Monthly Archives: June 2016

Talking Politics

Most people I know have hated this election season for one reason or another. Not me – this has been my favorite election cycle that I’ve experienced by quite a wide margin. The reason? People are talking!

From the very beginning of the primary process, I have heard people talking about candidates and issues with a conviction that seems quite different from years past. The emergence of Trump and Sanders meant there were plausible candidates with real differences in both primaries.

If you remember the Bush v Gore election, you might remember the popular complaint that there were no meaningful differences between them (I never agreed, but it was a popular complaint, at least before the election). I don’t think we’ll hear much of that complaint this year.

I’ve always held a soft spot for Michael Jordan’s response when he once refused to endorse a Democrat. “Republicans buy shoes, too,” he said. When you’re a public figure, you can’t communicate a nuanced position. Whatever you say will be twisted into a soundbite that may or may not summarize your point. That’s why I don’t really care what this or that celebrity thinks.

I do care what my friends and family think – and that’s why I love this election. People are talking. Turns out about half the country disagrees with me, and since I am friends with a broad enough sample of the population, about half of my friends disagree with me as well. When we talk, that gives us the opportunity to change each other, although it happens very, very slowly and in ways that we don’t always expect or even notice.

You know what that is? That’s democracy working. I love it. Keep talking!

PS, I mean actual talking, not writing … writing has its place, but talking is better – so if you try to engage me on any specific issue in the comments to this article, it’s unlikely I’ll take the bait 😉


Last week, I was on vacation – absolutely, completely on vacation and totally removed from any work activities. It was great.

I haven’t had a vacation this thorough in quite some time. Usually I still have work thoughts in my head, even if I’m disengaged from day-to-day activities. Not this time – for some reason, I was able to let any hint of responsibility or ambition drain from my skull. My mind was nearly blank.

We spent this vacation in Texas with Paula’s family. The trip was even a bit longer than my actual vacation – we left on Tuesday the week before last, and I worked support from Texas Wednesday to Friday (June 15-17).

I think that was a big part of my ability to detach – we spent the normal amount of energy leading up to our travel date, and then we spent a day traveling (always a bit tiring). Then I “recovered” by working for a few days. By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, all I had to do was close my laptop, and I was somewhere other than home for a full week. When I got back home a week later, I recovered again with a normal day of racing Saturday and a final day with minimal responsibilities yesterday (thanks Paula).

It’s time to get back to work. It was nice to empty my brain, but now it’s time to put stuff back in it.

Microsoft Office vs Google Docs

Microsoft Office is better than Google Docs in almost every way.

The Office interface is fresher – it looks and feels better. Office has way more features, and the native apps are way more sophisticated on Windows, Mac, iOS, and even Android. Heck, even the Office web apps look better than Google Docs. Again, it’s just better.

EXCEPT for one thing …

I remember my friend Rory riffing on the stupidest question in all of software: Do you want to save? Rory would practically yell at his screen, “Of course I want to save! You’re a computer – just save the damn thing and then make me work to delete it if I need to!”

That was two decades ago, and Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint still ask me if I want to save the damn file. Google Docs does not. I know it’s difficult to change features that are entrenched with users, but c’mon, Microsoft!

This particularly becomes an issue when you move between devices. I have a few spreadsheets that I use on my computer and on my phone. This is maddening with Excel, because I have to remember to save and exit the file on one device (even on my phone!) if I want to use it on the other.

For that one simple reason, I’ve mostly switched to Google Docs, an app I like less in every other way.

That’s a humbling reminder to me … what one feature in Moraware could cause our customers to bolt? What one feature in your product could cause your customers to leave?

Mmmm … Tasty

Growing up, I was quite a picky eater (my dad still is, so I suppose I have him to thank for that).

When Paula and I moved in together (26 years ago!), I watched her cook some basic foods that I thought I didn’t like, such as meatloaf, stir fried vegetables, and lasagna. Seeing her make these foods demystified them – it made them approachable, and so I tried them and soon started liking them. These days, I wouldn’t exactly call myself an adventurous eater, but I’m not terribly picky, either (still hate pickles, though).

I was reminded of the evolution in my taste buds when “Tasty” videos started becoming popular on Facebook.

These videos have no narration and little text. They show delicious-looking food and how it gets made. They don’t just show you that you can eat this food – they show you that you can make it. When you watch one of these, you can almost hear yourself saying, “I should totally make that.”

The people at Tasty excel at one of the most fundamental movie-making rules: show don’t tell. The videos are quick and easy to watch, so they seem simple, but they’re anything but simple to produce. I saw a behind-the-scenes video a while back that revealed a team of several people working hours to create that perfect 30-second clip.

Tasty’s videos are so good that they all go viral. I don’t think I can make training videos for our software that go viral, but I at least want to copy Tasty’s basic approach for making videos accessible: about 30 seconds long, no audio needed, and show don’t tell. Oh, and a whole lotta work. We’ll see.