Josh Betz

Engineer, Automattician, Wisconsin Badger

Pale Blue Dot

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH7ZRF6zNoc

This clip, at the end of Cosmos, seemed apropos as we watch politicians in the United States battle to be the “momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

Here’s a portion of the transcript, which I found on the Planetary Society’s website, taken from Carl Sagan’s 1994 book Pale Blue Dot.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Build Stuff

A couple weeks ago, I discovered a ton of old themes I designed. It was fun and funny and embarrassing to look at things that I thought were good enough to put on the internet as a 14 or 15 or 16 year old in 2005 and 2006 — it’s pretty bad. ūüôā

I thought about sharing screenshots here as an example. Don’t be afraid to follow ¬†your passion. Don’t be afraid to build things. Don’t be afraid to be bad at something before you’re good.

I read Outliers by Malcom Gladwell not long after it¬†was published in 2008. For those that haven’t read it, Gladwell details what it takes to be a Steve Jobs, Robert Oppenheimer, or The Beatles. In short, you have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to have 10,000 hours of practice in your field. You can’t control whether you’re in the right place at the right time — I’m not even really convinced it’s necessary anymore, but you can probably control how much experience and practice you have.

On Brainpickings last week, there was a video backed¬†by an Ira Glass monologue that reminded me of my old themes. It’s hard to pull out one quote from this short speech, but this one sums it up nicely:

¬†And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work ‚ÄĒ do a huge volume of work.

I’ve heard¬†many people that I look up to say similar things as well. I know Chris Coyier says something like “just build stuff” when asked how to get started.

I don’t, by any means, consider myself an expert in this and I’m definitely not done learning — it’s part of my DNA. Even without reading Outliers it’s likely I would have spent just as much time “building stuff” as a teenager. That said, I’m pretty proud of my job¬†and feel lucky to work with — and learn from — tons of smart people every day.

So build stuff!

Super Bowl Ads

USA Today’s Ad Meter site is hosted on VIP. It’s pretty cool to see peoples’ favorite ads in real time. It’s hard to go against any of the top 5, but my favorite was this Nissan ad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd1qCi5nSKw

Madison Skyline

This is one of my favorite views of the city — I run past it a couple times a week, though usually during the day. It was a nice night, so I finally went¬†out with my camera¬†and got a decent shot. I didn’t have a tripod, so I sat in the grass along John Nolan Drive and propped the camera on my knee. I actually wanted to get Monona Terrace in the photo as well, but the lens was too long. Next time!

One Year at Automattic

It’s been a year plus one¬†day since I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, which means I’ve been working at Automattic for exactly a year.

In the past year, I’ve seen whales in Boston, palm trees¬†in Santa Cruz, dolphins in Key West, and a sun rise in Napa.

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Whale!

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Good morning Santa Cruz

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Stayed up for the sunrise. #wpvip

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I’ve also had the chance to work with the best people, coolest clients, and interesting projects I could have hoped for in my first year out of school. I interned at Automattic the summer before my¬†final year of school.¬†I wanted to work here for a long time before that, but after meeting the people I would work with, I¬†didn’t want to work anywhere else. I’m proud of the work we do, contributing to the¬†WordPress community, our open source code, but it’s the people that really make it a great¬†company.

I’ve been able to do all of this without moving away from my friends, family, and the best place in the world that’s buried by snow for 5 months every year.

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If we can't get a snow storm to cancel finals, I guess 75 and sunny on Bascom will do.

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#onwisconsin

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At least the snow looks nice.

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This weekend at the 2014 UW graduation, I was reminded how I felt a year ago — proud of what I had accomplished and where I was going. We get better at what we do every day and I’m just as proud to work here today as I was then.

#uwgrad

Posted by Josh Betz on Monday, May 19, 2014

Also, we’re hiring. ūüôā