Sleep Mode

I’ve had a Frigidaire air conditioner for a few years but I didn’t know much about it until recently.

The filter reset light had been on for months and I figured it meant I needed to buy a new air filter. I looked around on Amazon for a replacement but I couldn’t find one. Eventually I opened up the front of the A/C and found that I could remove the filter and clean it myself very easily. No need to buy anything. Just clean off the dust when the light comes on.

Next, remote sensing mode. This mode uses the temperature on the remote instead of the one on the unit. There can be a large difference between the two temperatures (sometimes even 10 degrees Fahrenheit) especially if there isn’t a fan circulating the air. The way this mode works is by turning it on or off using the buttons on the remote.

Sleep mode. I never even considered using this until I realized I had no idea what it was. It reminded of sleep mode on TVs where you set an amount of time (30, 60, 90 mins…) and then the TV turns off when the time is up. This isn’t the same. When you activate sleep mode on the Frigidaire, it will maintain the set temperature for 30 minutes. Then it will increase the temperature by 2°F and maintain that temperature for 30 minutes. Then it will increase the temperature again by 2°F and maintain that temperature for 7 hours. After the 7 hours are up it will go back to the original temperature. Inflexible but pretty handy.

I was motivated to write this partly because I can never remember what sleep mode does. Also, it reminded me that many of the things we are using today have not yet been updated to take advantage of modern software and hardware. For instance, a mobile app for your air conditioner would give you much more control and flexibility than the built-in programs. Such an app would probably not improve your life as much as an app that let you send yo to people but it would be pretty neat if your A/C automatically set the temperature down a few degrees when you entered the room and raised it when you left. The other reminder is that there are lots of opportunities and things to improve in everyday life.

The Shit To Get

I’ve been wanting to write up a list of products that I’ve personally used and would recommend. I like the way Jake wrote his list so I did mine in the same style.


For filtering the air (and white noise), Vornado Air Purifier

For filtering the air on a budget (and white noise), Holmes Air Purifier

For reducing humidity, Gurin dehumidifier

For an air conditioner, Frigidaire A/C

For playing music, Big Jambox (in white)


For a 23 inch monitor: Dell Ultrasharp

For a mouse, Apple Magic Mouse

For a mousepad, 3M Mouse Pad

For pens, Zebra Sarasa 0.5mm (black)

For a laptop stand, Rain Design mTower

For a surge protector, Belkin SurgeMaster


For a coffee grinder, Baratza Encore

For making coffee, Aeropress

For plain yogurt, Narragansett Creamery

For sweetening plain yogurt, Really Raw Honey

For oatmeal, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats

For sweetening oatmeal, Coombs Organic Maple Syrup

For granola, Early Bird Jubilee

For grating parmesan cheese, Microplane Grater

For learning about food and nutrition, Nourishing Traditions

For cleaning, Sal Suds

“Simply standing up, a minimum of 30 times a day, is a powerful antidote to long periods of sitting and is, surprisingly enough, more effective than walking.”

Enabling Retina Images on Tumblr

For a while I’ve wanted retina images on my tumblr. I checked to see if Tumblr had added this as a feature but I couldn’t find any info about it so I set off to try it myself.

A bit of googling turned up a simple explanation of displaying retina images. The basic idea is to use a retina source image paired with an image size in CSS.

Next, I checked Marco’s tumblr since I figured he’d have retina images. By viewing the page source, I learned that the source image urls ended in 1280, which reminded me of the PhotoURL-HighRes option on the Tumblr photo post theme settings page. I also noticed that the images on his site were around 700 pixels wide, which gave me the idea to use the high resolution image source option along with the CSS image width setting.

With that idea in mind, these are the two changes I made to my theme:

  1. img src="{PhotoURL-500}" —> img src="{PhotoURL-HighRes}"

  2. img { border:none; } —> img { border:none; width:500px}

Changing the photo URL to the high resolution version means that the source image for photos will now be up to 1280 pixels wide (as long as the photo I’ve uploaded is at least that wide) instead of 500 pixels. This provides an image large enough for retina up to 640 points.

The last piece of the puzzle was adding a CSS image width setting of 500 pixels to make the photos stay inside the roughly 500 pixel width content area here on the site. Otherwise, the images would render to their full, non-retina size and overlap with the side bar.

I’m really happy with how this turned out. In the future, I could even increase the image size to 640 points and still have full retina images (or go even bigger and still have near retina quality). For now, I’ll be aiming to upload 1000 pixel wide images, which is optimal for the 500 point display width.

One of the downsides of this approach is that all devices, including ones without retina screens, will now need to download a retina image. This should work fine on this site considering the small number of images and constrained size but could significantly impact load time on a site with more (and larger) images.

For a while I’ve been wondering about ways to explain why investing in design and the small details is worth it. This video clip does that. It’s KPCB General Partner (and Chief Product Officer) Bing Gordon explaining how producing products that are even incrementally better can increase bottom line performance dramatically.

“One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. And I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room. And I got the scar tissue to prove it.”

Steve Jobs

Setting up a computer for focused work

I was inspired to remove distractions from my computer after reading a chapter in the book Remote by 37signals. My strategy is to limit the inflow of information during working hours. My phone already shows alerts for important stuff so pretty much all the alerts on my computer are either redundant or unimportant.

First, I crank up the Do Not Disturb settings in OS X to be active during working hours (mainly to prevent alerts from appearing on the screen). If needed I can open up Notification Center to see them or toggle them back on. The moon icon in iOS suggests that Do Not Disturb is for nighttime but I like not being disturbed during the day too. This article on OS X Daily has info about setting this up.

I try to keep social apps like Twitter uninstalled. Same goes for messaging apps if I don’t need real time messaging.

Lastly, I keep my browser logged out of Facebook and Gmail as much as possible. If I need to login, I try to logout when I’m done. I discard this rule if I need frequent access to email.

A collection of details

User experience is a collection of details. The more details that are done with excellence the better the experience. A naive assumption is that a small detail will be quick and easy to implement but often the reverse is true. Things that appear small to the user can take long amounts of time to get right. The willingness to invest time in the small details is what makes something great and requires patience and dedication. So, here I am using the two year old Tweetbot 2 for iPad and I’m happily waiting for Tweetbot 3 for iPad because I know that something like that can’t be rushed out the door.

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