Creator’s Criticism, or the new MacBook Pros

I haven’t been blogging in a while, but the controversy over the latest MacBook Pro announcement just has me fired up. As a creator of things, I’m frankly appalled at the outrage over the new Macs. When I look at them, I understand and agree with every single one of the decisions I’ve seen Apple make here. I really don’t get why they’re taking so much heat over this.

Personally, I kept hitting refresh on the Apple Store app on my iPad after the keynote, until it was ready to take my order for the biggest and baddest of them. $200 CPU upgrade: Check. $1200 upgrade to 2TB SSD: Check. 4GB graphics: Check. $4,300 plus tax, almost $4,700 including tax.

Would I have liked it to be cheaper? Sure.

Would I have liked it if it had 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB? And would I have paid extra for that? Sure.

Would I have liked an even faster CUP? Sure.

But we live in the real world. In the real world, Intel doesn’t make faster processors, and apparently they can’t handle more than 16GB of RAM without a serious power consumption penalty. Could they offer that to power users anyway? My guess is, yes, but not without serious non-obvious consequences, and possibly challenging changes in other parts of the system.

I for one can’t wait for Apple to eschew Intel entirely and make their own CPUs for Macs, but I’m afraid it might be some ways off. It seems like eventually they’ll have to do it, though, and I’m paying that day comes soon, because clearly it looks like Intel has dropped the ball.

As for the ports, I LOVE that it comes with four absolutely identical ports. My current MacBook Pro has 1 power connector, two USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI port, a SD card reader. I very rarely use the Thunderbolt ports. I’ve never used the HDMI port, not even once. I’ve used the SD card reader a handful of times, maybe.

My problem is, when I make music, I need to plug in both an iLok, a eLicenser, and an external SSD hard drive, to have everything. That requires 3 USB-A connections, but my Mac only has two. So with my current Mac, I have to either plug in a USB hub, which I do at my desk. Or I have to juggle the iLok and the eLicenser, which I do when I’m out and about, because it turns out the music software plugins only need the thing plugged in when the plugin loads.

A setup with four identical connectors makes so much more sense to me. Then instead of a 2 + 2 scenario, there’s four. Sure, I need a new cable for my USB hub, and a new cable for my audio interface, and an adapter or two for the licensing dongles, but those are both cheap and easy to find. To my knowledge, there’s no adapter that’ll let me plug an USB-A device into an HDMI port or an SD card reader or a Thunderbolt 2 port. The last one totally might exist, I’ve just never heard of it (or really looked for it).

The new world order where everything’s USB-C, and that connector supports power, USB 2 and 3.1 as well as Thunderbolt 2 and 3, and you can get connectors for everything else … just so much simpler. Stop bitching, everybody! It’s beautiful and clean and simple and easy.

The stories about needing $250-300 worth of dongles are just ridiculous. I bought two tiny USB-C to USB-A adaptors at $11 each. I bought a small USB-A hub with a USB-C connector for when I’m on the road for $18. I also bought a USB-B to USB-C cable for my audio interface for $7, and a USB-B 3.1 to USB-C cable for my current USB hub for $9. I also bought 2 pure USB-C cables, because my 2 TB Samsung portable SSD actually comes with a USB-C connector built-in, for $13 for two cables. A grand total of $69. And I could’ve gotten a way with at least a third less if I wanted.

As for USB-C to lightning, I’ll probably wait till Amazon has their Amazon Basics cables out there. I actually like them better than Apple’s own, and they seem to be more sturdy. Apple’s lightning cables have a tendency to come undone near the lightning connector, and I abhor things like that. I toss them as soon as the outer casing comes undone.

I have a feeling that there’s consideration within Apple of ditching the lightning connector altogether and go with USB-C everywhere. It’s reversible, it’s small, and it’s now universal. I understand there’s a lot of investment into the ecosystem, but it just makes so much sense. When the lightning connector was introduced in September 2012, it would be another 2 years until USB-C was introduced. Apple had to move away from the 30-pin connector, it was just too big and ugly and old. But were they to do it all over again today, it would make so much more sense to go with USB-C. Sure, they have intellectual property rights on the lightning adapter, and that gives them a certain power, but my feeling is the cleanliness and elegance of USB-C everywhere would outweigh that. Okay, I’m talking about things that I know very little about right now, but that’s my hunch.

Bottom line, I’m really excited about getting a new Mac, I’m slightly scared about losing the Esc key because it feels like I’m using it all the time, and I really don’t get the amount of flak that Apple has had to take over the announcement of the most recent upgrade to the MacBook Pro.

Go Apple. I, for one, think you’re still kicking ass. Hope it counts for at least a little.

Some Good and Bad Reasons to Meditate

Some bad reasons to meditate:

  • To punish yourself
  • To improve yourself
  • To avoid feeling something
  • To avoid facing some truth
  • Because someone told you to
  • To be a good meditator
  • To kill time
  • To suffer

Some good reasons to meditate:

  • To love yourself
  • To spend quality time with your inner child
  • To enjoy the juiciness of the present moment
  • To enjoy your own company
  • To feel yourself


Once You Know Why

Have you ever been struggling with a problem, beating yourself up over it? “Why can’t I get in shape? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop eating sweets? Why can’t I stop overspending? Why do I always end up in an argument with my partner?” And you just keep making yourself wrong, and you keep doing it, and you keep being miserable.

I know I have.

And then something changes. An insight arrives. A deep shift within. And suddenly you understand why you did that. At a deep level.

And all that’s left is compassion.

Compassion for yourself. For the part of you that’s wounded, that needs this behavior for protection. The part of you that survived all the difficult times, all the pain.

Maybe the problem changes. Maybe it doesn’t. But instead of beating yourself up, you now feel compassion for yourself, because you understand why.

In my experience, that’s how it always goes.

It’s worth remembering when you’re busy beating yourself up:

Try compassion instead.

It’s much more warranted.

Much more helpful.

Upgrading to Rails 5: Solving NoEnvironmentInSchemaError

I’ve been upgrading Simplero to Rails 5 over the past few days. Since I have a running application with customers all over the world, I’m going to do that on a branch and test it thoroughly until I’m prettty certain everything works.


So while that’s going on, I find myself switching between my Rails 4.2 branch and the Rails 5 branche.


And this would cause my automated builds on Jenkins to start failing with this error:


rails aborted!

Environment data not found in the schema. To resolve this issue, run: 

	bin/rails db:environment:set RAILS_ENV=test

It took me quite a while to figure out what needed to happen, since this is not documented very well in neither the code nor elsewhere that I found.

This feature depends on a magic table existing in your database, named “ar_internal_metadata”. This table has one row, which contains the key ‘environment’ and the value ‘test’ in this case. The goal is to prevent you from accidentally dropping your production database, thinking it was the test database.

The problem occurred, because I was switching back to the Rails 4.2 branch, and while there, Rails would save the db/schema.rb file, which would now include the ar_internal_metadata table, but with an incorrect definition. Next time Jenkins ran my Rails 5 tests, it would find that table, and thus not create it, but it wouldn’t work, because the primary key was created as an int(11) and not a varchar(255).

The solution was to write a small line of code that just removes that table from the test database, if it exists, before starting the test suite. The line looks like this:

mysql -e 'DROP TABLE ar_internal_metadata;' simplero_test || true

 The last || true part is so Jenkins doesn’t fail if the table doesn’t exist.

So if you run into something similar, now you know what’s going on.

The Calvin Show Episode #8: When Are You Out of Integrity?

Being in integrity is one of those life habits that impacts everything.

In its essence, it’s pretty simple: You honor your word, you honor your commitments, you honor your boundaries, you plug the leaks and close the holes. You become whole.

If you make a promise, you keep it. If you owe money, you pay them back.

Once you get in the habit of living this way, you’ll feel the energy and strength and character build up inside of you.

It can feel painful or scary or uncomfortable in the moment, but you’re always the better for it.

As always, I want to hear your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions! Email me, comment on the blog, share the video, and as always, chill the fuck out.

Some fun moments from the show:

1:00 — Ari says “My balls and my word is all I have”
3:30 — When coincidence happens, it’s important to pay attention
7:50 — The first time someone asked me if I’m impeccable with my word
9:45 — I found this to be a useful question to ask people when I meet them…why, you ask?
15:34 — Being impeccable with your word never ends up being a problem, even if it’s scary up front

The Calvin Show Episode #7: Simplicity

The Calvin Show has returned.

We filmed at night this time, so I have some fun night lighting to haunt things up a bit.

Our topic isn’t haunting though, it’s simple. It’s simplicity, actually.

In this video I talk with Ari about the necessity for simplicity in my life, and how I find complexity totally draining.

I think there’s some good stuff in here, but I want to know what you think! Email me and let me know.


Here are some fun moments from the show:

0:20 — I choose the topic today…simplicity
2:00 — Insisting on simplicity is the only thing that’s ever worked for me
4:30 — Ari asks me if there was a time when I was doing something too complex and I had to step away to see the simple solution (hint: yes)
6:00 — If the solution is complicated, it means you’re not looking at the problem right.
10:00 — I have dyslexia for complexity. My brain can’t do it.

The Calvin Show Episode #6: How I Started Simplero (and some other stuff)

Episode 6 has arrived!

In this episode, I talk with Ari about my path to starting Simplero.

Like much of what I talk about, the philosophies I espouse and the principles that have truly brought me success are not just what I’ve found in books or heard from other people. Not to say that external input isn’t useful, but success didn’t come to me until I figured out what I actually wanted.

Simplero came into existence because I stopped listening to the noise of the world and started listening to myself. It wasn’t rocket surgery. And it worked.

I’d love to hear any stories you might have about experiencing something similar, so please comment and share!

Some fun moments from the show:

0:50 — Question: How did Simplero get started?
1:23 — I explain to Ari what a TRS-80 was. (Raise your hand if you knew the answer!!)
2:55 — I thought I would be Bill Gates-level successful by 30…and was a bit put-out when that didn’t happen
4:30 — There’s nothing you have to prove to anyone. Not even yourself.
7:10 — Being in tune with what life was presenting to me, and what I really wanted, was the a-ha moment that started it all
12:25 — How I decided on the name Simplero
13:00 — Hi Periscope viewers!!!

I hope you enjoy the episode. If you have questions, send them to us and we’ll answer in the video!

The Calvin Show Episode #5: Allowing Ourselves to Get Well

We’re on to Episode 5.

Ari and I have both been sick, so today’s conversation centers around how to allow ourselves the time and space to get well.

For so long, I pushed myself even if I didn’t feel good because my self esteem was tied to my “productivity.” Productivity is in quotes there for a reason. It took me almost 40 years to move beyond this state of mind, and I would love to share with you how I did it.

If this resonates with you, please leave a comment on the blog and share with your friends!

Some fun moments from the show:

2:25 — Question: How do you allow yourself the time and the space to get well?
4:41 — We all have things we have to get done, but I mostly spend my time doing things I want to do.
5:28 — I have A-days and B-days…what are those, you ask???
10:00 — The more relaxed you are, the more effective you’ll be if shit hits the fan
15:05 — If we JUST pay attention to how we feel, we make better decisions for ourselves

If you have any questions or comments about the show, send ’em my way!

The Calvin Show Episode #4: Why I Moved to New York

As you may know, I lived here (in New York) from 1999 until right before 9/11, where I moved to San Francisco, and shortly after that, I moved to Denmark. Ever since I’ve basically been wanting to move back to NY.

A couple of years ago it finally happened, and I’m grateful every day.

Having to work hard for something can really help you appreciate it more.

Troels recently asked me what I got out of moving to New York, and I’ve got the answer for you right here in today’s episode of The Calvin Show.

Some fun moments from the show:

0:14 — First rule of fight club
0:45 — Question: Why did you move to New York?
3:00 — My parents were both programmers…I’m child of geeks!
5:56 — Only in retrospect can we see the Resistance we have
10:21 — What changed when I started to dream in English
11:39 — You get to see the view from my apartment!


The Calvin Show Episode #3: Daily Routines

Episode 3 of The Calvin Show is up.

Today, we’re tackling a question from Troels about my daily routines: What am I doing now, how have they changed over time, what’s worked, and what hasn’t.

It was another fun episode to “tape”, and I hope the energy and enthusiasm and fun translates through the interwebs.

We’ve also started live periscoping while taping, so if you want to tune in for that, follow me on Twitter or, I guess, on Periscope. Hey, technology!

Here are few fun moments from this episode:

0:45 — The Question
1:00 — The Answer
2:55 — Apple Watches actually aren’t silly
3:48 — Why I have a Today List not a to-do list
5:35 — Ari takes a sip of coffee
8:25 — I reveal my super-secret efficient email system
11:48 — Sometimes when you’re doing big, creative projects you need to clear your calendar

PS. Don’t worry, if video is not your thing. I’ll be writing text-only stuff again in the future. I’m just pretty obsessed with video right now.