I’m a friendly guy in San Francisco. I live here with my wife (Sarah), daughters (Lucy, Kate, and Frances), and our mini dachshund (Fern).
I spend as much time as I can outdoors — rowing crew, hiking, or camping.
For work, I’ve been doing web stuff for about 20 years. Some of that time was with startups (Slack, IFTTT). Some was working on my own indie webapp (PearBudget). But a few things run through all of it: an interest in making simple, well-crafted tools that make peoples’ lives better.
A few years back I wrote a post that helped get “Slopegraphs” back into the data visualization world. (Also wrote an update.)
Although these are all kind of dated, and most don’t exist any longer, the things listed here are all side projects of mine. Except for Monotask, I built everything here solo.
Collins is an extremely simple (one file!) microblogging tool. If you have a server that runs PHP, you can have your own personal microblog up and running in 30 seconds.
Find You A Gif
Looking for the perfect GIF for your Slack workspace? findyouagif.com to the rescue!
The Attention Management Blog
In line with my interest about attention management (see Monotask, above), The Attention Management Blog is a tumblelog I've kept going for the last several years. It’s where I list quotes, links, excerpts, and other foraged bits from the web that address focus, distraction, and doing good work.
Beautiful Buttons for Twitter Bootstrappers
A tool for making pretty buttons, intended for developers using the Twitter Bootstrap framework. Slide some sliders, copy some CSS, paste it in, and you’re good to go. Used in the development of Monotask.
I love the idea of Project Gutenberg, but that layout is just so ungainly!
I created a bookmarklet to make books there more attractive.
I was proud to be a part of this. When a friend had a health scare, 1,000+ friends sent him nice notes on Twitter. I just helped pull them together.
A simple tool for temporary notetaking.
Know how you start a task, then get distracted by something, and when you come back to your computer you can’t remember what you were working on? This helps solve that problem.
- There is no formatting.
- Your notes will not be saved.
- Your browser tab updates dynamically, to show the contents of your page.
It’s dumb, but it works.
Defunct or Unsupported Projects
I’m really interested in how we can better engage in meaningful work. Or, alternately, how we can keep from getting distracted by non-meaningful work. I spent a few years working on a startup with a friend, focused on attention management. The core idea: Monotask let you turn off the distracting parts of the internet, so you could do good work.
I was super-proud of the interface I designed and built, and of the total service we built together. But in the end, we couldn’t get enough paying subscribers to justify the work that was involved in keeping it going. Ironically, Monotask became an object lesson in itself — a distraction from other work that deserved deeper attention than it was getting. So we shut Monotask down.
There are plenty of contests for book cover designers. Curiously, there’s nothing similar for book interior design.
The Measure was my humble attempt to change that.
I held three contests, where book designers could design and then typeset a chapter from a work in the public domain. Judges weighed in. Winners got to pick the next public domain book. It was a lot of fun.
A jQuery typesetting plugin.
I worked for several years as a book designer. Not the outside parts, but the inside parts. How does the textblock sit on the page? What margins should we use? What typeface does this book call for? Is the leading too tight? I love book design, and type design in general.
This is a typesetting plugin that invokes the layout techniques of the classic rock poster printers at HATCH SHOW PRINT, by adjusting the type size so that the lines’ measures are all balanced. I extracted this into a jQuery plugin when I was working on Monotask.
Remote work is awesome. But how can companies find the best remote workers? And where can web developers who who want to work remotely find the best jobs? REMOJōBO! It’s a remote job board for web nerds.
Update! I sold Remojōbo in mid-2013 to a great guy who has already done far more with it than I did. If you're looking for a remote job, go check it out.
Back before Slack made it easy to drop notes to yourself, emailing yourself was kind of the best option. Blipnote made it incredibly easy to do that. It used the Mailchimp API, but once they started charging for it (and since DMs to yourself in Slack became a thing), I decided to shut it down.
A jQuery plugin for extended, multi-layered footnotes, à la David Foster Wallace.
Back in 2005, DFW wrote a piece for The Atlantic, “Host”. To include his footnotes in a present-but-non-intrusive way, the typesetters at the magazine used color-coded callouts that visually linked the anchor text with the corresponding footnote. Parentheticals is a jQuery plugin that mimics the layout approach from DFW’s piece.
Don’t Touch The Screen
A podcast for webnerds with kids.
This was basically a podcast where I’d talk with people who A) had a startup / web business of some sort, and B) had kids. I only got a few shows in before I had to put it on the back burner. Because kids. And because startups.
You know how people say you should photocopy the backs of all the cards in your wallet so you know who to call when you lose them? Know how you haven’t done that yet? Wallet Garden was an easy way to do that, and to then be able to get to them from anywhere with an internet connection.
A single-serving-site search box, using jQuery. Useful for long FAQ pages. Named after a Jay-Z lyric.
A 1x1 pixel generator, using Ruby / Sinatra. More useful than you think. Less useful than a custom domain warrants.
OmniAuth for Sinatra
This is a template I built that lets you jumpstart a Sinatra project using the great authentication library Omniauth. It lets you get the skeleton of a web app (with user accounts, via Twitter, or GitHub, etc.) functioning inside a few minutes.