Category Archives: General

Still alive

It’s been over a year since my last blog post and a lot has happened since then. I can’t promise that I’ll start blogging more regularly, but I’ll try to post more than once a year.

Since my last post:

* I left Klip last June because I was getting tired of the commute, which was over 3 hours a day. Working with Alain Rossmann and the rest of the team there was one of the best experiences of my life. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get a big enough audience to monetize, so they shut down at the beginning of this year.

* For a few months I worked at a startup that was building a new social network, but I soon realized it wasn’t what I wanted. Although they’re great people, it wasn’t a service I actually wanted to use and I started to hate seeing the same tired memes and corny quotes posted repeatedly by our users. I also found the commute to a really bad part of SOMA even more unpleasant that commuting to Palo Alto.

* Since December I’ve been working at Line2. I’m really excited about working on an Apple Watch app, which we recently released.

* Cody died suddenly of an unknown infection in early March. He’s been immortalized in Cole Garage’s pet mural.

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A whole new city

As long as I’ve lived in San Francisco and for all the years I’ve been visiting here, I’ve spent most of my time downtown and around the eastern part of the city. My last apartment was in SOMA, which was very convenient when I worked in that area. I could easily walk to most places downtown and I especially enjoyed walking to Chinatown.

Although it was very conveniently located, SOMA is not a very nice place to live. The traffic is pretty bad, especially when there’s a game at AT&T Park and the streets aren’t very pedestrian friendly. The rents are among the highest in the city, and it’s one of the filthiest neighborhoods.

I recently moved to Cole Valley, a neighborhood near Golden Gate Park & Haight-Ashbury. Until a few months ago, I was unfamiliar with the western neighborhoods, but as soon as I saw this place I fell in love with it. Instead of heavy traffic, garbage, and characterless high-rises, there are tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian homes. This is the San Francisco I love, and it feels like a completely different city.

I can no longer walk to Chinatown, but I can walk to Golden Gate Park & Haight-Ashbury, and it’s only a 15 minute train ride from Downtown.

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Karma Wi-fi

I commute several days a week via Caltrain to Palo Alto, so I like to work during my commute. Unfortunately Caltrain doesn’t have Wi-fi and I easily go over my data limit when tethering my iPhone, so I found a much better solution: Karma Wi-fi

Karma provides a portable 4G hotspot like many others, but what sets them apart is their business model: Every time someone connects to your hotspot, you earn free data. Their basic contract-free plan gives you 1GB of data for $14, but every time someone connects you earn 100MB of data. Since I’ve had mine, I’ve earned 1.66GB of data.

The coverage is good in San Francisco & Palo Alto, but unfortunately there are a couple of dead spots along the way, most notably around Bayview & San Mateo. Outside of those spots, the 4G speed is excellent.

A great loss

Today’s news that Aaron Swartz committed suicide hit me hard. I’ve known him from the days of Radio Userland when we exchanged many emails and chatted about scripts & features. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but he was someone I respected.

Aaron was only 14 when he contributed to the RSS standard, which is the basis of blogging. Aaron’s work with Demand Progress helped revolutionize online political activism and was one of the reasons Obama was elected.

The Scoop

For the last 4 years I’ve been using a Keurig B70 K-Cup coffee maker. I always had mixed feelings about it. I loved the speed & convenience. It was wonderful to be able to drop in a K-Cup and push a button for my first cup of coffee in the morning without a lot of fuss. On the other hand, I didn’t like the expense & waste of K-Cups, and it the “my K-Cup” with ground coffee made really weak coffee.

Recently the Keurig started to become more temperamental, often taking as long as an hour to heat up, until it finally died completely. Rather than getting another Keurig or a different pod-based machine to replace it, I got The Scoop from Hamilton Beach.

The Scoop is a single cup coffee maker that uses regular ground coffee rather than pods. It has only two buttons, “regular” & “bold” and will brew various cup sizes up to a travel mug in about 2 minutes. I find it to be about as fast & convenient as the Keurig and the coffee quality can be excellent, depending on the beans & grind.

The Scoop

WWDC Wrap-up

I haven’t had a chance to write any blog posts last week while I was at WWDC, but I had a great time and learned a lot. This may have been the most important WWDC in recent years.

While last year’s WWDC focused primarily on iOS, this year’s conference was about equally split between iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion. Both systems share some major enhancements including iCloud storage and Objective C runtime improvements that make memory management easier and a lot faster. I can’t write about much of what I saw, since everything except the keynote is under NDA. I will say that I’m running iOS 5 on my iPad and Lion on my MacBook Air and I’m very happy with both and find them stable enough for regular use. I haven’t installed iOS 5 on my iPhone, though.

On Sunday I went on the annual bus Pilgrimage to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. As always, the only thing we were able to see was the Apple company store. I took advantage of it to pick up a USB Ethernet adapter for my MacBook Air, since large downloads aren’t allowed over wireless connections during WWDC. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the MacBook Air USB adapter is and how it just works without any fuss, unlike USB ethernet adapters I’ve used in the past.

1 Infinite Loop

WWDC isn’t all work. There are also a few fun events, starting with Tuesday night’s Apple Design Awards and Stump The Experts. One highlight of the conference is always the Thursday night WWDC Bash. Since the Bash moved from Apple’s campus in previous years to Yerba Buena Garden across from Moscone Center, Apple has been getting major bands to perform at the Bash. In previous years they had Ozomotli, Barenaked Ladies, Cake, and OK Go. This year they got Michael Franti & Spearhead for a great show.

The conference ended at noon on Friday, so I took advantage of the rest of the day to enjoy San Francisco. I walked from Moscone to the Ferry Building & took lots of pictures, which you can see here. I only brought my Canon G12, since I didn’t feel like lugging the D90. I’m very happy with the results, both for still photos & videos.

Server issues

MacMegasite & parts of the Removr site are down due to server problems. I’ve put it a support request with DreamHost and hopefully it will be resolved soon.

Some background: I had my sites split between two virtual private servers, one running Apache and the other running Nginx. I found that Nginx is much less reliable and not much faster than Apache. In particular, under heavy load the PHP process sometimes died, giving Bad Gateway errors.

To improve the reliability, I moved the sites that were on the Nginx server to the Apache server. Normally the move completes without problems & maybe a few minutes of disruption, but not in this case. After several hours, the server configuration & DNS still hasn’t been properly updated.

Once the sites are back up, I will remove the Nginx server and allocate the additional resources to the Apache server.

Update: There was a network config problem, which DreamHost fixed.

Removr 1.3.1 is Ready for Sale

My resubmitted 1.3.1 has been approved and is now ready for sale. This version features 100 levels with 4 new hidden achievements in game center. It now adds levels created with our Level Editor to the built-in levels, unlike previous versions which used a single level database that could be edited. Levels are added using file sharing in iTunes.

Special promotion

To welcome new Verizon iPhone customers, Removr will be free today.

 

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