Pickled Peppers

I’m not sure if you have ever had Pickled Peppers, but they are delicious. I’m not talking about banana peppers or salad peppers; I’m talking about fresh, sweet, delicious bell peppers pickled.

The sweetness of the bell pepper contrasts with the vinegar mixture providing a flavor explosion. They’re crunchy, flavorful, and a breeze to make.


New Design

I hope things look nice and fresh and so clean clean around here1. I was trying to come up with something that looked modern and promoted readability. The goal with the home page was to have something that looked like the center column of a newspaper–headers and images to catch your attention. Individual posts are like the rest of the story, focus is on the text.

Not that the default Octopress theme is bad, it’s just bulky. I knew I wanted to redesign my blog, but I didn’t know what I wanted it to look like. I looked at the blogs I enjoy reading, like Shawn Blanc, Daring Fireball, Zach Holman, Matt Gemmell, and many others. Matt Gemmell recently wrote on blog design and made several good points.

It made me think, which blogs do I read on their site, and which ones do I read in my RSS reader? The list shrunk rather quickly. My RSS reader is subscribed to about 80 sites. Site I go to instead of reading from my RSS feed are the GitHub Blog, Shawn Blanc, Panic Blog, John August, and Zach Holman (sorry Matt).

But what made me prefer them over my RSS reader?


Introducing BookMark’d

BookMark’d saves links and is your own personal search engine.

Or at least that’s the work in progress tag line.

I was sitting at my computer this weekend and remembered that I bookmarked an interesting page. I was trying to find the bookmark, but I couldn’t. I even tried the bookmark search tool, but that only matches if a word or phrase is in a page, so I could be stuck with a lot of results, or have the wrong word and not get the result I need.

Of course, I’ve tried to organize my bookmarks into folders, but then if I wanted something in multiple folders. I’d have to bookmark it twice. And the whole interface for adding bookmarks into folders is a pain. Of course there’s always delicious, but that only lets me search through tags, and who really remembers all of that?

So I decided to crank out my own solution that works the way I want (hopefully someday, it’s still in development). You can see a live example at markd.6km.me.


Switching to Outlook

First they give me an awesome intern experience, and now I feel obligated to switch to all of their products and services… just kidding.

So before I get into talking about the lack of IMAP support, other complaints, and some solutions, I should probably talk about why I’m switching.

First off, the scroogled campaign is a bit exaggerated. It does feel like they sent e-mails to their example account to get the right ads for the video to show up. Now-a-days, you can opt-out of Google’s interest-based ads1. But there is some truth to the campaign.

It will happen to you

At first, I thought I was okay with the whole “Ads based on e-mail content” idea. A majority of my e-mails are from mailing lists or new letters, so ads based off my interests seem cool. That is until the event happens.

The “event” is some moment in your life where e-mails you get are completely unrelated to your interests and somewhat out of your control. Someone started sending me angry e-mails about how I was a bad friend and what not. Then I started noticing ads based on “finding new friends” and “meeting new people”. I wasn’t searching for these things or visiting any sites like that (except for maybe facebook).

This wasn’t the first time something like that had happened. E-mails to friends about going to the gym or video equipment changed my ads, and I was fine with that, but when the ads are based off of more personal or hurtful e-mails, that’s when things go bad. Imagine if you or your child had a Gmail account, and they were the target of cyberbullies? Then the ads they see when logged in with their Google Account will all be based off of what those bullies send to them. I’m not sure if Google has detection for that in their algorithms, but it is a scary thought.

So after several instances of discomforting advertising, I decided to pull the plug on Gmail.


What’s Next?

So I finally did it. I defended my thesis, and now I’m waiting for commencement and receiving my diploma. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve spent the past 6 years at university. It just seemed to fly by.

One of the questions that no one seems to be asking me is “What’s next?” I understand because everyone knows I’m going off into the real world to work for Microsoft. I don’t want to say that’s not really “What’s next?”; it’s just that there’s so much more that can go on than just that. And because of that belief, I feel like I’ve reached my quarter-life crisis.