- Chart: Things are Looking Up
- Pale Blue Dot
Something about Carl Sagan is always inspirational. Perhaps because he shows that we can be both rational and optimistic about the future.
Every time I hear his voice, on videos like this one and on his audiobook, I’m reminded that we can always go further and the ultimate success is to inspire others to pursue their own happiness and success. We need more people like Carl Sagan.
- HOW TO: Get your web browser gestures back in OS X Lion
If you’re like me and have a magic mouse and use the internet much, you’ve probably gotten used to using the two-finger swipe to navigate forward and back in your history in Firefox and Chrome instead of using the back button. Apple has changed the default behavior in OS X Lion to swipe between fullscreen apps. Which means suddenly when you’re trying to go back to the previous page, you end up looking at your dashboard or something dumb.
To get your two-finger swipe navigation back, just go into the Mouse preferences and over to the More Gestures section. Change the first option (Swipe between pages) to use two fingers.
This will disable the full-screen swiping and get you back up and running. Doing the same thing on your laptop should work as well, except you’ll pick three-finger swiping instead of two.
- Looking Back at Career Decisions
I’m currently doing a massive export of all of my Gmail messages, dating back to mid 2004, and it has been a bit of a trip down memory lane. The export isn’t even done yet but as I watch subject lines fly by in the console, sometimes something jumps out at me.
For instance, I’ve been working at very small startups since around 2007 (after I decided pro photography wasn’t the career for me). And at one point in 2008 I explored working for a more established, profitable and growing technology company. I interviewed with them for the position of Software Architect which would have been a leadership position in the company, reporting directly to the CTO and taking over direction of two product development teams. It would have been an opportunity for me to shape the future of the company and how they used technology to achieve their goals.
The email I just noticed was the offer letter.
- Four Steps to Turbocharge Rails + AJAX Development with Nginx and Foreman
If you’re developing a chatty AJAX app on Rails and using a single mongrel to run it on your workstation, you probably are a bit annoyed with delays waiting for requests to be fulfilled one-at-a-time. So, here I’ll walk through the steps to run your own “cluster” on your OS X workstation using Foreman and Nginx.
In the course of building the frontend application for Earbits, I’ve been constantly annoyed with the responsiveness of my local development server. As a pretty complex AJAX application, there are lots of little (and some bigger) calls to the Rails backend APIs to do lots of potentially slow things. This means that there are lots of calls that are originating in the browser and being served by one mongrel, so the server ends up handling requests too slowly. Which leads to me being frustrated. Which leads to me finding a nice solution to the problem.
- FolioHD 2.0 is the online portfolio for you
Yes, I’m a bit biased, but now that we’ve launched our new version 2.0 of FolioHD I have to brag a little bit. Our goal with FolioHD is to create the best possible online portfolio for creative people of all types to showcase their work to the world. Simplicity and elegance were our top priorities, because artists shouldn’t have to waste time with technology to create a portfolio online that compliments and shows off their best work.
The biggest change in this new version is our improved Portfolio Manager which makes it super-easy to manage all your images and galleries in one place quickly. Uploaded images instantly appear in the gallery and you can easily drag images to change the order or to move them between galleries on your portfolio. If you’ve ever seen an easier portfolio manager, we want to hear about it!
We’ve also made some improvements to the themes and our theme builder tool to make it easier than ever to choose a theme, color scheme and title font for your portfolio to give it that custom look. Hooking up custom domains and email forwarding is similarly simplified and can be set up in just minutes.
Finally, for all the people out there who have a bunch more images to showcase, we added the huge Pro account that allows you to upload 2,000 images to your portfolio. I wish I had more than 100 awesome examples of my work to put in my own portfolio, but I’m sure that many of you do. So now you have that option and still at a price that is hard to beat at any of our competitors.
Of course, you can still create a free portfolio to get started and show off up to 36 photos. And as always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Version 2.5 is already in the works with a great list of new tools and improvements!
- Use your Phone, not OpenTable
As a fairly frequent user of OpenTable and as someone who would much rather click a few buttons than make a phone call, get put on hold and have to chat with a real person, I had no idea that OpenTable charged so much for this convenience!
I hope you’ll join me in helping out the restaurants in your town by opting for the phone call. It’s really not that hard… (and you can always use OpenTable to find places and check for table availability!)
The [OpenTable] access fees can be substantial, particularly for restaurants operating on thin margins. One independent study estimates that OpenTable’s fees comprised of startup fees, fixed monthly fees, and per-person reservation fees translate to a cost of roughly $10.40 for each “incremental” 4-top booked through OpenTable.com. To put that in perspective, consider that the average profit margin, before taxes, for a U.S. restaurant is roughly 5%. This means that a table of 4 spending $200 on dinner would generate a $10 profit. In this example, all of that profit would then go to OpenTable fees for having delivered the reservation, leaving the restaurant with nothing other than the hope that that customer would come back and hopefully book by telephone the next time.
- So What Happened to Downtime?
Be honest – how many “Eureka!” moments have you had while texting a friend, or while reading news on your phone, or while Liking a friend’s status update, or while playing Angry Birds? The answer is probably “none.” If you’re like me, the good ideas and clarity of mind comes when you’re not communicating or consuming information. When your mind has the freedom to wander, good things happen.
From the moment I wake up and groggily grasp for my phone to check email and news I am hyper-connected. Generally, the only times that I’m not within 3 feet of some internet access device are when I’m sleeping, showering, driving (in motion), or having dinner with friends. And that last one is the only one where it’s actually my choice to leave the phone in my pocket, all the other situations have physical or legal limitations on usage.
The need to be connected is, in fact, very basic in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the psychological theory that explains the largest and most fundamental human desires. Our need for a sense of belonging comes right after physical safety. We thrive on friendship, family, and the constant affirmation of our existence and relevance. Our self-esteem is largely a product of our interactions with others.
It is now possible to always feel loved and cared for, thanks to the efficiency of our “comment walls” on Facebook and seamless connection with everyone we’ve ever known. Your confidence and self-esteem can quickly be reassured by checking your number of “followers” on Twitter or the number of “likes” garnered by your photographs and blog posts. The traction you are getting in your projects, or with your business, can now be measured and reported in real time.
Our insatiable need to tune into information – at the expense of savoring our downtime – is a form of “work” (something I call “insecurity work”) that we do to reassure ourselves.
I believe that the only option to reclaim our collective sanity is to go out of our way to unplug as often as possible. With few exceptions, nobody is going to die if you don’t check email for a few hours. Or if you ignore phone calls and text messages for an afternoon. And I highly recommend the occasional extreme disconnect of taking a multi-day trip somewhere without internet access or cell coverage.
Embrace downtime, liberate your creativity.
- You can’t accomplish anything just by giving it 110%
I could not agree more with the sprit of this article. Yes, he seems to be using a different definition of “passionate” than I do. I would say that being passionate about your company/product is a requirement, what he’s talking about is more like blind ambition or foolishness.
And there really is no room for running off half-cocked and spending your life savings starting an “ice cream for dogs” business because you love ice cream and you love dogs and someone told you that you could accomplish anything you put your mind to.
I always enjoy reading fiction–also known as 90 percent of all start-up how-to guides and articles. The dreamscapes they paint always seem to I’ve a knack for happy endings.
Follow your dreams.
Turn your passion into profits.
Do what makes you happy.
This is lovey-dovey utopian nonsense. This sort of advice would have you believe that if you simply put your all into something you will be successful. Bottom line: if the start-up idea your passionate about isn’t capable of generating revenue, your passion will bankrupt you
Worth a read, would love to hear what other people think about this. Seems like it’s the “trophies for everyone!” mentality transferring into expectations of business as the young adults become entrepreneurs. Everyone thinks they’re going to be the next Facebook or Google…