Ninjas and Robots

Figuring out what’s next. CTO/CMO of Rockstar Coders. Makes the awesome writing software Draft. Previous: CEO of Highrise. Also founder of two YC companies. Engineer for President Obama’s re-election campaign.

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Draft Announcements: Better sorting, duplicate documents, and more…

Hi there. I wanted to let you know of a few new useful things in Draft:

  • Better sorting inside folders
  • Better sorting of folders
  • Duplicate documents
  • Image names
  • Search in more places
  • Import multiple documents - fixed

 Better sorting inside folders

I had tried to make sorting inside a folder a little too clever. Originally, Draft would list documents inside a folder in reverse chronological order (by their updated time), but if you wanted more control, you could click a document in a folder and drag it to whatever order you wanted, then, the “manual sort” would automatically kick in.

But that was confusing, and didn’t work well enough.

So now, you can sort your documents in a folder three different ways that you can control explicitly:


The default sort is by time - the most recently updated documents are at the top.

The next sort - the up and down arrows - is your...

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How to get business ideas - remove steps

I see so many aspiring entrepreneurs stressed out hoping to find some spark of a business idea, but the common complaint is:

Everything good has already been done.

I used to feel like that too, but it doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as simple as:

  1. Find a job people have.
  2. List out every step people take to complete that job.
  3. Remove as many steps as you can.

Look at measuring cups.

People have been using cups to measure things for thousands of years. And standardized measuring cups have been around since Fannie Farmer invented them in 1896.

You can’t possibly come up with a new idea for a measuring cup. Right?

But then someone does. A guy named Steve Hoeting was trying to come up with a new recipe for brownies, and realized he spent too many steps in the process reading the level of stuff on the side of his measuring cup. Could he shave steps from that process, by putting...

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A 40 billion dollar t-shirt

There’s a great lesson in storytelling from a talk Seth Godin made in 2013 at a conference named Inbound.

As he opens the talk:

We are right at the cusp of something huge.

I need to start by making an announcement, which is… Professional wrestling is fake.

Wait, what are we on the cusp of? But he goes into a thread about professional wrestling.

Then he does it again.

Inside this box is a t-shirt that at one point was worth 40 billion dollars. And I keep it there as a reminder to myself about what happens when you don’t see.

In 1991, I had access to the internet. I was using to work on cover stories…

Hold on. How was it worth 40 billion dollars!?

Then he does it again.

I was asked to bring: What’s your number one marketing shortcut?

But before I tell you that…

Seth is a wonderful writer and orator. You can learn a lot from watching him and this entire talk. But...

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How to get free, pre-released copies of your favorite authors’ new books

Ever find a brand new book on Amazon, just released today, and wonder how it already has all those reviews? Or glance at a book cover, and think, “this was printed before the book was released to the public, but it’s covered in testimonials from famous entrepreneurs, celebrities, and other writers.”

How do those reviewers get the book so early? How do I get in on this?

Here’s how I do it.

When we see a lot of other people looking at something, we become interested. It’s how our psychology works. So authors want their books surrounded with testimonials.

Publishing companies and their public relations (PR) staff do work to get those reviews. They’ll spread early editions of the book to other authors under that same publishing company, or mail it out to influential people in their rolodex.

But, I’m not a published author of a book, and I’m not famous, so I don’t have any PR person...

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Draft Announcements: Comment switching, sortable to-do lists, and more…

Hello. I have a few updates to share about Draft:

  • Comment Switching
  • Sortable To-dos
  • Auto-complete Invites
  • Show/Edit Page Designs
  • No more Nagging of Collaborators

 Comment Switching

Some of my documents have comments from multiple people and it can be tough to track who’s saying what. This is especially true with the introduction of the Simplify button, which can generate quite a few comments of feedback.

So now, you can filter comments in Edit mode by the user who left the comment. Just turn on comments like you normally would by clicking the comment bubble at the bottom right corner of editing your document.

When the comments view is activated, there is now a link that appears at the bottom right of the screen that you can click to change whose comments you’re viewing. The default is “Everyone”.

 Sortable To-dos

I love using Markdown for to-do lists - an...

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Many reading this are starting (or in the middle of) our own businesses, and we need people to notice and spread our work to their friends. But most of us feel the sting of being passed over and ignored.

So how do we get more people to care?

One day in grade school, I was over at a friend’s house playing video games in his basement. I happened upon a can of shaving cream.

Like most 5th graders, I enjoyed self-propelled shooting of all kinds - squirt guns, silly string, dart guns - and now I’ve got a can of shaving cream to play with.

Down in this basement, there was a dark, unlit room I couldn’t even see into. It reminded me of the dark rooms in my parent’s basement, which were unfinished, concrete floored, storing a bunch of junk, and rarely visited.

So, every so often while we played video games that day, I’d walk over to this dark room and shoot some shaving cream into it - I...

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I’ve always considered myself poor at design or anything requiring aesthetic talent.

As a kid, I remember a particularly hard homework assignment in grade school. It was 2am and I came to a problem where my teacher wanted us to draw: a baby in a womb. I decided I didn’t have the talent to do it myself. So I gave up and called in (woke up) the best help in the world. Mom.

The feeling continued into adulthood. When I started my first professional job after school, someone told me about Flash. This looks cool. So I built my first website using Flash. I showed it to some folks. They laughed because I didn’t know any better to use much smaller sized images. My website took forever to load. When it finally did load, they laughed some more, “That’s it?”

They weren’t intending to discourage me, but clearly from this exercise - I suck at design.

The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind Of A Mess


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Getting coffee at the cafe near my home is a pain in the ass. It’s crowded. It takes a long time. It’s expensive.

I love it.

My wife and I make it the occasional treat to go to Intelligentsia, a nationally famous company that makes a really great cup of coffee. But it’s hardly a convenient experience.

One day recently, my wife and I ordered our two mochas to go, and found seats to wait out the process. As I sat there watching the barista, I noticed something interesting.

The barista was preparing cappuccinos for a group in front of us. He finished one of them and started to push it on the counter closer to where the customer would eventually pick it up. A bit of coffee spilled over the top of the cup and into the saucer.

Without the customer even noticing - he was sitting at a table chatting with his friends - the barista immediately grabbed the cappuccino, poured it out in...

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Draft’s Heartbleed Reponse

On April 7, 2014 information was released about a security vulnerability in OpenSSL, named Heartbleed. You can read more about it, here:

It’s a very serious vulnerability that breaks the SSL encryption we depend on to keep our information secret. It affected two thirds of the websites we visit every day, including sites like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Etsy, Tumblr, etc. Unfortunately, that includes Draft because it uses OpenSSL through its hosting providers Heroku+Amazon.

I have no evidence the vulnerability was used to attack Draft and our data, but I immediately took the recommended actions to protect the service. And for stronger confidence, you should change your Draft password here:

And because of how many sites use OpenSSL and were affected by this vulnerability, you should change your passwords across the internet...

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Tell yourself better stories

I was pissed.

We were heading to a friend’s house for dinner on Friday at 6PM. It takes us 30 minutes to get there, so, naturally, we left at 5:30.

Idiot. Now, we’re stuck in traffic. It’s crawling. We’ll be at least 45 minutes late, if not more.

Who came up with this plan to have dinner during weekday rush hour, anyway? My wife? My friend? Why did they plan it this way? I’m pissed with myself for not thinking through this more. I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life, and know how traffic is. I should have never agreed to going to dinner at this time in the first place.

I’m just getting more pissed.

This dinner is going to suck. We’ll be late, and I’ll fume about these poor decisions we all made. We should turn around at the next exit and go back home and plan for a different day.

Oh, now I see the cause. An accident in the right lane. We’re all jammed up because everyone had to...

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