Almost 2 years ago now I wrote a humorous (well, I thought it was funny…) blog post on taking a data-driven approach to dating. In that post I promised to write a follow-up if I had success. Since I got married in July, I guess it’s about time I keep that promise! So here’s a few things I learned along the way (big thanks to the okcupid data blog and the okc forums on reddit) that might prove useful to others.
For the sake of transparency, these are written for someone who’s looking for a life partner, if you’re just out there to get laid you can disregard most of them. Continue reading →
In every conversation there are things that are said, and much more that passes below the surface un-said. I’ve been thinking a lot about the words we use – and don’t use – in professional settings and the unspoken assumptions and attitudes behind those choices.
Yesterday I put up a new post on how to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme. The post is mostly technical but touches on a few important points – notably the fact that the mobile app ecosystem is a fragmented series of walled gardens. This is in sharp contrast to the free and open web where anyone can add content and anyone can access it.
If you feel the way I do about free speech, feel free to insert your own rant here about the privatization of the (virtual) commons. This is the digital equivalent of town squares where free speech was legally protected being replaced by malls where a rent a cop will firmly escort you off the premises if you try to do any sort of outreach. Continue reading →
URIs are the app equivalent of a URL on the web – they specify the path to the content in your app. For mobile developers who want to use deep links to send end users to specific content in their apps, having well structured URI’s is therefore very important.
The sheer number of mobile apps means that tons of potential URI schemes are out there, since every app can—and should!—have its own. No industry standard for URI scheme creation exists, despite some attempts. Accordingly, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to pick a URI scheme that will gives users the best possible experience. Continue reading →
I’ve self-identified as a feminist since my late teens and have been very vocal about it, sometimes to my own detriment. Not that I’m some sort of knight in shining armor, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way despite my best intentions and I can’t claim to be motivated entirely by altruism. While I am very much interested in equality and women’s issues in their own right, I’ve always been at least as interested in what Feminism could potentially do for men. Continue reading →
The night was warm with the scent of rain and a few lonely stars visible through the clouds. I pulled my scarf up the back of my neck, flush against my helmet to take the edge off the wind. Ahead of me, the glow of my high beams threw the surrounding darkness into sharper relief and lit up the underbrush of the trees. Coming into the corner, I leaned forward low over the gas tank and let the bike slide gracefully into the curve as I hugged the edge of the mountain. Continue reading →
I started a new job last week and was talking to my good friend Tim O’Neil about the where’s and why’s. He’s happy in his current position but suggested I write a follow-up to my article on what to look for in a new company addressing when to start looking for that company. After thinking it over, I thought it would make for an interesting conversation – so please feel free to add your $0.02 in the comments!
One of the hardest professional decisions is when to look for new opportunities. Taking a new job is a risk after all! The thing is, job security is a myth – it simply does not exist any more. Layoffs are a normal part of business and startups die almost as fast as new ones are born. No one is going to stay at the same company their entire career. On the other hand, Silicon Valley is one of the only labor markets where demand significantly outstrips the available supply (thanks in large part to the abysmal failure of American schools to turn out the engineers needed to power our tech industries). That puts talented workers in a uniquely strong position. Millions of Americans who are struggling to stay afloat would be thrilled to have the opportunity we have.
The solution is to start treating your working hours like a stock portfolio – if you’re not getting the ROI you need it may be time to make a change. Here are a few KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for that portfolio: Continue reading →
In the last month I’ve been reviewing and revising the job description for Sales Engineering (SE) at work as I work on expanding my team here. These guidelines form a sort of code of honor that I try to adhere to as a professional and outline what I look for in potential team members. They aren’t always easy to live up to, but making the effort is its own reward. I hope they will help you as much as they’ve helped me. Continue reading →
The last of my 4-part series on the state of the Electric Motorcycle industry is now live! This was a really interesting project because I got to dig deep with representatives from some very cool companies including Harley Davidson, Zero Motorcycles, and Mission Motorcycles.
I chose those three because Mission is an early-stage startup that’s just starting to monetize and sell technology but hasn’t delivered their bikes to consumers yet, Zero is a late-stage startup that has already carved out a space and brand recognition for themselves, and of course Harley Davidson is the first of the big global manufacturers to move into the space in a serious way. I also sent an interview request to Brammo, but they did not respond in time. I hope I’ll be able to talk to them next time.
The contrasts and similarities in positioning and organizational culture and the way those differing cultures influenced the bikes each company has introduced was absolutely fascinating.
This is an industry that is changing very fast and shows a lot of promise. And as someone who works in the mobile technology space the incorporation of mobile tech into these bikes is particularly interesting. I had a lot of fun doing the research and writing and hope you enjoy the articles.
It’s Sunday after the vote and I’m sitting in a park in Edinburgh, killing time. I had intended to stay in Scotland another week to do more interviews about what’s next but now, with a 10 point spread on a No vote, I find myself too brokenhearted to continue. Especially since Maia left for California this morning and I am once again traveling alone. I’ve re-booked my flight but unfortunately the first available seat does not leave until Monday. I shout out on Twitter and Facebook that I am here for another day and would like to talk about what’s next. A few people re-tweet the message, but no one local replies. They’re busy picking up the pieces and mourning. I understand. Continue reading →
Sunrise came far too early and it’s off again. Today I am 34 years old and Scotland has a real chance at independence for the first time in over 300 years. My phone chimes repeatedly when I turn it on with birthday wishes from friends, coworkers, and clients. Today feels like a good day.
After about an hour and a half of driving we arrive in Elgen, the road sign count has shifted back strongly in favor of Yes and we see a fair number of stickers and a few big flags as well. There doesn’t seem to be an actual Yes office in town, though there have apparently been a good number of events and the day is getting on by the time we get breakfast in our bellies so we decide to head on to Inverness (dubbed InverYESs by local activists).
Arbroath is a pretty little town on the east coast of Scotland, just to the east of Dundee. Driving past, you might not think much of it, but way back in 1320 a group of Scottish nobles signed a declaration that they would never under allow themselves to be subjugated to rule from England and that they fought “not for wealth or position but for liberty, which no good man gives up except with his life.”
The document is incredibly important to world history because it was the first declaration of its type to establish the concept of popular sovereignty – that Scotland belonged to her people and a king was only worth supporting if he could protect and defend them.
I’ve just arrived in Perth, about an hour north of Edinburgh. The drive up was pretty enough – rolling green hills and trees dotted with houses under a foggy Scottish sky. Along the way we saw 3 Yes signs and the first No lawn sign I’ve seen so far on the trip.
Maia and I are heading to the Perth / Kinross Yes campaign HQ. I saw online that a bunch of activists will be meeting there to go leaflet around noon and I’m hoping to get some interviews in. We find parking not too far off and duck into a the first restaurant we see in search of breakfast but they don’t open until noon. The lady is tired having just flown from California via Toronto and desperately wants hot food and beer, I promise her an epic lunch and she munches on the remainder of a grilled cheese with a look on her face like a kid who just lost her favorite baseball over the fence.
Perth has the feel of a relatively bourgeois suburb with big yards and flowers everywhere. I’m wondering if the campaign here will be different from the bigger cities to the south which were very much driven by the culture and ethos of recently de-industrialized workers who feel betrayed by the Labour party and hope for a better future in an independent Scotland. Continue reading →
I’ve written a new technical blog post for the MobileAppTracking Website on how MAT (my day job) handles multi-touch attribution. It’s a cool feature that adds a lot of value for our clients but there has been some confusion about how it works so I wanted to explain it for our clients.
It’s a quarter after 6 and I’m standing in a line a block long outside a nightclub in downtown Glasgow to see Tommy Sheridan (@citizentommy) – a well known socialist organizer and activist – speak. The is the last of 110 speaking engagements like it that he’s done since January and YouTube footage of some of the others has drawn a firestorm of both positive and negative comments and hundreds of thousands of views. Tommy is interesting because he’s famous for his writing and speaking in a way that just doesn’t happen in the U.S. Noam Chomsky can sell millions of books, but you’d never see NBC or Fox invite him on to talk about why we can afford to bomb Syria when we’re cutting budgets for everything else.
It’s 2pm and I’m sitting in a pub in Glasgow with a tartan carpet and celtic fiddle music alternating with american country music in the background. I order the Haggis Nips & Tatties (haggis, parsnips, and potatoes with gravy) because Scotland, and am sipping a pint of Caledonia’s finest. This is the single most tourist thing I’ve done this trip and the most tourist I’m likely to do. By it’s sheer overdone in your face Scottishness it feels like it would be more at home in Manhattan or San Francisco – this is clearly a place that caters to tourists.
I’ve just come from the Glasgow Kelvin neighborhood HQ and done a fantastic set of interviews with volunteers there. One of those, Lindsey Little, is a Plaid Cymru MP from Wales who came up to help. As I mentioned before, I’ve done interviews now with a couple different people from Wales who’ve come up to help with the campaign. Their perspective is markedly different from the Scots I’ve talked to in a few key ways and worth breaking out on its own. Continue reading →
I arrive at the main #YesScotland HQ, located (appropriately) on Hope Street in Glasgow. There’s a long wheelchair accessible ramp into the office with an iron handrail, a nice desk with a group of people gathered round deep in conversation, and a doorway into a larger work space which is presumably where the main work of coordinating the birth of a new nation is conducted. I introduce myself and the lady behind the desk asks if I have an appointment, which of course I don’t. I explain that I don’t work for any media outlet and – while I’ve had some freelance writing published – the fact is I’m really just some guy with a blog who was crazy enough to buy a ticket and fly halfway around the world on my own dime to watch the world change. She laughs, takes my name, and says she’ll see what she can do. A few minutes later, Stewart Kirkpatric (@calgacus) comes out and greets me warmly.
Stewart is a very interesting guy with an easy laugh and a wide smile, I like him instantly. He’s a former Labour campaigner who has still never joined the SNP, is quick to point out that he’s not a Nationalist. In fact, he spent many years knocking on doors urging people not to vote for the SNP because surely if they could just get Labour re-elected things would get better. When Tony Blair’s new Labour adopted a neoliberal economic agenda and then took the country to war in Iraq he took the betrayal personally, feeling as though he’d been made a liar.
I ask him how it is to now be working side by side with the SNP and he points out that this is a broad movement with room for everyone, from pro-business groups like Business for Scotland to the Radical Independence Campaign and the Scottish Socialist party. He says “whether you’re a businessman or an anarchosyndicalist, you can support the Yes campaign.” I ask if there actually are any anarchists supporting the campaign and he says he’s sure there are but not in any organized fashion. Cue drum-roll. In my own life as an activist I’ve known some highly organized and dynamic anarchists… but stereotypes exist for a reason. Continue reading →
I got a later start this morning than I would have liked, after yesterdays epic 20 hours of pounding pavement my feet and legs refused to cooperate with my 6am alarm. When i finally make it to the bus I get on on the wrong direction and ride all the way to the wrong end of the line – the British refusal to drive on the right side of the road like the rest of the world is as confusing to me as the American refusal to adopt the metric system is to them. No matter, it’s a lovely foggy day and my misadventure provides a chance to see a bit more of the city. When I finally arrive at the train station I grab a large Cornish steak pie. Cornwall, another Celtic region in the south of Britain, retains a fiercely distinct ethnic identity but is struggling to survive as their region has become a popular destination for English retirees and the largely working-class Cornish can no longer afford to live in their own country. The line between gentrification and ethnic cleansing gets very thin in places like this. On the plus side, their meat pies are delicious.
My platform is way off in the back and by the time I reach it the train is about to depart – the conductor hollers at me to hurry up or they’ll leave without me – there’s laughter in his voice but the door still closes on me as I enter. No matter. I grab one of the last vacant seats. Continue reading →
If one was to take most mainstream UK media at face value one would be forced to conclude that the people behind the #YesScotland campaign are some sort of impossible combination of right-wing reactionary anti-English racist xenophobes and starry-eyed unrealistic dreamers who expect Scotland to turn into a magical socialist utopia on Sept. 19 and will rip up and throw away a great nation (the uk) in pursuit of that impossible dream. By contrast, the Better Together campaign is presented as a mainstream common sense coalition on an issue so obvious that even old enemies like Labour and the Tories can unite to oppose it.
Dropping in at the Edinburgh North and Leith Yes campaign offices a friendly woman who reminds me a bit of my mother invites me in warmly and offers me tea (because some stereotypes are true). The weather has turned drizzly and I accept gratefully, glad to be out of the wet. Inside people are busy working and don’t have a huge amount of time to talk, which is fine with me – winning independence for their country is a higher priority than talking to a curious American. A woman gets a text from her friend wondering what Scotland will do without a central bank and I volunteer that America doesn’t have a Central Bank – which meets with broad approval.
Busy groups of volunteers from all the various groups in the Yes coalition come and go and the combination of hot tea and tired feet draws a small group in to an eclectic conversation as SNP activists mingle with Green Yes, Labour for Yes (a group of dissident Labour voters and activists that are bucking the London-based party’s decision to support the no campaign), and even a few Plaid Cymru (left-wing Welsh nationalists) activists who’ve come up to help out of solidarity. The conversation is fast-paced, dynamic, and the sense of optimism in the air crackles like electricity. For all of them, the referendum comes down to a positive vision of Scotland based on their common values. The emphasis varies from one to the next but the common picture is of a country where social justice and shared economic development that benefits everyone are core values. In fact, it reminds me of nothing so much as the Anti-globalization movement of the late 90’s and early 2000’s – with the key difference that instead of being focused on what they oppose these folks are all focused on what they want to create. As an American who’s used to lefty politics always being oppositional, it’s a breath of fresh air. Continue reading →
So I still haven’t adjusted to the time zone shift and by 4am this morning I’d given up on sleep and decided to get an early start on the day and explore Edinburgh on foot. Climbing up Calton hill with the city laid out below me was a revelation – seeing the lights laid out below me and the old towers and greek columns behind. This city has such fascinating architecture, a truly unique mix of ancient and modern.
As the sun came up I stopped into a corner store and got fresh samosas and a basket of strawberries for breakfast and kept walking, pausing to eat them while sitting on a bench looking out over the park at Edinburgh Castle, flanked by brightly lit shop-lined streets. It wouldn’t be a good Scottish morning without fog of course and I got a bit wet from the mist, but for a former San Franciscan that just feels homey.
One of the most interesting things about independence movements in modern Europe is the impact of the EU. I wrote a paper for a graduate class in college that argued that because the EU allows even the smallest of its member states to have equal access to markets across Europe as well as free movement for its citizens, the cost of independence had been drastically reduced and we should expect to see growth in secessionist movements across Europe as her various Stateless Nations (ethnic nations that do not have their own governments) seek political independence within the EU’s economic union.
I can’t claim credit for coming up with the idea of course, the slogan of “independence within Europe” has been a core part of the SNP’s platform for a long time. But ten years ago my professors were more skeptical than I think they would be now. Continue reading →
Many Americans seem baffled that Scotland isn’t already independent – after all didn’t they win their freeeeeeddddoooooommmmmm at the end of Braveheart? Many more seem confused as to how they’re being allowed to vote on independence at all since in most places and times Nation-States don’t let their provinces walk away. If Tibet or Chechnya or Texas could vote on independence from their respective world powers the map might look very different.
The thing is, the United Kingdom is in sort of an odd place right now. A century ago they were an Empire with colonies and possessions all over the world. Today almost all of those former imperial possessions have gone their own way, albeit as part of a Commonwealth of Nations that includes special provisions for trade and migration. Somewhere along the way, the political elite realized they could not hold on to the empire any more and made a choice to outsource maintenance of the remaining problematic areas (Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc) to America while letting the rest go. It makes sense. If the Irish had been able to just line up and vote on Easter Sunday back in 1916 they might have turned independence down – business interests weren’t keen to give up their linkages to markets in the UK any more than their modern counterparts in Scotland are. Continue reading →