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Initial Thoughts on the Kindle Fire

So, a few weeks back my Kindle Fire arrived and I started jotting notes as I opened it and used it. Here's the collection:

  • The un-boxing was surprisingly pleasant: minimal plastic, lots of recycled elements, no user-manual (it's on the device!). The package was about 2.5 inches tall and about 2 inches of that was empty, with a small cardboard elevating the kindle above the empty space that contained a small USB cord.. Why ruin the experience with all that empty space?
  • The USB Cord...it's a "wallwart" with a micro-usb on the end. I'm super excited that the device uses the current standard micro-usb b as its source of power and connectivity but what a waste to send me a cable connected to a wall-wart. I'd be way happier with something like this wall-usb and standard usb cable.
  • I now have learned that this wallwart USB outputs more than normal power, so it can't be a normal device. That kinda...sucks. If it uses different power I would almost rather have a different plug just to make that clear (though apparently the size lets me power it up slowly via computer if I'm in a bind). I wish it would take normal micro-usb power form a normal cable even if that means slower charging.
  • The power button is on the bottom right next to the USB port and headphone port which makes it easy to accidentally press it when you connect/disconnect your headphones/usb plug. To solve this, I've started using it upside down which means I type my password upside down when I unlock it. Of course the screen flips once it's unlocked, but now the sound comes out the "bottom" and gets my stomach messy with it's messy, messy sound.
  • The screen is pretty awesome. Very bright and crisp.
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Android Apps I actually Use

I recently had to reset my entire phone deleting all contents (different story). In the process I wrote down the old apps I had that I liked so I could reinstall them after wiping it. I was surprised how easy it was to do that and how all my contacts/mail/calendar being associated with my Google account made the whole process simple.

So, in case you're interested, here's the list of apps I actually reinstalled:

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Selling something for free on craigslist - for economists

I recently gave away an ugly backyard shed for free on CraigsList provided the person came to pick it up. Within minutes of posting the item I got 7 emails. I deleted the post immediately. I responded to the person who seemed best able to take it (she had a tiltable trailer with a winch on it) and set it up for Saturday. She failed to show saturday, so scheduled Monday. She failed to show Monday, but came Tuesday. I wasn't too worried about which day she came but did want it gone.

The 9.5 foot wide shed was at the end of a 20 foot long concrete pad that was 10 feet wide with a tree on one side and my garage on the other side. At the end of the pad was my alley. So she had to thread the shed down the pad between the tree and the garage without hitting anything, turn the corner at the end of the pad so it could be loaded onto her 20 foot long trailer. The winch on her trailer was broken. It took my battery charger, several screws and boards I had handy, and a few hours of my time to get the thing loaded on her trailer. Her truck hit my neighbor's fence and left tracks in the alley. I am not happy about that.

Structuring better "free" sales for Craigs List

If you are giving something away for "free" as long as they pick it up, I suggest you keep the listed price at zero and keep the title as "Free" but then in the details and in your communication with the person strike a slightly different deal: they pre-pay you $100 for the privilege of taking it for free which you decide whether to keep or give back. If their removal of the item meets your standards then you promise to give back the $100. If they ruin something or break something or - worst - abandon the pickup you keep the $100 to help pay for whatever the problem is.

My theory is that this will reduce the demand to only serious people who will show up on time, with the right tools/equipment to get the item.

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How to write an email to piss off your developer

I'm writing this so other developers can share in the laughter (ha!) and designers/managers can learn.

I've seen this a few times. It feels like there's a mad-libs form that designers/managers use to communicate things in a software project.

Hey:

$normal_behavior_of_our_product_for_the_past_year, $insulting_phrase, $client_need_never_mentioned_before_this_month, $high_stress!!!!!

Thanks,
$designer_or_manager

So, an example letter:

Hey:

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Lost: The Drinking Game

We started watching the tv-show lost a while ago on netflix streaming. This is great because we can watch episodes back to back which gets rid of the anxiety over what will happen "next week."

We found a few occurrences that were uncommon enough that they could be used as a pretty decent game.

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Career update: Director Security Services at Acquia

I recently accepted a position as an employee at Acquia. I have been "my own boss" since about 2006. I had a brief stint as a part-time employee at a company that has now ceased operations, but for the most part I've been the "owner" of GVS.

Thoughts on GVS

I founded GVS with a few goals. I wanted a company that mirrored open source values of do-ocracy and collaborative decision making. In part this was to make it easy for us to hire community rock-stars and have them feel right at home. In reality that didn't work perfectly though it worked pretty darn well. In part this was because I don't really like being a "manager" and wanted to have an empowered independent team. That mostly worked :)

GVS has had a ton of amazing clients and projects. Some of my personal highlights I'm most proud of are the work on Economist.com, California Closets, and the Drupalcon Chicago site which really helped push forward the COD platform. Not everything turned out perfectly. We had our fair share of mistakes but I think in the end we at least were honest and did our best to deliver what we promised and what the client wanted.

One of the real highlights was that working at GVS allowed me to take a 9 month long trip through Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru with my wonderful wife. We visited 30+ wineries, drastically improved our Spanish, and had an amazing time. I've asked every employer I worked for to support me in doing that and none really did. Working for myself I could do that. Of course, it was a lot of work to make that a reality. I had to be aggressive about accepting certain clients that would be flexible with me while I was abroad and on flakey internet connections. I also used that time strategically by investing much more than normal in my community work which has had long term marketing benefits.

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