Everyone is Changing Everything

V4 Heart Nebula

“You’re not just anyone. One day, you’re gonna have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, is gonna change the world.” – Jonathan Kent to young Clark Kent in Man of Steel

Inspired by this quote from the recent Superman film, I thought about my own internal philosophical and spiritual journey into manhood.

Savior Mode

When I was a boy I thought would change the world with determination and guidance from the omnipotent God. The world would be convinced of God’s love, believe Jesus, and change their lives for the better. We would all levitate into heaven and live happily ever after. Turns out I suck, people are crazy and life kicks you in the face every chance it gets.

The Questioning

After a few extremely disappointing events, I began doubting everything. I lost faith. I lost hope that anyone could change themselves, let alone someone else, a city, or a nation. What once seemed a clear battle between good and evil became random gray chaos. Every good seemed to have evil hidden at the other end. Every cause at the cost of another.

Then I began to think of how this crazy ball of dust and lightening got started. The classic questions made their rounds through my head. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Evolution? Fine.

But how did it all start? Energy, matter, time and consciousness explode into existence in the form of infinite multi-verses… from nothing… for no reason. My logical brain won’t let me believe that, let alone my emotional/religious beliefs.

Sanity

So either way you slice the mechanics of how the universe works, I’ve got God as the Creator. What is God? At the very least He is a being existing in a meta-layer above our reality/universe(s).  Aside from that He’s… um… large? I’m not really sure. The Original One, maybe? Love itself? I don’t know.

But I do know where I stand. I’m going with the Jesus’ Father/Holy Spirit God. I don’t have some new evidence for the existence of God, or a fuzzy anecdote that paints away the glaring solitude we face floating amid the stars. But I do have hope.

Now I believe more deeply than ever in the power and purpose of one-to-one human interaction, and the God who watches us all.

Time

All we can agree on is now. We’re all here. Right now. We exist. Together. Regardless of the galactic collisions bringing us to this moment, the moment is here. Unless you exist outside of the time/space continuum (i’m looking at you, deities and dead people).

There is no spoon.

Each moment we make decisions that impact everything in and around us. Those choices ripple through our relationships to the edges of the universe. We all have the power to build or destroy. Each look. Each word. Each touch. Each interaction with another human. Each moment we exist in this universe, we change it.

For better or worse, we change the world.

The easiest way to start buying, selling, and mining Bitcoins

Despite all the negative news around bitcoin, I believe cryptocurrencies are the future. Bitcoin may not be the one to take off, but one of them will eventually.

Here’s how I started earning bitcoins.

  1. Create a Wallet: I setup a digital “wallet” with Coinbase where you can save the bitcoins you’ve mined, or just buy and sell bitcoins directly with Coinbase. You’ll need the wallet “address” to spend your bitcoins elsewhere and receive bitcoins from others. You’ll also need that address to get into mining bitcoins, which is what steps 2 & 3 are about.
  2. Join a Mining Pool and setup a Worker: I joined the BTCGuild to increase my chances of earning bitcoins. Otherwise you’ll mine for months and may not ever receive bitcoins. In a pool you’re joining forces with lots of other miners and are rewarded based on how much processing power your computer contributes to the pool’s efforts. You get smaller increments of coins, but you get compensated more consistently.
  3. Setup a Miner: I installed Asteroid on my Mac Pro to start mining bitcoins. Asteroid will ask you or the name of the Worker you setup in step 2. After following a few more instructions your mining bitcoins. My computer is a beast, but its easily brought to its knees when I have the miner running. Asteroid let’s you throttle the mining intensity so you don’t crash your computer, but be careful. If you choose to allow Asteroid to use your graphics card for mining, it may appear to freeze your computer. There are lots of devices you can buy specifically for mining that are faster than your desktop or laptop.

Each of those 3 steps takes about 5 minutes or so, but may take longer to really understand what each step is about.

*Website Developer Bonus

  • TidBit – Earn bitcoins by letting your visitor’s computer mine bitcoins for you while they visit your site.  This will be the end of website display ads when the finish beta testing. [No longer a thing]

Results

After about a week worth of letting my computer mine for hours everyday if earned about 0.00001497 BTC, which converts to about 0.01293 USD according to this bitcoin to USD converter. So… with my current hardware setup it would take months to earn enough to buy anything. However, if I bought some fancy but inexpensive bitcoin mining hardware I mentioned earlier, I’d be earning at a much faster rate. Either way I’ll probably keep mining. I may even convert a few dollars into BTC. Given the state of the world, a multi-currency strategy couldn’t hurt. Like the saying goes, “Don’t throw all your babies in the egg water.” Or whatever. Let me know if you try it out. Happy mining.

Alabama kids

We are Alabama Kids in a Ghetto 1980s on a Chevy Vega
Me and my friends in the 1980s on our Chevy Vega. We are Alabama kids.

 

Chasing fireflies through the summer night
Listening to the crickets lullaby
Laying on the roof of mommas car
Searching for one more shooting star

Running through the rain of a thunderstorm
Hiding from girls in our pillow fort
Shooting potato guns into the trees
Swimming in a flooded Creek

Sliding in the mud with bare feet
Exploring The Woods until “It’s time to eat!”
Cooking popcorn as a treat
Watching movies from 1953

Screaming “Roll Tide!” in the fall
Playing hours of backyard football
Fighting with the kid from down the street
Going to church 3 days a week

 

Quick Tip: LESS Mixins for Pure CSS Pinterest / Masonry style grid layout

Pinterest popularized the masonry grid style layout. Here’s a simple solution for a masonry layout built with pure CSS3, and no javascript or floats.

[css]

// Parent Element, or Container
.grid (@columns: 3, @gap: 10px, @width: 100%) {
-moz-column-count: @columns;
-moz-column-gap: @gap;
-webkit-column-count: @columns;
-webkit-column-gap: @gap;
column-count: @columns;
column-gap: @gap;
width: @width;
}

// Child Element, or Tile
.grid-box (@margin-bottom: 20px) {
display: inline-block;
margin-bottom: @margin-bottom;
width: 100%;
}

// Example: Book Shelf concept
.book-shelf {
background: #fff;
.grid (3, 10px, 960px)
}
.book {
.grid-box (15px);
}

[/css]

Based on Radu’s Masonry CSS. Check out his post for info on browser compatibility and fallbacks.

My plugin gets added to WordPress core!

WordPress 3.5 was released yesterday. After upgrading my site, I checked the editor screen and noticed a tiny tweak that made me smile. It looks like my humble suggestion finally made it in to WordPress core.

Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 11.59.41 PM

Notice the Add Media button… it’s an actual button! The previous version of the button looked like this:

The old Upload/Insert button or link

It was an easily overlooked text and icon combo labeled “Upload/Insert” . This caused problems for users as I’ve discussed beforeI don’t know if this small change to a more clickable and noticeable “Add Media” button happened because I suggested it, but I’m glad it’s there. So after suggesting this usability improvement to the WordPress core team, their developers took notice and made it happen.

WordPress-usability-improvement-ticket

Thanks, WP devs. Also, I didn’t suggest the name change, but good choice on the new wording from “Upload/Insert” to “Add Media”. Much better.

One rule to rule them all.

lord_of_the_rings_the_fellowship_of_the_ring-to-rule-them-all

Impossible to please.

21 Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. 22 On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” 23 But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”

– Matthew 7:21-23, CEV

In the past felt a hopeless desperation to figure out what exactly it meant to “obey my Father in heaven”. It felt impossible to know that I was doing the will of God.

Listen to the words that are coming out of my mouth.

Today, for the first time, I thought about this section of Jesus’ sermon a little differently and felt a little hope grow inside:

  • Jesus is the image of God the Father on earth.
  • Jesus’ words are God’s words.
  • Obeying Jesus’ teaching is obeying the Father in heaven.

So… what did Jesus teach? Well, a lot, but The Golden Rule sums it up nicely.

12 Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.

– Matthew 7:12, CEV

When in doubt, I just focus on that.

Breaking the cycle: Why I’m voting for a 3rd party candidate.

This is for the reluctant voter

Some happily chose red or blue today, fully agreeing with the platforms of their party. Others, like myself, are not happy with the options given and had hopes someone else would be on the ballot.

Some decided not to vote at all.

Others chose the lesser of two evils.

I say vote for your principles without compromise.

Find the candidate that aligns the most with your principles, opinions, morals, economic philosophy, or whatever you really believe would be best for our country. Vote for that person with a clear conscience. You’ve done your part.

I use VoteSmart.org to get a snapshot view of who aligns with my principles by answering questions about current issues: Vote Easy, Vote for the candidate you agree with.

After you answer questions the candidates change position based on their stand on the issues.Vote Smart, Vote Easy

Votizen.com is another good resource, allowing you to view and share the political affiliations through social media: Votizen, the social media layer of politics.

An old problem

break-the-cycle

Politics in America bends to the will of two parties: Democrats and Republicans. Why?

  1. Money. Big dollars bank roll these two parties. It takes a lot of money to keep your agenda in the news and part of the culture. Brain-washing is expensive. Which brings us to reason number two.
  2. Exposure. They are the loudest parties. They get the most press time and overall attention from major media companies.

Affiliation with, or much less voting for, a party that is neither blue nor red seems foolish. Everybody knows the president is going to come from one of the two big parties. If your values, principles, knowledge of history, or opinions about who would be best for the country bring you to the conclusion that your ideal candidate is not part of the two-party system, you must choose the “lesser of two evils”, right? It’s the only strategic move. Wrong.

The way out = Principles + Money + Votes

Put your support where your principles are. If we continue to vote for the least evil candidate, there will never be another option. Someone must decide to open the door for a more diverse political landscape. The Federal Election Commission allows any party that receives at least 5% of the general election to gain access to federal monies specifically set aside for presidential campaigns. http://www.fec.gov/press/bkgnd/fund.shtml

Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in 2008, only the Republican and Democratic parties are eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees may receive grants for the general election when they are nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for retroactive public funds if they receive 5% or more of the vote in the general election.

Some say the electoral college really chooses the presidential election winner so the popular vote doesn’t really matter. But the popular vote does matter. Even if it’s just a bit. Just enough to give a third-party the wedge they need to get into the public’s spotlight a little more.

If your principles line up more with a third-party, then don’t give up hope. Support the candidates you believe in. Vote for what you believe in.

The END of the WORRRRLD!

I mean, once they’re elected the new president meets with the aliens who control the secret society running the global government and gives him his marching orders anyway, so why not go down in history as voting for what matters to you!

Locked Mess Monster

Better photoshop locked layer alert idea

Have you ever tried to move a folder or selection of layers in Photoshop, but were interrupted by this alert?

Photoshop locked layer alert
BLAM! Those layers aren’t moving anywhere.

Somewhere deep down in your selection is a locked layer. If you’re working in a huge file with tons of layers, finding the locked layer or layers could take awhile.

Wouldn’t this be more helpful than just an alert?

Photoshop unlock layer option
SKUDOOSH! Problem solved.

The Photoshop team could add a checkbox to the alert that would automatically unlock the locked layers, so that you can continue moving/nudging your selection.

This small usability improvement would save me a lot of time.

Does anyone know if another solution to this problem already exists in Photoshop? Let me know in the comments section below.

Button It Up version 1.2 released

With the release of my first public WordPress plugin last month I received encouraging nods and tweets from the community, as well as some constructive feedback. One user requested a very specific set of changes:

Paris,

Thanks for making this plugin! After reading your article a while ago, I went and wrote this exact plugin but luckily found yours before I submitted it to the repository. No need for more than one of these.

I checked out the plugin and discovered one bug and a few ideas :)

The Bug

  • You’re styling the div#wp-content-media-buttons rather than a#content-add_media. That leads to ALL media buttons (like the Gravity forms icon) to show up in one weird integrated “button.” See here: Weird button with Gravity Forms.
  • If you change the element you’re styling to the link instead, you’ll also catch the Quick Press’s “Insert Media” button which is currently unstyled. It’s tempting to style ALL links in that row, but I’d shy away from that on the chance that other plugins style their own buttons.

Some Tweaks

  1. Style-wise, I wish the :hover and :active states more closely matched WordPress’s defaults.
  2. To get really nit-picky, the WordPress admin button’s have a border-radius of 11px.
  3. To make things a little more WordPress friendly, I’d use wp_enqueue_styles() hooked to the admin_enqueue_scripts hook to register the stylesheet.

So thanks again for making the plugin. If you incorporate these changes, I’ll definitely be adding it to all my client sites.

All of these tweaks made sense, so I’ve released version 1.2 with the above changes included. Download Button It Up 1.2 from the WordPress Plugin Repository to try it out, or from within the plugins section of the WordPress dashboard.

I hope these changes make the plugin more useful, usable and even desirable to the WordPress community. I look forward to more feedback.

Tribute to the The Great Wave: A color palette based on an old Japanese painting

The Great Wave Color Palette

Color Palette based onThe Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai

After years of admiring this print by the legendary Japanese artist, Hokusai, I’ve realized the colors are just as dramatic as the composition. So I decided to extract a few hues and create a color palette.

I chose colors from the boats, the sky and, of course, the waves.

For you web designers out there, here is the HTML hex code for each color from top to bottom:
  • #c1a06e – dark tan
  • #d9d1ba – light tan
  • #82b0b2 – light blue
  • #346b84 – medium blue
  • #1a3657 – dark blue

As with all my color palettes you can find this one on ColorLovers.com.

Haunted by a legend

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai is probably my favorite piece of fine art. I caught glimpses of it growing up in American culture, but didn’t know anything about the work until I studied it in art school.

Turns out the iconic scene is actually a woodblock print and not a painting, and its part of a series based on that little mountain you can see in the background. For some reason I fell in love with the piece and when I found a huge poster print for sale I couldn’t resist.

I proudly displayed it in my room during college. Then I hung it over my desk when I got an office job. A coworker and good friend even bought me a sketchbook with the painting printed on the front.

After getting married I brought it home and managed to hang it over our bed… briefly. Something about the imminent death of those sailors didn’t sit well with the wife as a pre-bedtime meditation.

Until I get my home office situated the historic image sulks in my closet. Nevertheless, it lives on as my current desktop background.

UPDATE:
I sold my old poster at a garage sale! Someday we’ll meet again Hokusai.