Johnathan.org

January 27, 2015

Vivaldi – A New Browser for our Friends

So there’s a new browser in town, put out by ex Opera big cheese Jón Stephenson von Tetzchner. It’s called Vivaldi and so far, it looks just as good as Vivaldi’s music sounds.

Vivaldi came to be after coming to the conclusion that Opera (the browser) just ain’t what it used to be. According to the site: “[Opera] is no longer serving its community of users and contributors who helped build the browser in the first place.” That’s a bummer. I liked Opera for a while, but then it started feeling super fat. It started feeling like Firefox. For what it’s worth, at the time, all third party browsers were feeling super bloated like they needed to have extra water drained out of them.

I downloaded it just now and toyed around with it for a bit. Obviously, on a Mac, installing an app is simple to the point of condescension in most cases. Just drag and drop it into the Applications folder.

On launch, there’s not much going on. Once you start browsing sites, it’ll do what other browsers do and show you your most visited sites. The UI is flat and clean. It blends super well with the UI theme that OS X Yosemite carries, and doesn’t feel out of place. The tab idea must really be working with users because it seems quite similar to just about every other name brand browser out there, which is fine. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel if your existing wheel is super fast.

After launching a few sites, I noticed a really cool trend. The site icon that appears in the tab dictates the UI’s main color. The Vivaldi has a mostly red icon ergo the UI is the same shade red. Visiting The Great Discontent changes the UI to black, and Google to blue. It’s a subtle touch but is much appreciated. It takes the branding of the site the user is viewing and extends it over their whole screen. It’s almost as if the brand bleeds into the whole browsing experience.

There are a load of cool features coming soon, according to the Vivaldi Web site including:

  • Mail. What’s better than a really good competitor to Gmail? Who says they have to eat all the cake?
  • Bookmark/Notes/History/Session syncing across different devices. Smells like a hint that mobile will be a real thing.
  • Keyboard-based (Spatial) Navigation. Sounds like it could be good. Will have to wait and see how this turns out.
  • Performance Boosts. Nothing like a snappy quick browser. Even being slightly cracked out is OK, so long as it’s stable.
  • Extensions. Your browser needs to do so much more these days and they want to make sure that happens in the most secure method possible without impacting performance.
  • And More… They’re taking suggestions from the community!

Download: Vivaldi.net

I’m looking forward to seeing what this baby can do, especially with the upcoming release from Microsoft of their new “Spartan” browser!

Favorite Thing to This Day

In school my favorite subject was “Computers.” At the time, I didn’t quite know what that meant, nor did I really care. Kids thought I was nerdy because computers weren’t cool. The popular kids didn’t care about computers, they were athletes. That’s how they made friends. That didn’t deter me from keeping up with what I enjoyed the most.

I started with HTML in the 6th grade, and it escalated from there to include design and photography. Today, I work in IT at a rather large software company you might have heard of, and I enjoy it. If I had to change career paths at this very moment, the only shift I would make would be to photography, something that was stimulated by computers, too.

I experienced my first Mac around the 6th grade timeframe, too, but it was one of those colorful eMacs with the round one-button mice. I remember the next year my school bought newer white iMacs, still of the tube-television style one-piece setups, but the mice weren’t completely round anymore—though they still had one button.

Jump forward a couple years later into high school, and that’s when I got to feel my first, what I felt like was a legit iMac. It was a behemoth at 27” in screen size and I was blown away by it. The resolution—all those pixels—and the ability to have so much on screen and be able to do it all at once!

That was my last real contact with a mac until I bought my own in 2011. Don’t get me wrong, I used Windows computers, too. I built my own gaming-purposed desktop in the beginning of 2011 and rocked it like no other. However, it didn’t stick with me like my 15” Macbook Pro did. That same Macbook Pro is sitting in front of me right now. It’ll be four years old in roughly eight months and while I sank a lot of money into that gaming desktop I built, I can’t say it would be running the same this many years later, without intervention.

In IT, I’ve supported Macs, PCs, Windows servers, Linux servers, and any blend of those four technologies. If It hadn’t been for my interest in computers from the very beginning (with a Packard bell 486DX2-66), I don’t think any of my interests I have today would have flourished in any way.

January 26, 2015

The Workforce in 2030

I recently caught a TED Talk by Rainer Strack on the shifting of the workforce in the few decades to come. There’s a fundamental change that’ll take place soon and one thing’s for sure, there’ll end up being a lot more vacancies in the job market than there are now. I’m sure you’re wondering:

[Conservative] How can this be? Isn’t the economy in the toilet, still?
[Progressive] How can this be? Isn’t the economy doing great already?

Well fear not pundit! Because neither really matter. See, it’s not about how the economy’s doing but who’s working. In the 50s, we had what you’d call a “boom.” It wasn’t an industrial boom, nor an oil boom. It was a baby boom. While it sounds all fine and dandy, the problem lies in what will happen when that sharp population growth that took place fifty and almost sixty years ago all of a sudden decides to retire. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.

On the Bus in the Fog Unlike a Dog on a Log in a Bog with Nog

This is the first time I’ve tried to write a post on the bus. There’s a lot of free time to be had on the bus, that I could just waste reading ArsTechnica articles or scrolling Facebook. But after my recap on the finicky relationship I have with my iPhone I feel like it’s necessary to look into putting it to better use.

First off, let me be clear. I don’t have any special writing apps to craft posts for when I’m in a bus in the fog writing for my blog (or any other alliterative, Dr. Seuss-type wordplays). I’m using the basic Notes app that comes with all Apple devices these days. I’m not even bothering to check my spelling too much as autocorrect seems to be doing a pretty good job on its own. Now granted if my word choice ends up being a total crapfest, then I feel like I need to go back and update it.

Along with the Notes app comes the WordPress app from Automattic. It’s how I interface with my site from both my iPhone and iPad.

Second, I don’t find it necessary to spend every waking moment writing, although it is enjoyable. I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could find enough stuff to talk about during the day to write non stop for two people.

Third, what’s a blog post anyway but a digital journal entry? All I’m doing is putting my thoughts on digital paper and sharing them. I understand the recourse of the idea that once it’s on the Internet it’s there forever.

At some point, someone will want to sit next to me and hopefully I’ll be close to the end. There’s nothing I hate more than someone peeking over my shoulder trying to see what I’m up to. I get passing glances and whatnot, stuff happens. I can’t expect someone to never catch a glance of my kickass high score in Candy Crush.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to clear my autocorrect dictionary after all the new crap words it seems to have recorded after I wrote this.

PS: I might have seemed a bit ramble. That’s just how I write and think on a moments notice. I wrote this post more so to prove a point that to myself that I can write wherever I am. In the future, I think I’ll have to procure one of those keyboard iPad cases. A small screen makes my thumbs hurt.

Taking Notes

Reflecting on my journey so far, one thing I’ve noticed that seems to be most consistent is my desire to write has improved, ten fold. Instead of coming up with huge elaborate stories or long-winded essays about something I don’t even know if I completely understand, I’m starting to keep my thoughts to under a thousand words. This keeps me from getting bored with what I write, and if I do choose to write something more long-form, I can do so without feeling like that’s all I do and it’s just more words on a page. I’m also finding that I’m wanting to take time out of my day, whenever it is, to “write something real quick.” Take last weekend, for example, I wrote a total of [x] posts and published them all. Were they all related? No, but they were all things I had going on in my head and I made sure to take the time to put them down and share them.

Going forward, I think this is something I’ll be doing more often. This has been a product of the changes in my morning routine now that I’m writing every day, almost without fail. So far I’ve had to resort to looking at my notes but a few times, but I can only speculate if that’ll get better or worse. I have at any one time, several different things I’m pondering or thinking about and am taking note of them on my iPhone with the built-in Notes app so when I get home in the evening or start spinning up first thing in the morning, I can look back on it and pick up where I left off. There’s no shame in checking notes to remember what you might want to talk about. I have complete faith that even the best of us do that, too.

If you have a lot of things you want to talk about but don’t ever remember them, writing them down when they pop into your head could save your bacon one day!

Positioning for the Journey to Dreamland

I saw a rather interesting article this morning via the Wall Street Journal that talks about finding the perfect sleep position. I couldn’t help but think: “is there some mad science in here that will give me the answer to all things sleeping so I can sleep mad sleeps and wake up feeling like a million dollars?” Well, no. The only way to wake up feeling like a stack of cash is either a) have a million dollars or b) eat some of those crazy mushrooms the kids like.

Anyway, This article had some good points that I wanted to recap because it’s something I struggle with from time to time, and after adjusting my morning routine to better serve my daily writing goals, the best sleep I can get from the limited time I have is fine by me.

Looking back on even last night’s sleep, I started out on my side, and the article puts me in the majority with 57% of sleepers starting out that way. Sometimes, if I’m already pretty relaxed, I’ll start on my back, and let my eyes literally roll back into my head (weird I know). That’s something only 17% of people seem to do, and for those stomach sleepers out there, you’re the odder of the bunch at 11% for starting positions.

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What I really found interesting is just in the next paragraph, the author talks about the variance in the amount of times people toss and turn during the night: as few as three times to as many as 36. I would have no way of knowing where I fall in that category unless I videotaped myself. I’m ok not knowing that much about my sleeping habits.

I whole-heartedly believe it’s important to make sure I am sleeping “properly” or as close to it as I can. I try to avoid pain areas in the sense that I’ll sleep on the opposite side if I’m favoring an area or if my back hurts, I’ll try to lay as flat as I can, to keep as much tension and pressure off it as possible.

If you have time—if you don’t, I think you should make time—go read the article form the Wall Street Journal. Sleep is important and making sure you’re getting the most out of it is crucial to morning success. Not all of us can just spring out of bed before the birds.

Hunting the Hunter: Trying to Take a Photo of my Cat

I tried something interesting, yesterday. Every once in a while, I find the urge to pull out my camera and shoot stuff at home. It doesn’t happen very often, and for good reason. My space is outside, where things don’t move, where all I have to worry about is what time the sun sets, and how cold my fingers will end up at the end. The outdoors is peaceful. Nature doesn’t have a schedule and it largely sticks around for as long as it deems necessary. There are great places to hike, camp, and smell the roses, if there are any.

Bringing it back into reality, however, my home isn’t anything like that.

Have you ever tried taking a photo of you cat?

I did, and it wasn’t easy. It took a bit of thinking, stealth maneuvering, and patience. See, cats are these interesting creatures that do whatever the heck they want, when they want. They’re the part of nature that waits for no one, and if you miss out, that sucks for you. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of an animal that’s an extension of our larger feline friends in the wild, so free-spirited, and they end up pooping in some baking-soda-covered clay chunks, and they’re totally ok with it.

Maybe your cat’s chill. Good for you. Maybe you don’t own a cat and think I’m totally whack even talking about it, not long after talking about my cat being in a box. You might be wondering if I’ve run out of ideas of things to write about. All of those thoughts are valid and I understand your concern. I’m not crazy, though. Never the crazy cat person, will I be.

Oh, and you might be wondering if I ever got that photo?

No.

Cat 1. Human 0.

January 25, 2015

Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Put You Down. Sometimes.

As much as I try to stay current with technology, there’s a part of me that just doesn’t care if I check my phone all the time, or am constantly reading emails on the weekend. I know a lot of people keep up to date on the latest everything with every device they have and that’s awesome. I just can’t do that. However, there’s one device that I really can’t live without because it’s become a gateway to the “Quick-Check-to-See-if-the-World-Has-Burned-Down” reality: my iPhone.

I’m quite sure the list of people that say they couldn’t live without their phone is staggering. Hell, Instagram is a phone-only thing and look at how many people share what they’re eating on regular basis! If people stopped caring so much about their phones and making sure everything that was going on was going through their phone, Instagram would shut down. It’s likely that twitter would take a big hit, too. Facebook… meh. People are still butthurt about the unbundling of services that Facebook did recently, because they don’t have anything else to be upset about. They’re rebelling against the system by using their browser or their computer as if that’ll do anything. You go guys… way to stick it to the man.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having my phone around with me all the time, but it’s more of a just-in-case-something-happens kind of need. I might be listening to podcasts while I travel to and from work every day, but we’ve been able to do that for quite some time, before smartphones were a thing (remember the iPod?) so that doesn’t count as a dire need. I listen to music, too, but that also falls under what I just described. I might check twitter every now and then or watch Facebook all morning but that just drains me. Have you ever sat on twitter reading people’s 140-character-or-less thoughts and NOT felt drained or depressed afterwards? The world sucks nuts and I can only read about it for a little bit.

The world used to be a simpler place. Cats used to sit inside cannons like it’s no big deal. You can tell a lot about a time period by whether you have a cat that’s willing to loiter around artillery. Those days were nice.

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For all I don’t use my iPhone for, though, if I didn’t have it with me, I’d feel disconnected, I’ll admit. It’s become more of a security blanket when I’m moving between point A and point B. I, and likely society as a whole, have been trained to think that if I leave my house without my phone, something bad might happen and I won’t be able to call for help! I wonder how people in the 90s even survived.

I think if I absolutely had to, could resort to a dumb phone. Apple still makes iPods, so all my smart tools could just migrate to that device. I’d have iMessage wherever I had wifi and text messaging on my dumb phone. Turns out, though, that I’d still end up paying an arm and a leg for service. The difference of $20 for data isn’t worth the downgrade. On the flip side, the uncharge of $20 for data to have a smartphone is paltry.

Perhaps one day I’ll see if I can go a whole day without my smartphone. I have a ton of technology around me at home, and a ton more at work, so really there’ll only be roughly three hours out of the day where I’m in that disconnected state that won’t allow me to get the latest tweets that I hate or read emails the bleeding freaking second they arrive.

But that’s unlikely.

January 24, 2015

How to Set up Automatic WordPress Blog Post Scheduling with IFT.TT, and Buffer

Let’s be honest. The year is 2015 and nobody wants to do things by hand or manually if they can help it. Companies are hiring people to automate the hell out of everything because like M.I.A (sort of, not really) [famously rapped][1]:

live fast, die young, robots do it well.

I’ll admit, I like speeding up the process of sharing what I’ve written but I like controlling it a bit more than some. Here’s how I do it. You’ll want to create an account with IFT.TT and Buffer if you haven’t already. IFT.TT stands for IF This, Then That. The premise is that you can take data being expelled from one service, and based on certain criteria, do something with it via another. Things like “Text me with the daily weather report at 5AM” are easy and, well, kind of cheesy. If you become a power user of IFT.TT or already are, you’ll know that there’s so much more you can do with the service like auto-tweet breaking news stories from news sources or trigger your Philips Hue home lighting to change color when a storm warning comes into effect. In my case, I want to sync IFTTT with my WordPress install. To start, I’ll need to create a new recipe and click on the blue this link (A) and choose the WordPress trigger channel (B). This will be the source for the data that IFTT uses.

ifttt_step1

Once I have that set, I can choose whether I want this action to be triggered by any new post from WordPress, or just when the post has a particular tag or category. In my case, I choose the former, because I want to share all posts.

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We can skip Step 3 as there’s nothing else to set for these triggers and move on to step four. Click Create Trigger. So at this point we’ve established that if there’s any new post on WordPress Blog then we’ll do something. Now we establish what that something is. Click the blue that link. In my case, I want to share to Buffer.

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I will want to choose the “Add to Buffer” option since I won’t be pushing photos from my source. My final step is to set up how I want my shares to look and then I create my action. Note: If this is your first time, you’ll have to set up what account you want Buffer to schedule this IFTTT-pushed content on.

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There are a couple things to keep in mind when setting this up. Anything pushed from IFTTT to Buffer: 1) will be set to whatever schedules you have created and 2), will only be pushed to whatever social media account you have set up for this channel. You can only have one social media account chosen for this type of setup. If you want to use more than just one social media account to share you content, I recommend creating separate recipes for each. Granted, only one of them will be scheduled via Buffer, so keep that in mind. In my situation, I don’t really mind, and I use Buffer so much already that I like having the ability to manually schedule for other social media accounts that don’t get as much regular pushing of content.

All Done!

It’s that simple. If you have account with IFTTT and Buffer already set up, this will take you thirty seconds to do. You’ll find this thirty seconds will save you time in the long run and will become something that you don’t even think about at the end of the day. Sure you could use WordPress plugins, too, and that’s all fine and dandy. I’m not stopping you! This is how I like to do it and I figured someone out there might like to know. Thanks for stopping by, have a good one!

Ghostly Sharing to Twitter from Jetpack’s Publicize Plugin

A rather odd thing started happening shortly after I implemented Jetpack on this site. I was seeing my posts show up on twitter, which is nice and all, but not through the method I had set up. I describe how I set up automatic post scheduling for the various social networks in this past. These tweets were being written without a fancy permalink, which seemed odd and told me that it wasn’t something of my intentional doing. After doing some research, I discovered someone having an issue with the Publicize plugin not removing a social media account properly. In order to fix their issue, they re-added their account and removed it again.

I figured it would be a stretch but I knew it couldn’t hurt anything so I tried that myself just to see what would happen. I Added my Facebook page, and after authorization, lo and behold, my twitter account showed up, too. It wasn’t previously authorized so I had a pretty good idea this ghost authorization was what was causing these unwanted shares. Un-linking my twitter account immediately solved the problem, and I was on my way to sharing the way I want to: WordPress => IFTTT => Buffer.

Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography