Pale Blue Dot

This clip, at the end of Cosmos, seemed apropos as we watch politicians in the United States battle to be the “momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

Here’s a portion of the transcript, which I found on the Planetary Society’s website, taken from Carl Sagan’s 1994 book Pale Blue Dot.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Github Auto Deploy

I published my first npm package over the weekend: github-auto-deploy.

I’ve been playing with Github Auto Deploys recently. There are a couple things I’m doing here that I think are different from the typical auto deploy workflow.

  1. Using the deployment event. Github has a way to differentiate push from deployment. Deployments have the added benefit of depending on Github statuses, like ci/travis-ci. Having deployments depend on a test suite is nice.
  2. Using git fetch && git checkout. Instead of doing a git pull and slowly updating files depending on the network speed, first fetch all the files and then do a quick file pointer swap to instantly update all files at once.

Example

PORT=1234 SECRET="Swifty4Lyfe" gad /var/app /var/app/bin/deploy.sh

In this example, deploy.sh might look something like this:

npm install
service node-app restart

If you have questions or suggestions, let me know!

The man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 has an idea for a new one at 92

QZ has an amazing article about 92 year old John Goodenough, inventor of the lithium-ion battery.

The good news is that Goodenough has one last idea. He’s working on it with yet another crop of post-doctoral assistants. “I want to solve the problem before I throw my chips in,” he says. “I’m only 92. I still have time to go.”

Source: The man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 has an idea for a new one at 92 – Quartz

Force Touch Trackpad

Marco Arment doesn’t like the Force Touch Trackpad.

The simulated click vibration does feel like a click, but not a good one. It offers three different firmness settings, none of which feel anywhere near as good as Apple’s trackpads with real buttons. It feels like what it is: mushing my finger against a fixed pane of glass that’s emulating the feel of a button and almost getting there, but not getting there.

Source: Mistake One – Marco.org

I actually love the trackpad on my new MacBook Pro. I know it’s not clicking, but I still don’t believe it. I’ve been in multiple situations where I’ve had to turn my laptop off to prove to someone that it’s a simulated click.

He’s right that the keyboard is not good, though. I tried out a new MacBook and decided on a MacBook Pro partially because of the keyboard.

San Francisco Panoramas

Last week I was in San Francisco for a team meetup. I’ve been taking a ton a panoramas since I realized there’s an album dedicated to them in iOS. Here are a few.

Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve been to “the office” in almost a year and half.

Build Stuff

A couple weeks ago, I discovered a ton of old themes I designed. It was fun and funny and embarrassing to look at things that I thought were good enough to put on the internet as a 14 or 15 or 16 year old in 2005 and 2006 — it’s pretty bad. 🙂

I thought about sharing screenshots here as an example. Don’t be afraid to follow  your passion. Don’t be afraid to build things. Don’t be afraid to be bad at something before you’re good.

I read Outliers by Malcom Gladwell not long after it was published in 2008. For those that haven’t read it, Gladwell details what it takes to be a Steve Jobs, Robert Oppenheimer, or The Beatles. In short, you have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to have 10,000 hours of practice in your field. You can’t control whether you’re in the right place at the right time — I’m not even really convinced it’s necessary anymore, but you can probably control how much experience and practice you have.

On Brainpickings last week, there was a video backed by an Ira Glass monologue that reminded me of my old themes. It’s hard to pull out one quote from this short speech, but this one sums it up nicely:

 And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work.

I’ve heard many people that I look up to say similar things as well. I know Chris Coyier says something like “just build stuff” when asked how to get started.

I don’t, by any means, consider myself an expert in this and I’m definitely not done learning — it’s part of my DNA. Even without reading Outliers it’s likely I would have spent just as much time “building stuff” as a teenager. That said, I’m pretty proud of my job and feel lucky to work with — and learn from — tons of smart people every day.

So build stuff!