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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Fred Wilson’s public record

Fred Wilson:

AVC has been going on for almost 14 years now. I write every day, mostly about tech and investing in startups and observations about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

He goes on to say that this has created a public record. A record that shows when he was right and when he was wrong. And he really likes that.

So do I. I wish I wrote as consistently as Wilson does. I really like having a public record.

Side note: AVC won blog of the year in 2009 here on my blog. I wish I still gave out awards like that.

Capturing the ISS’s transit of the Sun during the eclipse

This is quite a feat.

Photographer Trevor Mahlmann figured out where you’d need to be within the path of totality in order to capture the International Space Station transiting the sun during the eclipse. That alone is pretty awesome. But there was a hitch.

The land area that you’d need to be on in order to capture it is private land. By happenstance Destin from Smarter Everyday has a friend whose child was midwifed by a woman who knows (or is married to?) the landowner? Incredible.

So the three of them teamed up to get what I would say is easily the best photography done during the eclipse so far.

You can watch Destin’s video on Smarter Everyday and then also head on over to Trevor’s Patreon to help support his work.

Repost: Dan Kimbrough on Twitter

Dan Kimbrough:

Cool new step counter, created here in #nepa. http://cdevroe.com/summit

Summit – The Adventurous Step Counter

This evening, at a presentation at the Lehigh Valley Tech Meetup, I’m opening up public beta access to my new iOS app, Summit – The Adventurous Step Counter.

I’ve stitched together a temporary web site for the app as well as a mailing list that will allow you to get access to the final few beta builds prior to public release. If you have an iPhone please consider signing up and giving it a spin. I’d be very grateful for your feedback.

Thanks to the 13 private beta testers who have already tested the app and provided feedback. You can expect a brand-new build of the app coming in September.

What is Summit?

Summit is a free, iOS-only app that uses your step count to virtually hike up tall peaks like Mount Everest in Nepal, learn about amazing landmarks like Diamond Head in Oahu, and even take a leisurely stroll down famous streets like Lombard Street in San Francisco. As you make progress on your journey you’re provided new information at each goal.

At the time of public release there will be 5 summits and new summits will be added each month thereafter.

Here are some screenshots of the app as it is currently:

When I started on Summit I did not know how to develop an iOS app. It has been really fun to learn Swift, Xcode, iTunes Connect and Test Flight, and the myriad other things I was able to learn in order to get this app as far as I have.

I still have a bit of work to do, but I’d love your feedback along the way as I finish the app up for release.

Martin McCallion on Text Editors

Martin McCallion:

If you work with plain text, as I prefer to, then you probably try out different text editors from time to time (or, you know, constantly).

For a long time I used plain text files via nvAlt (as McCallion does). I miss plain text files. Then I moved to Simplenote. Then for a short time to Evernote. Then back to Simplenote. And now I’m just using Apple’s Notes.

In between all of those I’ve tried dozens of text editors.

Notes is incredibly useful and while it doesn’t support plain text files it is perfect for nearly every thing I do. For now.

Amber Leigh Turner on Bullet Journaling

Amber Leigh Turner on trying bullet journaling:

And I was hooked. I knew this was a way to not only help me get back on track and focused, but would pull me out of the rut and the mess I made. I needed some way to keep track of my goals in my personal life, business life, and in my hobbies. I had so many things I want to accomplish, so many things to look forward to, so many things that I wanted to start tracking and build better, healthier habits.

I’ve been using this method for quite some time now. So has Eliza and many others I know. Eliza and I have modified the method slightly (which is encouraged) and I intend to continue journaling for the foreseeable future.

If you haven’t yet tried Bullet Journaling, grab any notebook near you (you don’t need to buy a special one) and start today. Give it 30 days like Amber did and you’ll be hooked too.

Curry Caputo quits vlogging

Curry Caputo, cousin to vlogging legend Casey Neistat, is hanging up his hat when it comes to recording, editing, and publishing daily videos and will now post whenever he feels like it instead.

It was an incredible run. Kudos to him for doing it as long as he did.

Daring Fireball at 15

John Gruber:

15 years ago this week, I started Daring Fireball with this piece on a then-new lineup of PowerMac G4’s.

I’ve been subscribed to Daring Fireball since that first post. In fact, I’m a card-carrying member (when John was selling Memberships) and have more than one t-shirt. DF has set the standard for what blogging is on many fronts and I’ve linked to countless pieces from him.

Fifteen-years is a fantastic milestone to hit and I look forward to at least 30 more years of DF before John hangs up his clicky keyboard. Thanks John.

John Quincy Adams on GTD

Not really.

Maria Popova on the always excellent Brain Pickings re: John Quincy Adams and his thoughts on getting things done, learning, and wasting time:

Years earlier, in observing his own habits of mind in the course of his voracious self-education, Adams had become aware of the meager correlation between effort exerted and results obtained when a clarity of purpose is lacking — even the mightiest discipline, after all, is wasted without a clear direction.

The entire post is worth a read.

This quoted bit stuck out at me because of a personal hack that I do to ensure I get things done and don’t just spin my wheels. I give myself insanely tight windows to get things accomplished. While writing my first iOS app, a project that is extracurricular for me, I give myself only an hour or two at most each morning to work on it. I sometimes wake at 5:30a and have to finish what I’m doing by 7:30a so I can make it to work on time. This constraint means I need to be wholly focused on the tasks I need to get done.

Quincy Adams also talks about the nature of time being spent on learning because it is in those times that you learn what do didn’t even know you were ignorant about. I find these moments spring up all the time. I might be intentionally researching something only to stumble on a completely different field of research that I need to do. I love those times and apparently Quincy Adams finally embraced those times later on in life and used them to help others.

I can’t believe he didn’t know Orion until he was almost 50. I wonder what I will stumble across at 50 that I wish I hadn’t missed?

What I saw this week #48: August 18, 2017

  • Adam Savage visits Third Man Records – I’m a huge fan of everything Jack White is involved in so this was an instant-watch for me. It also reminds me that I need to go through and prune some records from our collection to make room for some newly pressed ones.
  • Ready Player One trailer breakdownDo not watch this if you haven’t yet read the book and are planning to.
  • SVG can do THAT?! – Good presentation from Sarah Drasner.
  • Lattner goes to Google Brain – I hope he likes it there and can do good work. Part of me still wishes his code was driving me around.

These are links that didn’t make the cut for full posts. Here are more.

Blank by Cotton Bureau

Cotton Bureau:

Size-inclusive, made-in-the-USA, better-fitting, premium t-shirts for women and men.

I wore a Cotton Bureau tee on Tuesday of this week (thanks Kyle). It felt great. It looks like these new carefully considered tees will be even better than the high-quality product they already offer.

/via Kyle Ruane on Twitter.

A list of words being used too often in news headlines lately

  • Finally
  • Blasts
  • Destroys
  • Braces
  • Defends
  • Smashes
  • …and you won’t believe what happened next

Zach Leatherman’s garden

Zach Leatherman:

As my own little corner of the web uncermoniously turned ten years old this year, it’s really starting to feel more like a garden than a piece of software. I certainly enjoy tending to it. I can plant what I like and with proper care it can grow into something useful.

First, how cool is his last name?

I like this analogy of comparing a personal web site to tending to your own personal garden.

Repost: Phil Schiller on Twitter

Ron Chester on Webmentions

Ron Chester:

I have only one reservation about the development of this IndieWeb stuff. While it is in progress, most of these websites have disabled regular comments, if they ever had them. Often there is also no contact information given, or it takes a lot of hunting on their websites to find it. So if one doesn’t have webmentions working on one’s own website, there is no obvious way of communicating with these folks about things they post. I have found that if they’re also on the Microblog website, one can post a message there, addressed to them. But that seems pretty round about, when an old school place to post a comment on their original post would be very easy to leave.

Please go to his site and read his entire post.

I read Ron’s post before making my decision to turn comments back on. Also, my email address is available on every page of my site. So if anyone would like to comment on anything on my site they should be able to do so both publicly and privately with ease.

Side note: One of the reasons we all turned off comments, aside from the benefits of disabling comments like more traffic to your site (I wrote this post 10 years ago!), is that people claimed that moderating comments is too much work. I no longer think that is an issue. Even if my blog became a popular place to comment I think I’d be able to keep up with it with the tools we have available now.

Replies from Micro.blog and oh hai, comments

If you visit my site at all you may have noticed many of the recent posts have replies showing up on them from Micro.blog. Here is one example post. That is because webmention works pretty well on Micro.blog.

However, this is causing me a bit of frustration because it feels as though the conversation about a post is happening on Micro.blog rather than on people’s own blogs. Even if those people have their own blogs they are using Micro.blog to reply*. It is an interesting thing to see. Effectively, Micro.blog is feeling a lot like Twitter – replies to my posts are on there so I have to go there to reply to those replies.

To that end I’ve decided I’ll start turning comments on some posts (like this one). I’d much prefer people reply to my blog posts on their own blog or – starting today – on my blog. Even though I like Micro.blog better than Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean I want to have to navigate to that web site each time I want to reply to comments on my posts.

* I’m unsure if that is what the M.b team wants to happen. But that is what is happening right now. Also, M.b is supposed to be a host for blogs if people want it to be. But, again, even people with their own blogs are using M.b’s reply feature to reply to posts.

Favicons on tabs in browsers

John Gruber:

With many tabs open, there’s really nothing subjective about it: Chrome’s tabs are more usable because they show favicons.

Like John, I’m currently a Safari user. I switched to Chrome for a bit due to the Developer tools being a bit better at the time but, as you may know, I’m trying to go all in on Apple. Safari is just better all around when on the Mac, iPhone, or iPad*.

I totally agree, though, with everything John says in his piece. Go read the entire thing.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in his piece though is Safari’s “Show all tabs” view. If you have a ton of tabs open it can be very useful to use the Show all tabs button to view them all and find the one you’re looking for. This feature alone will not pull Chrome users over to Safari but at least it is something.

* Currently iCloud tabs are not working at all for me on the Mac. But I’m guessing that may be due to me using the iOS 11 betas on both iPhone and iPad and I am not using a beta of macOS High Sierra.

My personal blogging tips

I’ve been writing things down on my own blog for a few decades. I wish more people did too. If you’d like to have a personal blog but struggle finding things to write about, here are a few tips that may help.

  • Don’t post about what you will do, post about what you’ve already done – In other words, I try to avoid the “I should blog more” posts and just get on with blogging more. Also, I like posting photos and status messages sometime after they’ve happened.
  • Find a theme – Niche blogs do extremely well. So stay on topic. Personal blogs do less well but they should still have a theme and that theme should be you.
  • Create reasons to post – My What I saw series and observations series give me a reason to write. Should I feel writer’s block I can fall back to one of the series.
  • Have a schedule – I try to post one or two posts per day prior to 9am. Some are scheduled in advance some aren’t. Everything else that happens is completely random.
  • Be totally fine with missing the schedule – Sometimes I don’t blog for a few days or weeks due to time off away from the computer or just being focused on something else. And I’m totally ok with that.
  • Don’t post test posts – Create a staging or a local development environment to test your site’s features. It is really easy to do.
  • Try not to care about stats – Stats are useful for a number of reasons but obsessing over them won’t help you at all. Check them once a month to see how you’re doing.
  • Create an inspiration list – In your notebook or notes app write down some topics you’d like to write about someday. Make it long. Like, 50 items. Don’t worry too much about what should be on it just start writing the list down. When you can’t think of anything to write about look at that list and simply pick any one at all and check it off.
  • Subscribe to a bunch of blogs that interest you – More than likely the conversations started by others will give you more than enough to write about.
  • Perfect is the enemy of good – Just hit publish.
  • Have fun! – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed blogging all these years and I don’t imagine I’ll be stopping any time soon.

If you have a neglected blog or are just starting one – jump in! Oh, and don’t forget to email me the URL.

Marisa McClellan on the early days of blogging

Marisa McClellan:

I miss those early days of blogging, when you didn’t need perfect pictures and a post didn’t require a vigorous social media campaign in order to find some readers.

Those days aren’t over Marisa! We’re still here. Still posting imperfect pictures!

Attending the August NEPA.js Meet up

The NEPA.js Meet up is really hitting its stride. Each meet up is pretty well supported – even in the summer – and the camaraderie and general feeling around each event is pretty great. Also, the Slack channel is pretty active.

If you’re within an hour or so of Scranton I’d recommend joining the meet up group, jumping into the Slack channels from time-to-time, and attending at least a few events per year. If you need help with any of these things send me an email.

Also, within the past few weeks we’ve seen a new group spin out of the NEPA.js group. A more general meet-and-work-on-stuff type of group created by Den Temple. This event fills the gaps for when there isn’t a NEPA.js group event.

This month’s presentation was by Ted Mielczarek. Ted works at Mozilla on build and automation tools for Mozilla’s primary product Firefox. He has, though, dabbled in a variety of other things at Mozilla like crash reporting and the gamepad web API. It was his experience building this API that spurred this month’s topic; Web APIs.

I remember jumping onto the web in the 90s and being blown away when I was able to put animated GIFs of X-Wing fighters on my personal Star Wars fan page. Today, web browsers support a variety of Web APIs that make the open web a true software development platform. There are APIs to control audio and video, to connect to MIDI-enabled devices, to connect to Bluetooth, VR and – of course – to allow for game controller input. There are lots of others too.

Ted did a great job showing demos of many of these APIs. Just enough for us to get the idea that the web has matured into a powerful platform upon which just about anything can be made.

Thanks to Ted for the work he put into creating the presentation and to all the attendees for helping the NEPA.js community thrive.