Regular internet detox tips?

Over the past few years I’ve heard a few friends talk about plans to get off the internet for one day a weekend, one weekend a month, etc. Each of the past two years I’ve tried to take 3-4 days off the internet, and both times it has been rejuvenating- I come back feeling pretty invigorated, focused, etc. But that feeling didn’t last too long last year and I doubt it will this year.

Small waterfall on the side of a trail off Skyline Drive, Virginia, May 2011

 

 

So … do any friends who have tried similar things have tips or thoughts on how to do an internet detox on a more regular basis and actually make it both effective and sustainable? I imagine that the “make it sustainable” part inevitably involves advice on how to handle email, work, twitter, etc. while you’re gone. Twitter and greader I’m actually pretty good with just “mark it read and move on” but that’s much harder with email for me.

looking for a programming analogy- if there is one

As I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of analogies between programming and legal work.

I’m working on an upcoming post to explain a specific application of a legal concept. Unfortunately, I think this is one of those few concepts where there is not a ready programming analogy. I’d love for someone to prove me wrong, since the programming side of my brain is slowly going to pot. Here goes:

In law, there is the concept of “rules” and “standards.” Basically, rules are precise- they allow a judge to simply look at the facts, apply the rule, and voila- you know whether the rule was violated. An example would be “The speed limit is 55.” If you’re driving 56, you’re in violation- even if, say, you’re speeding to the hospital with your pregnant wife. Alternately, if you’re driving 54 you’re fine- even if it is pouring rain. Rules are good because they are easy for the public to understand (no need to consult with a lawyer) and because their application (should be) very evenhanded, but good, fair rules are very hard (in many cases essentially impossible) to write.

A standard, on the other hand, is more vague- something like “The speed limit is whatever speed is safe to drive at under the circumstances.” This might not allow you to go 56 to the hospital, but would definitely not allow 54 in the rain. These are bad in some ways because they are trickier, case-by-case, hard to predict the outcome of beforehand, and involves judgment on the part of all parties, but (arguably) produces better outcomes a lot of the time- assuming you can trust the parties doing the judging, and you can put up with the cost of taking the time to make the decision.

So… for those of you who have lasted this long: are there analogies to this in software? The closest thing I can think of is strong typing vs. weak typing, but generally, since computers are incapable of dealing with standards, there aren’t many examples I can think of. Am I missing/forgetting something?

Changing Jobs

Today was my last day as an employee of the Mozilla Corporation. I’m leaving to work at the law firm of Greenberg, Traurig. This was not an easy decision for me to make, but I’m pretty sure that it is the right one, both for me and for Mozilla.

Why?

Mozilla has been terrific for me. Working with happy, dedicated, passionate people is always a joy, and I’ve learned a ton from my teammates in legal and from Mitchell. I particularly can’t say enough good things about my boss, Harvey– he’s been a tremendous mentor to me. And of course Mozilla is exactly the kind of job I went to law school to get- directly helping hackers ship world-class software. Leaving today was hard- I’ll miss my coworkers, and I realized over the past few days that some of them may even miss me ;)

So why am I leaving? It’s because I want to continue to improve as a lawyer, and for a variety of reasons, the time-tested route for that is through a law firm. I’ve been learning a lot at Mozilla, but I will have even more opportunities to gain experience and improve my skills at Greenberg. Eventually, this will make me a better lawyer for any client I will have in the future.

What does this mean for the MPL?

We will still ship the new MPL in a reasonably short time frame, for two reasons. First, we’re almost done- go check out the beta, and/or read lwn’s solid article on the process. Second, our primary outside counsel on the project (Heather Meeker) will be my new boss at Greenberg. Both Heather and I are deeply invested in the new MPL, and we want to see it done (and done right!). So we will continue to work with Harvey and Mitchell to complete the new license, and my new address won’t change our focus or the license’s priorities.

What does this mean for this blog?

The blog has been quiet-ish in the past year, and will likely remain so, with more of a focus on personal life and technical questions than legal questions. This isn’t because Greenberg has put any pressure on me, but because I expect to have less time to write, and because some of the lawyerly virtues I’m working on are discretion and brevity… neither of which work together too well with the blog :) But hopefully I’ll still have interesting things to say from time to time.

Contacting Me

As usual, if you’ve got any questions – particularly about the MPL – let me know. My new email address will be [click here]@gtlaw.com, and my personal email address ([click here]@tieguy.org) will continue to work too.

offline no-keyboard rss reader?

So… I’m in the market for a way to read RSS feeds offline, with no keyboard; i.e., some sort of tablet or kindle-like device. Ideally it should be cheap and reliable (reliable in the sense that I can pick it up every morning while still groggy, take it to a concrete bunker with no wifi, and fully expect that I will have 45-60 minutes worth of reading on it- something should download feeds overnight without me thinking much about it after initial setup. ) Other features (ebooks, app stores, what have you) are a plus but not necessary. Ideally would sync with Google Reader, but am willing to compromise on that check here.

Options I’m looking at right now:

  • wifi-only ipad + reeder: $499+$5. Biggest downside: Apple. Also size: not sure that my intended use case will really work well with the weight of the iPad.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab + google reader app: $599 + free. Downsides: $100 more than ipad + 3″ less screen + OS everyone admits is not ready for tablets. Will make me less likely to buy an actually good 2nd gen Android tablet. Upside: Google Reader app looks solid; Android is (relatively) the Good Guys in this OS battle.
  • nook ($149/$249) or kindle ($139): would be ideal-ish (less weight, more readability), except I don’t see any great rss reading options. Any suggestions on that?

Are there other options I’m missing? Less popular/more hackable e-reader devices? Other tools?

Some things that aren’t options:

  • phone: I read a lot on my phone already, I don’t want to add to that and screw up my eyes even more.
  • instapaper -> (kindle|ipad): instapaper is slick, but to go through a lot of feeds quickly, not a handful of lovingly pre-selected content slowly.

Thanks in advance, oh broad intarwebs…

100 Words for my Friends Taking the Bar Exam

Things I did to myself before the bar:

  • Did only a fraction of the practice I should have.
  • Felt underprepared and terrified, just like you feel now.

Things that happened to me during the bar:

  • Day before the exam, while studying poolside at the hotel: got a sunburn.
  • First day of exam: stung by a bee.
  • Last day of exam: computer crash, requiring me to handwrite the last section of the exam. Haven’t hand-written for three hours straight since college.

And I still passed. Even got invited to be a grader.

So: moral of the story: don’t panic; you’re not as underprepared, and it isn’t as hard, as you think it is. You rock. You’ll pass.

quick life update

If it matters to you, you might want to know that I have no network at home from sometime yesterday until Friday night, and I also have lousy cell connection1, so I’ll basically be off the network when not at work for the next few days.

Otherwise, it has been a good week:

  • first real paycheck in waaaay too long
  • moved in to our new apartment, and slept in my own bed for the first time since August (almost making me forget that I hate this mattress)
  • reactivated netflix for the first time since 2006
  • discovered my new apartment has cat5 through the whole building (so I can apparently get 100Mb connection at home) and a good Thai place with a $4 thai tapas happy hour around the corner.
  • began my caltrain commute (long, but 90 minutes of it can be used to work, which is great) and discovered CaltrainDroid, which is terrific.

Life is beginning to feel normal again, and I couldn’t be more excited about that.

  1. VOIP suggestions that work with Google Voice are welcome, and/or a gizmo invite :) []

starting fresh with mozilla

After some bumps in the road which delayed my start by a week, I started today in the legal department at Mozilla. Last night I lost a little sleep worrying if this was the right thing for me, but after a day around the office (during an all-hands meeting, no less) I’m pretty much glowing. The projects I’ve already been charged with are interesting and important (more on those very soon, I expect); the other things going on are relevant (as someone said ‘we get to change the world every day, though some days more than others’); and the energy and enthusiasm are infectious. And of course it doesn’t hurt to be able to work with old friends.

Albino Alligator 2008 by Mila Zinkova, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0 license

Also, there are reports that my boss wrestled an albino alligator after dinner; reports were conflicting over whether he bested the beast with his bare hands or if he merely threatened to subpoena it. So yeah… things are interesting.

Weird moment of the day: get introduced at a meeting. Guy across table: ‘wait, are you the Luis Villa?’ me: ‘probably?’ Meeting then starts immediately. Turns out a sure-fire way to make a meeting seem very long is to leave a statement like that unexplained and hanging over your head the whole meeting… :) Led to a great conversation later, though, as did basically everything else all day.

contacting me in the next two and a half months

As many of you know, Krissa and I moved out of New York early this month, and we will not have a permanent home again until some time in early December. This will make contacting us before then a bit tricky. Here is everything we can tell you should you want to say hi, scream at us, etc. :)

the itinerary:
We are in California right now and will be here all month, though often traveling/camping and so out of email range. We’ll get married next weekend, and then we’ll be out of the country on honeymoon from October 1st to November 22nd. I will start work at Mozilla Dec. 1st, and resume normal email/phone habits somewhere around then.

Overflowing Mailbox (Postal Loathing, by Justin, used under CC-BY-SA)

email:
I will check my email as often as possible, but we generally won’t be staying in hotels with wifi and I will not use my phone to check email like I normally do, so ‘as often as possible’ may be ‘not very often’. I also reserve the right to remember that I’m on honeymoon and go, say, seven weeks without checking ;)

Note that I will check *only* email addressed directly to my primary email addresses (at gmail and at tieguy). Email to other addresses (such as foo@tieguy.org), to mailing lists, or that is bcc’d to me will get filtered and I will almost certainly never read it, even on my return. So if you think that when I return I need to see an email that went to a list, forward it to me off-list.

phone:
We will generally not have our phones turned on for most of the trip, but our voicemail will redirect to Google Voice, and so it will be automatically transcribed, and then emailed and texted to us. We’ll try to check those texts and emails as regularly as possible.

hotel phone numbers:
In case of emergency, our parents will have copies of our full itineraries including phone numbers for our hotels. Please contact our parents to get those phone numbers if you absolutely must get in touch with us on a specific day or time.

snail mail:
During these three months, mail or packages can be sent to us care of Krissa’s father and step-mother. We probably will not see these until late November, and Bob and Janna are being very generous to put up with this mail, so try to avoid using this address unless definitely necessary. You can get that address by emailing me; it’ll be in the auto-response.

Look forward to seeing you on the other side…

today was a good day

Today was a good day, except for wordpress and gallery3 seemingly disliking me greatly:

  • confirmed some plans for the Greek leg of the honeymoon
  • got marriage license
  • had my first phone call with my little sister since she left for college. Sounds like she’s having a great time, which is good since I’ll always feel partially responsible for her choice of schools :)
  • discovered I’m having dinner at Yoshi’s later this week
  • had a nice swim. In the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle. Sort of surreal:


So yeah… today was a good day.