Favorites of 2016

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It’s time for one of my favorite annual posts: my Favorites of the year. I usually start with some information on how my year went, but I had a lot more to say this year. I started a new blog with the first post being 2016 Sucked. But don’t worry – The title is tongue-in-cheek. I hope you like reading it as much as I liked writing it.

There’s one more caveat: for movie, I decided not to pick Rogue One. I loved it, but with a new Star Wars movie coming out every year I don’t see that selection being very diverse without the caveat. OK! Let’s get on with it.

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Trade Secrets to Help Build Something Wonderful in 2017

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I imagine building product is like building anything else. Let’s take a recipe for lasagna. Sure there’s a basic set of instructions you should follow, but everyone probably does it a little differently. Everyone has their own method for layering the pasta, or what sauce to use.

When it comes to building products, the same thing is true. The only difference is there’s no cookbook. There’s no set number of steps you can take to get from start to successful business. The best thing you can do is the same thing I do when I try to cook: talk to the experts*.

*The expert in this case is my Italian mother. Thanks mom!

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Not Everyone Needs a $10,000 Website (and that’s OK)

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Let’s set the stage. You want to take a trip to the Grand Canyon with your family of 4, but plane tickets cost $1000 each. Plus there’s the hotel for a week and food, not to mention other expenses. Instead, you decide to take a few extra days off work and drive there because it would save you literally thousands of dollars. What if someone told you that if you can’t afford to fly, you shouldn’t go? Now think about this: you just started a business and you know you need a website but you can’t afford a $5-10K one. Someone you know says they can make a website for $500 using WordPress and a page builder. Are you wrong for accepting that? I say no.

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You Don’t Need to Save Lives to Find Meaning in Your Work

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My wife and I do very different things. I sit in front of a computer all day, get to work pretty much the hours I’d like to work (within reason), and I don’t have to put pants on. Erin is a nurse, who works 12 hour shifts, taking care of the some of the sickest people in the hospital. Her bad day is much worse than my bad day. But when I say that, she tells me I shouldn’t devalue my work, and that I can still talk about my bad days to her; it’s not a competition. I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago, when in the Post Status community, we were presented with this question: Do you ever struggle with feeling like the work you do* isn’t meaningful (eg compared to doctors etc.)? How do you cope with that? The conversation was great with a wide range of answers. I’m lucky enough to not have to struggle find meaning in my work, and here’s why.

*This is a community made up mostly of developers and designers.

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Why Open Source is so Important

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This is the transcript I gave for the above talk. View the slides here.

Have you ever been on Spaceship Earth in Disney World? It’s “The Golf Ball” in Epcot Center and it’s one of my favorite rides on the property. If you haven’t, Spaceship Earth is not some crazy thrill ride like a roller coaster you’d find at Dorney Park. It’s a journey through the history of Earth; specifically how we communicate.

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Asking, How Did You Build That?

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If you visit Florence, Italy, visiting the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Florence Cathedral or  Il Duomo, is a must. From its completion in 1436 until the advent of modern-era architecture, it was the biggest dome in the world. Even better, it’s completely self supported. All without the help of modern technology. How?

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When You Freelance, Make Decisions & Stick to Them

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I almost called this one, “Trust and be Trusted, but don’t betray your business.” That’s the gist of the next two stories. It’s easy to make concessions when you’re freelancing, especially when business is slow. You need the work and you’re willing to bend your rules a little bit to move the chains, or bump the bottom line, or whatever metaphor you want to use for, “make more money.” But that might not always work out. I wrote this article in a notebook while on vacation, about 1 month before starting the book Start with Why. I’m happy to say this book reinforced the sentiments of what I’m about to share with you: When you make decisions for your business, stick to them.  Continue reading “When You Freelance, Make Decisions & Stick to Them”

Should we Charge Extra for IE Development?

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The exact question was worded this way: Has the time come to charge clients extra for getting their site to work in any version of IE? It’s an interesting question to say the least, and one that comes up every so often when a developer is frustrated with something that works fine in Chrome/Firefox/Safari but not IE. There’s not really an easy answer to this because it all depends on why this question gets asked so often. There is a difference between charging more because of a project’s complexity and charging more because you don’t want to deal with something.

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