X-Mas Parties with Anneke’s Family

Here’s me at her family’s X-Mas party

Here's me at her family's X-Mas party

Anneke and me at her family’s X-Mas party

Anneke and me at her family's X-Mas party

Anneke and me smiling Wallace and Gromit style

Anneke and me smiling Wallace and Gromit style

I got a kiss on the cheek from Anneke at the X-Mas party

I got a kiss on the cheek from Anneke at the X-Mas party

Here’s me #photobombing Anneke and Gene’s photo at the X-Mas party

Here's me #photobombing Anneke and Gene's photo at the X-Mas party

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b4Mb1

Extra! Extra!

Time to move the dolly

Today I was a background extra for a short video about a website. I don’t know if I’m supposed to keep quiet about who its for, so I won’t say. The theme of it was kind of like when Morpheus is explaining The Matrix to Neo using The Construct. Well, if Morpheus was 5’5″, Jewish and wearing nerdy black rim glasses. Otherwise, the same thing. Sort of.

This was my first time acting (sure, you could call it that). I had fun. I didn’t fuck anything up too bad. I got a little screen time. I even got paid a few U.S. dollars for it. I guess that makes me a professional actor. Or something. But really, the work itself was the reward.1

It was a lot fun. I’m really happy that I could be a part of it. There was lots of standing around, lots of waiting, lots of fake talking, lots of standing under the hot, hot heat of one million light bulbs. The movie making world has a different name for everything. It’s like a secret language to keep the muggles out. I learned that apple boxes have different names for their orientations depending on which coast you’re on. East coast calls them 1, 2, 3 while west coast calls them New York, Chicago (or maybe Texas) and LA. I like that. We wore booties over our shoes for a good part of the day.

The making of a @lonelysandwich jam

I met some new people that seemed nice after one day’s worth of hangout. I met Adam Lisagor (@lonelysandwich) IRL finally. He’s a real good dude. Loads of fun to work with/for. I hope that I can do more with him.

Adam Lisagor (lonelysandwich), Amy Kernan-Bennett and Trevor Jones at the video shoot for a website in Sun Valley, CA

Finally, a Pro Tip: read the call sheet closely with regards to wardrobe. If it says “Wardrobe: Business Casual. Please bring an extra change of non-business casual clothes. No logos, small patterned, stripes, solid white or solid black clothing”, don’t show up wearing black pants, white shirt, black sweater, black tie and a baseball hat with a local sports team logo on it. Or do, and be happy that the director is such an awesome dude that he’s not only ok with your outfit, but tells you to keep your hat on for the day.

What I wore (wrongly) to the video shoot for a website in Sun Valley, CA after I got home

1 – Extra bonus reward was getting to see one of these things made. Srsly. I love seeing how things are made. ^

At the video shoot for a website in Sun Valley, CA

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b48e1

The Setup

The Setup is a bunch of nerdy interviews about What do people use to get the job done?. They’re all fairly high profile nerd folks. I’ve read this blog since the beginning and love it. There’s next to no chance that @waferbaby would interview me, because honestly, who am I? So, I’m doing my own Setup interview.

The Setup

Some of my favorites are Michael Lopp, Richard Stallman, Amy Hoy, Khoi Vinh, Violet Blue, _why The Lucky Stiff and John Gruber. But really, they’re all great. You should subscribe.

Here goes.

Me (doing something... who know?) at Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles, CA

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Shane Becker. I make websites. I first saw the web in Mosaic on an SGI running some flavor of Unix when I was a freshman in high school late one night at the Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. There was no looking back.

I currently work for The Man at a Fortune 10 company. It has its perks. I have lotsa (too many, really) side personal projects and I’m currently trying to cut down the list. I made Zine Distro (with help from Eli Duke, Bookis, Emily and Brooke), ListYourList (with Eli), The Resistance Army (with Bookis), the current (as of 09/12/2010) Rubinius site, the Seattle.rb site and co-founded LA.rb (with Evan Phoenix).

And one time I got a bit of attention for taking a photo of an ATM.

What hardware are you using?

I have a 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro, probably the best laptop ever made. I expect I’ll swap out the spinny hard drive with the non-spinny kind and bump the RAM to 8gb. I type on the Apple Wireless Keyboard (which just eats through AA batteries) and scroll with the Magic Mouse. My desktop background says Debt is slavery. Get free. to keep me focused on my student loans (currently only $13,000 left).

The iPad is thing a beauty. My iPads name is Jet Pack. I read a lot more than I ever did before. Books, feeds, twitter and comics. Lotsa comics. (In the picture, I was reading The Eternals by Neil Gaiman) I use the keyboard dock with it for longer globs of text. My home screen is the last image from Fighting in a New Terrain: What’s Changed Since the 20th Century.

I have an iPhone 3GS as my pocket computer that makes phone calls. Its name is 2001. It’s also my only camera. I used to have a Ricoh GRD which took the best pictures I’ve seen, but decided on the camera that was with me over the better camera.

Sound plays out of Harman Kardon Sound Sticks and iSub. Pages and old negatives are scanned with a Canoscan LiDE 700f.

My desk is pink and too low. It also is an inbox for physical tasks (currently: get drivers license renewed, develop super 8 film). My chair is black, grey and adequate. My dry erase board is ceramic, within arm’s reach and still leaves hints of erased notes.

And what software?


TextMate, lots and lots of TextMate. Sure do wish version 2 would ship. PeepOpen. Safari. Mail.app (backed by gmail). Adium. VLC. Tweetie, but I wish it’d get updated to work with natives retweets, geo stuff and annotations. Terminal. Acorn. Name Mangler. Xtorrent. Adobe Illustrator. iTunes. Things. QuickSilver Quick Search Box. Dropbox. Skitch. Cinch. Fuzzy Clock. QuickCursor. iCal. Ruby. Ruby on Rails. git.


GMail. Ta-da List. Wikipedia. Google. Github. Google Reader. Twitter. Heroku. Last.fm.


Maps. Messages. Camera. Phone. Mail. Safari. iPod. Things. Tweetie Twitter for iPhone. Foursquare. Gowalla. Both via Check.in. Nezumi. Elements. Reeder.


Comixology. Marvel Comics. Graphic.ly. I wish there was a standard e-comic format and purchases could be read in any app. CloudReaders. Reeder. Kindle. Wikipanion. Instapaper. Twitter for iPad. Things. Elements. Draft.

What would be your dream setup?

Somewhere between Ewok Village and
the Sherwood Forest from Prince of Thieves
. Sincerely.

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b47j1

Let’s Start with an Assumption

I made a mistake this weekend. I took the bait and fell into a trap.

I mistakenly got into one of those “discussions” about something I believe. The kind where I’m talking about something I believe so completely that there’s no convincing me otherwise. The other person believes the opposite just as completely.

We dance around about high level stuff for awhile mincing words, throwing clever examples and anecdotal evidence back and forth. After sometime I realize the truth: we disagree so fundamentally that there’s no reconciling our differences about the superficial details.

I realized (or maybe re-realized for the umpteenth time) that we often or almost always have different base assumptions, different Truths™ that we base all our other ideas upon. I am going to try an experiment, when I can’t not get sucked into these conversations that I should otherwise prefer to avoid, I’ll start by stating my assumptions.

Let’s start with the assumption that animals deserve liberty, too.

Let’s start with the assumption that for the same reason you don’t believe in all the gods of other religions, I don’t believe in yours either.

Let’s start with the assumption that the suffering of animals (both human and non-human) and the wholesale destruction of the planet are intrinsically linked.

Let’s start with the assumption that we are running out of oil (of natural gas, coal, fresh water, arable land… of all life supporting systems) and that Our Way of Life™ cannot continute forever.

Let’s start with the assumption that infinite growth in a finite system is not only not preferable, but simply not possible.

Let’s start with the assumption that if something didn’t work before (especially if it hasn’t worked for years/decades/ever), doing more of it this year won’t work either.

Let’s start with the assumption that you and I might (or probably) won’t agree about everything and that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b44x1

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

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b44E2

Socks & Shoes

I take my shoes off at work.

I still wear my socks (I’m not that guy). I keep my shoes under my desk. If I need to leave the building or go to the bathroom, I put them back on. But I don’t put them on to go to the kitchen or H.R. or when I talk to the designers. Or when I ask my boss to go Have a Talk™ in his office about something important. Not even then.

I did this on Friday, the two week mark at the new job at the big company. Charlie’s my boss. Well, he’s a couple levels of boss above me, but he’s leading the project I’m on. So he’s my boss directly, too. He’s a pretty hip dude. His hair’s a little messy. He wears a sports coat over a tshirt. Very casual kind of uniform. Granted, he’s got days when he’s got to meet with his boss and his boss’s bosses. Those days he’s a little less casual. Understandable.

All of this is just the setup for this story.

I was telling my girlfriend Stacey about this talk I had with Charlie and how it went as well as I could’ve hoped. Or at least I was trying to tell her that story. Instead she just couldn’t get past the part where I don’t wear shoes at work and how that just does not fly at her work. She was especially flabbergasted at the idea of asking my boss to go talk about something kind of important in private while wearing socks with no shoes… with my feet propped up on his desk. To be fair, his feet were also propped up on his desk (with shoes on).

I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t a big deal, that in the software / web development / design world dress code is very relaxed at most places. It’s not unheard of or that crazy for people to have wacky hair / hair color, zero fashion sense, socks and sandals (yes, it actually happens) or to not wear shoes. She couldn’t believe me.

Perfectly timed, her friend Nicole showed up at our house. Nicole is a designer at the corporate office of a large retail chain store. Her role is similar enough to mine that Stacey and I decided it’d be a fair litmus test for how others in this area of work perceive the shoelessness.

Turns out, Nicole doesn’t wear shoes at the office either. Bang Pow.

Still, Stacey couldn’t believe it. She’s works for the same company as Nicole, but as a store manager at one of their locations. When she goes to work she dress pretty profesh. Not pant suits and lawyery, but like a hip alpha female who runs a store. She told me about one time she had one employee who tried to go shoeless. Apparently, all the other employees were thrown aback by it too. This wasn’t even during open for business customers in the store hours. It was during an employee only even. Either way, it did not fly.

Eventually, I came to a kind of clarity about it all. She’s in the business of selling stuff. I’m in the business of building stuff. Although, it’s disingenuous to frame this way, as diametric like that. What’s missing is the detail that she’s not just selling stuff. She does do that, too. But primarily she’s a store manager which is part baby sitter, part camp counselor, part therapist, part herder of cats, part salesperson, part diplomat, part arbiter.

She builds relationships.

That’s the difference between her kind of job and mine. Developing relationships are a part of my job, but they’re not the end product. Code is. Or pixels. Or whatever. Some thing is what I’m paid to produce. She’s paid to develop relationships as the product itself. Of course, this all leads to the bigger goal of selling stuff for the company, but that’s the goal of the whole company; sell stuff, make money. The company I work for is no different; sell stuff, make money. Different stuff, much larger company, same idea. It’s not exactly her primary objective. Just like it’s not mine.

So when your job is to make a thing while not being seen by the customers or the up and up bosses (or heaven forbid, the board), you can dress however you want. Shoes optional even. If your job is to build relationships with other humans (with all the hang ups and preconceived expectations about dress and appearance), then you maybe can’t dress however you want. Shoes are probably not optional.

If you work from home, pants are optional!

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b44E1

Always a problem. Always a solution.

The Problem

This is Beta, Stacey’s dog. She’s cute, clever and a little rascal. She’s small, fast and a runner.

Beta in Santa Monica, California

This is the rear car gate and driveway in our back yard. Take note of the gap between the gate and the ground. That is a recipe for escape.

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

The Solution

Mud flaps… or something like that.

There happened to be a couple pieces of carpet in the driveway. I think they’re there to deal with muddy days. Or whatever. I got out some tools, cut one piece of carpet into a few strips and punched some holes into them.

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

I used some rubber coated steel wire cut into ~18″ lengths to tie the strips of carpet to the fence.

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

In the end, it’s a little bit low rent and not the prettiest thing in the world. But you know what? It kept Beta from going under the gate (which is the first place she checked when I let her out of the house after I was done) which meant that she and Civ (and the landlord’s dogs Ezra and Madison) could run wild and free all day in two yards and the tennis court. It also meant That I could have all seven doors open all day enjoying the beautiful weather and sunshine. A win for all of us. Additionally, both Civ and Beta are tuckered the hell out from running around all day. And that is why we picked this house as our new home.

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

PS. The gate can even still open. It just needs to be lifted upward a little bit more than usual. A small price to pay in my mind.

Installing a carpet flap on the bottom of our car gate to keep Beta in

Originally published at: http://sbb.me/b44D1