How do you find the time to do this stuff?
“This Stuff” is important to me.
(Via Frank Chimero’s old FAQ page. RIP, lost to the internet memory hole.)
I’ve used Weightbot every day since 2008 to track my weight. I bought a Fitbit Aria this spring to make everyday tracking even easier, and use TrendWeight to view Fitbit’s data in much prettier and data-rich graphs with trend lines and moving average calculations.
I wanted to add my old Weightbot data to Fitbit, but hand-entering over a thousand weights on fitbit.com seemed low-tech and laborious. Weightbot has CSV exporting as part of their backup service, so I downloaded all of my data in a machine-parseable format. Handling OAuth handshaking and request signing with the Fitbit API to programmatically enter them was a pain, but I lucked out when I found OAuthSimple: it meant I could ignore HMAC SHA-1 signatures and shared secrets and all that nonce(nse), and focus on writing the rest of the two scripts.
Introducing Fitbit OAuth and Weight Upload. The readme has detailed instructions about registering an application with Fitbit to get an API key, and the scripts will help you get a valid OAuth token so it can upload a whole CSV file. Let me know if you have issues, and fork it if you want it to do more.
“[He] understood that criticism doesn’t mean delivering petty, ill-tempered Simon Cowell-like put-downs. It doesn’t necessarily mean heaping scorn. It means making fine distinctions. It means talking about ideas, aesthetics and morality as if these things matter (and they do). It’s at base an act of love. Our critical faculties are what make us human.”
(via The Shape of Everything)
A spokesman for the Mission Merchants Association [said], Rigo can forget about expanding into certain progressive neighborhoods where “a Starbucks bakery [is] politically a no-go.”
Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of how out-of-sync this city is with how I understand and value the world.
“Gun control in America is as quaint a proposition, at this point, as marijuana prohibition, with two important differences: first, that the government is still for some reason pursuing the absurd project of marijuana prohibition; and second, that guns are actually a significant threat to public health. In this sense, gun control is on a long list of things that could have saved many people’s lives and made the world a better place, but for which it is now probably too late: a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, EU action to avert economic catastrophe, stopping global warming. So this is just what one of America’s many faces is going to be: a bitterly divided, hatefully cynical country where insane people have easy access to semi-automatic weapons, and occasionally use them to commit senseless atrocities. We will continue to see more and more of this sort of thing, and there’s nothing we can realistically do about it.”
Better arguments, deeper discussions.
Iterated editing rounds.
The Writer submits an article to the Group. Each group Member gets one reply, sent to the Writer, in which to make editing suggestions, as well as in-line counterpoints or clarifications. Replies are collected by the writer and incorporated into the next iteration of the article.
(Or, how I’m going to run this when I try it later today.)
The writer sends an introductory email to each group member with a brief description of the article, and a list with the names and emails of the group members. The next email from the writer, and all that follow, will be to the editors, BCCed.
The main article:
Subject: <topic name> draft one
Optional things that just occurred to me that are useful but not strictly necessary:
A side discussion thread. Format:
Subject: Draft one discussion
Body: "Have fun, play nice."
Open posting of rebuttals. (These are sent by the writer to the group.) Format:
Subject: Draft one rebuttal from <editor>
Technical discussion needs a long-form venue.
Twitter’s reply threading is great, but its character limit severely hinders both writers and editors. Positions are stated in 140 characters, and clarifications and counterarguments are limited by the number of @mentions.
Tumblr is great for posts, and medium-sized rebuttals or commentary via reblogging work well, but reblogging is too heavy for suggesting minor corrections. Longer-form rebuttals are typically posted on their own, since they’re not really a “reblog”, but this means the original article has no forward link to it. Any further iterations from the original writer suffer from the same thing: they’re forced to choose between “new post” or “reblog with lots of quoting”.
Blogs are great for commentary and small corrections, but not long-form counterarguments. Off-the-cuff comments are the first to be seen, and community or writer moderation is required to make the most incisive replies visible to other readers.
Email, it turns out, works pretty well. (As did Google Wave, RIP.) There’s no character limit, and simple one-level quoting is perfect for posting in-line counterpoints. The main feedback discussion is controlled with a BCC mechanism, allowing the writer and editors to concentrate on their one-on-one interactions of “article, rebuttal”. Email doesn’t preclude a side discussion thread, and reply-all is not inherently dangerous, but the intelligence of arguments is directly correlated to the time needed to write them, and the size of email groups is inversely correlated to average time to the first reply. (Off-the-cuff commentary is always faster to write than the shortest critique.)
My primary goal is pacing. Corralling the feedback loop into a back-and-forth helps both the writer and the critic. The writer gets an opportunity to make an argument that incorporates counterarguments from critics, while critics are encouraged to take their time to write incisive, detailed, well-supported and well-sourced rebuttals, and points of improvement.
How this will work:
The first discussion will be about ARC (automatic retain count).
If you want to be in the editing group, send an email to email@example.com with the email address to send emails to, and the name you want to use in the public group announcement. If you’d like to be in the editing group but wish to remain anonymous (except to me and the writer), simply note that. (Folks at Apple: you’re welcome to participate. If you have any reservations, let’s chat.)
If you want to be the writer for this discussion, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll figure out who’s the lucky person for this.
If you want to host one of these yourself, please do so. I ask only that you give credit by linking to this post when you start the first round; after that, it’s all yours. Riff on the rules, too: reblog this and change everything around. Try hosting it on Twitter, run it with real letters sent through the mail, or host a public multi-author blog with articles and rebuttals as posts, and open or moderated comments on each. There’s enough slack in this idea to send it in any number of directions, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
The cult of personality around Steve Jobs has mislead many. Articles looking to reminisce about his time at Apple in the mid-’80s tell big stories of his “mercurial asshole” tendencies. They overemphasize his insistence to simplify, and misstate it as “simplify until there’s nothing left”. It’s easy to forget that his early days at Apple could be summarized as “success in spite of himself”, and that he was fired from the company he co-founded.
The second Steve Jobs, the hitmaster at Pixar and Apple, is the one we should dissect and understand. Fast Company’s May 2012 cover story is about his “so-called wilderness years”. I can’t pull-quote it, because it’s a deep, arcing thematic discussion, not a series of punchy anecdotes. Go read it. The internet will still be here when you’re done, don’t worry.
If you didn’t read the Fast Company article yet, here’s a story about the Steve that no one should emulate.
We played the spot once, and when it finished, Jobs said, “It sucks! I hate it! It’s advertising agency ****! I thought you were going to write something like ‘Dead Poets Society!’ This is crap!”
Clow said something like, “Well, I take it you don’t want to see it again.” And Steve continued to go on a rant about how we should get the writers from “Dead Poets Society” or some “real writers” to write something…
The original script we presented to Jobs is below. As you can see, it’s very close to the final script that would eventually go to air… “Jobs has seen a ton of scripts, and he’s gone full circle… we’re moving ahead with your ‘Crazy Ones’ script.”
Buzz Andersen discusses the Cult of Jobs at length, and has this to say:
The biggest thing that bothers me about the “Cult of Jobs” is that… people often seem to mistake the unfortunate, frequently counterproductive, side effects of the personality that made him great for the very cause of his greatness.
… An entire generation of entrepreneurs is learning the folkloric lesson that the secret to success is to be a mercurial asshole who abuses everyone and listens to no one.
There’s a reason people like Steve start successful companies: because they believe in themselves, envision their success unwaveringly, and don’t compromise. But there can be a dark side to that fanatical self belief: a disdain for the ideas of others.
I suspect one of the biggest [reasons for Steve’s late-in-life success at Apple] is that he finally managed to surround himself with brilliant people… who knew how to handle him, curb his worst tendencies, and present important ideas to him in a way that he would accept.
With those fresh in your mind as Steve Jobs, the CEO Anti-Pattern, read Fast Company’s story and round out your worldview.