Monthly Archives: December 2016

I’ve been MacBook-only for years. Xcode, Logic… all fine. Using Apple’s Motion is the only time I regret not having an external monitor.

→ 2016/12/31 9:57 am


“That you are here — that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” — Walt Whitman

Four days after the election, still stunned by the news that Hillary would not be our president, I went to a funeral for a good friend of mine from middle school. Devin Kennedy-Puthoff was creative and passionate. He was really fun to be around. Though I lost touch with him as we grew up, I’m very thankful to have known him.

People pass in and out of our lives. The friends we have when we’re younger might not stick with us. We might have different friends in high school and college. And different friends again as adults.

That’s okay. We all need different things at different points in our lives.

Twenty-five years, thirty years… It’s a long time. Reaching back into the past so far, untangling the stories in our mind, leaves fragments. These memories aren’t complete or precise. They are less complicated and so in a way, more true.

A few nights later, magician David Blaine had a TV special on. I was thinking of a day when Devin and I were practicing magic tricks with quarters. Kids hanging out with nothing much to do, turning free time and a couple quarters into something.

To this day, when I see a magic show, I often think back to that moment. When I see a movie about magic, or teach my kids to make a quarter disappear, I think back to that moment with Devin when life was a little simpler.

At the funeral, I was wondering why that memory was so strong that it has stuck with me all these years. I think it’s because there was something pure about it. Time strips away everything in a memory that isn’t essential.

If you read every post on my blog for the last decade, you’ll know what I think about the tech world, but very little about my family. If you read every post from my private journal, you’ll know the rest. Taken together it might be too much. Too complicated.

Who we are is not just what we’ve done. Who we are is that moment that someone will remember later, as I remembered Devin, for years or decades. That moment that is so true because we’ve forgotten everything that doesn’t matter.

Microblog auto-link differences

One reason I like microblogging on my own web site is that I can control the links and simple formatting. I’ve noticed lately that Twitter can’t consistently auto-link even certain domain names, for example.

This difference is illustrated well in a post I made this morning, which included and Twitter auto-linked the .blog but not the .fm. The cross-post to auto-linked the .fm but not the .blog.

Here are the 3 versions:

Link differences screenshot

In the final screenshot — the original from my own site, from which the others were pushed out automatically — you can see how I’ve specifically linked the domain and phrases I wanted to. It’s a minor thing, but it just looks better when the author has a little control over the formatting. (And while I don’t use it here, my own short posts can contain text in bold or italics via Markdown, too.)

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Yesterday was the first day in forever that I used a computer for less than 5 minutes. Feeling refreshed.

→ 2016/12/26 8:43 am

Why I posted to Twitter again

Following up on my post about Twitter at 10 years, I decided to mark the actual 10-year anniversary of my first tweet by posting from my @manton account, which I haven’t touched in over 4 years. After so much time, you can be sure the tweet was going to be exactly 140 characters:

Hi! 10 years since my first tweet. 4 years since my last. You can follow the blog cross-posts via @manton2. This message will self-destruct.

Why post again? I’ve had some fun experimenting with cross-posting to @manton2. As I wrote when I first started this:

And yet, many people get their news from Twitter. Since I started microblogging on my own site, I’ve had time to reflect on the role of indie microblogging and cross-posting. I think the IndieWebCamp has it right: publish on your own site, syndicate elsewhere.

Overall I think it has been a success. I use my upcoming platform for the cross-posting, so using Twitter has helped me improve too. And I get more people who don’t actively follow RSS feeds to read my blog posts again.

As promised, I’ve already deleted that last tweet at @manton. I’m also not replying to mentions over there, although I try to reply or favorite tweets I see from @manton2. I know this Twitter strategy might seem like a strange compromise, but I think it’s working because it puts a focus on my independent blog instead of on Twitter.

GitHub growth problems

When first writing about mirroring this blog, there were only 2 places — and GitHub — that came to mind as good choices:

I believe both will last for decades, maybe even 100 years, and both embrace the open web in a way that most other centralized web sites do not.

I still believe that, but Bloomberg has an article about growth and spending problems at GitHub:

In September 2014, subscription revenue on an annualized basis was about $25 million each from enterprise sales and organizations signing up through the site, according to another financial document. After GitHub staffed up, annual recurring revenue from large clients increased this year to $70 million while the self-service business saw healthy, if less dramatic, growth to $52 million.

These numbers seem fantastic except that GitHub is losing money overall. GitHub has transformed from a small profitable company to a large unprofitable VC-backed company. Here are some of the goals from GitHub’s 2012 announcement about taking funding:

We want GitHub to be even easier for beginners and more powerful for experts. We want GitHub everywhere — whether you use Windows or Mac or Linux or some futuristic computer phone that hasn’t been invented yet — we want GitHub to be an awesome experience. We want to make it easier to work together than alone.

They’ve made progress in the last 4 years. I’m not sure the GitHub user experience has improved more quickly because of funding than it would have otherwise, though.

I love GitHub and use it exclusively for my source and my client projects, because there’s a productivity benefit to having everything in one place. I hope GitHub can turn the corner on profitability. And most importantly, I hope they have a sustainable long-term plan beyond this initial quick growth.

Great weekend so far. We saw Rogue One last night and loved it. This evening, in San Antonio to see the Spurs retire Tim Duncan’s jersey.

→ 2016/12/18 6:58 am

Finished the 6 worlds in Mario Run but missed many, many coins. Might do a short review on my blog later. Game is even better than I hoped.

→ 2016/12/15 3:51 pm

Dropbox, iCloud, and GitHub on the iPad

Federico Viticci has another fantastic long-form essay, this time about using the iPad Pro for a year. It’s the story of his iPad workflow plus mini reviews of each app that make using the iPad as a primary computer possible.

I haven’t finished reading the whole thing yet, but I’ve been paying particular attention to the theme of file management. I use Dropbox for my most important files — documents, notes, and photos — because I want them synced everywhere and accessible in an obvious, transparent way. iCloud is too opaque and app-specific.

Federico covers this conflict early in the essay with a list of iCloud downsides:

iOS apps like Documents and Workflow can’t access or display the contents of other apps’ folders. This prevents the existence of a full-featured iCloud Drive file manager that offers functionalities Apple doesn’t want to build in their iCloud Drive app. There should be an API to allow third-party apps to gain access to the entire contents of your iCloud Drive filesystem, just like there are APIs for photo and music access.

I’ll be happily surprised if Apple ever adds such an API. It seems unlikely. And if that’s true, it means iCloud will be permanently crippled compared to Dropbox.

The trend to new iCloud-first apps like Ulysses and Bear is fine. It doesn’t appeal to me, though. I use Ulysses on the Mac because I can sync with Dropbox. There are so many Dropbox-capable iOS text editors that I feel confident using my current favorite and switching whenever I want.

Federico also describes using GitHub and the iPad app Working Copy for collaborative editing:

Working Copy’s diff support has been a boon for how we edit Markdown and collaborate on articles. We can keep track of every edit and comment in a centralized location without creating duplicates. Working Copy makes it easy to follow the evolution of a document through multiple commits; every writer can chime in with their own suggestions and Working Copy will handle file merging and conflict resolution thanks to GitHub.

GitHub is useful for much more than code. I personally love the simplicity of Gists and GitHub Pages. It’s great to see how MacStories can use GitHub for editing articles, too.