‘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. 

‘What’s So Special About the AeroPress’

Shawn Blanc:

What really makes the AeroPress such a great coffee maker is just how versatile it is. There are a lot of ways you can use it.

For my cupboardfull of aforementioned coffee brewing contraptions, each one has only one best way to brew coffee. The AeroPress has at least three different ways to brew coffee: espresso-like, pourover-esque, and french press-ish. Each way is completely legitimate and delicious.

I love my AeroPress for the same reasons.

‘Quick Thought on Empathy’

Yaron Schoen:

Empathy is a muscle you must build, and the only way I know to build that muscle is through life experience. I would even go further and say that, unfortunately, experiencing hardship in life is the steroids to the empathetic muscle. Empathy is not something you learn at an expensive Manhattan design school, or at a hot Silicon Valley startup.

Why People Write on Medium

I just saw this post on UpThemes about migrating your content from Medium to WordPress. Now, I know that they’re just trying to sell their themes, but their comprehension of why people write on Medium is completely wrong.

Before I get into why they’re fundamentally wrong,1 I’ll go ahead and say that their reasons why you might not want to be publishing on Medium, are sound. I’m all for owning your content. However, they’re also telling you that you can have everything you have on Medium with WordPress, which is a lie.

People don’t write on Medium just because the reading experience is beautiful; the writing experience is too. WordPress continues to descend into more and more clutter, making writing with it cumbersome and a burden. Sites like Medium give the writer the ability to focus on writing and publishing, whereas WordPress does not.

Personally, it’s the biggest reason I moved over to Jekyll. Yet the average person doesn’t know how to create a Jekyll site, much less get it on to a server. You could go with something like Ghost, but then you need to know Node.js.

If your goal is to write, have a great reading and writing experience, own your content, and get your site setup quickly, you solution is definitely not WordPress. In fact, you’re attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis,2 because it doesn’t exist.

  1. And I promise that’s not even the point of this post. 

  2. The Big Bang Theory way of saying screwed. 

Chris Bowler on Ulysses

Look and feel are important to me when writing. Ulysses and iA Writer both do this well. But I must admit I like that Ulysses allows me to organize my writing, as well as write. Where iA Writer has to be used in tandem with Finder, Ulysses works on its own.

Scrivener has long been the tool that people recommend for writing long content on the Mac. We’re talking novel length work. But seeing as Scrivener is a bit odd in terms of UI and seems to be updated infrequently, I can see Ulysses challenging in this arena. Ulysses nails the Markdown experience and gives a very solid document management toolset as well.

Interesting non-review—according to Chris—of Ulysses. Seems there’s a healthy amount of apps in this space for everyone’s taste.