Friday, April 29, 2011

hitRECord.org: Collaborative Crowd-Sourced Film Production

I have two clients right now. Both are interesting. I don't think I can blog about the other one yet, but hitRECord.org is really pretty fucking awesome. Founded by the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it's a collaborative production company which has crowd-sourced independent short films and taken them to festivals like South by Southwest and Sundance.

When I first took a look at the site, I didn't really get what it was about; a live event at the Vista Theater in Silverlake opened my eyes.







You can check out the story of hitRECord (and hear a Hollywood actor paraphrasing the copyleft leader Lawrence Lessig) in this video shot at Stanford earlier this week:



I'll be revamping the site considerably, and stay tuned, as I may set up an API soon.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sometimes, Conventional Wisdom Is Bullshit

Case in point: after heart surgery, I lost 80 pounds and improved my cardiovascular health to an extraordinary degree by taking on a radical vegan diet which essentially consists only of vegetables, beans, mushrooms, and fruit. No meat, no fish, no poultry, no bread, no rice, no flour, no grains of any kind, no high-fructose corn syrup, no ridiculous industrial chemicals, no salt, and no oil.

("No oil," whenever I told people about it, would always provoke shocked remarks about olive oil being "healthy." The healthful status of olive oil is conventional wisdom. Olive oil is not healthy at all in the context of this nutritional regimen.)

Eating this way is expensive, and in 2010 I undertook a series of entrepreneurial experiments, seeing some successes and some failures. The failures cost me money, and had me resorting occasionally to eating the way I used to eat. This, plus the isolating effects of this way of eating, led me to break the rules of the diet, first occasionally and then frequently. After a while I was eating meat, fish, rice, and bread, just like anyone else - but I still ate more fruit, vegetables, and beans than anyone I knew.

I recently read Tim Ferriss's Four-Hour Body and decided to start getting my cholesterol checked on a regular basis - monthly, every six months, something like that - and rather than wait until I had determined the precise periodicity, and charted out a complete plan, I went and got my cholesterol checked for the first time in almost exactly two years, because the big thing I learned from my entrepreneurial experiments is it's almost always more effective just to leap into action immediately, even if that kind of bravado produces a few run-on sentences here and there.

Here's what I found:

TargetFeb 2009
(pre-vegan)
Apr 2009
(vegan)
Apr 2011
(post-vegan)
Total CholesterolUnder 200254154238
LDL CholesterolUnder 100193113172
HDL CholesterolOver 39262126
TriglyceridesUnder 15017698202
WeightUnder 160254?210


The most important thing to realize is that conventional wisdom is putting my life in danger.

Caveats: these are isolated numbers and you'd see much better accuracy if I'd been doing systematic checks over regular intervals, which is something I plan for the future. Also, I haven't been tracking blood pressure, but I remember it was vastly improved during the vegan period, and I will be. Of course, these numbers represent an unscientific sampling of data about me, not a scientific survey of the entire human population.

Finally, conventional wisdom around heart disease is actually that if you have heart surgery you need to get your cholesterol checked a lot, and see a cardiologist a lot; after discovering my diet, I decided that all cardiologists were idiots and I had nothing more to say to any of them. This was almost certainly overkill. Sometimes, conventional wisdom is not bullshit at all.

However, looking at these numbers, we can draw a few conclusions about my health. The only area where my post-vegan compromise "diet" can be considered useful at all is in weight; and even there, the system I had been using was superior, because I got my weight down to 172 and kept it there for a long time. In fact, the only place where the post-vegan approach looks decent at all is the one where the numbers are missing for the vegan period. I may have lost as much as forty pounds in my first two months on this diet - it's actually a common result - so it's possible the post-vegan advantage in weight is only slight.

Either way, for cardiovascular health, the post-vegan compromise approach is easily as bad as the full-on mostly-junk-food approach of the pre-vegan period. It's slightly better for LDL cholesterol but substantially worse for triglycerides. I don't have anywhere near the substantial reserves of giving a fuck that I would need to have on hand if I was going to be giving other people dietary advice, but for my body and my health, the best choice is obvious.

It seems like common sense to say, "well, if you're eating more vegetables, beans, and fruit than anyone else you know, and you're less heavy than you were when you ate junk food, the fact that you're not at your pinnacle of vegan health is not that bad." In this instance, common sense is wrong, and the conventional wisdom is so bad that if I listened to it I'd probably not live to see forty years of age.

You can probably guess exactly how I'll be eating in future. (Hint: broccoli yes, burgers no.) Also, I've been tracking my weight daily for months now; I think I'm going to get my cholesterol (etc) checked monthly, and blog the results, along with a snapshot of my dietary calendar (a variant of my calendar system, which I'm using to track my fidelity to my vegan diet's rules).

For the record, here's how it looks today:



I think it'll look a good deal more solid in May.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Owning Rails

For a while now, you've probably been wondering: "Rails is interesting, but how do I fuck Rails so hard it'll feel like I stuck a machine gun up its ass?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Triangle Wave (Experimental Productivity Hack)

Future Of Entertainment: One Fragment

New Shiba Inu Puppy Cam Seen by 27 Million Viewers So Far (Live Video)
  • Near-zero production costs
  • Massive, instant audience
  • In-stream ad revenue
  • Viewers can keep the "show" on all day long while doing other stuff
  • Is it a show or a window?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How To Make Twitter's Web Version Less Annoying In Chrome

Step 1: install dotjs.

Step 2: add better CSS.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Strongest Pro-"Tech Bubble" Argument I've Seen Yet



Because CEOs really have an incredible track record of predicting the economy.

And this is totally what a rational person's eyes look like.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tiny OS X Server Admin Hack

On my Slicehost slice, I often need sudo to restart my web server or install various things. For obvious reasons, I can't give you the literal shell alias I use in OS X Terminal for that, but I can give you a censored version.

alias slice="echo $PASSWORD | pbcopy && ssh -p $PORT_NUMBER $USERNAME@$IP_ADDRESS"

First I put the password I'll need, if I use sudo, into the OS X clipboard using pbcopy; then I ssh into the server as normal. When Ubuntu asks me my password, I just hit ⌘-V. And boom. It just works.

I Should Start A "Fuck Yeah Cyberpunk" Tumblr

Brazilian police will use futuristic 'Robocop-style' glasses fitted with facial recognition equipment to identify and root out troublemakers at the 2014 World Cup.

(To be clear, I am actually ambivalent about this. I can see the usefulness, but I don't see governments using their new powers for good as often as I would like, and that's quite an understatement.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chrome AutoFill + Mercurial Temperament = Ooooops



Well, I hope that doesn't come back to haunt me.

In related news, my personal opinion is that it's wise not to make "Company" a required field for applications where users might not actually work for any company.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hypnosis Maybe...

Last night I wrote this blog post:

The Inevitable Continues To Surprise On Hacker News

Over the past few months a few things have become extremely clear to me: web technologies are exploding and the capabilities for software on the web is soon to meet that of desktop software if innovation continues along this path.

The technologies in question make this an interesting post, but it's kind of pathetic to read this simple insight delivered as an astonishing revelation when it was established wisdom online as early as 1995. How in the fucking hell else do you explain the browser wars? Why else would Microsoft think the browser was something which could affect its business interests? Why else would Google have created Google Documents?

I decided not to post it, instead putting it as a comment on the kid's blog, where, not surprisingly, it sits unpublished, awaiting moderation, and presumably will do so forever.

I write with furious contempt pretty much every time I bother to read anything on Hacker News these days. The economically inevitable decline in quality hit, and it hit hard. That's easy to understand. What's harder to understand is why I was reading Hacker News in the first place.

I needed to get about 10 hours of work done yesterday; instead I had one of the most epic self-indulgence days ever. None of the work I had to do was hard, and some of it looked quite enjoyable. But I didn't do it. I played video games all day, I was on Twitter and Hacker News - both of which are sites I've been on much less than usual recently - and the weirdest part is I only noticed it was happening a few times. It's as if I went into these little trances and found myself procrastinating for hours.

It's very much as if that happened, in fact, because that is exactly what happened. I listen to hypnosis mp3s daily, partly for the health benefits, and partly for the hypnosis itself. Recently I've been listening to an mp3 about increasing self-discipline. Most of the time, when you're hypnotized, you're not conscious, almost by definition, so I haven't actually analyzed the content, but I bought it because most of the other mp3s from the same source are pretty good.

Unfortunately, I can only say "pretty good" there, because I'm actually a very thoroughly trained hypnotist myself, and I've noticed them doing a few counterproductive things in some other mp3s. So I gave this self-discipline mp3 a closer listen. The reasons are technical, but I believe this self-discipline mp3 is doing a number of seriously counter-productive things and actually resulted in me spending significantly more time goofing off than usual.

I've been thinking about setting up a side business in hypnosis and creating mp3s with a higher standard of quality. This experience is pushing me in that direction, just because it's making me think I'll need to record my own mp3 on self-discipline anyway. I put out a couple little hypnosis products last year, and got some good feedback. However, I'm undecided for now, and working on a lot of other stuff, so if it happens, expect a pretty modest little side business at most. I actually created the first draft of another hypnosis product recently, for similar reasons - there was nothing good enough on the market - but I haven't yet turned that first draft into its second draft, let alone a finished product.

All I'm saying here, basically, is stay tuned.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

.rvmrc Belongs In Version Control

People have heard me kvetch about Bundler, but some parts of this I agree with a little, and the rest I endorse wholeheartedly.

Do Check Your .rvmrc into Version Control

Your .rvmrc file is an important piece of documentation.

I see too many teams gitignore their .rvmrc file. This is a mistake. For applications, your .rvmrc file is an important piece of documentation. I think this is the best way to communicate the Ruby version dependency to other team members. This is especially true given that an .rvmrc file at the root of your project will make RVM automatically switch to that version of Ruby everytime you change to that project directory.

I recently inherited a project that had a test suite with very little coverage and no documentation as to which version of Ruby was required. I could tell the project wasn’t on Ruby 1.9 yet, so I guessed at Ruby 1.8.7. It wasn’t until much later that I realized Ruby 1.8.6 was actually required. For another legacy project that I worked on, we guessed correctly at Ruby 1.8.7, but it wasn’t until we went to deploy and took a look at the production environment that we realized we should have been developing against Ruby Enterprise Edition (REE) instead of MRI.

Keep your .rvmrc file simple by only specifying the Ruby version...

Jimmy Done Shot Him A Unycorn

I wrote this on hitRECord.org, and then decided to shoot it immediately and put it on YouTube.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Policy On Drunk E-Mails

I'm putting this on my blog so I can refer people to it whenever necessary.

I write so much that a blogger not only once used statistical analysis of my writing to "prove" that I could not be human, he also came all they from Maine to LA Ruby to see me with his own two eyes. I write so much I have encountered diagnoses/accusations of graphomania. Consequently, I cannot remember everything I have written.

Meanwhile, as a computer geek, I know how easy it is to fake an e-mail from somebody to somebody else. I myself, in the early/mid 90s days when e-mail was a new trend, hand-coded SMTP and TCP to send my friends e-mail using president@whitehouse.gov as the from address.

Last but not least, Giles + Alcohol is a slightly different dude than Giles, and I can't endorse everything that other guy says or does.

Consequently, I take absolutely no responsibility for any e-mails written drunk. If I hear I've written an e-mail while drunk, or encounter something badly spelled and/or rambling and/or insane which someone claims I have written, I consider myself innocent until proven guilty. In extreme cases, I consider myself innocent until proven guilty, even when I know I'm guilty.

Now you know.