Getting Data for Analytics

What do you want to know?

Collaborate with: Product Management

  • What do we maybe want to count?
  • What stories will we want to tell?
  • What product decisions are we making in the future?
  • Put this in writing with a URL on it

What do we have in a database?

Collaborate with: Engineering

  • Is there already a data model, defined schemas of what they plan to save in a database?
  • Can it answer your questions?
  • Can it change slightly to answer more of your questions?
  • Get this synced to the data warehouse and start using it.
  • Work together to document the columns

Will server-side events help?

We take the lead.

Collaborate with: Engineering

  • Write schemas, try to cover all the questions
  • Use the review process to discuss if all the fields are available or if there’s more stuff you should get

Do you have some Click Tracking you can use?

Collaborate with: Analytics, Data Engineering

If you have any data that gives referrer, page pairs you can use this to infer a lot about clicks rather than instrumenting an event on each link.

  • Create a table (view, whatever) that is just the page/referrer info you need for this project
  • Be especially careful with your regexes to identify those pages. (Counting things is difficult)
  • Get reviews from both Analytics and Data Eng if you can

Can you answer all your questions?

Collaborate with: Product Management

  • What questions still aren’t covered?
  • Can they be reframed in a way that is answerable from what we do have?

Browser events, if you have to.

Please keep in mind that there will be some event loss due to adblockers and network latency. Because the loss is due to user choice, it is not random.

Collaborate with: Engineering

  • Write schemas
  • Use the review process to discuss if all the fields are available or if there’s more stuff you should get

Mastodon, the Social Network(s)

Mastodon is sorta twitter  a distributed microblogging platform. Instead of a single server that everyone uses, there are many, many servers and no restrictions on setting them up. If you just want to get to microblogging and talk to other people who are using Mastodon, my short answer for you is: go sign up at That’s it! That’s all you need to do to get started!




Oh, some of you are still here! So, you might choose a different Mastodon server if you are looking to meet people who share your server. has all kind of people, so looking at the “local” timeline (just the people who are also on is going to find you a whole lot of different people who are there for different reasons. Maybe you want to find people to talk about computers with and feels more like your kind of people. Or something like, a server started by science fiction and fantasy fandom and writers – they welcome anyone and are going for a specific coffee shop chat kind of vibe. has a search function to help you find a server that fits you:

Screenshot 2018-04-03 20.59.18

I couldn’t get the full list into the screenshot, but I know some of you want to choose “in academia” for instance! (There exists a and I am following at least one person there)

What I did was start at and see who I was following the most and finding most interesting in the “global” timeline (every other server your server chooses to federate with – probably not all of them) and then get an account on a place that felt like “my kind of people”

Currently, I can be found on mastodon as




Closed-caption devices at yer regular mall theater, a report.

(I saw a Wrinkle in Time at Lloyd Center.) The device is eyeglasses with gadgets on the stems and a receiver attached by a cord. The gadgets project the captions onto the glasses.

Reading the captions wasn’t great – kind of felt like fighting a magic eye puzzle – but it was also good enough that I kept them on through the film, even tho the glasses were uncomfortable and i’m a cryer-at-movies

To get the device, I had to wait in line for the box office (we prebought tickets) and fill out a paper form with name/address/phone/movie/showtime – there were several people signed up on the same form (so you don’t get a picture) but only 1 for today

I did get the boyfriend to try them over his glasses before the movie started. (The device told us CC was on and what screen we were synced to.) It was tricky to get room between his glasses and the CC glasses to project the text on, but he was able to do it. For science, I should have tried again during the movie, but it’s a big tangle of equipment and I was actually watching the movie.

This post was originally a twitter thread.

Merch, no money up front: Big Cartel + Printful

Do you even occasionally have reason to sell things with your logo or design on them, but don’t want to have to figure out printing and inventory and all that shit?

Big Cartel makes it super easy to set up a store, and they have a free tier. Printful does print-on-demand and fulfillment, so you don’t create or ship the merchandise yourself.

All you need is:

  • a digital file of the image you want printed on things
  • a Stripe account or a Paypal business account
  • a credit card or Paypal account

Go create free accounts on Big Cartel and Printful.

In order for people to give you money, you need to setup payment options at Big Cartel. This is where that Stripe or Paypal business account comes in.

In order for Printful to send people things for you, you need to give Printful a payment method. They accept credit cards and Paypal.

Your Big Cartel shop is interacting directly with Stripe or Paypal, so you’re getting the money from orders however those platforms give it to you. Printful charges you item costs + shipping costs when they get the notice of the order from Big Cartel. (You can also load money ahead of time in your Printful “wallet.” A good option if you want to have tight control on how much gets charged to your card.) Within a couple of business days, they’ll have your merchandise created and sent to the customer. You do NOTHING after the initial setup.

The setup itself gets a little tricky in my mind, which is why I’m writing this up for you.

Create a product in your Big Cartel shop. If it’s a shirt or something with options/sizes (something where you will have Printful create different things to send out) go ahead and add the options when you create it. You don’t need to fill out much else right now.

Screenshot 2017-07-03 09.14.35.png

Over in Printful, it’s time to tell it about your Big Cartel shop, and have it pull over the items.

Click the Stores link in the header and then scroll down to this section:

Screenshot 2017-07-03 09.16.48.png

you want “Connect to an ecommerce platform”. Choose Big Cartel from the options, and then follow the prompts to get connected.

To get Printful to know about your product, you go back to that Stores dashboard and click the Sync button in the Product Sync column.

Here’s the other weird turn: this will take you to your Products page for that shop, and it seems like you should hit Edit here and create your product. Don’t do it! You want the Mockup Generator. It does a better job of walking you through creating print files that will work with the product. Then you can go back and hit Edit on the product page – and choose the print file you made in the Mockup Generator.

I hope this is enough to get you started. One way I have used this was to get a quick shop out to make Null Island shirts.

Making Mud

Apologies for the lack of in-process photos – it was just me and I declined to cover my phone in mud. (Though I DO have a waterproof pouch for it…)

half the insulated base down

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No more putting it off. It was time to make mud. Like I mentioned last time, it’s dirt plus water plus sand in unspecified proportions. As you may have noticed, unspecified things stress me out.

On my little back patio, I assembled:

  • Two buckets, one 5 gallon and one 2 gallon
  • box of dirt from when I planted roses over the last few weeks
  • bag of paver sand from the store
  • water can full of water
  • paint stirrer stick
  • trowel
  • disposable latex gloves (the same ones I use to dye my hair)

All I needed was the gloves, 5 gallon bucket, dirt, sand, and water. I ended up stirring it all with my hands. Despite my skepticism, I THINK I got the consistency feeling right away? Memories of playing with clay or playdoh and knowing exactly how much it should squish so I could work with it. Much more recent memories of making pie crust and biscuits – trying to get the liquid level just so, and get the flour all worked in. Somehow there was a very exactly consistency that felt RIGHT to me, and I definitely couldn’t explain it either. I could even grab a handful and decide if I wanted to add more dirt or more sand. Maybe I am totally wrong and it will all wash away or something, but it felt satisfyingly right, and that’s a worthwhile experience.

I ended up mixing 7 or 8 small batches in my five gallon bucket. Then I was tired and the sun was leaving me, so I called it a day. It was about an hour of solid work. 5 batches (and the first ones were smaller as I gained confidence) created a thin layer over the crushed rock. Then I placed several wine bottles, and some lava rock to act as insulation – it’s like the air pockets created by the feathers in a down jacket. A few more batches of mud got bottles settled into place, but I didn’t get them all before running out of steam.

I found and discarded several rocks, bits of grass, and at least one dead earthworm. I was VERY SURPRISED when suddenly there was a squiggling earthworm in the mud I was mixing! I threw it out into the lawn and was very glad I was wearing gloves. Remember, this dirt had been sitting in my garage in a box for at least a few weeks.

As I realized I was putting off this step, I finally figured out that I have a visceral distaste for making mud. I have learned too well that I don’t want to get dirty, I don’t want to make a mess. Gloves helped a LOT in getting past this, even though mud definitely got into them, and all over the rest of me.

Next: acquire some firebricks. Finish covering the bottles and make a mud surface nearly to the top of my cinder block base. I’m worried that I’m going to run out of dirt. Good thing I need to plant more roses and some tomatoes soon!

Next Step – more rocks

Since that last attempt to work on my oven went so poorly, I put things off awhile, and then I asked for help. A friend with an SUV kindly drove me to and from Home Depot, pushed the unwieldy cart that begged for human blood (maybe it only seems like that to me), and helped stop me from dithering endlessly when I couldn’t find exactly what I was hoping to.

Having a friend with me also forced me to focus on a shopping list – there’s a MILLION things I could buy at Home Depot, probably 50 of which I could argue I actually need. But  because this was a trip to get the next steps on my oven, I focused in on exactly what the next things I could use were – and just “could use” but needed to do the very next steps.

Part of what is making it hard for me to just relax and follow the book’s instructions are that they are such relaxed and imprecise instructions!!! (I know. In case you can’t tell – if no one else is imposing structure, it’s gonna be me.) I went over the few pages of actual instructions and ended up writing 3 pages in a notebook, including a flowchart and a diagram.

I had that one ring of cinder blocks – that was the initial base. I want the oven to not be ridiculously low to work at, and it feels safer having the fire a little more separated from the ground. I got enough cinder blocks to fill in the bottom level and make another ring on top. (Each block is 8 inches tall, bringing my base to 16 inches above the ground.)

But IN THAT BASE, as I read over the instructions, I realized I need to have an insulate layer, a mud floor layer, and then sand, and then the firebricks.

I filled the bottom layer with crushed rocks to keep everything kind of in place. The insulating layer is going to be: a layer of glass bottles packed in half oven mud, half insulating material. The book suggested sawdust, pelite, or pumice for the insulating material. I’m planning to ask a local hardware store for some sawdust, but my friend saved the day when I said pumice and found some red lava rock that I can include.

Oven mud is dirt from my yard (uhm, I have two boxes of dirt. This is “normal”.) plus water plus sand. What are the proportions? NO ONE KNOWS. It depends on the clay content of my soil. There’s a chance my soil is completely terrible and I’ll need to buy clay.

So next up is making some mud. Hopefully I’ll have a sunny day to play with it soon. I also don’t feel like it has to be perfect for the insulating layer, so that’s actually a nice chance for me to get used to working with it before shit gets more real. Whether I get the sawdust or not (I could still use it for the insulating layer between the two clay oven layers.) I feel like I’m ready to put in the insulating layer as soon as I get at least an hour of sun. It’s happening.

9.5 cinder blocks and 100 lbs of crushed rock later

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Tangzhong Buttermilk Sourdough Bread

2017-04-24 22.11.07

Hi, I am rescuing this recipe from the depths of a comment section: (beware, there may be audio ads)

Tanzhong roux
1/2 cup (120g) water (for Tanzhong roux)
3 Tbsp (25g) Bread Flour (for Tanzhong roux)
Bread Dough
All of the Tanzhong roux (from above)
1/2 cup (125g) Buttermilk
1 cup (250g) Active Sourdough Starter (100% hydration)
3 1/4 cups (450g) Bread Flour
1 Tablespoon (15g) White granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (10g) Table salt
2 Tablespoons (30g) Olive Oil

I also used this part:

I make the TangZhong roux in an 1100-watt microwave. Use a pyrex cup. 120-gm (about 1/2 cup) room temperature water, 25-gm (about 3 Tbsp) Bread Flour. Mix well with whisk.
-Microwave 22-seconds. Stir, take temperature. Will be about 125-F.
-Microwave 11-seconds. Stir, take? temperature. Will be about 145-F.
-Microwave 11-more seconds. Stir, take temperature. Will be about 155-F.
The roux will be thick and creamy and a translucent-white color.
Cool to below 130-F.

My microwave is a mere 900-watts so I did an extra 11 seconds and then a final 9 seconds. It had that weird cooked smell and a pleasing consistency.

I threw it all in the kitchenaid to knead for 10 minutes, putting the oil in after a few minutes. Didn’t need to adjust any of the proportions (I measured by weight, and I had a smidge more starter than I “should”.)

Overnight rise, morning shape into loaf, rise another 4-5 hours, til over the pan.

10 minutes at 425 degrees, then 350 until interior temperature of 200, which was about 40 minutes. Great browning and look, maybe a little dry, could have maybe done a little less time. Total of 50 min in the oven seems like a lot, even for a bread with a lot going on.

I had to feed the starter. The leftover buttermilk from last week’s pie is gonna go bad. Neven has been talking about Tangzhong. So it just all came together. (but seriously also the only buttermild + sourdough recipe I found.)

It’s fine. It has some tang. But it seems kind of boring? I mean I clearly ate 1/3 of the loaf myself this morning, so it’s not BAD.

I hope someone else finds this useful – I’m just glad I don’t have to go three pages deep in google and then down in some comments to find the recipe again!