter could be saved/stored indefinitely. Not just every article or link like with Pocket, but every Tweet, every photo, every video. We could keep every product we saw mentioned, every book that looked interesting, every destination we wanted to visit someday, every concert we wanted to go see, and every ad that piqued our curiosity. All of this could be saved to a Vault within Twitter with just one button in line with the RT and Fav buttons in each Tweet.

This sort of describes a feature we built into Unmark. Like Pocket we store the link from any favorited tweet — however, Unmark goes a bit beyond that. It looks at the URL and tries to determine what you want to do with that link (read, buy, watch, listen, etc.) and labels it appropriately. You can also choose your own label if you’d like. Unmark also “pulls in” the data around the link so that you can act on it right within Unmark. The easiest example would be a video… rather than going off to YouTube to watch it, you can watch the video right within Unmark. Or a Soundcloud link can be listened to or an Instagram photo viewed, etc. Then you can mark it as “done” whenever you want. We do this for recipes, products on Amazon, etc. etc. and we plan on extending it further and further to get very, very smart.

I use this feature profusely. Like, on average, 18 times a day since Unmark was released. The best part about it? It records the tweet from whence it came so that I can remember both the Twitter account that referred me to it and also the context from which it was linked. Like; my friend Yaron linked to this and he didn’t like it — is a lot different than if Yaron liked it.

What Sacca describes above is much more than what Unmark currently does but just this  single feature of Unmark could fill in this gap for some. Gosh I love Unmark.

100 words 005

12 June 2015

Jurassic Park was the first book that I read because I wanted to rather than because I had to. I was 11 when I read the book and 12 when the movie was released 22 years ago.

I remember going opening weekend with family who had read the book. Since then I’ve been a lifelong Michael Crichton fan and have read everything he’s published.

Sequels II and III aren’t great movies. But they’re fun. Any sequel will fail at recreating that moment of seeing dinosaurs on-screen “for real” for the first time. I’m sure Jurassic World will be fun.