I have recently been asked my opinion on returning to school by a few friends. We are all in our late 20’s, and it is a transformative time. The pervasive feeling seems to be either to commit to your current career, or make a shift, now by going back to school for some more education. (Personally, I plan to shift my career and focus every five years or so until I die.)
Going back to school for a PhD, Masters, or other degree or certificate can be a good choice, but in this day and age where you can learn anything online, showing what you know is often better than a degree.
My alternate approach to learning started early. High School always frustrated me. I felt that it was using an outdated model which placed in inordinate value on my ability to memorize and repeat random facts. Learning was not spontaneous. Most teachers would not follow an idea deep and emerge somewhere unexpected. They followed the lessons.
I used to spend long hours at home in our basement “playing around” on the family computer. I had discovered that I could learn real skills and applicable knowledge online. I taught myself how to code HTML and CSS, how to use Photoshop, After Effects, 3D design programs and video editors. My brother and I filmed sci fi battles where we rotoscoped lightsabers in place of brooms, shot electric fireballs across rooms and played with slow motion.
My junior year I joined the yearbook staff, and taught myself pagemaker / indesign. We decided to do an additional digital yearbook that year, and it fell to me and and a classmate to put it all together. For the first time I started learning to project manage and juggle operations tasks.
I got into film photography, and convinced a family friend to pay me to photograph a birthday party. I learned by trial and error again how to best compose, develop and sell photos. These trials led to a job doing product photography and web design for a pre-Etsy custom parasol designer. (Prissy Parasols!)
Recently, I wanted to get into woodworking. I spend most my time on a computer, and I wanted to build things with my hands. Things that don’t disappear when the battery dies or the power goes out. Things that might outlive me.
I joined a free furniture building class at the San Francisco Community college. It was initially great, and provided access to tools, and an instructor who was knowledgable. Unfortunately, the class was large, several people were slow learners, and I couldn’t move at my own speed.
I ended up spending $1,000 on wood-shop tools via Craigslist, and through trial and error, Youtube videos, and immersion I taught myself basic furniture building. I now know other woodworkers who I can learn from, and have work to show for my time.
Arguably, I learned more from these attempts that I ever could in school. True learning follows passion, which can only develop from experimentation and immersion.
March 18, 2014 Leave a comment
The social role of cafes in 2013 – 2014
I went to a cafe this morning to get some work done and change up my work environment. It always helps me zone in and focus. I am able to set an “Until my battery dies, I will work on this one project” time frame.
Today, the world had other plans. I got to the cafe, ordered food, got my coffee sat down, and… no internet. Hmm. Went to the counter and asked about it.
Yeah, it is down. We have a guy coming this afternoon to fix it.
I personally was upset, because I had just paid for food at this place expecting to stay their for the morning and work.
This brings up the question “What is the primary purpose of a cafe in 2013–2014?” I was planning on using it for internet and to work. Others were there for food and socializing. Most people had laptops out. What is the primary use of the “Third Space?”
As an experiment, I pulled out a sharpie from my bag, and clandestinely hung an “Internet is down ” sign from the door. As I watched from the window while I ate my food, I saw person after person frown and turn away — headed to more internet rich pastures. In fact, of those who saw the sign not a one entered the cafe.
How often do you go to cafes alone for a meal vs to work?
December 9, 2013 Leave a comment
The toolbox you have for creating websites affects the projects you work on and how you approach them. If it is hard to do something you will do it less often, which means you may take the easy way out. These are some of the tools I use that will help you optimize your web design workflow.
CodeKit – you want this, it makes your images smaller, automatically injects CSS changes to your page from Sublime Text so you can code live, and will compile SASS or LESS to CSS automatically if you ever start using either of those CSS languages. (Use SASS, it is better, and has more support in the professional community)
Chrome’s Developer tools are going to be your best friend. Built-in to Chrome, they let you test everything for problems, design in the browser, and will let you learn how to code better than any other tool. Simply right click on any part of a web page anywhere, select “Inspect Element” and it will show you where the element was created in the code, the css that styles it, and allow you to edit it.
STFP – this is a plugin for Sublime Text that allows you to upload via FTP from within Sublime, and sync local and remote version of your website. Saves having to use Cyberduck for most things.
Emmet – This is a shorthand system for creating large amounts of HTML quickly. Learn the basics first, but once you understand what you are doing, graduate quickly to this style of writing HTML. It allows you to plan the skeleton of your site rapidly, and fill in from the in side out. There is a plugin for Sublime Text.
Adobe Fireworks – A big one – this tool is perfectly set up for web design. It has object based layers, will show you the CSS that is needed to make the designs you create, and it allows you to make clickable mockups.
That should be enough to fill your weekend
October 18, 2013 1 Comment
Wool is one of the best science fiction stories I have read in recent years. If you like dystopian futures, this series is made for you. Part of a set, this Wool Omnibus is books 1-5. There are prequel and sequel sets as well, but starting with this set works best.
It is written by Hugh Howey, and was a breakthrough success. He was originally planning to write one, but his fan insisted, and he followed up with the whole series.
- Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon
- Winner of Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012 Award
October 16, 2013 Leave a comment
Popular Science has made the choice to turn off comments because they can be “bad for science.”
Comments are a common problem on the internet, and they tend to trend towards the lowest common denominator. Youtube is known for its miserable comments, and Google has recently been addressing this by incorporating Google+ moderation into it’s youtube commenting system.
While debate is an important part of a community, it seems that until there is a way to make sure that they don’t degenerate into meaningless arguments, they will be more and more moderated.
September 25, 2013 1 Comment
I love raw oysters on the half shell. I grew up eating gulf coast oysters by the bucket full with my grandfather, and have loved them ever since. They can be expensive, but they don’t have to be!
I put together this list of where to get $1 oysters in San Francisco and the East Bay no matter what night of the week it is – I hope it is helpful.
If you know of anywhere else to get $1 oysters in San Francisco and the East Bay, please let me know and I will update this list!
September 9, 2013 8 Comments
I am currently in Wells, Nevada at a Motel 6. I recently drove from Oakland, CA to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and am now on my way back. I used a lot off road trip apps!
- Total Distance: 5624 miles
- Time: 9 days of driving.
- West to East – Tui the dog, Mandy, and Myself.
- East to West, just Tui the dog and me.
Tui is quite the conversationalist, but I have still had plenty of time to play with road trip apps and find some that do an incredible job.
My Top road trip apps
Downcast is a great podcast app that does both audio and video podcasts. It makes them easy to find, and you can create podcast playlists. Say, a Moth, an American life, followed by an episode of Stuff to blow your mind, and then a Planet Money.
Audio books. Good player UI and syncs with Kindle if you happen to have both the audio and ebook. Get a free book when you signup! (Coming soon — How to get a free ebook and half off Audible for 3 months)
Much better than the default Apple maps. Inline directions, updated interface, tons of useful information. Gets me from A to B.
So much fun. Extracts colors from live video of photos and makes swatches.
The last one… Sorry mom… Netflix…
Sooo this one might not be legal, but I rigged up the iPhone to the edge of my mirror and had Netflix documentaries going for a little bit. They sounded great through the car stereo, and they were in my field of view without me having to focus on them. I could glance at the screen, see who was behind me and keep on going.
“But officer, I wasn’t texting…”
These are just my top road trip apps, what are yours?
September 8, 2013 Leave a comment
Right now two services are allowing you to sell your iPhone, but you don’t have to send it in until mid October, after the new iPhone is available. This saves you the worry of being without a phone, and still allows you to get a good price for your current phone before the new one comes out.
How to sell your iPhone, and keep it too
Check out these sites and see which one offers you a better deal to sell your iPhone. The going rate is around $200 for a 16gb iPhone 4s, and $340 for a 16gb iPhone 5.
The new iPhone is supposed to be announced on September 10th, so you should have plenty of time after you sell your iPhone to go grab your new phone, get it up to speed, then mail in your old one.
If you use these links, you will get 10% more for your phone!
These prices will be getting less the closer to the iPhone announcement date, so go ahead and lock in your sell price now!
September 4, 2013 Leave a comment
When I moved into my apartment at 23rd and Alabama in the Mission district of San Francisco 2 years ago, we paid $2900 a month.
The current rent for that apartment has now skyrocketed to $4800, and people are willing to pay it. (I have since moved to Oakland!)
Finding an affordable place can be difficult, so here are some useful tools and tricks to find an apartment in San Francisco.
If This Then That is a useful tool that allows you to set up “recipes” based on multiple site interactions. It is powerful, but can take some time to learn.
New post shows up on Craigslist for 2 bedroom house in the mission under $3000 a month. Based on that search URL for Craigslist, IFTTT sends you a text message so you can be the first person to respond.
You can also have IFTTT automatically set up an email draft in Gmail with your canned “I would like to look at your place” email ready to go, with your attached prefilled rental application, and references. All you have to do now is add a bit about the place you are looking at and hit send!
(If you are ever looking for anything at all on Craigslist, IFTTT is your best friend!)
Lovely slurps up craigslist data, but presents it in an organized fashion. It allows you to favorite places, keep notes, and will also notify you when things you are looking for show up. It also allows you to interact with some landlords who use the service.
Similar to lovely, with some advanced search options and an older interface.
Keep copies of your references, your credit report, and your pay-stubs on Dropbox so you can attach them from your phone or a friend’s computer if you are away from yours when you find out about a place. In this game, being slow means being homeless.
Remember, you need a check for the first and last month’s rent, and the security deposit, so keep those funds in your checking account.
I hope these tools and tricks to find an apartment in San Francisco were helpful – if you have any others, let me know!
August 28, 2013 Leave a comment
Looking to buy a king size bed frame? Ever consider building your own?
With just a circular saw and a drill, you can construct a sturdy, custom king size bed frame for your room. You can make it any height you want, and build in any head board design or foot board you like.
Some of the easiest to follow plans I have found are from woodgears.ca. You can download the plans, or an interactive sketch up model if you want to use that.
The materials are available from Home Depot for less than $90.
I have built a few of these for friends, and am pleased with how sturdy they are, and how quickly they come together. You can assemble the entire frame in an afternoon, and it is held together with dowels and glue. Screws attach side rails to the head and foot boards.
The bed frame disassembles to be a headboard, two side rails and the foot board, with a stack of slats. Not Ikea small, but you don’t want that particle board anyway.
I am looking to make another bed, and want to play with bolts instead of screws to hold the frame together for easier break down and set up. I also want to stain the frame.
If you are interested in a new bed (can be king, queen, or double) let me know. I can probably make you a wooden frame for less than you would buy one for.
Finished – Look at all that room underneath: (Photo thanks to Jim Stone!)
August 6, 2013 3 Comments
What is the half-life of a tweet? Minutes? Hours? Days?
So many of you are creative people, passionate people, people with a voice — a voice that should last longer than a status update, a blog post, or a tweet.
Let’s bring Paper Back. — I will publish your work.
Is there something you have always wanted to say, but never have? A drawing you did that you are particularly proud of? A poem you wrote that needs to be read? A commentary on something you have observed? A photo you love?
I am trying a little social experiment in book publishing. If you submit your contribution I will publish it in book form, and mail a copy to everyone who contributed – free of charge.
July 8, 2013 Leave a comment
We have been hard at work creating the first session of Camp Grounded, the Summer Camp for Adults, and wanted to share a little of the process with you!
Checking out the Camp in our site visit:
Getting ready to mail out the Camp Packets
Setting up workshops villages, etc…
And we are not done yet! See you up at camp!
May 29, 2013 Leave a comment