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Summer Of Apps 2013: "Twitter Cleaner" hits the App Store.

09 Aug 2013  |  Tags: , , ,

In order to drum up some reviews for this quick App I built called “Twitter Cleaner” (called “Followed User Cleaner (for Twitter)” for trademark reasons), I’ve made it free until August 31st, 2013!

This App lets you surf through your your Twitter followings and clean out people that are boring, don’t update their accounts, or were followed by accident. It’s a great follow-up to the tool I built to migrate Google Reader to Twitter a while ago. (which has since been retired)

I follow about 1200 people currently and really needed a way to clear this out casually and gradually. This App connects to any of your associated Twitter accounts, lets you surf through the feed content gradually, and casually unfollow those accounts that no longer fit your tastes!

My hope is to get my following count down to 900 or below. We’ll see if I can pull that off.

This App is normally $0.99 USD and works on both iPhone and iPad. It’s just the first version so three may be some minor bugs, but one great feature of it is that it remembers your position amongst your Twitter relationships and updates that list periodically without causing you to lose your place and see people again. (~ thanks, SQLite!)

UPDATE 2013/09/28: An iOS7-focused update including bug fixes was submitted to the App Store today! The differences are shown below, with the latest version on the left.

Screenshot of "Followed User Cleaner (for Twitter)" for iPhone and iPad on iOS 7 Screenshot of "Followed User Cleaner (for Twitter)" for iPhone and iPad on iOS 6

Please check it out, and leave a positive review if you like it! If you have any trouble, email me.

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Pro-tip: Don't put things on your to-do list that you can't or won't do.

23 Jul 2013  |  Tags: , , , ,

Think hard before you put something on the list that you carry around with you.

Whether this is the Reminders list built into Mac OS X and iPhone, or a third-party solution like Clear, Remember The Milk, or Wunderlist, the one thing that these Apps have in common is a lack of motivation to get things done. A feature that they do offer, however, is the ability to postpone or let items linger endlessly. Your only motivator is inside your own brain, and you are the one who controls what gets done in your life. Optimize!

If something is longterm or projected, create a separate “Goals” list for those things. If something is travel related, stick that into a “Travel” list if you can’t go there right now, or create separate lists for each place or general area that you’d like to go to.

Try to actually complete some of these lists. Generally, what I’ve found, is that when you begin getting a lot of things done, you start to more actively compare the completed tasks to the other pending items in your list that you might never do. At this point, it’s easier just to remove the undesirable tasks from the list altogether as you move forward to new ones. This is, of course, if you realized much later after adding something that you’d never get around to it. Try to avoid this.

Don’t put work-related stuff on your personal task list. This is a big one. Keep your head clear, and keep your lives separate. Even if it’s for your own personal projects or business, keep it separate from the things you need to do when you need a break from all of that. (Added 2013/08/25)

Sometimes, you just have to eat humble pie. If there’s a task in your list that you don’t want to do, but you know you need to do it, spend a day on that task and just get it done if you can. Small progress is still progress, and not every day can be a slam dunk. Alternatively, break that big task up into separate “sub-tasks” that dictate what’s left and how you can get this done more gradually. This will allow you to delete the original task that was lingering, and move forward.

For very large tasks (or projects), try to create a separate task list for those entirely and, within it, create small tasks or notes that ultimately “chip away” at it into a much smaller obstacle over time.

Use your calendar. If there’s something that you can’t do or won’t do because it’s too soon to be able to complete successfully, don’t use space in your task list for it! Create a calendar entry instead that will remind you later in life so that you can forget about it for now. If you end up somehow doing that thing anyway in the meantime, just ignore or delete the calendar entry afterward!

Stay organized and capable. Don’t let a massive task list that never cycles become a burden in your life instead of a productivity tool. Keep a clear head, and a clear list. (Is that why it’s called “Clear" ?)

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How to play Nintendo Wii games on your [Retina] MacBook Pro!

18 Jul 2013  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to play Zelda on your laptop?

Zelda: Skyward Sword start screen

Being that I’m between travels, between apartments, and between dedications to a specific game console, I decided to get creative and catch up on the Zelda series by Nintendo. There are a few games that I’m looking forward to this holiday season when PlayStation 4 is out, such as The Last Of Us and Grand Theft Auto 5… but, even though these are PS3 titles, I don’t own that console anymore so I can’t play them right now. :)

The primary reason that I’m going with the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One is that I’ve owned PS2 and PS3. Most of the games I’ve played are on the PlayStation platform and the new console allows playback of previous consoles’ titles through streaming. The only other console I’ve dabbled with longterm is the Nintendo Wii, which I actually camped out for on launch in 2006. These two, of course, are consoles not handhelds. In terms of handhelds, I’ve owned various GameBoys and the Sega Genesis Nomad for the sake of playing Sonic, Tetris, and Pokémon titles.

Screenshot of Zelda Wind Waker on a Nintendo GameCube console

I sold my Wii before I moved in 2011, and I bought a new PS3 after moving cross-country in early 2012. I sold that same PS3 before I moved again in January 2013, and have been consoleless since due to traveling. Because I’d owned the Wii before, I had played the The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and also the previous “Wind Waker" title that had been released for GameCube (Nintendo’s previous system that’s compatible with the Wii). A new Zelda game had come out since then called Skyward Sword, and it was something that I had been dying to play! Since I’d sold my Wii, though, I hadn’t been able to… yet.

  Read more of the full post »

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What is a "Drobo"? Find out how to store massive amounts of data on spare HDDs.

16 Jul 2013  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Data backup is annoying. To be truly backed up, you need multiple copies of your data … in multiple locations, on multiple mediums. This way, if one place burns down, while a HDD (hard disk drive) has failed in another … you’re protected in the worst case. Hopefully.

I have seen so many people lose the single HDD in their computer, and it had all of their family photographs on it. They’re lucky to get any back from an expensive data recovery service. — Or, another horror story: a student loses all of their homework assignments that they were about to turn in when a computer slides off a dorm bed onto the floor. It is a nightmare come to life.

Luckily, nowadays there are services like Dropbox that offer a “backup in the cloud” … but Dropbox has its own issues with corruption or data loss. As previously mentioned, to be truly “backed up”, you cannot rely on a single medium.

Apple also has a great built-in service called Time Machine on Mac OS X that creates timely archives of your data whenever an external drive is connected. However, most people don’t set this up, it’s not expandable, and if that drive fails, you’ve lost your only backup!

What is a great, overall solution?

Hello, Drobo!

I bought a Drobo S. It has 5 drive bays, each with a 1TB disk in it. — I keep it stationary while I travel, containing an archive of adventures past. Music, video, photos, etc. — Old source code, things like that. Things I don’t need to carry around, but would like to retain access to.

I have alternate backups of this data, but Drobo provides a single, expandable, centralized volume that I can easily read from and search. If the Drobo fails, I still have another backup elsewhere. See beginning of article for the reason why.

My Drobo, setup and connected to an APC UPS for AC battery backup

(There’s a 5th drive bay and light on this Drobo, but it’s cut off by the top of this photo.)

Why Drobo?

There are other RAID solutions, but Drobo is the most user-friendly.

I needed something centralized and searchable, where I could put a second copy of data that was easily accessible. I have additional copies in other places, but this is great since it’s expandable.

  Read more of the full post »

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Cellular trends of the future: My "post-LTE" cellular usage = less voice, more data!

06 Jul 2013  |  Tags: , , , ,

I’ve omitted a few months of this year from the statistics below due to travel, but the pattern is clear: less voice + more data!Check out the following graph of the past 18 months of my cellular usage:

Graph of my cellular usage (text/sms, voice/talk, data/web) since January 2012

Interesting. A few notes about the figures:

  • My voice/talk usage includes mobile-to-mobile calling on AT&T, even though this is free and doesn’t use “minutes”. I did this for accuracy. I’m lucky since most of my frequent “on-the-go” quick calls are to other AT&T customers.
  • My data speeds were previously throttled by AT&T after exceeding 5GB of usage, but starting last month they haven’t been. Cool! This had made it difficult to use more than 5GB.
  • My SMS usage has dropped drastically since Apple introduced iMessage in 2011. As you can see, the green bars are basically just text messages to Android users. Because of this, I can easily get away with a “non-unlimited” SMS package. (which AT&T has since phased out due to iMessage….)

My “grandfathered” AT&T plan includes 450 minutes/month (5000 additional for nights+weekends), Unlimited LTE data, and 1000 SMS text messages. It costs about $80 USD each month. I have decent LTE coverage nearly everywhere I go, too.

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Twitter Migration & Networking Tool (for Google Reader) being retired on July 15th, 2013.

02 Jul 2013  |  Tags: , , , , ,

I built this tool (original blog post) in late 2011 to automate the conversion of the bulk of my Google Reader feed subscriptions to Twitter follows. As many of you know, Google Reader was “powered down" on July 1st, 2013.

Screenshot of TMNT

Before Twitter, which is basically a better version of what Google Reader offered (in express 140 character long posts without the need to be tied to a website), people would have blogs to which they would dump plenty of exciting thoughts, images, links, stories, etc.

Nowadays, Twitter provides an “in-between” layer for all of these “updates”. Since all content has to be crammed into the approximate length of an SMS message, it is tremendously easier to read and “skim”.

In the past, Google Reader accounts would be loaded full of feeds collected from all over the web. It became impossible to keep up with them if you had above a certain amount of feeds. Often, accounts would contain “1000+” unread posts. (Google Reader infamously stopped counting at 1000 unread posts, hah!)

This “Twitter Migration & Networking Tool” (or, “T.M.N.T.” for short) that I built scans your Google Reader feeds for URLs, and scans each website. It searches them for linked Twitter accounts, and lists them out for you. It has a very high success rate in finding associated Twitter accounts for your RSS feed subscriptions, and if it fails to find one, it still provides a link to that website for you to check out manually. — Pretty cool, eh?

Actually following the Twitter users’ accounts for websites is voluntary on your part, but this tool takes a great deal of the discovery out of your migration efforts. I remember converting all of my feeds from Google Reader to Twitter in less than 30 minutes back in 2011.

After all of that, I cleared out my Google Reader and began using it to follow just 4 or 5 websites that I would check frequently throughout the day (such as Mac Rumors). This saved me from considerable distraction and prevented me from rereading articles while searching for new ones. — I’ve primarily monitored my Google Reader account through “Reeder”, a Mac App that has alerted me to new stories once per hour via a number-count badge on its Dock icon. It has worked great.

Now that Google Reader is gone, I’ve moved to alternative news readers. ReadKit is a promising Mac App that works on services that rivaled Google Reader. Check it out!

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My "Burning Man" packing list from last year.

02 Jul 2013  |  Tags: , , , ,

Burning Man is a festival in the desert. However, this post is only about getting ready for Burning Man, not about the festival. For some clips of that, see my previous post.

The Man, at Burning Man 2012

Proper preparation for the festival is critical for your health and survival. While there are emergency medical services available, and they do sell ice to be in accordance with Nevada festival regulations, there is little much else available aside from portable toilets and seemingly endless streets of camps and art to explore. There are no stores or vendors.

Some people go as “ballers”. Ballers generally have other people prepare for them. They fly into Burning Man’s makeshift airport, stay somewhere with some sort of air conditioning, and fly out at the end because someone else has hauled in their supplies and provided their shelter.

An art car

Some people drive RV’s, but the cleanup following the event is not so simple. The dust from the desert sticks to everything. Even a seemingly microscopic layer makes things look and feel dirty. This goes for your supplies and camping gear, as well, not just your vehicle!

All that said, it is a fascinating environment to explore for a week. When I went, I stayed in a camp that a friend was an active member of. The camp was a huge help in providing some of the most basic necessities, and a huge help for my first year.

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SFO ✈ MIA Miami ✈ PEK China ✈ ICN Korea ✈ NRT Tokyo ↺ BRC Burning Man (video)

28 Nov 2012  |  Tags: , ,

I’ve done a ton of traveling this year, and put together this compilation of some footage I shot from my iPhone.

Includes select footage from: Ultra Music Festival/Winter Music Conference in Miami (+ Above & Beyond’s Show/Deadmau5/+ more), Beijing, Seoul Korea, Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto Japan, and Burning Man.

Check it out.

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How to delete all files in an Amazon S3 bucket, easily.

08 Nov 2012  |  Tags: , ,

There’s a really annoying problem with Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), and it’s that once you get files there it’s equally inconvenient to delete them.

Luckily, finally, there is a way to wipe out an entire bucket of stuff without using any third-party software.

Edit the bucket’s properties, and select the “Lifecycle” tab. Create a blank rule, with a 1 day expiration date. A warning will appear when you save, stating that this “blank” rule will apply to all files.


Within the time you specify (in our case … 1 day), all items in the bucket will be purged automatically and the bucket can be removed. Phew!

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"I Like B-sides" discontinued!

06 Nov 2012  |  Tags: , ,

I Like B-sides was a project I ran publicly from February 2009, until today. It was quite unique, in that it found “b-side” tracks from your favorite artists. — In other words, songs that you wouldn’t hear about in the top charts would be shown, as long as they were trending above average for each particular artist. It also separately alerted you to songs in your music library that were good, but ignored in the event of having an entire album downloaded for just a track or two in particular that you liked.

There was a lot of magic involved in the algorithm, and people liked it. The service was a hit and was written up in Lifehacker, on CNet, + others popular spots.


Nearly 4 years later, during routine system migrations today, I decided to pull the site down finally. It was still getting traffic, but hadn’t been updated. As we move to a more mobile and “Cloud-like” infrastructure in our lives, I felt that uploading a zipped copy of one’s iTunes Library’s XML file seemed a bit frivolous, and that it was time for something better to come along in its place.

The technology might make a comeback in another form, as the code has certainly not been erased from my system. However, I Like B-sides is now a legacy, and we’ll see where things go from there. :)


Thanks for giving it attention all of these years!

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