Andrew Wilkinson on Building a Lifestyle Business

Andrew Wilkinson talks about being In-N-Out Burger instead of becoming McDonalds. It’s quite encouraging to read something like this from someone who’s had so much success in our industry. Here’s my favorite part of the article:

Meanwhile, there are thousands of internet businesses out there, quietly making tens, and even hundreds of millions of dollars, who have taken the same path as In-N-Out. They don’t need to be first, second, or even tenth, in their space, and have instead chosen to focus on a small percent of a massive market. They answer to customers, not investors, and focus on making their employees, customers, and themselves happy.

‘On Productivity’

Brian Krogsgard:

I should admit something: I have almost no such hacks and I do not focus heavily on my processes and how to streamline them.

Now, I do think I’m a fairly productive person. I get a lot done during the day. Since I started my own business, I tend to balance the day with research, writing (which is what pays bills, if you will), customer support, site maintenance, and development.

I love this post by Brian. We can get caught up in all of these things that you “should be doing to be productive” instead of doing what works for you.

Pebble Pre-Sells its New Watch on Kickstarter

There are twenty-nine days to go, and Pebble has already made over $10 million in pre-sales of it’s newest watch: Pebble Time. Who says there isn’t a smartwatch market?

New Permalinks

Matt Gemmell writes a compelling piece on why we should ditch date permalinks. Joe Darnell did it, and now me too. Good riddance ridiculously long URLs!

The Verge Reviews Big Sean’s Latest Album

It’s the little things, the avoidable mistakes, that stand out on Dark Sky Paradise. It’s a great album, but it could have been a classic. It has all the ingredients; a capable artist, excellent production, a clear theme and direction, and the potential for multiple hits. This is the album that is supposed to propel Big Sean into the upper echelon of rap. He’s closer, but Dark Sky Paradise won’t get Big Sean a seat at the table. (Kanye, Drake, Jay Z, and Kendrick Lamar are sitting at the table. Sorry, but this is not up for debate. Your argument will not be accepted.) Big Sean is definitely on his way. He just still has some work to do.

A surprisingly great review of Dark Sky Paradise.

‘Deploy a Password Protected Jekyll Site on Heroku with Dropbox’

Dave Rupert:

At Paravel, we frequently run into issues where we need to share password protected sites with clients. We could setup some complicated post-commit hook/Capistrano system, or pin ourselves to a certain SaaS provider, but none of those have sat well with us and seem overly complicated.

We need a workflow that is flexible, almost disposable, and could even show a different “experimental” branch at a whim. We’ve come across something relatively simple that uses Dropbox to sync a Jekyll site to Heroku.

Such a good idea! Thanks Uncle Dave!

Post Status Reviews Layers by Obox

Brian Krogsgard:

I am definitely not on the bandwagon for page builders, though it seems the WordPress product world is. Where traditional options heavy theme sales have died away, page builders have risen from their ashes.[…]

I’m afraid, however, that end user “demand” may make it so whether I like it or not; but it won’t be for their own good. I think there is a better way. I think “page building”, as it seems we’ve standardized the term, is broken when too many granular design elements are allowed. Instead, I’d like to see content building, where structured content can be created with a tool, but theming and styles are still left to, well, themes.

Lots of things I wanted to quote here, but just go read this. Brian, as per usual, gives excellent insights.

Sponsor: Dot & Dash

Dot & Dash is releasing it’s first digital product called Simple Icons on March 2nd, 2015. Visit the website to download a free version of the icon set. The full icon set will be available for purchase on March 2nd for $11.

  • What is Dot & Dash?
    Dot & Dash is a brand focused on designing quality digital and physical products and was created by Erik Coon.

  • What file formats will I recieve when I purchase?
    The Simple Icons set provides these file types: Adobe Illustrator, EPS, PDF (for preview), and Photoshop. These are all vector based, and are infinitely scaleable.

  • 1-on-1 Support
    If you have a problem purchasing or have a question about the product, you will get fast and friendly support from the creator of the icon set.

Use the code simplicity on March 2nd, and get $3 off your purchase.


Thanks to Dot & Dash for sponsoring The Bold report this week.

‘Don't Snuggle Your Space Heater, And Other Tips For Surviving Winter’

Lauren Evans on Gothamist:

Your oven can be used for more than just storage! Pull out all the sweaters and board games typically shelved in your oven, and preheat it to 425 degrees. Insert a baking sheet lined with clumps of some sort of batter—it doesn’t matter what kind. What matters is that your oven is essentially a second heater, and will warm up your space accordingly. Depending on what you’re baking, it will probably also smell good! Unfortunately, you have to turn it off when your Baked Good of choice is done, or else it will catch fire and kill you or poison you with carbon monoxide.

A funny guide on how to survive the winter. I think many of us might be sick of it already, especially those in the Northeast.

A Great Reminder

Kennedy:

I took this as a friendly reminder that my job is not that bad, and I get paid a shit ton more than I should for doing something that won’t kill anyone.

The New Inquisitive

Myke Hurley has rebooted his staple show, Inquisitive. For years, he’s done some type of incarnation of this show, and interview after interview, Myke has always asked the right questions.

The new iteration of Inquisitive is absolutely fantastic. This show is an absolute delight in rhythm, in sound, and in editorial.

Here’s what Myke has to say about the reboot:

Making these shows has been an incredible amount of work, but I am so proud of them. It’s totally different in style and production to anything I have made before, and I am learning new skills as I progress. I think I’m getting better at it every day too.

I genuinely believe that my last five years in podcasting has taught me all of the base skills that I needed to do this, and ‘Behind the App’ is going to teach me what I need to know for the next five years.

It is my belief, that shows like Inquisitive, Reply All, 99% Invisible, and the unfortunately-on-hiatus For the Record, are the way of the future.

‘Another Week; Another Debate About Podcasts’

Stephen Hackett:

I’d rather people listen a little faster and consume more of our content than hear every single beat, as it comes out of Logic.

Personally, I don’t care how people listen to my shows as long as they’re listening. This sentence from Marco’s article, explains it perfectly:

I don’t want sugar in my coffee, but it won’t impact my enjoyment of my coffee if you put sugar in yours.

I don’t personally listen to podcasts at a faster speed, but who the hell am I to tell you how you should listen?

New Episodes of The East Wing

While I’m away in California, two awesome people agreed to guest host The East Wing for me, and they did an amazing job!

Last week, Garth Braithwaite talked with Sean Martell about how he got started at Mozilla, how he designs in the open, mentors new designers, and how he works with the Mozilla community.

This week, Liz Andrade talks with Nick Snyder about quitting your job, moving cross-country, and starting something new.

I love how much of their own personality they brought to the show. Thanks so much Garth and Liz!

‘Freelancing and Premium Beef’

Andy Adams:

Price changes aren’t easy, but if you’re ever going to break out of being a commodity freelancer, you’re going to have to be nervous. You’ll have to say goodbye to clients you love who can’t afford you any more. That hurts.

But you’re running a a business, not a friend-for-hire service. Clients will understand.

If you’re unsure about the way you’re pricing yourself, Andy offers some great advice.

People Still Read Blogs

Justin Jackson:

Yes, Google’s changes over the past 2 years have affected how people discover content. But I don’t think people have moved on to “dicking around in apps and snacking on bite-sized social content.”

People are still reading.

Justin’s response to Marco’s post is great and I agree with him. The way people are finding content may be different, but I think quality writing is still very much appreciated.

The end of Marco’s post, leaves a question in my mind that if answered, would’ve made the article a lot better.

If we want it to get better, we need to start pushing back against the trend, modernizing blogs, and building what we want to come next.

How do we push back on this so-called trend? And what’s involved in “modernizing blogs”?

Justin is on the right track when talking about email. In my opinion, the times of having millions of people engaged with your content is over. For the modern blog to be successful, nurturing your core audience and finding new ways for them to receive your content, are crucial.

The pageviews may be shrinking, but the opportunity for great content creators is far from over.

The New Web Ahead Website

Have you listened to The Web Ahead? If you work on the web, and you haven’t, you’re monumentally missing out. The Web Ahead is a great show where Jen Simmons talks to some of the smartest people in our industry, and sparks conversations about web technologies like no one else can.

The new website for the show is absolutely beautiful. She’s done such an amazing job. Designing websites for podcasts has become a bit stagnant, with most1 resorting to a cookie-cutter episode title, description, audio player, and show notes. Jen breaks the mold with a beautiful audio player, a more in-depth description of topics, and a transcript that actually looks good.

Take a look at the website, listen to the show, and subscribe. You’ll do your ears a favor.

  1. Including me, unfortunately. I’m working on this though. I’ll have something new to show you very soon.

Goals for 2015

Another year has come and gone. In an effort to keep up a good habit, it’s time to do a little reflection on last year, and set new goals for 2015.

I can’t believe how quickly 2014 went by. I feel as if every year seems to go by quicker than the last. Still, I was able to accomplish three out of five goals this past year, which I’m quite proud of.

Here were my goals for 2014:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Learn Rails
  3. Collaborate with Friends
  4. Mentor a Student
  5. Take Work-cations

I did really well! I lost 10 lbs in 2014 and managed to keep them off. This is still an area I need to work on and will be putting more effort into this year.

2014 was the year I built the CMS powering Goodstuff. Together with Will Duffy, we built this awesome system that makes creating new shows and posting episodes a breeze. With Will’s help, I’ve become more competent with Rails. I can handle my own when it comes to generating new migrations, creating new controllers, and I even learned how to integrate Stripe payments into a Rails app!

Last year, I complained that if I could work from anywhere, why wasn’t I? This was fixed by flying to Guatemala and staying a total of six weeks! It was an absolute blast, I rode the bus everywhere, got to see old friends and make new ones, went 5 days without water1, and even spent 3 days on the beach. I did all of it, quite cheaply. I’d definitely recommend it.

What do I want to accomplish in 2015? Here are my goals for this year:

  1. Lose Weight
    This stupid goal is on the list every year. But slowly, I’m making progress, and it needs to continue. I signed up for the gym in January,2 and thanks to my lovely fianceé, we’ve been going regularly.

  2. Learn a Javascript Framework
    I’d like to eventually become a designer who’s also a full-stack developer, and this is what I see as the next step in my development knowlege. There’s a lot of talk about Angular, Backbone, Ember, etc., and I’d like to know what’s going on here. I’ve heard you can create some really awesome applications with these, which is where I see my career heading as a whole.

  3. Sell More CMS Licenses
    Last year, I built a podcasting CMS. I also licensed it to three networks: the one I co-founded, Goodstuff FM, Relay FM, and Broken Buggy. I’d like to license this CMS to more networks who are in need of a powerful, yet simple system to manage their shows. This might involve creating some type of marketing site, but also might mean that I develop this into a SaaS.

  4. Better Sleeping Habits
    Sleep is so important. They say that when you miss out on sleep, you don’t ever recuperate it. That’s depressing. Either way, I’ve got to get better about getting to sleep earlier and waking up earlier. It’s not so difficult, and interestingly, I always feel refreshed when I do.

  5. Design and Build a Piece of Furniture
    When I was little, I’d work with my Dad building furniture for our house. My Dad has always interested in carpentry. We built my desk together, my bed, their bed, and many others. This year, I’d like to design and build something for my home. Admittingly, I’ll most likely need his help, but for once, maybe I can retain some of the knowlege he imparts.

Those are my goals for this year. What are yours?

  1. I know, I know. You must be thinking, “that’s horrible.” But it was actually quite interesting. We ended up buying water (the kind you get in those five gallon jugs) and using that to cook and shower. Although a slight incovenince, it was a fun part of the experience.

  2. Just like everyone does. And the gyms totally take advantage of this. They run this special for all of us “New Years Resolutioners”. They figure they’ll make tons of money of these chumps who’ll sign up and never go.

Review: Sonos Play:1

Sonos is widely regarded as a premier speaker system for your home. Their newest product, the Play:1, is their most affordable one, and could potentially get more people into the Sonos ecosystem.

First Impressions

  • The speaker may be small, but it’s loud. I was very surprised by the power of the small speaker.

  • The speaker weighs 4.08 lbs.1 Their is something about weight that makes me feel the product is made well, and will last.

  • The design of the speaker is quite beautiful, and really blends in with any type of decor.

The Sonos Play:1 from the top

Setting Up the Sonos

Sonos is very simple to setup, and you can do it one of two ways. The first is to connect your speaker via ethernet cable. I didn’t personally try this, but it seems simple enough. This limits where you can put the speaker, as it will need to be close to your router.

The second, is to purchase a Bridge with your speaker. The Bridge creates an independent wireless signal that is only for Sonos speakers. It allows you to easily expand your system with more speakers, and only limits the placement of the speaker by location of a power outlet. Recently, Sonos started allowing you to connect the speakers via WiFi, instead of needing a Bridge, which I think will only make it easier for the average consumer to get started.

I was very impressed by how easy this setup is. The instructions to set up the Bridge and speaker through the controller apps are simple, and in my experience, took less than 5 minutes.

Many people complain about connection issues with Bluetooth speakers; a problem I can identify with. Not with Sonos. I’ve had this speaker for over a year, with not one connection issue, and the delay between controller app and speaker is minimal, if almost non-existent.

Sound Quality

I’m no audiophile, but I know what sounds good. This speaker is spectacular. The bass is surprisingly impressive, with my rap/hip-hop songs playing beautifully.

The Play:1 could easily fill my previous studio apartment, and now still covers an impressive amount of space in the 2 bedroom house I’m currently in. Still, I’d love to have another just so I have one specifically for my horrendous shower singing.

The Sonos Play:1 from the side

Controller Apps

This is my biggest gripe against Sonos. As impressive as their hardware is, the software powering everything is less than ideal.

The iOS app was recently updated and looks beautiful. A huge upgrade from their previous app which looked like it hadn’t been updated in years. Finding and adding music services is a lot easier with the new app. The Mac app is pretty terrible. It does have support for the play/pause keys on the keyboard, which is nice, but has an outdated aesthetic, and could use drastic UX improvements.

The controller apps have support for music on the device, music on your Mac, and a variety of music services. But, the things I want to play aren’t always music. Sometimes I’m watching a video, or listening to a podcast, and so far, I haven’t found an easy way to do these things.2 It’d be nice to play whatever sound is coming from the device you’re on, but I don’t see support for that at the moment. From a technical stand point, I could see how this would be difficult, but honestly needs to be figured out.

I have a pretty varied music library, and a lot of songs aren’t mixed at the same level. When I’m at my Mac, it’s a bit easier to just reduce the volume, but I’m not usually near volume controls when using the Play:1, so the absence of powerful EQ and volume controls is a disappointment.

Is it worth the price?

For the quality of the speaker, I think $199 is a very reasonable price. You can’t go any cheaper without sacrificing in quality. Interestingly, you could pay more, and still not get the quality of the Play:1.

With all things considered, I would definitely give this speaker my recommendation. The sound quality is impressive, and the apps allow you to play audio from almost anywhere. For the price, you can’t get a better speaker.

  1. 1.85 kg

  2. The app does allow you to hook up to Sticher, so if you use Sticher (which I do not) to listen to podcasts, I guess you’d be set.

The East Wing: Jonathan Cutrell

This week, I talk with Jonathan Cutrell about how he got started, his new hit show Developer Tea, and the things no one wants to talk about when it comes to hiring and asking for money.

Episode is sponsored by Campaign Monitor and by my incredible patrons on Patreon.