Posts filed under "Blog"

April 30, 2019

The Death of Dashboards

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at Slack’s yearly conference about some of the fun stuff I’ve been working on at Hearst.

There’s such great energy and momentum around Slack and the community of users and developers. It really feels like we’re in the infancy of redefining “work”.

“Dashboards are where data goes to die” is a bold statement. So I’ve been walking the walk, getting my hands dirty with graph databases and conversational UX. Excited to see where this leads…

February 20, 2019

Judging People Who Don’t Exist

TLDR: I made a thing and it got some press.


Judging people by their appearance feels icky. Why? Because there’s more to people than their looks; we need to consider the whole package.

(“But they have such a good personality!”)

But what if someone exists in appearance only? A cover without a book, solely for your judgement?

That sounds like a fun place to make guilt-free snap judgements, so I built it!

Please enjoy “Judge Fake People“, a place where you can vote on the appearance of people who don’t exist.

Background

Like many internet addicts, I was blown away by NVIDEO’s demo using style-based Generative Adversarial Networks to generate faces. They seem to have crossed a threshold for generating artificial images that can genuinely fool our brains.

Flash forward to last week when I saw Philip Wang’s amazing single-serving website thispersondoesosxist.com.

It was fascinating to see a photo-realistic face of someone that doesn’t exist. Philip’s writeup does a great job explaining his motivations and this implications behind this groundbreaking technology.

But I just wanted to turn it into hot or not.

So I wrote a script to download an image from thispersondoesnotexist.com every 5 seconds and built up a collection of around two thousand fake people. Then I made a voting system with php/MySQL and some filters to show the highest and lowest rated faces. And I enabled comments just for fun.

So sit back, relax, and enjoying rating the attractiveness of people who don’t exist right here.

August 29, 2016

How neural networks create images

This is fascinating stuff.

According to Gene Kogan on Twitter: DGN “deep generator network” is a neural net that synthesizes realistic images by learning low-dimensional encoding over an image set and samples from it to activate neurons associated w/ a class, e.g. cheeseburger.

More examples here.

This is some seriously future shit.

July 18, 2016

Rockstar Developers

For the last few months I’ve been leading games product development at Hearst Digital Media working with some amazing folks building some pretty awesome stuff. We’re bullish on using the latest web technologies to bring app-like game functionality onto the web, and it’s been a blast so far.

We’ve just signed a deal with a big gaming company (can’t say who yet… but you’ve heard of them), and with wind in our sails we’re expanding the team. If you’re a rockstar full-stack developer or know one, check out the job description here.

November 11, 2014

First Steps in One World Trade Center

I’ve been literally watching One World Trade Center take shape since construction started. So today when I got the chance to spend a few moments in the building for the first time, I excitedly snapped a few photos with my phone.

The lobby is huge and gorgeous. It smells like a mixture of “new car smell” and fresh paint.

Security was very nice but not very subtle. When I entered from the street a few large (but kind) men slowly descended upon me and guided me to the main security desk.

Once past security I was in the elevator bank. The elevator buttons are presented on a touch screen, and you’re only shown the floors relevant to you.

Inside, the elevators don’t have many buttons.

Welcome to New York. Welcome to New York.

From inside the building, the only subtle reminder you’re in such an iconic piece of architecture (besides the view) are the gradually sloping corners, which are a cross section of the building’s overall unique geometry.

Not a bad view.

September 11, 2014

World Trade Center Floorplans

Because of today’s significance (and because it will be my future office in a few months!) I was reading up on the new One World Trade Center. It’s got a pretty interesting tapering shape, so I thought it would be fun to do an “MRI” style flythrough of some of the floorplans I could find online.

Slide your mouse from left to right across the images below to see a fun little animation.

March 19, 2014

Bitcoin Megaphone

Last week I had a crazy idea for a website. This week I’m proud to announce BitcoinMegaphone.com. Let me explain the idea and why I’m so excited about it.

The website is based on two basic rules: Anyone can post, and anyone can profit.

Rule 1: Anyone can post

In this regard it’s like Twitter, but instead of being limited to 140 characters, you’re charged per character. So the only limit to the size of a post is the size of your wallet.

If you wanted to post a message the length of a tweet (140 characters), it would cost around $0.08 (based on the current Bitcoin/USD exchange). Posting just a bit.ly URL costs around a penny. If you want to stand out and post a chunk of text, the price (along with the post’s visibility) goes up.

So that’s the first part of the website. It’s got kind of a “Million Dollar Homepage” vibe to it. Ok, so far so good.

Rule 2: Anyone can profit

This is where things get interesting.

Every time someone creates a post, a “virtual tipjar” is automatically generated for that post. Each post has its own unique tip jar, and it’s baked right into each post’s URL. And here’s the kicker – only the original creator of the post is given the keys to the tip jar. This is possible thanks to the ingenious system of public/private key generation that’s a part of the Bitcoin system. So any time you see a post on Bitcoin Megaphone, you can send money to it and the author gets 100%.

This lets people get a return on their investment, and offers incentive to post and share funny, engaging, or timely content. Getting social currency in actual money is much more enticing than the meaningless Retweets and Likes we’re all so obsessed with.

There’s already a post that cost $15 where someone jokingly referenced the infamous Nigerian Prince scam email. It hasn’t gotten any tips yet, but I applaud the author’s balls:
http://bitcoinmegaphone.com/1FMiqFSdHwAZF9SKi8DVLUGfghEeAyWwSZ/

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a post where the author only spent $0.08, but has already made $0.40 in tips, making about 4x his/her investment. (It’s a cute emoticon, by the way):
http://bitcoinmegaphone.com/14XMmrqXiUcpPHySzj4SXSPyxLPiVVgoiX/

Why I’m Stoked

Before Bitcoin, it would have been impossible to create a website like this. There are no credit cards to hook up, no user accounts to create and spam with marketing emails; no annoying ads that disrupt the experience of exploration and discovery; no annoying comments to moderate. It’s just content and micropayments.

There are a lot of smart and talented people looking at micropayments as the future of online publishing. Personally, I have no idea how things will shake out, but I’m excited to keep watching this living breathing ecosystem evolve.

In Summary

Right now on the internet, text is a commodity (think of those walls of text on your crazy friend’s Facebook page). Bitcoin Megaphone transforms strings of text from a commodity to a unique store of value. And that’s some pretty interesting shit.

PS – I was considering posting this entire post on Bitcoin Megaphone for $21.30, but decided it would be weird on launch day :-p

June 3, 2013

Iris Smyles and Dave Hill at The Strand

If you’re in New York this Thursday, check out this event at The Strand with authors Iris Smyles and Dave Hill. If it’s half as awesome as the poster then you’re in for a treat.

June 2, 2013

Things To Do In Portland

If you’re planning to travel to Portland (the Oregon one, not that lame-ass place in Maine), keep this blog post handy. Before a recent trip a friend of a friend sent me this incredibly extensive and helpful email with restaurants, activities, and suggestions, which I’ve broken up and hyperinked just for you.

The greatest thing about this list is it’s from an actual Portlander, not some guidebook. So consider these suggestions properly vetted. Enjoy, and keep Portland weird.

Outdoor Activities

Timberline Lodge

Go up Mt. Hood to Timberline Lodge – you can ski year round if you want or just hang at the gorgeous lodge and get some food and drink and walk around in the snow.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is very cool to see – about 30 minutes from downtown up the Columbia Gorge – take the scenic route. You can walk a nice paved trail up to the top.

Angels Rest

Angel’s Rest is a popular hike.

Pony Tail Falls

Pony Tail Falls is a cool fall that you can go behind. It’s part of the Horsetail Falls Loop. More info here.

Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion is a cool mansion in town with views of all the mountains.

Forest Park

The rose garden up in forest park/washington park is nice.

The drive straight out route 26 to the ocean to Cannon Beach is spectacular! 1.5 hours – gorgeous drive – Sleepy Monk Coffee House is amazing! It has a restaurant/booze too I think…. easy to park right next to that and they’ll point you to the beach!

Beer

Cascade Brewing

Cascade brewing is pretty cool – right in town on Belmont – known for interesting Belgian sour beers.

Base Camp

Very close to that is a new fun brewery called Base Camp – great outdoor area and a pizza truck right there – great if the weather is good.

Prost!

Prost! seems cool on N. Mississippi.

Upright Brewery

Upright Brewery is a cool cavernous brewery in a building on Broadway – really nice beer – only open on weekends. Broadway is a nothing busy street but very close to North Williams which has lots of food….

Restaurants

Clyde Common

Clyde Common is a restaurant in the Ace Hotel – reallly good food and fun and good cocktails…… go there!

Beeker and Flask

Beeker and Flask is near that Basecamp Brewery – great restaurant and attached behind it is a place called Rum Club with all fun rum drinks and they spin old vinyl – cool.

Le Pigeon

Le Pigeon – seriously awesome! Go. Best restaurant in town – chef wins awards – not pretentious – open kitchen behind bar to watch him cook.
It’s On East Burnside next to the Jupiter Hotel which houses the Doug Fir Lounge and band venue – Doug Fir is fun to hang at – outdoor fire pit etc…

Little Bird Bistro

Little Bird Bistro is a good restaurant downtown. Sister restaurant to Le Pigeon which is famous. Johnny the bartender/part owner is awesome – he used to run the bar at Clyde Common.

Biwa

Biwa is a great looking Japanese Izakaya in Southeast Portland – cool cement industrial chic basement – yummy food – not too expensive.

Miho Izakaya

Miho Izakaya is an awesome Japanese restaurant – Izakaya is Japanese comfort food. It’s in a renovated bunglow house – we love it!

Por Que No

Por Que No is great taco restaurant on Hawthorne around 46th or 47th. There is one on Mississippi Ave as well. Fun “Mexican” and big margaritas – fun people watching.

Neighborhoods

Check out Alberta Street for sure – I’d say Alberta is cooler later in the day. Salt n’ Straw Ice Cream is great. And Random Order Cafe on Alberta at 15th is great. Sweet and savory pies and really good bloody marys and other yummy coffee drinks – alcoholic or not….. lots of cool shops and bars.

All the way from 33rd Ave to 10th Ave there is cool stuff. Zilla Sake restaurant is next to Random Order too – lots and lots and lots of sake and sushi – cool place.

Pok Pok on SE Division Street is fabulous and delicious – he just opened 2 places in NYC – SE Division has lots of cool bars and stuff from 33rd up to almost 50th….

Pok Pok owns a bar across the street called Whiskey Soda…. The Woodsman Tavern on Division is nice – I’ve only had raw bar and cocktails – menu seems so so to me. Cool tho….

Ava Gene’s is new fancyish Italian – not sure how Italian really.
Cibo is really nice big clay oven for pizzas and other roasty toasty things. Around division and 37th – Urban Winery is right around the corner. Pok Pok also opened a funky noodle house on Division at 34th.

SE Clinton St. has cool places to eat at 26th (like Broder) and at 20th (St. Jack to eat and drink) Nite Light Lounge to eat and drink (Night Light is our favorite bar).

Hawthorne Blvd between 34th and 38th is very Portland – a fun street.
Hit that Powell’s Books right there. Get a waffle at the Waffle Window right off Hawthorne on 36th.

Close to Hawthorne is Belmont. SE Belmont St. between and 32nd and 34th is cool. Some bars and shops.

N. Mississippi Ave is a cool street of shops and restaurants.

N. Williams is a street with restaurants etc…. Tasty and Sons, Eat, Lincoln

SE 28th Ave between Burnside and Glisan has a bunch of restaurants, bars, and shops and cafes…..

East Burnside has a bunch of restaurants too – intersects 28th…..

Walk around the Pearl district in the NW section around 13th Ave and Everett – our SoHo. It’s where Wieden+Kennedy is.

NW 23rd is our preppier shopping street – not sure for the boys – like Newbury Street in Boston – lots and lots of shops – Besaw restaurant is good for apres strolling….

Band Venues

Doug Fir

Mississippi Studios

Mississippi Studios has a cool bar called Bar Bar attached.

Wonder Ballroom

Secret Society is a popular bar next to it…. you can grab the WW (Willamette Week – our Village Voice) for listings.

And lastly, make sure to check out Moonbrine Pickles, the best pickles in Portland.

May 13, 2013

The Stepkids Cover “Suit & Tie”

File this under “so wonderfully unexpected.”

The thing that makes this quirky jazz rendition of “Suit & Tie” so amazing is that these guys aren’t your run-of-the-mill Holiday Inn trio; they’re The Stepkids, a world-class eclectic trippy R&B trio with fans across the globe (including Radiohead’s Thom Yorke).

Bravo for embracing the genre, and for not taking themselves too seriously.