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Oct. 23, 2019, 6 a.m.
Christopher Harrington, OmniGraffle User and Otter Enthusiast

Christopher Harrington, Director of Creative Strategy at Gartner, joins the show to talk about how he’s used OmniGraffle since the early days of the app. That OmniGraffle is an open-ended, general-purpose tool has been a big part of its appeal to Christopher: he can do the many different things he needs to do with it.

Show Notes:

We also talk about user experience, otters, and Prince. Christopher is a joyful member of the Purple Family.

Content warning: In the course of talking about user experience, Christopher discusses the user experience of his partner Bill as he undergoes treatment for cancer. The user experience is presented as exemplary, as the kind of thing designers can set up when they care about users. Nevertheless, we realize this may be a topic that some people would rather not hear about. If that’s you, please skip this episode, or stop listening when we switch to that topic.

You can find Christopher on Twitter @octothorpe. You can also follow his bot The Shaboogie Bot on Twitter and listen to past episodes of his podcast with Maggie McFee: Ruining it for Everyone.

Some other people, places, and things mentioned:


Brent Simmons: You're listening to The Omni Show. Get to know the people and stories behind The Omni Group's award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS. M-U-S-I-C!


Brent Simmons: We have a very special episode today. We have Christopher Harrington on the line. Christopher is Director of User Experience at Gartner, and he's an OmniGraffle user. Say hello, Christopher.

Christopher Harrington: Hello, Brent Simmons.

Brent Simmons: Come on now, do it right. I have an unbroken streak you will not ruin.

Christopher Harrington: In my best try for a Dave Chappelle Prince impression: “Assemble your crew.” I can't do it as well as he can, but you know, I try. But I can do a “hello Christopher.” That's fine.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

Christopher Harrington: Yep. If you want to intro me again, “say hello…”.

Brent Simmons: Well, we're going to leave all this in.

Christopher Harrington: Oh, bloody hell.

Brent Simmons: So… Say hello, Christopher.

Christopher Harrington: Hello, Christopher.

Brent Simmons: Thank you. That wasn't so hard.

Christopher Harrington: No.

Brent Simmons: So you're an OmniGraffle user and as Director of User Experience, those two things fit together. So—

Christopher Harrington: They do.

Brent Simmons: What do you do with OmniGraffle? What's going on?

Christopher Harrington: Right. So I've been an OmniGraffle user for... since the dawn of time.

Brent Simmons: That was OmniGraffle 3.0?

Christopher Harrington: I want to say before that, even.

Brent Simmons: Wow. That's before the dawn of time.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah. I want to say that. I want to say I was in the 2.x, but I'm trying to remember the exact date. I'm pretty sure it was before 2001.

Brent Simmons: Wow, okay. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah. I could be entirely wrong about this. My dates are very bad, but I've been an avid OmniGraffle... not only user, but also proponent. I've hipped a lot of folk to OmniGraffle back when the whole information architecture, web design... Let's call it web 1.O, before the original dot-com burst, right?

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: And I used it, and as the product improved and gained new features, I used them and incorporated those features into my workflow almost immediately. When you started to be able to embed objects into OmniGraffle, embed other pieces of OmniGraffle documents into OmniGraffle, that was huge for doing, for example, the website layouts or what have you. And because only a small portion of my work ever involved creating layouts or wireframes, I would use other tools to do the other bits. And one of the other tools I used was also OmniOutliner.

Christopher Harrington: And I use OmniOutliner for a great number of things. It's a very simple application, and because of its simplicity, it has a very broad appeal. It allows me to do a lot of things because it doesn't try to get in my way, which is consequently actually why I'm not an OmniFocus person. Because I was a GTD script for OmniOutliner person back in the day, and I got to the point where I had what I call a moment of clarity when I realized that I was fiddling too much with the making lists and making sure they were all in the appropriate direction and they were hoisted, and they were this-ted, or they were that. And then I was like, "You know what? Or alternatively I could just write this all in Notepad and just get crap done." And for me, that's much more of a uni-tasker, whereas OmniOutliner is much more of a multi-tasker.

Christopher Harrington: I can create notes in it, I can create outlines in it, or through the power of your sort of cross app compatibility, I was able to create an outline in OmniOutliner, literally drag that file into OmniGraffle, and create a sitemap...

Brent Simmons: Wow. Nice.

Christopher Harrington: With very little interaction on my part. So with OmniGraffle, I still do layouts and to me it is also a multi-tasker. It allows me to do anything. I can create layouts with it. I can do floor plans with it. Recently I was creating a sound diagram for trying to place my speakers in my AV room. I have a very small room and I have very large speakers, and it's not necessarily the right tool for the job, but it's the right tool to allow me to quickly get information out of my head and onto virtual paper.

Christopher Harrington: And that I think allows me to think through problems a lot more easily. As long as I get things out of my head, I realize what's going to work, what's not going to work. Whenever I need to sketch something and I don't have physical paper in front of me, and I often do. I usually carry around loose 11 x 17 paper and I have an assortment of pencils and pens, because I'm a pencil and pen nerd, and I'm always sketching things. But when I have to show something to other people, very often those people are a diaspora. And so I need some form of digital copy because I hate the idea of drawing a picture, taking a photograph of the thing, and then uploading a photograph because it's terrible.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: And so I use OmniGraffle, and I use it exclusively on the Mac.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

Christopher Harrington: Because I'm not a... Well, on the phone it's ridiculous. There's no possible way I feel I could get anything done on a screen that small. I've got fat fingers. It's just not a thing for me.

Brent Simmons: That's interesting. My wife uses it on her iPad pretty much exclusively. Everybody's different. Of course her fingers are not fat.

Christopher Harrington: Oh yeah. I also haven't had an iPad since the iPad 3, which is the one iPad Apple refuses to admit existed. So...

Brent Simmons: I have never heard of it.

Christopher Harrington: Exactly.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: I haven't had the need for one, frankly. I thought I liked them, and when the iPad 3 was modern, my life was very different. I was commuting into Manhattan for work, and my time on the train would be iPad time. I'd be reading books, surfing the internet, a lot of consumption stuff that one would do on your desktop, or what have you. But I had this downtime of 45 minutes on a train from Greenwich into... or Stamford, depending on where I was living at the time, into Manhattan.

Christopher Harrington: But nowadays I don't commute, or when I do commute into my office, I now work in Stamford, which is the city next door to where I live. And the commute is only about 20 minutes by driving.

Brent Simmons: Oh, that's not bad.

Christopher Harrington: It's not bad at all. And I chose that job in part to be close to my partner, so we have more time together. And so I find that I don't have that time. And when I need to read something, if it's Twitter or something, I will read it on the phone or I will... I have multiple very large monitors going on at once on my main desktop, and I just have my Twitter feed going on in the corner and Tweetbot's just sort of casually going away.

Christopher Harrington: So my need for an iPad is nil. I've almost reverted to a much more traditional sitting down at a desk, doing big work things on a big computer, and my mobile self is very mobile. It's nothing bigger than a phone and it's just a lot of sticky notes and a lot of paper and pens that may or may not get translated to digital.

Brent Simmons: How much does the fact that OmniGraffle is so general purpose work for you? For instance, you can do so many different types of things from graphic design to wireframing, to...

Christopher Harrington: Oh I love it.

Brent Simmons: ... layout, information architecture, whatever.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, and that's why I use it, and why I'm such a huge proponent of it, because it's got a variety of tools that are fairly well thought out. Before the days of Sketch and all of that, where you didn't really have an object-based canvas system. Except if you go way back, you have Canvas. You had that hybrid vector drawing/bitmap editor, but you really didn't have the sense of sort of an object-based application before, and even Sketch, frankly, is terrible at it.

Christopher Harrington: So I still, to this day, go back to OmniGraffle over a lot of these other apps because it's freeing. It's got a variety of different tools. And as I said, those tools have become better over time. The bézier tool, now you can segment lines and create shapes and Boolean and all of that that you couldn't do in the past. And I use those capabilities extensively. I'll create icons. I'll create layouts. I do a lot of stuff involving text.

Christopher Harrington: One of the things I love about OmniGraffle objects, unlike Sketch or what have you, they have the concept of containers. Every object seems to be a container so it can contain text or it can contain other things. And I really like that because whenever I move something, I usually want to move the things inside of it as well. And instead of grouping everything, it's really handy to double click on an object and then suddenly just start typing.

Brent Simmons: Oh, right, sure, yeah.

Christopher Harrington: And then have that be the thing, which is just really handy. It's all these, again, very well thought out— I mean OmniWeb, I mean I was also an OmniWeb user for a bajillion years, as well.

Brent Simmons: Sure.

Christopher Harrington: A little bit of an aside, I was one of the only people that was a NeXT user. Around that time I had a lot of financial services clients and Deutche Bank was a NeXT shop.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, so they had both Deutsche Bank and what is now Verizon... Well, what was at the time Bell Atlantic, NYNEX. They were both NeXT shops. And as a matter of fact, Bell Atlantic/NYNEX/Verizon's point of sale system was NeXT-based. And so I've been sort of following the OmniGroup and the stuff that they've been doing since that era, which is a little frightening, and also makes me very old.

Brent Simmons: So segueing...

Christopher Harrington: Yes.

Brent Simmons: ... user experience obviously is a thing you care deeply about, but you've had some thoughts about user experience in kind of a different area than we're used to talking about.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, so even though my background is in human computer interaction, which sort of implies a human and a computer. It actually doesn't imply it, it directly states it. The concept of user experience doesn't necessarily involve a screen. It doesn't necessarily involve a computer. It can be anything from the way ingress and egress works at a theme park. Right? Disney is famous for having really amazing, very thought out user experiences, or customer experiences. I'll sometimes use them interchangeably, and I know I'm going to get yelled at by the Nielsen Norman Group or whomever, but it's all the same concept, where you've got a person who's interacting with your thing or things, and they're going to have an experience.

Christopher Harrington: So, first and foremost, you're not creating user experiences, people have user experiences. You can just set them up for success or failure or delight, but it's up to them, with their baggage that they bring, to experience the way they see fit. Again, that's why I love tools that are sort of open ended like OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner and such. BBEdit is another huge one.

Christopher Harrington: But one of the things that my curiosity has sort of gotten the better of me, is my partner, who is a lot older than I am, was recently diagnosed with cancer, and he went through radiation therapy and I got to observe this as a user experience professional.

Brent Simmons: Well first off, before you continue, I'm sorry to hear about your partner's diagnosis.

Christopher Harrington: Oh, yeah. Luckily we caught it very early.

Brent Simmons: Good.

Christopher Harrington: Yes, very much so. He was at a normal check-up, they were doing normal blood work, and they noticed that his PSA, which is the leading marker for the prostate health... and a high number... and these are sort of small integers. So small integer jumps are actually considered to be quite profound. And he went from a two and then the next blood test that they did roughly six months later was a 5.7. So a two is within normal range. Anywhere between, I'm going to say zero and three is within the normal range. And anything above that, that is a red flag. It doesn't mean you have cancer, but it means that "hey, there's something going on you should probably investigate further."

Christopher Harrington: So the doctor who thought that that jump from that six month period of time was a very significant one, and so it definitely warranted additional investigation. And I was like, well, this is really interesting. They clearly have a heuristic that says, okay, if this, then that. If this and this and this, then that. And it all came together like a giant chain. So as he's gone through this whole process, I've been studying how the doctors work, how the machinery works, how the hospital conducts their business with the patient. And as an observer. I can see, oh, okay, this is the type of interaction that they're using. And it's really, really fascinating.

Christopher Harrington: So, fast forwarding a little bit, they did additional investigations. They found out that he indeed had cancer. They did a biopsy and all of that, and one of the things that they did was they gave us several options. They communicated to us the evidence and the pathways for these different options. And based upon the evidence, we chose a very short term radiation therapy. It was a full month of radiation therapy. Every day he would go in and—

Brent Simmons: Is that five days a week or weekends, too?

Christopher Harrington: Five days a week. Yeah, five days a week. So you kind of had the weekend to recover. But as folks may know, radiation builds up in the body. And so over the course of the treatment, your body is retaining this radiation. So side effects don't often appear in the first week or even the second week. They start appearing toward the end of the treatment and then they continue after the treatment. But prior to the treatment, there was all of this pre-treatment stuff that went on because it's a confluence of doctors and technicians and machines and human analysis.

Christopher Harrington: They did a variety of things. They inserted what I call a gummy bear, because that's basically what it is. They injected a bit of gel in between the prostate and the bowel, just to give it a couple of millimeters of space. And if you remember your high school and/or university physics, the inverse square law says that the radiation fall off is, well, the inverse square. So the amount of energy that hits an area outside a certain radius is dramatically lower. And so even though you're only moving the bowel out of the way a millimeter or two, that's a significant reduction in radiation and therefore a significant reduction in potential side effects.

Christopher Harrington: The beam is also really interesting because it focuses intradermally, meaning that because the focus is actually on the prostate and the beam goes through the skin, there's no incision. The beam goes through the skin, but because it's not focused it doesn't damage the epidermis. It literally only zaps the part of the prostate that they've targeted.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

Christopher Harrington: And the concept of that kind of blew me away. Here's basically a laser of gamma rays that can precisely target these tiny, tiny bits of an organ that is roughly the size of a walnut. That's pretty cool.

Brent Simmons: And it's not damaging everything on the way through.

Christopher Harrington: Exactly.

Brent Simmons: That's...

Christopher Harrington: It's really fascinating.

Brent Simmons: That's science right there. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah. And so in order to do that, though, there's a lot of prep. As I said, you've got to make sure that your insides are in the right place. They also took a mold of his feet, not a cast, but rather a mold so that his feet would always be in the same position on the machine every time he came back. So every patient has their own little leg and foot mold to put their feet back into when they get back up on the slab. And—

Brent Simmons: Is the slab also micro-adjustable, for instance?

Christopher Harrington: It's amazingly adjustable. So the slab is actually nearly fully floating. You get on it, you lie down. And the machine is a combination, like a CT scan/MRI with a gamma ray laser. So its super science-fictiony stuff.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: It's super crazy, and it literally revolves around the patient. So you get on the slab that's basically at butt height so that you can sit down and lie down, and then it raises up and kind of feeds itself partially back toward the machine. I'll see if I can find pictures online because it's utterly fascinating. And the entire machine rotates around him. And that way it can target anywhere in 3D space. So that was the other thing, too, in the prep they also internally implanted four gold registration marks so that it would show up on the scanner. And they also gave him... They're not permanent tattoos, but they're semipermanent ink, the equivalent of like a super Sharpie.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

Christopher Harrington: They painted or drew registration marks on his hips. So the room itself has all these lasers, not too dissimilar from a laser leveling site that you get at Home Depot, except that it's meant to align a human being with the scanner in the machine. And so you've got the technicians who, after the patient lies down on the bed, maneuver the patient in place to line up their registration marks with the laser crosshairs. And that's how you know the patient is in the right place.

Brent Simmons: That's amazing.

Christopher Harrington: Between that and the internal registration marks, you've got a three dimensional sort of lock in. Oh, and the other thing they did was they actually created a three dimensional model of not only the prostate but the surrounding areas to preprogram the machine and the laser and merge that with the ground truth of the scan as it was going on in real time. So they would make any corrections. So they'll have the equivalent of the playbook of, "this is what I think I'm going to do," but then they would rectify that with the ground truth of the scan that's currently going on that's live, because human organs are squishy.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: And that's how they did it. And that I thought was utterly amazing, and it's done very quickly. That takes maybe five minutes, if that. The scan itself was maybe a minute, but maneuvering and getting everything in a position takes a little bit longer. So yeah, you're in and out in 20 minutes maximum. And that includes changing and changing back, putting on a gown.

Brent Simmons: And this is just a routine thing for radiation treatment these days?

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, yeah.

Brent Simmons: It is not the extraordinary version.

Christopher Harrington: Right. So Greenwich Hospital happens to have a billion dollar state of the art machine, so not everyone gets to do this, but we happen to be very lucky. Some billionaire, because there are a bunch of billionaires in Greenwich, and one of them apparently had prostate cancer and said, oh and by the way, here's a bajillion dollars for this crazy machine. And so now Greenwich Hospital has it. So I don't know how many of them are in the country, but we're certainly the only one in the area with that. And so that's pretty cool.

Christopher Harrington: But it goes so much beyond that, because the patient, at every step of the way, is informed, and everything is so simple. You drive into the oncology center and it's a separate building from the main hospital. And so the layout is different, the feel is different. There is a valet, so you don't have to worry about parking your car. Because if you've got cancer, the last thing you want to care about is trying to find a place to park so that you can get your radiation treatment or your chemotherapy or whatever.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: No, there's a valet. It's right there. He takes the keys, you go upstairs and you check in. The people at the front desk know who you are before you even come, because they know that your appointment is at this particular time. They give you a little wrist bracelet that has your name and your date of birth and all that. And they ask you to say your name and your birthday to make sure they match up, so that something doesn't go wrong, and then they put it on you and then everything else is carried out.

Christopher Harrington: Even looking out the window... So Greenwich is a lovely... It's an urban town. I don't know our population. Our population is maybe, I don't know, 60,000 or so.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

Christopher Harrington: It's not huge. It's quite bucolic. But the hospital and the oncology center, they're both downtown. And seeing all the cars and the streets are kind of potentially agitating. And so if you look out the window anywhere in the waiting rooms, either for the radiation treatment wing or the chemotherapy wing, you only see trees and vegetation, as if they've got these private gardens out the window, and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's like being in different space time.

Christopher Harrington: You've got lovely Enya music going on, you've got a fake aquarium. It's one of those digital aquariums like the old Macquarium from back in the day.

Brent Simmons: Oh, sure. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, except it's super high res and it's really pretty amazing. The cutting edge versions of these things are quite realistic these days. And everything about it is pleasant, and they know that it's a difficult thing, and everyone has their own experience, and they want to make this ordeal — because it's hard, right? Going to therapy every day is hard. I think the chemo patients probably have it worse because that's something that affects their entire body, and so their fatigue is often much more pronounced.

Brent Simmons: And a single administration can take hours. It's no 20 minute deal.

Christopher Harrington: Right, right.

Brent Simmons: You may be sitting there on a drip...

Christopher Harrington: It's much more involved.

Brent Simmons: ... all day long. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Right. And there are more side effects, et cetera. And so they make it just as pleasant as possible. One of the really lovely things is at your graduation, when you're done with your treatment, they give you a tiny little bamboo sprout, and that is sort of as a symbol of renewal and a symbol of life. And we still have ours in the bathroom.

Brent Simmons: That's great.

Christopher Harrington: And it grows. It's grown about, probably a couple centimeters since we received ours. And toward the end everyone knew us. And when we see them in town, like we see the oncologist at the Starbucks with some frequency, everyone's very pleasant and it's just a wonderful, wonderful system. And it's so very clear that everything about that process was deliberate and well thought out. That's something I want to explore. I want to explore that type of experience. I'm thinking about even turning it into a talk because it's so profound.

Christopher Harrington: And I think people can take away from this, one, that having cancer and going through treatment doesn't have to be a terrible ordeal. It's difficult, but you don't have to fear it, because these people are on your side and they want to help and they will do anything they can to help you out. And also that this is how we should treat customers. We should treat them as if they're real people rather than just a revenue stream, rather than just rowdy people on Twitter. These are people with real feelings, with different experiences that come to your app, come to your blog, whatever, and they're going to have their own experience. And you can set up that experience to be a good one or not. And you have to say to yourself, well, what would you prefer? But it's something I think we can learn from and apply to our own lines of work. I don't know, maybe it's interesting. Maybe it's just me. I don't know.

Brent Simmons: No, no. I think it is. It's an illustration of what you can do when you have respect for the users...

Christopher Harrington: Right.

Brent Simmons: ... and for the people. You know one thing about them. There's a thing. In this case, cancer and radiation therapy. Now in the case of software, we might know that someone's coming to OmniGraffle because they obviously need to do some kind of visual work and that's really all we know about them. But with the right amount of respect and care, it is possible to set them up to have the best experience possible.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah. Empathy for the user.

Brent Simmons: Right on. Yep. So I'd switch gears at this point.

Christopher Harrington: Okay.

Brent Simmons: And we've got some other lighter-weight stuff to talk about with you.

Christopher Harrington: Sure. What would you like to know, Brent Simmons?

Brent Simmons: Well, let's see. So we have a listener question from Olof Hellman, and he asks, would you prefer in your next life to be reborn as Prince or as an otter?

Christopher Harrington: Well, there can be only one Prince, and unfortunately he's no longer with us, although he's also in our hearts.

Brent Simmons: Yes, forever. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: I have this strange love of both Prince and otters and I love them equally, I think. I have a real love for—

Brent Simmons: Prince and all otters everywhere.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, I think so.

Brent Simmons: On a scale. Yeah, exactly. I think I get it.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, that kind of works. Yeah. Specifically Japanese small clawed river otters, because they're adorable.

Brent Simmons: Yes.

Christopher Harrington: I love sea otters as well, but you see a lot of sea otters and they're not quite as interesting to me. They're less frenetic, although they're probably more adorable. They float on their backs and they hold hands when they sleep. It's kind of difficult to not fall in love with them.

Brent Simmons: Oh, god, I just — even just talking about it I'm like, oh my god, they're so great. They just really are.

Christopher Harrington: I know. And they tangle themselves up in kelp to not drift away. And river otters are so frenetic, and they play and they romp and they frolic and… people should be more otter. It's just that there's a purity of their... at least the small clawed river otters. You have the larger, the giant otters, and those guys are just mean.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah, they will mess you up. Now all otters will do that. I was actually at the Seattle Aquarium and maybe the day before there was an incident. ahem

Brent Simmons: Incident.

Christopher Harrington: Yes, an incident in the otter area...

Brent Simmons: Oh, god.

Christopher Harrington: ... in the, yeah, the sea otters. Apparently a gull decided to land in the otter area and the otters proceeded to obliterate it. Feathers, blood everywhere, Small children screaming.

Brent Simmons: Yes.

Christopher Harrington: But yeah, river otters are great. They're social and they love being together and they flop and they do silly things. And while they do not have opposable thumbs, they are nearly prehensile. And so they can grab things and they can do things. They can retrieve pop bottles from vending machines. They can play air guitar, they can do all sorts of stuff, and they're neat. They also have pockets. So they have their favorite rock that they will put in their otter pocket and then juggle said rock on their backs. Come on, that's the life. Don't we all just want to do that?

Brent Simmons: I love how with otters, they are unguarded. There's no mixed emotions.

Christopher Harrington: No.

Brent Simmons: They're just straight up who they are.

Christopher Harrington: They're just squeaky bois.

Brent Simmons: And sometimes it's a terrible killing machine.

Christopher Harrington: Oh yeah, yeah. They will murder you. They will murder you given half a chance. But yeah. So yeah, respect the otter.

Brent Simmons: From a distance, a safe distance.

Christopher Harrington: Yes, they will eat your face and they have no problems doing so.

Brent Simmons: Not like Prince, who will melt your face. That's a whole different thing. Totally different thing.

Christopher Harrington: That's a different story. That is a different story, when you know… He's one of the best guitar players on the planet and woefully underrated, I think. He could play anything. He said he played 27 different instruments and I believe him, because on every record that's him playing all of the instruments, save a few here and there. But he was just such an artist and he was so consumed by the need to create. He always had this thing going, this engine in his being, That required him to create. And he had a very spiritual side, but for a long time he was religious in a more traditional sense. And he really felt that God gave him this gift and allowed all of this music to flow through him. And if he didn't record it, if he didn't play it, that that gift would be taken away from him.

Christopher Harrington: And so he was always recording, and he rarely slept, and he was constantly making something. And 90% of it we'll never see because it's shoved away in a vault. But slowly but surely one of the things to come out of his death is the sharing of these vault songs in a proper format. There's always leaks, recording artists, et cetera. Maybe they get a copy, but it's a tape of a tape of a tape, and the sound quality is really terrible. But now we're starting to get master recordings of these songs. You've heard them in these really crap formats and now they're in these pristine formats, and it's really a treat to be able to get to listen to those finally. There's a question of whether or not Prince would actually want that, that's up for debate certainly.

Christopher Harrington: But as an enjoyer of his music — I don't want to say "as a fan." He never liked that term. Fan is short for fanatic, and with all the negative connotations therein. He thought of the people who enjoyed his music as family. And so you hear a lot of "fam" going on. And I like the term, I just… I find it a bit awkward. But it's true, we are one giant purple family and it's really wonderful. You want to have that direct connection. You want to be able to communicate with your audience and you want to get that vibe.

Christopher Harrington: One of the great things about being at a concert, Prince concerts specifically, is that he required you as an audience member to meet him halfway. You were required to get up off your ass and dance and have a good time and really enjoy yourself. He wasn't going to play for you if you were just going to sit there like a lump. He had no time for people who were just going to put their hands in their laps and kind of stare at you and say perform for me. No, he wanted you to be part of that concert because he gained energy from the audience's energy, and that was a positive feedback loop. And it's the same thing with any other creator.

Christopher Harrington: When I had Ruining It For Everyone, one of the best things was when we were able to chat with folks on Twitter, when it was decidedly less of a dumpster fire, we could hear from visual effects folk and professionals and really hear what they liked about the show and what they were talking about. And that caused our show to change, because we liked that conversation. We didn't start out creating a show about creators in the film and television industry, but it kind of turned out that way, and it was wonderful. They were our audience. They were hip to us, we got hip to them. It was a wonderful time. And Maggie and I — Maggie McFee, who's @tankgrrl on Twitter — when we started this whole thing, said, "we'll do this because it'll be fun. And when it stops becoming fun, we'll just stop doing it." And so the second it stopped becoming fun, we stopped doing it. It was great.

Christopher Harrington: Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Right now I've got some commitments that prevent me from doing that, but in another time I would certainly do that sort of thing again because I love creating and I love making things, even if it's kind of crap. You're sort of compelled.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, yeah. I totally understand. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: Got to got to do something. Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: Right now in my life that's too much going on. I can hold down my job and take care of Bill, but that's kind of it.

Brent Simmons: Well, caring for people you love is maybe the highest calling. So...

Christopher Harrington: I think so. At some point in time, I kind of had that moment of clarity where a lot of the stuff that I used to get bogged down in, I suddenly realized it doesn't matter. And I think I know what does really matter. And that's the thing that's super important to me and that's the thing I'm going to concentrate on. And so right now that important thing that matters is Bill.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

Christopher Harrington: I'm a third generation atheist. I don't believe in a heaven, but I do believe in a right now, right here, and I believe that we are all we have. And so if you can help someone out, do it. And that's what I'm trying to do.

Brent Simmons: Yeah. Well, and on that note of great wisdom, Christopher, thank you so much.

Christopher Harrington: Cheers.

Brent Simmons: So where can people find you on the web?

Christopher Harrington: So these days, the easiest place to find me is on Twitter. I am @octothorpe. And if you're at all interested, you can find the archived show of Ruining It for Everyone. Let's see if I can do this from scratch. "You're listening to Ruining It for Everyone with your host, Christopher Harrington and Maggie McFee." No, I screwed that up already. Oh well.

Brent Simmons: I'll make sure there's a link in the show notes, too, so people can click on it.

Christopher Harrington: Right on. I'm also the author of the Twitter bot, @shaboogiebot, which is a Twitter bot that spouts Prince lyrics every hour. It's non-interactive, but if you need a random dose of Prince every hour, that's a little fun.

Brent Simmons: Something probably everybody needs, actually.

Christopher Harrington: I think so.

Brent Simmons: And an hour may not be often enough.

Christopher Harrington: Exactly.

Brent Simmons: Well, I'd also like to thank our intrepid producer, Mark Boszko. Say hello, Mark.

Mark Boszko: Hello, Mark.

Brent Simmons: And especially, I want to thank you for listening. Thank you.

Christopher Harrington: Thank you.

Brent Simmons: Mmmmmmmmusic.