Ryan Irelan

is building Mijingo and doing limited consulting.

The Heart is a Monster

Failure’s latest (comeback) album is nearly perfect. It is the same Failure I loved in the 90s and without becoming a parody of itself (like so many comebacks turn into).

Wonderful album title, too.

I am looking forward to seeing them play here in Austin.

The Civil War by Ken Burns to be restored by PBS

I just finished watching Ken Burns’ 1990 classic The Civil War (mentioned earlier in my post about Shelby Foote). I binged watch the series over the last several days (it’s about 9 hours of viewing) and I will watch it again this fall when PBS re-releases a completely restored version.

The Netflix version of The Civil War was in pretty rough shape for a show that is only 25 years old.

Good Smokers under $500

Smoke your meat, save some money.

I used to make pulled pork (Eastern Carolina style) on a $120 double-barrel smoker I bought at a home store. It wasn’t the greatest smoker but with some care and attention (and a regular supply of hot coals) it created some delicious barbecue.

Insufferable Bores

Drinking coffee is not a health decision. It’s a comforting ritual, a pick-me-up, or an excuse to chat with friends. Why must we turn everything in our lives (daylight saving time, religiousness, bicycle sharing, comedy) into a health decision?

A fiery look at the good/bad coffee studies that always make the world out to be so binary. It turns Americans into “insufferable bores,” according to the author.

Just Americans?

I try to live a life of moderation, with the somewhat blind assumption that not indulging too much in anything (alcohol, heavy and sweet foods, exercise) will serve me well.

Shelby Foote at Home

I’ve been watching the classic Ken Burns documentary The Civil War and got sidetracked by the main historian used throughout the series, Shelby Foote. This linked video of a tour of his work area in his home in Memphis has quite a few gems from Foote. It’s nearly universal that we all like to see how writers work, and this interview is not a disappointment. This interview was recorded about 5 years before Foote died in 2005.

Interesting fact: Foote was a last minute addition to the Burns documentary but became a core part of the series in the final edit. He also became a sensation from his witty facts and stories (well, as much as a sensation as you can become from being in a Ken Burns documentary).

Sales of Foote’s fiction and non-fiction books, especially his three-part series on the Civil War, took off after his appearance in the documentary, making him a nice bag of money.

His three-part narrative had sold around 30,000 copies since the first volume came out in 1958; in the year after Foote appeared in The Civil War, he’d sold 400,000 sets. “Ken,” he told the director, “you’ve made me a millionaire.”

The first 30-40 minutes of the three hour segement are worth watching but all of it is a wonderful look at Foote and his work.

The ACA is here to stay

This morning the Court announced its decision in King v. Burwell, holding that individuals who purchase their health insurance on exchanges established by the federal government will be eligible for tax subsidies.

Microblogging Community Tips from Manton Reece

Manton Reece has a short round-up of information on microblogging tools and tips. This link post right here originated and was posted from my iPad (or iPhone), using Mr. Reader, Workflow, and Editorial (which pushes the post up to Github, who generates it using Github Pages).

It's a big black monolith.

This past Monday, I went to see Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey on 70mm at the downtown location of the Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin. I had never seen 2001 on the big screen before, so I was looking forward to that. Seeing a 70mm print of the film made it extra special.

The theater was nearly full (minus the cheap seats up front) and it was an enjoyable experience despite a damaged audio track on the film that caused a faint, but noticeable, clicking sounds off to the left side. The clicking sound must’ve caused problems in previous showings because a Drafthouse employee took to the stage before the film began to offer full refunds to anyone who was bothered by the noise. I’m curious if anyone took him up on the offer.

2001: A Space Odyssey has many uncomfortable moments–both visually and audibly–and it has always creeped me out a bit. I enjoy watching it but it leaves me feeling unsettled (as it should, I suppose). Watching the film on a big screen with loud audio made only intensified my experience.

I recently watched Life Itself, the documentary about Roger Ebert. With his work on my mind, I dug up his review of 2001 from 1968, the same year the film was released. This review is classic Ebert; it was full of spunk, sarcasm, and wit. I can’t resist sharing some quotes.

Because the film confused so many people (even Rock Hudson during the premiere, according to Ebert) and caused conversation during the movie to understand what it was about (this would get you booted from an Alamo Drafthouse today), Ebert quipped out of frustration right at the top of his review:

If people do not have the courtesy to shut up during a film, they should at least be segregated into special Saturday kiddie matinees, no matter how advanced their years.

(I take issue with this. My 4 year-old is exceptionally quiet and attentive in the movie theater.)

And then the questions about the monolith:

Q. What’s that big black monolith? A. It’s a big black monolith.

Q. Where did it come from? A. From somewhere else. Q. Who put it there? A. Intelligent beings since it has right angles and nature doesn’t make right angles on its own.”

And, finally:

Man is a curious animal. He is uneasy in the face of great experiences, and if he is forced to experience something profound, he starts immediately to cheapen it, to bring it down to his own level. Thus after a great man is assassinated, lesser men immediately manufacture, buy and sell plastic statues and souvenir billfolds and lucky coins with the great man’s image on them.

It’s a great review and pure Ebert. Read the whole thing.

That's all it takes

George Steiner memorably defined an intellectual as “quite simply, a human being who has a pencil in his or her hand when reading a book.”

No solar for you!

[…] Arizona’s second-largest utility, the Salt River Project, imposed charges of some fifty dollars a month on the average new solar installation. S.R.P. also insists that it is “pro-solar,” but the new charges effectively make it economically difficult for homeowners in the company’s service district—in the sunniest state in the country, and in a city that roots for the Phoenix Suns—to install solar panels. Rooftop installations, booming six months ago, have all but halted…

Agile Bits on Latest OS X Vulnerability

For 1Password, the difficulty is in fully authenticating the communication between the 1Password browser extension and 1Password mini; however, this problem is not unique to 1Password. The difficulty of securing inter-process communication on the operating system is a problem system-wide.

If your operating system is compromised, you can’t fall back on apps to save you.

Coaches can help mid-career

“Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance. Yet the allegiance of coaches is to the people they work with; their success depends on it. And the existence of a coach requires an acknowledgment that even expert practitioners have significant room for improvement.”

For doctors, teachers, and whatever it is you do.

Astronauts Don't Eat Freeze Dried Ice Cream

Some heartbreaking truth for legions of adults who grew up in the 80s: astronauts don’t actually eat that awful freeze-dried ice cream. We all pretended to like it when visiting Kennedy Space Center as kids or buying it in a science store at a local museum but it’s okay: astronauts don’t like it either.

So why no freeze-dried astronaut ice cream? “We don’t fly it,” Kloeris says. “If our crew members wanted to put it in their preference containers, they could; it certainly has a long enough shelf life. It meets all the requirements, but we don’t have any requests. It’s not like real ice cream, it’s more like hard cotton candy. And it wouldn’t be easy to eat in microgravity because it’s very crumbly, so it would make a huge mess.”

The Dark Side of the Spoon: What Astronauts Eat in Space

The Note

When I sit down at my desk, coffee and keyboard ready to go, there is something else.

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