Life on Mobile: From Android to iOS

I’ve been living an increasingly mobile life lately, by which I mean laptops aren’t my sole or even primary computing device anymore. For the last two years I’ve been doing more computing on mobile devices than laptops or desktops. I’m writing this post on my iPad Pro. At the same time, I’m a heavy user of old-school technologies: command line, LaTeX, terminal-based editors, etc. I find it interesting that my life is increasingly possible to run on a mobile device, while at the same time my laptop remains absolutely indispensable. As I thought about this, I found myself organizing the last few years’ worth of lessons into distinct categories, which I’m strangely compelled to write into blog posts. So, here goes! In the first edition we will follow Baron on his adventures as he transitions from Android to iOS.


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Five Surprising Secrets of People Who Always Win

Are you a winner? Or are you going to let life get you back on your heels and make you into a failure? Because remember, if you lose, it means you’re a loser. By definition.


Here’s the surprising truth about what winners do and how they do it, and how you can too.

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The Four Types of Core Intellectual Property

If you ask people what their company’s core intellectual property is, my guess is most responses would focus on technical things such as trade secrets, recipes, source code, and algorithms. But I’ve come to believe this definition doesn’t encompass a company’s most valuable intellectual property at all.


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Meeting The Challenges of Monitoring In The Cloud

I’ll be visiting MIT’s Tang Center on October 10 in Boston to talk about monitoring. Join me!


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I’m not saying I’m gluten-sensitive. I just know that when I eat things like pizza, bread, pasta, or the like, I suffer. And gluten-free alternatives are disgusting. But I’ve figured out how to make the breads I love, such as pancakes, waffles, and muffins, without pain. Here’s my recipe.

Stacked Rocks

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What Women Tell Me

Someday I’ll write a companion blog post about what men tell me, but today I want to write about what I’ve learned by listening to women over the last few years.

Why do I care? It’s because women tell me things that men rarely, sometimes never tell me. I failed to notice this for the longest time, but when I started to, I decided to sit up and listen, hard.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying that men don’t care or talk about these types of things. In fact, many of these episodes of sexism came to me through a man’s Twitter post. BUT WOMEN RETWEETED IT TO ME.


I will now present things I have heard only or mostly from women, in many cases without attribution to the original author or the woman who drew this to my attention (because I think that’s the safest thing to do).

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Cursive Writing

When I was a child, I learned to write in cursive using the A Beka Books homeschooling curriculum. I resumed journaling in cursive a couple years ago, after decades of writing with block letters (printing).


Although my motivation to relearn cursive was to make my daily journaling more special by setting it apart, I didn’t simply regain what I had forgotten. I found something entirely new, and learned a great deal I’d never known before.

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Just Enough Better

What makes a product, project, or application become popular? People talk a lot about attributes such as stickiness, virality, addictive qualities, and gamification.

I don’t pretend to have a universal answer, but many of the successful things I’ve been involved with worked well because they were just enough better for people to care a lot.


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One of the core teachings of Drucker’s classic “Managing Oneself” is to form hypotheses about what you’ll do well or poorly, and then observe the outcomes. By repeatedly practicing this, you learn what you’re good and bad at.


At some point I noticed that I sometimes wasn’t certain why I failed or succeeded. As I’ve explored this more deeply in the last few years, I’ve come to see that the biggest factor in my success or failure is often the clarity of my purpose itself.

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Why I'm Not Waiting To Prioritize Diversity

I have a vacant board seat at VividCortex, and I’m making diversity one of my priorities as I begin to search. I’ve discussed this with a range of people over the last several months. Nearly everyone has asked me to clarify what I’m trying to achieve, and why. Some have challenged me to defend why I believe diversity is a must-have at this stage of VividCortex’s growth. In the end, it’s my job to make the call. I’ve decided that diversity is a priority (not the sole priority, but a priority) now, not later. Here’s why—and here’s how I’m following through on that decision.


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The Hartman Values Profile Assessment

A few months ago I wrote about the personality assessments I’ve been using for the last couple of years to help me be more intentional about my team interactions and hiring. At the time, I was becoming fairly confident in my ability to apply the DISC and Motivations models. This post is about another model I use too, plus a little more nuance about the DISC and other models.


As Michael Gorsuch tweeted, “healthy and effective teams are composed of individuals actively seeking to understand each other’s needs.” I couldn’t have said it better. I find personality assessments helpful in several ways, including assessing candidates and coaching team members. They give people a concrete and consistent language for expressing and understanding themselves and each other.

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I’ve been telling more people about the benefits I’ve received from meditation. Meditation has greatly influenced the way I think, behave, and relate to others.


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The Best Lossy Music Compression

I noticed recently that Google Play Music has a set of features I wasn’t aware of before, and decided to give it a try. Through various kinds of yak shaving, I ended up tackling a project I’d wanted to look into for a while: which formats and settings are really the best for lossy music compression?

What I learned was both fun and surprising, and ultimately highly practical. If you’re in a hurry, the summary is that high-quality variable-bitrate MP3 produced with the LAME encoder is probably the best all-around choice if you want broad compatibility.

But before I get to that, let’s sharpen some yak razors, shall we?


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My Daily Inspiration Experiment

About 18 months ago I began an experiment on social media.


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Feelings and Behaviors

It’s a new year and I drew a diagram.

Feelings and Behaviors

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Why Outlook is the best iOS GMail App

I switched to an iPhone about 6 months ago and have found it superior to the Android phones I’ve used, except for one baffling thing. The GMail app on iOS is awful compared to the Android version. Unusably awful, actually. Fortunately, Outlook is very good. Better than the alternatives. Here’s why.


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Minimal Social Meta Tags for a Blog

When someone shares your blog article on a social network, odds are it will appear with some descriptive text, images, and so on. If your blog lacks explicit instructions, in many cases these properties are just guessed-at and won’t be great.

I’ve seen a lot of blog authors and template creators go too far the other direction and add tons of redundant meta tags, which will make the page larger, heavier, and slower.

What’s the minimal necessary set of tags?


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How to Extract Data Points From a Chart

I often see benchmark reports that show charts but don’t provide tables of numeric results. Some people will make the actual measurements available if asked, but I’ve been interested in analyzing many systems for which I can’t get numbers. Fortunately, it’s usually possible to get approximate results without too much trouble. In this blog post I’ll show several ways to extract estimates of values from a chart image.


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Help Me Make This Blog More Accessible

Dear Reader,

Hi! I probably don’t know you, but I’d like to make this blog better for you. If you’re disabled—for example, perhaps you use a screen reader, a special device, or have other needs that I might not anticipate, I’d really love your feedback on what I can do to make my content easier for you to read and enjoy.


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What Does The Universal Scalability Law Reveal About MySQL?

In the last couple of weeks, there have been a few blog posts about benchmarks comparing the performance of various versions of MySQL and variants such as MariaDB. There’s also been some analysis of the results using formal models such as Neil Gunther’s Universal Scalability Law.

What can the Universal Scalability Law (USL) teach us about the performance characteristics of these systems, as revealed by the benchmarks? To find out, I’ll examine one particular benchmark, MariaDB 10.1 and MySQL 5.7 performance on commodity hardware.


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