JavaScript - A Bedtime Story

It all started with a nightlight that looked like a snowman and ended up taking 89 lines of JavaScript to make my kids go to sleep.

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Fear and Light

It's remained that way because I've been afraid.

Always, always in the pit of my stomach, deep down in the back of my lizard brain, there's this nagging voice when it comes to the low-level work, the real work, the type of code that real developers write

You're not good enough. You can't make it work. You're not smart enough to figure it out.

So I keep punting on the work. I keep pushing that bug fix further and further out and just hope that my code keeps working and that a random macOS point release doesn't bring it all crashing down.

But two nights ago I sat down in my office. And just fucking did it. I told myself “no” was not an acceptable answer and dove into every arcane, unmaintained bit of Apple documentation I could find. Searched old Cocoa mailing lists for sample code, and finally, finally have a working solution.

After thirteen, years I finally got past my own shit and mental demons and made it happen. I guess I was just fed up with myself constantly ducking out of doing the hard work. That, plus a looming deadline I have to meet, finally held my feet to the fire on this particular feature in a way that has never been done before. So many features. So many bug fixes. Thousands of customer emails and replies. Brainstorming sessions. UI mockups on the back up napkins at bars or doodling on a notepad while at my real job. But this one damn bug was always out of reach. And now it’s done.

To my future self ten years from now: this post is for you.

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April 5, 2020

And when the other side is reached, I hope we can look back on the things we did and how we were feeling in this moment and learn from that.

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Categories
Personal

The Patron Saint of Dumb Ideas

I'm going to try something new. And it's so far outside my wheelhouse and what I would normally be comfortable with that the only reason I'm doing this is due to encouragement from my wife and the assurances of a few friends who swear it's not a completely insane and arrogant idea.

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Deactivated

I’m filled with rage and despair and also just sad thinking about what we in the tech industry unintentionally unleashed upon the world – and then willfully made worse through greed and arrogance. This is my small contribution to make things better. It likely won’t matter. But it does give me some relief to have done something. Anything.

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Rebudget

If you’ve been following along at home, you might remember that I started building a Mac app for managing my personal finances last April. Think of it as a powerful, privacy-focused, native alternative to Mint.com. Quicken, but not awful. Since then, I’ve helped shipped a huge redesign to the app at...

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Aftermath

So last week was incredibly stupid. I've had one thing I've written reach the #1 spot on Hacker News before, plus an old website that reached the top of the trending del.icio.us charts, as well as a few moronic tweets that garnered a couple hundred likes, and one appearance on Slashdot...

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Categories
macOS Personal

Why Many of my Apps Failed And What Comes Next

I've started building something new. I'm about four weeks in and already finding it incredibly useful in my day-to-day. I've built many different apps over the years, thrown them against the wall, and excitedly watched which ones developed a following and which ones failed miserably. Most of my apps have fallen into two...

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Harper Elizabeth

...

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Categories
Personal

2014 Business Yearly Review

Inspired by this article on doing a year-end review of your indie business, I took a few minutes and calculated some stats and compiled my major accomplishments from 2014. The result was eye-opening and made me feel more than a little bit proud. I've made a conscious effort to be more...

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Knowing When to Quit

I hate using the word "quit". Because it's not quitting. It's not even "giving up". Today, the prolific Manton Reece wrote a blog post announcing that he is sunsetting his Twitter apps. This, after a recent announcement that Twitter's (amazing!) new fully searchable tweet archives won't be made available to third-party...

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Constraints

I often find that constraints, real or artificial, can be a huge motivation and productivity boost when I find myself stalled on a project or piece of work. Forcing yourself to work within a specific limitation can cause you to find a creative solution in a direction you might otherwise...

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Marching Through the Wilderness

(How could I not title this post after one of my favorite David Byrne songs?) Gus has a terrific post on his blog about what he calls "the wilderness" - a period of time between major software releases "where I'm pretty lost, and I don't know what to do." His working...

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The Thrill

Yesterday, Daniel Jalkut tweeted The only things better than shipping an app are the thankless months of hard work that go into making it halfway presentable. Yep, it’s fun. — Daniel Jalkut (@danielpunkass) April 4, 2014 That's an apt way of describing the strange mix of joy and awe programmers feel when,...

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Printing and Mailing Photos to Your Grandparents

We have a three month old kid. That means we take a lot of photos. I've done the math, and in the last three months we've taken 1,202 photos of him. As I'll write about in my upcoming book on Dropbox photography, all of those photos are stored and sorted...

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Switching from GitHub to GitLab

I've been a happy paying customer of GitHub since early 2009. But yesterday, for a few different reasons, I deleted all of my private repositories and moved them over to a self-hosted installation of GitLab. I didn't make that decision lightly, as I've been very happy with GitHub for the...

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Aaron

...

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Categories
Personal

Journaling

I'm a little obsessive about data collection and retention. I've written a number of times about all the different backup systems I have in place to protect my data. And over the last few years the amount of data I'm collecting about myself (and family) has continued to grow. We're...

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Categories
Personal Reviews

Why I Took the Job

Almost four years ago today, I moved across the country and accepted a job at Yahoo!. But one of the main reasons I took the position happened six years before that. In the Fall of 2001 I was a Sophomore in college at MTSU. Each morning I'd roll out of bed...

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Categories
Personal

Microsoft and Yahoo! - My Take

A favorite theory among tech pundits is that the company that will eventually dethrone Google doesn't exist yet. Rather, it'll be the brainchild of former Googlers who quit when their current job becomes boring or their stock options vest. Imagine a mass exodus - hundreds of very rich, very smart engineers with nothing but free...

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Categories
Personal Yahoo!

Lost's Buried Treasures

For seven years I ran the largest Stephen King site on the net. When I sold it in 2005 I thought I put that world behind me for good. I had a final article printed in Lighthouse Magazine and moved on. But, like most things, it has a way of creeping back into...

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Categories
Personal

Retain Your Employees With Your Ideals, Not Your Perks

Earlier today I was asked what I look for in a job. Specifically, what it would take to retain me past the typical "three year burnout" period tech workers often find themselves up against. The usual answers came to mind: a fun corporate environment, challenging assignments, working with people smarter than myself. Those are...

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Categories
Personal

iPhone Versus Dog

A lesson for all you iPhone owners out there: don't leave your phone on a table that your dog can reach. I got out of the shower this morning to find my dog, Gracie, gnawing away on my phone in the middle of the living room. I was a little upset, but life...

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Categories
Personal