2012-09-19

"Subscribe" to Wikipedia

If you regularly use Wikipedia, you should donate monthly to show your support.

They have their own donation page, though you can also use Network for Good, which has a (somewhat) friendlier UI, email notifications and annual reporting for donors.

2012-09-14

Why Android?

I've been a loyal and passionate Apple user since we got an Apple IIc back in the '80s, and I even waited in line with @cw for the first iPhone when it was released. However, I switched to Android a few years ago, for the following reasons:

• Google Voice — Apple had rejected the iOS Google Voice app, so Android was the only way to use it natively.

• Unlocking — Apple wasn't yet selling unlocked iPhones, and I wanted to be able to freely move to different carriers both in the US and when traveling internationally (the Google feature phones are unlocked by default).

• Tethering — though iOS supported tethering, the Carriers gate its availability and charge extra for it, which is preposterous (bits are bits), while unrestricted tethering has been in Android for a long time. (I use prepaid data service for this)

• Cloud sync — Android's Google Account integration works directly from the cloud (email, contacts, calendar, docs, etc.), while iOS back then made you go through desktop iTunes for these things.

• Misc policy things — for example Apple's nonsensical in-app payment policies (which prevent apps from using their own payment means), their draconian approval process and content policies, etc.

• Hackability — without rooting, and while staying on the official OS upgrade trunk, Android lets you do things like make free calls with Google Talk, use a better Intent UI, dim the screen beyond the default settings for better nighttime reading, scrobble to LastFM, etc.

• Intents — probably my favorite Android OS feature, Intents let apps communicate with each other.  For example, I can email something to myself with a single tap, post a link to a GroupMe group without copying/pasting, etc. Intents are great, and they're also coming to the web. So stoked for this.

• Other misc UI things — system widgets (for turning things on and off like the LED flashlight, wifi hotspot and airplane mode), app widgets for things like playing/pausing audiobooks and music, etc.

Tom articulates a few more reasons as well.

That said, Android definitely doesn't provide nearly as refined a UX as Apple has created with iOS, which I do miss. Apple's stuff is so beautiful that you just want to use it for the sake of using it, which I definitely don't feel in Android-land. But ultimately the choice is about tradeoffs, and for the time being, I'm going with better functionality (for my needs) while sacrificing a bit of form.

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Update, 2012-09-18 — Nick mentioned two other great Android features I neglected to include in my list,  Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation (coming in iOS6), and Google Now, which is surprisingly useful. These days most of these things are possible in iOS — Google Voice, unlocked iPhones, cloud sync — but I don't anticipate rootless hackability coming to iOS anytime soon.

2012-08-23

Side Projects the eBook

We're honored that Domainr is featured this new eBook, Side Projects. I wrote a bit more about it on the Domainr blog.

2012-08-03

Props: OS X Daily

OS X Daily is one of my favorite weblogs — they post relevant tips every single day, and more often than not I find myself trying them immediately, or jotting them down for later reference.

For example, here are some recent posts that have caught my eye:

Their headlines are well-written, which makes their feed easy to scan.

2012-07-27

LazyWeb — Google Voice read state sync

Google Voice, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
  • Decoupled phone number — when your number is decoupled from your wireless carrier or SIM card, you can change carriers whenever you want. Find the best service, best deal, best offering that matches your usage patterns, use your number internationally, etc. Also incredibly handy if you lose your phone for some reason.
  • Central archive — it's surprisingly useful to have a Gmail-style archive of your SMSs, voicemails and call log.
  • Free calling and texting — send and receive SMSs via mobile data (which don't count against some ridiculous cap), and make calls for free via Gmail and GrooVeIP
  • Call handling — screen incoming calls, block numbers from calling and texting you, use "do not disturb," play customized greetings, etc.
  • Multi-platform — use the service from Android & iOS mobile apps, a Chrome Extension, or any modern web browser.
A UX annoyance though — the service needs to keep track of read state. Currently, for example, the Chrome extension will chime to notify me that I have a new text, and I'll reply to it from within Chrome.

Meanwhile my Android phone obliviously keeps blinking at me, telling me I have a new, unread message that I've already responded to in Chrome. It should know better.

LazyWeb — Add to Contacts

I'm probably anomalous here, but I like to have restaurants, etc. in my local address book (which is powered by Google Contacts). So when I find one in Maps, I'd like to be able to single-click add it to my Contacts.


LazyWeb — Where autocomplete

The Where field in a Calendar entry should autocomplete just like Google Maps. Google Now would be a lot smarter if every calendar event had location data associated with it.

Google Calendar, with no autocomplete

Google Maps can haz autocomplete

Bonus request: how to associate a "transportation method" with calendar entries? A few weeks into using Google Now, I'm finding that I drive to some things, take public transportation to others, and walk to others, and Now's suggestions are basically wrong 1/3 of the time.

My LazyWeb


Since the original LazyWeb is no longer with us (RIP), I'll tally mine here. They're Google-centric at the moment, but that will probably change over time.
Ancient History
  • my original lazyweb post from 2007-09-08, asking for a few Camino things and mobile & offline Gdocs usage, which eventually arrived.

2012-07-11

Thank you, David Simon

Essential reading: A Fight To The Last Mexican

2012-05-05

RIP MCA

"As we were leaving he called me over to him and said, 'next time you get a Lionel Richie record instead of ours, keep it, he's the shit.' Then he hugged me. Greatest night ever." —MCA

[via Best of Metafilter]

2012-04-30

Social Security

This is a great Rolling Stone piece about Social Security.

[via Best of Metafilter]

Android + Cloud Music

Mobile music is mostly a wonderful experience these days thanks to streaming services like Rdio. But due to licensing issues, we're left to manually deal with small-but-crucial catalog holes — think the Beatles, Zeppelin, etc.

How to do this without resorting to weird desktop apps (like Google's service), convoluted syncing (think Amazon's service), and non-cross-platform solutions (like iCloud)?

Dropbox.

It turns out that if you Favorite music files in the Dropbox app, the Play Music app can see and play them. Unfortunately you have to Favorite them individually (starring folders is being discussed), but for a few must-have albums it's quick. And because you're using the native music app for playback, you can also scrobble.

"an Illusion of Value"

Nick Bilton in the Times:
"'It serves the interest of the investors who can come up with whatever valuation they want when there are no revenues,' explained Paul Kedrosky, a venture investor and entrepreneur. 'Once there is no revenue, there is no science, and it all just becomes finger in the wind valuations.'" 
"When small start-ups I’ve spoken with do make money, they often find it difficult to recruit additional investment because most venture capitalists — and often the entrepreneurs they finance — are not interested in building viable long-term businesses. Rather, they’re interested in pumping up enough hype and valuation to find a quick exit through an acquisition at an eye-popping premium."

2012-04-17

Prepaid Cellular Data

I've been experimenting with this since last summer, and have been meaning to write up my results, but Skylar beat me to it: How To Reduce Your Smartphone Bill to ~$30/month

My bill is more like ~$25/month because I don't use much (if any) "voice that's not data" at $0.10/min. And the only reason the bill is "per month" is because AT&T expires unused data after 30 days, which is preposterous.

A few other related things:
  • here's Matt's writeup
  • this Wikia site lists all the US services that provide prepaid data
  • I've tried SIP over 3G/4G and the quality just isn't quite there, so I'm sticking with AT&T's $0.10/min service until something better comes along
  • when I'm on wifi, I use GrooVeIP
Unlocked phones + prepaid data + Google Voice = FTW

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Update, 2012-05-14: apparently as of 2012-04-18 AT&T has decided to couple prepaid data with a recurring monthly voice/messaging plan, effectively doubling the price for folks with usage patterns similar to mine. T-Mobile's $30 plan appears to be the next best thing.

Also, an Android and Me post rounding up our options.

2012-02-21

How to Take Long Web Page Screenshots on a Mac

This MetaFilter article answered the question in 2006, but for 2012 and Lion, David Chin's blog has the method that worked for me:

  1. pull up the page in question in Safari
  2. open Skitch
  3. in the Skitch menu, select "Snap Safari"

2012-02-13

Cornerhost

Re: Mat's Gizmodo post:

About 10 years ago I'd just finished college, and was weeks away from embarking on a 'round-the-world backpacking trip. I was hoping to publish photos and posts on this weblog as I made my way country to country, and was doing some research on unix hosts that could serve my site. Cornerhost crossed my radar, and I liked its positioning as having a friendly, human touch.

I had a few questions for them, so I sent them an email to get a feel for their support. Michal responded within hours and I was really impressed, so I sent him a few more questions, including:
2001-12-12 
Cornerhost sounds like an awesome personal project of yours... but (and this may sound morbid), what happens if something happens to you? :/
His reply:
Whew. Well, that's a good question, and one I'd not thought about to be honest. (denying my own morality here... )
The server is hosted at rackspace, and they withdraw money from my corporate account, so in theory the server would just keep plugging along until I ran out of money. :) You'd definitely have enough time to figure out I was dead.
And it is a corporation, so the company exists independently of me.
I do have a few trusted friends with the technical skills to maintain the service, or at least find it a good home.
(Once I have some employees working for me, this issue will certainly clear up)
Huh. These are all kinda rough answers. Like I said, I'd never really thought about it. Thanks for bringing it up. I'll give it some more thought.
Huge props to Michal for sending such a warm and honest reply, but the low bus factor worried me. I ended up sticking with Dreamhost, which I highly recommend if their offering matches your needs.

Michal just posted an update on his blog, for those following along. Hope he pulls through whatever's happening in good spirits and health.

2012-01-17

New Adventures

Today is my last day at Rdio. I joined two years ago when Carter recruited me to help with some product management, in preparation for our eventual launch. Post-launch I hired some great folks to ramp up our user-facing operational program (community / social / support / etc.), and tapped into some prior experience to help April get our blogging efforts off the ground.

Presented without commentI've always wanted to work at a startup, and I learned a tremendous amount during my time at Rdio. I got exposure to a new-to-me group of entrepreneurs, as well as the sausage-being-made process that is the creation and marketing a new consumer service — which, it turns out, is incredibly challenging. I've also learned that my personality is better suited to earlier-stage, scrappier (and riskier) ventures — my skillset and aspirations are quite unique, and have never found an obvious home in later-stage org charts.

Fortunately Domainr is humming along nicely, and I'll be able to spend more time on it going forward. Randy and Cameron are almost done porting it to new infrastructure, which has understandably taken a while given their duties at Square. We'll be iterating on it soon, time-permitting.

In the short-term I'll be working on a project for Dan and Pete, who've done a fantastic job executing post-Google. We were fortunate enough to be part of Marissa's flock back in 2007, and I'm really looking forward to working with them.

Longer-term, I'm taking my time to find the right combination of people, values and mission with which to fully align my time. If you hear of anything I might dig, or know some folks with whom I should chat, get in touch.