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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

E16: The Dark Crystal, Netflix, Amazon and more

Danny and I sat down on Saturday afternoon to chat about a few things. Below are a few links relevant to our conversation.

Links

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Did some photo management this morning. Now prepping for recording an audio bit with Danny. Then I’ll be going hiking.

E15: Bots, Windows 10 Surface Book review, Twitter Head of Product

Last weekend Danny and I sat down and discussed our current experience with bots, the progress I’ve made on my still forthcoming Windows 10 and Surface Book review and also Twitter’s new Head of Product hire.

Links:

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A visual history of Waking Ideas

Danny shows off a visual history of his personal site. As we change, so too our personal web sites.

E14: Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts, streaming video solutions, Nintendo

On Sunday Danny and I discussed learning Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts, a bit about video streaming services and the value they bring, and also a bit about Nintendo. Here are some links from this episode.

Links:

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VR is not ready in 2016

Danny Nicolas:

I hope someone is hard at work making an ubiquitous snow-crash-esq VR experience that compels everyone to rush to the stores to buy VR rigs, but 2016 was not the year where VR became the big thing. It might be the next big thing, but not this year.

I’ve tested a bunch of VR kits this year and I’m with Danny. There is a lot of people working really hard to bring some great VR experiences but there has not been a breakout title that is compelling enough for the masses to start purchasing them.

After playing with Oculus at the Microsoft Store I can see how this holiday season may give a boost in sales but we’re still a little progress away from people feeling like they need one. I don’t know what the breakout title will be. But for me it won’t be a game. And the industry shouldn’t be focusing on that. That is too narrow. For me it will be something akin to what Zuckerberg showed in this demo from early October. A way for me to have a “virtual office” anywhere in the world.

2016 isn’t the year of VR or AR. But it won’t be long.

E12: The Mac, RSS feeds, Shopping, and Stranger Things

We hit our stride in this bit. Danny and I have a Sunday-evening chat about how Apple could move away from the Mac and survive, RSS feed habits, shopping for clothes (naturally) and Stranger Things.

Site Danny references is Woodpile Report.

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Tweeting for 10 years

Last week Jeremy Keith reminded me, yet again, of an anniversary I share with him. That is, we’ve now both been tweeting for 10 years. Here is my first tweet.

Jeremy beat me by 6 days and only 5,000 tweets. Can you believe that back then only 5,000 tweets were sent in 6 days? These days I’d guess that 5,000 tweets happen a few thousand times per second. And tomorrow, on Election Day, you can guarantee millions of tweets per second.

Jeremy reflects on the early days and also on some of the things that changed over time. Please, please go read his post. But I’ll expound slightly on what he’s written.

Most notably this bit:

The most obvious sign of change was the way that Twitter started treating third-party developers. Where they previously used to encourage and even promote third-party apps, the company began to crack down on anything that didn’t originate from Twitter itself. That change reflected the results of an internal struggle between the people at Twitter who wanted it to become an open protocol (like email), and those who wanted it to become a media company (like Yahoo). The media camp won.

If you listened to audio bit E8, wherein Danny and I chat about Twitter, one of my suggestions for Twitter is to go back to this. To go back to supporting third-party development. We chatted about the whacky uses of Twitter (like drawbridges, plants that need watering, etc.) but there are very, very practical uses too.

But now, just a few weeks later, I do not feel that would be enough to save Twitter. And I do mean save it. It is dying. It will go away. I do not see anyone coming in to rescue it at this point. In fact, if someone does step up to the plate to try to rescue it, it may be the wrong entity to do so and it may get worse.

Jeremy has a leg up on me that I do not have. He posts his “tweets” first at his site and syndicates to Twitter. Well, I do too. However, I don’t only post to my site. I tweet. A lot. It is a hard habit for me to break. I love tweeting during sporting events. I love even more tweeting during tech events like Apple’s Media and WWDC events or Microsoft’s Build events or rocket launches. In context they are fun, sometimes funny, sometimes informative to follow those conversations happening on Twitter. If I published those particular notes to my site first they’d be in a silo of sorts and out of context. Someone stumbling upon them would have no idea what I was talking about. So do I just not write those tweets any more?

Unlike Jeremy I will be sad if Twitter goes away. It has been part of my life for 10 years and I think it is the best social network we have going. But, like Jeremy, I’ll keep posting here. Because my site will be around for as long as possible.

Now I just need to break the habit of posting tweets to Twitter.

E11: Browsers, Surfaces, MacBook Pros, and Tesla roof

Danny and I have an early Sunday morning conversation about our browsers of choice (he likes Vivaldi), Microsoft and Apple’s announcements this week and the Tesla roof.

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What I saw this week #17: October 27, 2016

This week it feels like I saw tons of great things but when I checked my list in Simplenote for this post it wasn’t as full as I thought it would be. So I need to do a better job next week of keeping track of all the great things I’ve seen.

One Letter Removed – Take a movie title. Remove one letter from it. Draw the result.

WOW Framework for Design – The word “framework” may throw you off. Go check out what Matt D. Smith is up to.

10 years of Brain Pickings – Love this blog.

Arctic by Timtothewild – The audio in this is all hand done and astounding. Love it. Also on Soundcloud.

Visual Vibes: Arctic – I mentioned Ben Brown’s vlogs from the Arctic. This was the film he made there and debuted it at the Buffer Festival.

Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts by Jen Simmons – Great video presentation by Jen Simmons. Recommended. I had this one in Unmark for a while.

Danny’s links – He is sharing links on Monday. See also, his movie reviews.

Microsoft – Check out their site. They released Surface Studio and an updated Surface Book on Wednesday.

Apple – Apple released a lackluster update to the Macbook Pro.

 

I’m liking Danny Nicolas @djloche‘s Film in 2016 post where he has the movies he’s seen so far this year in order of his own rating. I’m glad to see Midnight Special and 10 Cloverfield Lane represented at the top but I wouldn’t put Zootopia in the top spot.

Thirty days of images

Each morning, at around 9am Eastern, a new image is published to my blog. I schedule these posts each weekend (I even built a WordPress plugin to help me) and they publish automatically without any other interference from me.

I’ve just hit 30 consecutive days of this schedule and I’d like to keep it up in perpetuity.

The image posts are the least popular on my blog. They are not tweeted or shared on Facebook or Instagram. They are silently published with no fanfare. I think of these posts as a slowly building collection of my favorite images. A way to showcase images, not as a library, but as a selection.

Very, very light editing happens from shot to post. I shoot with my iPhone (currently an iPhone SE), a Canon DSLR, or a GoPro camera. Hopefully soon I’ll be adding a new UAV camera to the mix. I do not make reference to the camera used for each shot because I believe that sort of information is irrelevant. The image is what is important, not how it was captured. In general I prefer my images to be slightly bumped in color so I generally crop, straighten, bump a few values, and prepare for publishing.

To prepare for publishing I have two albums in Photos for macOS. “To Publish” is an album I drag images into that I would like to publish some day. I generally drag 7 to 10 new photos into this album each week so that I always have enough to choose from when I’m scheduling these posts. “Published” is an album full of every image I’ve published. This way I have a fairly simple way of remembering whether or not I’ve already published a particular photo or not. Once the image is edited I drag the image to my Desktop, resize to 1000 pixels wide, and toss it into a new post in WordPress, tag it, and schedule it to be published.

It is a simple enough workflow that it allows me to get an entire week’s worth of images scheduled within about an hour or less each week. I hope if you’re subscribed to this blog you enjoy seeing them.

These posts have inspired both Danny Nicolas and Kyle Slattery to begin doing similar posts on their site. I’m extremely happy and humbled to see that and I’m glad to subscribe to their blogs to see what they share. Who knows? Maybe in another 30 days two or three more people will join.

E10: Email services, business travel, food, and life journaling

Danny and I have a wandering Saturday afternoon discussion about email services, business travel, some food, and life journaling in the modern age.

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E9: Follow up, Blog comments, and personal blogging

Danny and I enjoyed listening to ourselves talk so much that we did it again this week. Our conversation is mainly about blog comments and personal blogging. Riveting stuff. Listen to all of it.

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E8: Tesla, Twitter, Blogging

Extra special, and most likely reoccurring, guest Danny Nicolas (@djloche) and I have a conversation about Tesla, Twitter, Blogging and a bunch of other things.

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Recording an audio bit with Danny.

Flickr Premium?

Danny Nicolas has been keeping up with my Flickr commentary of late about how Flickr should create a more affordable, less feature-rich account type and he has a few things to add:

I feel as if most people currently paying for Flickr Pro don’t take advantage of all the features offered. I might even go in the other direction and have the current Flickr Pro offering become the mid-size account, and offer a more expensive Business account that doesn’t have file size or video limitations.

My main argument for why I think Flickr should make a scaled-down account is more about price than about features. I was a paying Flickr Pro user for many years, as was my wife, and we never utilized the account to the full. Though I’m sure more serious photographers do. However, in today’s market of mobile apps and the services that power them, most people will not pay $24 a year to share photos with their friends. And I don’t think the Instagram generation needs Flickr Pro. But I do think they’d pay enough to make it worth Flickr’s while to create a more affordable account with less features.

Creating a Premium account is an interesting idea and is always on the table for SaaS platforms. But I don’t think that is the right strategy for Flickr. I doubt there are many members that are pining for more features or space or video capabilities. They can go elsewhere for video. I believe there is a goldmine of brand new users that are dabbling with Instagram – to the tune of tens of millions perhaps – that would love a few extra features that Instagram simply does not provide (stats, groups, sets, etc.) and all Flickr has to do is price the account just right, and market it properly, in order to suck them all in.

Again, Danny:

Whatever their strategy for success may be, Flickr must evade further stagnation in order to be competitive. They can’t ignore and leave new markets wide open like they did with mobile. They have the opportunity to become a powerful weapon in the hands of Yahoo.

It is amazing to me that so many people see Instagram as Flickr’s failing. But it is obvious. The people that were the innovators in photo sharing missed the boat. I think the problem is that Flickr became a business very quickly after joining Yahoo! It went from being an innovative product that was really trying to solve problems to a business that needed to make money and innovation sort of was pushed to the side. And the fact that we didn’t hear anything from Flickr for years was mind-boggling. I have no idea what they’ve been doing for the last few years.

Danny nailed it when he mentioned cannibalization. Some of the things Flickr should have done over the last several years were no doubt thought of and even sketched out but perhaps decided against for that very reason. They didn’t want to lose current customers. But they may have to do just that in order to grow again.

Yahoo! needs to invest in Flickr. They need to let the team know they can take chances again. They can try and fail and try again. They need resources, talent, and a someone with a clear vision to run the entire thing.

If Marisa runs Flickr like she ran search at Google Flickr will succeed. If she runs it the way Google , Buzz, and Wave was run she won’t. And there is a subtle difference between the two approaches. Google , Buzz, and Wave were innovations, no doubt, but without any real value or use case that was obvious. I remember trying Wave for the first time and having no idea what it was for. The products were perhaps a little too innovative. Instagram isn’t so much an innovation as it a well-designed simple solution that brings delight to people every day. Google search is a well-designed (seemingly) simple solution that brings an amazing amount of value to people every day. Flickr should aim for one of those; delight or value. I’d pick delight.

A blog by any other name

This personal blog of mine has been around for a long time. It started in 1996 but it wasn’t called cdevroe.com then. Over the years it has, for better or worse, transformed more than a few times. It has changed names, domains, services, software, designs, and purposes.

Today it changes again. I’ve decided that my personal blog being ‘named’ my name just wasn’t working. I’ve known this for a long time but I didn’t do anything about it because I wasn’t sure what to do. Finally I got sick and tired of thinking about it and just decided to name it after what it has already become, rather than naming it something I’d like it to become. If that makes any sense.

As of today this blog, which is still going to be my personal Web site in all of the glory that it has come to be, is known as First Initial, Last Name – The official Web site of Colin Devroe.

For several years I have admired the ‘blogs’ that have been branded with their own names yet are run by one or very few people. If you read this blog with any regularity you can probably guess the forthcoming list, but here it is anyway: Daring Fireball run by John Gruber, Waxy.org by Andy Baio, Avalonstar by Bryan Veloso, Waking Ideas by Daniel Nicolas, Monday by Noon by Jon Christopher – and many, many others. I’m listing my friends who are good examples because, well, they are my friends and this is my blog and I can do that sort of thing.

This doesn’t mean that I put my own personal blog in this same line up. I don’t. It isn’t worthy. Also, some of these examples shouldn’t be classified as blogs. Daring Fireball is a business. It is the way John feeds his family. It just so happens that John’s business is “blogging”. This site will never be a Daring Fireball.

So First Initial, Last Name it is. I may grab an appropriate domain name for it, at some point, but I’ve always done more than fine with cdevroe.com so I don’t see that happening any time soon. Who types in domain names more than once or twice anyway, really? You should have subscribed to this site by now.

Side note: I’ve recently added the Share This button to my site (come to this post to see it). If you feel that anything I share on this site is worthy of letting others know about, please consider using this button to make it quick and easy to share the post, photo, or video on your service of choice.

Thanks to all of you that subscribe, read, and participate on my site. I really do appreciate it.

Shooting Danny

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Date taken: December 1, 2007 Dan, shooting some of these photos. Taken with iPhone.