How to save $1,000-3,000 on any new car purchase

The Google Maps mobile app on iOS/Android has really improved in the last year or two, especially since Google acquired Waze, the crowd-sourced accident/traffic data company. Several times I’ve been using Google Maps to navigate to a spot an hour away only to have my route changed due to traffic and in at least one instance, I saw a small detour for a recent car accident save me easily 30 minutes of traffic time.

The level of detail in ever-improving maps plus the networked information about real-time accidents and traffic is something no car-based GPS navigation can come close to. If you’re car shopping, skip the navigation options entirely since the phone you already have in your pocket is more capable than anything being sold in a car today.

Barley is the bomb

I haven’t been blogging here nearly as much as I wish, but a few months ago one of the developers of Barley sent me a copy of their plugin, and I’ve been using it since then and I have to say it’s pretty incredible. It greatly reduces the friction of having to go to your WP admin area, find the link to make a new post, then fill out the forms (which totally sounds like work and not play) to make a post. Instead, you just hit a button to make a new post, then start typing in your blog, in your browser. It’s like Medium’s editor in that way, but on your own blog and it’s kind of amazing.

I’m finding I rarely blog on my own site here, but I’m writing more than ever, it’s just that short thoughts end up on Twitter, longer things end up on Medium, photos I take end up on Exposure or Instagram. Thanks to all these wonderful easy-to-use tools, I have a harder time coming up with an idea and having “oh, I should put that up on my blog” be the result of the thought, so I blog very rarely these days here. But do give Barley a shot, it’s pretty impressive stuff, worth the cost, and will make your blogging life much easier.

2013 Gift Guide: stuff I’ve loved

A few weeks ago I started keeping track of a list of things I’ve fallen in love with over the last year or so, in hopes of putting them all together, and this is the result. In no particular order, these are all items that I’ve used and have impressed me, hopefully they’ll give you some gift ideas for other nerdy bike loving kickstarter backing people like me.

Etch Foursquare Maps

If you’ve used Foursquare extensively in NYC, SF, Chicago, or Portland, Etch will prepare a custom map of all your check-in history for those cities, letting you choose one spot to highlight, and print it all up on fine art poster paper. It requires a heavy 4sq user, probably more than 100 check-ins if not 200 or more before you get a cool map, but I was really impressed with the nice colors and art quality of the print when I bought one last summer. It’s a beautiful work of art based on casual use of a social app.

Dero Track Bike Rack


I’m a huge bike nerd and storage of the whole family’s bikes has always been an issue in my garage. Before I found out about the Dero Racks on Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools, my garage was a mess, but everything is grand now. This bike rack basically turns your quiver of rides into a rack of clothing. As long as you stagger your bikes (handlebars up, then down, then up) you can fit 13 bicycles in a 8 foot wide space (ideally having 10-12 feet of height lets you store stuff below this too), and you just push bikes on the rolling hooks out of the way to remove one bike. Ordering this rack is a little weird since the company mostly works with building firms and city governments, but a quick phone call got a rack shipped to me in a week for about $350. Above is a shot of 8 bikes and two sets of wheels fitting in a space that used to hold just four or five bikes in my garage.


20×200 returned after nearly a year offline to offer up fine art at affordable prices. I’ve bought several items over the past few years and every one I’ve given as a gift is highly prized and prominently displayed by their new owners. Great stuff here that should appeal to anyone on your list.

The Athletic’s Socks

Awesome high quality cycling socks that can be worn off the bike, I really love the PDX Carpet socks and the LAX socks (get 2 sets of 3 if you want to be matchy-matchy).


I backed this on Kickstarter and it’s now being sold in bike shops by Nite Ize. This fantastically useful removable iPhone mount for your bike stem is a perfect addition to any city bike. In unfamiliar terrain, I use Google Maps bike directions and this puts your phone where you can see and use it without being distracting. Even while riding around my house, I find it handy to track short trips on Strava and get texts and alerts from friends I might be riding to meet. This would be a killer addition to Citibikes in NYC, where I found it awkward to hold my phone while trying to find my way to stations and destinations in Manhattan.

Bluffworks Pants

Another Kickstarter I backed that is now selling to the public, these “adventure pants” really live up to the goals the designers set out. I have worn these pants in business meetings with a belt, shirt, and tie and also stood in a foot of mud mixed with snow in the same pants. They look really sharp, fit incredibly well, and are made of tough-as-nails fabric. My only wish is that they were warmer but I can just barely fit a thin layer of REI tights below them in Winter.

Nau Clothing

I own half a dozen things from Nau and I love every item I wear from them. They’re a tad pricy but they are built to last, fit really great, and look swell. I hate ordering expensive clothes online sight unseen but if you can find them in any local retailers I would suggest going that route to make sure the fit is just right for you.

Me Undies

Last year I tried out half a dozen or so high end underwear brands trying to find something I liked (even kickstarter backed a few). The stuff they sell at Me Undies fits great, is made some of the softest fabric I’ve ever worn, and came as close to perfect as anything I tested. They sell underwear in a weird way — you buy a first pair and then you “subscribe” to monthly deliveries of the same cut/size. I kept this up for about six months, getting 3 pairs a month in all sorts of wacky colors until I pretty much replaced all my old uncomfortable underwear before halting the subscription.

Grove iPhone cases

Another cool looking, well performing, but a tad expensive item I love is my Grove iPhone case. Made of softer bamboo wood, my case has taken a dozen tumbles to concrete floors without cracking, splitting, or shattering my phone screen. My plaid case was a conversation starter at almost any retail establishment I used my phone in — it was kind of amazing how often people asked where I got it.

Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools Book

I’ve read the site since it existed, bought loads of stuff mentioned in the past, but I still got a huge kick out of pouring through the pages of Kevin Kelly’s book version of his site. It’s mostly just a reprint of the best reviews from the last ten years of the site, but the huge format and layout reminds me of old 1980s Sears catalogs I’d obsess over for months leading up the Holidays as a young kid. There are loads of great things and tips inside you might have missed even if you’re an avid follower of the site.

The Google Glass feature no one is talking about

Just think: if a million Google Glasses go out into the world and start storing audio and video of the world around them, the scope of Google search suddenly gets much, much bigger, and that search index will include you.


Mark Hurst paints a fairly scary picture of Google indexing everything, everywhere, as we all become the Googlebot, indexing every conversation and taking photos and video of every building, person, and place around us.

In 2002, Paul Ford penned a famous jokey piece about the Googlebot in his shower but it seems with Google Glass, we’ve actually gotten there and I’m not sure that’s what you’d call progress.

February 2012, baked by Ben Ward @ The Pastry Box Project

We must reject this. We must recover our sanity where 100 million users does not represent the goal criteria of every new service. We must recover the mindset where a service used by 10,000 users, or 1,000 users, or 100 users is *admired, respected, and praised* for its actual success. All of those could be sustainable, profitable ventures. If TechCrunch doesn't care to write about you, all the better.


This pretty well sums up my most recent talk, and my thinking for the past few years.

California Dreamin’ | MetaFilter

If you can take yourself out of your first world techie social media smart-shoes for a second then imagine this: you're 53 years old, you've been in prison from 20 to 26, you didn't finish high school, and you have a grandson who you're now supporting because your daughter is in jail. You're lucky, you have a job at the local Wendy's. You have to fill out a renewal form for government assistance which has just been moved online as a cost saving measure (this isn't hypothetical, more and more municipalities are doing this now). You have a very limited idea of how to use a computer, you don't have Internet access, and your survival (and the survival of your grandson) is contingent upon this form being filled out correctly.


Why libraries matter: a great comment at MetaFilter.

Tearoom stings from the 1960s

When the haters hate, when the bigoted politicos try to drag us back there, when the warped logic and the lies and the bullshit starts to fly, it's worth remembering an uncle I never knew, and the moment when he knelt on the floor of his apartment, opened the door of the oven, and leaned in.


A great story that serves as a warning about what life was like just a couple generations ago.