Pretty web apps

I see Google is putting a ton of effort into reinventing email with their new Inbox option. I’ve loved Gmail’s automated folder system since it debuted, and out of the box, it properly sorted about 90% of my email, only showing me the most important bits front and center, and cutting my personal stress and anxiety by shuffling the rest of the junk off into the corners. I suspect that maybe email marketing companies were tired of being relegated to the Promotions tab and forced Google’s hand back into a single inbox with grouping. For my uses of email, that 90% of noise is back in my Inbox front and center, and I dislike it greatly. I hope to god they never disable Gmail entirely.

One long-standing pet peeve with Gmail (and all similar email apps) is that they don’t offer a “slow” reading option. Email is a fast, efficient, intensive sort of activity, so the UI is as practical as possible, but if I ever need to write more than four paragraphs, I find myself often composing text in Google Docs or even Medium draft posts, both that get shared as a link over email. I know how much I don’t like reading tons of text in an email interface so I purposely push them to a place with larger fonts, more comfortable margins, and a way to soak in the words in a calmer UI. Go read stuff over there, where words are respected properly instead of your punch-clock email machine here.

Why doesn’t Gmail sense when an email is greater than a thousand words and automatically offer up a “pretty” option for more relaxed reading for recipients? It knows I wrote a couple pages at Google Docs, why can’t that be embedded somehow in Gmail with a similar layout as what it would have at Google Docs?



I downloaded Forza Horizon 2 on my xbox one the other day, and naturally my first new video game in months got me thinking about it through the lens of the work of people targeted by gamergate.

The default character is a guy, whose voice dominates the game as the all-powerful ruler/director of what you do next, and you can't change it to a female character (incidentally, you are never shown on screen). There is a female character that runs the garage for modding cars, and that's an interesting (and probably new-ish) choice, but she's stick thin and looks like a supermodel. There are women in the crowds after events, but they’re just cheering and don’t appear to be other drivers and they all look like supermodels.

Now, it's just a car game where you rarely see any other drivers as humans, but would it kill the game studio to do a female (optional) main god character and voiceover? And maybe to have a mix of people in crowds after races, possibly showing women as drivers too instead of treating women as little more than eye candy in the game?

Also, it would in no way diminish the game if these additions were in place -- you could still have dudes around controlling the gameplay, it's just that the other 50% of your potential game playing audience would also get to see themselves in the game, and isn't that the point of games in the first place? To have fun and put yourself in a fantasy world? And wouldn’t the game get better if gameplay was inclusive of men and women?

The best of the indie web


Today I was thinking about the recent resurgence of the “indie web” — the notion that instead of posting all our daily writing into corporate silos with bad APIs and zero export options, maybe we should go back to independent blogs and voices on our own servers, with some sort of glue-code in between. That made me think back to posting 4–5 times a day on my own blog, and RSS (and The Time Before Google Reader Was Killed), and even back before that. I tried to think of the ultimate time for the indie web, when I was experiencing my favorite setup during the early days.


From about 2002 to about 2005, I feel like I was enjoying my favorite time on the web, a “golden age” for independent content if you will. My setup wasn’t based on RSS but instead on the ping service You could add a sidebar to your browser that listed all your favorite sites in the order in which they were updated, so when you had time to kill, a few times a day you’d load it up and hit the first 3–4 sites, read their most recent updates, and enjoy it in each site’s full design. Back then, most of the blogs I followed were written by web designers, so I felt it was important to see their content as they intended in their site’s own design, which would periodically undergo redesigns, which used to be a big thing. I avoided RSS until the server got bought by Yahoo and stopped functioning soon after, mostly because I didn’t like content robbed of its design.

It reminds me a lot of the Tilde club’s recently updated list, and how I scan it a couple times a day looking for familiar usernames, and how on Twitter the other day I was suggesting to Anthony that I wished I could build a list of my favorite tilde sites sorted by last update, which is essentially asking for a tilde version of I bet someone could build that in a day with current tools and technology.

Solving Mainstream Problems

A big criticism of Silicon Valley these days is that companies and developers are mostly solving niche problems for a small number of people instead of aiming at the mainstream. And like some sort of laundry or snail mail pickup service would be a killer app for a 24 year old programmer who is busy working at Facebook all day, but would be largely overpriced and unnecessary for someone living in a rural community, even ten years ago I’d say those of us helping shape what the blogosphere looked like and how it functioned suffered from the same problem.

Take my Golden Age above. It required first adding a weird ping service to your blog to notify it whenever you updated, and thousands of people runing blogs had to do the same. Next, you would use bookmarklets to add blogs you read in your browser to your account at After you had a list going, you’d have to then install a browser extension/hack to get a permanent sidebar, and then you could read your favorite blogs as they updated. Also, there was no central service to suggest new blogs to follow, so you kind of had to surf around to find any to get started using the service.

I’d say Myspace was a close mainstream approximation of my Golden Age of blogs described above. Myspace let people blog, showed your friends list in the order of recent updates, and let users customize their pages to often hideous (yet very personalized) degrees. It didn’t require bookmarklets or customizing your browser, and you didn’t need to be a web designer that could install server software that also wrote daily. It brought the same kind of world I enjoyed to a much larger audience.

Obviously, Twitter and Facebook very much followed Myspace and took away the quirky custom designs and differentiation and instead moved everything to a more predictable and easier to digest feed. This allowed writing and (micro) blogging for the mainstream on an order of magnitude bigger scale than Myspace ever did. The move to reading timelines also reminds me of the “River of News” RSS early apps that I didn’t much enjoy since they robbed each blog of its original design (though I relented and went all-in to RSS around 2005).

Anyway, I really miss and would love to see that kind of service come back to

Oregon local politics, summed up


The front page of the local paper covered a tight County Commissioner race going down to the wire in November. These big pull quotes from both candidates perfectly sum up small town Oregon politics. Top guy sounds like he wants to do a better job helping people, bottom guy sounds like he not only wants to actively do less, but makes you wonder if he wants the job at all.

Sad thing is, bottom guy will probably win since that strikes a chord with the older conservative voters that dominate local polls.

No no no, I asked for that on the side

Tonight I was at a Chipotle behind someone trying to complete one of the most complex orders of all time. Four different dishes, each with extra this, light that, and something on the side, and everything had to be in an exact order. The staff got a little mixed up with the crazy order and the woman started to lose her shit. The staff didn’t want to screw up any more so they’d ask her things twice to make sure they didn’t screw up again and that just made her exaggerated sighs even louder. I worked for years in food service and hungry people have very short fuses.

To get an idea of what they were working with, I distinctly recall the very end of her order. A burrito bowl that was supposed to have light amount of pico/tomato, the hot sauce on the side but also on the bowl, then extra sour cream and extra cheese and she nearly flipped her shit when they gave her hot sauce only on the side, then put it on top of the cheese, making it out of order with how she wanted it (“Cheese on top, I said!”). Keep in mind, that’s just the second half of her last of four ordered items.

As she was paying (and the line of 30 people behind her grew) she said she had a terrible experience and would definitely be calling the manager. I felt bad for the staff, whose faces fell. Incidentally, entitled white people have only two power moves, it’s either “I’m calling your manager!” or if they eat a mushroom, grow to twice their size and deploy the super power move, it’s “I’m having my lawyer send your company a sternly worded letter!”

I am fluent in exasperated white people complaining, I hear it spoken around me all the time, and I honestly had a hard time following this person’s insanely complex order and the Chipotle staff did the best they could in the situation.

Anyway, long story short: don’t be a dick to service workers.


You can pretty much divide the world into two groups: those that hear the start of a famous song and think "Oh boy, Vanilla Ice!" and those that say "Oh fuck, I hope this isn’t Vanilla Ice and instead is Queen & David Bowie... oh thank god it is"

No one at Marvel wants to lose their job

Guardians of the Galaxy is easily my favorite movie of the year. It’s not perfect, but it was entertaining enough that I saw it three times in a theater and I’d likely see it a few times more if I could, but it is no longer playing anywhere nearby. It doesn’t come out on DVD/video/streaming for another month (I already pre-ordered it on AppleTV), and what I find really strange is that after searching the farthest reaches of the darknets, I can’t find anything remotely watchable in terms of bootleg copies of it. High quality leaks a month before release happen regularly, so this is unique.

Other summer comedies that aren’t destined for video release for another month or two are easily available in 1080p blu-ray quality, but even after several months, there’s just one awful camcorder copy of Guardians. The film is beloved by geeks everywhere and got both critical and popular acclaim, and yet, there aren’t any R5 russian bootlegs in decent quality and no early DVD rip releases, which seems pretty uncharacteristic for such a popular movie.

The G in GIF stands for Graphic

Screenshot 2014-10-15 21.12.38

Fuck GamerGate

I was sitting in a restaurant with my nine year-old daughter, waiting for our food to arrive. We’d talked about her day, her week, and I told her what I did all day. We played a couple 2-player games on my phone across the table and then she asked if she could play Subway Surfers, a popular Temple Run-type game.

I handed her the phone, and wondered how long it’d be before our food arrived as I watched some Monday night football on TV in the restaurant. I looked over a couple minutes later and she wasn’t playing the game yet, but using the character settings screens. I asked why she wasn’t playing the game since our food would arrive shortly, and she said she was picking out a female avatar because “I’m tired of all the games having a boy as the default character”.

I told her to take her time and play with whatever character she wanted.

That moment crystalized the sheer stupidity of anyone rallying against the work that Anita Sarkeesian is doing. Sarkeesian’s end-goal appears to be asking game developers to write better characters for women, portray them well in games, and not go to the well with lazy female story tropes we’ve seen hundreds of times before. My daughter just wants to play games with a character that looks like her.

How on earth is there remotely any chance of “killing” the video game industry by simply asking game writers and developers to do a better job?


I spent a couple hours trying to learn enough javascript to parse JSON to make a nicer mobile site for browsing on a phone, but eventually gave up. I really should go back to remedial javascript courses at Code School or something, since js has never clicked with me at all.

It's now weed's Eternal September

I turned 42 today and I decided this week that I’m going to start smoking pot for the first time in my life. I can buy legal weed just an hour from where I live, and we’re about to vote in legalization next month in Oregon. Like gay marriage, there’s not much of a case made against it and I suspect laws will fall state by state over the next year to the point where the whole thing will explode in popularity. The US should have a sane drug policy and I think we’re finally going to start getting it.

Friends keep asking me why I changed my tune. I avoided it through my teens because in high school I made money working in bike shops and doing BMX tricks in “Just Say No” shows at schools and churches. I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other towards pot, but I got paid $50 to ride my bike in circles for 15min every Saturday so really my abstinence was simply bought off.

In my twenties, I was mostly hustling, trying to get straight-A’s through college, then grad school, then into a career. Pot frankly sounded too good to be true and I feared procrastination would get the best of me if I spent any idle time mellowing out with it.

My thirties were mostly about building a family. I moved, bought a house, had a kid, sold a house, bought another one, quit my day job, hired employees, and proceeded to get stressed completely out by the end of the decade.

Things have slowed down a bit after 40. I ride my bike a lot, go with the flow on the business/career front, and frankly could use something to help me relax once in a while (the therapist I saw a couple years ago has retired and I haven’t found a replacement).

So far, my initial experiments aren’t blowing my mind and it’s incredibly difficult to find good newbie information about this stuff online. I suspect due to the dodgy laws and checkered past, very few site publishers seem to be gearing info towards people new to pot. Every review of every device, strain, or technique is done by life-long potheads talking to other life-long potheads about the minutiae of things only a lifetime of experience would teach you. If ever there was a time for an explosion of content about this subject, now would be the time.

I hope there’s a PVRblog of pot out there for someone to come along and launch so I have something aimed at people like me, looking for honest, real information and dumbed down enough that even a newbie could understand. I’m sure I’ll find it soon.

The Mens

Screenshot 2014-10-10 08.43.24

This photo from a conference about women in tech of a panel on women in tech featuring four dudes reminds me of every time there is an Ask MetaFilter question from a woman asking very specific questions about how to care for her lady parts and some guy will come in and try and answer with “Dude here, um, I think you should try shaving with this blade and this cream and...” and I have to delete it every time I see it and shake my damn head.

The edgiest of edge cases

When my wife and I got married, we picked a month in the Fall when it was still warm and that happened to be the one both our birthdays were in. Then we picked a Saturday we could get a venue and suddenly we were getting married on her birthday. This is pretty rare as I’ve never met anyone else with this sort of lucky 2-for-1 day but I never thought too much about it.

Tuesday when I logged into Facebook, it was that fateful day, and curiously I only noticed it because the sidebar of their site where special messages go told me I was celebrating an anniversary today. It didn’t mention her birthday at all.

So somewhere, an engineer had to write a condition that if both those things matched for someone on the same day, the anniversary was more important than the birthday, so only show them the former, drop the latter. I’d suggest maybe showing both, just added a new line for the birthday as well, but then I know there can’t be that many of us magical unicorns around that share that condition.

No Fun

So you record a short video clip, and you want to show it to friends. Your phone lets you open it up in iMovie, and attach a song you purchased from iTunes as the background. It looks great, sounds great, and will crack up your friends.

You hit "share" and upload it to Facebook. You load up your Facebook, but no video, instead you are being read the riot act about how you've just committed a copyright violation and you have to click a box to agree you did a very bad thing and feel bad before they hide the scolding message.

You hit "share" again, but this time you go to Vimeo. Great, after waiting 20 minutes for their queue, you wait another 15 for processing. When you play the video, it is silent, killing that perfect song you picked to crack up your friends. Oh, you've got a new message from Vimeo Staff. We had to remove your copyrighted music from the clip, and it will remain silent and a private video until you agree you have done a very bad thing and you feel bad.

Alright, alright already. Let's "share" this on YouTube. Whoa! Immediately after upload, Google slaps you down with a message saying you have one violation strike against your account. I don't know how many strikes I have ever had, or how many mean "you're out" but I feel like I did a very bad thing and I feel bad.

You know what kills the fun of sharing a short video clip you score with music on your phone? Getting Content ID violations on Vimeo, Facebook, AND YouTube immediately after uploading.

Fuck these assholes, I shared it on my own FTP server. (36Mb)

Very happy indeed.

How happy am I to be able to use my tilde club space and interact with others over Terminal but I don’t have a gmail inbox filled with “~so-and-so is now following your Tilde” emails? There’s something nice about a playground of a place that isn’t obsessed with “engagement” and “retention” like so many others are.

Like the old days, except now my copy of Photoshop is licensed


Tilde Club is largely about nostalgia to me (I think it was Erin McKean who was the first to call us the digital equivalent of a Civil War reenactment society), and today I remembered I used to dick around in photoshop and post really dumb images fairly regularly, so I decided to do two dumb ones today. The top one required slapping my face on top of an existing famous animated GIF, by tweaking 59 frames by hand of it, and I knew I did a fairly bad job at it but it doesn’t matter. Then I put it on because that domain was cheap and freely available and I think the new TLD system is utter nonsense and will continue my quest to buy more stupid domains for one-off joke pages.

The second image I did just for me, because I wanted to have this handy as a reaction image to drop in chat threads in the future.

As they say “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”, and post your dumb photoshop images more often.

Halloween 2014

“Dude, what the fuck are you wearing at my costume party? Are you wearing nothing but a giant brown garbage bag with nudie mag covers glued on it, topped with a too-small lab coat with the words “CONSPIRACY” written all over?! What the fuck are you supposed to be?”

“I’m a pile of misogynistic bullshit cloaked in a flimsy layer of ‘corruption’.”

“Oh, sweet costume. You’re dressed as #GamerGate.”

Dumb domains

About a year ago I was really enamored with This Is My Jam, the small fun service where you pick a favorite song, find it on Soundcloud or YouTube and tweet it out to friends. You can also get a feed of everyone’s favorite jams and it was a fun light music discovery web app that appealed to me as both someone that enjoys music as well as someone that likes to build little web apps.

I got an idea to do something similar (basically a clone of it), but let people pick whatever silly thing they think is their current “spirit animal” so I bought the domain. I imagined each week you could say kale salad is your new thing and tweet out and that page would have a picture lifted from the Creative Commons Flickr pool and the name and date of when you set it up, and I suppose when other people could mark that off too at later dates. Same concept, same goals really.

As I was looking around at simple Twitter auth libraries while thinking about how to set it all up, I searched on the “spirit animal” term and got some really well-written criticism of the entire concept, on Tumblr posts like this one that lay out all the ways in which it’s offensive and appropriating native culture. I instantly soured on the idea of poking fun at this concept online and wondered how I didn’t think to look this up sooner but I freely admit I have a lot of big blind spots about my own privilege that I was so clueless about it previously. I don’t want to build anything that perpetuates this.

So I still own, and I pointed here as a quick goof, but I don’t really want to own it anymore or build a thing that appropriates culture in a shitty way, so I will let it expire in a year or so when it is up.

Ev's not here man

When is ~evhead going to exist on this system?

While we're talking nostalgia

I remember a time when I used to make ten blog posts a day instead of one per year. It feels good to be back.

Today in /~tabs


I wish I could mark selected sites as favorites, but then I guess that’s what this tool does?

A helpful the social “who’s on” list here makes me wish I knew more command-line social tools (my wife and I used to ‘talk’ on an old VAX in the days before IM). Another helpful tool lets you see whose sheep is eating all the community grass here.

Also #tildeclub on Twitter is really fun to read as a constant stream of experimentation going on. I suppose we could re-create it locally if we really did get our own local USENET spool.

Machine made is not hand made

I gotta say, looking at all the recent tilde club updated pages, I'm envious of those hand-coding a single page blog. The simplicity is appealing as it definitely speaks to the nature of the entire tilde club experiment, but I really wanted something to manage entries when they need to scroll off the front page.

I must admit though, in voting for convenience I am giving up a lot of personality in the process, and this probably mirrors the blogging “boom” of 1999 when we first got tools to manage posts but suddenly handmade single one-off pages started to be increasingly rare.

I wouldn't encourage anyone to use the tools I am, I really like what others are doing by hand a lot more and may scrap this whole blog engine thing in the end.

Pointless nostalgia isn’t proper nostalgia if you don’t stick to the original tools.


Consensus: #tildeclub is a better social network than #ello at the moment.

Godfather of the tildeverse

This is the origin story.

I remember when I really learned HTML, after reading Justin Hall’s how-to but never making my first page. One day I committed to coding up my first webpage so I went out and bought a book (at a Waldenbooks?) on “Authoring pages in Netscape”. I started reading it at 9pm, and finished the thing cover-to-cover and published my first fully-baked webpage around 5am the next day. I bought the book the day before xmas, 1995, and the rest is history.

I remember the book heavily suggested any readers looking for webspace sign up with a site that gave out server spots in the form of and the reason I didn’t sign up was they only set up new accounts when you mailed them a check, which I felt was too much trouble for 1995, and instead I used an old workstation in my graduate school lab.

Anyway, tildes are kind of fun, glad to see them come back.

One last test


Just wanted to see if image uploading works in the editor.

A realization

I just realized now that I have a desktop blogging setup working, it is tied to a single desktop, which happened to be my laptop when I set this all up. That means if I’m on any mobile device or my main computer which is an iMac, I won’t be able to blog. Now I see the genius of all the command-line filled, dropbox-backed-up, github-based, network-based static blogging engines. At least you can edit/post from anywhere with those.

They all seemed to use markdown though, and I don’t like using markdown. Oh well, I’ll just have to imagine my laptop is a dedicated tilde blogging engine now.


Testing out a ridiculous app to see if I can blog using it. The state of static blog engines is kind of appalling, but then since blogging is long since dead, there can’t be much of a market for it. I just spent two hours looking through simple static file generating blog engines, but they’re all a mis-mash of developer-friendly toolsets but in the end I just want something simple, something easy to edit and manage, something that can incorporate a desktop app -- I don’t want to fix typos in vi at the command-line.

A hilarious museum of options were presented with each successive Google search. CityDesk. Radio Userland, etc. I actually downloaded a few apps but none of the mac options would run in a modern Yosemite beta install. Newer apps like Day One might do the job, but don’t offer custom publishing out to an endpoint or simple indexes/archives/permalinks.

Let’s see if this works.Holy crap it did, and boy is it ugly. I will try and simplify this template.