How To Work From Home Like You Mean It

Friday, 13 January 2012

Kevin Purdy:

Dressing for work and "arriving" on time, eating lunch on a rigid schedule, shaving, brushing, and so on seems pointless at first. But not doing these basic preparations is the start of a steep, Teflon-coated slope to all kinds of other transgressions. If you're not dressed well enough to greet the UPS delivery person, you're giving yourself license to hide. If you're hiding, then you imagine nobody can see Netflix open on your second monitor.

Telecommuting sometimes feels like it's equal parts blessing and curse. On one hand you have total freedom. On the other hand, you have total freedom.

I had been working for myself for many years before taking an actual office job. (You know, the kind you have to get up and drive to.) The lack of freedom was a big shock at first but it taught me that often productivity and structure go hand-in-hand. After leaving that job and going back to working for myself I found that I craved a structured schedule. Yes, it helps me be productive during work hours, but another great — even if unanticipated — outcome is that it helps me define boundaries for time I shouldn't be working.

Learn To Speak Vim

Friday, 30 December 2011

I'm a relatively new convert to Vim having only made the switch from TextMate about six months ago. This post by Yan Pritzker would have likely saved me some trouble in those first frustrating weeks:

Using vim is like talking to your editor in ‘verb modifier object’ sentences, turned into acronyms

  • learn some verbs: v (visual), c (change), d (delete), y (yank/copy). these are the most important. there are others
  • learn some modifiers: i (inside), a (around), t (till..finds a character), f ( till except including the char), / (search..find a string/regex)
  • learn some text objects: w (word), s (sentence) p (paragraph) b (block/parentheses), t (tag, works for html/xml) there are others

It's a great primer if you're considering making the switch.

Also, be sure to check out Janus if you're looking to smooth the transition to Vim from another editor (like TextMate). Janus is a Vim distribution that includes some sensible default plugins and key bindings so Vim won't drive you crazy while you're trying to get your bearings.

Moving to Jekyll

Thursday, 29 December 2011

After battling with WordPress for years I finally decided to try Jekyll. Like others who've made the switch, I grew tired of the poor performance, overly-complicated publishing system and constant need for management of WordPress. I found myself spending more time fiddling than writing.

When the JohnnyA WordPress Hack hit Media Temple a little over a year ago, I tried to do some damage control and repair my blog. I thought I had wiped out the hack, but over the next few months it — or something like it — would continually reappear. Eventually, I realized that I had stopped writing altogether because I was tired of dealing with it. This blog has languished since then.

With the new year approaching I figured I'd start afresh with a new blogging platform. After looking at a few alternatives, I decided on Jekyll. Jekyll bills itself as "a simple, blog aware, static site generator" and it eliminates some of my major pain points with WordPress right out of the box:

Additionally, I had a few requirements of my own that I wanted to meet with the migration to Jekyll:

Each of these items is a direct result of some pain point I experienced with WordPress. My goal was not just to move off of WordPress, but to really create a better work flow that would reduce friction and in turn encourage me to write more.

I'm still polishing some rough edges, but so far I like my setup. I'm planning some follow up posts that go into more specifics, but for now I'm just enjoying being off of WordPress.

Installing iOS 5 Beta 1: Error Code 3002

Monday, 06 June 2011

I was getting an Error 3002 when trying to update my iPhone 4 to use the new iOS 5 Beta. Although it doesn't seem to say it anywhere, you need to use a Restore option to install it. (Instead of an update.)

Just be sure to do a backup first. You'll be prompted to restore from an iTunes backup right on the device after the restore process is complete. Then you'll be good to go with all of your existing data.

Happy Testing!

Seth Godin on True Leadership

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Leadership means embracing the failure of your people if it leads to growth.

There are so many great tidbits in this video that it's hard to pick just one quote. A must-watch.

iPhone OS 4.0.1 Signal Strength Display Change Graphics

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Apple just released the iPhone 4.0.1 update that changes the way signal strength is displayed. The new graph looks pretty weird to me since it's no longer linear. I made some quick graphics of the changes:

Old display (Pre 4.0.1) iOS 4.0.1

To make the change easier to visualize, I did some combo graphics. The first is an overlay where the red represents the new bars and the second is an animation showing old and new states:

Overlay Animation

Apparently the bars themselves now also represent a more accurate depiction of signal strength. AnandTech has a detailed write up of the changes. I've noticed that where I have normally gotten the full five bars at my office, I am now hovering around four, with the occasional 5.

CSS3 PIE: CSS3 decorations for IE

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

CSS3 PIE: CSS3 decorations for IE:

PIE makes Internet Explorer 6-8 capable of rendering several of the most useful CSS3 decoration features. […] PIE stands for Progressive Internet Explorer. It is an IE attached behavior which, when applied to an element, allows IE to recognize and display a number of CSS3 properties.

Looks great. One of the most challenging aspects of web development has always been designing for the lowest common denominator of browser features. Tools like this help raise the bar for IE in a (mostly) hassle-free, consistent way.

PIE currently has full or partial support for the following CSS3 features:

  • border-radius
  • box-shadow
  • border-image
  • multiple background images
  • linear-gradient as background image

Using the Mac OS X Color Picker as a Stand-Alone App

Friday, 26 March 2010

I've been looking for a good, simple, system-wide color picker. The built-in Mac OS X one is great, but it needs to be launched from within an existing application. Wouldn't it be great to be able to use it as a standalone app? That's exactly what Spot Color does:

Spot Color is a simple application that allows you to use the standard Mac OS X color picker as a stand-alone app. This allows you to quickly grab colors without having to be in an image editing app like Photoshop. Since it uses the built-in color picker, you can utilize the system wide color picker plugins and swatches.

It's just a simple application wrapper that launches the system-wide color picker. The same exact thing can be done with Apple Script but it was way to sluggish to launch and I found I just wouldn't use it. Besides, Spot Color has a cute icon. And it's fast and light-weight. (I tried a similar app by Matt Patenaude called simply "Colors". But it felt a little chintzy.)

The reason this is so useful is that the built-in color picker on Mac OS X is extensible and there are some really great plugins available. These are the ones I use:

The source code for Spot Color is on github too, which is always nice.

I also sometimes combine this with Digital Color Meter (found in the Applications/Utilities/ folder on your Mac) since its zoom view makes it a little easier to pick colors from the screen.

flashblockdetector: Javascript That Detects Flash Blocking Extensions

Monday, 15 March 2010

Mark Pilgrim just released this nifty little flash block detector:

This is a pure-JavaScript library that detects whether Flash is blocked on the current page due to a Flash blocking extension. The current version can detect

  • FlashBlock #1 for Chromium / Google Chrome (Windows/Mac/Linux)
  • FlashBlock #2 for Chromium / Google Chrome (Windows/Mac/Linux)
  • FlashBlock for Firefox (Windows/Mac/Linux)
  • ClickToFlash 1.5.x (Mac/Safari only)

Pretty cool, but there's a small catch:

If a Flash blocker is active, your callback function will be called almost immediately. If no Flash blocker is active, your callback function will be called after the 5 second timeout.

(Via Mark Pilgrim.)

HumbleFinance: Dynamic Charts with HTML5, Canvas, and Flotr for Prototype

Friday, 12 March 2010


HumbleFinance is an HTML5 data visualization tool written as a demonstration of interactive graphing in HTML5. It is similar to the Flash tool on The tool itself is written entirely in JavaScript, using the Prototype and Flotr libraries. It can be used to display any two 2-D data sets of real numerical data which share an axis.

Between this and gRaphaël I'd say there's a lot of potential for open technologies to be a real, viable alternative to Flash based charts very soon.