Using Tweetbot’s Mute Filters to Stay Sane

Twitter can be very noisy at times (ok, all the time). Every so often, you may find yourself wanting to just escape from a certain discussion or person for a bit.

My favourite Twitter client on iOS, Tweetbot, has some nice mute functionality that can help.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to eliminate some of that unhealthy and counter-productive noise from your feed, and your life.

Accessing Mute Filters:

Tap and hold the fourth icon on the bottom row until the menu of options pops up. Choose the comment icon with the ‘x’ in it and you’ll end up on the Mute Filters screen.

Adding Mute Filters:

You can add one of four different types of filters: People, Keywords, Hashtags and Clients.

People: this is one of two types of mute filters you can’t add from the Mute Filters screen, although you can view and delete them here. The easiest way to mute a person is by tapping and holding their avatar in your Twitter feed. You can mute that person’s tweets for an a day, a week, a month or forever. This filter is handy for those crazy over-tweeters you can’t unfollow for whatever reason, or when one of your friends is at some conference and is tweeting up a storm.

Keywords: it’s super handy to mute on a specific word when a news story blows up and you want to opt out of the discussion for a little bit. These can be added from the Mute Filters screen by tapping the ‘+’ and then adding a Keyword filter. you can include mentions in your filter or not (I generally don’t so the person who is muted can still get in touch if they @-message me). Pro-tip: be specific to avoid false positives (“ghomeshi” is good, “cbc” is bad).

Hashtags: you can use the keyword filters above and just put in hashtags or you can create hashtag-specific mute filters by tapping and holding a hashtag in your Twitter timeline. These are handy for filtering out tweets tagged #iphone while not filtering out tweets that merely contain the word iPhone. It’s also great for getting rid of autoposts from various services like #klout or #strava if you don’t care to see those.

Clients: this one isn’t something I use a lot, but man is it handy in a couple of specific instances. This allows you to filter out tweets posted using a certain service. It’s actually easier to add these from a tweet (by swiping it to the right to view, then tapping and holding on the little “via Tweetdeck” or “via Twitter” box). Filtering things like those annoying paper.li tweets is super easy this way.

Stay sane!

Twitter is great…but it can be literally unhealthy. Get rid of some of the angst and noise from your Twitter timeline and you’ll be happier and healthier.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Loyalty

Loyalty shouldn’t be something that comes with a price.

So where did the notion of a loyalty discount come from? Should companies should be rewarding customers for the simple act of continuing to be a customer?

I see it quite often in feedback emails. Things like, “I’ve been a customer for five years. I would expect you would give me a discount for my loyalty.”

Often customers who want this loyalty discount are also upset because we offer a (small) discount to new customers that isn’t available to existing customers. They wonder why we would reward a new customer with a discount when we won’t also reward an existing customer with the same discount.

Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding about why we offer new customers a discount in the first place.

A first-purchase discount is not a reward provided to new customers in exchange for them choosing us. It’s a monetary incentive we provide in an attempt to convince them to try us over our competitors.

True Loyalty vs. Paid Loyalty

Our truly loyal customers are loyal to us because we continue to offer a high quality product at a fair price. They see the value in what we offer and continue to stay loyal despite the efforts of our competitors who (just like us) offer a discount to them in an effort to entice them to switch.

When you think about it, we’re the ones who get the benefit of our customers’ loyalty, not the other way around. It’s the customer who is offering us the reward of their loyalty in exchange for us continuing to provide value for their money, along with a useful product or service.

Let’s be honest here—when customers expect a loyalty discount, what they really want is a retention discount and they almost always ask for it with a thinly veiled threat. Once you start paying for this false loyalty, you’ll have to keep paying more and more until that customer leaves for what they perceive as the greener pastures of your competitor.

Make a great product or service and sell it at a fair price and you’ll get the reward of your customers’ loyalty. Trying to buy that loyalty with discounts is a fool’s game.

XOXO Festival

I’m pretty excited that Hover is a patron of the XOXO Festival coming up in September. This is the third year for this event which brings together a really interesting mix of makers, artists, musicians and geeks to celebrate technology and the arts.

It’s a perfect fit for Hover. We’re so passionate about the Internet and how it enables makers to make things and have them discovered and appreciated. It’s usually the case that picking a domain name is often one of the first things on the todo list for an idea.

We’re a patron alongside some amazing companies including MailChimp, Pinterest, Etsy, Domainr, Teehan+Lax and Wieden+Kennedy. Seeing Hover amongst that group of peers makes me pretty proud.

Camping!

We went camping this weekend and had a pretty nice time.

The kids had a PA day on Friday, so as is tradition, we packed up and took a three-day weekend at Valens Conservation Area out past Hamilton.

A friend and his daughter joined us (also traditional) which meant some extra fun for the kids. Car camping with electricity is the way to go, in our opinion, at least. Having a nice air mattress makes the sleeping better and keeps the devices charged so we can stay in touch with friends and share some photos throughout the weekend.

Sexism in Tech is My Problem to Solve

Sexism is tech a huge problem and I’m embarrassed to be a part of an industry that seems incapable of fixing it. So what can I do?

Over the last few months, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany—sexism in tech isn’t a problem for the tech industry as a whole to fix.

I’ve come to realize that this isn’t a “women in tech” issue or a “men in tech” issue. It’s a “man in tech” issue and that man is me.

I’m part of the problem and it’s up to me to be the solution.

A couple of months back I was sitting with a developer at work, and I asked her if there was anything that I did, said, or suggested that made her feel uncomfortable as a woman.

I don’t know why I asked at that particular moment. I think we were talking about her being a female developer in a company where the ratio of male-to-female developers is something like 70-30.

I was honestly expecting to hear her say that I wasn’t part of the problem. But she didn’t say that.

She told me that I sometimes asked the other (male) developer on the team about tasks that she was exclusively working on and that she felt offended that I would defer to him just because he was the male developer.

I was taken aback and did what came naturally—I went on the defensive.

I implied was that it was her that took it the wrong way and that it was her perception of the interactions. In other words, it was her issue, not mine.

That kind of victim-blaming response is similar to what I sometimes hear from male (and female) friends when I call them out for saying things like “if a woman doesn’t want to be looked at as an object, she shouldn’t dress like that.”

As a father of two girls heading quickly towards their teens, you would think I’d have known better by now. Evidently not.

The key realization was this—the way I interacted with her caused her to feel slighted. I caused it, and so it was up to me to correct it.

Duh.

There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them — Denis Waitley

Because I truly believe that this is my problem to solve, I’m resisting the urge to provide advice to you. Instead I’ll share a couple of quick points from my experience in the hopes that you’ll be able to better understand where I’m coming from.

First, it can be a scary thing to consider sitting down with a female colleague to ask the question, “Is there anything that I do that makes you feel uncomfortable as a woman?

Knowing what I know now, I consider it much more frightening to consider leaving the question unasked.

While I didn’t (and don’t) expect there to be a huge problem in our office, it is worth considering that our work environment might be uncomfortable at best and threatening at worst. Either has the real potential to inflict ongoing damage to productivity, and to the quality of work that our team is trying to do.

Second, the biggest thing I learned is how to ask for (and then accept) criticism. I made a huge mistake when I did this the first time. I should have just listened to what was shared and not interrupted to try to explain or justify my actions.

To make sure I don’t do that again, I’ve practiced my response and it’s this: “I’m sorry I made you feel that way.”

Those words were very carefully chosen. Saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not nearly the same. The first one takes responsibility for causing hurt. The second one assigns away the blame.

Third, I plan to have the same conversation with other women in our company over the next little bit and I’ll continue to ask the question again, and again as time goes on.

I hope that these conversations will get easier and shorter, but also more frequent. I also believe that as trust builds, I won’t have to ask as often and the feedback will be offered because my co-workers will know the reaction will be positive and worthwhile.

Lastly, without action, an apology is hollow. It will take practice, but I’ll accept the criticism, apologize and most importantly, resolve to improve.

I’m doing all this because it’s my problem to solve.

Ropes, Running, Baseball, Ice Cream, Running, Fun Fair and Trampoline!

Summer weather has finally arrived in Toronto, and we made the most of it this weekend.

Saturday

There was the high ropes course, running and bouncy castles at Variety Village on Saturday morning. Ginny went stand up paddle boarding in the afternoon and the kids hit the park. We had some BBQ’ed salmon for dinner and then enjoyed a walk on the boardwalk with some tasty and local ice cream.[footnote]Ed’s Real Scoop[/footnote]

Sunday

Sunday we slept in (sort of) but then Ginny’s running friends arrived at 8:30am for her to put in a 14km training run around the neighbourhood. They came out this way since we had no place to send the kids this morning and the DVP and Gardiner were closed for the Ride for Heart.[footnote]A yearly fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke foundation where cyclists take over the highways and ride up to 75km[/footnote]

The kids and I walked over to our local Starbucks and met them after the run. Then it was some relaxation for a bit and I watched the Blue Jays beat the Royals while the kids spent a couple of hours at the Fun Fair at Lindsey’s school (literally behind our house).

Trampoline!

The highlight of the weekend for the kids would likely be the purchase of a new trampoline. It’s been something we’ve thought about for a year or two, so when Canadian Tire had the one we wanted[footnote]Springfree O77 Medium Oval Trampoline[/footnote] for $100 off, I jumped on it (pun intended).

True story–putting together a trampoline is hard work. My arms are going to be sore tomorrow. The one we bought uses fiberglass rods instead of springs and getting those in place was ridiculously difficult. My weaker left arm (thanks, bike crash) was a bit of an issue, but we got it done. Ginny was a big help with some of the first rods as they were crazy tricky to get locked in.

That’s done and the kids did some jumping!

Taking The Better Way

This might better belong on my running blog, but i think it’s probably more a story about finding the good life.

I ran home from work today. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but it is the start of what will be a more regular run commute habit.

TTC means Terribly Trying Commute

The TTC is driving me nuts this year thanks to another spring and summer of construction in Toronto[footnote]TTC route diversions[/footnote]. The streetcars are diverting everywhere and traffic downtown is a disaster.

Run homeBut running home for work is the tonic. It’s about 13.5km door to door which is a bit long for a Thursday afternoon when I’m not training for a marathon, but there’s nothing stopping me from running part of it and then hopping a bus for the last few kilometres.

In fact, thats what I did today. I ran just over 10km before I grabbed a bus up Kingston road. That was mostly because I left work a bit late and I was running a bit tight on time. But it was also hot and I’m not yet accustomed to running in this kind of weather.

Livetracking

One of the only neat things about this run was that it allowed me to test out the Livetrack feature of the Forerunner 620. It pairs with my iPhone and sends my live location to anyone I choose. In this case, it meant Ginny could keep an eye on my progress and I didn’t to have to worry about updating her on where I was.

All in all, it was a great run. I’m thinking I’ll turn this into a once a week thing over the summer when the weather cooperates.

Victoria Day Weekend

I started writing about Finding the Good Life last fall and the journey continues. I’m going to start blogging here more regularly since I found it was pretty helpful over on my running blog in keeping things on track, and reminding myself of how I’m doing.

Vintage StreetcarThe whole thing goes back to a quick vacation we took last summer out to Vancouver Island. You can read more about that here, but the tl;dr is that we realized that we had a great life here in Toronto but that we weren’t taking full advantage of all the amazing things around us.

This blog is about that journey of discovery.

2014’s First Long Weekend

This weekend was the first long weekend of the spring/summer of 2014. As is often the case with the May 2-4, the weather wasn’t great, but that didn’t stop us from getting out to do some things around the neighbourhood. The temperature was a bit cool and there were some off-and-on showers here and there to keep things interesting.

Saturday

On Saturday we went to Variety Village (as usual) and we all got our workouts in. Mac did her Building Blocks program while the rest of us did our thing. Lindsey and I ran 2.2km on the track. Ginny did 5km on the treadmill and then I did 6km of my own on the treadmill too.

In the afternoon, after we took care of a few chores around the house, we drove over to Surf Ontario to get a wetsuit for Ginny. She’s been itching to get out on the lake with her standup paddle board but the lake is still freezing cold. The wetsuit lets her get started with her SUP’ing earlier in the season and it’ll let her keep going way into the fall.

Sunday

Yesterday was run day, as is generally the case around here. With my parents away, only one of us can run down at the Running Room. Since Ginny is in training for the Chicago Marathon, and I’ve just run Vancouver, it’s her turn to run.

While she ran 10km with her buddies down at the Running Room, the kids and I stayed home and walked over to Starbucks for a morning coffee and treat. Bonus! We saw a vintage TTC streetcar on the way which was a highlight.

SUPIn the afternoon the girls each had a friend over. I took the opportunity to get a run in myself and I ran my favourite 10km route along the lake out to the flag past Ashbridges Bay. The Waterfront Trail was busy with runners, cyclists, rollerbladers and walkers. It was lovely.

Later in the day, the girls and Ginny went down to Ed’s Real Scoop for ice cream. That’s our favourite local ice cream shop!

We finished up the day with some yummy dinner (BBQ sausages and grilled peppers in a nice pasta sauce with penne). After that it was the finale of The Amazing Race on the TV and some stovetop popcorn to snack on.

Monday

After a sleep-in, we had a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs and started getting things together to head down to the lake again.

I put the SUP pads on the roof rack, and bolted the bike rack onto the back of the car too.

Ginny put on her new wetsuit and enjoyed her first SUP of the season while the girls and I biked around the waterfront for a bit. I was super glad for Ginny as she loves to SUP and the new wetsuit really makes it possible to extend her season despite the fact the lake is still just 6ºC.

The rest of the day was spent lazing around a little bit, but we did manage to get some more BBQ’ing done for lunch and dinner and we’ll end the day by watching The Voice together (as is the Monday/Tuesday tradition around here).

All in all, a pretty good weekend.

The last physio session

After 28 months, and about 150 sessions, I finished up with physio today on my elbow. I walked out of Athlete’s Care in Liberty Village without booking my next appointment. That hadn’t happened in forever.

It was, as my wife Ginny noted on Twitter, a little bittersweet. Things are not back to normal, and things are also not going to get any better. Over the last few sessions it’s been clear that the physio wasn’t doing anything to make additional progress. The range of motion was always about 125º of flexion coming in each week and extension wasn’t moving either.

In short, it is what it is.

That’s bittersweet because it means accepting what I’ve got now as a result of the accident. But it also means that the period of recovery is over. I’m done with it.

Good therapists are good

I was lucky to have two great physiotherapists that helped me out. James Braithwaite took on the challenge right after the accident and was there to push me through some pretty dark times. Sometimes it felt like he was dishing out torture, but it was what had to be done to move things along.

I showed up with pretty much a locked elbow and he was able to get things to a point where it was tolerable from day-to-day. I appreciated his advice, skill and his willingness to help with both the physical and mental challenge of recovering from a traumatic injury.

James moved on to his own practice and I moved over to work with Adriana Biernat for the second phase of my recovery. She started by helping me strengthen and prepare for a big followup surgery in March to remove the plates and screws. Coming out of the surgery, it was twice a week for a while to maintain the new range of motion gained under the knife.

Over the months and months of treatment, Adriana took the time to understand how my arm reacted to the therapy and she adapted her techniques to extract the greatest range of motion possible. She recognized when we pushed a bit too hard, but she also made sure that we were taking things right up to that line to get the best outcome possible.

What I learned

I learned a lot about myself through the whole process. I learned how to handle pain and how my body reacts to different levels of therapy. I learned that acupuncture works. I’ve become so comfortable with getting those needles placed all over my arms and legs that I’ll continue to do acupuncture for my running therapy when required.

While I won’t be back for my elbow anytime soon (although I’ll probably let Adriana give it a stretch and massage now and then still), I will be there when the stress of marathon training causes those nagging leg issues. I’m a believer in physiotherapy and the role that a good physiotherapist can play in staying healthy and active.

How to measure friendship

Real friendship isn’t defined by following, liking or adding to circles.

I know I can get going about Rob Ford and running and my stupid transit commute and the crappy weather. You think you have it rough following me? Two thirds of the tweets I write get deleted before I send them because I figure nobody else would care. Seriously. It could be way worse.

I also know that I have many good friends who don’t follow me on Twitter (or they mute me out of existance because they think I’ll be offended if I find out their little secret).

There’s no need to keep it a secret or be ashamed. I’m fine with it. Feel free not to follow me, or circle me, or whatever. NBD.

I don’t expect people to put up with my endless, useless stream of Twitter spew. I quite honestly don’t understand why 434 of you people still do.

I choose not to follow some of my friends on Twitter for the same reason—I’m just not all that into what they tweet about, or they simply tweet to damn much. Whatever the reason, it says nothing about our friendship except that we aren’t connected on Twitter.

Social media are channels. Nothing more.

My real friends know how to contact me regardless of which of channels we may or may not be connected on. Some use Twitter DM, others Facebook. A pretty limited number have my email address and fewer still have my mobile phone number. I welcome those personal messages at anytime because they are my friends and when they want to talk to me specifically, I’m there for them.

Truth

Some days I really miss the days before social media when the word friendship meant something and wasn’t measured by the tap of a follow button, or the drag of an avatar into an imaginary circle.

Don’t diminish the true value of friendships by measuring their worth with something as trivial and meaningless as an appearance on your followers list. Do yourself a favour and measure your friendships in reality.