Somebody posited a great idea on one of my Slack teams today:
I need to fix my notification settings so I'm not late to the party all the time, but there's nothing between "everything" and "mentions only" and what I really want is "hey this channel's blowing up."
There is something kind of in-between. You can be notified based on a list of keywords, so every time a person posts a message including "photo", for example, I get notified. But I'm using Slack (and I suspect an increasing number of folks are, too) for social purposes. This means that keyword-based notifications have a more limited use in practice. One of my teams has a "Camera Talk" channel, so why do I need to be notified every time somebody uses the word "camera" or "photo"? I don't want to be notified for EVERYTHING in that channel, do I?
So I'm thinking of something more specific now, and here's what I have in mind - whether implemented as a bot or some other custom integration to each team that I'm part of:
Using Slack's API, you can retrieve up to 100 messages in an array. Each message entity includes a Unix time stamp. My thought is to determine some sweet spot here - like, 10+ messages posted in 10 minutes or less means the conversation is moving, and might be worth watching. Unix time stamps are in seconds, so you could collect the latest 10 messages and subtract the oldest time stamp from the newest. If the difference is less than or equal to 600, then take some action. If all this is handled by some kinda bot integration, then every 5 or 10 minutes it would poll the channel and post a message to the channel. Slack lets you choose a phrase to trigger a notification, so perhaps this bot posts "The channel is heating up!" or something. You get the picture.
There are ways to make this more sophisticated, like allowing individuals to have their own preferences. Maybe a friend only cares if there are 30+ messages in 10 minutes, for example. I dunno.
I want to try building this myself, but I'm not developer, so it could take me a while. If anybody thinks this is a useful idea, please run with it, or point me to existing work if it's out there.
Slack isn't new, and if you read what I write, you probably already know what it is - but in case you don't: it's group chat. Okay, it's fancy group chat. It's built so well with just the right kind of niceties to make its use a pleasure. An increasing number of teams and companies are using Slack for collaboration in the workplace, but not around my office.
Essentially fed by increasing frustration with Twitter, I've noticed a number of people start up Slack Teams to share with friends. I've been invited to a few of them myself, and the whole thing has been pretty refreshing. Because they're not public, there's far less fear of words/images/links reflecting poorly on everybody. It's already a warm audience, so engagement isn't measured in likes or retweets, rather in the very human way that we all prefer: we talk to each other. Conversations!
It's not all perfect, of course. These are fairly closed rooms. Some have shared admin/invitation control, some do not, and either scenario has its risks. Does the team remain exclusive and private? Does the fun vibe of a small conversation get diluted or ruined entirely as the chatter increases to a hard-to-follow roar? Slack has a few things built-in that should, in theory, mitigate the latter. You can easily have private conversations with individuals, or create channels within a team for particular subjects or whatever.
I don't want to worry too much about where it's going, though. For now, it's super fun to use something truly social on the internet again. It's not about exposure, or having people follow my links, or any of that crap. It's people, conversing.
I'm pretty behind on my podcasts (I mostly listen in order), so I've only just listened to the 1/24 episode of The Talk Show. Early in Gruber's conversation with Ben Thompson, they mentioned an app called Duet. Well, really it's a desktop app working in concert with an iOS app. When running on a Mac and an iPad connected with a cable, it allows you to treat the iPad as a target display.
Dual monitor setups have rarely appealed to me because of the nature of my job. I'm only at my desk about 50% of the time, so why get used to the extra monitor if I could only have it some of the time? And once I received my Retina MacBook Pro for work, what external display would live up to the gorgeous screen attached to my laptop?
But I always have my iPad with me (a first generation iPad Air); it travels in my computer bag right beside the laptop. So not only can I use a dual display at my desk, but I can take it home with me, or to any place I might be working for more than an hour. Sure, it's a small screen for a second display, but it's a Retina display like my laptop, so even at small sizes, the text is sharp enough to be readable. I'm already finding it to be incredible useful. The desktop app is free, and the iOS app is an easily worth-it $7.99. Highly recommended - unless you're already hooked on some 24" beast.
In no particular order, in an ordered list:
- Oak Beefthorne
- Maxwell Fang
- Scud Prolapse
- Ramstein Ramrod
- Bud Cort
- Durmstrang Spinewrangler
- Dug Bärenjäger
- Herc Smaash
- Peterpeter Pumpkeneeder
- Tad Badly
And there you have it. I strained it all off one final time through cheesecloth, and decanted in to bottles. Now the only thing left to do is dole it out and hope for some good, constructive feedback!
Something I've heard from many parents is that they don't get to see any movies for the first year of parenthood. Maybe it's because I'm a movie buff, but I've made a concerted effort to keep movies in my life despite having a one year old. In fact, I saw Gravity) in theaters after Maddie's first month (taking turns with Valerie to see it on alternate nights). Sure, I only watched one more movie in 2013 (Bernie), which was...okay), but in 2014 I've so far averaged at least 3 movies a month. I've watched 39 unique movies, 7 in theaters (Guardians of the Galaxy) twice). Pretty good, I'd say.
I think I'll watch number 40 this afternoon.
Why can't this movie be as good as it ought to be? Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel as the leads in an unconventional, indie rom-com? I wanna see that. And I did for a long time, keeping this movie in my watch list for years after its release, never quite getting a chance to watch it, until this afternoon. The problem is that I've heard rumblings about the unevenness of (500) Days of Summer in the intervening years, and while I've tried not to let writers and friends prematurely influence my opinion, I couldn't help but worry.
And for good reason. Not since Little Miss Sunshine have I seen an movie so concerned with checking off boxes on a list of indie cinema attributes. Greeting card writer that's also an aspiring architect? Check. Non-stop soundtrack that makes the whole enterprise feel like a feature length music video with dialog? Check. Quirky friends? Check. Scads of peculiar visual flourishes? Check. The whole movie felt expected.
Now I understand this was the first feature length work for the director and his pair of screenwriters, and boy does it show. Camera shots and movements that seem ill chosen for the moment, or perhaps for to get a cool still for a poster. Dialog and themes that telegraph character behavior. I didn't hate this movie, but I wish, perhaps, it had been created by some folks with either more under their proverbial belts, or more inherent talent for visual storytelling.
Oh yeah - and JGL's character? Almost completely unlikeable to me. It's hard for me to root for our hero when he's obsessive and jerky so frequently throughout the running time. Still, it's hard to deny some solid performances by the leads (and almost exclusively the leads). Along with an interesting take on the genre, they saved the movie for me quite a bit.
Netflix, making creative use of the word “original”, has acquired the first two series of period gangster drama Peaky Blinders. The show (so far in series 1, anyway) follows the ambitious rise of gang leader Tommy Shelby in 1919’s Birmingham. The acting is terrific (always a fan of Cillian Murphy), but the structure of the episodes and much of the show’s production (from the music to the just-out-of-film-school aesthetic) feels clunky. Peaky Blinders may be the UK equivalent of Hell on Wheels with a better cast, and a high-level story interesting enough for me to keep watching. It also has binge-watchability working in its favor at the moment, something I’ve written about before.
The cooked extraction has been combined with the alcoholic extraction along with 2 tablespoons of 2:1 simple syrup (from some nice cane sugar). Now it's supposed to chill out for 3 days before I decant into smaller bottles. Then I can distribute to friends for sampling and feedback!
I have a limited quantity (as you can see, less than 20 oz.), but if you're interested and willing to give me serious feedback, hit me up. I may be able to get you an ounce.
It's a rare occasion that the holiday parties for my wife's job and mine fall on the same evening, but tonight is just such an occasion. Thankfully the mother-in-law is going to put Maddie to bed and stay at my house while Valerie and I get out of the house for some revelry, hitting up a party at a hoity-toity house before heading over to a restored, historic theater for my company's slightly more rowdy affair.
As long as Maddie doesn't revolt at our absence, we may be in for one heckuva night.
EDIT: Well then. It doesn't have to be Maddie. Sudden onset of digestive distress from the Mrs. means no parties. But that's okay. I have some pretty good bourbon at home!
When I was running things on Wordpress back in the day, I tried using categories, but with little consistency. Every new topic meant a new category, and a hierarchy developed that confused rather than clarified. Eventually tags became a thing, but by then I'd already developed a bad habit of posting without that helpful metadata.
Earlier this year I read an article about how folks find pages and navigate through websites, and while I'm not rebuilding my site, I do want to make it easier to click around and find related posts. So I've slooooooowly started digging through my archives updating posts with appropriate tags. It's a trip down memory lane at least, if a lot of insane work for a site with a small readership.
In these early stages of raising a child, it's frequently impossible to think about more than a few days out. Planning is silly because the work of parenting trumps most social obligations. It doesn't take long after a child is born to begin thinking and acting on a much shorter time scale, like a week or something.
What I've found for myself as a consequence, however, is that my frame of reference is pretty limited these days. What's going on the world these days? I don't know. What's going on in my house on this day? I mean, of course I'm current on all the awful things happening with American torture, our present civil rights crisis, and the other horrific things that dominate my Twitter feed. Other than that, I have trouble thinking broadly or deeply about any topic.
The upside is living more in the moment. Being wholly occupied with my daughter when we play together or she's dancing around. I'm no super dad, so yes, I often squeeze in some internetting while Maddie plays, but generally, it's easy for me to focus on her and what she's doing right then and there without thinking about when to take her where or who to call about what. I guess that's a fair trade.
How do you pronounce that title? If you’re not familiar with the iconic quadruped war machines from The Empire Strikes Back, skip this post.
I hear tons of people pronounce it as a pair of hyphenated words, just as they look. But ever since I was a kid I always said, “ā-tee ā-tee”. I mean, almost everything else with hyphenated letter/number names in the Star Wars universe is pronounced my way, right? R2-D2? AT-ST? C-3PO?
Am I a weird outlier or something?
Ugh, I just found an old post from Time on this very matter from 4 years ago. The author’s on my side for the same reasons, but apparently Lucasfilm holds the opposite view.
Of course, Lucasfilm produced the prequels and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so I still don't entirely trust their judgement from 2010…
Right now my wife is traveling for her job. She left this morning before sunrise (such as that is on an overcast, rainy day) and will return tomorrow evening, well after sundown. That means I'm solo parenting for a couple of days (though Maddie is with the babysitter during work hours), but in a more abstract way, it means all the responsibilities of the house fall to me. The same thing will happen next week when Valerie travels again, and potentially for a longer stretch in January.
My own immaturity and short temper have made a fool of me a couple times because of this. It's easy to be annoyed at being "stuck at home" - not for having to watch my kid, rather in a sense, having a bit more of my week dictated and inflexible. I try to balance the scales by petulantly demanding some time for myself whenever she returns.
Unfortunately, it's just as easy to forget that Valerie isn't traveling for fun. I know what she does on these trips, and it's generally working from morning until evening, with brief meal stops punctuating a day of measuring hotel interiors and the like. Sure, most parents know there's some value in getting a break from their children, but Valerie doesn't owe me anything when she gets back.
Relationships aren't math or accounting. There's no balancing of entries for free time, dining out, or chores. I've been married for 10 years and I know I'll still be working on this until I croak. But knowing about the ongoing maintenance required of any human relationship doesn't make the day to day any easier. Self-awareness of my own shortcomings doesn't excuse their manifestations.
I guess I'm just saying I miss my wife right now.
I've always thought I liked sports, but I haven't watched more than ten minutes of autumnal competition this year, whether NFL football or NCAA basketball. Is it a trickier schedule and an active toddler? Maybe. Is it the rough publicity coming from the NFL this season? Perhaps. I just know that I haven't really missed it at all. It has me wondering how much I really care about sports and how much I was raised to enjoy them.
You won't hear me sneering “sportsball” though. That term always struck me as condescending, equal to most casual pejoratives that reinforce our separateness. And I'm not anti-sport; people want to connect and belong, so of course tribalism and comaraderie can be appealing, even if on arbitrary geographical grounds. And I'll always find the perfect catch, or the heaviest dunk exciting. It's a thrill to watch skilled professionals excell at what they do. But this year I'm just not feelin’ it.
Maybe next season.
What you see in the photo is the slow, steady drip of the first extraction for my apple bitters. It's filtering through two coffee filters held in place by the ring of the mason jar so I minimize any sediment in the final product. I've also cooked the solids in a cup of water and placed that back in the original jar to shake for a few more days. It's getting close!
Tonight I finally got around to watching All is Lost. This is the second feature from writer and director J. C. Chandor (a Jersey boy!), and whoa Nelly, is it fantastic. I can't remember the last time I watched a movie so purely concerned with visual storytelling - so fully taking advantage of the medium. And Robert Redford proved that he's still one of the best with a nearly wordless performance none the less full of emotional intensity.