The next 10 years

Ten’s a nice round number, don’t you think?

Next month, I’ll celebrate my tenth anniversary of walking into the Macworld offices and starting my career in the wild, wooly world of tech journalism. That first summer, I spent two days a week working with Jim Galbraith and Brian X. Chen testing older Macs with a new benchmark script for the Macworld Labs.

What a ride it’s been. Since then, I had the chance to work with fantastic teams at Macworld, PCWorld, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, the Whitman Pioneer (since renamed the Wire), GeekWire and IDG News Service.

And now, it’s time for me to chart a fresh course for the next decade of writing. As of next week, I’ll be moving on from my role at the News Service to work on AI and cloud coverage at VentureBeat.

(At least until my job can be done by a neural network trained on my past writing, in which case all bets are off. On the bright side, at least I’ll see it coming.)

Two years ago, I walked back into the South of Market office that I remembered from my teenage intern years as a Mac- and iOS-focused writer to take a job centered around Microsoft. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be in that job and loving it, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.

But it has been wonderful getting to cover that beat, which allowed me to follow some of the top trends in technology today. I’m looking forward to bringing that energy with me to VB, and I hope all of you will join me on that journey.

In my tenure at the News Service, I’ve had the privilege of working with a truly fantastic team of people along with an incredible worldwide community of IDGers. Unfortunately, the company underwent a series of major layoffs earlier this week. There’s a terrific group of folks out there looking for gigs.

To my IDG colleagues past and present, best of luck. It’s been real.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a stack of whitepapers to go read.

Tech, Linked

We’re reading up on TRANSHUMANISM (Paul Graham Raven/Arc)

A recent Wired article led me to this piece by Paul Graham Raven reviewing a pair of books on transhumanism. The whole piece is worth reading for his incisive commentary on the books' contents, as well as his thoughts on transhumanism as a whole.

Here's an excerpt I found particularly interesting (italics his, bolding mine):

What is absent from this book, and from the transhumanism it defines, is community, society. Oh, there’s talk of the transhuman community, of course (when a transhumanist says “we", they don’t mean you unless you’re also a card-carrier), and society gets a few passing mentions, albeit usually as the source of restrictive regulatory practices and unjust laws impinging on the sovereignty of the individual. But transhumanist doctrine itself does not necessarily extend beyond the body of the transhumanist; so long as the transhumanist is permitted their transhumanity, then the rest of the world can go whistle. This is the shell-game of morphological freedom, wherein the transhumanist graciously concedes that they have no right to tell you what to do with your physicality or mind, just so long as you can’t stop them doing what they want to themselves. You look after yourself, I’ll look after me; what could be fairer than that?

In a world less structurally unfair than the one I currently find myself inhabiting, that principle might do just fine. But what it lacks, what transhumanism lacks, and what the Californian ideology which underpins transhumanism lacks, is any sense of responsibility for the consequences of your actions upon others. It’s not even that the questions are so new or hard to formulate; the social sciences are grappling hard with them as we speak, in an attempt to resolve the paradox of a world where transhumanists can talk blithely about “improving" and “extending" human capacities without addressing the questions of where the implied baseline is and who gets to police it, and where politicians can talk about market-enabled choice and “diverse healthcare outcomes" while framing disability or long-term illness as one of many ways that the feckless supposedly sponge off of the state. It’s as a part of this globally diffuse paradigm of me-first-why-not privilege that transhumanism starts to look less like an oddball cybercultural anomaly and more like yet another proxy front for oligarchy-as-usual. As James Bridle says, “technology is the reification and instrumentalisation of human desires"; nowhere is that more plain to see than transhumanism.

And the kicker, when it comes to the transhumanist imperative of expanding technologies to improve human life:

Well, I have good news: it turns out that technologies which extend, augment or otherwise improve human life are already here! You may have heard of some of them: clean water; urban sanitation; smokeless cooking facilities; free access to healthcare; a guaranteed minimum income; a good, free education.


The Airport Cases (Sarah Jeong)

The current state of litigation over President Donald Trump's travel ban executive order is a bit of a mess. There are a bunch of cases, and Washington v. Trump, the most famous one, is currently tied up in a knot of civil procedure so tight that I'm not even sure all the parties involved in the case know what's going on. 

Thankfully, Sarah Jeong is here to provide a public service and offer an eminently-readable summary of some of what's going on in her new email newsletter, "The Airport Cases," which just had its first issue. It's chock full of humor, knowledge, and color glossy diagrams with circles and arrows and paragraphs explaining each one.

Tech, Linked

FBI: Common scanning tools used to target state election systems (Steve Ragan/CSO)


In late June, early-July, the Arizona Secretary of State's office closed down the state's voter registration system after someone compromised valid credentials and used them to access the system.
Shortly after that incident, on July 12, someone exploited the Illinois Voter Registration System (IVRS). According to Ken Menzel, the general counsel for the Illinois board of elections, the attackers were able to exploit "a chink in the armor in one small data field in the online registration system."


Voter registration system attacks illustrate something important about voting security: attackers can still do national-scale damage by attacking less fortified local targets, without having to physically go hyper-local.

Individual legislators change the balance of power, both nationwide and statewide. Seemingly small decisions can have major impacts on regional economies and the moves of multinational corporations.

See the recent decision by Waitsburg, Washington's city council to block the construction of a Nestlé bottled water plant in their town. It's not clear what Nestlé will do as a result, but that one small decision

Now, imagine all of the different ways it's possible to mess with that election. What happens if an attacker finds a way to drop half of all voters from the rolls, or manages to delay or block delivery of vote-by-mail ballots?

We’re now in a world where it’s important for national governments to fund local governments' information security efforts, before something catastrophic happens.  Welcome to the future. 


The Trigger Warning Myth (Aaron R. Hanlon/The New Republic)

Rather, trigger warnings are, in practice, just one of a set of tools that professors use with varying degrees of formality to negotiate the give-and-take of classroom interactions. If you take away the media hysteria surrounding trigger warnings, you’re left with a mode of conversational priming that we all use: “You might want to sit down for this”; “I’m not sure how to say this, but…” It’s hardly anti-intellectual or emotionally damaging to anticipate that other people may react to traumatic material with negative emotions, particularly if they suffer from PTSD; it’s human to engage others with empathy. It’s also human to have emotional responses to life and literature, responses that may come before, but in no way preclude, a dispassionate analysis of a text or situation.

A well-considered counter to that Atlantic story.

Tech, How-to

How to make OmniFocus and Windows live in quasi-harmony using Exchange

As part of my new gig, I get to spend some time working on a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10. That in and of itself is actually rather enjoyable, but when I try marrying my love for iOS-centric productivity tools with my newfound computing platform, things get a bit…messy.

Luckily, there's Breevy for all my text expansion needs, and 1Password has a Windows client. But there's one app that I rely on that doesn't have a presence (or a truly compatible counterpart) on Windows: OmniFocus.

OmniFocus is where my entire life exists in to-do list form. I rely on it to keep up with everything I do, and it's often one of the first apps I check in the morning, and one of the last ones I check at night. It's also incredibly complex -- it's possible to sort different tasks by project, context and even combine whole groups of them into particular perspectives. In other words, migrating to a new, cross-platform to-do list system isn't in the cards for me either.

To make OmniFocus work with the Surface, I tied together a bunch of different features that means I can now use Outlook on my Surface as an inbox for to-do list items that show up on my Macs and iOS devices. To set things up, you'll need an Exchange account, Outlook for Windows, and OmniFocus for iOS.

Step 1: Hook your iPhone or iPad up to the Exchange account, and make sure that the account is enabled to handle tasks. That should create a to-do list in Apple's built-in Reminders app for iOS called "Tasks" that syncs with the list of tasks in your exchange account. (It's easy enough to test this by adding a task in Outlook and seeing if it shows up on your iPhone.

Step 2: Open OmniFocus on your iPhone or iPad, and go to Settings > Capture Reminders. Toggle "Reminders Capture" on, and then check the Tasks list in the list of possible reminders. Now, whenever you add a task in Outlook, it should sync to the iPhone, and then add itself to OmniFocus's inbox.

Step 3: To take that one step further, it's possible to use Siri to add tasks to the OmniFocus inbox by going to Settings > Reminders > Default List and setting Tasks as the default list. Now, when you say "Hey Siri, remind me to take out the trash," Apple's virtual assistant will create a "Take out the trash" reminder in the Tasks list, which will then sync to OmniFocus!

It's not a fully-featured OmniFocus client on my Surface (which I would love) but for me, it's the next best thing.

Linked, Tech

Clinkle Implodes As Employees Quit In Protest Of CEO (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)

Founded at Stanford in 2011 by Duplan when he was just 19, Clinkle amassed a team of smart, driven students at the college despite refusing to show many a working prototype. Duplan’s co-founders Frank Li and Jason Riggs have both since parted ways with Clinkle.

Yet suddenly, the startup was the talk of the town when it managed to raise $25 million in seed funding in June 2013 from top investors including Peter Thiel, Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Benioff, Jim Bryer, Accel Ventures and Index Partners.

But rather than a traditional-priced seed round for equity, sources say Duplan structured the financing as convertible debt. One outcome of that was that Clinkle didn’t need to allow an investor on its board of directors, limiting oversight and keeping Duplan in firm control. The round was raised in small amounts from a large number of investors, which also kept anyone from dedicating more time to guiding Clinkle. Duplan secured another $5 million a few months later bringing Clinkle to over $30 million in funding.

A cautionary tale of woe from TechCrunch's Josh Constine. The story of Clinkle seems to be a crystal-clear example of what happens when someone takes all the wrong lessons from the tech giants of the past 40 years and then...fails miserably.

The founders of Facebook and Google all structured the ownership of their companies so that they could retain total control, even after going public. To me, that always seemed like a response to Steve Jobs's ouster at Apple (and less high-profile examples of the same behavior), which clearly worked out well for Page, Brin and Zuckerberg. On the flipside, we have Lucas Duplan, who structured his funding so that he could retain total control of the company, but didn't have a product, evidently couldn't keep a team together, and seems to have been missing some of the opportunities for advice and growth that come from bringing on more involved investors.

Now, Clinkle is circling the drain, and it seems the only question remaining for the company is how bad its outcome will be.

It's interesting to see this dovetail with Nellie Bowles's reporting on the teens of Silicon Valley. There's a group of young folk who have decided to come out to the Valley to try and strike it rich as startup employees or entrepreneurs, and they're being courted by venture capitalists and Valley luminaries out to harness the next Facebook, Google or Uber.

In the context of Clinkle, I found this quote from Kristina Varshavskaya (who left home in New Jersey when she was 17 to join her sister at Wanelo) particularly illuminating:

“I’ll either meet people who will fetishize it or will dismiss it. The fetish is kind of weird,” Varshavskaya says. “The group of young guys here. A lot of them are treated like gods and wizards and heroes, and all the venture capitalists are waiting for their next magic thing, but they’re not doing anything that special. They’re just really young. I include myself in that.”

Linked, Personal

How to pretend to be happy on the internet (Selena Larson/The Kernel)

You can’t be sad if you’re using the Crema filter on a good hair day, right? Right? If you type enough exclamation marks and happy-faced emojis, no one knows your heart is broken.

Real talk from my friend Selena about keeping a happy face on social media. It hits real close to home for me, since my presence on the web is such a public performance. Especially on Twitter, where the majority of my followers are people who I've never met, I'm acutely cautious about what I say. I'd hate to be That Guy who's a buzzkill on social media.

It's a version of myself, to be sure, but posting tweets, blog posts and other digital items is always an exercise in editing myself. And this, I think, is one of the persistent shortcomings of all social media platforms: I'll never be as real in my posts to Facebook as I am in a private conversation.

Linked, Writing

Haruki Murakami answers: Is the pen mightier than the sword?

I’m taken aback by how straightforward this question is. Is the pen mightier than the sword? I want to say of course it is, but nowadays it’s hard to say. Aside from terrorist attacks, you get backlash from the internet as well. You have to be mindful when you’re writing something.

I keep in mind to “not have the pen get too mighty” when I write. I choose my words so the least amount of people get hurt, but that’s also hard to achieve. No matter what is written, there is a chance of someone getting hurt or offending someone. Keeping all that in mind, I try as much as I can to write something that will not hurt anyone. This is a moral every writer should follow.

But at the same time, when you need to fight a battle, you also need to reserve energy to be able to fight. Something like what you use to tighten your stomach. But that’s only when you really need to. If you recklessly make the pen mightier than the sword, you’re putting yourself in danger. That’s my personal opinion. Some may think otherwise.

–Haruki Murakami, from "The Best of Haruki Murakami's Advice Column" on Vulture.

Words to write by. I didn't think I could be more of a fan of Murakami, and yet here I am.

One of the things that has always bugged me about people who rage against "political correctness" is that it smacks of callousness. Arguments over language choice, especially as it relates to marginalized groups, often have two sides: one arguing for the reduction of harm, and the other arguing for the ability to say whatever they want without consequence.

I just can't see the latter as anything other than an unwillingness to be good to other people because it's inconvenient. And that doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever.

Linked, Tech

Which Women in Tech? (Nicole Sanchez)

History has taught us that diversification efforts (ie: initiatives to correct systemic inequalities) unfold like this: White men “let” white women into the halls of power they created, and little changes for the rest of us. Such is the case in politics, in elite universities, and in corporate America.

This pattern is currently repeating itself in tech, with Silicon Valley luminaries and media applauding “change” and pointing to a handful of highly successful white, well-networked women as the vanguards. As such, all women working in this field are expected to rejoice over Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer and take advice from them on how to replicate their success.

But something that everyone paying attention to diversity in tech needs to understand is this: White women speaking for us as representatives of the “diversity in tech” movement must stop. White women are a small sliver of the available talent, but are currently used as the proxy for all diversity. What works for them is not what works for us.

Important stuff for everyone to think about when we discuss diversity in tech. Coupled with Amelia Greenhall's piece about Vivek Wadhwa, it was an important reminder to me that people like yours truly in positions of privilege have a responsibility to center the voices of people who don't.


How Men’s Rights Leader Paul Elam Turned Being A Deadbeat Dad Into A Moneymaking Movement (BuzzFeed)

What is clear is that Elam has amassed tens of thousands of followers — and lined his pockets with their donations to the for-profit AVFM, which are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. (When asked how this money is spent, Elam told BuzzFeed News that A Voice for Men’s finances were “none of your fucking business.”)

Elam is equally tight-lipped about where his inspiration comes from. He likes to remind his followers that he knows the sacrifices men make thanks to his own experiences, which he speaks of often. But in telling his life story again and again, Elam has conveniently left much out.

Now, exclusive interviews with Elam’s ex-wives and daughter and newly uncovered court records shed light on a man who, they told BuzzFeed News, has depended on and emotionally abused the women in his own life.

If you read one story this weekend, make it this one. It's a stark, unflinching portrait of Paul Elam, a leader in the men's rights movement.

(All of that said, this article may not be for everyone, especially those people who are triggered by discussions of abuse and rape.)

Magic, Linked

The Truth of Names (MTG: Uncharted Realms)

Then the khan came to Alesha. She stood before him, snakes coiling in the pit of her stomach, and told how she had slain her first dragon. The khan nodded and asked her name.

"Alesha," she said, as loudly as she could. Just Alesha, her grandmother's name.

"Alesha!" the khan shouted, without a moment's pause.

And the whole gathered horde shouted "Alesha!" in reply. The warriors of the Mardu shouted her name.

The Magic: The Gathering universe now has its first officially acknowledged trans character: Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Genuinely teared up a bit reading this story – it's great to see WotC representing a wider range of characters in its game these days. Here's to hoping that the inclusivity of Magic's storyline continues to grow from here on out.

Linked, Tech

Illinois Says Rule-Breaking Students Must Give Teachers Their Facebook Passwords (Motherboard)

School districts in Illinois are telling parents that a new law may require school officials to demand the social media passwords of students if they are suspected in cyberbullying cases or are otherwise suspected of breaking school rules.

The law, which went into effect on January 1, defines cyberbullying and makes harassment on Facebook, Twitter, or via other digital means a violation of the state's school code, even if the bullying happens outside of school hours.

A letter sent out to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District #2, a district located just over the Missouri-Illinois line near St. Louis, that was obtained by Motherboard says that school officials can demand students give them their passwords.

Does anyone still wonder why Snapchat, YikYak and other "disappearing" and "anonymous" message apps* are popular with The Kids? Stuff like this is why.

But there's a larger problem at work here, too: how can we help students who are being bullied through technological means, without giving administrators the power to be needlessly invasive?

* Scare quotes added for the purpose of noting that content shared through those apps is usually neither truly anonymous nor can it be guaranteed to disappear.

Tech, Linked

A Spy in the Machine: How a brutal government used cutting-edge spyware to hijack one activist's life (The Verge)

An investigation would later reveal that Moosa’s online life was hijacked for eight months. All signs pointed to Bahrain as the culprit, and FinFisher, a mysterious spyware for-hire tool, as the weapon of choice.

This investigation into the use of FinFisher by the Bahrain government (and others around the world) is an important read. It's a good example of what happens when you give oppressive governments the ability to buy powerful spyware tools.

While the company that makes FinFisher has denied selling it to Bahrain, this is a toolkit that makes it easy for wealthy actors to spy on people without having to home-brew the technical know how to do it. If that doesn't spook you a bit, well, I don't know what will.

Tech, Linked

An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media (danah boyd)

danah boyd on Medium:

Let me put this bluntly: teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background.

I've found boyd to be one of the most whip-smart writers on teens' use of social media, and this piece is a worthwhile read for anyone who read or shared the Medium post by a teenager about how he and his peers use social media. His is only one side of the story.


Looking back, looking ahead: New Year's Resolutions 2015


Alright, it's time again for me to talk about my New Year's Resolutions, since mentioning them on the internet at least makes me think about them on a regular basis. I appreciated that last year – even though I didn't end up following through on all my resolutions – so I'm doing it again this year.

Without further ado, let's take a look back at what I had planned for 2014:

1. Take 52 photos in 52 weeks.

Success! I did succeed in shooting all the photos I needed for this particular goal, though I didn't publish all of them, in part because of a bug that completely killed VSCO Cam during the iOS 8 beta. Good news, though: I'll post the last few to the 52x14 Flickr album in the coming week or so.

After that, I want to actually turn this into a book that may or may not be available for purchase. I'm still thinking about it.

2. Write a blog post a month.

Well, we can all see how that went, can't we? I learned this past year that even if I really want to write a blog post a month, it can be hard for me to take time and make it a priority, especially after a day of writing other stories. One of the biggest roadblocks for me this year was dealing with my own perfectionism – I often want to make sure that my ideas are the best they possibly can before publishing, which is often a recipe for publishing nothing at all.

3. Write an iOS app I actually want to use.

I said this one wouldn't see the light of day, and I was right. I have successfully noodled around with Objective-C a bit, and built a couple small apps that give me a sense for the language but don't translate into anything useful, which is too bad. I'm hoping that I'll come to grips with Swift this coming year, which may fuel future development (and future resolutions), but I don't have anything concrete planned at the moment.

4. Develop an exercise practice and lose some weight.

I didn't mention this in my post last year because I'm of the belief that my weight and personal fitness is basically my business, and I'm not super-interested in airing that publicly for the most part.

All of that said, I would be remiss not to mention one of the largest changes in my life over the past year: I lost a little more than 50 pounds. There's no real secret to what I did – I'm eating better than I was, and exercising more – and I'm sure that my 20-something metabolism helped matters.

With that in mind, it's time for me to take a look ahead to 2015. Here's what I have planned:

1. Take 52 photos in 52 weeks.

Anyone who follows me on social media may have noticed that this photo showed up with the hashtag #52x15 attached. So yes, that means I'm doing the same photo-a-week-ish project this time around as well. I really enjoy what it does for my habits, so carrying it on makes a whole lot of sense.

I've started a new album on Flickr which will get updated as time goes on. As usual, I'll be posting items to Instagram (and by extension, Twitter) as well.

2. Use Reporter to create a record of my 25th year on the planet.

I gave Reporter a shot last year, but gave up on it midway through the year becase the app lost all data after I restored my phone to the iOS 8 beta. That said, I've been a huge fan of the Feltron Reports ever since Justin introduced me to them during his Intro to New Genre Arts Practices class, and I'd love to replicate something like that for myself.

3. Read 24 books in 12 months.

I read a good deal less than I wanted to in 2014, in part because there are so many different interesting things I can do to relax. I tend towards leisure activities that also allow me to listen to podcasts, since I listen to more than a dozen of varying lengths a week. I can't really pay attention to a book and a podcast at the same time, but it's easy for me to whip out my Vita and play Minecraft while catching up on Directional. As such, reading has fallen by the wayside, except in certain special cases.

So, I've set myself a fairly ambitious goal of reading 24 books this year – basically one every fortnight. And that means I need books to read, so if you have any favorites you want to share, let me know. If you want to follow along with my progress, check out my Goodreads page.

If all goes well, this time next year I'll have some good news to report. At the very least, I hope to have something of a better track record.


Some fiction, finally

One of the things that has been the most difficult about being out of college is the lack of a predefined space for me to work on my fiction. The hustle of regular assignments meant that I was under regular pressure to come up with new material, which would be thrown into a feedback loop of exercises and workshops that would eventually lead to the semi-regular creation of further material. Now? Well, not so much. On any of those fronts. As it turns out, sitting down to write after a day of writing is...a difficult proposition for me. But over the past few months, I've been hashing out a rough draft in my notebook during a few plane rides, and it's finally done.

Not in any publishable form, of course, it's a first draft with loads of problems, chief among them a lack of a point. I've written the story such that things just happen aimlessly in a way that I find truly disappointing. But for the first time in a year and a half, I actually have a reason to sit down in Scrivener, and try knocking some sense into this particular piece. Which makes me quite happy.

Why am I sharing this with the internet at large? I have to get it off my chest. Putting it somewhere public, where I'll have to look at it and know others will see it too, so that I have a reason to keep plugging away at this, or at least give it a proper burial.


Two short tidbits on music

Why Daft Punk’s Grammy night performance was so amazing

I nearly teared up watching Daft Punk’s performance at the Grammys last weekend. Seriously.

The robots’ live shows are legendary, and for good reason: Their studio material is frequently excellent, but it’s not always super-complex. But when they play live, they often end up mixing two or three tracks together in a way that just…fits and creates something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

The duo’s performance on the Grammy stage showed that they still have a feel for playing live, but more importantly, it showed the sort of potential that is nestled inside Random Access Memories.

For those who couldn’t tell, here’s a list of everything that was mixed into the performance:

  • Get Lucky
  • Harder Better Faster Stronger
  • Lose Yourself to Dance
  • Le Freak (originally by Chic)
  • Another Star (by Stevie Wonder)
  • Around the World

It’s a lot. But that’s what I find so amazing about Daft Punk: they create these performances that feel effortless, even when they’re bringing together so many different tracks from different eras.

When rumors of a potential RAM toor floated prior to the album’s launch, the rumor mill said that one potential complication would be getting the duo, who have typically played alone, atop a giant pyramid, onto the same stage with a live band.

What we saw last weekend appears to be proof that would work. And it would be awesome. RAM may have taken home album of the year, but it’s clear that this material has legs beyond what Daft Punk has done with it so far.

Streaming music has finally made it

I’m standing at my desk writing this piece while listening to the soundtrack from The Social Network. I’ve never heard it before, and it’s probably not something I’d drop $8 on. But I get to give it a try all the way through with Rdio.

Here’s the thing: without the current confluence of technologies, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as interested in throwing down $10 a month on streaming music. Here’s what it took:

  • Internet connections have gotten better.
  • Connected devices have become more prevalent, and cellular connections got a lot faster.
  • Rightsholders have finally gotten on board with offering their catalog for unlimited online streaming.

All of that adds up to an era when it makes sense to plunk down $10 a month for music streaming rather than spending the same amount (or more) on albums. Sure, if I stop subscribing to Rdio, I lose out on listening to the music that I don’t own, but the upside is that I get to listen to stuff that I would otherwise overlook because it wouldn’t be worth a purchase.

Because rightsholders have, with a few exceptions, been licensing their content broadly, I really don’t miss all that much if I switch services, either, save for my playlists, which are seemingly impossible to share between services.

If nothing else, I think that the rise of Rdio and other services like it should be enough to give terrestrial radio companies pause. Streaming services offer users the best of so many worlds, including the ability to stream the music they want, as well as the ability to switch on a radio service that’s ad-free, and based on only what they want to listen to.

Also, if you haven't given Rdio, Spotify, or one of those other services a shot, try them. I know my life has been better for it.


My New Year's Resolutions for 2014

For me, 2013 was a year of figuring out how I was going to fulfill a bunch of pre-existing commitments. As I noted to a few friends on New Year’s Eve, my theme song for the first half of the year was The Mountain Goats’s “This Year,” and it was nice to be able to sit down and realize that, as a matter of fact, I had made it through the year, and it hadn’t killed me. But that was then.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt like I was able to get my feet under me in a few key ways, and I really want to take a more proactive, less reactive approach to the coming year. I have some more personal goals that I’m going to keep to myself, but there are a few projects that I want to share with the big bad world out there, in part because I know that sharing with you means that I’m going to have some modicum of responsibility for making those things happen.

So, here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014:

1. Publish 52 exposures in 2014.

After I saw that Rachel was working on a 365 day photo project, I knew that I wanted to do something similar with my own photography. However, the usual “one photo every day” project just has never worked for me in the past.

Still, I want to do more work on my photography this year than I did in the last, and actually forcing myself to produce some form of content seems like a good starting place. So I’ve decided that my resolution for this year is going to be to produce and publish 52 exposures in 2014, which then can be elegantly shortened to the marvelously hashtaggable 52x14. Roughly speaking, I’m going to work on publishing one image every week, though I might skip some and double-up on others if things work out that way.

If you want to keep up with my project, follow me on Instagram, or check out the 52x14 album on my Flickr page.

2. In a similar vein, write 12 blog posts in 2014.

This blog has been neglected for far too long. Part of that is just because I’ve been caught up in my day job, and actually convincing myself to sit down and write after a long day of writing can be something of a challenge. So, much like my photography project, I’ll be trying to coerce myself to do something about it.

Here are the rules I’ll be following:

  • Write and post at least one blog post per month.
  • That post can’t say “Hey, no post this month,” barring some serious difficulties.
  • Other than that, everything’s in-bounds when it comes to topic: gaming, tech, writing, social justice issues, whatever. You could see a post on my work setup one month, and Hearthstone the next. My life is a grab-bag, and I fully expect this blog to reflect that.

I’ll be going against basically all of the advice from people who talk about starting a blog, and I won’t be posting regularly. That’s because that I fully intend for the stuff that I write to be based on whatever I’m feeling like writing a blog post. To keep up with my posting, you can follow this blog's RSS feed (you're welcome, Dave Winer).

If you’re looking for more me, you can find my writing on GeekWire or follow me on Twitter @belril.

3. Code an iOS app that I actually want to use in my daily life.

I now feel like I have a space in my life to actually take a crack at iOS development. That means that I want to build something that’s more than just the moral equivalent of writing a “Hello World!” program. It’s worth noting that I have no idea what shape that will take yet, and I probably won’t actually decide to release it on the App Store.

So, in sum, a new year means more photos, more blog posts, and a new iOS app that you will probably never see.

I don’t enable comments, because I fundamentally disagree with the idea that every blog must have a space for other people to post things about what I’m saying. Still, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to tweet at me or shoot me an email, and I’ll happily get back to you.