Apr 18 2012

Change is Good – Embrace It!

Sep 14 2011

Whole World Improv Theatre Status


Whole World Improv Theatre actor Tom O’Dea has announced that he will be taking a sabbatical from improv acting. Although the enjoyment he receives from entertaining Atlantans is vast, it is crunch time at his startup venture, Rocket Whale. Tom is currently working full-time securing ruby on rails development projects for him and his trusted business partner to work on. This work is necessary to provide funding for him to eat food, drink beer and retain shelter. It is also providing funding for his part-time job: continuing work on his checklist-based how-to platform, HowTracker.

Tom is also in the midst of trying to rent his house out, so that he and his roommate may move their stuff to other (separate) locations, where they would also sleep and park their cars (sometimes). Unfortunately, this does not magically happen. Should you know of anyone interested in renting a spacious and grand 3/2 in the Northlake/Emory area, please contact him.

The sabbatical is currently scheduled to last through November. Tom remains hopeful that he will be able to make WWIT a priority again at that time. While this means that he’s now out of the running for a main stage promotion, he’s positive that the 2 that do get promoted most certainly deserve it and will make the theater proud.

Of his temporary departure, Tom said, “Did you ever notice that a box of cigarettes smells like raisins? Trust me, it’s true. Oh, hey, look at that man wearing animal cracker pants… he just fell off that bridge.”

He also mumbled some sad story about the talented actors he’ll miss working with, but I’m pretty sure he was lying.

When asked to comment, fellow actor John Raffa pondered, “I don’t know where we’re going to find another funny, white male. Those guys just don’t come along very often.”

It appears that Tom’s absence will be mourned. Until he returns. Then everyone will just forget that he was gone for a while.

Jun 21 2011

Design Whine: Shower Door

I often come across products or web sites or anything really that have (in my opinion) poor design. It might not go as far as poor design, but there is something that I think can be improved. So I am introducing a new series that I’m calling “Design Whine” that consists of me whining about the design of something. First up is the shower door at Sam’s house. Sam is the CTO of Rocket Whale and I stay there when I go up to DC every couple of months so that we can work in the same location. It’s good for things we need to be in the same room for and also for team building. Anyways, on to the shower door.

Shower Door - I Need a Knob!

My design whine for the above picture is as follows. You see that towel on the rack on the wall? That’s mine. Sadly, the door has no handle on this side, forcing me to dig my fingers into the edge of the glass to slide it open. There is a short non-knob that is highlighted in the picture; it’s short so this door can slide in front of the other one. The non-knob should have an inset I can use with 1 finger or a popout ring or handle. On to design flaw # 2:


Mind the Gap

There’s a gap between the doors. This lets cold air blow in and water splash out. It is crying out for some type of weather stripping. Again, the sliding might be an issue due to the handle bar caps but I’d be ok with a small gap or a bristle or flap based solution.

So, there you have it. Design whine #1 is on the books. Do you have any design whines you’d like me to talk about?

Jun 20 2011

Why the West Rules…: A Book Recap

Why the West Rules – for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future is a phenomenal book if you enjoy the History Channel or Discovery’s Planet Earth series. If this isn’t you, then you should stop here and go back to watching TMZ.

The book tracks what the author defines as social development from 14,000 BC until the present, followed up by some reasonable predictions for the future. It can be dry at times but much more often than not it’s a very interesting and insightful read. Here are my main takeaways:

  • Human beings are lazy, greedy and frightened animals.
  • They are constantly looking for easier, more profitable and safer ways to do things.
  • This search fuels innovation and growth in regards to social development.
  • A specific time and place gets the thought that it needs for that time and place.
  • The most important factor for determining why the West currently rules and why anyone has ruled at a given time is geography.
  • The West’s reign may or may not be overtaken within the next 100 years.
  • Social development is exponentially higher now than at any other point in history.
  • The next 50-100 years (leading up to the singularity) might possibly be the most important and exciting times in the history of the human race.

In conclusion, this is my conclusive sentence. Consider this book recap concluded.

Jun 17 2011

The PC to Mac Switch

I bought a Mac (used) a few weeks ago to use for work because developing anything but asp.net on Windows is a train wreck and my Linux desktop computer is really slow and shitty. I needed a Macbook Pro so I bought a used one off a friend. Last week was my first week using a Mac full-time since the late 90s, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

First, and most importantly, I find the Mac experience to be equal to the Windows experience. Some things are better, some are worse. They are different, but equal. I have found the same to be true after switching to an Android phone after using an iPhone for 2+ years.

Things that I like:

  • The keyboard glows.
  • The multi-touch touchpad is pretty slick, although I much prefer a mouse (with 2 buttons).
  • The magnetic power plug is brilliant.
  • Obviously, for development, it’s great. This alone is why I own a Mactop.
  • Exposé is great for switching between windows.
  • Navigating through things with just the keyboard is much better.
  • Great battery life and it’s smaller and lighter than my comparable Windows laptop.

Things that annoy the crap out of me:

  • A standard installation of the Mac OS does not include the ability to maximize windows in any program. Overall, window management/arrangement/sizing sucks.
  • CTRL + ENTER in Chrome doesn’t do what it does in Windows.
  • Every program’s menu bar being the same thing. This is more annoying when using multiple monitors, but maybe it’s something I need to get used to.
  • I HATE how Photoshop has no minimize button and there is no Photoshop “desktop.” This infuriates me and is a terrible user experience.
  • Chrome won’t reopen my previously open tabs on startup for some reason.
  • I can’t cut and paste files in Finder.
  • I can’t open Finder with a keyboard shortcut like I can Windows Explorer (Windows + E).
  • It only has 2 USB ports (but at least they work).

Hopefully some of these annoying things go away over time!

May 26 2011

Dropbox likes Snickers

I just put Dropbox on my new laptop and started syncing files. Here’s the popup image to tell me how much time is left:

Dropbox Snickers

I love stuff like this. Almost nobody would ever see it (in fact, it now says there are 33 days left), but it’s little things like this that make software great. I hope we can work some fun stuff like this into our new checklist software.

Jan 30 2011

Start Atlanta Wrap Up

This weekend I went to StartAtlanta 2011 and participated in starting a new company. The premise is that you join a team and start a company Friday night and hopefully have something to launch and demo by Sunday night. Since Rocket Whale is already building my idea for a startup that you can feasibly launch in a weekend (Use the List), I went with the intention of participating on another team. And participate I did!

Our team was centered around the idea of one-question surveys. Everyone hates getting a link to a 10+ question survey. But send them one question with a choice of answers and they’ll likely answer. Overall I think our team did a pretty good job. I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get further and actually have a usable application up and running for the demo, but we got very close and I’m confident that the crew will have something working within a week or two. I did the design and HTML/CSS for the app and “threw it over the wall” to the developer guys to code up. You can see my design and sign up to be notified when the site goes live at the web site: http://ask1question.com. I look forward to seeing where it all goes!

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite ideas (most of these have completely different designs that I imagine will be unveiled on their live sites soon):

  • TripLingo was the crowd favorite of all of the participants. They had a slick site design and got very far along, including a web app and a mobile app. Cool idea whose value was much more evident once the app was demoed.
  • Connect Me is a facebook dating/matchmaking app that has the same fun feel of hotornot.com. The app shows you pictures of 2 friends and you decide whether or not you think they’d be a good match. If you do, the app sends them both some type of introduction. I’m looking forward to seeing it live!
  • Reach Me Later is a fantastic idea that I found myself wanting during my drive home. Right now, it’s targeted towards teens and parents as it was inspired by the death of a teen who was texting while driving. It’s a mobile app that basically shuts your phone’s texting off and auto-replies with a message that says, “I’m driving, I’ll respond later.” Parents get a text when their kid turns the service on and there are analytics built in so parents can see if their kids are using it and if they’re texting while driving. If I had a bunch of money I would try to invest in them now!
  • Minglle had some technical difficulties during their demo and it didn’t really work, but the idea was interesting. Plus it was presented by a live, human version of Bill Gates’ mug shot. It’s a mobile app where you can say where you are and who you want to meet. If there are any matches at your location, the service sends you both a message to see if you actually want to meet. If you do, you can chat over their service to actually meet up. Sounds creepy for social events but would be a great app for networking.
  • Last, I want to give a shout-out to Karol’s team: Mark it 8 Dude. They were making a bowling app where you can take a picture of your score with your phone and it automatically tracks your scores (and how well you do vs. how many beers you’ve had). Karol got a big reaction from the crowd when he demoed his OCR (Optical Character Recognition) so congratulations to him!

I want to say thanks to the team at StartAtlanta for organizing everything. The food selection was awesome and the entire event was run very smoothly. I honestly can’t think of any big issues, so kudos to Jason Ardell and the rest of the StartAtlanta team. And also to ATDC for hosting it!

I think my only real disappointment was that it took so long for our developers to get on the same page and environment so that they could actually start writing code (Saturday evening). I think it was a factor of us having a larger team with guys from all different backgrounds (asp.net, django/python, ruby/rails, windows/mac/linux, etc.). Our team was probably too big and we would’ve done much better with 2-3 developers all in sync rather than the 6-7 that we had. We were also too ambitious with our use of HAML/SCSS, as not everyone knew it and it made the conversion of my static HTML/CSS to dynamic content even more intensive. Maybe next year the StartAtlanta organizers can figure out a way for team leaders to choose their technologies and for developers to be organized by similar skills.

Even with the difficulties, I’m proud of what we accomplished (and what I accomplished) and I know that given another couple hours to tighten things up, we would’ve been in contention for the crowd favorite!

Final thanks go to the One Question team, especially Jon for the One Question idea and to Sean for his plethora of design help!

Dec 3 2010

Chrome Bookmarks Bar Separator

I mainly use Google Chrome and yesterday I added a couple of bookmarks to my bookmarks bar. The bar hit the tipping point of dysfunction because I had too many links and no way to separate them other than putting them in folders. I wanted to avoid folders so that everything would retain one-click access. Since Google doesn’t give you a way to insert a separator, I had to come up with a workaround.

I used Photoshop to make a favicon and then made a web page that uses it. I added the page to my bookmarks bar and made the bookmark name blank.

If you want to use my solution on your browser (as long as your Chrome theme has a light-gray or silver background), go to the Google Chrome Bookmarks Bar Separator page and add it to your favorites. After you add it, you can right-click it and copy/paste the bookmark as many times as you want.

If you have your bookmarks shared across multiple devices this will add unnecessary bookmarks on them. But if you just use Chrome on the desktop like I do, it’s a great help!

Edit: If you want a horizontal separator, see Candido’s comment below. As he said, you can bookmark any URL and rename it “– – – – – – – – – – ”. I can’t think of a more simple solution for a horizontal separator. You can also go here for different styles of horizontal separators.