Blog

I write here about public health and technology. Please subscribe to get notified of new posts.

Interpreting regression coefficients

Interpreting coefficients in linear regression equations can be unintuitive. Fortunately, there is a relatively straight-forward, systematic way to figure out what each coefficient means ...

Read more...

Fraud, ads, and Facebook's business model 

Problems on Facebook's ad platform related to purchasing "likes" is a symptom of a fundamental flaw in monetizing social media content ...

Read more...

The downsides of Bitcoin 

Charlie Stross makes some interesting points about Bitcoin and the apparent underlying libertarian philosophy ...

Read more...

Download a copy of your Gmail messages 

I’m very happy to see that Google still seems committed to data portability. The ability to download all messages in mbox format means that it should always be possible to non-destructively move email out of Gmail to a different provider ...

Read more...

"Why I've all but given up on Windows" 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a long-time dedicated Windows user (his Twitter handle is @the_pc_doc), writes about why he’s moved off Windows in favor of Mac, iOS, and Android ...

Read more...

FastMail introduces mobile web interface that's "faster than native" 

Today FastMail took their mobile web interface out of beta ...

Read more...

T-Mobile rocks 

I recently heard about the new T-Mobile unlimited no-contract plans and thought exactly the same thing ...

Read more...

FastMail comments on (not) needing to comply with National Security Letters 

This will probably be somewhat comforting to those concerned about the U.S. government’s policy on surveillance, but I would argue that no one should consider email private or confidential regardless of where the servers or the email provider are located.

Using SIP to replace my landline phone with Plivo 

In July I wrote a guest blog post for Plivo explaining how to set up a VOIP landline-esque phone using their service. I finally added link post functionality to my blog so I thought I should go ahead and share it here ...

Read more...

Switching from Gmail to FastMail

I switched from Gmail to FastMail a few months ago and I've been meaning to write a post about how I did it. I saw a tweet about ads in Gmail that look like normal email this morning and thought, "Ads that look like email??? This is the last straw. I want to help people get out."

Read more...

An open replacement for Skype voice

My house has terrible cell service, so I’ve been reluctantly relying on Skype for making phone calls. Yesterday, I discovered that there is an open protocol called SIP that has similar functionality to Skype but is cheaper and has better call quality in my testing. Read on to see how I set it up ...

Read more...

Bulletproof your blog: a guide for surviving traffic spikes

It's frustrating to see a story that looks really interesting on a site like Hacker News, but when you click on the link you find that the traffic surge has brought the blog down. This is probably even more frustrating for the blog's author, who presumably has put a lot of time/effort into writing their post ...

Read more...

Comcast crapware

Apparently Comcast tries to trick you into installing crapware now when you set up your internet!

Read more...

What Blackboard discussions could be

I recently took a course with a barely-used Blackboard discussion board. Vibrant online discussion would have added a lot to this class, and I think the only thing standing in the way was Blackboard's bad user experience ...

Read more...

Are developer job boards a waste of money?

Last winter, I lead the search for a junior software developer to work on some Rails/CoffeeScript projects. We weren't located in a place with a high density of Rails developers, so we decided to use developer job boards to broaden our search.

We had a limited advertising budget so I wanted to make sure we got the most out of our posts. I researched the common job boards for developers and decided on the 37Singals job board ($400) and Authentic Jobs ($99) as the best bets for our post ...

Read more...

Keeping your email secure from hackers

I’ve helped a few people deal with hacked Gmail accounts recently, so I wanted to write up some general advice on keeping your email account secure and what to do if your account is hacked ...

Read more...

Wolfram Alpha and probability distributions

I just discovered you can use Wolfram Alpha to replace a critical values table for common probability distributions. You can also quickly graph distributions. This is super helpful for the introductory statistics class I'm taking now ...

Read more...

The future of farming?

This video of Eric Maundu talking about his urban aquaponics company Kijani Grows has been making the rounds on Reddit and Hacker News ...

Read more...

Solution to iOS 6 map woes

A number of problems have been reported with the new non-Google maps on iOS 6. These include lack of integrated public transit directions, no Street View equivalent, and lots of issues with the maps themselves ...

Read more...

Bling for your Terminal: zsh with my fancy Fino theme

If you use the command line on OS X or Linux and you haven’t heard of Zsh, this post will change your life ...

Read more...

Now Twitter is just a social network

Like many others, I’m dismayed by Twitter’s new API rules. Marco Arment wrote a good explanation of how these rules impact 3rd party services that rely on the Twitter API. But more generally, these changes mark Twitter’s transition from a social platform into just a social network ...

Read more...

Combine: get paid faster with Stripe + Heroku

The worst part of freelance work is getting paid. Some clients are great — but some drag their heels, send you bad checks, or don't pay you at all. I wrote Combine in an attempt to make getting paid easier and faster ...

Read more...

Quote: essential vs. urgent

If I were to let my life be taken over by what is urgent, I might very well never get around to what is essential ...

Read more...

Woodward & Bernstein on Watergate, 40 years later

From a great article by Woodword and Bernstein about Watergate from a few months ago ...

Read more...

Opinionated email signatures

Protocol.by is a creation by some students at Harvard and the MIT Media Lab. I describe it as an “opinionated email signature” – opinionated in the sense that instead of just listing your contact information it tells people how to use it ...

Read more...

Managing default iPhone apps with emoji

Where do you put your iPhone’s default, undeletable apps?

Read more...

BreakTime for Mac: automatic reminders to take regular breaks

For better or worse, I can sit down at the computer and bang away on the keyboard for hours without taking a break. Doing this regularly isn’t healthy, so I wanted an unobtrusive app to automatically remind me to take breaks ...

Read more...

Running Prose locally

Prose is the static site Jekyll editor from Document Seed. It provides a browser-based interface for working on content for a Jekyll site. However, since writing this GitHub introduced support for Prose's core functionality. Thus, this post is deprecated ...

Read more...

Photo: Blue Angles

Blue Angles by masnick  on 500px.com

Beginner's guide: the three parts of web hosting

Setting up a website for the first time can be daunting. I've helped a bunch of people do this -- and I've seen lots of people make mistakes with picking a registrar or hosting provider.

If you're new to setting up websites, hopefully this guide will point you in the right direction ...

Read more...

Stop the paranoia: it doesn't matter if Google reads our email

There’s been some recent buzz about how it’s bad that Google is “reading” the email of Gmail users. Google examines email algorithmically to power its targeted advertising in Gmail ...

Read more...

Blogging with Jekyll + S3 + CloudFront

When I decided to power this blog with Jekyll, it took me a while to figure out a good way to host and configure it. I thought explaining my setup might be helpful for others who are getting started with Jekyll ...

Read more...

Top software dev job boards

I’ve been working on posting a web software developer job opening and it’s taken a fair amount of research to find the various job boards that seem to be appropriate. I thought other could benefit from this list, and I’d be happy to expand or update it if I’ve missed something ...

Read more...

Ultimate webdev/power user tools for Mac (2011 edition)

Here's what I've been using for web development on my Mac ...

Read more...

Bulletproof your blog: a guide for surviving traffic spikes [v1]

I have written an updated version of this article ...

Read more...

New Kindle first impressions

New Kindle vs. first generation Kindle DX
New Kindle 4 vs. original Kindle DX. Apologies for the crappy iPhone photo.

Read more...

Mapping U.S. obesity rates at the county level

United States obesity rates by county

Read more...

Usability & UX: forgotten in obesity web intervention?

A group of researchers in the Netherlands just published the results of their web-based adolescent obesity intervention. This kind of intervention is promising because it scales well: more users on a website are essentially free, while adding people to an intervention that requires doctor visits would be much more expensive ...

Read more...

Trello Icon

My attempt to create an icon for Trello for the OS X dock ...

Read more...