Goodbye, Bella

Over the years I’ve shared my life with seven dogs and I’ve loved them all, but none has meant more to me than Bella. Today I had to let her go, and I’m remembering what an impact she has had on me.

She possessed a fiercely independent spirit that I connected with in a way I never have with any other creature, and that connection was so deep that it forced me to confront how we treat animals as mere product. I gave up eating meat in part because of the bond we have shared.

She was unique, she was beautiful, and she was loved. It hurts so much to let her go, but I’m so glad we shared each other’s lives. I like to think we were both better off for it.



So About the Cartoons

If you’re a regular reader you’ve no doubt noticed the cartoons that appear here every now and then. And you may have noticed some of them seem a bit dated.

That’s because I drew them 25 years ago.

The cartoons were all published in The Daily Beacon when I was a student at the University of Tennessee from 1989-1991. I had flunked out of another college while pursuing a CompSci degree (it’s a long story) and decided to switch majors to journalism. My dream was to be a syndicated cartoonist so I figured I should understand how journalism and newspapers work.

That seems laughable now. I was ‘tooning in the golden age of newspaper strips like Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side and Bloom County, but the best comic strips these days are self-published on the web, not in newspapers. I can’t imagine any up-and-coming cartoonists dream of being published in newspapers anymore.

I’ve told my cartooning story here before so I won’t rehash it now, but if you’re interested here’s the rest of the story.

Test Driving Employees

From the NY Times:

“Employee trials work best for people in support, design and developer positions, said Matt Mullenweg, founder and chief executive of Automattic, the creator of WordPress, the blog and website tool. Still, every hire, without exception, goes through a two- to six-week contract period, and is paid the standard rate of $25 an hour.”

Employee trials are daunting, and downright impossible for many people. For some companies they’re completely unrealistic.

But the fact that Automattic had trials is one of the things that convinced me I wanted to work with them. I wanted to work alongside people who believed so much in what the company was doing that they’d go through the pain of a trial period.

The trial period was certainly painful for me. At the time I was working 60-80 hours a week at a job I wasn’t fully committed to, and I couldn’t imagine how I’d fit a trial period into that. But somehow I did it, and I’m glad I did because now I get to work with people totally invested in a shared goal.

PS: We’re hiring.

Goodbye Blue Sky

My parents grew up in England during World War II. They used to tell me about the air raid sirens that sounded at night alerting them to seek shelter, quickly.

I often asked them about this, thinking they must still be haunted by the thought of bombs dropping on them as they slept.

But they said it was normal to them. It was all they ever knew.

That has always stuck with me.

It makes me wonder how many things we accept simply because we’ve never known any different.

Abolishing the Gingerbread Tax

A few weeks ago I said this:

Every Android developer I know will dance in the streets the day they can drop support for pre-ICS versions of Android

Well, it looks like it’s time for me to hit the streets because WordPress for Android – the app I work on – is dropping Gingerbread support in new versions.

Strangely, though, I was a bit nervous when we first talked about doing this. Leaving any users stranded really bothered me.

But then I thought about how much extra work we put into maintaining backwards compatibility for a dwindling number of people, and I considered how much better the app could be for the large majority of our users if we spent that time improving it for newer devices.

When I looked at it that way, I wondered whether we should’ve dropped Gingerbread support even sooner. And I wondered how many other Android developers are continuing to make the majority of their users pay this Gingerbread Tax.

If you’re one of them, perhaps it’s time your app stops supporting pre-ICS devices, too.


Localized FeedDemon 4.0

If you upgraded to the new FeedDemon 4.0 and English isn't your primary language, then you'll be pleased to hear that Chinese, Czech, French, German, Italian, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian language files are now freely available.

The simplest way to switch to a different language is to select Tools > Options > Language > Download Additional Languages from within FeedDemon 4.0, which takes you this page:

From there you can select the language file you wish to use, and FeedDemon will take care of downloading and installing it.

PS: These language files were created by customers who simply wanted FeedDemon to be available in their native language.  It's a tedious process creating these translations, so we owe a big "thank you" to those who spent their time working on them.

Google Reader Authentication Change

Earlier this year, the Google folks announced a change to how applications like FeedDemon should authenticate with Reader.  Later this week, the old authentication system will be dropped.

FeedDemon has used the new authentication method ever since version, which was released several months ago.  If you’re using an older version, you’ll want to update to the latest version right away – otherwise, synchronization may no longer work for you.

PS: Sorry for the prolonged silence here – my family is in the middle of a move which turned out to be far more complicated than we planned!