Chromecast vs. Roku. My opinion.

I’m what you call a “cord cutter”. We don’t have cable or satellite tv at home. We get the news online (via Twitter, for example), we watch TV shows through Netflix and we rent movies off the Google Play store. We’re saving a boat load of money this way, because it doesn’t sit right with me that we have to pay for channels that we never watch and on top of that, we need to watch commercials on the channels we do watch. Did you know that a regular TV show is filmed to be only 42 minutes? That means you’re watching 18 minutes of commercials per hour. The average commercial is 30 seconds, so 32 commercials are shoved down your throat in exchange for a half decent TV show.

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. I wanted to share my experience with 2 streaming devices that I currently own. A Chromecast and a Roku 2.
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Are you paying too much?

When was the last time you checked if your current cell phone provider has a better deal for you? Up until this morning, my wife hadn’t in well over a year and she found out that she could get a way better deal by simply switching to a plan higher. It’s a couple of dollars more per month, but she’ll get 4 times the minutes and double the data of her old plan.

That made me think: Do people shop for a better deal with other providers, without checking with their existing provider to see if they can get some loyalty discount? This doesn’t go just for cell phone providers, but also for internet providers, insurance companies, your bank or mortgage broker.
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It’s not so bad outside your comfort zone.

Comfort zones. They’re there to step out of.

I’ve been talking to people about comfort zones lately. I was fairly happy in my little bubble at my computer, but I knew there was more out there.

Story time

I met a guy on Twitter who followed me because I’m Dutch, and he has a strange addiction to funky, lame Dutch music (I think. I honestly still don’t know how we actually met.). We had a few conversations and when he mentioned that he was planning a trip to Holland, I jokingly said that he should bring back some “Drop” (liquorice) for me. He said he’d see what he can find, and I thought that was the end of it. Until I got a few direct messages from him, asking which drop he should get for me. He was in Holland, actually shopping for drop for me.
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Increased security is not always good for a developer.

I’m all for security. I would never recommend using one password for multiple sites, let alone 1 master password for all your sites. Security is a good thing, but it can get pretty annoying sometimes.

When developing a site for a client it’s hard enough not to confuse the client with technical jibber jabber, but with the rise of 2-step verification and increased security notifications, it’s getting almost impossible to avoid the “I have no idea what you’re talking about” from the client.

For example. Right now, I’m trying to add a latest Tweets widget to WordPress for an organization. I can’t avoid 1) using a wonky widget, 2) asking for the client’s Twitter password or 3) hoping the client knows how to create a Twitter developer app and create the API keys for their account.

Where does it end? Am I the only one with this issue and am I just not seeing the simple solution? How do you handle this?

[Edit Jan. 20] Oh, And of course, the client hasn’t entered a phone number in their profile, which means Twitter won’t do anything in development mode. Back to the client, I go.

Good morning sunshine!

You know the feeling: grumpy, drowsy, not wanting to get out of bed, blah etc. This is because you’re waking up at the wrong time.
We all have sleep patterns, and they go from heavy to light sleeping about 5 times per night. When you’re woken up from your heavy sleep, you’ll get the feelings described earlier. My wife tries to fight this by hitting the snooze button about 6 times in the morning.
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A podcast for Saskatchewan music talent

… that’s what I want to start.

Let me explain. I have a history in radio. Ever since my dad let me hang out in the studio he was working at in his spare time, I slowly got addicted to music. There’s not a single day where I don’t listen to music and I have a need for finding new music. When I got older, I still came to the studio with my dad, and I slowly got introduced to the tech behind the radio shows, filling in for audio techs when they couldn’t make it for their show, gradually moving towards the microphone.
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Beware of this scam

car-kijiji-scamTime to dust off my blog, because I feel the need to write a post about this.

In my area, I’m known as “the computer guy”, so I help out people here and there with their computer issues. Even though web designers can’t fix computers, I do this as a service to my community and it’s some money on the side.

Anyway. Today I was helping someone that has a vehicle for sale on Kijiji, and unfortunately became target of a scam. Instead of gutting their situation, I’ll explain the do’s and don’ts for posting an ad on Kijiji.
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Standup desk 2.0

Last year I experimented with the idea of the standup desk, and I gave up on the idea. I stuck with me ever since, and recently, I started investigating the standup desk again. I found several great options. One of them is UpDesk. A great solution. Slick looks, smooth up and down and the lowest price I could find. However, $650 for the crank-up version + $300 shipping made it still a fairly expensive option.

I also realized my laziness. I know I will get lazy after a while and just leave the desk in “sitting position” 90% of the time, which defeats the purpose. So, I started thinking backwards.

Why not have a permanent standing desk with a height adjustable stool. The stool doesn’t really have to be comfortable, because it’s just for the relief of the feet and back for a few minutes a day. That way, I wouldn’t sit all day, forces me to stand up and improve my overall health.

So, based on this article, I built my own, permanent standup desk for CA$61.10. I need to make a few tweaks after the first day of standing, but I can see this working!

Why is my desk triple the price of the one in the article? Well, I used a coffee table instead of a square side table, We don’t have an IKEA in the area, so I had to go with a slightly more expensive RONA version, and I bought screws ;)

Here’s the result!

standupdesk

I’m also going to invest in a stool like this and an anti fatigue mat. I tried my running shoes, but the sole is so thick that I’d have to raise the whole desk.

Also; Here’s the receipt of the stuff I bought:

Rona-Receipt

Burning bridges

One of the worst things you can do in your design (or any) business is burn bridges. Let me tell you about 2 short stories when I didn’t burn bridges that helped my business.

This first project was for a company that just started their business. They needed a website, and we provided this project for them. They were happy with the process and the end result. A few months later, they wanted to make changes to the site, and someone in the family said could do these updates. They were graphic updates to the site. Normally, the client would need to buy the copyrights to the files, but this person could do without the Photoshop file, so they got hacking away at the design of the site.
I felt kinda weird about this, because I thought I did something wrong. They assured me, I didn’t. They enjoyed working with me, but said they would like to keep work in the family if possible.
Today (actually, last week), over 2 years later, I get a phone call from someone that took over the business of the previous owner, asking if I could help them update their website, since we were the ones that had designed the original site. The original owner was serious when he said he enjoyed working with us and referred us to the new owner.

The second project was about a year and a half ago, where I was asked to design a logo for someone who was just starting a new business. There was no budget for a website yet, they just needed a logo. I over-reached and under estimated the project. I couldn’t make it work on time, and I couldn’t quite get them the logo that they wanted.
Instead of burning the bridge by sending them an invoice for the work I’ve done (and an unfinished logo), I took my loss, and we agreed that we would part ways, to maybe meet again in the future.
Right now, I’m in the process of planning their new website…

Moral of the story: Sometimes you have to just suck it up (either pride or money) for Karma to be nice on you. Don’t burn bridges. Your client might want to cross them in the future.

Project standup desk

Lately, I’ve been staring at my monitor being non-productive at all. As a business owner, that’s abad thing. Also, I know for a fact that my posture is not the greatest when I’m sitting.

At first I was looking into a new desk chair (like a nice Aaron chair), but I got the feeling that would make me just more lazy. I started researching alternative ways of working, and I saw a few tweets about people standing up while working. This seemed compelling to me. I’ve had experience with work standing up. I used to work in a telecommunications store, where we had work stations at standing level, but with my height (close to 6’5”), the workstations were always too low.
I came across Geekdesk.com, but I wasn’t willing to spend $1000+ on a desk that I might not even like, so, I came up with a solution: Search the house for items that are the right height to make a standup desk.

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