inessential by Brent Simmons

January 2016

Panic Report

Panic — those mad geniuses somewhat to the south of here — look back at 2015 and forward to 2016.

If Panic didn’t exist, we’d have to invent a time machine and send Cabel and Steve back in time so that they create Panic. Which may be what happened.

Happiness for Grafflers

Omni: Stenciltown gets an upgrade.

(Don’t know what Stenciltown is? Just go see it, then. It’s an OmniGraffle thing.)

Omni: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

On the Omni blog, Ken Case writes about how we did in 2015 and what’s coming up in 2016.

My personal favorite part:

For OmniOutliner, I’m very pleased to share that we have some major writing improvements on the way! On both Mac and iOS, we plan to support distraction-free full-screen editing, the ability to see your current word count, and support for directly editing Markdown documents.

Lately I’ve been working on OmniOutliner for Mac. (It’s my favorite Omni app.) Helping to add Markdown support is going to be fun.

A Big Tall Drink of Chocolate

Cocoa with Love is back! It’s the Swift era.

Omni Hiring Graphic Designer

See the jobs page. Omni’s a great place to work.

Nick on Twitter

My friend and former co-worker Nick Harris writes:

I found myself evaluating my professional worth based on who and how many people followed me. All the while knowing that some of the best developers I’ve ever worked with either don’t have accounts or rarely use them.

Caring about your status is a natural and human thing to do. The problem with things like Twitter is that it’s too easy to focus on that way too much.

Every time I noticed my follower count go up, I was glad, and then I felt sick that it made me glad.

* * *

I don’t have any analytics on this blog. I don’t know how many visitors it gets, how many RSS subscribers it has, or which posts are more popular than other posts. I like not knowing.

I did have Google Analytics for a few months in 2014 when I was doing sponsorships. I spent too much time looking at the numbers and trying to make them go up. But no amount of going-up is ever satisfying: I just wanted more.

And that affects my writing. I should write exactly what I want to, when I want to, with no care whatsoever for popularity. (I want to be read by smart people like you, but I don’t want to try to maximize the number of readers.)

I assume my blog gets more traffic than the average blog, and way less traffic than a blog like Daring Fireball, and for me that’s just right. And if it’s not true, in either direction, I don’t want to know — because I don’t want to care.

Not Back on Twitter

When the new Star Wars movie came out, I decided to take a break from Twitter so I could avoid spoilers. I mostly kept away (but for a few small hits).

I finally saw the movie (which I enjoyed) this past weekend, and so I came back to Twitter.

Now, a few hours later, I’m off Twitter again. I didn’t like being back.

* * *

This past year was very bad — see In the Room — and 2016 will be bad for the same reason.

And I turn 48 in a couple months. And I have a whole lot of work I want to do and not necessarily enough time to do it all.

(Note: my personal health is good. I don’t want to give the wrong idea here.)

Here’s what I found: being off Twitter, that squeaky treadmill, gave me back some time, and it made me happier and calmer than I would have been.

(It’s hard to measure, because of everything going on, but I believe it, and that’s what matters.)

I know full well that I have a responsibility, as a writer and maker of things, to be accessible, and I take that seriously.

But I also have a responsibility to myself, and to people close to me, to be happy. I do everything better when I’m happy — including helping other people.

It’s a trade-off, but I have to care for my own happiness.

* * *

Which means I’m back to ignoring Twitter.

I’m not deleting my account, but I’ve turned off all notifications and uninstalled the app from all computers and devices. I just won’t be looking.

If you need to reach me: take my Twitter handle and assume that I use Apple’s email service. Old-fashioned, yes, but it works.

* * *

The happiest I’ve ever been in front of a computer was when I was 14 at my Apple II Plus, with headphones on, working on my little BASIC apps. No network and no distractions. Simple and quiet.

While I love the web, I don’t love those corners that insist on my attention. I don’t have to accept it. I just want to make things.

People Stared at the Makeup on His Face

Without Bowie I’m not me. I don’t think like me, feel like me, make things like me, or love like me.

The first album I owned was Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I’ve never stopped learning from Bowie, and I never will stop.

He’s my greatest and bravest hero.

Sound Off Round 1 - AlterConf

From Sound Off:

AlterConf is a traveling conference series that provides safe opportunities for marginalized people and those who support them in the tech and gaming industries. By highlighting the powerful voices and positive initiatives of local community members, we build hope and strengthen the community’s resolve to create safer, healthier spaces for everyone.

The conferences go beyond the limited definitions and basic discussions of diversity to create a deeper, more nuanced conversation. Each conference features a wide range of speakers delivering critical analyses of tech and gaming culture and presenting their vision for what our community can be.

To ensure that every event is accessible to as many people as possible, AlterConf provides both live captioning and American Sign Language interpreters, which cost an average of $1500 to $2000 per conference. You can help AlterConf continue to provide these essential affordances at future events by donating at:

Sound Off is a new foundation with the mission of increasing “access to professional settings for marginalized peoples in tech.”

It’s an important goal.

Once a month Sound Off will do a donation drive for a specific thing (such as live-captioning and ASL for AlterConf), and I’ll post here to help publicize it.

People of the future will look back and judge us for how well or poorly we expanded our tribe.