Hello! My name is Jonathan Cutrell.

I'm a cofounder of Spec.fm, I host Developer Tea, and I'm an engineer at Clearbit.

A year of changes

December 31, 2018

I turned 30 on Saturday. Lauren surprised me by bringing our families together - my parents, her parents, my sister and brother-in-law, to celebrate that I've made it to 30 years. It was a calm and peaceful mid-morning celebration; Lauren had tried for months to orchestrate a more momentous event, but from my perspective, we've had plenty of momentous events recently in our lives. This year has…

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Collaborative AI Learning Environments: Show Me What I'm Saying

June 13, 2018

Open-ended responses require synthesis and are uncomfortable territory for students early in the learning process. Humans are quite good at synthesis. However, sometimes we have trouble retrieving the right information at the right time, which may prevent us from responding as thoroughly as we are capable of responding. What are some ways we can fight this retrieval barrier? Perhaps with a…

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This is not that

June 01, 2018

Believing is not adopting. Hearing is not listening. Changing is not innovating. Saying is not being. Talking is not leading. Silence is not peace. Technology is not inhuman. Memorizing is not learning. Trying is not doing. Repeating is not diligence. Opinionated is not stubborn. Persuasive is not better. Louder is not more powerful. Simple is not easy. Difficult is not complex. Activity is not…

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Come Down Off the Ledge

May 07, 2018

It seems that we have more opportunities to delete things than we realize. Why is "Delete Facebook" even a thing, anyway? We suddenly realize this little chat window, status update thing... that it's bigger than we thought. It makes money, and it eats people's time. It gives us back something... Perhaps it's chewing up our time and spitting it back in our face. Maybe that's why we want to delete…

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The Problems We Have With Problems

March 17, 2018

In my time as a developer and leader of other developers, I've focused a lot of my effort on understanding how people diagnose and solve problems. This is an extremely broad topic, obviously, but still some interesting things have emerged as a fruit of my intrigue. Here's an incomplete list of things that make problems... well, problematic, for humans. Mixing up recognition with diagnosis…

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Podcast Feed Limited by Feedburner

May 08, 2017

The last two episodes of Developer Tea haven't shown any downloads, so naturally I reached out to Simplecast to get an answer. While waiting, I kept trying to diagnose the feed directly, having totally forgotten that the RSS feed itself was being managed by Feedburner. Unfortunately, Feedburner has a limit to the size of feed it will parse - specifically 1024K. Luckily, Apple has made managing…

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Running Long One-Off Rails Console Commands Detached on Heroku

May 03, 2017

Ever wanted to run some kind of one-off thing without pushing up a rake task? I came across this today and needed to clear out some database records. This works wonderfully:

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January 30, 2017

I just got over what we are pretty sure was the norovirus . No vulgarity necessary - I slept in the bathroom one night, and basically forgot what day it was. It felt crazy. Odd to me that sickness like this sweeps across the nation regularly, by the way. Interesting thing about the norovirus - or maybe not interesting, but a fact nonetheless - it's incredibly contagious . As in, even after you…

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Letter to Liam, Inauguration Day 2017

January 20, 2017

Liam, You aren't here yet, and I'm not sure what your voice will sound like. But today is an important day in history. There are a lot of words in our language that have no particular bend to them. "Important." "History." "Surprise." All of these words are, technically speaking, agnostic of "goodness" or "badness." And today is an important day in history, where many people realized the result of…

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What To Learn As a Brand New Developer in 2017

January 11, 2017

If you are getting into software development, my recommendation for 2017 is that you learn JavaScript (the ES6 variety). Learn how to make a web service or two, and how to launch on a given domain; learn enough about HTTP and some kind of serving technology to get a service up and running. This will give you enough skills to be a junior developer somewhere long enough to build more valuable skills…

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Making sense of the SCAA’s new Flavor Wheel

December 17, 2016

The SCAA updated the wheel to reflect the finer nuances needed to describe flavors more precisely. The new descriptions are more detailed and hence allow cuppers to distinguish between more flavors. While this is going to be a big change for professional coffee tasters, it means a lot to you as a consumer as well. We’ll explain how the wheel came to be, how pros use it and what the flavors…

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Small Anchors Make a Big Difference

August 29, 2015

When people talk about their origin stories, there's one thread that seems to be relatively common, give or take a few creators. At some point, the creator "just finally did it." There's a moment of — let's call it "reckless abandon", or as Ex Machina refers to it, a Pollock-ian moment of disregard or entropy or untargeted action — the moment where we say "I'm not sure if this step is…

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How to Be a Great Beginner (Talk)

June 06, 2015

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak at the Chattanooga Developer's lunch. I talked about how to be a great beginner. This talk isn't just for beginners, though - it's for anyone who is working in technology, or any industry that requires constant skill acquisition. embed https://youtu.be/gZiiKvoLLwU[/embed ]

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The Infinite Toolset, Craftsmanship, and Developer Sanity

February 08, 2015

I've been using the metaphor of blacksmith and cobbler recently in discussions about craftsmanship. Why? Blacksmiths and cobblers are renowned as dedicated to their craft. Repeating the motions every day. They both take raw materials, perform a process of actions using a set of tools to refine those materials, and consistently produce something of practical value that is ready to use. For…

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Talk: Creative DNA

November 07, 2014

I recently did a talk on some of the concepts in the book I'm working on. The talk really helped clarify some of the ideas I want to share with the world, and I'm sharing that talk with you today. Specifically, I discuss why our perception of creativity as it relates to logic is wrongly constructed, and a better way to understand our differences. Hope you enjoy!

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Re: Voice Interfaces

September 16, 2014

Dustin Curtis wrote a fantastic article discussing the shortcomings of voice interfaces. I'd like to discuss a few further points in relation to this problem. Go read his thoughts first, then come back. I'll wait. That's nice of them to help out, but why do I have to tell my phone how to be accessible every time I use it? Personalized accessibility should come as a standard. It shouldn't be that…

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Steal these iWatch App Ideas

September 08, 2014

I've said it before, and nothing has changed. Ideas are important, but they aren't proprietary. I want these things to exist, so hopefully with this post I can inspire someone to make them, even if that person is me. The iWatch (or whatever it is going to be called) is announced this week, and that's exciting for entrepreneurs and developers for a lot of reasons. The ideas I present below are sort…

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