Gabe's 2012 Year in Review

It's time for my mostly-annual "stuff and things" post.  I've missed some years, but I think I have more new stuff this time around.  I'll try and detail all of the software, hardware and services that I've used this year to make my personal and professional life better or more interesting.

Software

Desktop (OS X)

  • Xcode.
    Love it or hate it, I live in it.  Actually, I don't know if I love it or hate it.
  • Transmit.
    For many years in a row it's been my OS X FTP client of choice and I'm still very happy with it.
  • Textual.
    I switched OS X IRC clients this year to to Textual.  It's open source, and it's pretty customizable.  It's done me well, while admittedly my requirements in a desktop IRC client are minimal these days.  Not like the crazy stuff I used to do back in the "good ol' days".  This app doesn't seem to be actively updated on the App Store, but it's open source so I just compile it myself.
  • Tweetbot.
    The Tapbots guys can do no wrong, and I was happy to pay anything they wanted when I found they were coming out with a desktop version of Tweetbot.  
  • Chrome.  
    It has been my browser of choice.  I don't know why.  I guess it's faster?  I'm pretty browser agnostic, in general.  As long as you can build plugins for it and it's fast I'm fine.
  • Textmate / Sublime Text 2.
    I've been using the same old version of Textmate for years.  But I'm trying to move over to Sublime Text 2.  Sometimes I forget.  But Sublime Text 2 is better,  the features are handy, and it's faster.
  • 1Password.
    A great password management application for desktop and mobile, 1Password makes my life easy by managing all of the many developer accounts I have, as well as the ever growing social media world.

Mobile (iOS)

    Workclub

    • Tweetbot.
      Same as above.  But for iOS.
    • SF Climates.
      A weather application for the many micro-climates of San Francisco.  Everyone in SF should have this because it works.  Nobody outside of the city limits has a use for it.
    • Reeder.
      I don't use this because I love it, I use it because it currently works for me.  I require a RSS reader that will cache posts offline so I can read them while on BART.  This does that.  I'm always keeping my eyes out for something better.
    • Downcast.
      After moving to SF I started listening to Podcasts again.  When in Omaha I stopped listening all together, mostly due to a lack of a commute.  Here I'm listening to them just as much as I was in Chicago, and I'm again hooked.  Downcast is a really great podcast consumption application.  It has everything that I could want.  Things like playback speed, dynamic playlists and geo-fencing makes this the application for people who take podcasts seriously.
    • Highlight.
      As a fan of social-by-way-of-digital having an application that just tells me who's around is interesting to me.  I can ping those people that seem interesting, and you never know what will come of that.
    • Workclub.
      This is a new application from the Coffee & Power people.  It's something that I don't exactly know the true value of yet, but I think will become apparent before long.  As people are checking into their respective locations, it's cool to know what people are working on, and where.  I think this information can be invaluable at some point in the future when you realize "Hey, I think I saw a guy working on X at Y.  I should get in touch with him".  I almost want to think of it as virtual coworking.  I look forward to see what it does in the next year.
    • Routsey Pro.
      It tells me the when's and where's of the public transportation system of the Bay Area.  I set bookmarks of the stops and routes that I rely on and it becomes a one stop view of how much time until another one goes by.
    • Lyft / Uber.
      Lyft is my first choice for having a car pick me up and bring me somewhere,  it's cheaper than Uber.  But sometimes demand isn't in my favor and I go back to Uber.  Both are awesome services when using their application will tell someone behind a wheel where to get me.  And best part: no paying with cash.

    SF Climates

    Downcast

    Services

    • Spotify.
      I was a Spotify user years ago.  I had a fake UK account and I used a UK proxy server to access it.  Eventually they shut me down and I no longer had access to the service.  When Rdio launched I became a happy subscriber and used that until Spotify came to the US.  After comparing and contrasting side-by-side I again went back to Spotify mostly due to the API.

    • Evernote.
      I'm not sure why I pay for Evernote.  I should stop.  I use it plenty, but not enough to require the paid plan.  It's my cloud-based dropbox of text that I always know is accessible everywhere.  I use it for everything from todo lists, to just sketching down notes.
    • Cloud.ly.
      Such a rad service.  I have a little menu item that sits there waiting for me to drag something on it, and when I do it uploads it and copies the URL to my clipboard.  As simple as that.  It'll also auto-upload screenshots.  It works great and I use it a ton every day for sending files around to people.
    • Hover.
      My domain registrar of choice.  It used to be the old "Tucows Domains" from the day, but rebranded.  It's a simple, clean service.  If you think about what the complete opposite of GoDaddy would be, it would be Hover.
    • Fastmail.
      I continue to use Fastmail.fm as my email provider.  I pay them every year to do nothing but accept email and make it accessible to me.  They're not going through my email and selling the data to the highest bidder, and aren't trying to make me into a webmail convert.
    • Dropbox.
      Dropbox is kind of like the working directory of my life.  All documents, code, images, etc hang out here.  It's nice to know all my stuff is accessible from anywhere I happen to be.  Throw something in there and then grab it again from my iPhone or at work.
    • Testflight.
      TestFlight makes the life of any iPhone developer easier.  I use it both personally and professionally to send out test versions of applications I'm working on.  Without it the test process for normal users is a little more convoluted than you'd like, but using Testflight it's fast and easy.  Plus they add things like bug reporting, checkpoints and install reporting.  For free.

    Hardware

    • iPhone 5.
      The upgrade from the iPhone4S to the iPhone5 was one of the bigger ones.  It's substantially faster and the screen is a great size.  The memory bump in it makes a huge difference as well, as apps that are "in the background" take a lot longer to get killed by the OS.  Something I launch before work now is still alive when I go home.
    • Klipsch Image ONE headphones.
      The pair of headphones I've had for years, and really liked, a set of Sennheisers, finally reached their end this year so it was time to find a new pair.  I figured I'd use the Apple Store as my venue of choice to try out different options, since they had them physically there and it was easy to return if needed.  I tried a couple different ones and returned them.  I even thought I'd give a brand I wouldn't normally try, Skull Candy, a shot.  For your future reference the "Aviators" were awful.  Just awful.  More proof that headphones associated with a rapper (Jay-Z in this case) are bad.  Anyway.  I really like this pair of Klipschs.  They are over the ear, light, and mobile.  Perfect for my commuting and listening at work needs.
    • AppleTV.
      Next to my iPhone my AppleTV is the piece of hardware I use the most.  I purchase current shows through iTunes.  I stream movies through Netflix.  New movies I rent through iTunes.  If I wanted to use Hulu, that's there as well.  I've amassed a digital library of episodes of my favorite shows I can watch at any time, and I often do.  It's also a great AirTunes receiver where I send it music from Spotify from my Macbook Pro, iPhone or iPad to fill my apartment with tunes.  This piece of hardware is the most underrated Apple product, and I'm a fan.

    Misc

    • 1-800-Got-Junk.
      When I moved from Omaha to SF I had a ton of stuff I didn't know what to do with.  I hate selling things, so I figured I'd offer everything I had to friends, and anything left would just get disposed of.  1-800-Junk to the rescue.  They showed up with a truck and took everything I pointed out into their truck, and then charged me less than I expected to pay.

    Media/Music and Podcasts

    • These are the podcasts I'm currently subscribed to:
    1. Tech News Today.  A daily podcast detailing a succinct dose of what you need to know in the world of technology.
    2. MacBreak Weekly.  A weekly podcast discussing the world of Apple products.
    3. this WEEK in TECH.  A weekly podcast discussing everything that happened in tech in detail.
    4. You Look Nice Today.  A comedy-ish podcast that is just three funny guys chatting.  From the mind of Merlin Mann.
    5. MacCast.  A weekly podcast about the world of Apple products.
    6. Debug.  A new podcast that focuses on the world of iPhone development.  Great guests/interviews and really goes in depth with some of the great applications that live in the Apple ecosystem.
    • As far as the musical soundtrack of 2012, I can't say there's a ton of really new stuff that I listened to.  A lot of stuff that's just "new to me".  I can say the new Blaqk Audio album was way rad, and I listened to that a ton.  Also the first full length album from Stepdad was something I recommended to people.  Marilyn Manson came back with a vengeance with the new album "Born Villain , I enjoyed that quite a bit.  And last, but not least, Mark Mallman's epic adventure "Double Silhouette" is a masterpiece.  My favorite Mallman album, and that's saying a lot.  I feel like he's taken the songwriting and construction of these songs in a new direction that I really like.  That on top of the obvious attention to detail of the production quality makes it a must listen.
      Anyway, here's a list of songs I've listened to a lot in the past year with the help of Last.FM keeping track of that for me.

    Here are some older year in reviews to compare if you'd like.

    Another adventure begins. Goodbye Omaha.

    My time in Omaha is coming to an end.  On Friday, February 3rd I'll have relocated to San Francisco. When looking back at the past three years it's hard to decide what to put in this rather long retrospective post.  But I'll use it as my last opportunity to highlight, clarify, give thanks, and try to explain why I'm taking on this new adventure.

    I moved to Omaha thinking I'd have to dodge cows on the way to the office every day.  I thought I'd really dislike the city, but the job I moved here for would make it worth it.  Many of you know how quickly I discovered the opposite.  I fell in love with Omaha, its people and vowed to leave my job within a year.

    Being around the Omaha community I learned, for the first time, about taking risks, trying something new, and that putting your all into something wasn't just something for the "other guys", it's something everyone should do.  I knew quickly I needed something more than "a job".  I also learned of the support system sometimes needed in order for you to take those risks.  Omaha provided that for me.

    I attended the first Big Omaha and  left with an idea.  Something I wanted to build because I wanted to use it myself.  The idea of Hollrback was born.  With the help of my friend Kat I compiled a video to try and drum up some support for the project.  Before long project "Mysterious Dottie" was in full swing.

    Through the experience of Hollrback, among many other things, I started to learn the city that I previously decided I'd be more than happy to live in for the rest of my life may not be for me after all, at least in the short term.  I started to feel like personally I was missing out on something.  Something I've been needing to learn, not even knowing what it is.

    On top of that I've been slowly finding that my idea of the startup culture that I wanted to experience was something different than what was aimed for in the Prairie.  I wanted endless incubators, .com veterans, mentors and people willing to invest (not just financially, but that too) into the people here.  It made me realize instead of continuing my never-ending stream of regional constructive criticism, trying to turn it into what I want it to be, instead I should just go.

    This isn't easy, though.  I feel like I'm giving up on Omaha.  I care a lot about this place, the people.  I know many are probably thinking by this point "just go already and shut the hell up", but I've always only wanted the best for everyone.  I wasn't always happy with just warm fuzzies and people giving each other high fives and pats on the back.  To me it's not about how many people can think nice things about other people.  To me it's about execution.  I've failed with my first attempt at execution, but damnit I tried.  I've wanted Omaha to be full of people building awesome stuff to fulfill whatever vision they have.  But it's a very service-oriented city.  Consulting firms, financial services, branding agencies, development houses.  I'm not interested in doing work for people.  I want to build stuff to put into real people's hands.  The public.  Not ten people in an office somewhere to help them turn $1million into $2million.

    But I never would have known this about myself if it weren't for Omaha giving me the opportunity to learn it first hand.  Seeing the DownsDesigns, the What Cheers, the Princess Lasertrons, the Rahul Guptas, the Secret Penguins branch off from whatever they did before and start doing their own thing under their own rules.  Showing me that "having a job" is never the goal, and it's about doing something awesome that you care about.

    I wouldn't be moving on if it weren't for Silicon Prairie News highlighting others and giving me something to aspire to.  For highlighting little things I do, even when I tell them it's dumb.  (The post they wrote about my Chrome Plugin was the 2nd most read story on SPN last year, after I told Danny it was stupid and a waste of his time.  He did it anyway.  I was wrong.)  For creating Big Omaha and letting that inspire me to try something for myself.  Danny, Jeff and Dusty are probably sick of listening to me after three years, but I've never had anything but the upmost respect and admiration for what they're doing.  For reference: Here's the full catalog of things they felt worthy of discussing when it came to me.

    As an example of SPN picking up on the goofy things I do in the early days, here's the first interview they ever did with me to discuss "Retweet Thursday".  News was slow back then.

    Going forward I just hope something I did here in my short time has made some kind of impact. I always tried to be the best representative of the city of Omaha as I could be when going out to meet the rest of the world.  I always told them how if you need to go somewhere, and you don't know where to go, put Omaha first on your list.  This place can give you clarity that you didn't even know you needed.

    I'm not one for heady advice one liners, but I can leave with you the one thing I told myself when given this opportunity to pick up from my Omaha life and build a new one:  Live the life you'd be jealous of.  So that's what I'm doing.

    Come visit some  me time.  I can't promise I'll have room in my apartment, though.  Housing is a little tight out there.

    Barcamp Omaha 2010 was rad (and the jam was fun)

    Thanks to the organization team of Barcamp2010 here in Omaha it was another great event.  Learned some stuff and had some fun. Also thanks to everyone to indulged me in my attempt for a lunchtime jam session.  I can't honestly say it was the most musical thing ever performed, but we all had fun anyway :)  Thanks to everyone who took part!  It was nice to mix things up a bit.

    Photos and video stolen from this post.

    Barcamp 2010: The Musical

    I've been thinking about what I wanted to do for Barcamp this year. I was chatting over lunch today with this week's Coworking Wednesday participants about how I wished there was something different I could do. Something collaborative and break the mold of what an unconference session should be. I mentioned music stuff and @whatevermatt mentioned a drum circle. I thought about that a while (at least 2 to 3 minutes) later that day (today) and thought I'd see if I could pull something off.  So here's an attempt to get a jam session rocking at Barcamp.

    So here's a call to all Barcamp participants who have access to any kind of simple, acoustic, portable instrument that is jam-able (hammered dulcimer, Roland 808: maybe not so much.  Think hand drum, acoustic guitar, rain sticks, stand-up bass, iPhone, didgeridoo, you get the idea.)

    And don't worry, I already talked to @lasertron about a way to do it so speakers don't get upset: she suggested to have it at lunch!

    This is informal, and it'd be cool for as many people to join in who are willing.  If you have any extra gear at home that might be appropriate for this, bring it!  I'll bring what I have as well.

    Tell your friends!

    Choices, decisions and fear: Part 2.

    I'm a fan of transparency.  I like to know what people are up to, and I think there are people that like to know what I'm up to as well.  This includes the background and emotions behind major life decisions.  So here's my story. If you're reading this you already know it's been a rough couple months as far as my career path goes.  I knew I needed to move elsewhere, but I didn't know in what capacity.

    I didn't know if I was unhappy with the company, unhappy with my role, unhappy with my direction, unhappy with those I worked with... I just didn't know.  What I did know was that I was unhappy and I saw no chance of that changing without a major overhaul in my "professional" life.

    So I took a step back and looked at the world around me, specifically those who inhabit it.

    I looked at what others do, not particularly career wise.  But what their life consists of.  I looked at the tweets people made and took note when I said "I wish my life could have what they're doing right now."

    This consisted of things like "I wish I could go to South By Southwest next year" or "I wish when AIM has breakfasts I could attend" or "I want more time to spend on projects that I care about, personally and professionally."

    Having a list of what's important to me right now and in the short term made me realize that in order to pull off a big change, it requires big changes.  None of what I want out of life can happen as long as I'm working for a large corporation where I'm nothing more than a number.  Where taking a day off in order to take part in something much larger than a 8-5 is frowned upon.

    So a lot of thought and discussion went into what I did today.  I put in my notice to leave West Corporation.

    In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk "Don't come up and say 'I quit my job!!!' and expect me to be happy for you.  Don't you have bills or anything?"  And yeah, I kind of have to not be homeless and keep my car and stuff.  So it turns out working is a requirement.  Details.

    In comes multiple discussions with Rahul Gupta's Dispatch This.  He came to me personally saying he wanted to bring me on as a developer for his product.  We met a few times and now I'm hired to work there in a part-time capacity.

    It's a huge win to know I have guaranteed income coming in, if only part-time.  But I do have to make up for the rest.  Luckily it turns out there's some really neat people in Omaha who need stuff done and would like me to work on them on it.

    This includes joining up with the Contemporary Analysis team to grow their budding IT branch to include web hosting, development, and further expanding their options to clients as a one stop shop for products provided by CA.

    All of this is really exciting for me.  It gives me the opportunity to work on a handful of products both on the Dispatch This side, where they have a steady client base, and on the "i have this great idea, work with me on it" type stuff elsewhere in the community.

    But to be honest I'm scared shitless.

    Do I know what the steps are to make this bohemian technology lifestyle work?  Absolutely not.  Is it possible that I fail?  Absolutely.  Is it worth the risk?  To me, yes.  Others (parents) think i'm an idiot to give up everything I've worked so hard for in cube-land.  But I don't see it as that at all.  I'm happy to give up my cube, my required office hours, my high stress/low productivity environment.  Giving up my lack of pride in return for some real excitement with what I do with my time is a pretty ok tradeoff for me.

    In all seriousness I'm giving up a good salary, benefits, and a "you know what you're doing today, how much money you'll get every couple weeks, and the fact you don't have to worry about that."

    But I'm in a place where I think the risk is worth it.  I may fall on my face in complete failure.  But a failure story is still a story.  I'm certainly not making any stories where I'm at now.

    Thanks for the support everyone.  I never would have done anything like this without all the ass kicking from people like Rahul Gupta, Brian Smith, Dusty Davidson, Steph Monge, Tim Kephart and so many others.

    I'm cautiously optimistic that things will work out.  But please wish me the best.

    Gabe Kangas Association for Awesome is proud to sponsor Omaha Bar Camp 2009

    [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="170" caption="The Gabe Kangas Association For Awesome"]The Gabe Kangas Association For Awesomeness[/caption] The Gabe Kangas Association for Awesome (GKAFA) is proud to announce they will be sponsoring this year's Omaha Bar Camp.

    As you may know The Gabe Kangas Association for Awesome is the branch of Gabe Kangas who's goal is to spread awesome both in local and remote markets.  When the opportunity arose to take part this year team awesome jumped at the opportunity.

    GKAFA has a long history of spreading awesome via sponsorships.  You may recall the time the organization left change in the "give a penny/take a penny" jar at the gas station, or the infamous "let me buy you a coffee"  event of 2003.

    Tickets are going fast, so make sure to head over to the Omaha Bar Camp page and pick one up for the almost nothing price of $5.  This includes a T-Shirt and Brain Toniq thanks to Ninth Divison.

    The Gabe Kangas Association for Awesome is very excited to be a part of this year's Bar Camp and can't wait to see all of you there.

    Talk to you soon, Gabe Kangas Chief Awesome, GKAFA.

    The social experiment: #1 Peter Cales

    I've been laughed at. My sanity has been questioned. I've even been told that the idea was all just a part of Skynet's plan for world domination. But I can now proudly say that "the experiment" (or The Creepy Twitter Experiment) can be executed successfully without death or even serious injury.  As a refresher: I wrote a script to pick a person completely randomly from people I follow on Twitter.  I wanted to meet those who we mutually follow, but never met.  After the first person not replying to my crazy request I got Peter. Tuesday night, 6:30pm, I met Peter Cales, a complete stranger in every sense, at Darios in Dundee, Omaha.

    [gallery link="file"]

    I was wondering if it was a sign.  Outside of Darios there was some kind of setup for shooting video of some sort.  Commercial, or movie, or who knows.  But I took a quick photo and passed through it into the restaurant.

    I sat down at the bar and saw a Tweet from him that he was on his way. He soon walked through the door. From the distance not looking much different than the 80x80 pixel avatar that I previously only knew him by on Twitter. He sat down next to me at the bar and it was on.

    I love the fact that he was #1 of this crazy thing.  He's a self admitted non-technical person who has a passion for making custom furniture.  But we soon found what we didn't have in common at the surface people like him and I really do have have here at the core in Omaha.  Him and I both find ourselves right at home among the Omaha (overused term of) Creative Class.  We quickly came to talking about Jeff and Dusty, SPN, Big Omaha.  I told him the story about just moving here and receiving a tweet from Jeff welcoming me and hoping him and I could chat soon.  He told me about his 5 in 5 he did for Silicon Prairie News that I had previously seen, but never put it together that it was him.  I told him about my interview with Danny for Retweet Thursday.  And then trying to explain retweet thursday in a way that doesn't make it sound stupid.  But it's totally stupid, so that's impossible.

    We talked of the beer selection. Quite large for an Omaha bar. I was impressed. I'll be going back. Win.  I found a new place to frequent and tried a new beer.

    His friend Rachel came up to us and he introduced me to her.  She courteously asked "so how do you two know each other?"  He looked at me as if to say "that's absolutely the wrong question to be asking".  We tried to explain how I selected him randomly among everyone who I follow on Twitter.  But really, there's no way to discuss that without sounding like complete moron either.  Leaving it at the fact it was our first time hanging out, and we met on the internet is about all you can expect.  I asked Rachel to take the photo of us, and she was on her way.

    I learned how he does his work at the Bemis center, downtown.  The bartender, who he knew previously, was interested in stopping down to check out his stuff.  That would be fun, actually.  In my group of friends it's cool to know someone who really makes something.  Sure, code, and words, and all of that stuff... it's real, and it has value.  But something tangible and usable is certainly a world that I forget even exists sometimes.  Who designed the couch I'm sitting on now?  Who designed the keyboard I'm typing on?  Well, Johnny Ive did... but you get the idea.

    Plenty of other things came up in conversation.  He asked of my job and even though I don't really like talking about what I do and who I work for generally I'm glad I did.  I explained all the process and procedures that goes on in a day in my position.  He gave a gratifying "I'm glad I don't do that" type response.  It's good to know I'm not crazy :)

    As I finished my Hoegaarden we parted ways.  He said we should do it again sometime.  How cool is that, right?

    Now that it's all said and done you're probably thinking "Huh, cool", right?  How many people do you know that make fancy custom furniture?

    We haven't picked a time or place, but Maren Hogan is up next.

    Oh, and being that it's Retweet Thursday... you know what to do.

    A new social experiment

    If you remember back I recently had #TweetDinner.  Where people a web site decided who  my "closest friends" were all got together for dinner and hung out.  It was a good time, I consider it a success.  It doesn't hurt that they were cool people. So I think it's time for a new social experiment.

    Currently I follow 340 people on Twitter.  Some of them are automated entertainment sources, many of them are out of the area.  So that leaves a good chunk of them as local Omahans.

    I'm going to select people, at random, and ask them to hang out.  A drink, dinner, lunch, something.  My guess is many of them will decline, since this is admittedly pretty creepy.  But maybe a few will go along with this crazy idea, and maybe even have a good time.

    So some stipulations: If it's already a close friend of mine I'll select someone else.  If it's someone that's not local I'll select someone else.  If they decline I'll select someone else.  If it's not someone who follows me I'll select someone else too.  If they don't know who I am, I doubt they'll want to hang out.

    After each outing, I'll vaguely blog about the experience here and post a picture or something.

    I'll probably start next week, as I don't have a system in place to select a completely random Twitter user that I follow yet.  Stay tuned.