Patrick Filler

The Secret Ingredient Is…

I’ve been working with Harvest for a couple of years and I thought I’d share some insight into what makes our team hum:

When talented people respect each other, building a web application feels like no big deal. Digging in on a hard problem isn’t as intimidating when you know there are 9 other developers who have your back. It’s more comfortable to argue a position you believe in when you know your opinion will receive real consideration. It’s easy to point out to someone a potentially better way to do something when you know they’re not going to freak out that you stuck your nose into their turf.

I’d love for someone from the current US Congress to read it and take it to heart.

Stupefying Paragraph of the Day

A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the individual super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.

Lawrence Lessig of the Atlantic

Are Tech Conferences Worth It?

The development team at Harvest has a relatively new blog called Tech Time. My first contribution is about the conferences I’ve been to in the last year and whether or not they are worth it.

I try to keep an open mind (especially when I haven’t given something a chance) and so I decided to attend a few events in the past year. I didn’t do it intentionally, but I was essentially the Goldilocks of conferences, attending four events of varying size and content.

Mise en place

My coworker, Barry, is reading Kitchen Confidential and has drawn a connection between the tools of a developer and those of a chef. Mise en place is the “religion of all good line cooks” according to Anthony Bourdain — I don’t know many developers who would argue the principal.

One who has put her tools in place is likely of an organized and focused mind. She knows her tools, all within her reach. Right as they are needed.

Government Shutdown

I just tried to use the Social Security Administration’s online office locator only to find out they’re “closed.”

Crazy Website Hours

I know B&H camera shuts down for the Sabbath, but what possible reason could a US government site have for turning off features after certain hours? Maybe the hamsters that power the servers have mandatory sleep breaks legislated by congress.

Joe Posnanski Visits Olive Garden

If you spend any amount of time on the internet, you are probably aware of Marilyn Hagerty’s recent review of the Grand Forks Olive Garden. The earnestness with which she reviews a chain that has 730 locations globally is so stupefying that people can’t help but feel something about the article (though mostly, I think it just makes people crave those tasty breadsticks).

Something that has 25k+ Facebook “likes” isn’t really the kind of thing I feel compelled to share on my tiny little corner of the internet. Leave it to Poz to change my mind with his own Olive Garden review:

As soon as we sat down, a woman sitting in the booth across from us — as if she knew what we were doing and wanted to appear in both our columns — suggested that Tommy try the chicken. “It’s WONDERFUL,” she said in the most sincere voice imaginable, as if she was talking about the latest Josh Groban album or the traveling show of “Wicked” or Meryl Streep’s performance in her last movie. It would be easy to jab at that sort of euphoria over Olive Garden chicken, and it might be funny too — I sort of did in that follow up line, didn’t I?

But snark wasn’t how I felt. Instead, I felt happy.

Everyone should read the whole thing.

If you’re unfamiliar with the writings of Joe Posnanski and you are even a casual sports fan, you’re also going to want to set aside a few days to read through his blog, Joe Blogs. I was first introduced by my co-worker, Barry, and I’ve been reading with great interest ever since.

Meanwhile… in Bulgaria

Photographer Timothy Allen has posted a wonderful look at a monument to communism in Bulgaria. It is one of the most remarkable things you will see today and the story is equally as impressive.

Buzludha is Bulgaria’s largest ideological monument to Communism. Designed by architect Guéorguy Stoilov, more than 6000 workers were involved in its 7 year construction including 20 leading Bulgarian artists who worked for 18 months on the interior decoration. A small, universally expected donation from every citizen in the country formed a large portion of the funds required to build this impressive structure that was finally unveiled in 1981 on what was the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of the Bulgarian state.

Copyright Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen’s First View of the Buzludzha monument.

Just look at that mysterious fog monster! How could you not want to see more? I promise that the reveal will not be a letdown.

You’d Be Surprised How Far That Gets You.

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.

For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.

I am Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ask Me Anything

(via Matt Haughey)

W Knows Bo

From an old article about a White Sox / Rangers brawl:

George W. Bush, general partner of the Rangers, was in a box seat near the Texas dugout when the brawl broke out and said he considered for a second running onto the field.

"I thought about it, but then I saw Bo coming out and decided to stay where I was," said Bush.

With quick thinking like that, is it any wonder he was such a fine president?

(via South Side Sox)

Heavy Stuff

A copy of The New Yorker should not weigh 500 MB. … Condé Nast would never ship the paper magazine in a box that weighs 50 pounds. But that’s exactly what their digital editions feel like.

John Gruber on iPad magazines

Chosen

For most of my “web career”, I have been a definite taker of open source projects and not much of a giver. While I’ve always liked the idea of sharing work, I’ve always found an excuse to pass (not enough time, someone better than me should do that, baseball is on tv). Thankfully, Harvest asked me to spend some time working on a project we could share and no excuses were allowed.

Today, we officially released the first open source project I’ve been a significant contributor to. Chosen is a jQuery/Prototype plug-in for enhancing select boxes and I’m damn proud of it.

Chosen aims to solve a lot of the user experience issues presented by select boxes with way too many elements. It also aims to keep things easier for developers by relying on semantic markup and progressive enhancement. Double win.

After going through the experience of releasing an open source project, I’m disappointed it didn’t happen sooner. I used new tools and techniques (hello, CoffeeScript) through the process and the learning experience more than justified the time expenditure. I will definitely be going down this road again.

You can read more about Chosen on its project page or on the Harvest Blog.