3 rules to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme

Posted in Tech & Startups | Tagged ,

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

To be a man

Posted in News and Politics, Social Justice | Tagged ,

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

Perfection

Posted in Fiction | Tagged

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

The art of jumping ship

Posted in Life, Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

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

How to succeed in Technical Sales… and Life

Posted in Life, Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

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 State of Electric Motorcycles

Posted in Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

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.

1) The State of the Electric Motorcycle

2) Zero Motorcycles company profile: Standing at Ground Zero

3) Mission Motorcycles: More than a bike, it’s a Mission

4) Harley Davidson Project Livewire profile: The electric motorcycle with name recognition

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.

A Parcel of Rogues

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

Into the Highlands

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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).

Continue reading

From Arbroath to Aberdeen

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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. 

Continue reading

Perception and Possibilities in Perth

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

Multi-Touch Attribution in MobileAppTracking

Posted in Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

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.

Check it out: http://www.tune.com/blog/understanding-multi-touch-attribution-in-mat/

Rock star mojo

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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.

Continue reading

The view from Cymru

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

Counting hours in Glasgow

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

On the road again

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

What moves #YesScotland? Voices from the #indyref

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged , ,

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.

The facts on the ground do not support these characterizations. Continue reading

Calculating Risks

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

Foggy mornings and imagined communities

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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.

Continue reading

Scotland in Europe

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

The story so far

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

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

Scotland, Be Brave

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

I’m writing this from the international terminal at San Francisco Airport as I wait to board a flight to London, followed by a short regional connecting flight to Edinburgh. The fact that Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland, which would be the 14th wealthiest nation in the world if it was independent and wealthier per head than the remaining UK – is only accessible via a regional connecting flight says volumes about the country I am going to visit.

Scotland holds a special place in my heart. I grew up listening to her music, learning about her history, and going to the annual Scottish Games almost every year with my parents. In truth, only a bit over half my genealogy traces back to those northern reaches of Britain that the Romans never managed to conquer – like most Americans I measure my lineage in fractions. And I don’t particularly like the term Scottish American anyway. My family has been in the United States since before the Revolution and in California since before the Gold Rush; to claim any other nationality would be absurd. In terms of identity, I consider myself a Californian first and an American a distant second… but I still find pleasure in writing in “Celt” whenever a form asks me my ethnicity.

Incidentally, the parallels between California and Scotland are striking. Both have internal political ecosystems significantly to the left of the larger countries to which they are attached. The size ratios are similar too – California’s 30 million are about 10% of the USA’s roughly 300 million and Scotland’s 7 million are about 8% of the UK, but both are radically under-represented in the larger governments. Both also pay far more into national treasuries than they get back in spending and end up subsidizing their neighbors while elites use deficits as an excuse to cut programs that would help their poorest and most vulnerable. Meanwhile, both of them find themselves suffering from neglect as remote national political establishments who take them for granted (Democrats in the USA and Labor in the UK) cater to more conservative swing voters in distant regions. And while their export-oriented economies shore up the otherwise dismal balances of trade for the larger country, both are just different enough to draw derision from the people they are subsidizing. I know that for me at least spending time in the Midwest and South and listening to people talk about Californians was a revelation; and the anti-Scottish bigotry of many in the English political establishment is well documented.

I could keep listing indefinitely, the similarities between Caledonia and California run far deeper than you might at first expect. Continue reading

Updates!

Posted in Life | Tagged ,

Howdy folks,

A few random news points and general updates.

The first thing is I want to shout out my new article that went live this week on Revzilla – it’s the first of a 4-part series I wrote on the State of the Electric Motorcycle that includes interviews with Zero Motorcycles, Mission Motorcycles, and Harley Davidson.  It was a tremendously fun piece to write and I hope you-all enjoy it.  Electric bikes are interesting both from a Electric Vehicle perspective and from a Mobile perspective and the bikes from Zero and Mission in particular blur that line between vehicle and data platform.

Secondly, I’m going to be pausing my short stories.  I’ve been posting them every friday for almost 3 months now and – despite positive feedback from friends and family – have not seen any of them go above 10 shares or tweets.  Nobody sharing the stories means nobody outside my immediate circle will ever see them.  While it has been a fun exercise as a writer, it’s hard to justify continuing to invest the time when I have so many other projects going.

Back on a positive note – I’ll be in Scotland for the next two weeks interviewing people and observing the last week of the campaign for Scottish independence before the referendum on the 18th, as well as the immediate aftermath of what I fervently hope will be a resounding victory for “Yes.”  This is hugely exciting for me because it’s my first real vacation in over 3 years, because I’ve always been proud of my Scottish heritage and feel a deep connection to the place and the people, and because I did my Bachelors degree in Political Science and International relations with a focus on secessionist movements  among stateless nations in Europe.  So this trip is exciting both personally and as a political scientist.

I’ll post my first article Saturday and hope to post something every day for the next two weeks.

As always, thanks for reading.

Jed

Sometimes a girl has to buy her own flowers

Posted in Fiction

The flower was huge, pink, and spiny – like something from the surface of an alien world.  Jenna was enthralled.  Around her, the farmers market buzzed with people and activity, but she was long gone.   She pictured herself as the exiled queen of an ancient empire, cast adrift in space, her last loyal retainers around her as she worked to raise an army and reclaim her lost home world. The chief among them, Zarrow the mighty with his muscles ripling under his green skin in the red light of a dying sun, would carry it back from their last raid against the enemy to present to her, his queen, as a token of their forbidden love.

Jenna blushed to herself, a secret smile playing on the edge of her lips.

Suddenly, she was knocked aside, dreams scattered like sand in the surf, as her little brother Aaron barreled into her, hooting with delight.  He was playing tag and too busy running as fast as possible to bother looking where he was going.  Their mother, two stalls away, was trying her best to disavow all knowledge of the unruly herd and focus on picking out tomatoes from the big box.  As the mother of five she knew that the endless tribal warfare would never stop and had stopped trying years ago  As far as she was concerned, the kids were an autonomous nation of their own and as long as nobody needed to go to the emergency room, she just plain didn’t care.

Which was nice for her and all, but as the older sister Jenna felt the need to establish some order in the universe and so did her best to fill the void. In this case though, her chance had passed – Aaron had taken advantage of her temporary confusion to flee the scene of his crime and she didn’t feel like chasing him.  At 14 years old she was practically a woman and it was beneath her dignity.  More importantly, he was far enough away that she couldn’t easily catch him.  At least for now.

She turned back to the stall, looking for her flower and was surprised to see Adam (from her 4th period math class) at the till, buying flowers.  To her delight, she saw he’d picked out one of the big pink spiny ones and hoped for a moment he’d give it to her, dropping to one knee and proffering it with both hands and proclaiming his eternal devotion.  Instead, he stuck it in his bag, got on his bike and rode away; a gift for some other girl.  She tried not to feel disappointed, Adam wasn’t her type anyway.  He was nice to look at but not a lot going on upstairs.

She sighed and her shoulders slumped a bit before picking herself back up and saying under her breath “well Jenna, sometimes a girl has to buy her own flowers.  Might as well do it.”

She brought it home and put it in a vase by her bed, smelling its exotic perfume.   She dreamed.