five posts in six years

It’s the last day of what is one of the more difficult years I can remember. There’s a number of reasons for that, and I’ve been using places like Twitter to try and fill some voids. I love conversation and digging into the meat of matters, but interacting in text snippets and gifs through mediums like Twitter, Slack, Signal, and others is not that.

I’m hoping to change that a little, even if it’s just me putting longer-form thoughts to posts vs. a jumbled thread that shards into several more threads. I like writing, and I miss the conversations that happen around the things I write. I also realize how much of a content desert the web has become through the lens of Google.

I’m going to try and re-kindle creating the web content I love, with a moderate goal of a post a week on things I care about and want to share. We’ll see how it goes, but five posts in the last six years is a pretty awful record, and you have to give to get. This is my only new year’s resolution, and I’ll probably spend a bunch of time on pinball, beer, and home automation.

2021 will be what I make it, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.

I think I finally figured boiled eggs out

Boiling eggs has always been a pain in the ass. Over-cooked, under-cooked, hard to peel, cracked on cooking – you name it, it’s happened. After 40-odd years of trial and error this system is my winner:

Buy the eggs a week ahead of boiling (nope. doesn’t matter. same-day farm fresh works equally well)
– Add six eggs to a pot*
– Fill pot with cold water until eggs are covered by an inch
– Add 1 tsp vinegar
– Add 1/2 tsp salt
– Put it on the (non-gas**) stovetop and set the element to high
– Bring to a roiling boil
– Turn off element, let pot sit for 10 minutes (on the still-hot element)
– Dump the hot water, add cold water to cool the eggs
– Peel immediately at your leisure.

That’s it. It took me 4 decades to learn this. 4. You’ll end up with perfectly cooked, hard boiled eggs. The whites won’t be rubbery. The yolks will be cooked through, but no grey matter (if you want softer yolks, reduce the sitting time to 8min from 10). They’ll be easy to peel. They’re pretty much perfect.

* If you want to do a dozen, add two inches of water above the top. vinegar and salt can just stay as is, no need to increase. Everything else stays the same.
** If you have a gas cooktop, instead of turning the heat off, turn it to low for 1 min, then turn it off and let the eggs sit for 9 min.

Dear Toronto Maple Leafs: It’s not me, it’s you, so we’re (finally) finished.

“You don’t need to go out there in sackcloth and ashes, but you’re a terrible team, your leader just got the chop and you’re being filmed. Show some goddamned sense.” – Trading Phil Kessel is the key to overdue rebuild of the Maple Leafs – Cathal Kelly

I don’t agree with Kelly on Kessel, but I do agree that a corrosive influence kills the dressing room, and a team suffers as a result. No one on the Leafs has shown any kind of leadership. No. One.

Same bullshit all the time, with trite statements after every embarrassing loss, smugness instead of humility when they do go on a tear, and an attitude towards its fan base that is grating. There’s blame to go around everywhere (dear ridiculous Toronto media – I am looking squarely at you jackasses), but a lot rests with the people who can’t stop watching.

MLSE doesn’t need to make changes because they’re making money hand over fist. Harold Ballard realized he could field the worst teams and it wouldn’t matter. He just spent a lot less than MLSE, and pocketed the change.

As long as the seats are filled, there won’t be a lot of change. The Leafs’ fan base and corporate base need to make changes. Stop watching. Stop paying. Stop buying Leafs gear. Stop filling the seats. Then, maybe, you’ll see some movement.

I keep saying I’m going to give up on the Leafs, and never do. I’m part of the problem.

Dear Toronto Maple Leafs, I give up. I’ve been a loyal fan since the Ballard years, and it’s time to let that go. It’s not me, it’s you. You don’t even try any more, mostly because you don’t have to. Good luck.

taking the plunge

My wife, who is awesome, gave me a Brooklyn BrewShop beer kit for Christmas last year. They’re one-gallon all-grain kits that make surprisingly good beer… basically a six pack. I worried I might be hooked back in January and, surprise, I was.

Since that time I’ve learned a bunch about water, grain, yeast, and hops, and how you mix them together in a reasonably specific process using an assortment of stainless steel, silicone, and polyethylene implements. I have a 210kBTU propane burner that can bring 10 gallons of wort to a boil in about 10 minutes – you can actually hear the propane tank glugging and see it freezing when that happens. I have a bunch of plastic pails and glass carboys, and there’s even a two-tap keg fridge. I love it – beer is all about chemistry and physics… and drinking beer, can’t forget that, so it appeals greatly to me.

I ran across The Electric Brewery, a home and semipro brewing design that’s meticulously documented by a very nice fella in Ottawa, in March and have been drooling a little ever since. After a number of batches that were pretty well received, and a desire to experiment a heck of a lot more, I’ve gone all-in and am building a brewery in the basement.

I’ve ordered all of the remaining parts, and will start refitting a corner of said basement to become a brewery and bar. Construction will start the weekend after next, and I plan on having a functional brewery by Christmas.

I am teh excite. More to come, and I’ll try and go over the process as much as possible over the next few weeks. For now, I have some tile to buy, and some demo to do… and some more stainless to buy. It’s going to be fun.

running and writing

It’s been ten months since my last post here, which is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without updating my blog since I started well over a decade ago. There’s lots of reasons for it, most of which revolve around how the social tools I use make it so easy to share stuff.

That stuff, however, is pretty limited. A quip, a picture, a linked article, a comment, a snipe, or a “fave” of some kind; not something that exercises the mind and exorcises whatever happens to be sitting on my chest, but something trite that fits in a space 140 characters long into places I don’t control… which leads me to running.

Running takes time to build up. It relies on your own damn self, it requires commitment, and the only way to get better is to run, dammit. No one else is going to make you run and there’s rarely any competition with //anyone// other than yourself. I’ve been running the past couple months, and have progressed from feeling like I’m dying after thirty seconds to [[|running four times a week]] and feeling pretty damn good after knocking off 6km. It’s awesome.

I want control back. I want to push myself. I want to put more than two sentences together to push a point and give some context on why I think something’s important. It doesn’t matter if anyone other than me ever reads it, it’s cathartic and helps me improve my thought process. I’ve missed it, just like I’ve missed running.

So, I’m gonna write about beer, about some of the things I see in the tech space I find myself in, and about some of the random stuff that comes across my desk every day and makes me smile or frown.

I’m going to run with it.

things that interest me this week – 29 oct 2014

**Quick Update:** A couple of people mentioned there’s no Mozilla items in here. They’re right, and it’s primarily because the original audience of this type of thing wasn’t Mozilla. I’ll make sure I add them where relevant, moving forward.

Every week I put together a bunch of news items I think are interesting to the people I work with, and that’s usually limited to a couple wiki pages a handful of people read. I figured I may as well put it in a couple other places, like here, and see if people are interested. Topics focus on the web, the technologies that power it, and the platforms that make use of it. I work for Mozilla, but these are my own opinions and takes on things.

I try to have three sections:

  • Something to Think About – Something I’m seeing a company doing that I think is important, why I think it’s important, and sometimes what I think should be done about it. Some weeks these won’t be around, because they tend to not show their faces much.
  • Worth a Read – Things I think are worth the time to read if you’re interested in the space as a whole. Limited to three items max, but usually two. If you don’t like what’s in here, tell me why.
  • Notes – Bits and bobs people may or may not be interested in, but that I think are significant, bear watching, or are of general interest.

I’ll throw these out every Wednesday, and standard disclaimers apply – this is what’s in my brain, and isn’t representative of what’s in anyone else’s brain, especially the folks I work with at [[|Mozilla]]. I’ll also throw a mailing list together if there’s interest, and feedback is always welcome (your comment may get stuck in a spam-catcher, don’t worry, I’ll dig it out).

– k

Something to Think About

Lifehacker posted an article this morning around all the things you can do from within Chrome’s address bar. Firefox can do a number of the same things, but it’s interesting to see the continual improvements the Chrome team has made around search (and service) integration, and also the productivity hacks (like searching your Google drive without actually going there) that people come up with to make a feature more useful than it’s intended design.

Why I think people should care: Chrome’s modifications to the address bar aren’t ground-breaking, nor are they changes that came about overnight. They are a series of iterative changes to a core function that work well with Google’s external services, and focus on increasing utility which, not coincidentally, increases the value and stickiness of the Google experience as a whole. Continued improvements to existing features (and watching how people are riffing on those features) is a good thing, and is something to consider as part of our general product upkeep, particularly around the opportunity to do more with services (both ours, and others) that promote the open web as a platform.

Worth a Read

* Benedict Evans updated his popular [[ |”Mobile Is Eating the World” presentation]], and posits that mobile effectively ”is” everything technology today. I think it needs a “Now” at the end, because what he’s describing has happened before, and will happen again. Mobile //is// a little different currently, mainly because of the gigantic leaps in hardware for fewer dollars that continue to be made as well as carrier subsidies fueling 2-year upgrade cycles. Mobile itself is also not just phones, it’s things other than desktops and laptops that have a network connection. Everything //connected// is everything. He’s also put together a post on [[ |Tablets, PCs and Office]] that goes a little bit into technology cycles and how things like tablets are evolving to fill more than just media consumption needs, but the important piece he pushes in both places is the concept of network connected screens being the window to your stuff, and the platform under the screen being a commodity (e.g. processing power is improving on every platform to the point the hardware platform is mattering less) that is really simply the interface that better fits the task at hand.
* [[ |Ars Technica has an overview of some of the more interesting changes in Lollipop]] which focus on unbundling apps and APIs to mitigate fragmentation risk, an enhanced setup process focusing on user experience, and the shift in the Nexus brand from a market-share builder to a premium offering.
* [[ |Google’s Sundar Pichai was promoted last week]] in a move that solidifies Google’s movement towards a unified, backend-anchored, multi-screen experience. Pichai is a long time Google product person, and has been fronting the Android and Chrome OS (and a couple other related services) teams, and now takes on Google’s most important web properties as well, including Gmail, Search, AdSense, and the infrastructure that runs it. This gives those business units inside Google better alignment around company goals, and shows the confidence Google has in Pichai. Expect further alignment in Google’s unified experience movement through products like Lollipop, Chrome OS, Inbox and moving more Google Account data (and related experiences like notifications and [[|Web Intents]]) into the cloud, where it doesn’t rely on a specific client and can be shared/used on any connected screen.

= Notes =

* [[ |re/code’s Code Mobile event is on]], as well as [[ |WSJD Live]] (love the stuff with [[|Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba]]) and there’s lots of good stuff to be had. I’ll summarize next week.
* Microsoft announced this week [[ |that they’ll be supporting WebRTC]], opening the door for browser-based services that make use of Skype. Huge policy shift for them, and WebRTC is going to be really interesting in the coming months.
* Following some [[ |arewefastyet tweets]], the Chromium Dev team mentioned that they had [[|landed a bunch of changes that believe will improve layout times by around 10%]]. Continue, the perf wars do, to the benefit of all of us.
* [[ |Google launched its Inbox mail app]] to consolidate Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! mail in one place. Chrome-only for now, and it needs an invite. Positive feedback from most, and another way to bring more content into the Google lens (my word for Google’s efforts to have you use a Google product for as much as you do all with the intarweebs – viewing the internet through their lens, essentially).
* [[,news-19829.html |Amazon added to the pile of HDMI-connected streaming sticks with it’s Fire Stick]], and Google’s updated the hardware in the Chromecast, but no new features announced yet.
* Google launched its [[ |Fit]] product, aimed squarely at competing with Apple’s [[|Healthkit]].
* [[ |Apple’s pushing Safari to non-Safari users on Yosemite]], including Firefox and Chrome users. Apple’s been making investments in the web, so expect to see this continue, especially given where their search deals are.
* [[ |Microsoft is opening up its Office 365 service (via APIs) to Android, iOS, and third-party web sites/apps]] (and, at the same time, offered [[ |unlimited OneDrive storage]] to 365 subscribers – double whammy), giving other applications and web sites/services the ability to do useful things with your data, calendars, and mail.
* Lots of discussion over the last week on [[ |Apple apps like Spotlight]] that phone home and send info back even if you don’t actively do anything. Apple’s saying it doesn’t collect the info, but it is being sent.
* Opera updated [[ |its Coast browser]], adding iPhone 6(+) support, widgets, and the ability to open links from other browsers in Coast. It’s still a neat product, [[ |do check it out]] if you have iOS and haven’t already.
* [[ |Youtube is looking at ways to offer a paid subscription service]] which would (likely) all but eliminate low-margin pre and post roll ads. If this rolls out and takes off, expect even more ads on the free service.
* [[ |Walmart joined CVS and Rite Aid (and everyone else who’s part of MCX) in disabling Apple Pay]] in a move that’s linked to their membership in the [[ |Merchant Customer Exchange]]. This is all about the multiple billions to be had in transaction fees and, more importantly, who gets the control of the transaction and data behind it. MCX’s offering isn’t available, and looks to be a bit of a clunker. Apple continues to add utility and make people want to use their products for everyday tasks, and MCX’s [[|proposed solution]] looks… not awesome, requiring QRcodes linked to a bank account with no information to be had on whether they transfer all the liability to the customer.
* [[ |Interesting interview with T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere]] who pushed unbundling contracts and iPhone support for the network, which continues to show strong subscriber growth (but are still struggling with [[|making a profit]]) at the expense of the 800-pound gorillas it competes with. Legere is one of the more entertaining CEOs out there, and is almost always worth the watch/listen.

Mozilla Firefox – Reset Your Profile, Recharge Your Browser

One of the best features in Firefox is one of its least-known. Many, many people complain of Firefox feeling slow and bloated over time, and in a number of cases, they’re not wrong. They just don’t know that surfing the web can be analogous to playing Katamari Damacy, where simply browsing can accumulate cruft until you have this big ball of metadata that slows you down.

If you find your Firefox experience is sub-par and a little more pokey than you’d like, you should try resetting your profile before moving over to another product. You should know that your preferences, extensions, and themes will be reset/removed, but since you’re planning on installing Chrome or another browser, I’m willing to bet that’s ok (and you should back your profile up before you do this, just in case). Your browsing history, bookmarks, and form info will be saved, and that’s the important thing.

To reset your profile, open up Help->Troubleshooting Information from the Help menu, and click the reset button. This simple procedure will cure most things that ail you performance-wise with Firefox. You should also read our support article on Resetting Your Firefox Profile, which will give you the the full scoop on what happens when you click.

There, doesn’t that feel better?


I spent the last two weekends in a classroom. nine hours each day, learning about things I’m interested in.

it’s been a hard year so far. I’m averaging about 65 hours a week at work, and I’m not even screwing around. it’s busy, and I’m exhausted, and I could use a break in a huge way.

instead of catching up on a little sleep, I get up on Saturday and Sunday at 5am to do my homework. I get to class at 8am. I listen. I learn. I participate. I’m still tired.

I’m also happy, because learning is what drives me.

my dad is a teacher. always has been, always will be. one of the most important lessons he’s passed on to me is that I should never, ever stop learning, because we can always, always better ourselves and pass that on to others to make things better for them.

he practices what he preaches. I can only hope I can do half of what he’s done to help people in the life I have left.

thanks, dad. you may not know of all the gifts you’ve given me, but this is one of them, and I cherish it.

Firefox OS Update Mechanics

I’ve changed roles at Mozilla, and have been working a lot less with external groups we work with on Firefox and more with partners interested in Firefox OS. A lot of what I’m focusing on is around explaining how Firefox OS works, what makes it different from other mobile operating systems and ecosystems, and what’s required to bring a Firefox OS device to a given market. I’m not the only one (by far) doing this, but I do find myself assembling a lot of docs to help our potential partners understand things.

I’m going to start posting about what I’ve been working on both here and to the Mozilla wiki, and I’ll start with the update mechanics behind Firefox OS. Note that it’s by no means definitive, and particulars may change for a given deployment scenario. The docs I am creating are intended to lay out the concepts behind things (at a 5,000 foot view), so that people can understand what’s going on and what questions they need to ask from a product marketing, development, and operations point of view.

All of these docs are a work in progress, and will continue to be refined. I do vet them with people who know a lot more about the particulars than I do, but feedback’s always welcome from everywhere. In any event, if you’re interested, I’ll be adding this and others over the next few weeks to the Firefox OS/b2g info troves.

Read more

Deadsquid Update

No one will really care about this but me, but that’s ok, I need to get in the habit of using this thing again.

The dedicated server that’s continued on something like 14 years of hosting for friends and family is entering it’s final days. I’ve been moving sites over, and am hoping coop is paying attention to his email. I ended up going with a Canadian firm for a VPS provider, and the experience so far has been pretty painless.

The biggest issue I’ve run into was slow MySQL response time, and I spent most of yesterday reading up on tuning and tweaking my.cnf. I wish I had read all this stuff about 5 years ago, as a lot of lights were turned on with regards to perf on cthulhu; I could have saved myself a lot of pain by changing about 10 lines. Thankfully I’m never too old to learn.

All mail services on cthulhu have been migrated, and everything else gets shut down at the end of August. I think everyone’s ready. It’s been fun, but I won’t miss it, and the VPS will be about 20% of the cost of a dedicated box with performance that appears to be at least comparable.

If you’re using deadsquid for anything and haven’t heard from me regarding migration, you should drop me a line sooner rather than later. Two more weeks and everything’s gone.