Start every day with a line of code.

I’m going to try an experiment: identify and implement 1 small habit each Monday that makes me a better solopreneur, and report the results back here. This week: Start the day with a line of Code.

Earlier this morning as I was lying in beed, checking news and zite, texting my girlfriend, avoiding another week of building FlashCommand, and I can across this post, “12 Ridiculously effective techniques to mastering productivity as a startup founder”. Number 1? Start every day with a line of code. That one line, that one act, will kickstart your day, focus your intentions, and give you momentium.

Here’s the quote that inspired the author (sorry, could not find the name of the author anywhere) from Ernest Hemingway:

Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

So right after I post this, I’m going to write that line, probably the first iPhone view template Action Pack Variant in Rails for FlashCommand. Just basically a hello world, but the idea was galvanizing enough to inspire this post and get me up and working. Will let you know how it goes.

Got one small piece of advice that makes you a more productive solopreneur? I’d love to hear about it and give it a try.

An interesting Amazon innovation

 

440px Small USPS Truck

I just saw something I never expected to see again: a mailman delivering a big heavy box to my doorstep on a Sunday afternoon. Seems Amazon has started using the USPS for big box deliveries seven days a week, at least here in California.

I’m hoping this marks a revitalization of the USPS who since 1775 have been doing their neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night delivery thing but in recent years has become a fading anachronism in the digital age.

Now, if the USPS wanted to pick up some easy change, they’d start selling a sticker you could put on your mailbox telling the carrier to filter out those crappy paper spam advertiser circulars.

A Conversation with Sublime Text expert Wes Bos

If you’re a developer who lives in Sublime Text, this conversation I had today with Wes has some great information – give it a watch.

Comparing yourself to startups when you’re a solopreneur

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One of the hardest aspects of being a solopreneur is dealing with the emotional impact of all those startups who, unlike you, seem to live on Easy Street.

You hear about an app like Yo that sends just those characters to someone else raising $1.5 million on a valuation of $10 million and you ask yourself, “Am I stupid?”, “What’s wrong with me?”, “Why is it so easy for them and so damn hard for me?” We seem to be in an age where any random collection of lines of code can make money or get funded – except you.

Objectively, we know there must be a reason for this, and those others must be working just as hard as you are, sacrificing just as much as you are, but that’s not what our guts say. They say despair. They say give up. They say everyone else has the magic, not you, because you know you’re too old, too young, too inexperienced, too experienced, live in the wrong place or whatever your secret fear(s) are about your abilities as a developer and someone trying to create software others want and will pay for.

And then along comes a small bit of hope to your inbox like today. A post by James Clear about the hidden dangers of comparing yourself to others. The story James tells is too good to risk mangling – read James post. The point he’s making is twofold: you’re job is to create, not tell yourself no. Your job is to get out of the way of what you can create. No one else can be you and what you can create is uniquely from you.

It reminds me of something Howard Roark said in Ayn Rand’s other masterpiece, The Fountainhead, that has stuck with me over the years: “I don’t intend to build in order to have clients; I intend to have clients in order to build.”

And if you’ve ever heard of Steven Pressfield and the War of Art and what being a pro is really about, then you’ll get Jame’s second point loud and clear: being “a creative” whether it’s making dance or making code means you are and you must be a professional. Professionals learn to quell that insidious inner voice saying you can’t possibly succeed, so why bother, and show up and do that work no matter what.

The next time you are dog tired trying to push your particular giant boulder up what seems to be a endlessly hard hill, take a bit of solace and a helping of strength from all those around you who’ve push back their inner demons of doubt long enough to get their work out. You are not alone.

Big Screen Sublime Text 3 – Cobalt2 theme is awesome.

Wes Bos' Cobalt2 SB3 Theme

Wes Bos’ Cobalt2 SB3 Theme

I happen to fall in the “there’s no such thing as too much screen” camp when it comes to writing code, which is why my setup is a iMac 27-inch with a Apple 27-inch display on one side and a cheapie HDMI screen on the other. And given I’m not in my twenties by a long shot, I want text sized, colored and contrasted just right for putting in multiple hours of coding.

Which is why I’m overjoyed that Wes Bos released today his Cobalt2 theme for Sublime Text 3. It raised the bar on what an SB3 theme was capable of, adding all sorts of  visual niceties that add up to a better coding experience. From the files with icons for their types to great contrast in the Command Palette, this is a joy to use.

One last thing before I let you run off to either your SB3′s Package Control or Wes’s github repo: If you’ve ever tried to change the sidebar font size and line spacing in Sublime Text 2 or 3, you know what a sheer hell it is – and most likely to break. In Cobalt2, it’s easy (no guarantees in other themes…):

  • If you use Package Control to install SB plugins, install PackageResourceViewer so you can poke around inside your installed plugins. See this SO Answer.
  • Then, after install Wes Bos’s Cobalt2, go to line 497 or so of the Cobalt2.sublime-theme file in the plugin and increase the font size. You might also want to go up to the // Sidebar tree entry and adjust row_padding, given the font.size you set. Then save the file.

 

An Interview with a man from the Future

A visceral feeling of true fear

AmazonSmile – what a good idea!

Amazon started something a few months ago that didn’t get much attention, but should: It donates 1/2 percent of what you buy to your favorite charity when you buy through http://smile.amazon.com/.

First you pick a charity – they have almost a million national  and local charities to pick from. I picked Pets Lifeline. There is no step number 2 – Amazon does all the work, and it costs you zip.

The key is going to smile.amazon.com instead of your regular login, but there’s a Chrome extension that will do that for you.

There’s some limitations on what’s eligible – basically physical goods. Hopefully they will extend this program to Kindle Books and their video streaming service.

 

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2014 Solution for the dreaded OpenSSL Errors and Rails – Certificate Verify Failed Error

I’ve had this same issue manifest on 4 different macs, and while the solutions on OpenSSL Errors and Rails – Certificate Verify Failed sometimes worked, I still hit this error on a brand new iMac late last month.

Finally realized that
“openssl::ssl::sslerror: ssl_connect returned=1 errno=0 state=sslv3 read server certificate b: certificate verify failed” really wasn’t about verifying the certificate: It was about finding the certificate.

Here’s how to diagnose and fix:

1. do a PRINTENV from the command line.

2. Where is SSL_CERT_FILE pointing to? (Mine was SSL_CERT_FILE=/usr/local/etc/openssl/certs/cert.pem).

3. Is there a cert.pem, NOT an alias (unless it actually points to a file), there? (beware of the alias cert.pem in /usr/local/etc/openssl – in my case it was pointing to a non-existant cert.pem in the certs directory!).

4. If not, find a cert.pem and copy it there.

5. Extra credit: add export SSL_CERT_FILE=/usr/local/etc/cacert.pem to your .bashrc file.

6. Restart terminal.

7. Pray.

By the way, if you don’t know about Daniel Kehoe’s RailsApps.org you really really should.

Assholes going boom in the night.

Happy 2014! I’m restarting this blog today, and the only way I can do that is write what I really want to write. And that means this morning instead of writing about productivity, coding or some other positive topic, I’m writing about the criminally stupid people who enhanced their NYE gala by firing off commercial-size fireworks over the tinder-dry subdivision I live last night.

These were not the usual leftover 4th of July stuff that goes pop in your driveway: these were rockets going up a couple of hundred feet, exploding in window-rattling bursts, for the delight of a private party of revelers at winery, and the consternation and fear of a neighborhood of people surrounded by bone-dry brush and grass.

Now I like fireworks. But running the risk of being burnt to a crisp to amuse a bunch of assholes, that I don’t like. You have to combine truly epic stupidity with a huge sense that somehow, for some reason, you get to do whatever you want because your Special. I’ve known a lot of great people who are far richer than I – good for them. But every once in a while you come across some who think their money gives them the right to pick and choose what laws they obey. Firing off commercial-grade pyrotechnics over a rural subdivision with one road out and hundreds of acres of bone-dry ground cover is criminally stupid.

The London Eye illuminated by London's New Year's Eve fireworks display Photo: Kois Miah

The London Eye illuminated by London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display Photo: Kois Miah