No vember Movember

It all started in the Hilton upper lobby at ~2 am during some night at #HighEdWeb a few weeks ago. @Cliffyballgame randomly asked me to join his Movember team. I had thought about doing Movember for the past few years but always had something going on that required me not to look like a total hipster or lumberjack. But this year is different, this November I don’t have a single speaking engagement, no travel and no formal anything other than Thanksgiving with the family.

I only shave once a week anyways, it won’t be hard to skip four times. So I thought why stop at not shaving?

Here are a few things that I won’t be doing in November:

  • Shaving (of course). Going full on lumberjack style.
  • Buying lunch (who eats multiple meals a day anyway?)
  • Drinking pop (easy)
  • Buying basically anything (unless something breaks..)
  • Go a day without publishing something online

Ok. The list is a little shorter than I felt in my head but every one of those is going to take some restraint and dedication.

Anyways.. Let’s do this November!

Unintentional stop motion video of my life

Life happens; and like most people I take a lot of photos to remember it. My phone automatically uploads photos via Dropbox (shameless referral link), for both immediate access and to ensure all my data is in at least two spots at all times (habit from my life as a developer). As my phone and Dropbox get full I batch import the photos in to iPhoto for long term storage.

By far my favorite part of this process is watching the photos preview as they import. I tend to burst take photos and pick the best one to share at the time, but I never delete the blurry, crooked or duplicate shots. The side effect of this is a stop motion video of what I’ve been up to as the photos are importing.

As I started the process today it made me relive the memories and in itself was bringing back all the emotions of the events. I wanted to capture this so I could replay it later, after a few hundred photos I started recording my screen and the process (really wish I started at the beginning, oh well).

I’ve created stop motion videos before and there is typically a standard stop length in between each photo. With this import process though the files are being transferred at the same time so the time delay based on file size. This creates a really cool effect of stops and bursts through the photos. Really wish iPhoto had a way to reproduce this effect without going through the import process.

2,500 photos later this video of my life over the last few months was produced:

It may be a little meta but the memory of the memories really makes me appreciate everyone and everything around me. And now it makes me want to take more photos.

(15 minutes is a long time to sit through a video without sound, I don’t blame you if you bail) 😛

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Write a book
  2. Give an ignite talk
  3. Publish something 6 days a week
  4. Finish my office (floor, walls, desk, bookshelves)
  5. Truly learn Ruby on Rails or Python
  6. Beat my previous marathon time
  7. Grow EDU Snippits to a 1000+ visitor per week website
  8. Run a hackathon at Wayne State University
  9. Take public transportation to work at least once
  10. Be the best possible influence to Cecilia DeNardis

2011 Resolutions (3 success, 7 fail)

  1. FAIL: Learn sign language
    • Just basically no time. Taking this off my list
  2. FAIL: Write a book
    • Grad School totally got in the way of this one
  3. SEMI SUCCESS: Be a motivator in and outside of work
    • No concrete evidence but I feel like I have been a motivator
  4. FAIL: Stick to a schedule of once every two weeks posting to .eduGuru
  5. FAIL: Finish my office (Floor, Walls, Desk, Bookshelves)
  6. FAIL: Truly learn Ruby on Rails or Python
  7. SEMI SUCCESS: Contribute to an open source project
  8. SEMI FAIL: No longer order meat
    • Started out great for the first six months. I still eat meat, just not much at all
  9. SUCCESS: Run a marathon
  10. FAIL: Take public transportation to work at least once
    • No excuse why I didn’t get this one done

2010 Resolutions Post

2009 Resolutions Post

The #NewNewTwitter in screenshots, my thoughts

Interested in the #NewNewTwitter? I was totally bummed by their “rolling out the redesigned Twitter over the next few weeks” and realization that it could be weeks before I could play with the desktop version. I have been following their changes for some time. By chance I tried their trick of updating my mobile app and what do you know, within a few hours I got the #NewNewTwitter on my desktop.

Playing around with it a bit I found some things I really like and others that I’m not a fan of. I break them down below.


Actually pretty clean and I love the inline conversation view. Not a fan of having to click three times to get photos to appear large though. It took me a minute to figure out that there is “Compose a new Tweet…” input on the left side right under my user information, I actually find this quicker.


They did a great job taking the information overload of the “Activity” tab and bringing some sanity to it. I found that the “Activity” is now located in the #Discover area, not gone, just placed with the “not exactly related to me” stuff.


Clicking on a tweet brings up the conversation inline. I like this because the three column sidebar before just wasn’t enough room, especially if you didn’t have a high resolution monitor. I wish it brought up the entire conversation though, not just the replied to and replied tweets.


Again the interface took another hit against lists. This time they tucked them away under the User icon -> Lists. At least this time you can get to them all on one page instead of only seeing half and having to click another link to get to the full list in the #NewTwitter interface.

List Timeline

I really like the list timeline because it acts like the regular timeline. But my biggest complaint is the lack of context around what you’re looking at. I feel like this page needs a header or breadcrumbs or something to identify the list. Maybe it’s just me but the top left of the page feels too much like a user profile.

Direct Messages

If you use DM’s at all you already know they took a huge UI hit in the mobile interface and now it is confirmed they are equally as hidden in the web interface. Hidden behind two clicks, Profile -> Direct Messages. As you can see from the shot below they don’t even get a full timeline view. It’s a shame.

DM Conversations

Clicking in to a DM conversation the window doesn’t expand and space is pretty limited. For me this just isn’t enough room, I would prefer if more of the conversation was in view or at least you could resize the window. The style of the conversation is very nice, just wish it wasn’t squeezed in a tiny window.

The Little Things

When focusing on the search box all your saves searches come up below. This is a nice change from the drop down menu in the older interface. It puts the search in the same context as the user’s action.

As you move through your timeline and click to view and open photos/videos/conversations the tweets start to space out. As soon as you open a tweet they offer a nice little “Close all open Tweets” button at the top of the page. Nice little big detail.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the direction Twitter is going with the increased emphasis on conversations but I just can’t get past their continued hate toward Lists and now Direct Messages. By trying to pull in new users to explore they are excluding the seasoned users, but I guess that is what the Tweetdeck redesign is for.

Do you have the #NewNewTwitter yet? If so, what do you think?

Why my dog has a twitter account but my daughter does not

I have been meaning to write this post for some time but to be honest time has escaped me this last month. Little things like being the technical director for TEDxDetroit, running the Chicago Marathon, hiring a project manager, hiring a full time developer, and the birth of my first child have kept my attention. It has been a fun ride filled with a lot of unexpected surprises.


As a lot of you know, my dog Foxy has her own twitter account, it is a great way to extend her personality to the world. Twitter is a source for instant information, asking questions and giving feedback to others. Almost immediately upon creating Foxy’s Twitter account she was followed by a handful of other whippets and greyhounds. They have been a great resource of information; twitter connects her to a larger community that just isn’t available in our immediate area.

I wanted something similar for Cecilia. Thinking about the people who would be following her I knew a Twitter account would not work. Only a handful of our family have Twitter accounts and frankly the user experience of Twitter if you are not familiar with it is intimidating. Long term I want Cecilia to choose the social networks she would be interacting with. Who knows if Twitter will be around in 5-10 years and I didn’t want to put her social capital in to a service that could be gone at any moment.

I’m a huge fan of owning, no matter what it should always be a destination to give public insights about yourself. For me, is your resume, it is how the world sees you. Buying is the least I could do to give her an identity beyond our household.

I was reminded about this while listening to a talk by Clay Hebert at LessConf. The point he makes is when your child is graduating high school with a 4.0 and involved in three sports what is going to make him/her stand out? There will be thirty or forty other students graduating with the same credentials. Having a website where they can develop their writing skills, post about projects they worked on, and be able to explain to the world that what they are doing matters. There is no better way to know someone than exploring someones strengths than to see a history of them.

Using a domain as a single destination give us/her flexibility to what goes on it. Right now I choose to use Tumblr since it requires basically zero setup and is perfect for posting photos, this is what we plan to use it for until she can type. The other great thing about Tumblr is it allows people to subscribe how they want, via the dashboard, RSS or email. A side benefit is each post gets emailed from my email address (looks like I sent it personally) which allows family to reply directly to me. This may seem insignificant but in the past few weeks I have talked to and learned more about distant friends/family members than ever before. Twitter is a great tool but for this audience they just don’t understand it, talk to them about websites and email though and they know exactly what to do.

If you have a child I think the single best thing you can give them is It is cheap and has the potential to significantly help them in the future.

What tools are you using to document your child/children’s lives? Anything public? I would love to hear about what is and is not working for you.

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