Dreams, A Personal Insanity

1. It was kind of my friends to throw me a surprise party, but the jovial mood was tainted by the presence of my nemesis. I knew this stout black man from his neighborhood pool cleaning service but apparently he moonlighted as a cake baker. And tonight, not only was he baking my cake, he was extorting six dollars from me for a cake pedestal–whatever that was. Ah well–I brushed it off and returned to the party, replete with champagne and cubic leather ottoman.

2010 Plan & Goals

Yeah, sure, New Year’s resolutions, fine. Well I sort of missed it, so I gave myself until the end of January to plot my year. I generally wanted to embrace the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal-setting concept where possible and practical, so what’s below is divided into the discrete, check-it-off-when-done tasks, and the more abstract goals I’ve haven’t wrangled into task form (or don’t want to take the time to track, like some of the dailies).

Questions About the Apple iPad

Well, the Apple tablet, the “iPad” was just announced. I was fairly accurate with my predictions for the device: 9.6 in. screen, 3G internet connection, $499 price tag. Now that we have the details we’re left wondering how this fits into our repertoire of technological devices. What can it do for me? Developers seem to be on the fence. For the most part we’re thinking it’s too phone-like to replace our laptops, and too big to be a phone—why would I shell out $500?

2009: A Year in Review

When I sat down to write this I was convinced that 2009 was a fairly crappy year. I feel like I spent about half the year blocked by circumstance from doing the things I really wanted to do. But after compiling a list of how I actually spent my time I realize that while it wasn’t everything I hoped it could be it, it was still pretty freaking cool. Here’s a list of some of the more interesting occurrences of 2009:

Lifehacking, Expanded

(Photo: left-hand) My friend Richard recently commented to me how curious it is that people alive today know little more about how to be human than the people who came before us. It’s an interesting point. Sure, we have an increased understanding of the physical world, but there’s no state-of-the-art for how to conduct our daily activities. Collectively, we don’t seem to be progressing on this most basic front. Enter lifehacking.

Live for the Stories

The only thing actually real is the now, and human lives are exceedingly short. One day we’ll look back on our past activities to see how we’ve lived our lives and garner if we’ve spent them well or ill. In that moment, all past life is compressed to nothing more than a narrative, the more interesting events reduced to chapters or mentions and the less interesting ones forgotten entirely. That said, plan to write the best story you can.

How to Find the Motivation to do Big Things

A little over a month ago I released an iPhone application called Raconteur. And while it may not be especially groundbreaking, it was a hugely important for me because it’s one of the few things I’ve ever finished. On my own, with no external requirements, and no one driving me, I finished it. Oh, I start things. I have 58 unpublished blog drafts (probably a dozen more on paper) and scores of projects in my version control repositories.

Perfectionism: The Engineer's Bane

I’ve tried blogging many times, but my forays into online writing always grind to a halt. The explanation for this is partly psychological and partly technological: I latch onto minor dislikes I have with blogging tools/platforms and I can’t overcome them because of my perfectionist nature. I’d rather leave the blogging ‘problem’ unsolved than to solve it imperfectly. I have serious difficulties with accepting 90% solutions to problems. I suspect this is a shared engineer trait.

iOS: Yay, In-Application Preferences

There are lots of nice resources (both printed and online) regarding the use of the Settings.bundle to store the user’s preferences on the iPhone, but there seems to be a severe lack of resources about not using it. Settings.bundle is admittedly pretty cool. With a single .plist file you can create a settings management page in your application that covers a number of common requirements. But besides the obvious UI concern of storing your application’s preferences in a location many of your users will never check, the bigger problem is one of limitations; if the Settings.

Bernanke's "Principles"

“There are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in financial crises.” — Ben S. Benanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve (source) No, Mr. Bernanke, you are wrong on both counts: there are plenty of atheists in foxholes and many of us “ideologues” actually believe in our ideals. That’s what makes them ideals. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.