HD Wallet Standards for Interoperability

Note: I originally wrote this in April 2016 while traveling thru Asia and kept it in my private log area until now.

Many different software vendors have produced different HD (e.g. BIP32-compliant) Wallets, and it’s nice, but the supposed features/benefits of HD wallets aren’t really able to be used except by the most-technical of end-users. That’s because the HD standard is both really flexible (by enabling a multitude of derivation paths), and because multiple standards are used by wallet software vendors, some of which are conflicting, and each developer will use whichever standard he/she thinks is best, without regard to interoperability or what’s best and easiest for the end-user.

I propose an HD Wallet standard to which all wallets should conform for interoperability, e.g. an HD wallet created by a user with a certain software package, should be able to work with a different HD Wallet software package on possibly an altogether different OS/software ecosystem.


An HD Wallet created by a user at home on a laptop running Windows 7 should also work with that users’ Android HD Wallet software package, and with a minimum of setup required to port over the wallet. It should also work with both at the same time, meaning that a user shouldn’t have to sweep all funds to the new wallet — the user should have the choice of using either wallet based on where they are and what machine/device they wish to work from at that particular moment.

Proposed Standards

Key generation and key serialization are separate and unique processes, and regardless of the generation method used, the user should be able to port the serialized keys to different wallet software. Nevertheless, for ease-of-use and security/backup purposes, I will also address key generation here.

Key Generation

A user should always be able to easily generate their BIP32 root private key via a mnemonic seed phrase consisting of a number of words. BIP0039 is one such scheme, and the popular Electrum wallet uses a very similar, but not 100% compliant scheme.

Regardless of which scheme is used to generate the BIP32 root private key, both the seed phrase and the name of the mnemonic->seed scheme used (e.g. “BIP0039” or “Electrum”) shall be made available to the user so that the user is able to manage his/her own keys at will, without vendor lock-in. This can be hidden on an “advanced options” screen, but should not be extremely difficult to access.

Users can be warned of the dangers of displaying their mnemonic seed in clear-text, nevertheless, all wallets should make both these pieces of information available to all users:

1. Mnemonic seed phrase in plain text, e.g.:

abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon abandon about

2. Name of Scheme used to convert from seed phrase to BIP32 root private key, e.g.:


Key Serialization/Deserialization

All HD Wallets should:

1. Make available the wallet’s BIP32 derivation path for both receive and change addresses, e.g.:

Receive: m/0'/0/n  
 Change: m/0'/1/n

2. Accept a BIP0032 extended key (any derived key/depth also, don’t have to be the original root) and operate on that key as if it were the root.

3. Accept a custom user-specified BIP32-compliant derivation path and operate on that given path as long as the entire path is not entirely used (e.g. every one of the 4294967295 || 2147483647 (whatever the number is) has not been used. The path must end in a ‘n’, which will be used to generate receive addresses. The next-highest path element will be incremented and used for change addresses (e.g. for a custom user-specified path of ‘m/0/0/7/n’, change addresses will be generated from ‘m/0/0/8/n’). Or users can specify a derivation path for change addresses too. Yeah, I like that better.

4. Allow for export of a BIP0032 root **private** key for use in other wallet software.

5. Allow for export of a BIP0032 root **public** key for use in other wallet software.

6. Disallow import of individual keys except by sweeping the key into a BIP32 wallet. In other words, sweeping should be the only method allowed for import of individual keys.


Obviously the Mnemonic seed phrase and all BIP32 HD **private** keys should be encrypted in the wallet software and protected by some form of user authentication, however, as this document is intended only to be a guideline for interoperability for HD wallets, I leave the implementation of security up to the individual software vendors. (And in the hope that each understands the implications of good wallet security and uses industry-standard best practices in doing so.)

Where Apple Went Wrong…

A useless piece of junk

People don’t give a shit about things like a “Touch Bar” with emojis and the ability to pay for stuff via ApplePay. People don’t care about ApplePay, or about “eliminating cash”. And, although governments want to eliminate cash for other reasons, Apple is not the entity which is going to do so.

You know what people want?

Good hardware and software that works well.

Honestly, I don’t even think anybody cares whether their laptop is 0.005 inches thinner or 4 ounces lighter, but the ability to have 32 or 64 GB RAM is fucking huge. HUGE, I say.

Also, people don’t really like the fact that new Macbooks aren’t upgradable at all because the RAM is soldiered to the fucking logic board. That really pissed people off, Tim. I have a feeling that you’ll be remember as the guy who ran Apple into the ground. Then again, you’re also gonna be remembered as the guy who took over after the legendary Steve Jobs passed, so that will probably over-shadow any of your other accomplishments anyway.

People want hardware they can upgrade. The ability to add and replace memory modules, the ability to remove and replace hard drives (such as when they inevitably fail).

Nobody wants a fucking touch bar over the ability to have, say, 32 GB ram on their laptop. Great going, Tim, you useless wanker.

The one thing Apple had going for them is that they made the absolute best fucking computers on the planet ldtbaow. And now you’ve gone a screwed that up with your expensive garbage that’s literally tainted hardware. I’d pay money to NOT have a Touch Bar and to be able to upgrade my fucking Macbook without having to… buy another new fucking Macbook.

Here’s another hint: people don’t like proprietary, because it takes away choice. Nobody wants your fucking useless touch bar, or ApplePay. Or your walled-garden of an App Store. In fact, why not let the people decide, via decentralised reputation system (this is coming in the future, BTW), how to rank/rate apps and let them decide whether or not an app is “allowed” on their own device? Oh yeah, because you can’t. It’s in your nature to want full control over everything everywhere, always.

Honestly, the only way to save Apple from its inevitable demise (timeline: about 10 years or so) is to start making solid fucking hardware that people can use and upgrade, and drop the proprietary bullshit (e.g. Touch Bar) that nobody outside of Cupertino even fucking wants. And for God’s sake, don’t soldier the memory modules to the fucking logic board.

What is Docker? (And good luck finding out.)

Here’s an example of how technical people still can’t explain things:

I search for “What is Docker”, and I even get to the “What is Docker?” page on the official website:


But as you can see, I still don’t get a straight answer.

This page tells me what Docker allows me to do … and what Docker containers are… (but I still need to know what Docker is first).

Hint: The correct answer will begin with “Docker is” and then give a simple, high-level statement of what Docker actually is.

Such as: Docker is a virtualization environment for Linux which allows … blah blah.

I’m not even sure if that’s correct, BTW, because the official website can’t even manage to explain to me what the hell Docker is on its “What is Docker?” page.

Oh, and yeah, they should really hire a designer to fix that site.

Update: Well, apparently the people at Amazon know how to communicate a little better than the Docker folks themselves. Here it is:


They even got the “Docker is … ” bit right. How about that.

Some Things That Will Be Obsolete in 5 Years

Just 20 years ago, the world was a completely different place. And in 20 years, it’s going to be completely different than it is today. Everything’s gonna change. Lifestyles, standards of living. It’s already in progress. We just don’t always see it that way.

Think about it: can you imagine a time before YouTube? That’s just ONE service that’s changed the way we learn, share, entertain and, in some cases, make a living.

And there are several things which just haven’t had the time to change yet. Nowadays, a lot of these are things which most people see as “just the norm”. They’re absolutely ridiculous, but we’ve just come to accept them, frustrations and all. But advances in modern technology make many of these not only unnecessary, but antiquated and downright obsolete. Within 5 years, 10 at most, I think we’ll see all or most of these completely disrupted:

1. Services that require login/account creation

Like this:


Nobody wants to sign up for your damn service. They just want the service. “Free” is an illusion, which people are catching on to. It’s so that you can have “users”, and have emails to spam so that you can promote some paid product. Plus, the smart people who sign up for your service will use a fake email address so they won’t get spammed. The less-resourceful will just get pissed off that you start spamming them (legal or not). It’s a no-win situation.

However, some people would gladly pay a few cents to use your service ONE TIME. Since most of these online services are digital, a single one-time use really doesn’t justify more than a few cents anyway. Put in some data, run it through a proprietary algorithm, spit out some different data. Charge a nominal fee each time.

With the traditional payment systems, paying a few cents would be a nightmare. You’d have to sign up, and hand over your credit card information for ONLY A FEW CENTS?! That’s nuts. Plus, credit card payments are a hassle online, since you have to fill out your personal information every time, and 1/2 the time they fail authorisation if you’re traveling or just because.

But now, with modern cryptography and micro-payments possible (e.g. using Bitcoin and Dash), this is entirely possible. Within a few years, this will be the norm for online payments.

2. Email/password to login

This is way overdue.

We’ll see at least one cryptographic global identity system (maybe a few) come to light. People shouldn’t have to manage a different identity with every service they use. They also want control over their own data, which a global ID system will allow. Of course, if it’s not completely decentralised and distributed, it’s not gonna work. It will also have to be lightly collateralised (to prevent spam/sybil attacks and discourage bad actors) and incentivised (ensure plenty of nodes for constant uptime).

Microsoft is trying to partner with companies on this, but I have a feeling that this effort will end up like all of Microsoft’s others. They’ll somehow manage to screw it up and it’ll fall flat on its face.

I look forward to the completely open-source alternative which is in no way affiliated with Microsoft.

3. Tons of BS paperwork

Hospital visits. Apartment applications. Work applications. DMV registration.

It’s all the same info anyway. Your name, birthdate, sex, physical address, phone number… most of that doesn’t change, and it can be updated on an ID blockchain if it ever does. And encrypted so that you can give that out to only entities that need to know (like the above).

Anyway, most of the time, the info on these papers are entered into a computer and the completed forms are then shredded. What a waste.

Goodbye, useless paperwork.

4. Movies which require you to watch 20 minutes of ads and trailers, as well as threats to throw you in jail.

How long did they actually think people would stand for that? By the way, here’s the pro-piracy argument summed up in one graphic:


Now, I’m not advocating piracy. I AM advocating that media companies begin to:

a. Charge much less for media
b. Distribute on some global decentralised filesystem, like IPFS or MaidSafe, but:
c. Make it somehow incentivised so that each purchase will send the media company the nominal fee (say, $2-3 for a movie), then get a link to the volume on the IPFS.

Yeah, $2 – $3 sounds about right. Ditto for an MP3 album. It’s that or nothing (b/c most people will just want to pirate it instead), so get ready to adjust.

5. Physical distribution of any digital media (DVDs, music)

See above. There’s literally no good reason to own physical media anymore*, as DVDs and CDs scratch and break. But a digital version can be kept without worry about destruction, and taken anywhere and watched/played at any time. Most people just digitise their CDs anyway, and DVDs if they’re savvy enough.

*except vinyl

The reason that most of these are on-track to becoming reality isn’t so much that there’s now a better way, but that… people are tired of the crap in general. It’s a trend. They’re tired of being lied to by politicians, government and media, and they’re tired of being screwed over by large corporations.

If for no other reason than that, things will change, because it’s now possible and we’re all tired of the status quo.

6. Credit Ratings Agencies

I’m talking about Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Also known as the “big three” consumer credit bureaus.

Credit scores themselves will always exist, as long as credit does (although FICO may not). People need a way to evaluate risk of lending to someone / an organisation.

By the way, this is one of the biggest shams in existence today.

In the current system, your credit can be totally destroyed by someone you’ve never met or seen, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it.

If you want to refute an entry on “your” credit report, you have to nicely petition the agency (one of the big three listed above) and hope that they don’t flatly push the “reject” button as they scan through the list. But they probably will. Then you have to get a lawyer and prove in court that it was a false (mistaken or fraudulent) entry. THEN, only under a court order, will the consumer credit agency actually remove the item from your report.

The one big power that the big three have over the entire (at least in the US) population is that they control the data, and the algorithms. People have no control over their own data!

Of course there are some people that claim to be able to fix credit via certain “hacks” and knowledge of the system… but we shouldn’t have to deal with any of that in the first place.

So… how to fix it? Blockchain tech. Use a credit system with a nominal fee for entry/id creation, or the previously mentioned “ID blockchain”.

Then the consumer authorises a company to add entries on a set basis (e.g. monthly, weekly, daily, unlimited) and only for a fixed amount of time. (E.g. if an apartment lease is for 12 months, then I will authorise my apartment landlord only 12 credit entries, one per month, for a year.

If I renew the lease to stay for another year, I can also renew the landlord’s authorisation to write to my credit report. (That can even be put into the terms of the lease.)

Credit entries are stored on the blockchain in an encrypted format so that only lenders that are authorised (by the consumer) can see them. But, consumer can’t pick & choose which entries they get to see. That defeats the point. Consumer can either allow ALL or NONE.

Credit scores are calculated through the entries and credit information much as they are today. With one exception: the algorithms are open & available to all. Release the algorithms!

This enables lenders to choose which algorithm to use and what to optimise for.

Want to skew toward paying on time? Go for it. There’s an algo for that.

Don’t care about mortgage payments? Ignore them! Sky’s the limit.

By the way, the “big three” consumer credit bureaus that I mentioned above are scared to death of this.

If the system that I’ve just described actually sees the light of day and develops some traction, it’s game over for them. They just lost billions of dollars in bullshit fees and the ability to ruin others’ lives. BTW, it’s this current system which enables identity theft and fraud in the first place.

What I’ve described is a system which enables people (and companies) to take control of their own credit reports and data, and enables lenders to establish their own criteria instead of just accepting FICO and/or whatever random algorithm the big three decided to dream up.

And why shouldn’t businesses be able to use this system too? As long as the requisite identity fee is paid (prevent spam/sybil attacks), this could be used by any entity at all. The algorithms can be chosen differently based on if it’s a business or a consumer.

This is all accomplished not through declared “rules” of how the system “should” work, but through cryptography, and in particular, a cryptographic key/identity system.

Laws of man can be changed arbitrarily. The only laws that really matter are the ones that this universe is based on: The laws of physics, and of mathematics.

7. Unequal pay based on location, etc.

This is ridiculous, but still happens regularly today. Example: One of the best javascript programmers lives in Singapore, so she doesn’t get paid as much as her San Francisco peers. Her company cites SF’s “high cost of living” as a reason she doesn’t get paid as much. (Singapore has a high cost of living also, so that argument’s codswallop).

Since the advent of Bitcoin, payments to anyone, anywhere in the world are easier than… well, a lot of things. And since intellect workers (like computer programmers and designers) don’t need to be physically present to work, a lot of them live wherever they want these days. So why is a person’s salary still based on location in many instances?


We’re tired of having our email addresses and passwords stolen in data breaches. Tired of have our emails spammed and badgered by corporate marketing departments.

Tired of being forced to choose between paying exorbitant fees or not buying anything at all. Tired of fat cat media moguls getting rich off our DVD/MP3 purchases while the artists themselves receive very little. There’s too much imbalance, and technology is on-track to correct all that.

A decentralised and distributed global technological revolution can’t be stopped. It’s a natural progression which has all led up to this very point.

It’s about time.

Review: Wiko Lenny 3 Smartphone

Wiko Lenny 3 — A Game Changer? Hardly.
Wiko Lenny 3 — A Game Changer? Hardly.

Update: Be sure and see my update below. Even more brickkery!

I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand when my Nexus 5 finally just gave out. The infamous Nexus 5 “power button issue” meant that I could not use it for more than 2 minutes without the phone just shutting down again, just immediately, as if the battery had been removed. Then my screen cracked when I was trying to get it to work. It cracked bad, so much that I couldn’t see anything even when I could get the damn phone to power up. So it was finally dead.

In the modern world where everything depends on 2-factor authentication (with a cellphone and either SMS or a smartphone app), it’s incredibly frustrating to go without a Smartphone. I won’t even get into the assumptive nonsense of requiring a phone number for just about anything these days. On to the review.

I shopped around for a couple weeks, because I really don’t like shopping and didn’t want to make a bad decision. I settled on the Wiko Lenny 3. I should state that my only experience with a smartphone before this one is with the Nexus 5, which I had for about 2 years.

The good?

It’s an Android smartphone and pretty modern, meaning I can get most (not all) of the apps I previously had on my Nexus 5. That’s about it.

The Bad

Slow. As. Molasses.

The damn thing is slow. Really slow. Like, imagine running your current computer on a x386 machine. Ok, even a Pentium.

It even comes installed with an app called “One Clean” just to kill off any background apps which are eating up RAM memory. Oh, it’s only got 1GB of RAM. I didn’t realise what a difference this would make, but apparently it’s huge (the Nexus 5 has 2GB).

Like, scrolling between screens takes 1/2 a second minimum. I want to emphasise minimum (see what I did there?). I’ve had it take 3 seconds to scroll to a different Desktop screen — just a simple swipe left or right.

Apps take seconds to open. Not fractions of a second, but multiple seconds. Like, I’ve had some take 5 – 7 seconds. It does get better after a reboot, but only a little.

Everything about the system lags all the time, e.g. when typing something on the keyboard, and you try and press a key but it’s still processing from the previous key, and just lags.

Doesn’t recognise swipes/touches well

This actually happens most of the time. I believe it’s directly related to the memory issue. I have to swipe/touch really slowly for it to even register. Otherwise it just gets lost or spotty, e.g. if I tried to draw a line, it would end up patchy, with spaces.

Example: When I use Pleco and try and draw out a Chinese character on the screen, it doesn’t always catch all the strokes. I mean, I’m pressing hard enough, but even just drawing a straight line will result in a broken line. It’s so frustrating.

Extremely Low Storage

It’s got 8GB storage. Ok, fine, I knew that when I bought it. My Nexus 5 had 32GB, and I hardly used most of that. And I filled the thing with videos and photos. But I’ve taken only 3 photos total with this Lenny 3, and installed very few apps (basic things like Google Keep, etc. which weren’t pre-installed, and things like Pleco and ChineseSkill). No Instagram, no Facebook app, none of that junk. Yet I’m at 6+ of out 8 GB already. It is expandable via MicroSD to 64GB though.

“Desktop” Icons

I can’t remove the default app icons from the “Desktop” screen (or whatever it’s called on a smartphone). On my Nexus 5, it was not a problem to remove the Desktop shortcuts, but that’s not possible at all on the Wiko. My solution was to move all the pre-installed junk to a single folder and so all that crapware just takes up one icon space instead of several screens’ worth of screen real-estate.

I’m also not able to create new icons onto the screen. On the Nexus, you open the apps folder, and drag the icon to create a new Desktop shortcut. Not how it works on a Wiko. You just don’t have the option.

Hardware design

USB charger/data port plugs in from the top. When you’re charging the phone while trying to use it also, it’s really frustrating having the cord protrude from the top of the phone. It gets in the way, feels and looks awkward.

The audio jack is on the top also, and this is the one thing about the Nexus 5 that I didn’t like, because it also has it on top. Bad design decisions.


The Wiko line looks nice, shiny, new, inexpensive. What’s not to love? Well, you heard it here first. Sorry Wiko, you’re not a “Game Changer” at all. You manufacture sub-par junk which barely functions.

You might say, well, the Lenny 3 is a low-budget model, and if I really wanted a great phone then I would have shelled out the bucks for a nicer one. And to that I would respond: How you do one thing, is how you do everything.

If Wiko didn’t want to be known for making junk phones, then this 1GB RAM model would never have been released. Don’t try and satisfy that lower price point, and instead focus on quality. But that’s not what happened, and the fact is, this company manufactures junk.

I’ll never in my life purchase another Wiko phone ever again, nor can I recommend it to anyone at all. Buy a new or used Nexus instead. The Nexus 5 has a power button issue, which I blame on LG, the manufacturer, so I’ll opt for the Nexus 6p or whatever newer model Google will release soon that’s not made by LG. But never a Wiko, never again.

One might even ask why I took the time to write this review? Well, when I was searching for information on Wiko phones and specifically the Lenny 3 model, I found nothing. Nothing to help guide me. So, hopefully this can help someone steer clear of an incredibly frustrating experience and save a little cash in the process.

Update: 2016-06-26

This phone is even more of a brick than I expected.

Every once in a while, it will just freeze up completely, and nothing works, short of opening the back and removing the battery. Yep, that’s right. About every 1.5 – 2 weeks or so it becomes a brick until you physically remove and re-install the battery. Not to mention that you have to have fingernails to claw the cover off, because apparently the hardware engineers didn’t anticipate that anyone would ever have to install a battery or a SIM card.

Obviously, this is really irritating if you’re doing something time-sensitive, like trying to take a photo.

I will repeat: DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE.

WordPress 4.4+ — How to Fix the Disappearing Admin Panel in the Post Editor

Well, the geniuses behind WordPress did it again. Enabled a change that Automattic thinks is the latest thing since sliced bread, and forced it upon the entire rest of the WordPress world.

This time, it’s in the form of a disappearing admin panel when you write posts. Apparently everything else is a “distraction”, and when writing, the only thing you should see is your little text box and nothing else. Well, fuck that. It’s annoying, and most of all, distracting! The distraction-free feature is actually distracting the hell out of me and I just want to write my post with a standard static screen with all my buttons and checkboxes that I’m used to.

Here’s how to fix it:

Step 1: Click the “Screen Options” at the top-right of the admin panel.
Step 2: Uncheck the “Enable Full-Height Editor and Distraction-Free Functionality” checkbox.


Institute Policies to Avoid Breaking Hard Rules

Policies and Procedures?

Today I had a conversation that went something like this:

Girl: “Hey, can I borrow your laptop?”

Me: “Hell no!” (jokingly, but not really joking)

Girl: “I’m working on something now, so I’m gonna need to borrow your laptop. This font size is just too small for what I’m working on.”

Me: “…”

I personally have a hard rule about my laptop: no one uses my laptop. For any reason, ever. That rule is slightly bendable for one person – my wife. And even then, she has her own account on my Macbook, she doesn’t log on using mine. Why?

Well, it’s a tech thing, and most really really techy computer people are probably just like me, but basically there’s a lot of data thats… well, private. Like, really private. Like, $xx,xxx worth of private. For example, private keys. My ssh keys are stored on my laptop, un-encrypted because I ssh all the time and don’t want to type in a password every time I log in to a server. (Yes, I know about ssh-agent).

More importantly, private keys for things like FinTech (e.g. Bitcoin, Dash). Now, those are encrypted on my laptop because even I’m not that stupid.

Also, content. My own content. My disk could crash. Maybe I didn’t back up some articles I’ve written, or photographs that I’ve taken, or videos that I’m working on. Projects, plans. Whatever. Sure, I’m responsible for backing that sh* up, but I’m also responsible for not letting someone else possibly screw up my data on my computer.

Even if I enabled the guest account on here, I’m not familiar with how to set up a disk quota. So, I can either risk letting this person that I hardly know fill up my disk and risk breaking my machine, or I can take time out of my day to learn how to set up a disk quota, which may or may not work or be a viable option. Neither of those things are acceptable to me.

So, I can either:

a. Look like a jerk when I have to tell this girl, “No, you cannot use my laptop… “, or:
b. Let policy take care of it. “No, sorry, I have a policy not to let anyone use my laptop because …”.

This accomplishes 2 things for me:

1. It frees me up from making a decision about it. Once it’s policy, even I have to abide by it. So, it’s just, no, sorry, because policy.

2. I don’t have to deal with the consequences of breaking my own semi-rule because I decided to not look like a jerk, even though I have good reasons not to lend out my Macbook. Basically, it helps me to not look like a jerk. Even tho I’m not one — it would appear, in the moment, as tho I am being “mean” to this girl or something.

These things don’t happen with a policy. Sorry, it’s stated beforehand. Rules are rules, policy can’t be broken.

Another example:

Last night I went with a group to a local gourmet market. Our host had a birthday the next day (today), so a couple of the guests wanted to make her something a special cake. After we got back, the girl who haphazardly purchased a lot of ingredients (of her own volition), realized that it cost her so much. So then she asked me and our other roommate if we’d go in on it together — to help re-imburse her. She ended up spending around $100 US, so that would be about $30 each.

When she asked us, we were put on-the-spot and I made a quick decision without having much time to think about it, and trying not to look like a bad person/jerk. So I told her that I’d chip in. I was upset about this for a while, but I’ve decided to pay it out of respect for our host (who doesn’t charge us anything to stay here).

But originally, that’s not something that I’d planned or budgeted for, so I really didn’t feel good about doing so. But if I’d had a policy which states that I can only spend money if I budget for it at least 2 weeks in advance, then I could have told her, oh, sorry, I have a strict budget policy. Even something like “my wife and I” have a strict policy about budgeting funds. I would not have had to make a split-second decision because all things like that are already decided beforehand.

Just like when eating — I don’t (knowingly) eat anything that’s not plant-based or mushrooms/yeast. Living with that hard rule is actually easy, because it’s one less decision that I have to make several times a day over the course of my life.

Ctrl-P to print…

Most people don’t think about how their websites or blogs print out. Probably because most people don’t print things anymore. But for me, if I’m starting on a long article, I’ll try and print it so that it doesn’t hurt my eyes.

When I Google related searches, I see people posting thoughts along the lines of:

“Why bother? Nobody prints things anymore.”
Those people are assholes inconsiderate, or ignorant, or both.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer over the course of my adult life. Looking at a computer screen, which emits blue light which is harmful to the retina.

I get eyestrain after looking at the screen for a few minutes/hours (depending on the day and how much off-screen time I’ve had to recuperate). So, in the interest of preserving my vision for future decades, I like to print long-ish articles.

There used to be an easy way to print things. Ctrl+P. Or, if you’re on a Mac, CMD+P. It still works, and people still print things.

But websites have gotten uglier over the years. Marketers have taught us that we have to use the sidebar to put an email signup form, as well as “tag clouds”, adverts and all other sorts of nonsense.

For one, it really degrades the readability of a site. But also, it makes web pages really, really hard to print out, if you’re trying to conserve paper and don’t want a lot of nonsense that you’ll just have to throw away.

Some people (developers) use browser tools to remove things they don’t want to see on an ad-hoc basis and print that. I’ve edited websites from 20 pages down to about 3 or 4. It’s that bad.

And this is really an issue of accessibility more than anything. Here’s a good definition from my friends Google and Wikipedia. They seem to know everything.

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).

This accessibility problem opportunity is also very easy to fix (usually). The solution? Print media stylesheets, à la the ones you can see here: https://github.com/nmarley/stylish-stylesheets

In summary, my real advice to anyone with a website would be:

Make it so that when a person visits your site and types “Ctrl+P”, they get a nicely-formatted version of your page/site that’s perfect for printing. That’s it. That’s the goal with all of my sites, and hopefully they’re all at least close to it.

Tangent: Sites should be “responsive”, which is an techie term. It means that when someone visits your site on a mobile phone, it should still: 1) look reasonably good and 2) be readable without having to zoom in. Not necessarily the same as the desktop version, but it should satisfy those two criteria. Also, Google thinks so too.

Email Anxiety

Inbox - Email
Breathe while reading your email!

I don’t know if email anxiety is a real thing, but I definitely have it, regardless.

When composing an email, sometimes it takes me one, two, … up to three hours or more. To write an email. Not a long email of a few thousand words (I don’t believe most emails should be that long). Just a simple, short introductory email.

“Hey, how are you? I’m Nathan. I see you’re doing [INSERT COOL THING HERE], I think that’s cool because [REASONS] and just wanted to connect with you. I’d love to help if you need it with [SOME THINGS I CAN HELP WITH].

Anyway, take care,

<<--- this template took me 2 minutes to write. An email that looks just like this template, but with details filled in and written completely from scratch, can take me hours to write. My anxiety is that bad. Side note: I really should start using templates like this to make life easier.

I agonize over the process, how will this sound to him/her? What words should I use? What should I say? This is especially true with people that I respect and admire.

Replying to emails is the same way, sometimes even worse. Because someone’s taken the time to write me a message and respond, meaning they at least don’t hate me. They took time out of their day to write me something. So I’ve now got to step up and really deliver value.

I know it’s over-analyzing. It’s really a form of perfectionism. I don’t want to mess anything up, say something one way where it could have been said better, or more elegant, or more precise.

Analysis paralysis – the reason why I don’t get near as much accomplished as I’d like to. But I’m committed to being prolific, so I’ll have to just power through and as my friend and colleague Chiara told me, “I think you need to get out of your head, and get out there and talk to people… just talk to people, I think the biggest thing that’s holding you back is this perfectionism. You need to practice moving fast.”

I also have this internal rule where I always reply to emails unless I think it’s spam (like from a tech recruiter — those people really are the worst). So, if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t replied, and the email warrants a reply, then it really is on my TODO list, promise. It’s likely that I respect and admire you, and just haven’t had the time (read: hours) to sit down and craft a well-written, perfect response to you, because that’s what you deserve. I’m sorry, I do want to write back to you, and I will eventually.

So my challenge for today is to:

1. Get this post up & published, and:
2. Get to Inbox zero — reply to all emails where I’ve been putting off emailing them (which is why my Inbox isn’t at zero now).

Thanks for reading, thanks for understanding, and you’re awesome.

Illustration credit: Marie-Chantale Turgeon – Breathe while reading your email!

Be Ruthless with your Email

Email is sacred ground. It’s where you get important notes from friends and family, as well as the businesses and organizations that you care about.

But for a lot of people it’s become a wasteland, a junkyard to be traversed, only every once in a while finding a gem here or there.

Me? I’m ruthless with my email. If any company, organization, or marketer sends me something that I don’t want to receive even once, they’re gone. Done. Unsubscribed. I don’t care how much they might have improved my life or condition. By giving over my primary email address, for any reason, I’ve given you my trust, and that doesn’t come lightly.

Once you violate that trust, even one time, you’re done. Gone.

I signed up for Medium.com the other day, just so that I could get set up for publishing some articles there in the future. And less than 24 hours later, got an email with “stuff I might like”, or some such nonsense. Bam! Gone. If I want to waste my time going through “stuff I might like”, I’ll search for it myself and on my own time.

Email is sacred. It’s my own place to receive asynchronous communication when I feel like it and when I’m ready to do so. Not somewhere you can get more eyeballs on your content on a regular basis. I trusted you, and you let me down. You don’t get a second chance. I’m through with you.

I use Gmail, and they have a nice “Spam” button. It’s real nice when you’ve committed to being ruthless with your email purges.

Nowadays, my primary inbox is pretty clean. It’s only used for communications that I want in there. If I do want to collect marketing or autoresponder emails for future use, I use another “fake” email address. Not an actual fake one, but another one that I’ve set up that’s not my primary one.

My primary email is sacred. I try and treat it well, to keep it spotless, and in return I have a lot more mental clarity and less clutter when checking my email. I can visit my inbox, do what I came to do, and then leave. Less distraction, more productivity.