Longer Content on a Variety of Topics:

Programming is Storytelling

August 27th, 2014 | Posted at Press Up 

I was pair programming recently, and I had a bit of revelation: programming is just storytelling. I was “leading” at the time, the more experienced of us in the problem space we were in, and my partner seemed to need the most help seeing how all the little bits fit together into a coherent and [...]

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Everything You Should Know About Using Custom Scripts and Styles In WordPress

August 19th, 2014 | Posted at WPShout 

One of the most important things about WordPress is also one of the more initially confusing parts: how exactly do I add my own Javascript files and CSS sheets in “the WordPress way”? The WordPress way of adding stylesheets and script files has a number of advantages, but it’s also a bit complicated and confusing Continue Reading

When Programming, You Must Name Things

August 6th, 2014 | Posted at Press Up 

Programmers can spend a lot of time worrying about, thinking about, and optimizing the way that the code they’re writing looks. Whether it’s language designers obsessing about the way that you’ll find the length of string or language-users sweating about whether the function should be called findClassById() or get_class(), all thinking about naming is arguably [...]

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A Complete Guide to Making Your First WordPress Widget

July 29th, 2014 | Posted at WPShout 

Widgets are a powerful part of WordPress, and they’re a great way to enhance your site’s sidebar. Or your footer. Or your homepage. Or another part of your site that your theme maker thinks would look really good with some widgets. For the uninitiated, a “widget” is just a WordPress word for a certain type Continue Reading

Gratitude is the Foundation

July 28th, 2014 | Posted at Frozen Toothpaste 

When I look around at people, one thing that I notice is that their dispositions — how generous they are to those around them, how short their tempers are, how patient they can be, how randomly careless toward others they are, how willing they are to help — have very little to do with their material […]

The Meaning of Meetings and Metawork

July 21st, 2014 | Posted at Frozen Toothpaste 

A bit of a neologism, I wondered if I should use the hyphenated “meta-work” instead. To explain: metawork is simply work about work. That is: rather than making widgets, metawork consists of conversations about making widgets. Meetings are the quintessential form of group metawork. And the popular disdain for meetings among white collar workers is mostly due to the […]

Culture Is A Series of Lossy Compression Algorithms

July 14th, 2014 | Posted at Frozen Toothpaste 

Compression algorithms are all around you in a modern digital life. But you may not actually know what they are, so let me explain: raw data taken from the world is rarely very efficiently packed. So to save file size and computational sanity, most data is compressed. JPEG is an image compression format — it takes […]

The Difference Between Optimism and Delusion

July 7th, 2014 | Posted at Frozen Toothpaste 

Optimism has a bit of a rap against it. Too many people, my former self included, cast aside optimism as a sane perspective on life because they’re making a simple and obvious mistake: conflating optimistic delusion with optimism itself. I raise this not to make the pedantic linguistic point — I assure you I refer to no dictionaries […]

Diving Deeper Into Object Orientation: Understanding Object-Creation and Inheritance for the WordPress Developer

July 1st, 2014 | Posted at WPShout 

Regular readers of WPShout, I’m sorry. I missed two important (and necessary) concepts when we last talked about object orientation. And I could pretend that it was intentional, but it wasn’t. I just didn’t realize we need to understand two (not one, as I was thinking) additional concepts of object oriented PHP to really get Continue Reading

The Essential Complexity of Life

June 30th, 2014 | Posted at Frozen Toothpaste 

I spend most of my professional effort these days working on and thinking about software and computer programming. I enjoy it, and it casts a whole interesting lens on lots of other things. One topic I recently discovered — I even wrote about it in the software context — is the difference between essential (or inherent) complexity, […]

The Psychology Underlying the Power of Rubber Duck Debugging

June 25th, 2014 | Posted at Press Up 

Computers process information quite differently than humans do. Anyone who’s first learning to program understands this well. What’s hard about programming for a beginner isn’t so much big hard esoteric concepts, but that they’ve got to be so painfully exacting in how they describe everything that it can drive an average person insane. “Is it cold outside?” is [...]

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The Mental Hoarding of Identities and Story

June 23rd, 2014 | Posted at Frozen Toothpaste 

Sometime in the last decade — I don’t follow or care enough to tell you more exactly — America discovered and fell in love with the idea of hoarding. A “hoarder”, as you might expect, is a person who keeps stuff — everything from old newspapers, to packaging from old purchases, maybe metal scraps, collectable memorabilia, whatever — to great […]

From Link Banana

# Spurious Correlations

July 2nd, 2014 | Posted at Link Banana 

Spurious Correlations →

Spurious correlations are a common and obvious problem that afflicts a lot of science. Tyler Vigen’s site is dedicated to collecting them. They’re pointless fun to see. Here’s how the divorce rate in Maine is driven by the consumption of margarine across the US:


# Angelina Jolie’s PR Prowess

July 2nd, 2014 | Posted at Link Banana 

Angelina Jolie’s PR Prowess →

At BuzzFeed, Ann Helen Petersen makes and elaborates a really interesting point: Angelina Jolie’s PR in the last 10 years has been amazingly good. Don’t believe it, consider Ann’s great hook:

What was Angelina Jolie best known for in 2004?

a.) Wearing a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck.

b.) Making out with her brother on the red carpet.

c.) Being the offspring of ‘70s star Jon Voight.

# View from the Peloton

July 1st, 2014 | Posted at Link Banana 

View from the Peloton →

I love riding bikes. I’ll probably never ride one in a race, and certainly not in a race as competitive as this. Very interesting to see though, and very hard to follow:

(via Mr. Kottke)

# The Lost Art of Shorthand

July 1st, 2014 | Posted at Link Banana 

The Lost Art of Shorthand →

I was recently talking to some friends about how lost the idea and practice of shorthand is. Dennis Hollier has a great summary of how it works. For those not familiar, it’s a bit like cursive writing on overdrive. here’s a quick picture of a Gregg shorthand paragraph:


# Squirrels Are Tracking You

June 30th, 2014 | Posted at Link Banana 

Squirrels Are Tracking You →

Having studied them pretty casually over the last few years — did you know squirrels bark? — I wasn’t really shocked that a scientist has found that squirrels definitely are able to differentiate among human behaviors:

Squirrels “can tell if a human is looking at them,” or if a person behaves in an unusual way, Bateman found. Squirrels were 40 percent more likely to scoot if Bateman focused his attention on them. And 90 percent of the squirrels leapt away if the scientist left the sidewalk to stalk them across the grass. “They don’t get scared by humans all the time,” he explains. But they always seem to pay close attention to what people do. Bateman published his results June 12 in the Journal of Zoology.

(via Virginia Hughes’s Gray Matters Newsletter)

# I dare you to watch this entire video

June 30th, 2014 | Posted at Link Banana 

I dare you to watch this entire video →

I dare you to watch this entire video. It’s neat, I promise: