Support Local?

I’m in the market for a new pair of boots and wanted something that would last me the rest of my life. After finding a brand that came highly recommended I went out to buy them.

At first I decided I’d just get them online like I always do. I got the size I normally wear and placed my order. Two days later they arrived but I didn’t like the color, so I sent them back.

Next, I decided instead of reordering I should try to find a local store that sells them. Then I could get the proper size and the color I wanted. I went to the manufacturer website and found that a store just down the road carries them.

I arrived at the store and wondered around for a few minutes before flagging down someone that worked there. They said they don’t actually carry the style I wanted. I left annoyed.

The manufacturer website also said there was an “official” store in a neighboring town, about 35 minutes away. I didn’t really want to drive that far but figured it would save me some time versus ordering online and waiting. I went to the store and told the salesman, this is the style I want and showed him a picture. He said, we don’t carry those styles. Annoyed I left and went home.

Finally, I reordered a new color online and it arrived today. Now I like the color but the size feels too big. I’m at the point where I just want to throw my hands up and give up.

The moral of my story is always call the business first. Apparently, just because the store is “official” doesn’t mean they carry what you actually want.

I forgot how much I loathed shopping until this experience. Give me a browser and a buy button.

Pull Requests as a Content Management System?

After launching new sites I like to let them sit and then after a few months rethink how I created it to see if maybe I could have done it differently.

  • Could I have simplified things?
  • Could I have improved it?
  • What part of the design failed?

These are all questions I like to think about so the next time I’m tasked with something similar I’ll know which direction I should go in.

A site I launched the middle of last year is Laravel Events and I wrote about my thinking on how I designed here. I purposefully wanted to make the site as a simple as possible. After building it in a very complicated fashion I cam to this decision:

I had authentication, I had different categories of events, I had very specific time selection, and I realized all of those are overkill for this. Why can’t I strip everything down to a single list of upcoming events on the home page, then one form to submit your event. The only auth it needs is for the admin to approve and deny submissions and delete spam. Nothing more.

Now I’m thinking I still overcomplicated it. All the end of users of the site are developers and they are all comfortable with Git so I should have just used a static file system and allowed those that wanted to add their events to just create pull requests. This would have had the bonus of including a full audit log, and much more.

With this in mind I’d like to start today and redo the whole site, but I have a billion other things to work on. So it’ll not happen any time soon, but I think its fun to look back and see what you would have done differently.

Gone with the Wind

I have a hard time reviewing classic literature. I feel like most of the world has already read them and if not they can find much better written reviews than what I could come up with.

With that being said I just finished listening to the audio book of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and wanted to share some quick thoughts about the classic book.

First off I wanted to stop this book a few times, the selfishness of the lead character was insufferable. The book was released in 1936 and to me Mitchell was a brave writer to create a character so self centered. I was surprised how well it turned out and big props to her.

The second observation was how the book didn’t seem that foreign to me. As far as I know my family has lived in the south for at the least the last four generations, but it could go back much longer. My great grandfather/grandmother would have been around the age of Margaret Mitchell and their parents would have been in the period of the book.

You might think the book is ancient history depicting slavery in the United States but in reality it’s only about four generations back. Even less since segregation was abolished. In the grand scheme that isn’t much time and even though our country has a long way to go I feel like we have came a long ways since the 50’s and 60’s.

If you haven’t read this book yet I’d recommend it. It is one of the most read books for a reason. Once you’ve read it check out To Kill a Mockingbird which is one I enjoyed even more.

Strength to Love

Today we celebrate the life and achievements of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He is best known for leading the civil rights movement in 1950’s and 1960’s and was assassinated in 1968.

He is responsible for many great works and one I’d like to share today is from his book Strength to Love about loving your enemies:

We must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy. Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. A persistent civil war rages within all of our lives.

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath the impulsive evil deed, we within our enemy neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God’s image is ineffably etched in his being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God’s redemptive love.

The section reminds me so much of our current political divisions and neither side is innocent. We would all do well to remember that everyone has conflicting views, and everyone has thoughts that the culture hates. It’s what makes us each unique and looking at the world through someone else’s point of view can make us all stronger.

Work Journal – №1

My friend Adam Wathan relaunched his website a few weeks ago and a new section he added was a work journal. His goal is to share once a week some of the things he is working on, problems he ran into, and just a general overview of his week.

I love the idea and I wanted to “borrow” it for this site and every Friday I’m going to try to post what I’ve been working on and thinking about each week. Since I work a full time job I’ll only be talking about it in generic terms since we deal with a lot of well-known companies that might throw a fit if they get name dropped.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the first update.

Breaking the Laravel News server

Today I had some reports that the Laravel News site wasn’t loading and sure enough the server wasn’t responding. I couldn’t SSH in and from the server control panel I could see the CPU spiked to 100%. I did a reboot and when it came back up, it was throwing a 500. Checking the log files I had a weird message:

laravel.EMERGENCY: Unable to create configured logger. Using emergency logger

Apparently, during an upgrade I missed that I needed to add a config/logging.php file. After adding that I’ve not had any more issues.

Botman

At work we often will do custom integrations for customers and I’m currently tasked with building a Facebook bot that will automatically generate a new request in HelpSpot. I started on this integration and plan to use Botman with it’s FB driver. So far I have the bot basically working and Botman is really making this easy.

Drawing

I’ve continued practicing drawing and I’ve been trying to turn anything and everything into art. Here are some quick things I made with Infinity Designer on the iPad.

It feels a lot like learning to program. I’m terrible but I enjoy it so much I just want to continue making things. 

Until next week

It feels a lot like learning to program. I’m terrible but I enjoy it so much I just want to continue making things.

I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll be back again Monday with a normal post. If you ever want me to cover something or have any questions you can always comment below or shoot me an email.

Modern Business Books Are Just Filler

I have always loved reading business books and finding new ideas that I can put to use. Over the years I’ve read many different business books by many different authors and although a lot of the knowledge overlaps, most are packaged up and written in different ways to share new angles.

It seems like all modern business books, those released in the last two years, are nothing but a vomit of name drops of famous people and companies and how they do things. I’m sick of hearing about them. I know their stories, and I’m buying the book for your story.

This style must be selling well with the publishers, but I’m tired of the same content and all the filler.

Sending Email? Remind us who you are

I subscribe to a lot of newsletters and company marketing lists. I enjoy staying up to date through various mailing lists but a pattern I keep seeing is getting emails from companies that I don’t recognize.

Just today I received this one:

Happy New Year! We’re excited about 2019 here at {randomWordCompany}: there’s lots to do, and we have an incredible roadmap for the year ahead.

If they would have just reworded it to include their slogan or what they do I would have instantly remembered. For example:

Happy New Year! We’re excited about 2019 here at {randomWordCompany}, the best note taking app for your phone: there’s lots to do, and we have an incredible roadmap for the year ahead.

If you don’t email your subscribers often then use little things like this to help reinforce who you are. Think about reading a book series, every new book gives you little hints and reminders of what happened in the past to carry you forward. Your emails should do the same.