a glob of nerdishness

March 31, 2010

Taking Pills

written by natevw @ 1:19 pm

My name is Nathan and I have ADD.

I know it’s vogue to glorify our overloaded lives and our craving for instant happiness with a generic “Whee, I’m so ADD!” It’s a fair enough analogy, but that’s not what I mean. There’s also a tendency to romanticize the effects of real ADHD. My disorder has its moments, but contributed greatly to my depression through college and my frustration at work since:

  • ADHD is killing precious time because what I need to be doing is boring.
  • ADHD is wasting extra time because what I am doing is too exciting to just finish.
  • ADHD is rambling on and on instead of listening to others.
  • ADHD is buying into lust for possessions that shouldn’t own me.
  • ADHD is brainstorming a thousand ideas when I should be sleeping.
  • ADHD is chasing an emotional high with no regard to its consequences.
  • ADHD is staying consumed by unfinished projects while my family yearns for my missing attention.

ADHD is trying to overcome all that, while being undermined by all that, while the past grows ever larger and the future arrives ever faster. After trying “on my own” for way too long, I read Reaching for a New Potential. It’s a well-written book about adult ADHD, and convinced me of its thesis: “It is the combination of treating the disability specifically and strengthening the non-disabled parts generally that helps us succeed.”

By “treating the disability specifically”, the author means: medication. As a kid, I took ritalin every school day. I was still hyper, but could channel my creativity and close my mouth often enough to make most teachers proud. After 8th grade I stopped taking the pills; my high school provided enough challenge, emotion and structure to compensate. I began to look at medication as something like cheating. You know, the New Yorker published this article about how stimulants are being exploited as study drugs, neuroenhancers used to get ahead in the rat race.

The fact is, ritalin and a few of the other medication options are stimulants. They can be used like caffeine, they can be abused like cocaine. But decades of proper prescription have shown that ritalin can provide an additional, special effect against ADHD. I’ve come to accept that — along with needing glasses to see clearly, and lactase supplements to digest dairy products — I need pills to respond properly to extrinsic motivation.

And if a meandering fifteen page exposé of “study drugs” implies that pills make my accomplishments phony? Well, Easter weekend tells just how God swallowed up all my broken failures and phony triumphs and gave the final success to Jesus. If taking Ritalin is a constant reminder to claim his accomplishments and not my own, so be it.

March 15, 2010

Android isn’t for me (yet?)

written by natevw @ 12:35 pm

Tim Bray wants to learn how developers approach the Android platform. Pouring disproportionate effort into things that don’t matter and don’t make money is what Tiggers do best, so I lost the entire morning agitating a few quick notes into an essay that would then swallow my lunch break for rewording. But hey, free blog post, right?

Greetings Mr. Bray,

I enjoyed your post about how you’ve joined Google to promote Android. I’m watching with interest as the platform improves, but I still can’t imagine myself spending any time on Android development. Here’s why:


This one’s probably the most ridiculous, so I’ll get it out of the way. Java makes the Android feel more accessible to many coders, but I decided long ago that I’m not going to learn this era’s diploma homework. I’m stubborn, idealistic, and I’m going to stick with C++ as the only language bureaucracy I navigate. Can I develop for Android without learning Java or dealing with bloated Eclipse?

User interface

Surely the Nexus Two will fix the spacebar issue, just like the Nexus One fixed the Droid’s issues and the Droid fixed the “Android sucks” issue. But seeing the ugly little plus and minus zoom buttons in Maps was a huge shocker. It made me realize just how much multitouch matters. I’m glad Google is finally starting to step up in this area, but am worried the trend has been set for interfaces cluttered for finger-as-stylus, rather than direct manipulation.


I’ve only seen Android phones in the hands of Windows power users. Others try Android devices but get fed up with the platform’s overall sloppiness and leave. Who stays? It’s great that some people love rooting their open source phones, but I’m worried my carefully considered interface simplifications will be a liability in that kind of Android Marketplace.


I don’t want to pour my life story into Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Picasa, Google Mail, Google Finance, Google Health, Google Politics, Google Faith… just to keep my laptop in sync with my pocket. What’s really worse: a centralized developer app store, or a centralized user data store?

HTML5 / iPad

I’m young in the Mac development world, but waving goodbye as all the Xcoders board boats they’ll burn on the shores of the App Store. The iPad’s siren call has already lured back many who had gotten fed up with iPhone development. Despite being a compiled code, native API, local data junkie, I’m being driven towards HTML5 to avoid being left behind. There are many exciting things going on in HTML that make it viable for even anti-centralized apps. If Android gets sued into oblivion or Windows Mobile-ed into irrelevance, then Chrome OS is the future in a nutshell.


I write shareware and do contract work to scratch a living in rural WA. (When I say rural, I don’t mean “a suburb with trees”. I mean, corn and cows and lousy internet.) Given all the other points above, paying $529 just to kick the Android tires is a bad investment, especially when I could permanently lease one of Steve’s Safari Pads for thirty dollars less.

March 13, 2010

Numbers spreadsheet for 2009 IRS Form 1040 tax preparation

written by natevw @ 1:58 pm

I shared a Numbers template two years ago that helped me estimate my 2007 taxes. In 2008, I co-founded Calf Trail Software, LLC, and let an accountant do the filing. That luxury ended up being a major financial setback, so the spreadsheet is back:

Sample scenery from the 2009 federal tax Numbers worksheet

I’m sharing my efforts under a Creative Commons license again, so you can download my 2009 Federal Tax Form 1040 worksheet as a Numbers.app template.

Reminder: Don’t trust the results of this unofficial spreadsheet. It is not a substitute for the official forms, instructions, tax tables, or the advice of a certified accountant. Please do let me know if you find any errors, though.