A Halloween Tribute...

This year for Halloween I dressed up as Steve Jobs. I needed a costume last minute to wear to school and tonight and decided to use this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the most influential people in my short life. 

While weaving my way through the clothing aisles at Walmart I felt a certain wave of emotion come over me. This small gesture of remembrance was actually having an effect on me. As I completed my purchase of: a women's turtle neck(only one I could find), and a 10$ pair of running shoes that looked like Steve's 993s, totaling 16$ I became more and more in love with my costume and the way I felt remembering Steve. This was not a joke, but a true sign of respect for a great man.

I think it is important to remember people in everyday life; don't be held to the anniversary of their death or any special occasion. Be able to live with their absence but not life in ignorance of who they were.

So with that I wish you, Steve, a Happy Halloween!

Interview with John Moltz(@Moltz)

Wow! High School has started and boy is it work-heavy. But no worries because we have an awesome interview today with John Moltz.  John runs a sweet blog, which you can view here, and it is most definitely VERY NICE.

If Mr. Moltz had to describe himself in 5 words they would be: 

"Angry monkey galactic turnip vacuum."

John describes his workspace as follows: 

My office is in the attic of my house and I have two desks, one for sitting at and one for standing at. I built the standing desk myself and you can really tell because it looks unprofessionally thrown together. Still, it works and, more importantly, it's in front of the window which affords me a view of the Puget Sound, which is nice. The floor is strewn with pieces of paper I kid myself that I'll neatly file away some day. I have 12 Macs of various generations, dating back to a Mac Plus which a friend found by the side of the road and gave to me. It boots, but I don't have one of the telephone cord keyboards that it needs.

Please enjoy my five questions with this internet legend. 

How/why/when did you get into technology and blogging?

If you can imagine such a dark era, I grew up before everyone had a computer in their home. Because of there were no actual home computers (and this may sound like a joke but I assure you it's true) I made one out of cardboard to play with. It had a cardboard frame for a screen that I could slide different images into and the keyboard was a tray some fancy chocolates had come in that I turned upside down. So, long before we all had it in our homes, I longed for technology. My first Mac was a used SE I bought in 1990 for $2,000. It was love. The rest is history, etc.

What respect do you have for other technology bloggers such as John Gruber of Daring Fireball or Horace Dediu of Asymco?

John is a friend of mine and is wildly successful at what he does because of the thought and intelligence he puts into his posts. So, naturally, I hate his guts. I don't know Horace but that guy is so sharp he comes with a warning that small children should not use him unsupervised.

Seriously, there is a terrific group of smart people that I have been thrilled to get to know since I stumbled incoherently onto this scene. Not only are they smart, they share my interest in technology and are pretty fun to hang out with. I didn't make many friends working in corporate America. But in the wacky world of online technology writing, it's like being in college again.

If you could go back to your tenth grade self and give him one piece of advice, what would it be?

Invest every cent you have in AAPL in 1997 and then get out in the summer of 2012 when it hits 700 and retire early. I hate to tell you that you're never going to be an astronaut or a spy, but your life is going to be pretty good anyway. OK, that's two pieces of advice.

There has been a lot of talk lately of a lower priced iPhone, what is your opinion on the matter? Is it coming? What will it be like?

I think it'll be just like what we've seen on the rumor sites. Apple's tapped out the major carriers so it needs to get into new markets. I don't have an inside track, but I suspect the company's share price has caused them to be more lax about letting details of their plans slip out.

If you could trade places with one person for a whole day, who would it be?

Bruce Lee. Maybe sometime in the summer of 1972. I'd just walk into a dojo and spar with people all day.

Uh, assuming I have all of that person's talents. If not then definitely somebody else.

Interview with Brent Simmons(@brentsimmons)

Well tomorrow is the first day of school, summer is officially over. There is a light in all of this back-to-school madness. That light is an amazing interview with Brent Simmons. 

 

Brent Simmons was recently linked to by Daring Fireball's John Gruber for his post about Glassboard. 

If Brent had to describe himself in 5 words they would be:

Cocoa developer who loves words.

Brent describes his workspace as such: 

I write and code in a corner office in my home, with two big windows, a skylight, and three giant Boeing surplus desks — earthquake-proof, I’d bet — arranged in a U shape. The desks are clean but not obsessively so. One of them holds my guilty pleasure, a cheap Fender Squier which I play un-amplified (usually). There are a couple book cases, a closet with a hidden door to a sub-basement, a small and ancient TV, and so on.
The most important thing is a mat by one of the windows where my cat Papa carefully watches birds, butterflies, and squirrels in the back yard.

Here are my five questions with this great coder and blogger.

How did you get into blogging?

When I saw the web in 1994 I was astonished that my dream had come true: there was now a way for writers to publish and be read by anybody, all over the world, without having to go through a newspaper, magazine, or book publisher. And do so cheaply — it was only a few dollars a month for an account and a place to put HTML files.

We take this for granted now, but it’s still a miracle, something truly new under the sun.

In 1995 my wife and I created a little web magazine that nobody visited, called Station. A little while later I started working on publishing software, and in 1996 I started working for UserLand Software — for Dave Winer — on blogging software. This was before the words “weblog” and “blog” had been coined, but the form already existed.

I started and abandoned a couple blogs in that era before starting inessential.com in 1999, while I was working on UserLand’s blogging-app-and-CMS called Manila. (I also worked on Radio UserLand, a blogging app and RSS reader, a little later.)

I got into blogging because I saw the web as the greatest publishing platform in history, and blogging was the form we created. (It’s a pretty natural form: it’s what’s-new in reverse-chronological order.)

What was it like when you were linked to by John Gruber of Daring Fireball?

I don’t recall. It was so long ago, and Daring Fireball didn’t then drive the amount of traffic it does today.

But here’s what I remember: in 2002 I left UserLand, went indie, and started working on NetNewsWire, an RSS reader. Around the same time Daring Fireball appeared, and I liked it a ton: it was precise and well-written, and the author seemed dedicated and reliable. (In those days probably MacInTouch was the big blog on the Mac block.)

So when I went to choose the 16 or so default feeds for NetNewsWire, I added Daring Fireball. Back then NetNewsWire was a hugely successful app, and for a while it was the *only* Mac RSS reader. I like to think that it introduced a lot of people to Daring Fireball — but, at the same time, Daring Fireball was going to be as huge as it is even without that nice placement in NetNewsWire, because it’s so good. (I’m not just saying this because John is my co-worker at Q Branch. He’s my co-worker because he’s so good.)

What's your favorite food?

#26 Panang Nuea, 4 stars, with a side of white rice, from Thai Siam on 15th Ave. NW about 15 blocks from my house in Seattle.

<http://thaisiamrestaurant.com/alacarte.html>

I’m lactose-intolerant, and so it’s hard to find anything *creamy* I can eat. That big bowl of coconut milk, peppers, beef, and rice makes me ridiculously happy.

That said, I’ll take a good steak at any time, at any meal. Or between meals. Or in the middle of the night — I’d wake up for a steak. (Medium rare, which should go without saying.)

If you could go back in time to your 15 year old self what would you say to him?

The things I would tell him aren’t necessarily right for every 15-year-old. But I’d say this:

Don’t be confused by Keats’s line “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” Aim for *truth*, as it’s the necessary condition for beauty. It’s more difficult and more wonderful than you can imagine — and more painful, too, both in what-it-is and in the struggle to find and express it.

Don’t be impatient. Consider Hemingway: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Start there. You’re not going to publish a novel by age 20, but, if you work hard and keep working, you might write one true sentence by then. There are no shortcuts, and *sounding* true is not the same as true.

Also: start talking to girls now. Don’t wait till you’re 16.

And: almost all the people around you in high school are going to disappear forever from your life soon and you’ll utterly forget them. Don’t worry what they think of you. Take risks and learn from them.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More work on Vesper. I live in developer paradise: I have great co-workers, cool stuff to work on, and people who love the work we do. I can’t ask for more.

 

Thanks so much Brent! 

Interview with Lex Friedman(@lexfri)

What's up guys? The start of school is quickly approaching and with the little bit of free time I have left I have been trying to gather a bunch of great interviews.

Today's interview is with an outstanding writer! Lex Friedman is a Senior Writer at MacWorld, the author of two books(The Snuggie Sutra and The Kid in the Crib),  and a co-host of the podcast Unprofessional.
 

If Lex had to describe himself in five words they would be:

Funny, father, writer, motivated, happy.

He describes his workspace as follows: 

It's usually a little more cluttered than I'd like. I think in the right role, I could keep my desk and office closer to spotless. But right now, my office is filled with boxes of products to review and all sorts of related stuff. So the office is always packed.
As almost everyone who knows me knows, I work at a treadmill desk. My desk is at tall standing height, and I walk at 2.5mph most of the day while I work. 

 

Here are my five questions with Lex:

How/why/when did you get into writing? 

I've written for a long, long time. I loved reading books from a young age, and I loved writing as soon as I could figure it out. I used to type up fake newspapers for my families on the Mac in our basement and print them out on our Personal LaserWriter LS growing up. (That was a damn fine printer.)

I found that I especially loved writing stuff that I found funny. I'd read and devour books by folks like Dave Barry, and try to emulate their style. Eventually—and it took a while—I found my own style instead. I wrote a column for my high school newspaper called A Different Perspective, and they wrote the word Perspective upside down in the heading, and I always hated that; it felt like putting Groucho Marx glasses on to show everyone how funny I was.

I wrote for a new teen section of my local newspaper as well. And that started getting me compliments on my writing from people who didn't know me already. Up till then, I only heard kind things from family members, friends, or teachers. I didn't distrust them or anything, but it was cooler when I heard kind things from people who didn't know me before—and when I started getting paid to write stuff, too.

I loved writing essays in high school. Weird, right?

My sixth-grade teacher was one of the 20 best things that ever happened to me. Mr. Meiser took a kid who already loved words and writing and infused me with a love of well-crafted writing, grammatical correctness, and succinct clarity. Everything I know about grammar, he taught me, and I remember and use every single day.

What is it like working at MacWorld?

I freelanced for Macworld for a couple years before I started there full-time. I begged Jason Snell to hire me for a while before it worked out. 

I love writing for a living. I've read Macworld since I was a kid. I take tremendous pride in my job. 

Working at Macworld is fun. When a beta version of iOS or OS X comes out, I get paid to play with it. I get paid to play with new iPhones and iPads and speakers and apps. I get to write about products I love using, share insights I've gained, and all that.

I have a boss at Macworld of course, but I have a tremendous amount of freedom. There's stuff I have to write and take care of, and then a huge amount of latitude to figure out what I want to write and how. 

There are calmer times, and then there days with crazy breaking news, and then there's days when Mavericks gets announced and you're just writing and editing for hours straight.

What is your favorite food?

I love crispy duck, crispy fried chicken, and the least healthy Chinese food variants (your fried battered sesame chickens and whatnot). I also love chocolate milk and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

How did you get into podcasting?

Back in 2006 or 2007, I started a podcast with my friend, the humorist Seth Brown. He and I first met at summer camp more than ten years prior, and we cowrote stuff there and awful lot, under the name "Leth & Sex." In '06, we started this Leth and Sex podcast, where two of us talked about anything, made jokes about the news, freestyle rapped, and generally had a good time for a listenership of dozens, maybe even a hundred. That podcast eventually fizzled.

About 18 months ago or so, I helped to beta test a podcast app that never got released. During that beta testing process, I met Dave Wiskus, who was working on the app. I told him that he and I should do a podcast, too. Mostly because I wanted to me a famous beloved podcaster and didn't know how to break into the business anymore, and figured if this guy was working on a podcast app, he could be my in.

Eventually, Unprofessional was born on Mule Radio. It went through several names and themes before we landed on what the show is today—conversations with interesting people about anything but their day jobs.

I'm planning to launch a second podcast in September. I'm very excited about that one, too.

My Podlexing side business was a surprising but in retrospect natural evolution of the podcast. We wanted sponsors for Unprofessional, and I found after a while that I was bizarrely good at finding some. Now I book sponsorships for about 50 podcasts. Crazy!

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have a new book that I'm working on, probably for late 2014. I have the new podcast I referenced. 

I feel like I'm always working on a new project or new direction. I hope to keep that up, because I keep having fun. So, I guess I like to come up with new things to do from time to time, that maybe feel surprising at first, but are semi-obvious in retrospect. 

 

Thanks so much Lex for an amazing interview! 

Interview with Aaron Lewis(@aaronzlewis)

It all started with a tweet.

I sent that beautiful48 character message out into the abyss that is Twitter not expecting a retweet or a favorite let alone a reply. But sure enough...

And so it began!  

Aaron Lewis is an extremely cool dude. He is a Sophomore at Yale University. He is a really outstanding writer and publishes his work on his Medium blog which you can check out here.  Aaron is also working on an original site where, in the future, he will be publishing longer essays. I'm pumped for that and you should be too! 

How/why/when did you start writing?

In first grade, my teacher would have us practice tongue twisters every morning. I think those fun little exercises introduced me to some of the amazing things you can do with language. The next year, I started writing short stories on the computer that my parents had just bought. I was most proud of this one called "The Rock that Came Back." It's about three kids who go on an oceanic adventure with a talking fish after the rocks they'd been skipping start boomeranging back to them. Once I started writing, I just never really wanted to stop. 

How/why/when did you get involved with Medium?

I like to keep up with all the new and exciting things that are going on in the tech industry. When Evan Williams and his team launched Medium last year, I requested an invite as soon as I could. After a good few months of waiting, I forgot that I'd ever even signed up. Then, in April, an email showed up in my inbox from Medium saying that my application had been accepted! The user interface for writing is incredibly well designed. It's as simple as possible, but no simpler. There are no frills, no flashy buttons—just you, the cursor, and your thoughts. A blank page can be really intimidating, but Medium's UI goes a long way toward alleviating that fear.

If you could travel back to your tenth grade self and give him one piece of advice what would it be? 

I'm not sure I'd give any advice at all, for fear of messing with the space-time continuum or something. But I'd probably tell tenth grade Aaron that you don't have to wait for a degree or until society thinks you're "old enough" to work on cool projects that matter. Just start. Then, I would make him read "What You'll Wish You'd Known" by Paul Graham. I'd also tell him to make a Spark file. The basic idea, as writer Steven Johnson describes it, is to maintain a single document where you keep all your hunches: ideas for articles, startups, or just any interesting thoughts that come to mind. Looking back on your document is almost like brainstorming with your past self. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

1) The most important thing is to just start. You can think about writing all you want, but you won't get better unless you actually sit down and do it. 

2) Write something every day—even if it's just a sentence or two. Writing every day changes the way you think. If you know you're going to have to write something before you go to sleep, you'll be on the lookout for interesting things throughout the day. Writing, in many ways, is about discovery. It's like a spotlight for you subconscious. Once you start writing, you can find things that you never really knew were there. 

3) Publish your work somewhere, even if it's just on a simple blog. And tweet! Learning how to distill a thought into 140 characters is actually a very useful skill. Most writing is rewriting. Plus, Twitter can help you reach a broader audience. (But don't worry too much about audience; write for yourself, edit for your readers.)

4) Read On Writing Well by William Zinsser and the New York Times' Draft - a series of essays on writing.

5) Be an active reader. By this, I don't just mean "read a lot." When you're reading something you like, try to study what techniques the author is using or what it is that you like so much about it. We all have the same 26 letters at our disposal. Figure out how your favorite authors manage to string them together so beautifully. 

What's your favorite food?

I love Chicago-style deep dish pizza!

 

Stuck→

Pete gave me some writing advice that day: Keep a journal. Write in it often and consistently. One day it’ll be incredibly valuable.
What do you think a teenage kid did with that advice? I completely ignored it.

Great advice from Pete, whoever he may be. Check out the article, it's a great read.