inessential by Brent Simmons

February 2016


Omni is hiring a Mac/iOS developer!

We’re also hiring a web developer, graphic designer, and phone support humans.

I’ll let you try out my new beanbag chair.


We’re hiring a senior front-end web developer, a graphic designer, and support humans.

You should apply.

It Will Be Trump

The South Carolina primary is where the establishment fixes the errors of Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s Lee Atwater’s firewall.

When Buchanan threatens Dole, South Carolina shuts it down. When McCain threatens Bush, South Carolina applies the kibosh.

But is there any hope that it will function that way this time?

I don’t think so. The establishment candidates are Bush, Rubio, and Kasich. They don’t have a shot. Nor does Cruz. Trump wins South Carolina.

If that’s true, then it’s all over. If South Carolina fails — if the very primary that’s designed to toss the ball back to the establishment fails — then there’s no hope at all.

Cruz will go on to win a few states, most notably Texas. But otherwise it’s going to be Trump. He’ll get the delegates he needs, and that will be that.

Origin of Good (and Bad) Hair Day

When I was in middle school in the late ’70s I struggled to get my hair to feather properly. It just didn’t want to do it.

Like many kids that age I was newly conscious of my appearance — and I naïvely thought that well-feathered hair was a necessary (though not sufficient) key to fitting in. (Which was probably true, by the way.)

Every morning I would find that my hair behaved, at least somewhat, or it didn’t. So I categorized each day as a “good hair day” and a “bad hair day.”

I told my friends about this categorization — including a neighborhood girl named Sarah. She ended up telling other kids at school.

And pretty soon those kids, even kids I didn’t really know, would stop me in the halls or at lunch and say, “Hey Brent — good hair day or bad hair day?” Not meanly. Teasingly. It was funny.

Years later I started hearing the phrase on TV, and I was surprised that my little middle-school thing had spread and become part of the culture.

* * *

Of course, it’s also possible that I picked it up from Jane Pauley. But for all these years I’ve believed — no joke — that it was me, that it was my phrase. Maybe Jane Pauley got it (indirectly) from me.

It’s highly unlikely — of course, I know this — that I’m the originator. But still, it had to be someone, right?

(Not necessarily. It’s kind of obvious and could have had many originators.)

* * *

I stopped categorizing good and bad hair days by the time I got to high school. And these days I’m just glad that I still have some hair.


River5 is Dave Winer’s river-of-news RSS aggregator.

It’s a Node app. You can run it on a public machine and access it anywhere, or run it on your desktop and just read your news there.

Stop Watch

Some time last week my iPhone started prompting me frequently to re-enter my iCloud password. And then my Watch started doing the same, about once a minute — with a little tap on the wrist each time.

Obviously I did re-enter my password — and have done so a dozen or so times now — but it doesn’t seem to matter.

So I stopped wearing my Watch and have switched to a mid-sixties Hamilton that my Dad gave me. (He had gotten it as a high school graduation present.)

I’m no watch aficionado — but I do appreciate a good and attractive watch (which this is), and I appreciate even more an old watch that’s a family thing.

Here’s the thing, though: the Apple Watch contains a hundred miracles of engineering and design, surely, but serious problems with software and services can turn even the most incredible hardware into something you just sit on your desk and ignore.

On Sanders Governing

The Atlantic, Norm Ornstein:

But is there any real evidence that there is a hidden “sleeper cell” of potential voters who are waiting for the signal to emerge and transform the electorate? No.

Pure candidates on both sides of the spectrum often claim that their purity will bring in the checked-out voters, because they’re just waiting for a real conservative or a real liberal.

It’s an enduring fairy tale with terrible consequences. To put faith in it is to lose to the other party.

CocoaConf Podcast with Me

Cesare Rocchi interviewed me for the latest CocoaConf Podcast on life before the App Store.

There was a life, by the way. It was fun! We could release software any time we wanted to.

How the Republicans Win

Democrats nominate Sanders, and Republicans nominate Rubio or Cruz.

Then there’s this TV ad:

Blank screen. Voice says: “Socialism was tried…”

Fade-in: hammer and sickle.

Voice: “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics failed…”

Black-and-white video plus audio of Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Black-and-white video of a statue of Lenin being pulled down.

Color photo of Rubio (or Cruz) with family. Voice: “Marco Rubio’s parents fled socialist Cuba to come to the land of the free, where anyone’s child can become President… The United States of America.”

Shooting fish in a barrel sounds difficult compared to beating Bernie Sanders.