Uncertainty about death

How I've dealt with my own mortality surrounding my heart problems.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on July 7, 2015

What is rssCloud?

It's a notification server for RSS feeds.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 3, 2015

Rebooting rssCloud

I think rssCloud is awesome, so I built a server in Node.js
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 2, 2015

Will this make me feel better tomorrow?

Can I make myself healthier and happier by asking myself a simple question?
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 26, 2015

Facebook Comments

I don't understand why Facebook doesn't implement this simple feature with their comments platform.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 23, 2015

Laravel UTC Model

I put together a little class that extends `Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model` and converts between timezones on the fly.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 1, 2015

PHP 5.5 vs HHVM

I'm experimenting with HHVM to try to improve the performance of a cron job but I'm seeing interesting results when I run my unit tests through HHVM.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 2, 2015

How to Be Polite

Politeness and manners are something that I feel has always intrigued and eluded me.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 14, 2014

Running River4 with forever

River4 is the first Node.js app I'm running in production. Here's how I keep it running.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 25, 2014

Your credits expire soon

It's ridiculous when websites tell me my credits are expiring. That's like stamps expiring.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on April 25, 2014

Switching to Sculpin

Rebuilt my site with Sculpin, a static site generator written in PHP.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 9, 2014

Lightswitches and OCD

I'm a little OCD when it comes to light switches. My particular obsession goes a little like this: A light switch should be up for on and down for off. When you have multiple switches, the light should be off when all of the switches are off. I'm not worried about the…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on January 29, 2014

Identifying my priorities

Lately I've been overwhelmed. This is not unusual for me ever since my heart surgery I've been more aware of it. I've been reading books lately about goal setting, life planning and task management so today I felt I needed to do a brain dump and figure out what are all my…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on January 21, 2014

Figuring out Silex SecurityServiceProvider

I'm working on a couple of projects that will be using Silex as the underlying framework. Whenever I try out a new framework, it seems that the first roadblock I always hit is when I try to implement user authentication & authorization. It's no different with Silex. The…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on November 23, 2013

What is a social network?

Dave Winer says in What's missing in our social networks?: Meanwhile, as we all settle in on these networks, we're also settling -- missing features that would have been developed long ago if we were using open and competitive platforms. At some point the dam will break and…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on October 28, 2013

Flirting vs Sexual Harassment

In a post written by Monica Byrne This happened she details an incident in which at a professional meeting with Bora Zivkovic he made her incredibly uncomfortable by talking about incredibly personal and sexual topics with her. In one of the comments a woman explains a…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on October 16, 2013

Building a better Meetup

This post is a request into the aether for something I'd really like to see and would be willing to pay for. My hope is that someone reads this and decides to build it (maybe even Meetup). I unfortunately don't have the time to build this as much as I'd like to do…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on October 4, 2013

The corporate indoctrination of our children

My wife and I have been talking about having a child. One thing we disagree about is that once the child is school age, will they go to public school or will we home school? I'm all about homeschooling, I'm not happy with the public school system and I think I can do…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 24, 2013

Is it a myth that women quit to take care of their family?

I was reading the September issue of the Harvard Business Review today. There are a bunch of articles about women in the workplace. I'm not planning on getting into the details and subtleties of this issue because it's complex and has a lot of facets to it. However there is…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 11, 2013

Are you offended by this?

In the early days of dating my wife, she complained that it was like she was dating a robot. This wasn't the first time I had been compared to a robot either. I don't typically express a wide range of emotions. I typically alternate between neutral and excited. Do you get…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 6, 2013

Revisiting fs-key-value

Last week I announced my first Node.js module fs-key-value. I'm new to Node.js and was not having any success making it asynchronous so I released it as a synchronous library. Soon after I realized it made more sense to take a little more time and rewrite it to be…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 21, 2013

The future of PHP (and JavaScript)

As a developer, I'm always reevaluating what tools I use to do my work. This can be what language I'm using, but also what frameworks, libraries or editors I'm using. I've been doing pretty much nothing but PHP for close to a decade and I love it. I know it's cool to dis PHP…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 16, 2013

Introducing fs-key-value My First NPM Module

Today I published fs-key-value which is my first NPM module. Earlier this week I talked about creating a little wrapper for LevelUp that was supposed to make it work when I spin up multiple processes using cluster. After some further testing I came to the conclusion that my…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 15, 2013

Multi-Process LevelUP

Recently I've been working on a Node.js app that uses LevelDB via the LevelUp module. Out of the box it works really well, but I ran into problems when I tried adding multi-process support (via the cluster module) to my app. So I created a little wrapper script that uses a…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 12, 2013

Moving My RSS Feed

I'm probably going to be moving my site soon to be powered by Dave Winer's Trex but that means that my RSS feed URL will change. Right now it's either http://blog.andrewshell.org/feed/ or http://blog.andrewshell.org/feed/index.xml but as of right now the new location is…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 8, 2013

Triggering Safari Reader

I do most of my blog reading on my iPhone so it's really important for me that my blog looks good on the iPhone. One feature that I really like is the "Reader" feature that shows up in the address bar on both mobile and desktop Safari. One issue with it though is that there is…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 7, 2013

GitHub Pages Gotcha

This blog (and a couple other sites) have been hosted via GitHub Pages which has been great. However I wanted other features that required plugins which are not supported on GitHub Pages for security reasons. The way around this is to generate your site locally (with plugins)…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 3, 2013

Improving My Code

I'll be honest with you. I had kinda stagnated over the last couple years when it came to improving my skills as a developer. When I first started developing professionally I went from not knowing much PHP to being well regarded as a developer in a few years. Part of my…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 2, 2013

Can You Be a Reading Roll Model With an iPad?

My wife Andrea and I have no immediate plans to have children, but the topic has come up a couple of times. One area that we disagree on is the topic of homeschooling. I personally feel that with the exception of a few awesome teachers I was mostly let down by the public…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on July 26, 2013

My YNAB Budget

I don't typically promote products on my site but I really love You Need A Budget or YNAB. I've had a real hard time in the past with managing my money, I've accumulated a bunch of debt and pissed through a bunch of inheritance money. I've tried a number of programs like…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on July 16, 2013

Fourth of July in New House

It's been a crazy year since the last 4th of July. Andrea and I got married in October. Then we went on our honeymoon to Disney World and of January. On our way home I got pneumonia (the first time) and that started a chain of events that led to having heart surgery. Then 10…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on July 4, 2013

Changing My Jekyll Config

So I've been running this site on Jekyll for a while now hosted by GitHub pages. I like GitHub Pages for hosting however the way I was using it was to checkout my Jekyll source files and let GitHub Pages compile and render my site. This made some things easier, but I decided…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 29, 2013

Getting the Perfect Job

In my last article I talked about how I landed the perfect job. In this article I'm going to go into some of the strategies I used to get to where I am today. Keep in mind that this is more of an art then a science and your milage may vary. Some of these strategies will help…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 21, 2013

Landing My Perfect Job

What some people may not realize is that I'm currently employed at my perfect job.. Sometimes I wonder how exactly I managed to get to this place in life and I think I've come up with some strategies that I'd like to share with you. Money is important, but it's not the most…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 17, 2013

Understanding Base URL

I've been using GitHub Pages quite a bit these days. In fact this blog is running off on GitHub Pages. I really like it as a platform. Part of using GitHub Pages is understanding the ins and outs of Jekyll and what limitations are placed on it in the context of running on…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 3, 2013

Heart Surgery

I had been diagnosed with a heart murmur back in 2005 at which time the cardiologist said it was unremarkable and that I just needed antibiotics prior to dental work. Two years ago I had a second ultrasound of my heart and no red flags were raised. Back in February I was in my…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 2, 2013

Joining Hyperboria

Yesterday I joined Hyperboria. Hyperboria is a decentralised network established with the principles of freedom and security at its core. To get into Hyperboria you have to install CJDNS which and then get on IRC and find someone that is willing to give you a password to…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 13, 2013

Switching to Jekyll

After running my blog for many years on WordPress I've recently decided to migrate over to Jekyll running on Github Pages. The design is using Twitter Bootstrap with some special Google Fonts Open Sans and Gentium Book Basic. I think it looks really nice and it's…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 14, 2013

Sharing Disqus Threads

Today I met up with my friend Joe Nelson, the goal was to discuss my prior blog post about a better social news experience. We wanted to look at the larger idea and see what baby steps could we accomplish to start moving toward that ideal. I'm of the mindset that I don't want…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on January 19, 2013

A better social news experience?

A number of years ago when I worked for Brazen Careerist I had an idea for the company. We could create a white label social news site that was a window into a larger network of social news sites. Management didn't see this as a useful direction for the company so it didn't…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 31, 2012

Dead Drops 'How to'

I just came across this video and thought it would be great to share. According to the map on deaddrops.com there aren't any listed in Madison, WI. I might have to change that. Dead Drops 'How to' - NYC from aram bartholl on Vimeo. http://deaddrops.com/ "Dead Drops" is…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 12, 2012

PHP Functions on the Fly

I've been a big of a laggard when it comes around to the latest and greatest in the world of PHP. Only recently have I been using the new functionality of PHP 5.3 even though 5.4 just came out. Today I had an idea for a proof of concept and I thought I'd share it with you…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 14, 2012

Introducing DocCloud: Using RSS Cloud for more then just RSS

Dave Winer discusses in his post A simple proposal for discussion software makers an idea where instead of having to only publish content inside of the application (Ex: WordPress, Tumblr, Quora), you could specify a URL for your content and the application would fetch that…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 28, 2012

World Outline Podcast #7

Yesterday on the World Outline Podcast with Dave Winer and Adam Curry they mentioned me and my projects RT Proxy and TwitOPML. If you're interested in listening you can hear the clip or the entire episode.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 20, 2012

RT Proxy

RT Proxy is a little site I created to support Dave Winer's RT standard. This is fresh on the heals of my Radio2 RT WordPress Plugin which adds RT links to a WordPress site. Now anybody even if they don't have a website or linkblog can RT to many popular social network…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 16, 2012

Apple and the future of TV

I just came across Dave Winer's post Samsung is wrong about TV which is a response to the earlier TechCrunch article Samsung Not Worried About Apple’s TV: "TVs are ultimately about picture quality". Now I'm actually with TechCrunch on this one that when it comes to…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 18, 2012

Radio2 RT WordPress Plugin

Maps the Radio2 style RT standard onto the Press This URL. (see A standard for RT'ing?) This plugin checks for any of three query string params (link, title, description). If they are present it redirects the page to the /wp-admin/press-this.php page with the params u, t, s and…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 4, 2012

Digital Decentralism

I've been very interested in thinking of clever ways to help myself and other people avoid digital sharecropping. Especially with the recent hoopla around SOPA. The problem I have with the term Digital Sharecropper is that it represents the negative behavior. We talk about how…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on January 23, 2012

How I Rock-It at Work

At Brazen Careerist where I work we're having a series of posts by Brazen employees with tips about how they got ahead in their careers.  My post about starting a group was just posted today.  Check it out. Rock-It at Work: Start a Group
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 29, 2011

What does it mean to have character?

Today I came across a wikipedia page about the Seven Blunders of the World which was a list created by Gandhi.  As I went through them one particularly stuck with me.  That was "Knowledge without Character" particularly because knowledge is something I strive for.  The…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 26, 2011

Developers and the Growth Mindset

Recently I've been reading the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and it's really making me think.  According to the official website: In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 9, 2011

Following Outside of Twitter

I've been working as part of the blork community lately.  What is a blork?  It's basically a decentralized Twitter like app that runs on RSS.  You post status updates that get posted to your RSS Feed, then you follow other RSS feeds.  The problem? RSS is not particularly…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 1, 2011

Shipping is Scary

Today I shipped a little app of mine called TwitOPML.  I'm now freaked out.  What if a ton of people start using it?  What if nobody uses it?  I shot an e-mail about it to the EC2 for Poets mailing list, so most likely somebody will try it out.  In fact I pretty much…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on April 22, 2011

Nofollow Links

This is a plugin designed to allow you to append nofollow to the rel attribute of selected links in your blogroll. It does not conflict with the link relationships (XFN) specified when you edit a link. It will just be appended to the end of the rel attribute when it's…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 29, 2011

Data Minimalism

I previously railed against the trend of digital sharecropping in my post Giving Up On Web Ownership. The task of taking ownership of your digital identity can be very difficult when you try to replicate the functionality of all the different sites you might use. Trying to…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 17, 2011

Rebooting The News #86

Today's episode of Rebooting The News Jay was out of town so Dave had on Adam Curry and yours truly!  I wish I could say I was invited to be a guest, but Dave was just taking calls and picked me.  On the show I talk about my work trying to use WordPress as a microblog…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 14, 2011

Escaping Corporate Silos With WordPress

After my post on Friday about Giving Up on Web Ownership a couple people pinged me asking how they would go about publishing to Twitter, without publishing in Twitter.  Dave Winer is working on the problem with his minimal blogging tool but I was thinking... why can't we do…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 23, 2011

Giving Up On Web Ownership?

Last year when I was helping organize BarCamp Madison 2011 I was busy getting the website set up.  I set up a WordPress site and planned on getting modules installed to handle registrations and session tracking.  Before I even got a chance to do anything other members of the…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 18, 2011

Minimalism ain't just a river in Egypt

I own a lot of stuff.  A rough estimate puts me at 600 CDs. There was a time I would buy 1-3 CDs every week but the last CDs I bought were back in December 2009 and I don't think I've ever put those CDs in a CD player.  I bought them, put them on a shelf and continued to…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 15, 2011

Are you suffering from News Poisoning?

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Monica last night. We talked about information overload and she brought up a term "News Poisoning" which means how you can poison your mind by watching the news. What do I mean by poisoning your mind? If you watch the news you…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 11, 2011

Putting your life on autopilot

My life needs fixing. There are a lot of things going on that I need to repair. Some of which are: Lose weight, get in shape Develop the power to avoid procrastination Improve my concentration Start my own business I think the key to solving these problems…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on February 9, 2011

What would you do with 60 hours?

I'm not a huge fan of new years resolutions. I think most people throw out some big vague goal like "lose weight" or "start my own business" then forget about it by the end of January. I was just thinking of a different approach to new years resolutions. What could you…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 30, 2010

Technology delegation vs abdication

This is a reply to Why Gen Y is Smarter, From a Gen X We are becoming more dependent on technology. The use of a GPS like they mention in the TechCrunch article is a good example. GPS is great since it allows you to get to places very easily without having to carry a ton of…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 15, 2010

Structured data via RSS

I've been rolling around in my head for a while now about the best way to publish structured data via RSS. My primary use case is with syndicating data between websites, especially social networks like Brazen Careerist. I like the idea of pulling in a feed that has more…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 15, 2010

Interview with Ryan Healy and Ryan Paugh

I sat down with Ryan Healy and Ryan Paugh, co-founders of Brazen Careerist. We talked about how they created Employee Evolution, met Penelope Trunk and started Brazen Careerist. Tech in Madison Interview with Ryan Healy and Ryan Paugh by Tech in Madison is licensed under a…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on October 1, 2010

Conflict with Minimalism

I've been trying to be more minimalist lately. I deleted the vast majority of blogs I follow in my RSS feed (I only follow 5 now). One of the blogs I still follow is Far Beyond the Stars by Everett Bogue. Everett is a guy who lives his live with a ridiculously small number of…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 3, 2010

Expanding Your Passion

Here's an exercise I just came up with as a method to expand and pivot my passions. Start out with something that excites you, something that you're really passionate about. Visualize that this activity or idea is just a lake that's part of a big network of lakes, rivers,…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 23, 2010

RSS, FlipBoard and Me

Recently I privately declared RSS bankruptcy. I had managed to tame my feeds in such a way that I could usually get through everything and some days I'd just clear out my low value feeds in order to keep up. Then on June 30th as part of The Dojo I attended an online webinar…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 11, 2010

Interview with Greg Tracy

I sat down with Greg Tracy, co-founder of Sharendipity and creator of SMSMyBus to talk about how he got into technology and what he's learned along the way. Tech in Madison Interview with Greg Tracy by Tech in Madison is licensed under a Creative Commons…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on June 29, 2010

Kickstart Madison Coworking

When I was out in California I was somewhat involved with the group of people starting Hacker Dojo. I've been interested in creating a similar type of space in Madison. I started looking around at spaces when I was telecommuting for PBwiki but the issue is always how to fund…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on May 18, 2010

Amazon's being reasonable with publishers over Apple ebook pricing

I read an article today on Silicon Alley Insider Amazon Tells Small Publishers It Will Stop Selling Their Books If They Join Apple which if that was the case would clearly be big news. However I read the quote and I'm left scratching my head. It actually doesn't seem from what…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 19, 2010

How Quicken Made Me Happy Today

I've never been very good at managing my finances. There was a period of time back in college when I lived off my credit cards. Fortunately over the last few years I've gotten better at living within my means and have been gradually paying off my debt. Despite this I'm not…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on January 2, 2010

Managing Feeds Part Two

I previously talked about reordering my Google reader in order to make my life less overwhelming. A little over a month has gone by and I thought I'd post an update about how it's worked. Things have been a tremendous success. By simply re-categorizing my feeds into Low…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 16, 2009

How do you know what you stand for?

I'm someone that likes to think of himself as pretty driven and goal oriented. I think this is why it's bothered me so much that lately I've been floundering without any great direction. Some of it is probably the "Quarterlife Crisis" but it could also be that I've been…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 11, 2009

Managing Feeds

Today I logged into Google Reader and saw that I had 230 unread items. This is not unusual, nor it is particularly difficult to get through. However, that is what's in my "inbox" between when I checked it last night and when I woke up this morning. I'm not sure how many items…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on October 30, 2009

PHP Frameworks are Governments

I was e-mailing a friend the other day talking about PHP frameworks. He's been writing one for himself and I've written many many frameworks and CMSs through the years. I've also looked at a lot of existing frameworks out there like Zend, CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Solar, Symfony…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on March 5, 2009

Cause you know... I can't read or write.

Or so I say. But clearly that's not true, unless you believe my stories of a well trained chimp that does all my reading and writing for me. It's a joke I've used quite a bit through the years. People typically find it funny because of the obvious falseness of it. Clearly I…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on January 6, 2009

Yahoo and the semantic web

At Netconcepts I've implemented microformats in order to optimize content for search engines. An example of this would be the hCard microformat which we're using in the Allen Edmonds store locator. If you view the source of…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 29, 2008

Drains of Canada: An Interview with Michael Cook

I just came across this article today. It's very interesting. I've always had an interest in exploring storm drains and tunnels and such. I wonder if Madison has drains like this. That would be really cool to see. I'd be worried about slipping and drowning…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on August 27, 2007

A Brief History of Me Programming

I've been programming in one form or another for as long as I can remember. Since my family got it's first computer when I was five I couldn't have programmed much before that. However I knew DOS well enough to help teachers with their computers in first and second grade so I…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on April 25, 2007

PHP Bugtracking

So I am currently looking for good bug tracking software. I have a few requirements, some of which I'm sure are unreasonable. First the code needs to be able to run without errors, warnings or notices in PHP 5.2 (using php.ini-recommended) and it's an extra bonus if it works…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on November 5, 2006

PHP Works 2006

The conference this year was a lot of fun. I found the talks to be weaker then I remember from previous years. Perhaps I chose poorly. Two of the best talks I attended were "The State of AOP in PHP" by Sebastian Bergmann and "Organizing Your Projects" by Paul M. Jones. "The…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 20, 2006

PHP/DB | Works 2006

I just arrived in Toronto yesterday for the third PHP Works conference I've attended. The last two years were incredible and I have no doubts that this year will be great as well. I will try to post several entries while I'm here detailing what talks I've attended and such.…
Published by
Andrew Shell
on September 12, 2006

First PHP Meetup

Well, tomorrow is the first meeting of my PHP Users Group. I'm pretty excited about that. Right now I have 9 people RSVPed Yes and 3 RSVPed Maybe. Certainly a larger crowd then I had originally expected. The group is being organized through meetup.com.
Published by
Andrew Shell
on December 16, 2004