Link: Don’t Jump
This app called Flipboard was recently released for the iPad, and I’m actually pretty impressed with it. It turns things like your Facebook news feed or your Twitter homepage, or various news sources, into a magazine-like view. And it’s really well done. It digs deep into the things it finds on Facebook or Twitter and shows them to you: images, videos, links, are all expanded in a damnably attractive layout.
The immediately awesome thing about it — once you get things to work — is how it truly does turn crap like “news” on the Internet into something much more personal, and thus more engaging. It does actually feel like a nicely-done magazine that was designed just for me.
And it’s free? Shit, I’ll take two.
It’s sad, though, that they were pretty much victims of their success: for a bit you couldn’t add your Facebook or Twitter feeds to it, because it was over capacity. And the Internets, they are savage critics: the poor app’s little page on the app store had unkind one-star reviews piling up because their servers got turned into a smoking hole in the ground by the greedy masses.
That’s another thing about Apple, and designing things to run on Apple’s products, that can trip you up (and it’s a quote from here): people don’t expect compromises from Apple. You got server issues, because too many people wanted your app? Tough tits. You suck now.
The casting of the hipster is spot on.
“Unknown and unknowable” was the theme/tagline of the 2009 CrossFit games, and CrossFit itself deals exclusively with general physical preparedness and aptitude with functional movements.
A workout of the day can address that unknown and unknowable part well; even if you read your box’s website before showing up each day, something new and challenging will be put in front of you. You may do something well, you may do something terribly, and you’ll probably be put out of your comfort zone. But it’s still sanitized, safe, and it is just training. Delight should be found in those rare opportunities when real challenges meet you, where your health and life may depend on what you do, and you need to solve a problem by thinking and moving quickly.
There are places to find these challenges. For me, I recently found one in a three-day backpacking trip out in the Sierra National Forest. This was a genuine, though introductory, taste of the sport. We carried among us provisions and gear for nine people, and ventured out into the barely tamed wilderness of the forest.
Strap 20 or 30 pounds on your back, and ascend and descend more than a thousand feet over the course of around 15 miles. You might have to climb to get out of a valley, or descend to find water. Your life may depend on you moving in a certain direction.
With weight on your back, cross a stream. Do so without getting wet, since your life may depend on your feet, clothes, and sleeping bag being dry when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. Cross muddy trails. Cross boulder-strewn mountain faces. Walk across snow.
This is the unknown, the set of challenges you will face out in the wild. You’ll quickly discover your strengths and weaknesses, and if you’re smart, you’ll try overcoming those weaknesses by adjusting technique, and thinking clearer about how you move.
What am I good at? I turned out to be pretty fit right now, and could climb with weight on my back, at a high altitude, without difficulty. What am I bad at? Coming back down again — terrific strain on my feet, knees, and back. But I can cross streams balanced on logs or rocks, can cross patches of snow with few slips.
So, I’m playing around with Google’s app engine, trying to make a very simple web service around it.
Python is awesome, and it’s a great language to work in. App engine is cool, because it makes things pretty easy.
What’s hard? Trying to figure out what I can do with app engine. Google’s pretty much failed at documentation here. I mean, I’ve figured out a handful of things that I can do with app engine that make me go “OMG, the Power!” — but it took so many damn hours of digging and experimenting to actually figure these things out.
I mean, look at this shit. This is arguably one of the core things you need to know about when you’re building a web service, because this is (I think) how you map a URI to a python class. Is the URI a regexp? I have no fucking clue. Does
app.yaml override this, and act as a first layer of redirection? Are entries in
app.yaml regexps? (the documentation for that file is all like “yeah, look at the YAML spec, which really helped me out there as far as how you interpret the file, Google) Should I code up multiple classes with multiple
main functions and list them in
app.yaml or have one
main that dispatches everything?
The docs are so written in this “not my problem, consult this other spec that only describes the syntax of what you’re supposed to write” way that it’s frustrating as hell to get even basic answers out if it.
I don’t know. Maybe if I do decipher this I can market myself as an expert in the subject, or write a book on it. That shit might be profitable, since my web app won’t.