Hjertnes.blog

Relay.fm

August 31, 2014

Relay.fm is Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett’s new podcast network. All of Myke Hurleys shows was moved over from 5by5. All, except for The Pen Addict have a new name. And he also started a new podcast with Casey Liss.

I wanted to write about it, the day they launched; 18th of August. It didn’t happen. The short story is that I spent a whole week being sick, and last week was just insanly busy.

Relay.fm is a fantastic podcast network, with great shows. You should check them out.

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Code, and comments.

August 24, 2014

I was just listening to Pragmatic, and John had Guy English on. They were talking about something I care a lot about, code.

I’m a huge fan of writing small units, classes, method and so on; that do one thing — the right way.

Before we move on, I don’t do all of this, all the time; but that’s just like testing. I wish I could, but I don’t have the time often enough.

There are a few things we programmers could do to our code, to make it easier to understand. Variable names, method names, class names, comments and explaining it in a readme file.

I try to always give everything a name that explains more or less what it is. And I also try to write a simple readme file that explains all the important information regarding the project.

One of the reason I don’t write as many comments as I should do, is because of all the bullshit comments I have seen in source code during the 10+ years I have done software development.

The most obvious, as most important rule is to not comment things that a experienced developer in the field you are working would understand. You don’t need to write a comment on the following python line “counter += 1”. Every Python programmer, and probably most other experienced developers would understand it.

I’m a strong fan of having small files, that are containing exactly what you need; and just that. And those stupid author and copyright comments drive me nuts. Put it in at text file, or git. It’s not that hard to export it, if you need to.

If you use good method, class and variable names, then you don’t need to comments most of your code. And the same goes for writing easy to understand code. Avoid “smart” tricks. It’s better to have longer code, if it makes it more maintainable.

But, if you need to use some fancy hack to make the performance better. Comment what it’s doing, and why. And write comments if you have something where the name don’t explain what it’s doing.

In other words, document how the project works in a readme file. And use standard conventions. Python have standards, and so does Objective-C — use them! And comment everywhere it doesn’t explain itself, or where you can’t follow the standard for some reason.

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Amazon, paperback, ebooks & authors.

August 13, 2014

I’m not a huge fan of how Amazon are doing at the moment. While I do agree that ebooks should be cheap.

Here is the thing. I talked to a Norwegian author a few years ago, and he told me that the six months where the hardcover book have the monopoly is the time when he makes his living. And that is important.

I don’t have any problem with either waiting six months for the paperback or the ebook, or paying a premium on the ebook until the paperback is out.

Writing books are hard. And we need sustainable pricing models to make sure both the authors and publishing industry can make a living.

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Amazon E Book Subscription Service

August 12, 2014

I’m not even bothering to link to it, but Amazon is either planning to, or rolling out some kind of subscription service for Kindle. The basic idea is that you can download as many books you want from a limited collection of titles. Kind of like Spotify; the only exception being that Spotify have a great catalogue.

I remember reading about it a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have much to say about it. Now, I do.

I don’t think this is a good idea, and I doubt it will go anywhere.

Amazon owns one of my favourite platforms, Audible. Why didn’t they just copy their subscription model? I love it. You subscribe to either a Gold or Platinum membership. And you pay a flat fee, to download either one or two audiobooks per month.

I doubt most people read more than one or two books a month, but some people do. The great thing about a subscription to Audible is that you also buy any book in their store for a lower price.

This is what I think Amazon should have done. Books aren’t like music.

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Podcast

August 06, 2014

Technical Difficulties is a podcast hosted by Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess. I have written this many times before, and I will write it at least once more: I listen to a lot of podcasts. This is a different one.

TD started out as a podcast called Generational on the 70Decibels network. Generational and TD is similar, but still different. You could look at it this way: Generational was the 1.0, while TD is the more polished 2.0. Both of them are topical shows. A toppic, sometimes a guest, but not always.

There are two things I like about TD, compared to a lot of other podcasts out there. It’s shorter. Which makes it more focused and better than Generational was. And you have the show notes. Most podcasts, if they even have show notes, just have a list of links, and sometimes a few words. This is not true for TD. The great thing is that, you could just read the show notes and have the same information.

This is great for two reasons. It’s great if you either aren’t a podcast person, or don’t have the time to listen to this one. But, you should. I also think it’s a great resource to find information later on. It’s faster, easier and more convenient. It’s a pain to listen through a podcast just to find that one thing you finally have the time to check out.

It’s great to get the whole picture in the show notes.

It’s a great podcast. And you should check it out.

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Libraries.

August 04, 2014

I think libraries are great. Or, I like the parts of them that used to be there when I grew up. But, I don’t get the “new stuff”.

One of the biggest problems with where I currently live is that my internet connection is terrible. Netflix streaming is something that either works okay, or is impossible.

I’m used to it, and I kind of accept it, by this point.

I live in the middle of the city, so it’s not a huge problem. I have amazing internet access at the university. It takes me less than ten minutes to walk up to the university library, and other university buildings. And it takes me less than five minutes to walk over to the public library.

This is what I do. I just walk up to the university, if I have the time. Or the public library if I don’t. When I need to download something big, or sync large amounts of data to Dropbox or Evernote.

Which brings me to my main point: what the hell happened to libraries?

The one I have at my university is more or less as you expect it to be. You have a lot of books, a few people working there; some computers, some places to sit, toilets , etc.

You have more or less the same at a public library. But, you also have a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t expect. TV’s, games and recording equipment.

I can see both sides of it. On one side I don’t see any good reason to have stuff like that a library. It’s a place for books, and reading --- dammit!

But, there is something interesting on the other side. There are a lot of good reasons to have stuff for kids to do, to keep them off the street. They picked the library. They are in a corner, and it doesn’t bother me that much. It’s a large library.

There is one huge benefit with this, though. A small fraction of the kids going there to play Playstation, might get the idea to pick up a book.

Exposing kids, and everyone else in society to books is a good thing. Books are the reason I started this blog. Books are the reason I’m studying at the university right now. Books are the reason I managed to get into IT and software development.

Everything I know came from books; either from reading to learn a skill, or the skills I got from a lot of reading, and writing. And the reason I read all the time growing up, and read most days up to this day, was because of books. My parents always read books, and we had quite a food books shelves at home.

Books are great!

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Editing.

July 31, 2014

This blog have been, and is my favorite creative outlet. It’s the best thing I have ever done.

What this blog have been up to this point is a more or less unedited raw version of good ideas I had. I don’t think I have spent more time on most of them, than the time it took to write it. And then a quick glance, and minor tweaks.

I decided to change that a few months ago. I decided, but I didn’t do it. Yet.

This is the last post I will write, before I start to focus more on editing and to focus on making every single post as good as they can be.

I know I should have done the change earlier. And I also know that it is something I had to do sooner or later.

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Curation is key.

July 30, 2014

I guess a lot of people would call me a photo snob. And it’s fair.

I complain about people taking pictures with iPads, and it makes me sad when people use their tablet or phone for all of their vacation pictures. And most important I carry a DSLR, sometimes with a huge lens.

The only reason for doing this is to get people to have a good camera, either compact or something fancy, for special events, or trips.

Some people care, while others don’t.

There is nothing I love more than a picture I took, that reminds me of something I loved. Like a good party or a trip; or even something random and cool, you saw.

My favorite pictures are divided into two camps, the pictures that are great from a technical standpoint: the stunning picture. And the blurry iPhone pictures I have taken, because that’s all I had.

Both of them are great. For a lot of the same reasons. And also for the opposite reasons.

People take picture for a lot of different reasons. I do it to save memories. While others do it to tell a story, or something.

My end goal is to have a part of my photo collection in something like DayOne. Only the shots I love the most.

I don’t know how many pictures I have. Probably too many. And I don’t keep many of the pictures I take.

Don’t keep everything. But keep the good ones, and the ones you love, even though they aren’t that great. And put the most important ones in a place where you see them.

Curation is key.

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Charge more, and more often!

July 29, 2014

Jared Sinclair wrote something, that I didn’t expect.

He basically published the sales numbers for both versions of his app Unread.

What I see isn’t too uplifting. There are a lot of issues. And it’s hard to be a indie developer.

But, there are a few things I would love to see. Sustainable pricing on good apps.

I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have a app budget. And I don’t have a problem paying real money for great apps.

Would I pay a lot more for my favorite apps? Yes. Look at what The OmniGroup are charging.

And I wouldn’t have a problem if the developers released a new major version, as a new app, once a year. Some people don’t like it, but I don’t care. Good apps being maintained are more important to me.

There are however one idea that I would love to see more places. And that is the tip jar. Like you see in David Smiths Pedometer++.

Byword, DayOne and Drafts are apps that I have used every single day for a very long time — without spying them anything in a long time. I would love to be able to give them a few bucks every few months with a simple iAP.

In other words, higher prices, release major updates as new apps / paid upgrades and tips / donations. These are the thing I think we need to make sure our favorite indie developer make a decent loving, and continue to deliver updates to the apps we love. And to continue to create awesome apps.

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Email sucks.

July 28, 2014

I was just listening to the latest Mac power users, and they were talking about vacations; and in particular email in that context.

So, I though it was about time to write about email again.

I used to be one of those tools, hovering over my inbox all day long. Notifications on all of my devices. Updating the inbox every minute. We have all been there.

And then I read inbox zero.

I’ll start with what I have done, before I continue to some advice.

What I started doing was to care less and less about email. I don’t have email on all of my devices. It’s configured on my MacBook Air, and my iPhone. But not my iPad.

I check it now, and them. And I process everything, right there.

But, I don’t act on the different messages all the time. I answer what’s urgent, when I see it. And then I try to do a larger push, when I have the time. Or feel like it.

Everyone in my life, know that email isn’t the way to deal with urgent matters in my life. And I don’t have anyone in my work life that can demand my attention. They expect it to some degree, but not within hours, or sometimes, days.

I’m a full time student. With a few part time jobs.

Everyone knows that texts are better ways to get in contact with me.

You could say that I have been doing a worse and worse job, with dealing with email, on purpose. Because I can.

I don’t care about, or for email.

Let’s move on to some usable advice.

Figure out what you actually need to do, to deal with what your job requires. Then figure out what expectations are in practice.

Then start working out how to align the two. Some people actually need to look in their email all day long. Like support or sales people.

There have gone many years since I read the inbox zero posts, or watched the talks. But I do know one thing, email isn’t something I want to do.

I have to deal with it, but not all the time.

Like I said. Look at your job description and contract, see what kind of expectations there are. And then look at what you do and what others expect from you.

You can’t align the two in a day, it might take a long time. Start with something simple, and build on it.

This is what I have said every time it have gotten push back from not reading email all day long: do you want email or my job to be my main focus? And the same time, when people have complained about me not reading email when I’m off work: do you want to spy for over time, when I read email on my spare time?

Reasonable people, good colleges and good managers get it. They always wanted me to focus more on software development than on looking at my inbox all day. And they didn’t want to pay a fortune for me checking email every hour or so.

People that need your attention in a short amount of time, should have other tools to do it, than email. That’s the reason for going into your office, texting, calling and IM.

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