Just Released: Todo.txt CLI 2.8
September 13th, 2011

Download the latest version of todo.txt's command line interface and bask in the simplicity of its three-step setup. Thanks to our hard-working community of contributors for continually improving the shell script that runs my life, more than five years later.

ifttt (If This Then That)
September 13th, 2011, 1 comment

Nifty tool automates recipes for reactions to events across web services. Popular ifttt recipes include "if someone tags me in a photo on Facebook, then save it to my Dropbox" and "if someone follows me on Twitter, then automatically tweet a greeting."

September 12th, 2011, 2 comments

Zach Holman's free command line app is like TextExpander for the Terminal. Likin' it.

Stunning Infographic Charts The Evolution of the Web
September 8th, 2011, 4 comments

Poor Mosaic.

On Solitude and Leadership
September 7th, 2011, 1 comment

Solitude and leadership would seem to be contradictory things. But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.

End Malaria: New Book Saves Lives

September 7th, 2011, 1 comment

A brand new book with the highest purpose launched today on Amazon: End Malaria. The title doesn't tell you that it's a fantastic collection of business and productivity essays by people like David Allen, Kevin Kelly, Steven Johnson, and my TWiG co-host Jeff Jarvis. I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to contribute a short piece, too.

The best part is that $20 of every copy sold goes to Malaria No More to purchase mosquito nets which prevent the spread of malaria.

In short, the book saves lives. It's also a great read.

My favorite essays include Kevin Kelly's piece on shedding the work you shouldn't be doing, Steven Johnson on how focus is overrated, Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice, David Allen on clearing space to make a mess, Jeff Jarvis on beta-think, and Chris Brogan on getting to the "escape velocity" you need to move on from a bad situation.

Thanks to Michael Bungay Stanier for inviting me to be part of the project. I'm buying several copies of the book to give to friends and family. You should, too. Buy yours now.

Update: Not convinced? Read Seth Godin: That buzzing in my ear didn't mean I was about to die.

Why we crave creativity but reject creative ideas
September 6th, 2011, 1 comment

Truly creative ideas are novel, and things that are different and unfamiliar scare people.

Marc Andreessen: Software Is Eating the World
September 6th, 2011, 3 comments

People in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution. This is a tragedy since every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent. Qualified software engineers, managers, marketers and salespeople in Silicon Valley can rack up dozens of high-paying, high-upside job offers any time they want, while national unemployment and underemployment is sky high. This problem is even worse than it looks because many workers in existing industries will be stranded on the wrong side of software-based disruption and may never be able to work in their fields again. There's no way through this problem other than education, and we have a long way to go.

Related to this point about education, here's a CNN piece on why would-be engineers end up as English majors.

Invisible Autoupdater: An App’s Best Feature
August 31st, 2011, 7 comments

Ben Goodger, writing about Chrome:

Autoupdate is one of Chrome's killer features. It is magical because it continuously updates an entire development platform invisibly, frequently. Supporting it has driven how we structure our development processes. It was also one of Chrome's first features. Delving back into project history long before we launched publicly in 2008, the autoupdate project was one of the very first we started working on. The idea was to give people a blank window with an autoupdater. If they installed that, over time the blank window would grow into a browser. And today, some five years after our autoupdater started updating a mostly blank window that could barely load webpages, it is now an engine for delivering an incredibly sophisticated web technology platform onto our users' computers, which in turn allo

If I could start building ThinkUp all over again, I would've built its autoupdater first. No app should annoy users with the work of downloading and installing a new release; it's a big reason why app stores are a better way to get software. Speaking of, you should download ThinkUp beta 15 right now.

Open Source 101: My Refresh SD Talk

August 12th, 2011, 2 comments

Open source software culture and development can be difficult for tech enthusiasts without experience with it to grok, so I was thrilled to run a discussion on the basics of open source at Refresh SD this week. Check out my slides above.

I'm actively working on becoming a better speaker, so I'm testing different preparation techniques. For my CodeConf talk, I wrote my entire transcript word for word and basically memorized it, rehearsing it full-through several times. This time, my audience was a smaller, less specialized group, and I reserved half of my 45 minutes for Q&A and discussion, so I tried a more casual approach—just put together the slides, an outline, and went for it. It worked. I'm happy with my SpeakerRate reviews, even though I still have to learn to slow down and relax. So, while this isn't a straight transcript, here's a brief overview of what the talk covered.

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ThinkUp Beta 14 Now Available
August 9th, 2011, 2 comments

Just released our 14th (and hopefully last) beta of ThinkUp today. Download beta 14 here. If you're interested in getting involved in an open source project with users ranging from Steve Martin to Leo Laporte to the White House, here's how to contribute.

Randall Stross, writing for The New York Times:

At Apple, one is the magic number.

One person is the Decider for final design choices. Not focus groups. Not data crunchers. Not committee consensus-builders. The decisions reflect the sensibility of just one person: Steven P. Jobs, the C.E.O.

By contrast, Google has followed the conventional approach, with lots of people playing a role. That group prefers to rely on experimental data, not designers, to guide its decisions.

The contest is not even close. The company that has a single arbiter of taste has been producing superior products, showing that you don’t need multiple teams and dozens or hundreds or thousands of voices.

MySpace creator, Tom Anderson, writing on Google+:

There is a time and place for you to make your visionary decisions & insights and there is a time and place to cast your net wide and far to draw inspiration from the "poorly-informed masses"—in fact, I'd argue that with the right frame of mind, you may actually be led to your ideas by those very same "masses" because they were expressing their "fickle whims"—even if you don't do what they say.

What Tom said.

August 2nd, 2011, 12 comments

John Mayer: “Manage the Temptation to Publish Yourself”
August 2nd, 2011, 3 comments

Mayer realized that pouring creativity into smaller, less important, promotional outlets like tweets not only distracted him from focusing on more critical endeavors like his career, it also narrowed his mental capacity for music and writing intelligent songs.

"The tweets are getting shorter, but the songs are still 4 minutes long. You’re coming up with 140-character zingers, and the song is still 4 minutes long...I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore. And I was a tweetaholic. I had four million Twitter followers, and I was always writing on it. And I stopped using Twitter as an outlet and I started using Twitter as the instrument to riff on, and it started to make my mind smaller and smaller and smaller. And I couldn’t write a song."

Related reading: Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with child-like need for feedback, warns top scientist.

Also somewhat related: We share too much, and it’s stifling innovation.

FAQ: What headset do you use on TWiG?
July 28th, 2011, 5 comments

Viewers often ask what headset I wear on This Week in Google; here's a complete list of all the gear I use for the show with handy-dandy links.

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Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names
July 28th, 2011, 6 comments

Google+'s recent enforcement of a "real names" policy strikes me as an engineer's approach to accountability—black-and-white, when there's plenty of grey. While G+ developers didn't fall for many of the falsehoods listed in the article, it's an amusing look at what happens when inexperienced programmers create identity systems.