NaNoWriMo 2016

Ever since Marie wanted to learn to program in 2009, I’ve wanted to write a book to help her. But I never could get started.

The National Novel Writing Month is November every year for just this purpose: to motivate people to put 50,000 words on paper (about the size of the novel, Slaughterhouse-Five), editor be damned.

I first heard about it in 2007, when I started using Scrivener, but dismissed it because the requirement that a novel be fiction. I only just found about NaNo Rebels, which allows you to customize the “50,000 words” into nearly any other creative exercise, including non-fiction. So yesterday, this was born:

NaNoWriMo 2016 Participant Badge

Nowadays, I use Ulysses. I simply created a group in the software and set a 50,000 word goal and started typing away!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 2

Goal setting on my iPad.

I don’t know if I can finish since it’s about a good sized blog article each and every day. We’ll see how it goes. So far it’s been a bit strange writing a book. For instance, I can’t use my WordPress shortcode macros lest I ruin the word count.

Periodically, I’ll dump the output to my blog, which you can track here. Wish me luck!

If you want to buddy up, I’m “tychay” there.

A little about WaterField

Gary Waterfield:

Subject: Thanks for finding us!

Congratulations on being part of an exclusive group of people who own a San Francisco-made WaterField product. You might see another one— at an airport, a café in Florence, or a business meeting in Austin.  The best cases in the world attract some of the best and most diverse people in the world and we are glad to have you be part of our community. 

All our bags and cases are made by the most skilled sewing team in San Francisco. Please keep in touch and let us know what else we can do for you.

BTW, how did you bump into us? 

Thanks again,
Gary Waterfield

Continue reading about Waterfield bags after the jump

Not every Apple product is for you

(An article I started in May of 2015)

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
— Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

In 1992, one of my first postings on Usenet was an article on comp.sys.mac.* titled “Zen and the Art of Buying a Macintosh.” As someone whose first computer was an Apple ][+ in 1979, used Macs since they came out in 1984, and owned them since the “Fat Mac” in 1985, I was the very definition of an Apple-lover. In writing that post, I wanted to express the confusion and helplessness I felt when recommending a Macintosh to anyone. There were PowerBooks, Performas, LCs, Centrises, and Quadras, some of which were the same exact computer with different names. If a Mac fanboy like me couldn’t make heads-or-tails of it, something was seriously wrong for the Macintosh. It was clear to me that Apple had lost the very quality that attracted people like me to it in the first place. That post became popular enough that a number of Mac user group newsletters asked to republish it.

That Apple, the one that made infomercials, is no more. Steve Jobs retook the helm in 1997 and radically simplified its line into a quadrant based on two questions: Do you want a laptop or desktop computer? Are you a professional or consumer?

Those days are gone, but I can’t help but feel that Steve Jobs embedded in the DNA of Apple something to ensure they’d never again lose the very quality of “Apple” that would take it in a wrong direction. Apple became a company that stopped making something just because some business analyst said that they need to because it was “disruptive” or ” would protect their market share,” but rather a company that would only introduce a product when they had an idea who that product would be for.

Now to you kids, I want to tell you this: not every Apple product is for you.

Continue reading to have your bubble burst after the jump

The Seagull 1963

If I keep processing only old photos, I’ll never get ahead, so I thought I’d process some photos I took recently with four different cameras . They’re all of the same subject so you can see how camera/lens choice affect composition and processing. But since this article is not about photography, I’ll put that discussion the the photo captions.

Instead I’ll talk about a watch I “splurged” on: the Seagull 1963 Re-issue. Here it is after I just opened the box (taken with a Nikon D810):

Seagull 1963 just opened
The Richmond, San Francisco, California

Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-80mm f/2.8G
0.4sec @ ƒ14, iso 100, 62mm

Since I already set up my tripod and lightbox for a different shoot, I used the same setup to photograph the unboxing of my newly purchased watched. This image is nothing to write home about as I only take unboxing photos to document how to return something to its original packaging.The nice thing about a tripod photo is that long exposure times don’t matter (as long as the watch isn’t running). The only adjustment I had to do was in exposure and contrast.

I guess they ran out of commemorative tins.

Continue reading mabout this watch (and more photos) after the jump

Wrong model?

Me: *grabs the Victoria Secret flyer out of girlfriend’s hands*. Oh, it’s just a L…

Her: Yeah, they always have that free panty deal.

Me: You thought I was looking at the underwear? I was looking at the model…(long pause)… of camera! Hahaha!

Her: *rolls eyes* (sarcastically) Oh, very funny.

(It was a Leica film camera, of course.)

You know you’re a photographer at heart when when the thing your eyes are immediately drawn to in this photo is the camera.

Ulysses

The new version of Ulysses is out for Mac and iPad. (The Mac version is a free upgrade from Ulysses III; the iPad app is new).

Screenshot showing Ulysses for Mac with a three-paned window  editing notes from _Practice Perfect_.
A screenshot of the updated Ulysses for Mac. The theme is “Tomorrow” and the font is Inconsolata.

It’s really hard to explain what this app is. In fact, I’ve been purchasing (and not using) this application for years before I realized that it strikes the right balance for a certain set of work.

Continue reading about Ulysses after the jump

Don’t die without a few scars

I’ve used my break time to start repairing the decades of neglect I’ve heaped on my body by being the stereotypical 90 lb weakling. Being an introvert, that means runs and DVD workouts. And, after many false starts and almost-but-not-enough’s, I finally completed a full cycle of P90X3.

My reward for that was going to be buying and going through P90X2, but after my weight dropped to a level not seen since college — on a scrawny person like me, that’s not exactly a good thing1 — I decided I should probably stick to a simpler workout that might build a little muscle on my skin and bones. So instead, I decided to reward myself with new workout clothing and shoes:

Don't die without a few scars

Don’t die without a few scars
San Francisco, California

Sony DSC-RX1
1/80 sec @ f/4, iso 1600, 35mm

I took this photo right before Kenpo X, a workout notorious for being too easy.

Continue reading about my crummy fashion sense after the jump

Ergo chair buying advice

A friend asks:

I’m in the market for an office chair. Does anyone use a backless “saddle stool” or anything else that’s more ergonomic?

I can’t comment on backless models, because I’m apparently an “OG Normcore” circa. 1980’s, and not into fads that didn’t survive that wonderful decade.

  1. If your a person who actually uses your brain, you’ll probably be sitting down, not standing. And if so, you’ll be spending a lot of your time there. A chair is a big deal!
  2. People are probably going to recommend the one they use.
  3. Good ergo chairs can run $1k+ and can last decades—mine is 14 years old and counting.
  4. It’s really a personal preference.

Granted, I’m know that the standing desk religious nuts claim old Benjamin as one of their own, but before you plunk 10 down, you might want to try them out before buying. In San Francisco, there are vendors for all of the top brands accessible.

The top three are:

  • Herman Miller: Invented the category with the Aeron. The Latest models are the Embody and Mirra.
  • Steelcase: The world’s largest office furniture company followed Herman Miller with the Leap. The notable ones are the Think and the Gesture. Steelcase chairs are known to be highly complex and highly customizeable (You’ll need to read the user manual to get the sitting right).
  • Humanscale: The dark horse of the elite ergonomic office chair world. Famous for the Freedom, and now the Diffrient chairs.

FYI, As I mentioned two years ago, at home I use a Humanscale Freedom that I purchased from their first store in San Jose in 2000. When I got the cushions on my chair replaced from visiting the downtown SF Humanscale offices in 2011, Marie got a Humanscale Diffrient World Chair in custom colors—another benefit of visiting the store: more color options than the website.

DSC_8400 - Version 2

Some things have changed, but a lot is still the same

Learning to smile

Learning to smile

I’ve been a manager for 2.5 years and I’ve been too long away from programming. There is something just so wonderful about being able to work again in a world where there is a right and a wrong.1

I decided to start to finally2 teach myself iOS development today for: first, because I’ve never done it before and second, because it’s an opportunity to learn a new language and re-learn an old one3 I haven’t done for over a decade.

We’ll see how it goes. I’m not optimistic.


  1. …and getting the feedback to know which is which! 
  2. This does not count. 
  3. If you call writing a median-based BPM counter for Mac OS X, “learning.” I think the jury is still out since Xcode, memory management, and the user-interface are so different now.