The name of the blog

Surat Lozowick wrote an article about the implications of naming your blog after your own name or calling it something unique. He writes:

Increasingly, people are writing and curating on self-titled blogs, often in the place of a static landing page on a personal domain. Online, your name is your brand, so this makes sense. But a blog named after its author doesn’t say anything about subject matter, which can be both negative and positive — a thoughtful name can define the topics to cover, but it can also restrict them.

I’ve been wrestling with this idea myself even before I started this site.

At first I wanted to find a cool name for it, something like Daring Fireball or Tweetage Wasteland or Forkbombr, but nothing came to mind that convinced me.

Then I thought it might be better to find a simple name that described what the site was about, like Minimal Mac or Practically Efficient. But I wanted this site to be about my personal interests and not necessarily to have a narrow focus. I do, after all, have many different interests. So that didn’t convince me either.

All this while I kept writing and not publishing anywhere. I was waiting to find the right name.

I didn’t want to use my own name as I already have another website about my photography at and it just seemed too confusing. The photography site has been around for years and it’s my photographic hub. I love it and enjoy writing and sharing my photography there, but because it’s always been exclusively about photography I’ve always felt it’s not the right place to write about my other interests: technology, marketing, Apple, leadership, etc. So I wanted a new place, but didn’t know what to call it. Plus, my name is just too hard to spell.

But then I read a book by Seth Godin in which he basically recommended you stop waiting until whatever you’re doing is perfect and just ship it. It was inspiring enough that I thought what the hell, if this new site is going to be about my interests I guess it’s OK to name it after me. So I went with and started publishing my thoughts.

I have to admit I’m still not convinced it was a good move. There’s still a part of me that thinks I should find a cool name and move it across. Or maybe combine the .net and .com into one single site.

I’m still not sure what to do, but I just may move it to a new home one day.

via: Shawn Blanc

The Apple Store is down... for Lion?

I was just about to buy a new bag on the Apple Store. I had the bag I wanted open in a page in Safari, and was doing some research on other tabs. The Apple Store was working fine.

After about an hour, I came back and clicked on the "Buy" or "Checkout" button and got the "We are busy updating the store for you and will be back shortly" message. This is the Australian store, but I checked the US version and got the same message.

Could it be the release of Lion?

The rumour is that it'll launch today and it's about 3:30am in Cupertino right now. Maybe they're working on it right now. Speculating is fun.

Writing is hard

About six weeks ago I bought a journaling application called Day One. I actually bought both the Mac OS X app and the iOS app, which is optimised for both iPhone and iPad. They're beautiful. And they sync via Dropbox.

I thought I'd use it to write random unedited thoughts. By keeping that type of writing separate from everything else I gave myself permission to use it as a brain dump. Sort of a Morning Pages type of exercise. Or so I planned.

Day One on the Mac has a little pop up reminder you can set to pop up at specified times. It keeps popping up and I keep snoozing it.

Writing is hard.

Today I spent several hours writing briefs for projects at work, but somehow I can't focus for 10 minutes to write something random in Day One.

Maybe I should rephrase.

Writing specific, rational things, like a brief, is easy. It's boring, but it's easy. Writing random things, like a pointless email or an irrelevant Facebook status update is easy. It's useless for the most part, but it's easy.

Writing good stuff is hard.

By good stuff I mean things that come from the heart. Emotional. Intelligent. Useful. Things I'm proud to say I wrote. Things, as Shawn Blanc would say, with mustard. Those are hard.

Facebook apps may have leaked millions of users' data

Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Jessica Guynn:

Facebook apps may have inadvertently leaked the personal data of millions of Facebook users to third parties such as advertisers, according to the Web security firm Symantec.

Among the information that could have been accessed is data from user profiles, pictures and Facebooks chats between users.

I've never trusted Facebook apps. I think I have only used one or two in the early days but even then clicking that "Allow" button has always felt unsettling. I'm glad I've stayed away.

via The Brooks Review

On the Mac Defender malware issue

I would normally ignore this, but it's been all over the place lately and a few friends and family members that are non tech savvy have recently bought Mac's, so I've been thinking about it more than usual.

Mac Defender is an application that once installed in your system will ask for your credit card details to "purchase" a license. It's fairly well done and I can see how it could fool some people. This video shows how it works. It's clever, but it's also easy to catch:

  • The initial "scanning" is a window in Safari. Instantly suspicious.
  • The initial "scanning" is a replica of a Windows machine. Dead giveaway.
  • A Windows looking popup tells you you're infected. This would only fool Windows users.
  • Clicking "Cancel" starts downloading something. Obviously not what should be happening.

Given the above, I can't see any Mac user fall for this unless they're new to the Mac coming from years of Windows hell.

John Gruber makes a good point:

Mac Defender isn’t an indication that Mac users need anti-malware software — in fact, the reason it appears to be succeeding is that it preys on uninformed users’ belief that they might need anti-malware software.

An important point for Mac Defender to work is that the installer launches automatically after downloading. This is actually a setting I recommend all Mac users change in Safari. Going to Safari>Preferences and clicking on the General tab will show a checkbox at the bottom that says "Open "safe" files after downloading". Just uncheck this.

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford University Commencement speech

Steve Jobs at the 2005 Stanford University Commencement address:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

I hadn't read this speech in a while, but I did so today. It's a great speech and every time I read it I find something I hadn't noticed before. To me, that's what makes something great, be it a film, a book, a photograph, or even a person. Anything that delivers an amazing first impression and then keeps on delivering more and more is something worthwhile.

This time, the above quote stood out given what I wrote a few days ago.

via The Brooks Review

Scary stuff this iPhone tracking

I just ran the iOS update on my iPhone and iPad, but before I did it, I thought I'd download the iPhone Tracker application and see what the iPhone showed as my location history.

The fact that iOS devices have been tracking and storing location data has been all over the web. It's something that concerned me when I read about it, especially since Apple didn't say it was happening. However, I had too many things to worry about at the time so I ignored it for a while. Like the saying goes, bigger fish to fry.

Then Apple provided a relatively logical explanation, so I moved on.

But today curiosity got the best of me and I had a look. Scary stuff indeed. The data goes back to over a year and even though Apple says it's not my exact location it is pretty close.

Anyone that watched the video of the data could easily know where I've traveled to and when. Drilling closer into the city I live in, I can see my travel to and from work, and that weekend away in the coast. It's actually quite interesting to look at and amazing in a geeky way. But still. Scary, scary stuff.

Is the iPod Classic not a good choice anymore?

Marco Arment wrote an article about choosing the right laptop for your needs. It’s an interesting post and one you should read if you’re looking at buying a new MacBook. However, since I’m not in the market for a new laptop, it’s the following quote that made me stop and think:

The iPod Classic still exists for people who “need” to bring their entire music collections with them everywhere. (Some people really need that, but most Classic buyers simply “need”; it.) They can do that, but it comes with huge tradeoffs, most notably an outdated, limited design with an often-sluggish interface that misses out on the much more broad usefulness of the iPod Touch. And many Classic buyers would actually be much happier with a 32 GB Touch if they were willing to budge on their all-music-all-the-time “need”.

He’s using the iPod as an analogy, but if I look at this comment in itself, I can see there’s a lot to it. I thought about this when I got my first iPhone. It was a 32 GB iPhone 3, and I never used up all the space, even while carrying more music than I could effectively listen to. At the time, my old 80 GB iPod Classic was spending a lot of time in a drawer, abandoned in favour of my new toy. I thought about selling it more than once, but never did.

And then I changed cars. In my previous car I hooked up the iPod (and iPhone later) with one of those radio transmitters. It sounded awful and I got static and interference constantly. It sucked. So when the time came to get a new car, the iPod/iPhone connectivity was at the top of my list of required features. The car I eventually got talks directly to the iPod/iPhone and I can control it from either the main audio system in the dash or from the controls in the steering wheel. It’s bliss. Almost.

The car doesn’t recognise the iPod/iPhone wirelessly (which would be absolute bliss). I have to connect it to a cable in the glove box to listen to music, so it has to sit hidden away out of reach.1

That’s where my trusty old iPod Classic comes in handy. I just plug it in when I get in the car and leave it there. I’ve got all my music, podcasts, and audiobooks and I don’t have to think about it. I also can keep the iPhone in my pocket and don’t have to mess with it every time I get in/out of the car. Plus, an iPod Touch would really be a waste as I never use or even look at the iPod’s design or interface. In fact, that “often-sluggish interface” is completely irrelevant.

This setting works great for me and I believe a great use for the iPod Classic. True, I don’t need my entire library with me at all times, but with some great playlists it doesn’t affect me either. And I always have a full back up of my iTunes library.

  1. UPDATE: I guess I wasn’t clear on what I meant as a few people have asked so I wanted to clarify. The car can connect to the iPhone via Bluetooth but only for the phone part. To see the music library I need to physically connect it via a cable in the glove box. It’s dumb. So in order to have the best of both worlds I need to keep a device in the glove box for music and a phone in my pocket for the phone functionality. That’s why I love my old iPod again. It stays in the glove box and I just keep the iPhone in my pocket. ↩