My Life, 5000 Tweets Later

On Monday January 15, 2007, ten thousand chickens were incinerated by Japanese authorities in fear of Bird Flu. The trial of six men accused of the July 21, 2005 London bombings began. Babel and Dreamgirls won Golden Globes. Colombian police arrested “Don Hugo” suspected leader of the Norte del Valle syndicate, the “most powerful and violent drug-trafficking organization in Colombia” was arrested. And I joined Twitter.

My first tweet wasn’t for few months, I think. I tend to do that kind of thing; sign up for a new site that I hear the alpha nerds talking about to ensure that I get the username I want, veganstraightedge. Then later, if that site turns to be super duper, I try it out further. I can’t tell you what my first toot actually was, because (at the time of this writing) Twitter’s pagination only goes back 160 pages. I should have 250 pages of archived toots. Shame on you, Twitter.

Like most people, I didn’t get the value of Twitter at first. I probably said things like “Trying out Twtter, don’t quite get it” and “I just ate lunch. Yum!” or some version of the requisite first toots. Eli was the first of my IRL friends to join up too. That’s typical, though. He’s definitely the nerdiest of my friends. With one friend on there, it started to make more sense. I was experiencing Metcalfe’s Law first hand.

At the time, Twitter was still the realm of web nerds. I followed maybe 30 people, got all of their updates as txts and occasionally even looked at the public feed which was still kind of interesting then. I followed people like John Gruber, Jason Kottke and Ariel Waldman Dan Benjamin and other nerds whose blogs I read.

Suffice to say, I was a lurker. I consumed others’ toots, but didn’t post any of my own. I didn’t get it yet. I hadn’t found my killer app. Then I decided to go meet some friends in New Zealand when they got out of Antarctica. I thought Twitter would be the perfect solution to the problem of (I don’t ever keep up with my written journal when traveling) + (I want to document what I do) + (I don’t want to travel with my laptop when ‘backpacking’) * (if only I could publish to the web from my phone). It did indeed.

I rented a crappy Nokia brick from Vodaphone at the Christchurch airport for a month. It was great. That trip was my lightest packing ever. When I returned to the states at LAX I weighed by bag. I had refactored down to 11 pounds (4.99 kilograms). This was largely made possible by a minimal gadget set: Ricoh GRD, iPhone (first gen) and Nokia. I think Eli nailed it while he was on a passenger train traveling thru rural Thailand, he was able to publish to the internet… from his phone… from a txt message. Game. Changer.

After that trip of twittering, I was hooked.

Since signing up, I’ve twittered about traveling to New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii. About going to Chile for a month. About getting arrested for taking a picture of an open ATM at a Seattle REI store. It’s got me job leads and an offer to do a TV show. I’ve made a couple dozen accounts for different projects that I’ve been a part of: Rubinius, Seattle.rb, Less Than Three, The Vegan Straightedge blog, Vegan and/or Straightedge AV Club. I made one for my dog Civ too. In the summer of 2009 I lived in my van and traveled around the country for a few months twittering about all details along the way. I’ve reconnected with old friends keeping up with their lives better than before. I’ve made new friends and accomplices with countless schemes (and lisps) yet to unfold.

The Twitterwebs even played a crucial role in Stacey becoming my girlfriend. That’s a story for another post though.

What I’m trying to say is, I know you don’t care what I had for breakfast (tofu scramble, fakin bacon and french toast) or what music I’m listening to (Sand Castle by Beta Minus Mechanic) or that I think some website has pretty pictures and that’s OK with me. Or maybe you do care. I don’t know. You choose your own level of involvement in Project Playhem. Twitter is part of my everyday life now. Just like Flickr, Twitter acts as my kind of journal that I share publicly (nod) and my life is better for it.

Thank you, Twitter. See you at ten thousand incinerated chickens, I mean tweets.

5000 Tweets Strong

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Unused LA Ruby Conf Shirt Design Mock

Unused LA Ruby Conf Shirt Design Mock

LA Ruby Conf is coming real soon. A while back (at RubyConf 10 in San Francisco Burlingame) I talked with Coby Randquist about submitting a design that would be considered for the conference tshirts. I whipped on up with these ideas in my: 1) no red / ruby / gem imagery, 2) no nerd conf shirt look. I mean, I know we’re all nerds and we’re not ashamed of it. But I get tired of the same old shirts at everyone of these things. So with that in mind, I decided on grey with no images, one column of justified variable weight Helvetica (duh) run most of the length on the front of a shirt. Light grey text on dark grey shirt.

I think it would’ve be nice, but oh well. If anyone else wants to use this general design for another conference (or whatever), feel free to. I’ll even send you my Illustrator file or I could modify it to fit your needs. If your event is something that I especially like, all I ask is for a printed shirt in return.

Unused LA Ruby Conf Shirt Design Mock

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Fraser Speirs on The Real Work

The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.

The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table's order, designing the house and organising the party.

Fraser Speirs

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Wanted: Rails Developer for Activity Stream web app

I’m designing a web based Activity Stream aggregator and I need a Rails developer or two that wants to build it with me. I’m looking for partners not employees.

The idea is simple: Keep up with my friends’ activity on various sites from one web app.

Later I want to publish a unified activity feed for users of the site. On both ends I want to add a little bit of smarts that recognizes when a post is a duplicate (like, say when I post to Twitter and Facebook sucks it in) and show the post once.

I’ve built a static prototype currently at

This will be a bleeding edge technology site only supporting the latest greatest browsers, assuming that our users are smart or willing to learn and implementing technologies that matter (even if they don’t have the widest adoption yet). Things like:

  • Lots of keyboard shortcuts (j/k to page thru initially)
  • activity streams
  • atom
  • gravatar
  • hatom
  • hcard
  • oauth
  • open id
  • portable contacts
  • xfn

We’re not going to store or ask for any passwords. Ever. If we include a site in our aggregation without asking a user for her password, we won’t include that site. This is will be an app where things are done right. No compromise. No regret.

Out of the gates, I personally care most about:

  • twitter
  • flickr
  • facebook
  • vimeo

Next, I’d like to see

  • youtube
  • fireeagle
  • google latitude
  • foursquare
  • github
  • delicious
  • rss
  • tumblr

If you’re really into consumption of third party web services, open data, portable identity, aggressively minimalistic code and design, and a web of data (or you want to be), let’s talk. I need a partner or two.

Originally published at:

Obsession Times Voice

Human creativity does not live in a vacuum. Of shoulders and giants, right? This is the short story of one thing leading to another.

I’ve been really inspired and motivated lately (largely) because of Matt Jones’s make believe poster design that read Get Excited and Make Things in response to an old WWII poster that said “Keep Calm And Carry On.” I’ve been very productive and moving forward on a new project.

Shortly after that, John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Merlin Mann of 43 Folders did a “panel” at SXSW called “149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog With Credibility!“. Basically it was about how to not be a douche bag, do something great and incidentally make a little money doing it. Or there abouts.

There were several little nuggets of ‘wisdom’ that really resonated with me. But one had a great impact on me than the rest: Obsession Times Voice. Gruber seems to agree. You can listen to the full audio of the session from 43 Folders. (While you’re listening follow along with Dave Gray’s’ speaker notes in comic form.)

Obsession Times Voice. That’s been ringing in my head for a few days. I decided to make it my desktop background for constant reminder, especially as I work on my new vegan straightedge site.

They are available for free download either as a PNG or a PDF. There are two variations: dark on light and light on dark. Both colors used are Daring Fireball grays1 (hat tip). I made them very large to work with big screens. You can either crop them or just set them to center up on your desktop. I don’t suggest scaling it down.

The URLs are:

Dark on Light on Flickr and original size PNG. Or as a PDF, if that’s your thing.

Light on Dark on Flickr and original size PNG. Or as a PDF, if that’s your thing.

"Obsession Times Voice" Desktop Background - Light on Dark"Obsession Times Voice" Desktop Background - Dark on Light

  • Dark Grey RGB (74 82 90)
  • Dark Grey HEX (#4a525a)
  • Light Grey RGB (238 238 238)
  • Light Grey HEX (#eeeeee)

Return to story

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ASCII Art Star Wars: A New Hope

This has been in my "blog about this" pile for years now.

Screenshot of My Desktop Circa Late 2005

I’m embarrassed by how much stuff I have on my desktop then. I now keep it under 5 things most of the time.

The three Star Wars icons were hard drives.

You can watch the whole Star Wars: A New Hope as ASCII art two ways:

telnet:// or

Simply amazing.

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Project: Open Software Update

  • one app to find them all, and in the darkness bind them.
    • open to anyone. dependent on no one.
    • like mac os x’s Software Update
    • extensible
  • simple plugin interface
    • format
      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
      	<name>Delicious Library</name>

    • optional nodes

    • plugins by users or developers (partying together)
  • server side : update.xml
  • single app
    <host name="">
    		<name>Delicious Library</name>

  • multiple apps
    <host name="">
    		<name> NetNewsWire</name>
    		<updateURI> </updateURI>

  • optional nodes

  • download prefs
    • respect server side unless overwritten client side by user
    • update frequency : all items
    • daily
    • weekly
    • monthly
    • manually
  • enable / disable : item specific
  • auto download : item specific
  • auto download : item specific
  • admin password : save in keychain (BOOL)
  • auto open files
    • resolve decompression
    • if zip, gz, tar, et al : decpress internally
    • if sit, sitx : farm out to stuffitexpander
  • replace old version
  • backup older version pref (BOOL)
  • keep originals pref (BOOL)
  • issues to work out
    • inital lastUpdated date for each app
    • from the app’s ‘date modified’ data?
    • sounds like good enough to me
  • xml namespaces
    • are namespaces necessary?
    • beneficial?
  • benefits
    • for users
  • for developers
    • can easily migrate existing check for update systems
    • inexpensive deployment
    • inexpensive maintainence
    • inexpensive bandwidth
    • keeps user base up to date

    Originally published at: