Roughnecks on the job.

In this video, experience professionals make one of the most dangerous jobs I’ve ever seen, look as mundane as me writing this post from the comfort of my own home. Literally everything in this scene could kill or maim any of these guys if someone loses focus. I’m having a bit of a hard time describing exactly why this video struck me, I just find it stunning.

Redditor StevosaurusRex gives a helpful play-by-play of the action:

the water keeps the rig floor clean by washing away the mud as it comes from the hole. they drop in slips to hold the pipe at the right height so it’s easier to get their tongs in place (the roughneck steps on the slips). one tong pulls, the other runs backup, just like you would with a couple wrenches at home. you can see steel cable (attached to the tongs) bouncing in the air. if that cable breaks and the driller (only guy not working ūüôā ) has too much pressure on it, those tongs could come around and kill/maim those guys.

use the mud shield, because that stuff is slick and makes life not great. not sure what device they’re removing, but it gets a quick check and goes into new pipe. two tongs (make up and breakout) attach the two sections of pipe and the spinning chain is a great way to get the threads started, but will also kill/maim if it breaks.

see the guy in the green hard hat fighting to hold on to the heavy as hell, slick, unwieldy pipe so it doesn’t kill/maim the rest of his crew? he’s tired, but he’s fighting hard because that slinging pipe will make him unpopular with what’s left of the crew is he lets go.

Nylas, an email client for 2016

I have been experiencing an unusual burst of adventure and excitement surrounding some of the tools I use. Over the past week and a half I have been trying out Nylas N1 as my daily email client.

Nylas is an open source, extensible email client. It follows the recent software development trend of editors like Sublime Text and Atom. The app focuses on core functionality and relies on¬†the community to add features and visual themes. As a developer you can build the app yourself and use it for free, but you’re locked out of some of the paid functional. So, I signed up for the free trial to give it a full shot.

Nylas has three features I was most interested in:

1. Social Sidebar

When you open an email, the right-hand view pulls up social info for the sender. Including their Twitter picture and other social links. I thought this would be kind of cool and useful. However, I ended up ignoring it entirely.

2. Read Reciepts

Back in the bad old days of Outlook Express (and beyond), you were able to send a “read receipt” to your recipient. IIRC¬†this depended on a proprietary (or non-standard) attachment. The recipient would have to acknowledge the read receipt, then an email would be send back to you in the background and your local copy of OE would process it and produce a “read” checkmark somewhere in the UI.¬†A horribly Kludgy¬†and inefficient process!

Nylas handles read receipts with a server-side process, similar to the way Mail Chimp, etc track opens and clicks. It’s totally seamless.

I found this to be a compelling, albeit creepy feature. My main complain is that the there was no in-app way to disable the notification. Though, seeing someone open your email immediately after sending it, then not hearing back from them (ever!) is also horribly disheartening.

3. Snooze/Send Later

Prior to Nylas, my email client (both on desktop and mobile) has been Google Inbox, prior to that I was using Mailbox.¬†A key feature with both clients was “snooze,” it allows you to basically resend an email to yourself at a later date (or location).¬†My stress level surrounding email decreased 1000%¬†when I started using snooze, I can’t live without it.

I had assumed that Nylas’ snooze feature would sync with Google Inbox’s snooze. Unfortunately they don’t, so Inbox on my phone had no knowledge of the snoozes I’d set in Nylas. Bummer.

Send later is sort of the opposite feature to snooze. It’s a great way to compose an email to a client at midnight and have it automatically send during regular business hours, for example. In the past I’d used Boomerang to send later with gmail. I had been missing the feature since Boomerang is not compatible with Inbox. Nylas’ send later works as advertised. Bonus.

Conclusion

Nylas is good.¬†It’s been a long time since a decent alternative has entered the email client arena. I recommend you give it a try.

Unfortunately, there’s one big issue. The search, it just doesn’t seem to work right. I found myself switching back to inbox to search almost every time.

And there are a few other minor issues that will prevent me from using it.

  • It’s slow. I found significant lag between issuing a command and it actually being sent to the server.
  • Emails are unsorted. I’ve grown quite accustom to the way inbox groups email by day. Nylas just shows one big ugly list.
  • Minor email rendering issues. Sometimes emails appeared to be super wide and off the screen.
  • Lack of enhanced email. Google Inbox shows useful snippets for certain types of emails (orders, receipts, newsletters, etc)
  • Other minor UI issues. Various parts of the UI seemed a little unrefined. These issues varied somewhat depending on the theme I was trying, leading me to wonder if the theme API is buggy.
  • Read Receipts, snooze and send later are all paid features. It’s hard to argue that these features combined are not enough to justify $9/mo and since they rely on Nylas’ servers they couldn’t really exist without paid support.

These are all fairly minor, I know. But for me they add up to a deal breaker.

Peach Came From a Can

Social app Peach hit the interwebs over the weekend, harder than a late 1990s grunge-esque anthem skipping on a discman playing through a cassette tape adapter.

You could write off peach as another social networking app for tech groupies. But you’d be missing a very unique feature.

Chatbots.

(Sorta. They’re almost more like command-line keywords.)

Peach does this one little thing that¬†I’ve never seen an app of this type do before. A¬†series of text commands enable¬†quick access¬†device¬†sensors and various other APIs. For example, `move` posts the number of footsteps the device has recorded today, `gif: keyword` returns a gif search, `here` posts your location,¬†etc.

I’m not sure whether to call this innovative per se, chatbots have existed on IRC for decades and Slack¬†does something similar with third party app integrations.

However, Peach is the first time I’ve seen this sort of thing implemented for purely entertainment purposes and I find it extremely interesting. Mostly likely, an early sign of things to come.

If you do check it out, add me, I’m¬†ohryan.

astsu: why Mr Robot is the most tech-savvy show ever

I finally watched the pilot episode of Mr Robot and I was totally blown away by the way the handle¬†the hacking aspects of the show. If you haven’t seen the show, the main character is a professional security engineer by day and a “cyber vigilante” at night. It’s great!

Every aspect of the way he goes about his job is authentic (+/- reasonable poetic license) from: social engineering techniques, password cracking, right down to the command line.

As an example of the authenticity + poetic license = tech-savviness, throughout the pilot the lead character uses a command: astsu. astsu is not a real linux command and it’s not totally clear what it does. However,¬†the way that he uses it is totally legit. He doesn’t use it when other commands would do the job and the arguments he passes to it look believable¬†for something vaguely network/security related. We can assume that this command is code that he’s written himself. The¬†command is basically a plot device for the nerds that will notice this sort of thing.

The fact that writers/producers/whoever demonstrate an incredible attention to detail and authenticity. I’m definitely going to continue watching

Oh, the soundtrack is perfect too.

Back in the RSSR

My reddit account just turned 8 this year, in that time the more I visited reddit, the less I checked RSS feeds. To the point where I completely stopped reading them after Google killed reader. Reddit was where I got all my news and that was fine.

But over the years – I don’t know if it’s reddit that’s changed, if it’s me or a combination – I’ve started using reddit less for pure news and more for pure diversion, cat gifs and memes. When I do end up reading news, I usually just read the headline and skim the comments for someone’s summary or an interesting discussion point.

As I thought about this more, I realized that I have not been reading much, period. This is a bad thing.

For the past month or so I’ve been trying hard to get back into the habit of reading RSS feeds and it’s going fairly well.

Ironically, my reader of choice is the new(ish) digg.com, the site I quickly¬†abandoned when I made a reddit account 8 years ago.¬†The new Digg reader is quite good. It does three pretty interesting and useful things. (1) It mimic’s Google’s old reader fairly well; (2) It has a popularity feature that shows you the most popular posts from the feeds you follow – handy for a quick read; (3) “Digg Deeper” scans your Twitter feed and exposes popular links from the people you follow (not dissimilar to something I built for myself when Twitter first launched [relevant]).