Going Paleo

My wife Julie and I have united to announce we aren’t happy with our lives.

Don’t worry. We are just as in love with each other as ever (actually, we are more in love than ever). We are disappointed with our health and have a strategy to fix it. We have committed to the paleo diet. Julie jokes that we’re “eating like cavemen.” If so, cavemen ate well!

Dan Benjamin, The Man who oversees the awesome 5by5 podcasting network, put the idea in my head. So far, I have found that Robb Wolf provides one of the best introductions to this lifestyle change (don’t call it a diet, it’s not a diet).

We’re one week into it and haven’t even begun to exercise, yet each of us has lost some weight and feel better already. Our daughter Kat has enjoyed the same results and the whole family is getting dragged along with us because there isn’t any “bad food” in the house any more.

After a week, we aren’t missing the bread, cereal, and cheese that made up a large part of our diet. You heard that right. No sandwiches. No breakfast cereals. No dairy. No quesadillas with flour tortillas. Meals are mostly comprised of lean meat with vegetables. Our biggest cheat during meals so far has been having a little steamed jasmine rice on the side with dinner.

The best part for me? My stomach doesn’t hurt all the time and I don’t get the shakes when I’m hungry. We plan to begin exercising as the hot Georgia summer begins it’s cooling slide into autumn. I can’t wait!

Happy as a Dog

sam running with ballI could learn a lot from our dog Sam and you could learn from yours. The innate lessons dogs have to teach are not exclusive, but inherent from birth.

When I come home from a long stressed-out day at the office, I’m probably tired, likely to be hungry, and usually grumpy. Sam shows me this is not the way to come through the door.

Sam never seems happier than in the moments immediately after we let him back in the house after a canine romp in the back yard. We could put him out and let him in every half hour and he’d run through the house with his tail at full wag looking for that chewed up red sock he loves so much and a look on his face like he’s smiling. Every time is like his first time in the house.

Every. Single. Time.

I love that dog. I hope I can learn from him.

Coffee

Coffee

My “go juice” during the work week is brewed in a drip machine from a prepacked filter pod of standard issue name brand coffee. Those who capture a cup with the last drops dripping from the coffeemaker may get a decent cup, but the odds aren’t good. More likely, java drinkers will find a half-full pot of coffee scorching on a burner burning a little too hot.

After five days of “work coffee,” the weekend brings with it a special treat. Each Saturday and Sunday morning begins with three cups of steaming black coffee rich with aroma and natural oils. My weekend coffee is as much of a treat as a candy bar or milkshake. The recipes are so similar, hot water and ground coffee, yet the results are so different.

Here’s a look at the differences as I see them.

Office Coffee: Preparation

Rip the metallic bag open and place one pod of coffee in the basket. You don’t need a filter; each serving is conveniently wrapped in its own paper filter. Place a glass carafe underneath, turn on the burner, and pour water into the top of the machine. Wait five to 10 minutes and pour a cup of hot coffee.

Office Coffee: Observerations

Looks like hot black water. The taste reminds you of coffee and the metallic smell reminds you the weekend is never more than five days away.

Weekend Coffee: Preparation

Pour filtered water into a kettle and bring to a boil on the stove. While you wait, place coffee beans in the grinder, but don’t grind them yet! The kettle’s whistle is your cue to grind. Slowly pour the hot water over the ground coffee you placed in the glass carafe of your French press. Give it a quick stir, put the lid on, and wait four minutes. Gently press the grounds to the bottom and pour a steaming cup of coffee.

Weekend Coffee: Observations

An irridescent sheen glimmers on tanned bubbles across the surface in your cup. The rich aroma enhances the flavor to help you relish two precious days out of the office.

My weekend coffee

Cook like a caveman

In my culinary experience, the more old-fashioned the better. Cooking in a microwave is quick, but food has a better taste when cooked in the oven or on the stove. The best flavor comes when you are able to cook over an open flame. The closer you come to cooking like a caveman, the better your meals taste. Maybe that’s why the paleo diet appeals to me so much.

On Bundles and Packages

I write words, not code, and I’m looking at a migration from TextMate to BBEdit. What drew me (and a lot of other people) to TextMate are its bundles. It’s unbelievable how easy TextMate makes it to write using Markdown.

The manual for text editor from Macromates has this to say about bundles:

5.1 Activation of Bundle Items

If you select Bundles → Bundle Editor → Show Bundle Editor you will see the command center for customizing TextMate.

From this window you can create and edit things like snippets, commands, language grammars, etc. which will be explained in more detail in the following sections.

The latest release of BBEdit introduces packages. The summary of new items in BBEdit 10 has this to say about packages:

Packages – A Package is a collection of the sort of things you’d place into ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/ to extend BBEdit, such as clippings, scripts, language modules, and text filters; but makes it easier to install such items when they are all related to a single type of task, rather than having to manually install and manage items spread out between different folders.

Can BBEdit’s “packages” replicate the success of Textmate’s “bundles”?

So, BBEdit happened

BBEdit is a Mac text editor. It’s the Mac text editor. If you aren’t a nerd, this probably means nothing to you. For those of you with a firm footing in the nerd camp this is terrific news, but it brings some challenges.

I learned about the BBEdit 10 release from John Siracusa on Twitter:

@siracusa on Twitter

OK. It isn’t such huge news that [Bare Bones Software] updated the longtime editor. It feels like the program practically launched alongside the Macintosh and has been regularly updated (It’s only been around for about 20 years). Version 10 launched alongside Mac OS X Lion with a shiny new price tag. The cost of a license dropped from its high of $199 to $39. That’s the introductory price good through October 2011. Even after the deal ends, it looks like the app is still going to be an awesome value at $49.

I used BBEdit Lite back in the day and was excited when Bare Bones brought revived their free version of the text editor with the new name Text Wrangler. Then I found TextMate at about the same time that I found Markdown and fell in love with monospace all over again. Cranking out stylized text from a simplified markup language and exporting to PDF or into LaTeX for further editing made me feel like a wizard. It was magical.

TextMate dramatically simplifies some editing tasks, such as working with Markdown. If you’re a writer, Markdown will change your game.

But times change. Like Merlin Mann said in Back to Work (My Food Court of Functionality: S1E25), at some point you have to take a step back and analyze why you are using a product. Are you using it because you’ve talked about it so much or because it’s the right tool to use? He compared it to his experience during the fabled Quicksilver to Launchbar Migration of 2009 (citation needed).

The challenge is migrating from TextMate to BBEdit. I love TextMate–it’s been my default writing application for a long time–but it feels like it’s been abandoned and there is no dispute that its update cycle has dropped off the chart.

I’m going to miss TextMate, but I look forward to moving back into BBEdit.

The Crucible: A Sobering Look At Apple

This should be the standard for online journalism.
The Crucible: A Sobering Look At Apple:

BYTE strives for authority above all, in keeping with the highest journalistic standards. That standard was not met here.

 

Because the Internet has a lasting memory, and in the spirit of transparency, we’ve decided to keep this column up, strike through its content (as seen below), and issue this mea culpa. We want to own up to our mistake, but not try to cover our tracks.

 

(Via Daring Fireball)

Independence Day

Today is July 4, Independence Day here in the United States. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary1:

independence |ˌindəˈpendəns| noun

the fact or state of being independent : Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1816 | I’ve always valued my independence.

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from independent , partly on the pattern of French indépendance.

Today is the day everyone thinks they need to blow something up regardless of the laws and ordinances defined and enforced by their local constabulary. We may or may not be participating in such activities at an undisclosed location tonight.


1 – The default reference used by the Mac OS X Dictionary application

Apple TV update failures

I found Apple’s Express Lane while haggling with a new piece of tech over software updates.

We got tired of wrestling weirdness with the dying first generation Apple TV in our living room. It’s dying a painful death, so we bought another second generation Apple TV to put in that room.

The Apple Store had a refurbished model in stock and we ordered it without hesitation. I’ve had great success with refurbished Macs and this Apple TV is not an exception. It arrived in perfect condition, just like the brand new Apple TV we bought a few months ago.

The only problem we’ve had is that the refurb came with iOS 4.1.x installed and the updater refuses to install the latest version (the one with the MLB, NBA, and stability fixes).

At first I feared we had received our first dud from Apple, and the jury is still out on that one, but it looks like it is simply a server issue on Apple’s end.

I picked up a thread on Apple’s own discussion forums where other users from all over the U.S. and Switzerland to Australia were struggling with the same issue. There are sporadic stories of success, but it wasn’t finding me. That’s when I discovered Express Lane.

Support in the Express Lane

The support service is represented by what looks like an iOS app icon in Apple’s now infamous blue hue. Log in with your Apple ID, leave a phone number, and set up a time for Apple to call you back.

It worked like a charm.

I set an appointment for today at 11 a.m. My iPhone 4 rang just a few minutes after and I had an anticlimactic answer by 11:10 a.m.

The rep told me the “higher ups” know about this issue and confirmed there is a problem with the Apple TV updates server. While he couldn’t give me a firm ETA, he did let me know they are working to fix it.

Patience is the fix. It isn’t what I wanted to hear, but the update should install correctly sometime in the next few days. So I will muster my patience and try the update again tomorrow.

Followup: Patience failed. We downloaded the ipsw file from a squirrelly source, connecting the Apple TV to a Mac with a Micro USB cord (the same cord used with the Amazon Kindle) and using iTunes to manually update the device (hold the option key and click restore).

Family

Julie has been in Missouri for the past five days at a work-related conference. The kids have been in Florida at SuperWow with their friends at church since Monday morning. I have been home by myself–just me and the dogs–since Monday morning.

On top of all that, we started working our short weeks at work. During the summer we work four 10’s and take Fridays off. The three-day weekends are terrific, but when you take a new work schedule and add everyone being out of town, it’s been a weird week.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. —American proverb

The buses carrying the kids are probably getting close to home and Julie is on an airplane now winging her way back. I’m not going to deny that it’s nice to have private time to find my focus. It’s nicer to know that while I’m home by myself I’m never alone and our family will be reunited soon.

Typography Insight – New ways of learning & teaching typefaces

Typography Insight – New ways of learning & teaching typefaces:

Typography Insight is an iPad application that introduces new methods for learning and teaching typefaces. The project stemmed from my love for typography and evolving mobile platforms. It was inspired by my own experience in typography classes whilst attending design school.

Do you know the difference between font & typeface? Whether you do or don’t, this application designed by Dong Yoon Park for his thesis work is fascinating. Couple the app with his gorgeous and informative website for an even better experience.

Rapture?

No One Knows the Day or Hour

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[b] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. —Matthew 24:36-44 (NKJV)

And then God was all like:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (NKJV)

these photos

Via Brett Terpstra and Walton Jones, with text from Bible Gateway.

iPad: My review one year late

Using an iPad (first generation) for a few weeks now improved the way I work.

Taking notes

Taking notes helps me stay focused and engaged during a meeting or conversation. If you saw me in a meeting, it was a safe bet a notebook or legal pad (yellow paper please) wasn’t far from my side. The physical act of writing with a pen or pencil is one of my simple pleasures, yet as a prolific notetaker, the problem I found with collecting mounds of handwritten yellow pages is the lack of an easy way to search them. Proper filing makes pages easier to find (sometimes), but without a meticulous and impractical concordance I know of no way to search those files beyond simple topics.

Using the iPad, I can tag my digital notes and search them with ease. Not only can I take notes at work and church, but the combination of my iPad and iPhone constitue a digital filing cabinet I always have with me. I have used notebook computers exclusively for nearly a decade and an iPhone for about three years now, but the iPad has taken mobile computing to a whole new level for me.

Creating new content

Lots of people–naysayers and devoted iPad users alike–say the iPad is only for consumption and unsuitable for creation.

I disagree.

I’m no artist, but the tools on the market appear to be amazing. Adobe Ideas, Sketchbook Pro, and Brushes are three that come to mind and the number of high-quality photo editing apps is virtually overwhelming.

Words are my craft, and there is no shortage of tools to help writers. I’m juggling several apps right now until I find a home. IA Writer is my favorite so far for creating narrative content (this article for example). I haven’t settled on a favorite app for taking notes, but I’ve narrowed the field. Nebulous Notes is great and I’ve used PlainText and Elements. The new player on the field is OmniOutliner for iPad from the software ninjas at The Omni Group, and it looks perfect for taking notes.

Like any writer/geek these days, I use Scrivener on my Mac and and look forward to paying for final release of the beta version running on my Windows netbook. Sharing files between Mac OS X and Windows is seamless, but there are no plans to bring Scrivener to the iPad. A wise developer decision, but I’m still flailing about until I can find a pleasing way (for me) to edit writing contained in Scrivener projects while I’m on the go.

About that consumption

I disagreed with those who believe the iPad is only good for consumption, but I don’t disagree that the device is a terrific tool for digesting everything the Internet has to offer (unless it runs in Adobe Flash, which is fine with me). This is another area where my workflow has transformed.

The iPad is as close to perfect as anything I’ve seen for plowing through RSS feeds and other news sources online. I’ve been using Reeder on the iPhone for a long time, but more for triage than actual reading. I have to admit that I’m getting older, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and the larger screen makes reading easier and following up on the Web a pleasure when necessary. Videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and Netflix run like a technicolor dream (unless you’re into black & white recordings, and those work fine too).

Here we go again

      <p>
        Everyone in the room sighed and rolled their eyes skyward. “He’s written about this so many times. Too many times.”
      </p>
      <p>
        I like Macs, but recently added a Windows-based netbook to my lineup of writing tools. Here is an update of the software I use all the time. I’ll be brief.
      </p>
      <h2 id="mac">
        <ul>
          <li>
            <a href="http://adium.im/">Adium X</a> for instant messaging
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://www.adobe.com/products/indesign.html">Adobe InDesign</a> for page layout
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-macosx/mail-ical-address-book.html">Apple Mail</a> for work email
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://nothirst.com/moneywell/">MoneyWell</a> for personal finance
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://netnewswireapp.com/mac/">NetNewsWire</a> for managing & reading newsfeeds (but I’m looking into <a href="http://reederapp.com/">Reeder</a>)
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://brettterpstra.com/project/nvalt/">nvALT</a> for <em>entering</em> text
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnifocus/">OmniFocus</a> for project management
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html">Scrivener</a> for writing projects
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://www.sparrowmailapp.com/">Sparrow</a> for home email
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://macromates.com/">Textmate</a> for <em>editing</em> text
          </li>
          <li>
            <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twitter/id409789998?mt=12">Twitter for Mac</a> for Twitter (duh)
          </li>
        </ul>
        <h2 id="windows">
          <ul>
            <li>
              <a href="http://www.resoph.com/">ResophNotes</a> for entering text
            </li>
            <li>
              <a href="http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/">Scrivener</a> again
            </li>
            <li>
              <a href="http://www.google.com/chrome/">Google Chrome</a>
            </li>
          </ul>
          <h2 id="ios">
            <ul>
              <li>
                Text Editor O’the Day (either <a href="http://www.secondgearsoftware.com/elements/">Elements</a>, <a href="http://nebulousapps.net/notes.html">Nebulous Notes</a>, <a href="http://notesy-app.com/">Notesy</a>, or <a href="http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/plaintext">PlainText</a>)
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://belugapods.com/">Beluga</a> for private family instant messaging
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://calvetica.com/">Calvetica</a> for my iPhone calendar
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://camerapl.us/">Camera+</a> for photos
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://www.dueapp.com/">Due</a> for quick timers and reminders
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://nothirst.com/moneywell/iphone/">MoneyWell</a> for iPhone
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://vemedio.com/products/instacast">Instacast</a> for managing and listening to podcasts
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://instagr.am/">Instagram</a> for social photography
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="instapaper.com/">Instapaper</a> for reading
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/ipod.html">iPod</a> for listening to music
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://reederapp.com/">Reeder</a> for reading newsfeeds
              </li>
              <li>
                <a href="http://tapbots.com/software/tweetbot/">Tweetbot</a> for Twitter on iPhone and the <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twitter/id333903271?at=11l78o">official Twitter client</a> for iPad
              </li>
            </ul>
            <h2 id="everywhere">
              <p>
                …and I mean <em>everywhere.</em>
              </p>
              <ul>
                <li>
                  <a href="http://agilebits.com/onepassword">1Password</a> for managing logins and passwords. Priceless.
                </li>
              </ul>
              <p>
                This isn’t comprehensive, but it covers the bases. I could go on–go ahead, ask anyone–but I won’t. You’re welcome.
              </p>