Mass Production and Mass Media

Produce for a micro market.

Market to a micro market.

When someone wants to know how big you can make (your audience, your market share, your volume), it might be worth pointing out that it's better to be important, to be in sync, to be the one that's hard to be replaced. And the only way to be important is to be relevant, focused and specific.

More and more it’s possible to be successful in media without being successful in the mass media. Fame and audiences more niche heavy. Find your 1,000 true fans and you can be successful.

The Great SIM Heist - How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle

Depressing news of the day. The NSA hacked a SIM card producer and they’re now easily decrypting your communications. Is there a way to arrest the people responsible for crap like this?

The town without WiFi or cellular service

I’m not sure what’s more interesting, this town or the fact that it seems so antiquated. Also, that rectangle for the quiet zone seems incredibly large.

Leaving ESPN

Just over three years ago, I was doing a little freelancing and working on an idea for a fantasy football site I had. I’d spent the year applying to jobs, occasionally landing interviews, and always getting turned down. I saw the “We’re Hiring” link on my ESPN Fantasy Football clubhouse, and figured why not?

A month later I was sitting next to Jerry Rice on a bus to get my rental car for my interview. Within a week, I was hired at ESPN as a web developer in the League Manager group. I moved across the country to Seattle and immediately got to work helping to build Fantasy Football for iPad.

ESPN was the first company to actually give me the chance to show what I’m capable of. And I like to think they don’t regret it. I’ve been able to contribute to some incredible projects in my time here, and in the process I’ve learned a shit ton about what it takes to develop a large scale web application.

Now the time has come for me to leave ESPN. My wife and I have been looking for a while at moving home to Knoxville, Tennessee and we’re finally able to make that happen. While we’re incredibly excited about it, we’re a bit melancholy about having to leave the company that has given me so much.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to get to work here. I’m thankful for the incredible and talented group of people I got to work with. I got to experience the other side of the interview table, and I got to experience not being excited about a candidate, only to realize once they were hired how fucking wrong I was (This is why I’m incredibly sympathetic to the many “no’s” I’ve received).

When my then fiancée started grad school in Orlando, my manager and superiors were awesome and worked hard to make it possible for me to move and work from Florida while staying in my current role. When I told them I wanted to move to Knoxville, they did everything they could to make it happen but it just wasn’t in the cards. I’m so thankful for all of those efforts and the appreciation they showed.

ESPN and Disney are fantastic organizations that appreciate their employees and reward them for good work. I will certainly miss the magic that both provide. More than that I will miss the many people I’ve worked with that make that magic possible. I have no doubt that my team will continue to do awesome work without me. I like to think part of me will stick around there (and not just a few poorly named variables and accidentally committed debugger statements). I’m positive that a part of ESPN and Disney will always be with me.

My only regret is that my coworkers will no longer have someone around to constantly remind them that the SEC is superior to all other forms of sport.

I don’t yet know what my next thing will be. I’m pondering a few options. I will keep sending my newsletter. I hope to launch Outshape in the coming months. And I'm really dying to get into a little podcasting. If you want to work together on something, let me know!

Git Bisect and Why it is Amazing

I was able to wade through 913 commits to find the single commit that caused a bug in a piece of software that spans hundreds of files and over 150,000 lines of code.

It took about three minutes.

Git bisect is amazing.

I really don’t use git bisect enough. It’s incredibly powerful for tracking down problems.

The Future of Cinema

M.G. Siegler with a great piece on the future of cinema, and the movie going experience in general. What really resonated with me, and is something that has been on my mind for a while, is the experience of going to movie theaters.

There’s something very romantic to me about the movie theater. I’m not sure where it comes from, since it’s never been anything like that in my life. I love the idea of the night out at the movie theater. But the fact is that night out revolves around two hours in the dark without talking. The theaters have essentially worked their butts off over the past few decades to figure out how to get you to buy really expensive shit to go along with that experience.

What Siegler hits on that I really want more of is the sort of boutique movie theater...

Probably the best experience I’ve had watching a film in recent years is over here in London. There’s a theater called Electric Cinema in Notting Hill which is fantastic in every way. Massive recliner seats, couches, and even beds and blankets! And lots of good food and drinks.

There are a couple of similar theaters in North Orlando, and I love the experience. Compare it with the dirty, uncomfortably 80s experience of movie theaters today, and you see why I think this is the real future of movie theaters. It’s a dream of mine to open up a sort of boutique theater with a nice bar and an interesting menu...

This is the new ESPN app

The transformation this app has taken going from ScoreCenter to SportsCenter to ESPN is just fantastic. Personally, I loved putting the SportsCenter brand on the app. It just felt right. Regardless of naming, the teams that have worked on this have built an awesome experience.

How I use Simple

I’ve been quite effusive about Simple since I first signed up. There are two particular features of Simple that make it incredibly powerful as a financial planning tool: Goals and Safe-to-Spend.

Simple allows you to create goals for any expense you’re planning. It works like this. You name your goal, set an amount you’d like to save and then decide whether you want to save it now or save it over time until a specific date. This is where Safe-to-Spend comes in, because any money that is put into that goal is no longer available in your Safe-to-Spend total. If you choose to save over time, Simple will gradually move money from Safe-to-Spend and into the goal.

Creating a goal

The psychological power of this setup can’t be overstated. I know that I can see my actual balance and I may have plenty of money in my account, but if that Safe-to-Spend total is low then it’s hard to spend anymore. Not only would I feel like I’m spending money I don’t have, but I could see in my goals the things that I’m taking money away from if I spend beyond my Safe-to-Spend. Effectively it’s a digital version of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system.

Also in the Goals section of the website, there’s this fantastic little popover that shows you how much money will be put in Goals until your next paycheck. In my opinion, this information is tremendously underemphasized.

Nice preview of your status until the next paycheck

So how do I use Simple? First off you have to get around one painful fact. Simple doesn’t have recurring goals. You can’t say a goal occurs once a month or year and have a goal automatically created. So let’s break down what different types of goals I have.

Yearly Bills

Evernote, Dropbox, Fastmail, and the list goes on. If I can get a cheaper bill by going yearly, I usually do it. Once a year I create a goal for these items. Easy to maintain. And you’re never surprised by a big unexpected expense. You’ve been saving all year, and that big expense is just a blip.

Monthly Bills

I started out trying to maintain the monthly things by actually creating a goal each month. But that takes a lot of work and can get a little confusing within a given pay period. So it’s better to handle these yearly as well. Many monthly bills, like rent, cable, internet, or mobile phone, have the same cost every month. With these you can calculate a total for the year and create a goal. Then by the time each bill rolls around, you should have just the right amount to pay it from the goal.

Others, like utilities, are variable. For the variable bills it helps if you have a year’s worth of bills to look through, then you can estimate what a year is going to cost and get pretty close. What’s important is that you have a decently close number, and your goal will prevent that monthly bill from making a dent in your Safe-to-Spend.


Another type of goal I create is a yearly budget for certain categories. So I create a goal once a year for things like groceries, gas, tithing, and fun with my wife. Again, you’re looking for solid estimates here, not exact totals. If you have to make some adjustments throughout the year that’s okay. It forces you to really think about your spending on these things and be aware of it.

One off expenses

You can create goals for other expected or desired expenses. I have goals for my wife’s birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas. I can save all year for these things and not be caught off guard when they come around. If you are thinking you want to upgrade to a new phone next year, you can start saving now. This is how I make buying phones off contract a reasonable reality. Instead of a sudden major expense, or paying my carrier more every month to make that phone cheaper up front, I pay myself a little every day until iPhone launch day comes.

A cushion

When you start really using goals, you end up with a nice chunk of money in them that isn’t in your Safe-to-Spend. What’s nice is it gives you this cushion of immediately available money. If an unexpected expense does come in, you can pull some money out of a few goals and adjust your expectations. Maybe spend less at Christmas. Or cancel/reduce a service. Or just take the money out of the goal and know you’ll be able to compensate gradually. Instead of taking on credit card debt, you take on self debt. It’s so much nicer to know exactly what you’re sacrificing rather than blindly spending out of a single pool of money. (Unless you have an actual pool of money, then you just do you)

Simple has been a huge boon to my financial management. Bills and large expenses are easy to plan for and track and my stress levels are greatly reduced. I don’t have to plan and save in a spreadsheet, Simple does it for me. One might say it makes managing your finances... Simple?

Please respect my decision not to dance

And I know I am not alone. There are others like me — you know who you are — leaning against the wall or sitting on the sidelines at weddings and parties. I see your struggle in a way the flesh-shakers simply can’t, and I understand your plight, especially when someone is attempting to cajole you into dancing. We may be few, but we exist, we the lurkers in the shadows, the non-dancers. Please respect who we are.

An important message straight from my soul. Please note, if you give me medium quantities of alcohol this message no longer applies.

The curse of compressing reality

Any creative endeavor is highly non-linear, but the sharing of it almost always skips a lot of the actual work that goes into it. That’s ok; a clear progression makes for a good story that’s easy to tell. But don’t judge your reality against someone else’s compressed work

This is something I needed to be reminded of on a daily basis. I see great writers like John Gruber and Shawn Blanc cranking out awesome stuff. I see devs and designers like Marco Arment and Greg Wohlwend cranking out awesome stuff. And I start comparing myself. I look at my process and see how messy and shitty it is and how it doesn’t compare to their results. People who do great work do a lot of hard messy work first. If you want to do great work, just do work, power through that hard shitty stuff and get better.