Friday, October 7, 2011

On The Value Of Work
"Work for Free or For a Full Price but Never Cheap"

Monday, October 3, 2011

43.) Spend money on experiences, not possessions.

Source: "We Don't Buy Stuff. Except When We Do." by Stephen Kreider Yoder and Isaac S. Yoder, June 7, 2009.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


If Tetris has taught me anything it’s that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Cultural traditions are built around life's hardships in much the same way Oysters grow pearls around grains of sand.  The worse the hardship, the more significant the tradition.  Nobody celebrates convenience.  It's the harvest, which once came at the cost of weeks of back-breaking labor, that we celebrate, not the advent of supermarkets that sell three varieties of fresh apples in the dead of winter.  Our ancestors hung traditions on hardship to remain sane in bygone eras in which the world was a hard place and we couldn't even understand why.

This is part of the reason that new technologies always come with controversy.  New technologies are invented in order the smooth away hardships, even if just by inches, but what older generations see is the loss of traditions that accompanies the loss of each hardship.  The solution to this perennial problem is to either extend ourselves outward to bring new, voluntary hardships into our lives or else to begin celebrating the things that make our lives easier.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


It's the twenty-first century.  It's time to put a keypad on alarm clocks.  There's no excuse for having to hold down a "minute" button while setting the time or for having to check twice to make sure that the tiny "AM/PM" switch on the back of the clock didn't get toggled.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


It makes me extremely nervous when an application asks me as I exit if I want to save any changes to a document that I could swear I didn't alter.  Some programmer needs to get on this issue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It used to be that putting a person's phone number into your speed dial was a compliment.  Now, I mostly put people's numbers into my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.  Consequently, when someone asks for my number, I no longer know how to take it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


It's time someone had the balls to say it publicly: the only people who think that teenage boys should go to prison for possessing nude pics of their teenage girlfriends are the fathers of the girls stupid enough to take the photos in the first place.  Yes, sexting is a serious problem, but in comparison with the drug use and teen pregnancy that has plagued recent generations, it's a fairly benevolent form of teen stupidity. Appropriately mild punishments need to be legislated, and the news media needs to move on to new scandals.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I love the fact that my generation has no inhibitions about wearing costumes in public.  I love going to a comic shop on new comic day or to movie theater on opening night and seeing people my age standing in line in costumes.  As hard as I try, I can't imagine my father or one of my grandfathers wearing wizard robes at my age, and I think that may be their loss.  Of course, there a lot fewer photos in the family album that send them into a full-body blush.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I firmly believe that facial tattoos are the single greatest invention in the history of mankind.  They let you know in a single glance that there's something not right with a person, so you don't have to waste time that could have been spent distancing yourself from them wondering.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Sometimes, I'll look at my watch three or even four times in under a minute and still not know what time it is.  Watch glancing just isn't a sign of impatience anymore.  The rest of the world needs to accept this.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Now that even my refrigerator has a keypad, can we all agree to stop using cursive?  At about age forty, it becomes completely indecipherable to everyone else.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

42.) Disconnection is the new counterculture.

Source: "Exodus" by Nicholas Carr, April 8, 2010.

Monday, March 14, 2011

41.) Freely teach other people what you know. 

People, most especially coworkers, resent those who are stingy with what their knowledge, but they respect teachers, even after they've surpassed them.  This goes double for people in the technology sector.

Friday, March 11, 2011

40.) Always acknowledge your sources and inspirations.

No one will think less of you for having built on the shoulders of other men. In fact, most people will think better of you for the acknowledgment.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


We need to established a universal method for signaling sarcasm online.  Maybe a font?

Monday, March 7, 2011

39.) Bad things happen quickly; it's the good things that take time.

For some reason, people always expect life to work the other way around, but it never does.

Friday, March 4, 2011

38.) If you cheat in engineering classes, you will kill people later.

For your own sake and everyone else, either quit or learn the material.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


A decade into Web 2.0, I've realized that ninety percent of users who actually take the time to post reviews of products and services online are polarized into people pissed over a single bad experience and the type of people who over-tip pizza deliver boys out of misplaced guilt over being offered service in an age where McDonaldization has become the norm.  Both sets of opinions are completely useless to the average consumer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

37.) Want to be a leader? Wash the Dishes When Nobody Else Will.

Source: "Wash the Dishes When Nobody Else Will" by Sash Catanzanzarite, February 8, 2011.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

36.) If you aren't comfortable placing the same information on a sign in your front yard, don't put it online.

Your online life is more public than you think.  Always.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


One of the worst unintended consequences of modern technology is that you can no longer tell whether or not people talking to themselves are crazy, thanks to cellphones and Bluetooth headsets.  I personally find this deeply unsettling, particularly when I find myself forced to use public transit.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Right about the year my grandmother got her own cellphone, I realized that, in today's world, when someone is difficult to reach, it's by choice.  Now, I'm just waiting for everyone else to make that realization.  "I didn't get your message," "My machine is broken," and "I meant to call you back," are all euphemisms for "I didn't feel like talking to you."  And it isn't anything to get upset about, either.  Today's constant connectivity is exhausting, and it's perfectly natural for people to spend their energies selectively.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

35.) You will attract who you deserve. If you don’t like who you are getting, change yourself.  If you can’t change yourself, get a reality check.

Sort of a Tough Love version of "you have to love yourself before you can love someone else."

Source: "Advice for women turning 30" by Penelope Trunk, February 17th, 2011.

Monday, February 14, 2011

34.) Life doesn't amount to much without someone to spend it with.

...and it helps if you get to spend it with your best friend.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Of course, sometimes there's a case of chocolate and peanut butter, and romance and science fiction combine.  Then, everyone's happy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

33.) Old movies are worth watching, too.

Written with old B-movies in mind, but especially relevant to Valentine's weekend.  After all, everyone knows all of the best romance movies are in black and white.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Can we all just agree that when a person dies, their computers should immediately and irretrievably be destroy without being examined? No one wants their family browsing their browser history or hidden folders after they're dead.  Hell, they don't even really want their family to clean out those boxes under their bed, but that one's unavoidable.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I seriously think that the world is better place since the invention of the MP3 player.  Everyone is just so mellow when their life has a soundtrack.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Ones and zeroes in the clean environment of a computer chip can be controlled absolutely. When you write a reasonably self-contained program, everything that goes right and everything that goes wrong is entirely your fault. It is not a metaphor; programming simply is small-scale godhood."
- Response from  Eliezer on Hacker News.
"Programmers are the Gods of their tiny worlds. They create something out of nothing. In their command-line universe, they say when it’s sunny and when it rains. And the tiny universe complies."
- "Programmers are Tiny Gods" by Derek Powazek, January 15, 2009.

Friday, January 28, 2011

32.) Computer programming is omnipotence without omniscience.

The flow of data in the universe of the computer chip can be controlled absolutely.  Everything that goes right and everything that goes wrong is entirely the programmer's doing. Programming is microcosmic godhood.  It's just too bad that all that power doesn't come with the requisite wisdom to use it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I own a phone for my own convenience.  Owning that phone in no way, shape, or form obligates me to anyone else, and nobody has the right to be angry when I choose not to answer my phone, take the time to screen my calls, or  simply fail to return messages promptly.  This includes my mother and my employer.  Quite frankly, if putting my Skype number on a resume were socially acceptable, I wouldn't even own a phone. 

A lot of people behave as if this is my own personal peculiarity, but I think that it should just be good manners to conduct any form of electronic communication the way you would treat approaching a person's front door.  Knock politely.  Leave a note so they know you were there.  Then, go away if you're not invited in.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

31.) Be wary of consistency.  It's the surest sign of a lie.  Even if it's a lie you're telling yourself.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way. But the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want."
- Scotty in "Relics," written by Ronald D. Moore.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, October 12, 1992

Scotty may have spent his life being rushed through cleaning up messes that were other people's fault, but he did always did it with a passion.  There was never any doubt that, though the Enterprise could explode into a million pieces at any given moment, there was no other place he'd rather be, and the crew love him for it.

Meanwhile, James Doohan may have spent his career shouting gibberish in a bad Scottish accent, but can you name another man who single-handly inspired so many people to become engineers?  That's a solid life's work.

Monday, January 24, 2011

30.) The first rule of business is that everything takes longer than expected.  Everything.

Leave yourself longer than you think necessary, and remember, Scotty only earned the nickname the "miracle worker" by routinely tripling all of his repair time estimates.

Friday, January 21, 2011

29.) When you have to make a really difficult choice between two options, flip a coin.  When the coin is the air, you'll know what it is you really want.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


It's time to stop releasing new video formats.  The industry thinks that it's tricking us into re-purchasing our collections, but all it's actually doing is burning out video collectors, destroying our last reason to buy rather than rent, and frustrating us.  I had hundreds of VHS tapes, many of which I bought in high school, before cable was available in our town.  In college, I bought dozens of DVDs.  Today, I have three Blu Rays, all of which I received as gifts.  I will not be purchasing videos in the next format.

Monday, January 17, 2011

28.) Read the great speeches.

While books reveal the knowledge of an era, it's the great orators who reveal its spirit.

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Technology

This evening I would like to use this lofty and historic platform to discuss what appears to me to be the most pressing problem confronting mankind today. Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He has built gigantic bridges to span the seas and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies. His airplanes and spaceships have dwarfed distance, placed time in chains, and carved highways through the stratosphere. This is a dazzling picture of modern man’s scientific and technological progress.

Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

- The Nobel Prize acceptance speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., December 11, 1964.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I don't know what people did before GPS navigation systems.  I honestly don't.  I just wish that whoever wrote the software behind those systems would develop an "Avoid this Neighborhood" routing feature that would automatically guide me around the neighborhoods that make re- re- lock my doors.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

27.) If you're not paying for it, you're the product.

We all want stuff for free, but we rarely stop to consider what the hidden costs attach to the things we consider free. Costs like privacy and peace of mind. I lifted this rule from a discussion on MetaFilter on the overhaul of the social aggregation news site Digg last year. The site's redesign had very little to do with improving the user experience and a whole lot to do with positioning users to see content they're intended to see.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Steve Jobs: Advice to New Graduates

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference."

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to loose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

"Have the heart to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Monday, January 10, 2011

26.) Own books - good books, and lots of them.

They're friends even in the worst of times, and they say a lot more about you than a shelf of videos.