Thursday, April 14, 2016

Transgender people are still people, obviously

"Imagine going through life every day and having so many of your interactions involve somebody trying to give you a hug and stepping on your foot while doing it," Prince, a 31-year-old trans woman in Alexandria, Virginia, said. "And then when you ask them to step off your foot, no matter how polite you are about it, they respond with, 'Oh, excuse me, I was just trying to give you a hug.'"
This series on Vox is remarkable and honest. I'm not sure I can do justice talking about it, and I encourage you to go read the whole series.

What it comes down to is that it doesn't matter how people choose to live their lives. Being assigned the wrong gender at birth, or having genitals that don't align with your perceived gender or don't fit into our neat, tidy definitions of 'normal' doesn't make anybody less of a person.

As anybody who has ever been bullied for being 'different' can attest, it absolutely sucks. For humans, it has been evolutionarily advantageous to sort things into distinct groups and categorize them as such. But treating human beings that way, as though some are inherently more deserving of human rights or legal protections than others, simply because of how they choose to live their lives, is absolutely devastating.

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen big musical acts like Bruce Springsteen cancel concerts in North Carolina over a terrible anti-LGBT law that passed there, and more of this needs to happen. Lawmakers need to be responsible and consider the needs of all constituents, not just those who represent the majority.

I don't personally know anybody who is transgender, but it's just so blindingly obvious to me that those people are just as deserving of love, care, and compassion as anybody else in the world, if not more so.

> Transgender stories - Vox

Car crashes kill an absurd number of people

The numbers are so huge they are not easily grasped, and so are perhaps best understood by a simple comparison: If U.S. roads were a war zone, they would be the most dangerous battlefield the American military has ever encountered. 
I take the bus to work, and I absolutely love walking and biking. There are certain niche uses where a car is essential, but in an urban centre like Ottawa, many people can get around without relying on a car.

Having said that, just as many people, if not more, absolutely DEPEND on a car every day for transport to and from work and other social obligations. Most of this is because housing in big cities (Ottawa to some extent, Toronto and New York, for example, just take the example to astonishing extremes) is very expensive, so people choose to live where it's cheaper, work in the urban centre, and commute for 30-60 minutes by car.

That thought is crazy to me. Even though I spend a ton of my life listening to podcasts, which are pretty perfect for car trips such as that, the thought of getting into a car every day to drive to the office is not something I think I'd enjoy that much.

Adding to that, we tend to think of car crashes as a tiny risk in our day to day lives, and it gets worse as those lives come to rely more and more on absolute certainty of normalcy. If our pizza is late, it's free. If our Uber takes 10 minutes, we complain. When a bus breaks down (or doesn't show up at all), we're late for work.

But in a life (and society) where things are so safe (#firstworldproblems, anyone), the fact that any of us could die in such a quick, violent way on any given day is cause for alarm. We put car traffic above everything else in our transportation system, and yet it's responsible for so many totally preventable deaths on our roads every day.

At some point, self-driving cars will take over, and crashes between two of those will be as unlikely as a plane crash is today. But for now, we're stuck with an incredibly convenient transportation method where countless unknown cars around you are capable of completely changing, or ending, your life in an instant.

That's scary, but it gives us something to strive for, and I think car culture as it exists now might be nearing its peak.

> The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life - The Atlantic

The end of green screen, and possibly the beginning of true 3D movies

Since Lytro's tech basically captures all the 3D information in a scene, the imagery is unusually friendly to CGI. Placing virtual objects at exactly the right depth in a scene is essentially taking advantage of a native ability of the footage.
This is possibly the beginning of what I've been looking for since the re-renaissance of 3D movies in the last 10-15 years. As the new 'real' 3D movies came to theatres, what I really wanted was to be able to view a scene in full 3D (ie. with the right visuals, everything could theoretically be in focus at all times) and to be able to focus on whatever I wanted at any time.

You have no idea how disorienting it is (unless you do this, like I do) to be engrossed in a 3D movie, just to glance at something in the background of a scene and see that you can't focus on it. Is that what living with glasses is like? It's terrible.

I'm really hopeful that advances in 3D movies along with these Lytro cameras that are capable of capturing all aspects of a 3D scene could mean an overhaul of not only visual effects, but of the 3D movie as a whole. I think if we were to see something like this, we would be able to truly revolutionize cinema. It might take a VR type experience to truly make this happen, but I think at a certain point that's where we'll end up, and I can't wait to focus on the meaningless background part of a scene in a movie, just because I can.

> Lytro's new Cinema camera could mean the end of green screen

On watching Steph Curry and the GSW this year

Trying to figure out whether you like the Warriors, on the other hand, is like being 5 years old and trying to figure out whether you like magic.
This is exactly how I feel about Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors right now. I'm not a huge basketball fan. I'll watch a player or team that's doing really well (up until this year that was LeBron for me, or the Raptors in the playoffs), but I don't really follow the league.

That being said, watching Steph Curry hit crazy, off-balance, near half-court shots routinely makes me think back to the days on the elementary school court, when it was more about having fun and seeing what's possible than trying to be technically or strategically perfect.

It's all the more frustrating that I felt (as a kid) that I should be making more shots than I was, in real life and in video games. But Curry manages to overcome all of that, and swishes shots that should never be taken by anybody, which is something I aspired to, but could only ever dream of.

> The Golden State Warriors are the greatest NBA team ever—and the most likable.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Carbs are getting in the way of healthy eating

Canadians heeded the exhortation to reduce fat and reduced their fat intake to 31 per cent by 2004. But during this time, obesity rates spiked, which suggests that dietary fat is not a “primary contributing factor” in obesity, said the report.
I got healthy (and lost 45 pounds in the last 8 months) but not by focusing on eating healthier foods (like salads) at restaurants and at home. But my main focus was on the AMOUNT I ate, not on the types of foods as much. I didn't count a single calorie, and though I started my diet exercising by biking to work every day, for the last few months I've only really been moderately active, but haven't gained any weight back.

The demonization of fat (and subsequent need for people to eat lots of carbs at the grocery store, or restaurants, has meant that people have to eat a lot MORE food to feel full. Letting yourself eat fat, and trying to limit the amount of carbs you eat, is probably going to become increasingly important to the North American diet, whether these guidelines officially change or not.

> The Canada Food Guide is killing you: ‘The obesity epidemic… really began with our dietary guidelines’

So...Cold-fX is BS

“The study actually showed the placebo to be more effective at relieving (some) cold symptoms than Cold-fX.”
In something surely nobody could have seen coming, it looks like there's a non-zero chance anybody who purchased Cold-fX as a cold or flu remedy could be able to join a class-action suit in order to get some of the money they spent that didn't work as well as a sugar pill in treating seasonal respiratory viruses.

Yikes.

> Lawyer in Cold-fX lawsuit to fight for for class-action status, which could trigger mass refund

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A list of the apps on my phone that can make calls

Doesn't require phone number:

  • FaceTime
  • Phone
  • Contacts
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Snapchat
  • Google Hangouts
  • Messages
  • Whatsapp
Can/does use your phone number:
  • Phone
  • FaceTime
  • Messages
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Notes
Announced, but hasn't shown up yet:
  • Slack
As it turns out, pretty much every remotely social company has a way that people can talk to one another in a phone call-type manner. Many of these apps also let you use video chat, but people have no idea. For instance, you've been able to make phone calls (and recently, video chats) with any of your Facebook contacts on your phone, for such a long time. But I can routinely blow people's minds by telling them that, because approximately nobody* knows about this feature.

Snapchat updated their app yesterday to revamp chat, and added the ability to send video clips or make voice calls to any of your Snapchat contacts who've added you back. But none of the features in the update are actually new capabilities your phone didn't have before, and I'm betting people aren't going to be making use of this feature any more than they did, no matter how good it is. 

If I were a gambling man, I'd put money on Snapchat continuing to grow at a rapid pace for quite some time. But people who already have a predefined way of communicating, like my generation and those older than me, won't use Snapchat for voice calls because to us, the way you make a phone call is by calling a phone number.

But the kids, they don't obey these rules. They do whatever their friends are doing, and their friends don't make phone calls to a phone number. That's not cool anymore, at least not until their parents stop doing it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Podcasts Like 'Serial' Are Encouraging Literacy

[L]istening, unlike looking at a written page, is more active, since the brain has to process the information at the pace it is played.” My student Roberto offered similar insight: “I think it helps me out with my reading since I have to keep a pace up.”
Huh, turns out the best ways for kids to learn aren't determined by a group of adults telling them what's best, kids (like everybody) are going to learn best when given options and a choice. And just like I always say, podcasts are a great way to learn and take in new information, and listening isn't nearly as much work as reading.

And if learning is work, you're much less likely to want to keep doing it.

> Why Podcasts Like 'Serial' Are Helping English Teachers Encourage Literacy - The Atlantic

Monday, March 14, 2016

Driverless Cars Are Going To Be Here So Fast

[T]he ongoing conversation is good for those who wish to see self-driving cars enter use, a careful analysis of the facts, coupled with an understanding of how similar transitions have played out through history, indicates that the majority of the discussion occurring right now vastly underestimates the speed with which self-driving cars will become the norm and ignores the tectonic shifts the transition will bring to all corners of American life.

Self-driving cars will not only impact transportation, they will change how people feel about their homes, how cities are built, how families stay in touch, where we work and other facets of American life far removed from transportation.
Yes. A lot of people are seriously looking at how we can get self-driving technology into the hands of the masses. Once that starts happening, it's going to accelerate at an unbelievable pace. Think about smart phones. The iPhone was released in 2007, with Android coming soon after. That was less than 10 years ago and almost everybody in the first world has a smartphone now.

With the massive infrastructure changes that can be made with transportation overhauls that are enabled by self-driving vehicles, the entire world is going to change so quickly. I'm not entirely convinced its all for the best, but we'll be smack dab in the middle of it before you can honk your horn.

This whole TechCrunch piece is great and really detailed, and I'd strongly recommend reading it if you're looking for some hardcore data about how driving really drives our modern world.

> Driving the new American century | TechCrunch

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bacteria Is Evolving to Eat Plastic

PET was only invented about 70 years ago. That means the bacteria must have evolved the ability to consume the plastic over the intervening decades. The results are published in Science.
I don't want to say 'I told you so', but I kind of called this one.

As I keep saying, yes of course, plastic is a huge problem that we shouldn't necessarily ignore, but nature (and evolution) are fascinating, and work on dizzyingly short timescales. In the second case of finding 'fauna' capable of digesting plastics so far (a fungus being the first, as mentioned in the linked article), bacteria have proven themselves to be unbelievably adaptable in even a short amount of time (plastic was invented less than 100 years ago).

When humans first started domesticating cattle, and really began using their milk into adulthood for sustenance, humans in Western Europe quickly gained the ability to process lactose, to the point that pockets in much of the world have no problem eating milk and cheeses. Evolution is amazing!

> Scientists Have Discovered a Bacteria That's Evolved to Eat Plastic

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How Much Should Free Tuition Cost?

I don’t think many people – other than say, the Canadian Federation of Students and their wilder-eyed allies – genuinely believe that tuition for children of wealthier families should be free. Most people agree that there should be some sort of net price slope, running from zero for students from poorer families and upwards as family income increases. There’s no consensus about where the threshold for going above zero is, and no consensus about what the grade of the slop should be. That’s mostly because we’ve never had data to look at the question properly before.
I hope people agree with this, if you make more money, you pay a little more, and if you barely make enough to survive, that shouldn't stop your kids getting a university education if they've earned it. I like this kind of argument because it moves us past the "should we do this" and on to the much more important "how much help do people need."

It's a step in the right direction!

> The Coming Cost Debate in Ontario | HESA

Looking into Ottawa's past


I'm not exactly sure how I came across this (I think I was seeing how streets lined up and wondering how Ottawa's streets might have changed), but this morning I discovered a really neat repository of old aerial maps of Ottawa, going back all the way to the 1920s. It's cool to see how cities change, and what Downtown, the Transitway, LeBreton Flats, City Hall, or Lansdowne all looked like over the years.

The maps allow you to overlap a modern street map over the old pictures, so you can clearly see how things have changed. The whole thing is viewable at maps.ottawa.ca/geoottawa!

> geoOttawa

Ed Snowden can say whatever he wants

“The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone,” Snowden said. “Respectfully, that’s bullshit.”
It must be really nice to be in a position where you can say something like this with confidence, having not a care in the world about repercussions. Not saying Snowden is in an enviable position overall, but he can say what he really thinks even better than the current American Republican front-runner (and he's much more likely to be telling the truth).

> Snowden: FBI's claim that it requires Apple's help to unlock iPhone is 'bullshit'

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Problem with Homelessness is Poverty

I attended college pay-as-you-go for a couple years while working, then left because I couldn't afford to continue and knew better than to take on student debt. My moderate savings was destroyed in my 30s by health care costs that insurance wouldn't cover. Within the past several years, full-time work that pays a subsistence wage has been hard to come by.
Another great reason why basic income would be super useful. There are plenty of jobs that don't pay that much but are vital to the world continuing to run. And with a basic income and solid universal health care, so many of the issues that put people on the streets just don't come up. This is a long piece but it's well worth your time.

> I’ve been homeless 3 times. The problem isn’t drugs or mental illness — it’s poverty. - Vox

Monday, March 7, 2016

Handoff for iTunes | iMore

I'd love to be able to start a playlist on my Mac and then walk away, pick up my iPhone, swipe, and keep right on listening.
So true. I (and Rene) have been saying this for a few years at least. This is the dream, and it's sooooo close with Handoff, just not for iTunes.

> Why I want to see Handoff for iTunes in iOS 10 so ludicrously much | iMore

Is group chat making you sweat?

10. Chat reminds you that you’re behind. Group chat feels like you’re chasing something all day long. What’s worse, group chat often causes “return anxiety” — a feeling of dread when you’re away for a while and you come back to dozens (hundreds?) of unread lines. Are you supposed to read each one? If you don’t, you might miss something important. So you read up or skip out at your own risk. All the while you’re trying to piece together interleaving conversations that may refer to other things you haven’t seen yet. And just when you’re caught up, you’re behind again. It’s like your working two jobs — the work you’re supposed to do, and the work of catching up on what you missed that probably didn’t matter (but you won’t know until you read back).
I write a lot about communication. It's something that is very important to me. There are a lot of good points about chatting in large groups of people (like in Slack). I totally agree with the points raised, but I think chat apps like Slack are doing well to actually cut down on noise in group chat, because not everything has to be sent to every person, but there's still a lot of transparency in what messages are being sent where.

Slack also offers 1 on 1 chat, and ad-hoc small groups for chat, so it's the best of all worlds when you want to communicate with a team or group of people.

> Is group chat making you sweat? — Signal v. Noise — Medium

A Diminishing Willingness to Do or Try New Things

The technological inertia of adulthood, signified by a diminishing willingness to do or try new things.


I have been trying, without a great deal of success, to get my friends interested in using Slack to communicate with one another. Slack is a great service with mobile apps, desktop apps, and a really slick web interface that makes communicating with bigger groups of people really simple and easy.

However, I've been trying to get people jazzed about better communication services for the better part of 10 years now, and I'm mostly thwarted at every turn. I honestly feel, deep in my heart, that this failing isn't because the services I'm advocating for (Google Wave, Facebook Messenger, Google+, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Slack) are objectively bad.

That being said, I also don't think my friends, the people I want to keep in touch with the most, are idiots for not being as excited in the next big thing as I am. I am always on the lookout for new technology, but I know I'm rare in being that way. But I also know that there is value in what I'm trying to do.

When I first got a cell phone, SMS was the only method of communication I used (aside from the very occasional phone call). When I first got an email address, I would occasionally use it to email friends, but its much more vital use was to get me logged in to MSN Messenger.

I've always subscribed to a vast number of different communications services (as I broke down in my last post about this stuff), and I use many of them to keep in touch with just a handful of people. The people I talk to on a regular basis interact with me in a startling number of ways:
  • Some people I know I can reach most easily with SMS
  • Some I know will only check Facebook sporadically
  • Some who keep data turned off unless it's an emergency
  • Some people I will only message through Google Hangouts
  • Some people answer messages during the day through one chat platform, but use another platform the rest of the time (even though both are available to them at all times).
In trying to make Slack a thing with my closest friends, what I'm really trying to do is make it really easy for those people to know exactly where and how they can reach me and each other, all the time. Maybe, for some people, that's actually a failed premise. It's just something that's never going to happen.

It might be that no matter how hard I try, some people are just going to send me a text message when they want to reach me. And perhaps, that won't change.

Liberal youth grow older and more conservative, even if their values never actually change in the process. I'm going to do my best to be adaptable, while advocating for new and better at every turn. We don't have to define ourselves by who we are now, we can choose to present ourselves as the best we can be in the future.

Communication is a social contract we all enter into, and having it formalized might be scary or uncomfortable to some people. I don't think it's too lofty a goal to aim for better than a 14 person group thread in Facebook Messenger as a way for people from all walks of life to interact and figure their lives out. We can do better, and while I'm suggesting one specific option, I'm just trying to do the best I can today.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I'm probably not allergic to peanuts because I love them so much

The early introduction of peanut to the diets of infants at high-risk of developing peanut allergy significantly reduces the risk of peanut allergy until 6 years of age, even if they stop eating peanut around the age of five, according to a new study led by King's College London.
Let's all talk about something we've assumed for years. I'm going to be giving my kids peanut butter baths just in case.

> Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy even with later abstinence, study suggests -- ScienceDaily

Post a proper linked Instagram photo to Twitter, like a Gentleman

When you used to post Instagram photos to Twitter, it would automatically expand the photo in Twitter, to show your beautiful shot in all its glory. However, when Twitter launched its own photo sharing natively, it started blocking the auto-expanding of photos from Instagram, so pictures looked ugly as heck when shared from Instagram to Twitter. Here's what I mean:
Sharing images the regular way (like I did above) leaves this text-based tweet, leaving users to guess what the picture is of, because neither Instagram nor Twitter wants to cede ground on letting users of both platforms see pictures from the others' social network.

However, I've come up with a fix, and it involves a great service called IFTTT. If you're not using it already, do yourself a favour and go sign up. Once you've done that, all you have to do is go to this link, and you'll be able to post directly from Instagram to Twitter, with a full resolution version of the photo, while still maintaining a link back to Instagram in case people want to go check out your other photos. That looks like this:
As you can see, that's way better, but you still get the link back to Instagram.

PS. If you're using this recipe from IFTTT, you shouldn't select the native Twitter sharing when posting in Instagram, or you'll end up with a double post, one with the image, and one without. And nobody wants that.

Post a proper linked Instagram photo to Twitter, like a gentleman. by robattrell - IFTTT

Friday, March 4, 2016

Why Basic Income is so Important

Canada's prior experiment with a BIG [(Basic Income Guarantee)], the Mincome experiment in Manitoba in the 1970s, found that a BIG did not cause people to stop working -- with two important exceptions. The first was women with infants at home, who effectively used the BIG to purchase maternity leave. We should expect a different response from women in modern-day Canada, where maternity leave benefits are much more extensive. But where child care and other supports for working parents are insufficient, we may see responses to a BIG that will show us those cracks in the system.

The other group whose employment levels decreased under Mincome was teenage boys. A closer look reveals that with a basic income guarantee, male high school students were more likely to make the decision to stay in school until graduation. Given the Ontario government's aim of increasing graduation rates and the need for a highly educated population, it will be important to understand how people's labour market decisions interact with other important decisions, like the decision to improve their skills and buy a better long-term future for themselves and their families.
> We Should Applaud Ontario's Plans To Pilot A Basic Income Guarantee | Laura Anderson

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Communication is Broken

Communication is unbelievably important for a properly functioning society. And after ranting a little on Twitter this morning, now seems like as good a time as any to break down the best communication tools, why they're good, and what they're good for.

Today's communication is broken, we can't talk effectively with the people we're closest to, and the very services that aim to bring us closer together are keeping us further apart than they need to. We can do better!

Let's keep it really simple to start: 1-on-1 communication. It's really hard to get this wrong, because it's fundamentally the easiest thing to do. Effectively, communication between two people can be public, or private. There's a continuum of more vs. less private, but almost every platform has options for private individual communication. Believe it or not, some people ONLY use these kinds of communication. Here are a few examples (they're all really old school):
  • Phone Call (voice; tied to a phone number)
  • Email (text, with attachments; tied to an email address)
  • SMS (text, maybe photos; tied to a phone number)
Like I mentioned, some platforms advertise themselves as much more than private 1 on 1 communication, but they do still have that aspect available. These aren't as limited, but can function in such a narrow way:
  • Snapchat (ephemeral photos/video and text; tied to an account on one phone at a time)
  • Skype (text, media attachments and video/audio calls; tied to an account with possibility of phone number)
  • iMessage (Text, photo/video, audio message; tied to an Apple ID, but can add phone numbers or email addresses)
Now, the services covered so far have mostly been private (Snapchat now has *public* Stories), but there are also communication methods that let you communicate with one person, but in public.
  • Facebook Wall Post (text, photos/video; tied to Facebook accounts)
  • Twitter Mention (text, photos/video; tied to Twitter accounts)
  • Google Hangout on Air (audio/video; tied to Google accounts)
These companies all have their respective private messaging platforms as well (Facebook Messenger, Twitter Direct Messages, and Google Hangouts), which are useful for both individual and group messaging, but they all have their limits, and are easy to use inefficiently.

Now, instead of getting to the best services that offer the most diverse communication right away, let's go through an exercise first.

I'm going to attempt to make a list of all of the communication platforms I make use of in the average week. This is a combination of mobile/desktop, 1-way or 2-way communication, personal/business...this is as exhaustive as I can be on the matter (in no particular order, I'm just going through my phone and computer):

Google Calendar
Phone
FaceTime
Google Drive
Nuzzel
Flipboard
SoundCloud
Periscope
Podcasts
Reddit
Google+
Facebook
Trello
IFTTT
Google Photos
Facebook Messenger
Snapchat
Twitter
Google Keep
LinkedIn
Hangouts
Email
Kijiji
Blogging
Television
YouTube
Slack
Instagram
SMS
iMessage
Peach
RSS
Blogs
News Sites
Customer Service Live Chat
Talking in Person

I'm sure, even given this exhausting list, that I've missed a couple of really obvious communication methods. That being said, they all have various reasons why I use them. I use some more than others, and for a variety of reasons some get used very little (sorry, Peach).

Having said all of that, The best communication methods I have at my disposal are easy to understand, but have diverse uses. I'm sure I could get by with any of these methods of communication on their own, but it would be difficult. Each has its limitations, and strengths.

In a perfect world, we would all agree to have accounts for all of these services, and all use whichever one we feel like at a given time. However, for me, the following is (in my mind), a perfect set of tools to satisfy all communications needs. Order in this list is VERY important, and changes/improvements to any of these services could change the order.

1. Slack
If I have you on my Slack team, and I know you actually have the app on your phone/computer or visit the website from time to time, this is by far the way I'm going to contact you. The way Slack integrates with the rest of the items on this list makes its prime spot a no-brainer.

2. Twitter
I love Twitter (and would only be able to love it more if they got rid of the 140 character limit, though there are plenty of reasons why that's challenging). Twitter integrates well with Slack, and lets me follow cool people to keep up with the world better than any service I know how to. It's also a semi-public conversation, and so you can kind of see what everybody is up to.

3. Hangouts
Having Hangouts on this list is a no-brainer, simply because of the video chat capability. Hangouts also integrates well with Slack, although I don't use that feature much, but Slack's link control is so good that it's plenty for my needs.

4. Email
You always need a fall-back. Sometimes, you're talking with a stranger, or a distant acquaintance. Sometimes, you just want to be notified of something that pertains to just you. In many cases, email is a good way for people you don't have on Slack or Hangouts to get in touch with you privately (although Twitter is really fine for that too).

I've extolled the virtues of Slack before, and maybe it's a failing on my part that so few of the people I'm closest to really get its appeal (since the people I do use it with really seem to get a lot out of it, and I use it extensively even just for my own personal non-communication needs).

I love Facebook Messenger, but really only because many people have Facebook accounts. If the people I talk to most on Messenger were on my Slack team and actually used the service, I wouldn't use Messenger nearly as much. And having said that, though Messenger has taken great strides to make messaging fun, fast, and beautiful, it's INCREDIBLY difficult to keep track of multiple threads, and for groups of close friends who talk about lots of different things, it's a nightmare. Seriously, use a Slack team for your group of close friends.

I'm going to keep advocating for Slack and Twitter, because they have been essential to my modern life and I love communicating with them so much. I'm interested to see how communication changes as the online world creeps more and more into our every interaction, and what the next generation of communication services look like.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My 2016 (As of January 29)

When I set out to make more in 2016, I did so with the goal of finding work and fulfilling my creative pursuits. It's only been 29 days so far this year, but I have already learned a ton from this experiment.

I've been taking more pictures, making all kinds of podcasts, and writing every single day. I said I would do this project every day for a year, or for as long as I need to. I put that loophole in there specifically because I knew how much work that would be, and if I started working anywhere near full time again, it's unlikely I would have the energy to keep up a daily pace (of posting stuff, not of making stuff).

So far this year, I have done a few really great things:
  1. I hit my weight goal from the middle of last year (that's 210 lbs, down 40) at the end of this week.
  2. I started writing every day, taking more pictures of cool things I see, and with friends.
  3. I've found some work that should be starting quite soon.
Given all of that, and the fact that my creative endeavours aren't going to stop right now, I am going to stop posting something here every day.

I'm planning on continuing to take more pictures (probably posted on Instagram), writing as much as I can (including on this blog), and dedicating my efforts to working more on being creative. It's been a great year so far, and it's only going to get better!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ottawhat 89 - Mike Holuj (January 28)


This week on the podcast, we met our new Ottawhat News writer, Mike Holuj. He's a pretty cool, and seemingly very busy, dude.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

6 Months of Weight Loss (January 27)

This week, unless something goes horribly wrong, I will formally hit the goal weight that I set back at the end of June. This doesn't technically count as 'making something', but it definitely took a lot of work.

Anyhow, writing about it and posting about it and talking about it all the time has been incredibly helpful. I don't know if 210 lbs is where I'll end up, but when I was 250 lbs just 6 months ago, it certainly seemed impossible.

At this exact moment, I weigh 210.63 lbs, which is satisfying all on its own. When I started (although BMI is a horribly outdated measurement tool, I was about 15 pounds into 'obese' (about a 32 in BMI, 30 being obese). At the moment, I'm at exactly 27 (25 or less being considered 'normal weight'). If you know anything about BMI, you'll know it's horribly outdated, but I have been using an online tool that attempts to make the calculation a little bit more useful for the modern world. By that metric, I'm almost exactly at the high end of healthy weight, and I'm happy already, because I feel so much better than I did.

I don't know what the next 6 months will hold, when I can ride my bike again, but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens now that food doesn't have such a strong hold on me.

Damien bowls a strike! (January 26)

I missed a day. Well, I didn't miss it, but I certainly didn't post anything here about what I did. I don't really feel bad about that, because I've been making so many things this year that I don't feel the need (or sometimes, make the time) to write about all of my projects here.

Anyhow, on Monday, I went bowling with some of my friends. I really like taking a set of photos with my phone, because Google Photos (on iOS and Android) not only backs up photos, but lets you create amazing GIFs like the one above, from up to 50 photos.

If you don't use Google Photos, you totally should, you can get unlimited photo and video backup, shared albums, and so much more. It's amazing. And when I'm older, Damien bowling this perfect strike will be preserved in all its glory.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Future Chat 86 - We're Taking on Vox (January 25)


This week on Future Chat, I talked a lot about the latest stuff going on in and around space (there's a lot), and Mike and Nick brought me up to speed about mobile news and CRISPR respectively.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My 'New Media' Obsession (January 24)

These are just a few of the shows I used to watch.
News broadcasts, TV shows, movies, podcasts, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, editorials, thinkpieces, press releases. There are so many different kinds of media, and there's more than any one person could ever consume of any one of them.

There are also sciences, sports, arts, technologies, crafts, cooking, celebrities, entertainment, and so much more to pay attention to. If you tried to absorb all the information out there about the tiniest niche subject, there would still be too much to consume to fill a lifetime.

Most people have a few interests or hobbies that they spend time going fairly deep on. And those priorities are always changing and adjusting as lives change or circumstances evolve.

For example, there was a time in my life where I watched 25 TV shows every week, in addition to re-watching some shows when I felt like it. Now, I have a hard enough time keeping up with just a few shows. Both It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Mythbusters, have started new seasons, but i'm at now 2-3 episodes behind on each since I missed their debuts.

Recently, I have moved much of the entertainment I get to fully digital platforms. I listen to a ton of podcasts, and watch a whole lot of YouTube videos. Both of these media have a single spot where I can go (either a website or an app) and see what's new since I was last there, or what I haven't watched or listened to yet.

Compare that to the experience of trying to watch a TV show, where even if I wanted to watch later, I would have to go figure out which TV network aired a show, open the app where the show is, find the TV show, and see if there was a new episode. That model works for Saturday Night Live, because I know it's on Saturday night, but other than that, I have no idea when shows air.

So I'm left with digital media consumption, and there's more than enough of it to fill my free time. I would LOVE to watch Mythbusters, and It's Always Sunny is something I will almost certainly watch eventually. But their distribution just doesn't hold a candle to new media like YouTube or podcasts, where you can keep a running list of the things you like and get notified immediately when a new one comes out, and click a link to watch it.

ps. keep in mind that I currently have a cable subscription, and all the powers that come along with that, and yet I *still* find it impossible to try to keep up with television.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I freaking love sunsets (January 23)

I've mentioned before that I like sunsets. When I have a day where I'm not really making anything, sometimes I just have to look up and see the beautiful colours a setting sun can give me. If you don't like sky pictures, I'm sorry, because I do. These pictures were about 7 minutes apart, as the sun gets lower, the colours usually get better and better.

A photo posted by Rob Attrell (@robattrell) on

A photo posted by Rob Attrell (@robattrell) on

Friday, January 22, 2016

Feedback 8 Video | Electric Love (January 22)

For episode 8 of Feedback, which came out last week, Damien and BL played Electric Love by B├śRNS! I really try to capture what it's like to have these guys play for you from 5 feet away when I'm working on capturing sound and video, and it really helps that they're just so good at performing!

As we first announced last week, you can also go and check out the music from Feedback Season 1. Go check it out, you'll be able to support Feedback, get BL and Damien on your iPod or anywhere on the go!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ottawhat 88 | Kelly Ann Wilson (January 21)


On the Ottawhat podcast this week, we interviewed singer-songwriter Kelly Ann Wilson. It was really cool getting a look at the process of performing and putting an album together in a musical family, and hearing from somebody who has spent her whole life in what I'll call 'rural Ottawa'.

Kelly Ann also debuted her latest music video for the song 'Clean', which you can check out over on the podcast page.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A downtown sunset (January 20)

I love taking pictures so much, and when I stepped off the bus yesterday, the sky looked absolutely gorgeous. I love looking at the sky, and around sunrise/sunset the colours are just unbelievable. I'm not normally able to capture the glory of the sky in such detail with my phone, but things just worked out here, and I'm getting a little better at making the phone work for me.

Anyhow, this was one of the highlights of my day yesterday, and though you probably saw it, it's my 'thing' for today.
A photo posted by Rob Attrell (@robattrell) on

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Future Chat 85 - Like racism, but on the Internet (January 19)


This week on Future Chat, we had a really great time chatting about cable packages (I go on a bit of a rant), talk more about alternative energy in various places, and talk about kids learning code.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Internet's Gatekeepers can do better (January 18)

Another internet company took an unlimited plan and added asterisks to it. This time, it's Karma Mobility.
We made a mistake. We modeled Neverstop usage to be much higher than usage on Refuel. But we never anticipated that some customers would use over 1,000GB a month.
They aren't the first company to choose to throttle mobile data after a certain usage threshold, and they won't be the last. But time and time again, these companies obviously overpromise, or there's something horribly wrong with the whole cellular industry and the way mobile data works.
In the company's blog post, they note that some users were burning through 1000 GB of data, something they never envisioned happening on cellular hotspot. Certainly, that is a lot of data, and video presumably contributes most of that. I would imagine that if even a small percentage of your users are using 1000 GB of mobile data that you wouldn't be able to make money overall unless you had a massive customer base.

However, the infrastructure associated with cellular data is the hardest part. It doesn't make any sense why the cap they would need to put in place would be so restrictive (they set it to 15 GB, before slowing speeds way down). If 1 TB is abusive on the system, then set reasonable limits. But if you're selling a mobile hotspot company, and you're pledging unlimited usage for customers, 15 GB is just not enough for a month.

The Internet is composed mainly of video these days, traffic-wise. You need to expect that most users will want data, and cellular companies have been pushing 1080p and UHD screens into users hands for the last couple of years. This kind of computer is going to use more data than even the best iPhone could in 2008.

When I was working outside my home last year, I consumed most of my media on the way to and from work, and sometimes while listening to music or podcasts at work. I used between 35 and 50 GB consistently for several months doing that, and I was not doing any kind of tethering or downloading of massive amounts of media. I used WiFi when I was at home, and I just went about my day normally. I wasn't even trying to use massive amounts of data (although I was a proud nerd when I saw how much I'd used).

If you offer or are planning to offer an unlimited plan, but want to set limits to prevent people from using a terabyte of data per month, that's fine. But make sure your limits aren't unreasonable, because people are using your product to connect to the internet.

15 GB is incredibly low use for a mobile hotspot in a month. If you want to set reasonable limits, start off at 500 GB (half of what you considered "abusive"). If your network or business can't handle that traffic, you've obviously made some miscalculations in offering "unlimited usage". Even a limit like 100 GB would still solve customers problems while keep usage 'reasonable'. We've seen internet companies make this same mistake again and again, but nobody seems to offer a useful solution outside of companies who keep people on restrictive grandfathered unlimited data plans (like the ones I'm on).

I use a lot of data, I'm not doing anything nefarious, and I want to keep doing that. Nobody wants to get throttled, and slowing down the internet for your biggest customers is not a good experience for anybody.

If you need a new generation of network to be able to cope with internet traffic like fiberoptic networks have been doing for a few years now, let's work on that. But the solution to the internet's biggest customers isn't "use less", it's figuring out ways we can all coexist with more.

The Internet is awesome, and everybody deserves to be able to access it at full speed on an unlimited plan.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

SpaceX Launch (January 17)


I can't always have something new ready to go. But luckily for me, here's something really cool starting very soon that you can go check out! This will be happening over the next couple of hours, and hopefully in the end SpaceX will be able to land their rocket on a small barge out in the ocean. It's really cool stuff.

The launch is happening about 10 minutes after this post is published. Let's go watch!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Feedback 8 Video | Ex's & Oh's (January 16)

This week, Damien and BL performed Ex's & Oh's by Elle King, as part of episode 8 of Feedback. This is a great cover of a really catchy song!

Today, you can also go and check out the music from Feedback Season 1. Go check it out, you'll be able to support Feedback, get Bl and Damien on your iPod or anywhere on the go!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Feedback 8 | Pre-production (January 15)

This week, episode 8 of Feedback was released! We discussed pre-production for the upcoming Sons of Pluto EP, and talked more about life as a part-time artist.

We also made a special announcement about the music from Feedback. Go check it out, you'll be able to support Feedback, and listen to all the great songs from Season 1!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ottawhat 87 | Pablo Juarez (January 14)


This week's Ottawhat includes our interview with Pablo Juarez. He spent the last 15 months in Australia and had a ton of great stories about his travel adventures!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Losing Weight, When You're Lazy (January 13)

"Play to your strengths" is the advice given to Harry Potter during the Triwizard Tournament, and it's invaluable insight is applicable not just to facing dragons in a magical school.

When I set out to improve my health last summer, I knew it would take more than some kind of amazing burst of willpower. I was going to have to change some of my habits, and try to control my worst impulses, like the one to eat an entire pizza in one sitting. I didn't buy any expensive supplements or go on a strict nutrition plan. I didn't count calories, or even consider any individual food as being off limits.

What I did end up doing, starting in July of 2015, was make a commitment to eating less, and to exercising more. In making that commitment, I had a few things I liked doing built-in to my schedule to jump start my new diet and lifestyle. The biggest thing I did was to start biking to and from work every day, about 7 km each direction, unless it was pouring rain.

Really, the only other major change I made was to purchase Soylent, the food replacement I've talked about to death here, and eat only that at work. I know that I tend to eat when I'm bored, and so I would bring snacks to work and eat them throughout the day, even if I wasn't particularly hungry. By replacing that snack food with Soylent, which fills me up but which I did not crave, I was able to consume a lot less calories during the day.

Since food wasn't around, I didn't feel any strong urge to eat, and if I did, Soylent would be there to fill me up. I started losing around two pounds a week on average, but I started to notice a pattern developing. During the week, I would lose about 4-6 pounds, and then Friday through Sunday, I would gain back about 2-4 of that. My weight loss came in cycles, because as I mentioned, I have no willpower, and so I wasn't afraid to have a few slices of pizza when hanging out with friends.
The secret to weight loss: math, patterns, and patience.
After a couple of months of this pattern, where I would bike 4-5 times per week, play sports, and walk, my appetite, my waistline, and my stomach all shrank substantially. And through all of this, I never really had any strong cravings for food that I didn't satisfy. When I did snack, I was less likely to indulge as much, mainly because I just wasn't as hungry.

That's not to say I didn't get hungry. Another important part of this lifestyle was learning that it's OK to be hungry sometimes without eating. I started treating hydration more seriously, and my hunger lessened in kind. In total, from the end of August (after my honeymoon) to the beginning of December, I lost about 35 pounds.

If you look in detail at my progress, weighing myself every single day from August 20, 2015 to January 13, 2016, I have lost a total of 98 pounds in the 89 days I lost weight. On the remaining days, I gained a total of 64 pounds over 57 days. In that time, I've learned that eating a bunch of snack food, or just too much in general, like I did on many of those 57 "gain" days, is absolutely not worth the work I put in on the 89 "loss" days

I am currently better, but far from perfect, at deciding when I've had enough. I still enjoy cookies, candy, pizza, delivery, chips, cheese, meat, etc., but I know a lot better how my body is going to react to those foods, and how much I eat will affect me.

Now, it's the middle of winter, and I can't bike all over the place (also, my bike was stolen back in October :( ), but I am doing exercise where I can to keep up with food, and managing my intake better.

With the tracking system I've set up for myself, which I talk about here, I know that I can aim to weigh less today than I did yesterday, and less this week than I did the last, and I will be able to lose weight. It's all about finding what works for you, and playing to your strengths. Stay healthy :)

If you want to get a copy of the spreadsheet I've been using, let me know and I can make a clean copy available for download. I have been using the wireless Withings scale to track my weight and body fat percentage, if you want to check it out, I would strongly recommend it (full disclosure: if you use that link, I do get a commission) and it's been a big help to me. I have also been using the Withings Health Mate app, which is free, and IFTTT to make keeping track of my weight in a spreadsheet unbelievably simple.

You can do it, it's all a matter of finding your own path.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Future Chat 84 | Angosticism for the Win? (January 12)



On the show this week, we went really in-depth talking about new elements and particles that have recently been discovered, only the very best of CES, and NFC's future in Canada, where we already tap to pay for almost everything.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A healthy dose of skepticism (January 11)

Today, I got to be a real journalist (or pundit, I guess, depending on your perspective). I got to read a report from a source, think about it critically, and comment on it. And I turned out to be right in the end.

On Saturday, there was a report in the Telegraph saying Apple was being asked to make a tool to let iOS users export their data so that they could switch away from iOS. It seemed like a pretty dumb story (and has now been confirmed false), so I thought about it. You can read the full piece over on MobileSyrup.

Apple wouldn't make a product to let their customers switch to Android, even if the EU was pressuring them to do so for anti-trust reasons. And even if they were, it wouldn't be in the manner described.
While a set of tools to allow iOS users to easily move their data to other platforms has seemingly obvious benefit, the actual implementation of such services are not straightforward. It’s worth keeping in mind that if users have access to a laptop or desktop computer, it is already trivial to export contacts, or copy music and photos to a new device.
Contacts, music and photos are not the data keeping users on a given platform. Not to say there aren't reasons to stick with what you have:
Perhaps the most overlooked part of this entire story is the fact that data like photos and contacts are not actually the biggest concern for locked-in users on either iOS or Android. Apps, especially those that cost users money, are the biggest reason many users will stay in the ecosystem they’ve invested in. If a service from either Apple or Google could import third-party application data or download and purchase history, then perhaps the reasoning behind this argument would be more compelling.
It's a fun game to play, thinking and talking and writing about Apple, and other tech companies. But you have to take what you read with a grain of salt, and not believe everything you read. I'm not great at it, but I'm learning, and this was a really great experience for me.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What's the best way to communicate effectively? (January 10)

I've talked a LOT about messaging services. I've had conversations about them with various people for years, and in person or on a variety of those messaging services themselves.

I take communication very seriously, so when a new application comes out that purports to change the world by making it easier to keep in touch with important people, I take note. It was clear to me from the moment I first got a cell phone that SMS (text messages) wasn't the future of anything.

When I first got online in a real way, the people I needed to keep in touch with were all using MSN Messenger. It was a chat application that, considering the era, was pretty advanced and had a lot of users. In fact, there are probably many people who never stopped using that, then Windows Live Messenger, and then its modern equivalent, Skype (after Microsoft bought Skype).

I've moved through many chat platforms claiming to be the best new thing, and several of them were. Facebook Messenger started off very slowly, but is now used by around a billion people on a regular basis. I used Google Talk through a lot of my university career, and it was really great when all my friends were on our work computers using Gmail all day every day.

Google Hangouts was my go-to chat platform from its inception until the middle of last year, and I still use that application for video calls and keeping in touch with family. I also keep in contact with many people, including some I've never met in person, through Twitter.

I think the fundamental issue with keeping up to date on what the best communication platform is, is simple. I think that there actually is no BEST communications platform for all uses. Each one has unique features that set it apart from the others, and the success of all of them for you depend heavily on whether you know people that also use them.

I have been proselytizing Slack for a little over a year now as my favourite communication tool, and it's an incredibly popular tool for keeping in contact with small to medium pockets of people, because it mimics the way groups actually communicate in the real world. You can centre conversations around topics, or include only subsets of users in a given Slack team, and I think compartmentalizing like that makes communication in Slack really efficient compared to other platforms.

I'm not saying Slack is the objective best communication platform for everybody to keep in touch with everybody else, because it isn't. But for me, for most of the people I keep in touch with on a very regular basis, I can't get over its incredible usefulness. Below are just a few of the ways I prefer Slack to many other messaging platforms.

1. You have a personal chat room. You can send messages to a helpful AI powered robot called Slackbot, or just use this chat thread to leave yourself messages or remind yourself of things. I use it all the time to keep track of things, and I find it incredibly useful to have one place I can throw text or ideas or links when I need to.
2. You can share links with people and Slack automatically provides searchable context. In comparison with Facebook Messenger, which will pop up and provide a picture and the title of the link you send, Slack with actually paste in text what is contained in the link, an image for context, and a short description of the page at the end of the link. It's incredibly useful.
3. Slack can passively let you keep tabs on a conversation without being notified of every message. You can control which chats will be able to notify you and how the notification comes to you, to your phone, to your computer, etc.
4. You can tag people and other conversations in channels. I could let Mike know I needed his attention for something just by mentioning his name, and I could refer to the "cooking" channel in a conversation with my friends if I'd posted a recipe in there.
5. Perhaps the best thing you can do with Slack is integrate other services. You can paste links to a Google Document and it will automatically figure out which document you are referring to, and keep track of all Google Docs that have been posted in one place. You can set it up to forward Tweets from Twitter into a channel to keep tabs on a topic or a Twitter account any group might care about. It's incredibly versatile and I have about 5-6 different services that all connect with Slack right now.
I love Slack, and I would use it even if nobody else was around, but if you're in a team or want to stay in touch with a group of people with more than one simple conversation, this is the way to do it. You'll never derail a whole group of people with an off-topic remark again (or at least it's a lot easier to avoid). Go try Slack at Slack.com. They have apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and the web!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Remembering my first publication (January 9)

Facebook's "On This Day" mostly serves to cause people to reminisce about the past and re-share posts from years past. For the most part, I do the same thing. Sometimes, though, it really provides some gems.
In this case, I was reminded that my first major academic publication (that I was first author on) was published 4 years ago this week! Thanks to incredible help from my supervisor, Dave Bryce, and the rest of his group, I managed to put together enough research results to finish my thesis and put out this paper.
It was a really great moment for me, and it reminded me just how far I've come in the last four years. I'm no longer working in Chemistry, but I still have great memories of doing lab work and research. It was also a really weird feeling when I went and clicked on the link, and would have had to pay $35 to 'rent' my results for 48 hours.

The fact that all journals charge so much for access to published work just reminds me how far we still have to go with open access. I look forward to the day when all research can be equally accessed by everyone, it will enable research to move that much faster. You can still access the paper if you want, because my old supervisor Dave keeps a copy of all the papers he's had published on his website, which is pretty cool.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Why are Cable and Internet bundles so confusing? (January 8)


Today on Fake It, I discuss my recent but continued disappointment with Bell and Rogers in creating cable and internet bundles that are for rational humans. Deceptive pricing, constant shuffling, and a minefield of potential options are enough to make anybody run screaming.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ottawhat 86 | Brian Lee (January 7)


This week on Ottawhat, we had my very good friend Brian back on the show for a 2nd interview. I've spoken with him many times, on and off air, and it's always an interesting conversation. If you're curious what he's been up to in his life for the last year or so, I encourage you to listen!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Applying for a Job (January 6)

Some days, you spend hours with your face right in front of a computer monitor, but at least there are ends-of-day like today that make it mostly worth it. I would love a job where my Chemistry, science and technology skills and knowledge are required, but my job search focus right now is in communications and media.

Below is why I think I would be a good candidate for a media/communications focused job. If you know somebody who is hiring that might be looking for somebody like me, please share this with them, I would REALLY appreciate it! Thanks!



This letter is in reference to the job posting at [REDACTED] for [REDACTED]. I am submitting this letter because I think that I, Rob Attrell, am an excellent candidate for the position. The combination of my experience and education will show that I have the requirements needed to excel in the role.

Going to university, I wasn’t aware how important communications would end up being to me. I studied Chemistry at the University of Ottawa from 2006 to 2011, completing Bachelor's and Master's degrees. On its own, that doesn’t qualify me for the position, but it was a formative and necessary experience.

I learned many important skills during my studies and research that lend themselves to work in communications. First and foremost, my projects over the course of these degrees have given me a lifelong appreciation for the time and detail that goes into professional work. While preparing my Master's thesis, I wrote and edited several major documents for both print and electronic media. That includes a textbook chapter, several academic papers, and two thesis documents. This work typically took many weeks or months of planning and working with colleagues to come up with a polished final product.

Of course, in addition to the tangible work done during my degree, there are many other important skills I learned and improved at while in graduate school. Time management, self-motivation, problem-solving, and multitasking were critical to my success in class and in the lab. To this day, I apply those same attributes in all of my work, both at NSERC in my last full-time position as a planning analyst in Corporate Planning and Policy, and with my extra-curricular and freelance activities. I am constantly adapting my skill-set and looking for new and interesting things to learn, and projects and problems to tackle.

For the last 4+ years, since the end of my degree, I have been devoting a whole lot of my free time to learning the principles of communications. I write regularly for my own interest on a personal blog, and I been creating more varied media like video and podcasts for the last 2 years as well. I am very involved in social media, and I’m always quick to try out the newest social medium or technology. I have been studying and learning web design, user interface/experience principles, and programming to maintain all the sites I’ve been managing since 2011 as well.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few years working on strategies to gain traction in social media, as well as coming up with consistent branding and developing high-quality content. I also currently write freelance every weekday morning for a Canadian technology website called MobileSyrup, which enables me to keep up with technology and writing, while also working on ongoing projects and developing my skills.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Preparing Soylent for best results (January 5)

I have a serving of Soylent most days, and I've gotten the consistency of making it properly down pat. If you're considering trying it out, or you have tried it and don't like it, give this method a shot and let me know what you think. The taste may not be for everyone, but it's been super beneficial for my health and I've never thought it tasted *bad*. Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Future Chat 83 | You're Just Buying A Bucket (January 4)



This week's show was a smorgasbord of tangents and divergences. We talked about water, coffee, cell phone data plans, and hockey.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Weight loss, and Fake It returns (January 3)


Fake It is back! Learn a little about my weight loss in 2015.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

More than I can chew? Nah... (January 2)

One of the first things that happens when you start a big project with repeating deadlines, like a challenge to make something online every day for a year, is realizing just how much work it's going to be. Yeah, I can write something on January 1st, and hit publish, but Day 1 is literally going to be the easiest day.

If I want this year-long project to be remotely interesting, I'm going to have to lay some groundwork. This is going to take work on some days that doesn't pay off right away. For instance, today I recorded a podcast and a bunch of music for my podcast Feedback. It's going to take several hours of work to put together any of the pieces of what I recorded, and that recording itself took about 3 hours all told.
Recording this month's episode of Feedback with my musical friends.
Another thing that will make this project a failure is if I can't live my life at all while I'm doing it. I want to spend time with my friends and my family too. But I will have to make sacrifices. I'm writing this right now while my friends are spending time together, because my commitment to this project is important to me.

I will get better at this. I will put in work in the next few weeks to get out ahead of the project, so if I have a busy day where nothing I'm working on will be done, there will be something I can put up.

I can't always put out my Titanic, but I promise that I will do everything I can to at least be interesting each day. I will try to give you something to think about, to consider. I'm really excited.

The skills I've learned over the last 2-3 years make me incredibly happy, and I can wait to share new things with you. Now, I'm going to head back to my friends, and to go and see Star Wars (finally). Enjoy the rest of your weekend!