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Preview: Acts of Volition

Acts of Volition

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Updated: 2016-12-09T04:00:30+00:00


Microwave Time Remainder Temporal Disorientation, a definition


Microwave Time Remainder Temporal Disorientation - definition: The disorientation experienced when the remaining cook time on a microwave display appears to be a feasible but inaccurate time of day.


1:15 PM: Suzie puts her leftover pork chops in the office microwave, enters 5:00, and hits Start. After 1 minutes and 17 seconds, she hears sizzling, opens the microwave door and takes her meal.

1:25 PM: John walks by the microwave, sees 3:43 on the display and thinks: “What!? My life is slipping away from me!”

Why an open Web is important when sea levels are rising


Cory Doctorow speaking on episode 221 of the excellent Changelog podcast:

“[t]here are things that are way more important than [whether in the internet should or shouldn’t be free]. There’s fundamental issues of economic justice, there’s climate change, there’s questions of race and gender and gender orientation, that are a lot more urgent than the future of the internet, but [...] every one of those fights is going to be won or lost on the internet.”

Watch this person use Excel for an hour


Joel Spolsky, of Stack Overflow, Trello, and Fog Creek, did an internal presentation where he just walked through how he uses Microsoft Excel for about an hour.

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It’s riveting for two reasons.

First, I learned a bunch of techniques that I didn’t know existed (transpose! named values! oh my!). Unfortunately, many of those don’t apply to Google Spreadsheets, which is worth using due to the simple and powerful collaboration tools. A few of the techniques are universal to spreadsheets, though.

Second, he’s good at it. There is something compelling about watching someone with deep skill and knowledge do their work, regardless of what it is. In the same way, I can enjoy watching a skilled musical perform regardless of my interest and taste in their musical genre.

This style of presentation, featuring a simple tour of the just-beyond-basic features, is a great way to share with co-workers. I’ve learned a ton from watching Stephen use Photoshop, and I got hooked on split-panes in iTerm after watching Malena screen-share in an unrelated presentation.

Design sprints and healthcare


With the help of a few of my co-workers, I've written about a new design sprint process we've been using at silverorange, and how it applies in healthcare organizations. It started as a post on our silverorange blog, but was pulled into GV's Sprint Stories publication (thanks to John Zeratsky).

If you love design processes and healthcare (and who doesn't), read the article: Running a design sprint in a healthcare organization

On Surplus


“We as human beings find a way to waste most surpluses that technology hands to us.”

—Stewart Butterfield of Slack speaking on The Ezra Klein Show podcast.

He also makes a good analogy between our difficulty managing the new ability to communicate with anyone/anytime and the difficulty of dealing with the abundance of easy/cheap calories available to many of us.

I hate deals


One of my favourite tech-writers, Paul Miller from The Verge, has articulated something I've always felt, but have never been able to express well: I hate deals.

From Why I'm a Prime Day Grinch: I hate deals by Paul Miller:

Deals aren't about you. They're about improving profits for the store, and the businesses who distribute products through that store. Amazon's Prime Day isn't about giving back to the community. It's about unloading stale inventory and making a killing.

But what about when you decide you really do want / need something, and it just happens to be on sale? Well, lucky you. I guess I've grown too bitter and skeptical. I just assume automatically that if something's on sale AND I want to buy it, I must've messed up in my decision making process somewhere along the way.

I also hate parties and fun.

silverorange job opening: Back-end Web Developer


Silverorange, the web design and development company where I work, is looking to hire another great back-end web developer. It’s a nice place to work.

Recommended Reading: Trajectory Book 1 and 2 by Robert Campbell


Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Deb Richardson and Rob Campbell, a couple who were both working at Mozilla at the time. They came to our Zap Your PRAM conference in Dalvay back in 2008.

Rob was working on the Firefox dev tools, which had begun to lag behind Chrome, and have since become great again.


Then last year, I saw that Rob was self-publishing a science-fiction novel. This interested me as several of the books I’ve enjoyed recently are in the genre (Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, and my all-time favourite, the Mars trilogy). However, I was concerned. What if someone you know invites you to their comedy night and just isn’t funny? Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with Rob.

Rob’s book, Trajectory Book 1 was great. Easy to read, interesting, and nerdy in the right ways. My only complaint was that it ended abruptly. The solution to this, obviously, is Book 2, which came out yesterday.

If you have any interest in science fiction, I can gladly recommend Rob Campbell’s Trajectory Book 1 (and I’m looking forward to starting Trajectory Book 2).

You know what they say: Big hands, small horse.


You know what they say: Big hands, small horse.

Things I’ve Done and Things to Come


When I look back on my life so far, the things that are the most satisfying and fulfilling are those I have built myself or with others. I’ve never built a house, a piece of furniture, or much of anything physical at all. I have, however, helped to create some less tangible things that have been enormously rewarding. As a mostly self-serving exercise, I’m going to list out these things that I’m proud to have created. I would encourage you to do the same. My family is the most significant and important thing that I’ve helped to build. Though a family is a lot of work, it is a gift, not a product. It is so much more important than these other things that it really belongs in a separate category. So, here are some things I have made (or helped to make): I made a blog (Acts of Volition) This weblog was started in August of 2000 with two friends (Rob and Matt). It went on to be the venue for me to write 160,000 words across over 1,200 posts. There have been over 10,000 real comments by real people on the site. One post I made on this site in October of 2003 about the visual design of Mozilla products sparked the beginning of a personal and professional relationship with Firefox and Mozilla that has lasted for 13 years. It brought me to meet extraordinary people, visit Whistler, Toronto, Portland, San Francisco, Mountain View, and gather countless free t-shirts. In the early years of the blog, when I was writing regularly, I felt it was a window into a real community. Many of the posts are links to things that were silly and many are now irrelevant. Some were more meaningful. All of them were fun or interesting (to me, at least). I made a podcast (Acts of Volition Radio) In 2003, I started a podcast that I described as “assembling a bit of music, talking about who it is and why I like it”. Over six years I produced 34 episodes, including 261 songs. That’s over 24 straight hours of music and me talking about music. While it’s embarrassing to listen to myself ramble, especially in the earlier episodes, I’m not embarrassed of a single one of the songs I picked. People would tell me they discovered artists and songs from the podcast, and went on to buy their music or see them live. I love hearing this. I have always claimed that Acts of Volition Radio had no publishing schedule. I still consider it alive - there’s just a still-growing seven-year gap between the last episode and the next. You never know. Though the weblog and podcast were about connecting with people, they were primarily solitary creations. The following few are things I created in direct collaboration with others. I made a conference, twice (Zap Your PRAM) My friends Peter Rukavina and Dan James (along with help from others at silverorange), created a small conference we called Zap Your PRAM. We hosted it once in 2003, in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Twenty-five or so extraordinary people came and spoke about film-making, the web, technology, radio, and whatever else interested them. Five years later, in 2008, twice as many people came and spoke about music, radio, the web, and again, whatever else interested them. This second instance of the conference was hosted in the extraordinary Dalvay By-The-Sea hotel. I will never forget eating dinner with new friends in the Dalvay dining room, talking around the enormous lobby fireplace, or playing touch-football by the Dalvay lake. These two conferences created friendships that continue over a decade later. There may yet be a third Zap (code-name Zap Your 3RAM). The five year gap between the first two isn’t enough to determine their regularity. Another could occur at any time. I made an album (with Horton’s Choice) I would highly recommend having been in a high-school [...]

I’ve written a post about why our web development …


I’ve written a post about why our web development company has annual retreats It's over on our company blog, in case you want to engage with our brand.

Why we retreat

Remembrance Day 2015


I’m definitely emotionally vulnerable due to newborn-induced sleep deprivation, but this drawing that my five-year-old daughter brought home from school today actually made me cry:


My calendar for the next week


These are all actual items on my calendar for the next week (mostly for my kids, as you’ll gather):

  • Teddy bear clinic
  • School pictures
  • Swimming lessons
  • Piano lessons
  • Step dancing lessons
  • School “Spookcatular”
  • Have a baby

I am truly living the dream.

The End is Nigh


“If @sgarrity doesn’t write a blog post in the next month he won’t have written for a year, and blogging will be over.”

— Peter Rukavina, via twitter

Are you awesome? Would you like to work with me …


Are you awesome? Would you like to work with me? Every day? Silverorange, the web development company at which I enjoy spending most of my days, is considering hiring a designer / front-end developer.

Unfurl the Cusp for Victory!



Swimming Desk


The standing desk craze has begun to spread through my workplace. There are even rumblings of treadmill desks (a step too far for me, thanks). This gave me an idea - I give you, the swimming desk:


From the creator of the GIF: “it’s pronounced …


From the creator of the GIF: “it’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.” Of course, I’ve known this all along. As with all debates, the important thing is that someone is wrong.

Local man previews Firefox OS


My friend and occasionally-quadrennial conference co-organizer, Peter Rukavia, is writing about his experience with a developer-preview Firefox OS phone.

His perspective is particularly interesting as it doesn’t come from inside the Firefox/Mozilla world. He’s just your average run-of-the-mill kind of alpha-geek that would pre-order a semi-functional developer preview device from Spain to try out an unproven operating system. Keep us posted, Peter.

If you’re wondering why Mozilla is working on building a mobile operating system, when the market is already maturing to two(ish) leaders, see former Mozillian, Asa Raskin’s article on why Mozilla is at its best when being a “fast second follower”.