Amy and I have created a new YouTube channel focused on recommending great books for kids. She is the star and I am the producer.
Amy lives and breathes teaching kids how to read. She is currently a Title I teacher in a Massachusetts public school and has her Masters in Early Childhood Education. My goal was to capture her experience and passion for books in a way parents could easily understand.
Amy's videos go beyond recommending a good book. She relates the experience of actually reading the book with children and how they responded to key points within the text. It's that kind of detailed information that presents the context for how the book should be read with the child.
In 1948, the museum entered into a contract with the family that required the institution to give the Wright brothers' credit for the first flight in exchange for the "Flyer" flying machine.
Clearly, the Smithsonian should never have agreed to such biased terms. We all expect better.
However, the controversy reminded me of a story.
My family took a vacation to North Carolina in the summer of 1991. We visited Kitty Hawk to see the location of the Wright Brothers' flight.
I was so excited. I loved aviation and the Wright Brothers' story.
My dad decided that we would take a flight tour to see Kill Devil Hills from the air. I was ecstatic.
My brother and father got in the back of a small Cessna. I jumped into the co-pilot's chair and buckled my seatbelt.
We took off and circled the Wright Brothers' Memorial. The plane was banking at a 45 degree angle so we could get an amazing view of the whole area.
Then the door on my side of the aircraft flung open.
I just stared out at the ground. If my seatbelt wasn't on I probably would have just rolled out.
Just as my shock was starting to wear off and fear was beginning to set in the pilot yelled for me to take control of the plane.
I was six years old.
The pilot had already gotten the plane level so all I had to do was hold the controls in place. He reached over my seat, leaned out and pulled the door shut.
I was the kind of kid who brought his glove to Phillies games and was ready to play if they needed me to. In a way, I was ready to be a co-pilot and wanted to be.
It was only for a few seconds but I flew a plane once.
Fargo is a multi-tab outliner that stores files in Dropbox.
You can create as many outlines as you want and they are stored and synced via your Dropbox account.
That means you can access your outlines wherever you are. It even works on the iPad.
Go far with Fargo.
Its a little guy.
Little Outliner is a simple outliner that saves as you make changes to your browser's local storage.
This is just the start. There is a lot more to come.
The Pebble watch arrived a little under an hour ago. The package it came it was superbly designed. It was slim and made just to fit the watch and cable inside. Amy loved the zipper detail that ran along the side of the box around the tab to pull the package open.
I was able to easily set it up in 5-10 minutes. The getting started documentation was good.
After setup, the first thing I did was have Amy text me and the Pebble displayed the message as expected. I then had her call me and the watch showed who was calling and gave me the option to pickup or hangup. Next, I attempted to control music playback from Pebble and it all worked as you'd expect and without issue.
The watchface itself looks great. The rubbery wristband is functional but a bit too stiff for my liking. The e-ink display works well.
I'm glad that I got the black version of the watch. The display and black casing around it blend together to give the appearance of a single glass object without lines. I prefer the black version of the iPhone for the same reason.
The real test will be using Pebble as my watch over the next week. I wonder if I'll enjoy all of the notifications or get tired of them. Either way, Pebble has made a good first impression and I look forward to using it.
Posterous will be shut down by acquirer Twitter on April 30th. Everything written on that service will cease to exist.
Fact: if you are a user of a free online service and it gets acquired expect the product to be killed off within a year.
Twitter should be better than this. If they were decent they would host a static archive of Posterous out of S3 and freeze it in time.
Yesterday I received an email that Massachusetts state sales tax would apply to my Amazon Web Services account beginning in April 2013.
I assume this is part of the larger effort by Massachusetts to collect sales tax for purchases made on Amazon by it's residents.
I never really thought about sales taxes being applied to intangible and amorphous cloud services.
I support the state collecting sales tax for goods purchased on Amazon.com but services too?
If the only reason this is happening is a result of there not being a legal distinction between AWS and Amazon.com then this is another argument in favor of spinning AWS off into its own entity.
Will other cloud providers have to collect sales tax from Massachusetts customers?
I backed Pebble on Kickstarter on April 13th, 2012.
It was supposed to deliver in September 2012.
It has finally shipped.
I have backed two hardware projects on Kickstarter. Both shipped 3-6 months after their target delivery date.
I am very satisfied with the Elevation dock. I hope the Pebble lives up to my expectations. Initial reports seem to indicate this will be one buggy watch.
The bigger lesson: if you back a hardware project on Kickstarter (especially a popular one) add 3 to 6 months to whatever date the project thinks things will be finished.
Today is Transfer Deadline Day in the world of soccer. All trades must get done today before the window for free trade shuts until July.
It just so happens that today is significant for my career as well.
Tomorrow I transfer to a new team; a new venture.
Last week I deployed several updates to Donate Your Account.
Facebook support had been completely broken for a few weeks after Facebook made a breaking change to its API permissions that prevented access tokens requiring "offline_access" from working after December 5th, 2012.
Removing offline_access from the API disabled the ability for indefinite access to Facebook on behalf of the user. Instead, Facebook now grants access tokens that last for up to 60 days.
The 60 day policy means that if a Facebook user donated their account their donation would only last for at most 60 days. This breaks the Donate Your Account model.
At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinkin' I could never live without offline_access by my side.
Then I realized the API could be my friend again: I could send notifications to Facebook users with near expiring or expired donations.
Every Wednesday a script runs to figure out which Facebook donations are about to expire and sends them a reminder. All the user has to do within Facebook is click on the notification. That will take them back to Donate Your Account within Facebook and refresh their donation.
Campaign owners might notice that their Twitter and Facebook donation counts are lower.
Those numbers now reflect the actual number of active accounts for each network.
When Donate Your Account can't access Twitter or Facebook as a result of a legitimate credentials exception the account will be marked as expired.
Facebook's API breakage forced me to implement the concept of expiration for accounts which is something that clearly should have happened anyway.
There is always a silver lining.
Btw, I really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook and that's not just because I'm from Philadelphia.
I know where the Llanerch Diner is featured in the movie. I used to play regional baseball tournaments in Llanerch. They had one of the few fields with lights. I loved playing baseball at night.
Basically it is RSS without having to know anything about RSS.
You install a browser extension that finds feeds as you browse the web. If the feed is found on a website that you interact with often ATTN will automatically subscribe you to that feed.
Recent items from all of your subscriptions show up in reverse chronological order as they come in.
ATTN will automatically unsubscribe you from a feed if you stop visiting the website it came from or stop clicking on links from that feed.
There is something to figuring out the relative thresholds for automatically subscribing and unsubscribing to a feed. It is working well for me but I want there to be a bit more math behind the subscription decisions.
The ultimate test will be my parents trying this out. If that goes well I'll probably release it.
Thats a phrase I came up with to describe Donate Your Account.
I deployed a UI refresh for DonateYourAccount.com over the weekend.
The whole thing was done with the Bootstrap framework.
I thought Donate Your Account needed a more consistent experience that held a more general identity. It is an open source project after all and the identity will be shared in the future.
I'm trying to tie up the loose ends with Donate Your Account before the end of the year.
Up next: donations through your own Twitter OAuth application. This will be mandatory at some point to avoid limits enforced by the Twitter API version 1.1.
I have reversed my decision to shut down DonateYourAccount.com the service.
I still don't think it is a business but there is too much momentum to pull the plug.
Twitter's API restrictions are still a problem but I have a solution.
Existing donations made on DonateYourAccount.com through the Donate Your Account Twitter OAuth application will continue to be valid.
After I deploy the next major update Campaigns are going to be forced to supply their own Twitter OAuth application credentials in order to continue to receive account donations. If you have no idea what a Twitter OAuth application is don't worry I will document the process.
Campaigns using their own Twitter credentials for account donations will sidestep a majority of the problems that the service might have faced with Twitter's API restrictions.
As always the biggest risk to the project in general is Twitter itself. They haven't been playing nice lately and I can't guarantee the Donate Your Account idea and execution will work forever. That said: the service provides so much for so many that it is a risk worth taking.
My next steps are to update the application to the latest version of Rails and implement the changes above.
After DonateYourAccount.com is in good shape I will work on creating a Donate Your Account Ubuntu package for those that would still like to run the service easily on their own servers.