Due diligence

Someone I follow on social media shared a quote this morning and I disagreed with it.

Instead of quickly replying with my smart remark, I researched the quote, found the book it came from. Then, as luck would have it, I had a free Kindle credit so I bought the book and read the entire chapter to get the complete context. Now I agree with the quote.

Local Mayor wins re-election

I honestly don’t follow politics too closely, and I don’t know much about political science at all, but I found my local mayor race this year eye-opening.

The race came down to two men, the incumbent and the challenger. The challenger had signs on every street corner, he sent me 3 or 4 mailings, his name was everywhere.

I had a suspicion he was going to win handily based on signs alone. Yet, I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and the doctor and I started talking about it and he said that he heard they were spending all their money online.

That seemed pretty wild to me because to be honest my city isn’t the most tech-savvy. So I’m assuming it was all Facebook ads. I was actually very surprised to see the paper this morning and see that he won re-election.

If him moving to online to get out the vote really worked I have to say I’m impressed. My gut reaction was that would be a bad move on our small local level. Now I’d love to hear how it was really done and see if they just hired a firm to handle the online stuff or if something more grassroots.

At any rate, congrats Mr. Reid on your win!

Press Releases

Justin Tadlock writing for WP Tavern about the importance of Press Releases:

On occasion, I get a message that says something along the lines of, “Hey, you’re giving the big businesses too much coverage. How about throwing the smaller folks a bone?” That is a fair question. However, what is often the problem is that this news by a smaller company may not be on a particular publication’s radar.

Enter the press release.

This is where smaller companies should sneak a peek at larger companies’ playbooks. Large businesses often have entire public relations (PR) or communications departments. Sometimes they only have one person in that role. What those PR positions are doing is getting the word out, and they are making sure the publications within the WordPress realm know about their news.

Individuals or small companies need not hire someone for communications with the press. However, at least one person should serve as a representative and handle this role.

There are many things happening in the WordPress world on any given day. Even with a press release, there is no guarantee that WP Tavern or another publication will publish your story. There is a guarantee that they won’t if they do not know about it.

The whole post is worth reading especially if you are a small business. Just like Justin, I want to help your product if it’s in the Laravel space, and I can’t guarantee that I’ll cover your launch. However, your chances greatly increase if you can send a press release and the earlier the better. I honor embargo’s and knowing before the release gives us time to put your news in our weekly editorial calendar.

NaNoWriMo

It’s November which means it’s time for NaNoWriMo again. Every year I say I’m going to blog something everyday for the month of November since I’ll never write a novel.

Considering today is November 2nd and I didn’t publish anything here yesterday I’ve already failed, but I’m not going to let it deter me. I’m still going to try and publish something everything for the rest of the month. It could be anything from sharing links, to photos, to ideas.

If you’ve been wanting to start blogging more now is as good time as any. Hit publish with me.

AirPods Pro

airpods-pro.png

I bought the original AirPods on a recommendation from someone I trust, and it’s one of the best purchases I made. Those little things are amazing and I’ve gotten so much use out of them. When I first heard that they are coming out with a “pro” version I ordered a set and they arrived this week.

The first thing I noticed was how awesome the noise canceling is. This is my first headphones ever to have this and it’s a game-changer. If I knew noise canceling was this good I would have bought a set of Bose or something else many years ago. I was literally sitting at my desk listening to music and didn’t hear my family come home. It wasn’t until one of my kids tapped me on the shoulder and scared me to death that I knew they were in the house.

The other neat feature is the transparency mode. It allows sound to pass through but it’s almost like a sound enhancement. You can hear better with that mode turned on than you can any other headphones I’ve used. I like to ride my mountain bike while listening to audiobooks, and this mode allows me to still hear things going on around me better than the original AirPods did. I’m impressed.

Now, yes these are expensive, you can’t replace the battery, and whatever else people are saying, and I’m not an audiophile. What I can’t say is that other headphones aren’t as good because I haven’t tried other brands of noise canceling. But after just a few days I’m confident in saying these are the best headphones I’ve ever owned.

If you do want to get a set, you can save about $14 ($234.99) buying from Amazon.

Identity

Identity is your distinguishing character or personality. If you want to be known as a cat person, talk about cats. Want to be known as someone to avoid, only talk about the negatives. Want to be known as a jerk, be a jerk. Want to inspire, encourage others.

Your identity is how others see you, but through your words and actions, you can control the narrative. Now the hard part is stepping outside yourself and figuring out how the world sees you.

Mistakes

Every Sunday I send out a newsletter and right now it’s at about 35,000 subscribers. It just so happens I made an embarrassing mistake in today’s issue:

When someone first brought it to my attention I tweeted about it thinking it was a funny mistake, and since then I’ve had hundreds of emails about it.

Now I could feel bad about myself and think about what an idiot I am, but instead I choose to look at it as a positive. I’m thankful I have this many people that read what I write each week. A lot of weeks I think I’m emailing into the void, but this proves how mistaken I am with that outlook.

What is also funny is Monday is another big day for people reading the newsletter so I’m going to bed tonight expecting many more emails.

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This is a passage from Theodore Roosevelt speech The Man in the Arena, and I feel like it’s a great ode to all the creators. It’s so easy to get down from the peanut gallery of the world, and it’s nice finding great quotes like this to lift your spirits.

Framework Defaults

Sebastian Schlein on why you should stick to the default Laravel architecture:

Projects which are built by teams of developers and that take months to build, need to be easily maintainable. They should be easy to understand and follow as much default conventions as possible. Why? Teams change.

How do you prepare a project for changing teams? Stick to the most common standards and use boring technologies. So if you use Laravel, do not introduce an additional architecture on top of it. It takes more time to build this architecture, and every time a new developer joins the team, you need to teach your way of doing things. It takes time until they become productive, and if a deadline is near, you miss the opportunity of outsourcing a feature to a freelancer to get everything done in time. The custom architecture requires time to learn, and this is exactly the resource you don’t have at this moment. Goal failed.

I am of the same mind as Sebastian.  When I started with PHP, no frameworks existed, and as soon as I tried one, I was immediately hooked because of the advantage that any developer anywhere in the world, with knowledge of the framework, could jump in on day one and know what is going on. As soon as you start changing the defaults it adds even more overhead to the whole codebase.

It’s like going to your regular grocery store. It’s comfortable, you know where things are and can be in and out without much fuss. Then compare that with being on vacation where you have to visit a new grocery store. You can’t find anything, what typically takes ten minutes now takes thirty, and it’s super frustrating.

Sticking to the defaults also pays dividends on projects that are not long-lived. I have apps that are many years old that still work and only require the occasional bug fix. Because I stuck to the defaults I can quickly jump in, make the fix, and go on with my day. In apps where I’ve changed them, it feels like it takes half the day to relearn how it works and why it works.

I prefer simplicity, and the defaults are simple.

Local Elections

Early voting is in full swing in my area and I had the ability to go over my lunch break yesterday and cast mine. This year was short and sweet with only the mayor and three city council races.

I know we all focus on the presidential elections but these local ones probably affect you directly more than national races ever will, and these typically have small turnouts. So your one vote could potentially carry more weight. It’s definitely worth your time to research the local candidates and make your voice heard.

Angry Email

I send a lot of emails through my various web properties. I’d say at least 200 to 300 thousand emails each month. With this many emails, the likelihood of me offending someone is pretty high, and when someone gets triggered, they sure let me know.

I’ve found that if they are from a different culture, they may not even be upset. I am just using the wrong words and phrases. To them, what they are saying is perfectly fine, but to me, it comes across as tactless and offensive.

Other times it’s just a misunderstanding, and very rarely is someone just straight up being a jerk. That does happen, though, and I always just hit “unsubscribe” in the email they are replying to and go on with my day.

Outside of those people, the way I handle these situations is to respond in good faith, thinking they meant well and are not intending to come across rude.  So far giving the benefit of the doubt hasn’t let me down.

Command + Q

As part of my normal routine, I check Twitter throughout the day and I like to see what my friends are sharing.  For the most part, it’s pretty mundane, lots of programmery topics, people sharing personal things, the usual.

But some days I’m just in a weird mood and will see a few tweets that just trigger me. Before I respond and write something I’ll regret I just quit the app and get back to work. Then when I come back later whatever annoyance I had is usually lost in the shuffle. Unless I’m using the official Twitter app which keeps wanting to show “top tweets”, then I remember to open Tweetbot.

I know stepping away is nothing new, but based on the replies I get, many of us struggle with just not replying. We love to tell people how wrong they are, and how they should feel bad for being so wrong.

 

Pros and Cons

My kids want a dog, it’s all they’ve been talking about for a few weeks now.  As a kid, they can’t understand what all is involved in having a pet.  I told them to make a pros and cons list on having a new pet, and the only con they came up with is a puppy will chew on things. Their perspective was so skewed to what they wanted they had tunnel vision. 

If we are not careful we can get this same tunnel vision when we really want something.  It could be anything from starting a new side project to releasing something open source, or a new car, or even just spending money on stuff when we shouldn’t be.  

Too often instead of thinking through everything, we jump in feet first and then quite literally pay for it later.  Where if we would just slow down, think through the unfavorable factors we’d save ourselves lots of heartaches. 

Meetup’s Hostile Pricing Changes

It’s been all over my Twitter feed today about Meetup announcing big changes to their pricing. The way they currently charge is the user group owner pays a monthly/yearly fee for using the Meetup service. For me, this was a reasonable way to do it, but today they announced some pretty big changes to this.

Your new subscription cost is only $2 per month, or $24 per year. That means you’ll be saving at least 80% annually on subscription fees. This will also distribute costs more evenly between organizers and members. Members will pay a $2 fee when they reserve a spot at your event.

Members having to pay just to reserve a spot for your event is the part that many people are having problems with, and for good reason. Oh, you can wave that fee, but then you are responsible for covering the $2 per reservation. Now I don’t know all the stats on user groups, but from all the people I’ve heard from that run them, it’s hard to get consistent members attending. Now, this adds another hurdle to getting them.

It’s about time for all the user groups to find another service and my friend, Dries Vints, just announced a new app he is launching called Eventy.

Some of the things that you’ll be able to do with Eventy: manage user group members, RSVP to events, prepare your conference talks, submit to CFPs. And much more.

I’m super excited to hear about this new app today and if you are running a user group, join the newsletter and find out when it officially launches. I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of people wanting to move from Meetup to Eventy.

Announcing Made In Production

Made In Production

I’ve always been a fan of developer swag. Everything from shirts, to hats, and everything else. Secretly I’ve had a dream to start a site to sell shirts with nerdy puns and geeky sayings, but the time never felt right.

That was until a few months ago when Phil Sturgeon announced he’d like to sell Made in Production, and Matt Stauffer and I jumped on the chance to get it, and we are now partners in this business.

All the old existing designs are still up on the site and we plan to leave those up for the foreseeable future but will eventually phase some of those out. If you see one you like, you should go ahead and get it now, and if you are a fan of Laravel News we have one for it available now.

Our next plans with the site are to get new designs created, work with some open-source brands, and to have even more inventory. If you have any ideas for unique shirts, be sure and let us know.

Buggerino Logos – Hacktinkerfest

My second Hacktinkerfest logo design is now complete, and I just sent off the pull request to Buggerino, which is a native app for Android/IOS that allows you to interact with your Bugsnag account. Here are some of the designs I came up with:

buggerino-before-after
Outline and Colored Options

Here is the larger version of the final colored options:

buggerino.png
Buggerino Logos

As you can see, I went with the bug theme, and Jordy, the creator of Buggerino, said he liked the green and/or blue moth ones the best because of the combination of code and the bug. I’m partial to the blue one too if I’m honest.

These where a lot of fun to create and I hope Jordy gets a lot of use out of it.  I went ahead and exported all of them and sent them to his project so he could use them any way he wants.

 

One hit wonder

I had a single tweet sort of go viral, well, not super viral, just 4,500 retweets and 10,800 likes. But I would still assume that would bring in a lot of new followers but according to Twitter analytics I gained a total of 19 new follows.

Being a viral hit is overrated and brings superficial traction. The real fans are those that find you through the mundane stuff you post or share everyday. Those are the ones you want to interact with and invest your time into.

SILENCE

One of the best new settings that come with iOS 13 is the ability to silence calls from unknown numbers.  This can be found in settings -> phone just like the screenshot below:

3B5DB98A-9DFA-4D9E-B785-61949802A28D_1_201_a

Granted this is not much use if you expect calls from numbers not in your contacts, or if you are worried about people trying to reach you in an emergency. But for those like me who rarely get calls and is sick and tired from the constant robocalls, this is an awesome solution.

I’ve had it enabled for a few days now and it’s silencing close to 5 calls a day. I consider that a win.

Political Enemies

Food for thought… 

  • If you have a friend that aligns with the opposite political party, can you still be friends? 
  • If you have a friend running for office for the opposing political party, would you donate?
  • If you have a friend running for office for the opposing political party, would you help them campaign?
  • If you have a new neighbor with an opposing political party sign in their yard, do you go and welcome them?

With the United States having a two-party political system, everything feels like a competition, and it almost turns into a civil war. Family against family, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend all because people have different views on the best way forward.