Pixel Tempted Me But iPhone Kept Me

I switched from Android to iPhone a few years ago, and with the recent advances in Android and some of the issues that have crept into iPhone, I wondered whether I should switch back. To help me decide, I got a Google Pixel 2 and used it for a week, with my iPhone turned off and put away. In the end, Android was much better than it used to be, but not good enough to woo me back. Here’s why.


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The Skagen Jorn Connected and Misfit Phase Hybrid Smart Watches

I bought two of the more interesting-looking hybrid smart watches to compare their functionality to each other, and to the Nokia Steel HR I already own. In the end, the Skagen Jorn Connected (Amazon) is a better watch and extension of my phone, but is not enough of a health or fitness tracker to replace the Nokia Steel HR; and the Misfit Phase (Amazon) has useful functionality but a poor design and feel. Neither offers the notification features I’d find most useful.


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How I Meditate

I practice mindfulness meditation every day. This is how I practice.


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Use Time-Related Words With Caution

I’ve come to see time-related words as potentially dangerous to use in writing, because they have ambiguities that are difficult to parse. I didn’t notice this until I started to work with many people for whom English is a second language. These people taught me that phrases I take for granted can be very confusing and illogical.

Here’s an example: “I avoid using these words, as they are confusing.”


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Switching From Swiftype to a Static JSON Index and LunrJS

I was shocked how easy it was to add a browser-based search engine to this website using LunrJS and Hugo’s new content types. With a few small changes and less than 30 minutes of work, I had a great search engine up and running. I moved it under the menu and made it into a separate search page.

If you’re interested to mimic my approach, you can see the commit that I used to add the search page. I copy-pasted most of this code from articles here and here.

(Update: I broke my RSS feeds with the commit above, and needed two more to fix them).

Magnifying Glass

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Schrodinger's Outage

A couple months ago we had an incident, in which a legacy recovery mechanism proved to be inadequate to our current scale. In our internal post-incident review, we asked if we should improve this seldom-used capability. I decided not to, because the plan is to completely replace the part of the platform that it serves. My judgment was that we were not likely to need it, and it would be a lot of time and effort to improve.

Shortly thereafter, we did need it again, and again experienced the same pains. Was the decision wrong?

Raindrop Puddle

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Three Steps To Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is now a prominent part of the engineering leadership lexicon. It began with Google, who reported that it is the strongest predictor of team productivity. According to those reports, this one factor trumps all other reasons that a team can perform well.

It sounds good, but how do you create psychological safety within a team? My approach is based on personal experience in my closest relationships. I’ve found that in order to trust others, I must first feel acknowledged, validated, and supported. Here’s how I try to extend that benefit to others in my life.


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How Good Is Spotify's Audio Quality?

I bought a Google Chromecast Audio for my budget audiophile system, due to problems with Apple’s AirPlay. I like the Chromecast, but as I listened to my favorite music on Spotify Premium, I was disappointed. The audio quality was noticeably worse than casting Spotify to AirPlay. I decided to figure out what was going on and see if I could fix the audio quality issues. I think I’ve learned what’s wrong, and unfortunately I don’t think it’s fixable. Read on to learn more.


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Digital Note-Taking Apps

I used to use paper notebooks extensively. When I didn’t have paper and pen, I emailed myself a quick note from my iPhone. This led gradually to me keeping all of my notes on my iPhone, using the Notes app. In the last few months, I’ve moved from Notes to Evernote. This process took some time and research, which I’m sharing in case it’s useful to you.


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What is Moving Average Convergence-Divergence (MACD)?

Moving Average Convergence-Divergence (MACD) is an efficient, compact way to compare averages of a metric over two different intervals, and determine if the metric is trending upwards or downwards. It is widely used in finance and several other fields.

MACD is a terrible name for a simple concept. It simply subtracts the long-term (distant) average from the short-term (recent) average. If the short-term average is larger, the result is positive and the metric is trending upwards.


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Sponsors Do More Than Pay The Bills

I participate in many technical conferences every year, and I’m always struck by the way conferences treat their sponsors. Those that simply acknowledge sponsors for making the event possible are seriously stunting their community. Don’t do that! Your community’s commercial supporters aren’t parasites: they’re an essential part of your ecosystem.


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My Four Favorite Meditation Books

Mindfulness meditation has changed me perhaps more than any other influence in my life. Here are four books whose wisdom I treasure.

Zen Rocks

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Male Fear of False Accusations Is Irrational

In the wake of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abusing women, a lot of men have retreated to a position of fear. What if the only way to avoid having your life ruined by a woman’s false accusations of assault is to never be alone with a woman? Like Vice President Pence?

This fear is itself sexist and irrational. This is an opportunity to grow and mature. Let’s dig into why.

Scared Man

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My Home Gym

After leaving CrossFit, I found a workout rhythm that works well for me, and gradually stocked my basement and patio with a few essentials so I can vary my workouts. Now I can do pretty much anything I used to do at a really nice CrossFit gym. CrossFit is great because the equipment needed is fairly minimal anyway. People often ask “where are the machines?” and the insider’s joke is “we don’t use machines, we build them.” Here’s what’s in my “garage gym.”

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My Workout Regimen

I’ve found a workout routine that I’ve been able to maintain despite the challenges of parenting, travel, sickness, and founding and leading a startup company. Not only do I sustain the regimen, it sustains me. This is my workout practice.


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When White Supremacy Came To Charlottesville

On August 11 and 12, 2017, hundreds of white supremacists traveled to my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly to protest the planned removal of Confederate memorials. They assaulted, injured, and killed people.

Many people don’t know even the outlines of what happened, and have asked me to describe it to them. I’ve had trouble finding a concise, comprehensive story online. Most news stories are either summarized or focus on only a single incident during the rally, giving no sense of what happened overall. This post is a compilation of some of the major events.

Before you continue, please be aware that this post links to and contains graphic, disturbing images and video.


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No Needs No Apologies

As I stopped on a New York City sidewalk to take a photo, a man approached me. “Hey, sir!” he said. “You from around this area?”

I scanned the area quickly and saw no danger, but I thought I knew where this was headed. “No,” I answered, trying to dismiss him. He waved a small cellphone at me, his wrist gyrating emphatically. “My phone is dead,” he said, his tone hinting that he didn’t believe himself. “Can you help me?”


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Effective Sales Outreach

Sales people contact me a lot. This is common for anyone who’s a founder or executive in a growing company, and I’ve done it too. I don’t mind being contacted. I’ve made new friends and allies. I’ve even bought from some.

But there are different kinds of sales outreach, and some of it just isn’t effective.┬áThe key to effective sales outreach is to realize that there’s either a need, timing, and budget or there isn’t. The outreach itself cannot cause a sale to happen that the prospect wouldn’t otherwise engage in.


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Meditation: Captive vs Directed Attention

I wrote previously about meditation, and in a subsequent post I wrote about the meditative qualities I found in writing cursive. As my meditation practice continues, I find myself seeing these experiences differently than I did before.

Mule Deer

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Hitler Reacts to Removal of MySQL's Query Cache

The removal of the query cache in MySQL 8.0 improves user experience and has been celebrated by many members of the MySQL community. With this good news, obviously, Hitler isn’t happy. (Parody Video).

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