inessential by Brent Simmons

November 2018

One Year of The Omni Show

It just popped in my head to check today — and, sure enough, I’ve been doing The Omni Show podcast for just over a year now.

There are a bunch of reasons why I like doing it. The main reason is that it’s fun to show the personalities of the people who work at Omni — and the personality of the company — to the outside world.

It’s also fun as a way for co-workers to get to know each other a little better. We’re showing our personality to ourselves.

I also like it as documentation. This is a special time — our industry is still so young — and so I like it in the same way I liked doing The Record with Chris Parrish. This history will all be lost unless we record it.

And recording this history means not just talking to the usual suspects, the same people you hear every week. It means talking to people who’ve never been on podcasts before, but who all have stories to tell. This is a personal challenge — it takes extra work to prepare for someone different every episode — but it’s so satisfying. I love it.

PS For the curious: last April I wrote, on The Omni Blog, How We Do the Omni Show.

After the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions today — not at all unexpected — we’re closer to the break-glass moment where we take to the streets.

It could happen any moment, any day. Could even be minutes from now. Could have happened by the time you read this.

Sign up here.

PS The Democrats retaking the House last night was huge. The next two years were going to be perilous and tumultuous either way — but now we have a way better chance of just outcomes.

But we may walk through fire first.

Why I’m Writing These Particular Apps

On the Rainier Slack group, I was asked why I’m writing the app. What are my goals? What’s my exit strategy?

The below is how I replied. It’s unedited Slack-writing, so forgive me for (for one thing) suggesting that at age 65 I might not be writing code anymore. (I very much hope to be.)

Here’s the deal with Rainier (and NetNewsWire too). I’ve been obsessed with writing this app for many years. I’m 50 now, and have a good day job, and I don’t need to make any extra money. This means I can afford to make the apps I’m compelled to make. They will do good for the world, and I do have political and social goals for them.

But I don’t expect NetNewsWire to be popular like Twitter, and I don’t expect Rainier to be popular like Ruby or Python or Swift. Not even close.

I’ve worked all these decades to be able to be in the position where I have the ability and freedom to write the apps I want to write. Anyone could argue that I should be putting my skills and experience toward something more likely to be earth-shaking, and that’s fair — but I believe I can do the most good by making the apps I was born to make, rather than working at something that doesn’t excite me.

Large numbers of users doesn’t excite me. High-quality, open source Mac apps excite me. Bringing the power I enjoyed with Frontier to a new generation excites me. Bringing RSS reading back excites me.

My goal is just to be able to continue working on these apps, no matter how few or many users they have. My exit strategy… well, eventually cognitive decline will come, and I’ll write less code and do more writing about the apps. And eventually I’ll end up turning them over to someone else (or some group). But hopefully that’s 15 years from now, at least.

These are the apps I need to make. This is an emotional thing, for sure — but I’m rational enough to understand my heart and to follow it rather than to fight it.

Further reading: Love, from 2015, and Why I develop for Mac OS X from 2002.

Vote for Democrats Everywhere

The president recently called himself a nationalist — and it’s no stretch at all to call him a white nationalist.

From before his campaign, to his remarks after coming down that escalator in Trump Tower, to everything he’s said and done since — including his recent drumming up of fear about refugees planning to seek asylum in the United States — he’s led the effort to ensure that America respects only white power.

This is antithetical to Western democracy, which is built on individual liberty and equal protection, which says that all adult citizens have the right to vote.

If Republicans in Congress had acted as a check on his power, if they had exercised oversight, then I could plausibly suggest voting for the best candidate in each race.

But that didn’t happen. Not even close. It’s been quite the opposite — Republican politicians have aided him at every conscience-shocking turn, and the Republican party has become the party of white nationalism.

I don’t agree with every position of the Democratic Party, and I certainly don’t agree with every position of the candidates available to me. But that’s always true.

What I know, though, is that a Democratic majority in at least one Congressional chamber would finally allow for checks on the president’s power. There would be oversight, at long last.

And we’d have the chance to preserve Western democracy in the United States, and stop this acceleration toward something dark and old and corrupt and dangerous.

Please vote. Please vote for Democrats.