So Many Paths

Life has so many paths with so many starting points and so many destinations. You started somewhere different than I and you want to end up somewhere different. Of course your path will be different than mine. Your path will be different than everyone else’s.

Don’t get caught up in the details of someone else’s success. Their details probably won’t help you. Try to figure out if the bigger pieces of their story make sense to you. If they resonate then try adopting them into your life. See how they work for you.

Don’t blame yourself if they don’t work for you. Some things will fit and others won’t. Not fitting indicates a mismatch, not a flaw.

You’re perfect the way you are.

August Daily Learning

Once again I didn’t do a good job of keeping track of my daily learning in August, but like June and July it was all about WWDC.

I made it through another 16 videos and have 14 left to watch from this year.

Once again I also spent time watching videos from previous years – this time to learn more about In App Purchase for a project I’m working on.

What Are You Asking For

If you are entering a competition, contest, or submitting something you created to someone else for approval, what are you asking for?

Are you asking for money? If so, is the money they are offering enough to do what you want to do? And is there some way you can create a very cheap version of what you want to make to help share your vision?

Are you asking for legitimacy? Do you fear you’re thing isn’t good enough? Do you want someone else, someone “who knows,” to tell you that you are?

Are you asking for publicity? Will more people see what you’re doing if you work with this group?

I believe figuring out what you are asking for matters. It matters not only to better know yourself, but also to better approach the problem of “how do I get this submission selected.”

The Initial Thrill Of Change

A few months ago I stopped using both of the alarm clock apps that I created. The one for Rdio broke due to a change they made in their API that I couldn’t respond to quickly enough. The one for music broke due to some combination of beta software on my phone and the debut of Apple Music. So I went back to the standard iOS alarm clock.

That alarm clock has one great advantage over either of mine – it doesn’t have to be set every night before bed. Not having to remember that was liberating sand I felt as though a burden was lifted off of me.

But the thrill didn’t last. That alarm clock lacks two features that both of mine have: playing a random song from a playlist and tracking the amount of sleep I’m getting.

I spent a chunk of time over the last week fixing my alarm clocks and making them better. Using them again instead of the built in alarm clock is a joy.

It is nice to know that while a little change was nice, I’ve made something that really does work better and brings me joy to use.

Do Real People Care

Being a technology nerd I surround myself with technology news and have technology need friends. That makes it hard to stay in touch with what real people value in technology.

For example, I know that real people – not just technology nerd people – care about their phone’s battery life. But I didn’t think that they knew enough about how their phone works to know that certain apps will use more battery than others. Today I downloaded the Snapchat app and saw the first two reviews both complained about it:

Snapchat Reviews About Poor Battery Usage

This is awesome. I love that people are holding developers accountable to better performance.

Time

We don’t have much time.

Every moment we get closer to losing everyone we care about. And each of them gets a moment closer to losing you.

But we can’t stand still and only spend time with them. We must move forward.

But we must also remember to feel the pain that comes with time slipping by.

And enjoy every moment of it.

Wordpress vs Bootstrap

The technology world is full of lingo that most people don’t understand. As a bilingual need – one that can speak both technology and human – I try to do what I can to fix that. For example, I answered a question today that I thought I’d share here, with some paraphrasing:

Q: I need a website and I heard that Bootstrap is better than WordPress for mobile. What are your thoughts?

My Answer: It is difficult to give specific advice without knowing your process for building websites, so I’ll discuss the options in general terms which will either be helpful or lead to more questions that will be helpful :). I’m going to try to explain at a Sesame Street level – not because I think you’re at that level but because I think it helps to get rid of assumptions that could get in the way of understanding.

To start, Wordpress and Bootstrap are two very different things.

Wordpress is a Content Management System (CMS) which is a fancy term for a system for storing content and sharing it with others. Content is text, images, videos, and everything else that you might want on a website.

Bootstrap is a “Mobile First Front-end Framework” which is a fancy term for a template of styles that are primarily meant to be used for websites being displayed mobile devices. Bootstrap also adapts the styles so that websites look right on desktop computers. Bootstrap is used in a similar way to a Wordpress theme – to change the way the website looks.

Everything Bootstrap or a Wordpress theme does can be done manually if you speak the right language. That language is Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) which is the fancy term used for the format of files used to change the styling of websites. Both Bootstrap and Wordpress themes are collections of CSS files that make the website look right on different screen sizes so the person making the site doesn’t have to do all the work themselves.

So Bootstrap cannot replace Wordpress because it doesn’t do everything Wordpress does. But it can be used with Wordpress, depending on your Wordpress skills. Some Wordpress themes use Bootstrap already.

The end result you want, whether using a Wordpress theme, Bootstrap, or manually creating CSS, is for the website to look good and be easily usable on all devices. This generally means large pictures are made smaller and multiple columns are made into one column on mobile. This will require looking at the site on different devices no matter what, but either a Wordpress theme or Bootstrap can do a lot of the work for you.

Numbers That Don’t Matter

Getting someone to show their “like” of something on social media is easy. It costs her next to nothing and may even give her a feeling of generosity – isn’t it great of her to like this thing? She’s so great!

But those numbers don’t matter. Turning a like into a sale is just about as hard as turning nothing into a sale. Getting likes is like eating a cookie or potato chip. It focuses your mind on that awesome taste and dulls your senses to everything else. You just want your high and doing good, hard work doesn’t give fill that craving.

So if you are fortunate enough to have someone devoted solely to social media, then the number of likes they get may be a good way to measure their success. But don’t think about it all the time. Don’t let it distract you from the real work. Put yourself on a diet.

Bottlenecks

Want to know a great way to make me want to work with you again? Don’t be the bottleneck on the project. What do I mean by that?

Let’s say we are building something and we each have a part that needs to be done. We’re building a dog house that needs 4 walls, a door and a roof. You’re in charge of the door and we can’t put the roof on until the door is done. You’re the bottleneck if we have to stop and wait for you to finish your door.

Don’t be that bottleneck. How can I prevent that, you ask? I’d be happy to share some tips.

1) Know all the interrelated parts of the project and what parts are dependent upon each other 2) Think about the least amount you can do to get your part ready. Do we only need to cut out the door and put hinges on it before hanging it and putting on the roof? Then do that first and worry about sanding and painting it later. 3) Anticipate how long your things will take and how long everyone else’s will. This is hard and takes experience both with what you are working on and who you are working with. Cindy and Beth could each have wildly different completion times.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are the bottleneck, sometimes you can’t help it. But you definitely get the gold star if you find a way to prevent it. And you get an awesome feeling of satisfaction when someone else tells you she is done with her part and asks you how quickly you can be done with yours and you say “I’ll have it to you later this morning.”

Knowing How It Works

In many cases, knowing that something works is as valuable as knowing how it works. Knowing that the sun comes up everyday at a semi-regular time is almost as useful as knowing how the celestial bodies are floating through space. Knowing that turning off a computer and turning it back on again makes things work right is almost as useful as knowing exactly what things in memory were causing an unstable system state. Knowing that adding a line of code to a particular place in an application makes it work in all browsers is almost as useful as knowing that that line of code changes how certain browsers interpret the site.

Just knowing it works is good enough until something changes and it doesn’t work anymore. Something is always changing. The sun will not come up tomorrow at the same time it did today. The way computers store their information will change (already has changed) and turning it off and back on again won’t always fix a problem. That “magic” line of code will only work in a couple of browsers and doesn’t do anything in the others.

In some cases you can get away with waiting until something changes to learn how everything works. Unfortunately, with the world being as complex as it is, this strategy can become overwhelming quickly when you have a bad week and have to figure out how 5-10 different things work at the same time. I recommend that most of the time you figure out how something works the first time you encounter it. Time doesn’t always allow that, but many times it does.

Every thing you learn about adds to a foundation and framework for you to learn more quickly in the future, building one block on top of another.