How feedback helps you become a better speaker

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Every talk you give can help you become better. You’ll most likely just hear positive feedback, because it’s let’s face it, it’s a bit weird to hear strangers give negative feedback when they’ve only hear you speak once.

It is better to just get positive feedback or to get positive and negative? It all depends on speaking experience and what sort of feedback is wanted. Meaningful feedback that includes details I find is always wanted so that the speaker knows exactly what they did well on and what needs work.

Should a speaker give themselves feedback? Yes, because then you can know what you covered in your time, what you felt needed work and what you did well on. Once you have that written down you can stop thinking about your own feedback and start reflecting on all the feedback given.

What you do with the feedback depends on you. You could collect it, trash it, then forget about it as soon as you get it. You could collect it, review it once, then never look at it again. You could also collect as much detail on the feedback as you can, review it multiple times, and use it to improve your next talk.

If you collect that feedback, how do you respond to it? You don’t need to directly respond to the person who gave you the feedback, you need to think about what and how you are going to change your next talk. It can get frustrating when you are trying to get better and it’s taking much longer than you expect or you don’t notice any change. The feedback can help you notice if any changes happen. Speaking isn’t just done in prepared, long talks. It can be done talking to some colleagues, at a meetup, or even explaining it to someone who isn’t normally in that space. There is the saying that the more often you do something, the better you get at it.

What happens if the feedback you get isn’t the feedback you want, or is negative? The first thing to remember is that it’s someone opinion, it’s not everyone’s opinion. If you need to step away after getting that feedback then it’s ok to do so, however, please don’t be mean to the person who gave you that negative feedback. After collecting it, take a moment to review it and try to see why that person thought that way. Was it because you didn’t give enough detail, or they didn’t think you hit the purpose of the talk? Take the time to incorporate some of that feedback into your next talk.

How’s feedback different if you present online versus in-person? When you present online the space in which you see someone is smaller and therefore the feedback is more limited visually to anything above your shoulders unless the speaker is standing up. The huge advantage of presenting in-person is that more space can be used, your entire body and the space of the speaking floor can be used. Does this mean you should always present in-person? I don’t think so, however when you present online you should take advantage of what online provides and remember you have a much smaller space to work with.

Does feedback help? Yes it does, it helps to see other perspective’s, to see what your audience thought because as a speaker you only see one side. It has really helped me to get feedback, to know what I have to work on, and what I do really well on. Without honest feedback I never would have improved as a speaker.

This is post number 92 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Where does your contact form results go?

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Many websites offer a contact form to contact the person or company behind the website. After submission, what happens to them and can the process be improved?

Most of the time the results are a email. Then responses usually as a reply or separate email. If you use a CRM or prefer another form of communication (rather than email), there is time spent inputting that.

How do you have it automate input, or go to your preferred communication method?

You need the contact form that let’s you do that

With many form’s (with plugins and companies that offer them) you need to find the one that fits your needs. Where do you need it to automate input, where does it need to go on your website, what’s your budget? You may find many that offer what you need or you may find one. This is most likely the longest and most difficult part. Make sure to try it out (either using a trial or free plan) to make sure it does everything you want and is easy to use.

Set it up to do what you want

After a trial, set it up on your website (test page to start), make sure to contact form looks how you want, and goes to where you want it to go. A test must happen, and not only on your website, but also in the system where you want the results to go. See how they look, make sure everything looks how you want it. It may need tweaking in the official integration, or using a third-party integration. Look at the limits for everything you are using, as you don’t want to go past those limits and not get the results.

Make sure everyone knows how to get the results

You could be setting it up for yourself, or a company. You should make sure it’s set up so that everyone knows how to get the results. Send a test message to make sure everyone has the required directions, and what to do after receiving it.

If a new system is in place, reminders are helpful for anyone who doesn’t often check it.

Organize the results

You may want to organize the results so that everyone is aware of the progress. This depends on where the results are going into and what flexibility it offers. Always better to leave notes to remind anyone of the progress and anything else that should be known about that contact.

Don’t be afraid to make changes if needed

After having everything in place for a while, there may be a need to improve or adjust. Make changes that make sense for the most amount of people. Test everything and get questions answered.

Has your efficiency improved? It most likely has after a period of time. It’s all part of the learning process and finding the right tools for your needs.

This is post number 91 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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What if WordPress Didn’t Exist?

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Inspired by a post by Kev Quirk, where one of his readers asked what he would use if WordPress didn’t exist. Instead of answering that for this website, I want to show how my life wouldn’t be what it currently is without WordPress.

Currently I contract for Groundhogg which is a WordPress plugin, and all of the sister companies (I’m not sure if they are directly owned by Groundhogg which is why I’m saying sister) are all WordPress plugins as well. So that would be no money currently come to me if WordPress didn’t exist.

The first client I worked for when I became a business owner, I transitioned the site to WordPress. If WordPress didn’t exist I wouldn’t have gotten that first gig or I would have transitioned the site to a static one. Which may have been a good thing because there were constant attacks against that site, but it would have been harder for the client to update it.

I would probably still be doing websites, just probably static sites if WordPress didn’t exist. Before I used WordPress on this website I had a custom static site, which worked until I discovered WordPress and it made it a ton easier to update.

This is post number 90 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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What working in customer service has taught me so far

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I’ve been working as a customer service agent for what has felt like forever, but in reality it’s been less than one year and there are many things I’ve learned so far and that I wish customers knew.

This can apply to anyone who works in any sort of customer service. And if you are someone who is contacting customer service then please remember these things and your experience will be a lot better.

Be nice to those who do customer service

Don’t be mean or yell at someone just because they are trying to help you. It’s understandable to get frustrated but don’t take it out on the customer service person helping you.

Have patience

Submit a ticket (or do whatever you need to do in order to contact customer service) then have patience while someone understands your issue and works on a solution. Sometimes a solution or answer can come quickly, other times it may take a ton longer.

Been a couple of weeks and not heard anything, ask

I know I said to be patience earlier but customer service agent may forget about you, so a gentle reminder asking about progress is nice to have (both for you and the service service agent).

Providing step by step is helpful

Sometimes knowing step by step of what you are doing is helpful for the customer service. That way they can see how you are doing it, it can be done written, screenshots, or even video.

Make sure to still include enough written (or vocal if you are talking on the phone) that the customer service agent can still help you without having to open the screenshots or video.

Asked to fill in a form for something? Then do it

The company you are contacting may have certain procedures and rules in place to ensure things are seen by the right people, and may ask you to fill in a form to get that to them. Please fill in that form, don’t complain to the customer service person who gave you that form. You also most likely don’t need to tell them when you have filled it in.

Don’t respond after the ticket is closed, unless you still need help

Tickets can be opened and closed. The person working in customer service may think you no longer need help and close your ticket. If you don’t need any more help related to that then you don’t need to say thanks or anything like that (even thought it’s appreciated, instead talk about the positive experience with someone or on social media).

If you feel you still need help, then you are welcome to re-open it and continue to get help.

Need help on a specific thing then provide a link

The customer service person can help you a lot faster with a problem if you provide a link to the specific thing you are having a problem with. That way they can directly go to the problem and start working, rather then having to find it the specific thing then work on a solution.

Issue on your website? Provide a admin login

If the issue is having on your website then provide the customer service with a admin login to it. That way the customer service person can start right away on solving it.

And make sure the customer service person won’t be blocked in any way if they try to login. Because that’s just more time waiting for you to get back to them.

You are welcome to ask for clarification or questions

There is no shame in asking the customer service agent for clarification on something they said, or something that the company has put out. The job of customer service is to help you make the best use of their product for your needs.

In general, treat the customer service person like they are a person, and has a job, and they will help you.

This is post number 89 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Is Privacy Dead

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What I want you to do after you finish reading this, is email me every single login you have. Not just the nice and respectable ones, but all of them. Because I want to be able to go through them, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.

Glenn Greenwald who is a famous journalist and speaker has said that to every single person who has told him that they have nothing to hide. Not a single person has taken him up on that offer. And that offer stands for anyone reading this.

We all have something to hide. We all want privacy.

That is why you close your curtains when it gets dark, why you lock your front door, why you have passwords on your accounts. Because we don’t want everyone to be able to see it.

People who are famous can afford privacy, that is why they have security guards, why purchase huge mansions, and why most people don’t see them. It isn’t just about online security, it’s also about physical privacy.

Let’s say for a minute that I can know where you physically are at all times. With that information I can find out where you live, where you work, where you buy food, what your favourite restaurants is and so on. That not seem that scary to some people. But with that data I could impersonate you, I could read what you get in the mail, I could redirect your mail to somewhere else, I could get new credit cards in your name, I could do a ton more and that’s just physical access.

What about virtual access? I could order a SWAT team to your house, I could shut down all the accounts in your name, I could make you bankrupt, and a lot more.

I promise I won’t do any of that, but that phone you have, knows where you physically are at all times. While the phone itself might not do anything, what about the apps installed on that phone? They could do many of those things I mentioned without you even knowing.

Do you trust everything on your phone 100%? I know I don’t. Most people don’t know all the apps that are installed on their phone. Phone companies are becoming more aware about the need for privacy, Apple and Google both require you to approve permission to such things as your contacts or your location before an app gets it. Before this was put into place, any app on your phone could get all that information when you installed the app.

There are some countries in the world where you don’t have any privacy, China is one of the major ones. With their social credit score system, if you don’t do the right thing you could lose your high-paying job, not be able to travel, have slow internet, and a lot worst. Not doing the right thing could be littering, or crossing the road somewhere that isn’t an approved spot.

Privacy is alive and well. We all have our own level of how private we want to be. You will feel overwhelmed if you decide to start caring about your privacy, start by taking one thing at a time, and asking questions about what you care about and what you want to protect.

And remember that if you still don’t care privacy, please email me every single login you have, so I can read them and publish whatever I find interesting. Besides, if you don’t care about privacy, you should have nothing to hide.

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Highs and Lows

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Life is a roller coaster. There are times we are at the absolute top and there are times we are in the lowest of low’s. When you are at the top you feel great, you feel like you could do anything but when we hit that low, all we want to do is nothing.

Why does life have all these highs and lows? I’m not a psychologist which means I can’t give a detailed and scientific reason why, I can only give my suspected reason why.

I suspect it’s because life would otherwise be boring, there would be nothing to look forward to, or nothing to look back on and wish you did it differently.

When I say highs and lows, what exactly do I mean? A high is a high point in your life, which could be a new job, getting married, having enough money to buy what you want. We all have our own view of a high point, and there is most likely a high point that you right now are looking forward to. A low point is the exact opposite, something that has happened at the lowest point in your life. For some it could be getting fired from your dream job, having to move back in with your parents, losing a loved one.

You may have a temporary high or low, like looking at someone and realizing how you want so much of what they have. Or having someone you know going into the hospital for an extended time. A temporary high or low isn’t forever, it’s usually for a shorter period of time. That period can feel like forever, or not have an end date in mind.

Life is so unpredictable, one day it could be the first day at your dream job, and the next day you lose a loved one. Many have said life is unfair, there are many highs and lows and we love the highs but hate the lows.

What should you do when you are at that high? It depends where you are in your life, for some it may mean insuring you are financially sound, for some it may be taking a vacation, you have to decide.

When you are at that low point, it’s hard, I know, I’ve been there. I would encourage you to reach out to close family, friends or a medical professional. Find someone who wants to help you.

Ultimately, life has highs and lows, and while we may not like it, it’s part of this thing we call life. You won’t be at that high or that low forever, be prepared for when change happens and make sure you have people who can help you.

This is post number 88 as part of 100 Days To Offload. The featured image on this post is posted by Jonny Belvedere on Pexels.

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Why I chose Fathom Analytics vs all the other analytics products

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Disclosure: At the time of writing, I’m a paying customer and affiliate of Fathom Analytics. If it say’s Fathom Analytics on this post then the link is an affiliate link, in return for using my link you get $10 off your first invoice and I get a commission. They didn’t ask me to write this post, I’m posting this to share my honest point of view and why I like Fathom.

With many companies offering analytics, I found it hard to decide which one to use, and after some research I’ve gone with Fathom Analytics. There are many reasons why I have, so this will mostly be a positive post.

Fathom does something I have seen almost no other analytics company offer, if someone is located in the EU then their data is processed on a EU server (owned by an EU company) and if not then processed on a US based server. Which makes Fathom in compliance with the Europe privacy laws.

How does Fathom know this is in compliance with Europe privacy laws? They have paid lawyers and privacy officers to review and ensure they are complying with any privacy laws. Most analytics companies will either require you to configure a bunch of settings, or don’t pay people to read the laws to make sure compliant with privacy laws.

Fathom also uses a CDN (bunny.net according to their data processing agreement) which makes it much faster than other analytics companies that only have one location. This will mean no matter where in the world a visitor is coming to your website, the analytics won’t slow down the loading of your site.

What about the struggles and successes that a company goes through? Should that be shared with their customers and the public? Fathom says yes it mostly should, they have shared about a DDoS attack, their journey to EU isolation, what happened to their infrastructure when one of their customers went viral, when Jack started working on Fathom full time, from almost shutting down to triple their monthly revenue, and they have much more on their blog.

With Fathom I don’t have to host it myself. While some people love self-hosting everything they can, if you self-host you have to worry about updates, making sure it’s secure, and that isn’t worth the time or frustration for some people.

Fathom is purposefully trying to be simple and easy to use, and while someone can dive deep into details they don’t have to if they want an overview.

Fathom is run by people who I feel can be trusted. The co-owners put their name’s on the about page, this isn’t the first company each of them have worked on, and they are making a profit.

One criticism of Fathom is that they use Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Hetzner for their infrastructure (according to their data processing agreement). Both of which are fairly big companies and by using them and providing them money they will keep growing in size. And yet I understand why Fathom uses those companies, because they already know how to handle tons of customers and Fathom can expand quickly without having to move to another company.

With all the advantages it has, Fathom Analytics fits my needs right now, and I would encourage you to try it out.

This is post number 87 as part of 100 Days To Offload. The featured image on this post is posted by Lukas on Pexels.

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Goodbye Twitter posting

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Today (April 25th 2022), Twitter announced Elon Musk will be buying Twitter and taking it private. What does this mean for Twitter and myself on Twitter?

I will make one last post on Twitter that says I’m going to stop posting and including a link to this post then I’ll stop posting. That includes public tweets, and mentions. I’ll try to also include DM’s but can’t guarantee it.

Why? Because I hate Elon Musk, if you search online for (i)criticism of Elon Musk(/i) you will see many things he has done in the past. I don’t agree with him also owning Twitter and have decided that the best thing I can to is to stop posting.

Where will I be going? I’ll be posting more and reading more on Mastodon. If you already have a Mastodon account (on any instance) then follow me, I’m @g@nerdculture.de. If you don’t have a Mastodon account then you can create one on any Mastodon site that has open signup. There are ones listed on joinmastodon.org or instances.social. Then in the search box, search for @g@nerdculture.de and click follow.

I’ll still be reading posts on Twitter but I’m going to do my best to do less reading, and not liking, or replying to posts.

What does this mean for Twitter? No clue, there will be less people using it but long-term I have no idea and I don’t care.

There are many ways to get in touch with me, Mastodon or any other social media site I have listed on my site. I’m also on Telegram or Signal (email me for this information). There is also email.

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Video essays could also be blog posts

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If you have seen those 10+ minute YouTube videos about a topic then you have watched a video essay. The definition of a video essay (according to StudioBinder) is a video of any length that talks about a specific topic, theme, person or thesis.

Usually these videos are posted on YouTube but they can also be posted anywhere that allows videos. The creator of these video essays usually publishes the video then they move onto the next topic / video, but more creators should think about making a blog post with their essay.

The blog post is most likely already written out since it has to be written it out for the video. Some creators may not have written out anything but for most people it sounds better if they can write it out and edit it before recording. Instead of keeping that written content on the computer, or deleting it, publish it for everyone to read.

It can help to improve the writing of the creator. The creator can notice how often a word is used, or any spelling errors. If the creator accepts, they can have readers also point out any errors so the creator can get better with writing which will improve their video as well.

Having a blog post helps the creator to be more visible. Someone may not search for a video or may not want to watch a video, and by having a blog post the creator can get more people interested in their content.

While a blog post has tons of text, it also have pictures and video included. One good example of this is Orlando Parkstop. The creator may have to learn how to format the text by including italics and paragraphs to make it more readable.

If the creator doesn’t have a website where would they post this blog post? It all depends on where their community is, or where the community around the topic is. It could be a YouTube community post, on Reddit, or many other places that allow you to blog.

This is post number 86 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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What are you doing for others?

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Martin Luther King Jr. has been quoted in saying ““Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

We have a ME FIRST culture, where we want to be served before someone else, and we don’t care about anyone around us except our family and our close friends. Think about the last time you stood in a line, you most likely didn’t let someone go ahead of you. Think about the last time you donated to a charity, did you do that because you want to, or because you felt forced to?

Why do we do this? Because each of us have so many things going that we don’t tend to think about someone we don’t know. And because all of us are conditioned to be distracted on our phones or by another means that we don’t get time to think and be quiet.

How can you start doing something for others? One example is when you see someone in a grocery store trying to reach something, instead of walking right pass them, ask them how you can help. They may not want your help, and that’s perfectly ok, at least you offered help. If they ask you to do something, and you can do it, do it without expecting something in return. And don’t do it just to tell others you did it.

I mentioned a bit about charities early, and everyone has their own feelings and thoughts about certain charities, and that’s ok. Go help a local charity in some way, it doesn’t have to be just with your money, it can also be with your time, or you can also help do a fundraiser for that charity. Ask them how you can help them, and see if you can find a way to help.

In a pandemic, charities may not want you inside their facility, and there usually isn’t many people out and about. How do you do something for someone else then? Sometimes you may find opportunities, for example in early 2021 in the capital of Canada there were protesters, a few of them harassed staff at a homeless shelter to give them food. This made national news across Canada and a few weeks after it happened the charity said on social media they had gotten around $75,000 in donations from people around the world.

Shepherds of Good Hope posted on social media that said "Shepherds of Good Hope is so grateful to the more than 13,000 people who donated to us over the past 2 weeks. As a result of your generosity, we have raised approximately $750,000. Along with the post is a video.
Proof of social media post that the Shepherds of Good Hope put out.

People saw the opportunity to help a charity that was struggling a bit and without being prompted by the charity or anyone else, they decided to give a bit of their money. That is doing something for others.

A number of years ago I heard about something called pay it forward.

There is a book that was turned into a movie with the same title. It’s all about doing a favor or helping someone and instead of paying you back, tell them to pay it forward to three other people. Why? Because people expect to be paid for the help they give and by telling them to pay it forward, it shows that you care about helping someone.

How can you pay it forward? For starters, small businesses have been struggling during the pandemic and while you may not be able to afford spending money there, telling others about that business can help them. It could be done through social media, or any other way.

Many of us are on a computer right now and we can get it to help with scientific projects like cancer research without spending the time or money ourselves. You may asking yourself how? The researchers decides what needs to be researched, then each computer takes a very small portion of that research, finds the result and sends it back to the researches. There are many of these projects out there, some of which are geared towards specific things. The most well known ones are folding@home, rosetta@home, and world community grid.

What are you doing for others? It could be helping someone in a grocery store, giving to a charity, paying it forward, promoting a small and local business, or helping out with scientific projects. These may not take a ton of your time or money but they are just a handful of things you can to help someone.

This is post number 85 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Don’t say something is simple

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Simple, simply, just to, easy, quick, straightforward, idiot-proof, clear-cut, are all words that can be said without too much thought because you may think the task at hand is easy.

What you may think is easy, isn’t for someone else. Someone may have no clue how to do that.

You also have to think about who your target audience is, is it someone who is an absolute beginner or someone who is an expert.

Where is this being read, if it’s an help document you want to be as step by step, plain as possible. That way anyone can read and understand it. If it’s an blog post that is considered an expert then tweak the wording so they can understand it in their own language.

One big note about target audience, you may have a different idea of who your target audience is, then who they actually are or who is actually reading it. An example is if you are trying to level up your programming knowledge and you want to learn a new programming language which you have to install on your computer. The readme instructions are written for someone who already knows how to install and needs a refresher. They aren’t written for someone who is brand new to it. Consider writing multiple versions so that just about anyone can do it and provide ways for someone to get in touch and be willing to work with someone who has no clue.

How do we stop saying easy? I’m not sure, but I do know we have to remember that what’s easy for you isn’t easy for someone else.

This is post number 84 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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How I’ve cut back on social media

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Nathan DeGruchy and Ru Singh both have written great posts regarding social media, and I thought I would give my thoughts on how I was addicted to social media but have since cut back.

I used to be addicted to social media, Facebook, Twitter, Mastodon, you name it I’ve probably spent some time there. Why? Because that’s there my friends were, where I was entertained and where I could spend my time (I had a ton of free time). I also tried new social media sites, sometimes because cool people were on there, or sometimes just because. I was addicted because there was constant notifications, or just something else to do there.

I have since cut back, I closed a number of accounts, and all the accounts I still I have, I spend less time on them. Maybe an hour a day in total, I know for some people that is still a ton and I could definitely cut back more, but for now it feels like the right amount.

With checking social media less, people have grown accustom for me taking longer to respond if they contact me through there and if it’s urgent there are other ways to get a hold of me (it mostly likely isn’t urgent). I feel freer, and I have the time to do other things (like write blog posts).

Take some time away from social media, you will live, and your “followers” won’t care that you’ve taken time away. Still feel addicted? Then consider reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport which will change your view.

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Should you use 2 dns providers on your website?

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When you have a website and you look inside the dns entries you may see multiple lines but for most websites all those entries are the same company. Most people don’t change them unless they want to move their dns to another provider, or they want to have multiple dns providers. But why do some sites do that but others don’t?

Many sites don’t do it because it’s different.

It does take time to find the right second dns provider and set up both dns providers.

This is because some dns providers don’t support having a second dns, or don’t want to be the second dns. So this requires research and looking around at multiple companies to see what they offer. The reason I know it’s difficult is because I ran into difficulties setting it up for this website.

Many websites also don’t do this because it only helps someone who is visiting your website for the first time.

After someone goes to your site for the first time the dns results get stored (they get stored with the dns provider your visitor is using). But it can be very helpful for a website who gets lot people coming to their site for the first time.

Most website owners (or companies) don’t think about their dns provider going down and don’t want to think about or cost of, setting up a second dns provider.

Now why should you use multiple dns providers?

When that one company goes down then the entire website is down with no way to reach it. Moving the dns to another company lessen the chance of the entire website being down.

One dns provider may be better than the other.

For example, your website host may have servers that handle their dns but they also process your website and every other website on the server, and by adding a second dns provider you can make it faster for someone to get to your website.

How is it faster?

Say you decided to use Hurricane Electric’s DNS, they have tons of servers around the world and they make sure they have processing power and tons of bandwidth for your dns. Especially if you choose a company that already has many websites using it for their dns, it will make a ton faster to find where your server is and tell your visitors. Because the entry will be stored in the server that serves dns.

Does location matter?

Location does matter, because you could have a new visitor to your site from the other side of the world and if all your dns records are stored in your country then they almost have to go to the other side of the world just to get your dns records then bring them back which will add time. But if your dns provider has a location in the same country then it will make it faster for them to see your website. Usually the more locations the better, but you want locations that are spread across the world, not just in highly populated areas.

You may also want to use multiple dns providers because it provides a challenge for you. You get to learn more about your dns providers, what dns company you should use for a secondary, how to set up a secondary dns.

There is a major reason why most people don’t do this, because they don’t think their dns provider will never go down.

Dyn, Akkamai, Amazon, Cloudflare have all been down at one point. Every company will experience an outage at one time, no company can guarantee 100% uptime, and even 99.99% uptime is down around 52 minutes per year. A secondary dns will keep your website up as long as the hosting is still up.

What company should you use for the secondary dns?

You want to look for a company that offers secondary dns (some companies call it backup dns), along with their pricing, and any other features you want. You should also make sure that the company you are currently using as your dns let’s you have a secondary dns, as some don’t (also known as having a slave dns). If you don’t know what company to choose then you can do a search for secondary website dns (or also known as backup or slave dns) and you’ll find a list of different companies.

After you setup your secondary dns it will take time before the world knows about that secondary dns. Some website professionals say it’s because of propagation, which is technically incorrect. You are waiting for the dns entries to expire. Within dns there is a ttl (time to live) which tells every dns provider how long to hold the results before requesting a new one. When that expires it goes to the company you use for dns and requests the list again. It also won’t be complete within 48 hours since each company can decide on their own how long to hold the results for. Instead of rewriting what Julia Evans has wrote about this I would encourage you to read her post on this on her website.

Now with your second dns provider set up, people to your website will appreciate how much faster it is. While they may not directly thank you, they most likely will notice it.

This is post number 83 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingShould you use 2 dns providers on your website?

eBook or physical book? I’ve read more with eBooks

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There is a huge debate on physical books vs eBooks, there are positives and negatives to both and I’ll leave links to some at the end of this post but once I started using eBooks, I read more than when I read with physical books.

It is easier for me to get eBooks, I go online, search for the book and buy it, than I have it. I don’t have to drive out to the local bookstore, either look through the shelves or ask a staff member where a specific book (or the genre) is, then pay for it, then get back home and start reading it.

eBooks take up less space on a bookshelf than a physical book, which means I can store more eBooks than can fit in my bookshelf. If you have physical books then you have a limited bookshelf size before you have to swap out books in order to keep reading other books.

eBooks are also lighter, no need anymore to lug around multiple books that range in weight, you can fit thousands of books on an e-reader and the weight doesn’t change based on how many books you have.

Both eBooks and physical books let you highlight and create notes. The major difference is that with eBooks you can remove the highlights at anytime (unlike physical books where you will either have to destroy the sticky note or get a new book), and being able to edit or remove notes without running out of physical space.

Wonder what a word means? If you are reading a physical book you will have to stop reading and go find the definition. On many e-readers you can select the word and the definition will come up.

Want to read without turning on any lights while it’s dark? e-readers can do that as long as you have a charge (some of the devices will last multiple weeks on a single charge, as always it depends on how long you read and what your brightness level is).

With physical books the text size is the only size there is (you may be able to get a large print book but then you have to buy another book and it may not be available), with eBooks you can change the text size to any size you want (limited to the size of the screen).

There are always disadvantages to owning something digital, you don’t “own” the eBook but there are ways to remove it if you where to look online (some authors and publishers do release their books drm free, however if a book does contain drm there are ways to remove it, none of which I’m explicitly telling you how to do so, I’m simply providing information surrounding it).

Some authors of physical books do take the time to make their physical book special, one such book is The Every by Dave Eggers, who is releasing the book with at least 32 different covers. The hardcover of the book is also only available from independent bookstores. Other authors do take extra time with their eBook by providing annotations in-line (as opposed to having them at the end of the chapter or end of the book). Most authors don’t take the time to do anything special for their different editions, but when they do it’s a nice touch and it encourages readers to buy their book.

Extra reading regarding this:

Ebooks are an abomination – Ira Bogost for The Atlantic

How libraries acquire books – Rob Hart for LitReactor

Publisher worry as Ebooks fly off libraries virtual shelves – Aarian Marshall for Wired

The rise of e-reading – Pew Research Center

Your E-Book Is Reading You – Alexandra Alter for The Wall Street Journal (paywall)

This is post number 82 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingeBook or physical book? I’ve read more with eBooks

Slack Hacks by Marissa Goldberg eBook review

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Disclosure: I have talked with Marissa through Twitter a number of times, and I’m subscribed to her email newsletter. She did not ask me personally to write a review, but she does ask at the end of the eBook to leave a review.

Marissa Goldberg is a remote work advocate (or in her words “revolutionizing how we live by changing how we work”) and after tweeting many times about Slack on Twitter she decided to publish an eBook with her Slack tips. If you want to skip my review and get the eBook for yourself you can get it on Gumroad.

You should get it if you use Slack in your workplace. A majority of the tips that are included can be useful in any workplace.

You will have to change how your coworkers interact with you on Slack, and that may be hard for some people and some workplaces but as Marissa says in the eBook “so it doesn’t take over your work (and your life)”.

Every tips is numbered with a nice big heading which makes it easy for you to find the tips that are best for you.

With each tip there is either a picture or text on how to do that tip yourself which makes it very useful.

The guide is visually easy to read, and having it as a PDF makes it so you can zoom in and out as needed.

Overall, it’s a great guide for anyone who uses Slack (or any other instant messaging tool). I do hope Marissa makes more of these in the future as I’m sure she can do a similar one on email or social media.

You can get the guide yourself on Gumroad and if you wish to financially support Marissa you either do so through Gumroad (by paying for the guide) or her tip jar.

This is post number 81 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingSlack Hacks by Marissa Goldberg eBook review

What did I learn while doing #NaBloPoMo in November 2021?

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#NaBloPoMo is also known as National Blog Posting Month, where those who take part are suppose to post a new blog post every single day in November (in the past there were people who lead it in different month’s). I did something slightly different, and just worked on a blog post every single day because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put out a brand new post every day.

It’s very similar to #NaNoWriMo but with blog writing instead of writing a book.

At the beginning of the month, I had this grand plan to post a fair number of blog posts. In the end I think I completed almost 3 posts (not including this one). These posts weren’t short and some of them required research and writing it in a way that the audience would understand.

I did it to continue to enforce that it’s good to make a habit and continue it, as most human’s are creatures of habit. It’s hard for many people to start a new habit, but when they integrate it into their daily routine it gets easier. When you are accountable to someone then you are more likely to continue this habit. In my case I was accountable to anyone who came across my tweets. I would hope that someone would call me out if I missed a day, but I didn’t miss a day so I didn’t need that.

While we all have habit’s, the daily routine of someone can change. I did have to change my daily habit’s in order to do this, and I think it was good that I did. There are some day’s when I had to change my habit’s a bit more than usual to account for something else, but that’s ok.

Making progress. When you are working on something you are making progress. While I was doing #NaBloPoMo I was making progress on each blog post. I didn’t have a specific goal (like number of words or paragraph’s) in mind for a set time frame as I knew that some day’s I would be able to do more than others. And some day’s I wrote a ton, while another day I worked on editing which may not look like progress but it is. By the end of the day, I wanted to make a bit of progress, which is always better than making no progress.

For those that followed me on Twitter will know that every day I posted the day number and something included. At the beginning I meant to include how much progress I had made, but by the end it turned into something that was on my mind. For some people, they may ask why I posted everyday on Twitter when I could have done this privately? And that is a valid question. I first heard about this on Twitter and thought I wanted to keep myself accountable and support #NaBloPoMo since not many people do it (compared to #NaNoWriMo).

Would I recommend someone do this or something similar? Yes I would. As long as you have some time you can spend working on this. You don’t have to publicly talk about, and it doesn’t even have to be writing anything, it could be for reading, or drawing, or spending time away from electronics. It’s all about creating a habit and changing up your daily routine.

This is post number 80 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingWhat did I learn while doing #NaBloPoMo in November 2021?

Why Piracy Sites Have Hollywood Movies

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I don’t endorse pirating anything, this is my view point and what movie studio companies can do to stop slow or stop their movies from being on piracy websites.

Thanks to Hollywood Movies Flood Piracy Sites Hours After Release – The Wall Street Journal for the inspiration for this. If you get a paywall while reading, you can read it in full on archive.today.

Hours after a Hollywood movie is released, piracy sites have the movie. When these movies used to be just in theatres, the piracy sites would have low-quality recorded on a camera versions. High quality copies usually wouldn’t be available until the movie is available on blu-ray a couple of months later.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it caused theatres to shut down and all movies to be released online. This made it easier for piracy sites to have the best quality possible, available minutes after the movie is released.

The movie studios of course don’t like this and are trying to do whatever they can to stop their movies from being on piracy sites.

Instead of issuing DMCA takedown notices and making the movie more exclusive, there are other things they can to get more people to watch their movies the legal way.

Many people pirate movies because it isn’t available where they live in the world, and don’t want to wait until it comes out in their region of the world (if ever).

In the past the argument was because physical media was extensive and jet freight was very expensive.

Now the argument is because of copyright or exclusivity. A movie may not yet, have the rights to use a certain song in a certain part of the world. And until that agreement is signed by both parties, the movie studio would either need to mute the song used, or would need to choose another song which would require another agreement. A movie may also have an exclusivity to either a certain country or a certain streaming service, this is worked out by each party, and includes for how long.

Many movie studios not only produce movies, they have their own streaming services, or at least a license with one. For the studios this will give them close to 100% rather than 75%-ish of the cost. But viewers will have to pay for another streaming service. Why pay for yet another streaming service that they will probably only watch a couple of movies on, when they can use piracy sites to get it for free.

If a movie is available on a streaming service then the viewer will have to pay the monthly cost, and most likely an additional “premium” cost to watch a specific new movie. When Mulan was released on Disney’s streaming service, they not only required a monthly subscription, you had to pay an additional $30 to watch the movie. There are people who will pay any price to watch the latest movie, but there are also people who can’t afford to. Of course companies are going to have a “premium price” to their movies if they can because that 100% goes to the company.

Want to watch a movie in a language that isn’t an official language where you live? Learning how to read English or another language and find the best way to do so is by reading the subtitles? Theatres or streaming services don’t make it easy to do either of those. Why?

Because it costs the company money and few people would use it that it isn’t worth it to them. This is a big reason why piracy exists. When the movie is available on piracy sites usually isn’t just one language, there are several. Subtitles are available, if you want them, not just in your official language but likely in many other languages.

In one example, a movie could have six different audio languages and ten different language available through subtitles, all available in one download. The people who use these don’t need to wait for the official version from the movie studio to be available, there are people who volunteer to get these out quickly. Movie studio’s either take their time getting these out, or don’t put them out at all because it isn’t worth it to them.

Some viewers care a ton about quality, and some don’t. If you are one of those people who do and you notice you have to pay more to watch the highest quality, it may be on purpose. That’s right, some streaming services may charge you a higher cost in order to watch the highest quality they have. They want to get as much money as they can from you.

Even if you don’t care about quality you may notice in the lower quality that the video looks really bad or affects your mood, that’s because they want you to upgrade and pay them more. Some viewers may have no problem watching the lowest quality, and some will no problem paying more. There will be viewers who don’t like that they are already paying for something, and they have to pay more just to watch a higher quality. Movie studios and streaming services should provide the highest quality available at the same price, and allow someone to change the quality if they need or want to.

Movie studios, make a movie more available to viewers, in a how they want and quality way. People will pay for it. Some people will pay much more than the cost of a theatre ticket for this.

This is post number 79 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingWhy Piracy Sites Have Hollywood Movies

My thoughts on Loom

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, the company I have signed a contract with uses the paid version of Loom. Everything said here is my own thoughts and opinions and do not reflect any company that I have worked for (past, present, or future).

Loom makes it easy to record a video that includes your screen and your face, after recording stores it on their website and you can share the link with anyone.

Yes you can do this other ways, like recording on your phone, or using a software like OBS (open broadcaster software). Loom makes it easy for the average person to record and make public a video, without any editing or exporting.

There are some things I love and hate about Loom.

Loom has made it easy for someone to record a video and share it with the world. You click record, say what you want to say, show what you want to show, stop recording, then share the link. No editing, no exporting you have to do.

No editing means that if you say something wrong or don’t show something when you actually want to show it, it means that you to have do the entire recording all over again. This could be good or bad, depending on the way you look at it, and if you can do it all in one take. I like the ability to edit so I can remove segments as I need.

One big thing I don’t like about Loom is that your face in the video is in the bottom left, which I think is a horrible position as the controls for playing the video cover half your face when they are showing. At the time of writing I haven’t seen an option to change this.

Loom has raised a ton of money from investors, at the time of writing their total funding amount (according to Crunchbase) is $203.6 million. Which is a ton of money and their investors hope for all that money back at some point. How is Loom going to make that money? Since the company is currently private it’s hard to say how much they currently make and how they make it, but if I had to guess they have three options: paid plans, selling the company to another company, or putting the company on the stock market.

Loom won’t be around forever, nothing ever is if they stay the same. A major problem I see with Loom is when it no longer exists you won’t have those videos anymore. For some videos, that won’t matter but there will be some videos that you want to keep and then you will have to re-record them using some other way. Loom doesn’t keep the recording on your computer, forcing you to always rely on Loom and not being able to take the recordings and put them somewhere else.

Loom is being used more, which of course Loom (the company) will consider to be great, many companies are either forcing employee’s to use it or aren’t providing alternatives.

I don’t want to be forced to use Loom, not just because of the negative things I think about Loom, but also because I find it easier to communicate my thoughts through writing rather than video. That is why I blog rather than do YouTube videos.

What alternatives are there to Loom?

There is recording a video using another software, like OBS (that I previously mentioned) which does require some more technical skills and more time because it can be edited and uploaded. You then have the video file and can upload it to anywhere, including social media platforms.

There is writing, it doesn’t have to be long, it can be a couple of sentences, you can include screenshots if you need to show something off. You can post that writing anywhere you want.

Which one should you use? Any one that best suits you and you feel comfortable doing. Don’t let anyone else decide which the one you should use.

To close, I don’t like Loom because it doesn’t allow for any editing (which some people like about it), it doesn’t give you the video file, and it’s something more companies are forcing upon it’s employees. Use whatever method and tools you communicating with the best, not the ones that someone else is telling you to use because it’s better for them.

This is post number 78 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingMy thoughts on Loom

I don’t want your stock options

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When looking at job postings there are many that offer a salary, and some offer stock in the company. It may be tempting to pick the company that offers stock options as you could be rich later. Here’s why I don’t, and why I don’t want any stock in a company that I’m working at.

The salary most likely will be lower because of the stock options, the salary is right now what pays the bills.

Those stock options may vary based on many different factors. Which means they may advertise one thing but end up something completely different.

When you get these stock options depends on the company. Some give them to you on day one, and in some you need to work a certain length of time before you get it.

What happens to those stock options after you leave the company (or get fired)? Some companies do let you keep the stock. But in most cases you will have to give them back to the company (which means it’s completely useless to you). Some companies do pay you for the return of that stock. It does give you an little extra money but it may not be what it’s worth when the company goes public.

Having stock means you are more likely to put in more time at work, because you feel the pay off will be worth it later. But are you willing to risk burn-out? Are you willing to work all those hours and it not pay off? It isn’t something I want at this point in my life.

At one point the company will go public or sell to another company. What happens to the stock you own? Your stock will either become stock at that other company, or you will get an actual stock on the stock market. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on what you want the future to be. Depending on how many shares and the type you have will depend on if you get a vote or even a say on the future of the company. Is that something you want? Do you want to have to keep track of the price of the stock and sell and buy at the right time?

For all these reasons, I don’t want stock at any company I currently or have worked for. I don’t want that extra risk and it won’t pay off in the long run.

Do you agree, disagree or have other thoughts for or against? Let me know through Twitter, Mastodon, or email.

This is post number 77 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingI don’t want your stock options

I’ve deleted my Polywork account – and maybe you should too

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How do companies make money? They sell a product, service or their time. How do social media companies make money? By selling your information for advertising.

What if a social media company doesn’t tell you how they make money? That should raise suspicion, yet I don’t see anyone publicly raising suspicion about Polywork (if you know someone who is doing this please let me know).

Polywork recently raised $13 million from investors. While that is great for them to be able to use that money and do more (including getting more users), it got me thinking about how they plan to make money and are going to be able to pay back their investors.

Investors always look to get their money back, it could be by the company going public (also known as an IPO), the company having enough money to buy out their investors, or numerous other ways.

If the investors don’t get their money back then they could do many things to the company, including firing the founders, or changing the company in numerous ways. If the company fails then the investors take that as a loss and move onto the next company.

Yes there are some early investors who stay on the company for the long-term, but those are the exception.

How does Polywork plan to make a profit? I reached out to Polywork through their support email and through Twitter DM for their response, and after giving them 17 business days they didn’t respond. Which most likely means that they have no idea, which isn’t a good long-term idea.

I’ve deleted my Polywork account because they don’t see how they are going to make a profit, which I don’t agree with. I also don’t need to be on more social media profiles.

As for what am I going to do with everything I posted on there? I’ve created a highlights page here on my website where you can go and see any awesome highlights that have happened in my life.

This is post number 76 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingI’ve deleted my Polywork account – and maybe you should too

Should you join in Convertkit’s grow your audience challenge?

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Disclosure: I’m affiliate of Convertkit and got news of this challenge before the general public, along with more details on this. Convertkit has no knowledge or say in this blog post. There will be affiliate links in this post.

Convertkit is doing a challenge which they call Grow Your Audience (affiliate link) (archive.org copy) which is meant to help you grow an email newsletter list with a landing page and something to get people to subscribe to your newsletter. It’s a month long challenge (from September 1st to September 30th 2021) and it’s free for you. Should you join this? If you have been meaning to create an email newsletter list then join it, but remember it is free and you have to use Convertkit as part of the challenge.

Convertkit has told it’s affiliates that if you join you’ll get weekly challenge’s via email (which they say is meant to give you tips and keep you accountable), four per-recorded workshops to teach you strategies on how to find and grow your audience, weekly live Q&A’s to answer your questions, a community group to encourage each other and ask questions, and a chance to win cash bonuses.

You don’t have to do any of that, you have to create a landing page that gets people to subscribe to your email newsletter. You can create as many landing pages as you want, but the one that gives you the most subscribers is counted in the challenge.

Cash bonuses?

You may see the word cash bonuses and sign right up because how hard can it be to get that money? It’s harder than you think. You first need to get 10 new subscribers in order to get $25. If you get 10,000 new subscribers within the month of September then you get $2,000. That seems like a ton of money, but it’s hard for the average person to get that many new subscribers in that short of a time. And you can only get these bonuses if you live in one of their approved countries (which they don’t list on the terms and conditions page (affiliate link) (archive copy), it’s any “jurisdiction subject to comprehensive U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions or an individual otherwise subject to OFAC sanction”.

What does Convertkit get out of it?

“Our goal is to celebrate creators and all their hard work by helping them kick-start their dreams with a landing page, a high-converting opt-in, and a promotion plan to gain email subscribers all within a 4-week window.”

They get your contact information, and after the 30 days you have to pay them if you have more than 1,000 subscribers on your email list. If you manage to get 10,000 subscribers the minimum you will have to pay them after the free trial is over is $119 per month. After the challenge you will be used to the Convertkit platform that you’ll find you don’t want to migrate somewhere else. Which means Convertkit most likely gets you as a customer (even if it’s a free one).

Should you take part in this challenge?

If you want to learn how to build an email newsletter list and getting the bonuses aren’t your main goal then I suggest signing up. You can sign up until September 7th.

After the challenge is over, or you already have an email list then I would suggest moving over to an competitor of Convertkit which may offer cheaper pricing or more of what you need (rather than tons of features and you only use one or two of them).

What competitor should you choose? Every company that does email newsletters have their own features and pricing. With so many companies which one should you choose? Instead of choosing one from a top 10 list, make a list of your top features, rating them from most to least important, and find companies that offer those features within your price range. Once you have one or multiple companies that fit both of those then search online for reviews and find one you think will work best for you. You can always switch to another company if the company you use later decides to change in a way you don’t like.

It’s ultimately your choice if you should take part, and while Convertkit makes the challenge sound fancy and cool they may not be what you need.

Continue ReadingShould you join in Convertkit’s grow your audience challenge?

I wasn’t sure about Monsters at Work but I will keep watching

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There will be spoilers for the Monsters Inc movie, and may be slight spoilers for the first episode of Monsters at Work which released on July 7th 2021, a show currently on Disney+.

You may know about Monsters Inc., the wildly popular movie released in 2001. There have been a prequel (called Monsters University) and even other media, from shorts, to comics, to video games, to ice shows, and now a television series called Monsters at Work.

The premise of the show (Monsters at Work) is that now that the Monsters Inc factory has determined laughter is ten times more powerful (than scares) and they need the monsters to be funny. And with Sulley and Mike in charge (Sulley is named CEO at the end of Monsters Inc), what do they do?

They basically need to retrain the monsters, and that doesn’t help when a new graduate has gotten a job at the Monsters Inc factory and is so confused by all the changes (along with every other employee).

I was sort of confused when seeing the new character, Tylor, like where did he come from? He wasn’t in Monsters Inc. But as the episode goes along you get to know a bit more about him. What I didn’t realize until reading Wikipedia was that Tylor was accepted into the factory the same day that Watermoose (the old CEO of the factory) was ousted and the company switches to laughter. Basically, this almost picks right up from where Monsters Inc leaves off.

The first episode does seem a bit slow pace but that is because they have to introduce the new cast of characters and set the premise. I do appreciate that many of the voice actors from Monsters Inc came back to voice their characters, the executive producer said to CBR, “It’s been my sort of experience that when actors have created the character, they really feel ownership of the character. So when you ask them to come back and be those characters, they all want to do it, given their availability. Sometimes there’s more volume, but they all want to do it. So it was fantastic. [Crystal] and [Goodman] just slipped right back into it. It was incredible, honestly.”

I will continue to watch the series and see where it goes. I plan to binge watch the series so I don’t have to wait every week for another episode (they released the first two episodes on July 7th and are going to do one episode a week afterwards). I don’t plan to do any other blog posts on this show so you can enjoy the series spoiler-free (that is if that’s your sort of thing).

This is post number 75 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingI wasn’t sure about Monsters at Work but I will keep watching

What does the Yoast acquisition mean for the average person?

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Yoast is a company which created and is mostly known for their Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. This plugin helps with the SEO of your website, and while there are many alternatives, many people still go back to Yoast because it’s what they know.

On August 12th 2021 Yoast announced it “is joining” Newfold Digital. Yoast announced this on their blog, and Newfold Digital did the same as a press release on their website.

You may know Newfold Digital as the company that was created when Endurance International Group (EIG) and Web.com were merged. EIG is one of the largest website hosting companies (which includes Bluehost, HostGator, and more). Research As A Hobby has tons of more details on EIG, including the current list of companies it owns if you want to read about it.

Newfold Digital said it “has acquired Yoast”, and while these are very similar wording (compared to joining) it can have an affect on what the customer (or average person) thinks. If I were to talk to someone else about this I would say Yoast was acquired.

Yoast has said that their team (employees, headquarters, brand, CEO, and board members) will all stay and of course they are excited for the future. Which is great right now, customers can be rest assured that Yoast will remain Yoast right now.

What does the future of Yoast SEO and Yoast hold? Nobody knows for certain and right now there is nothing public on the future. I believe there will be changes, such as Yoast SEO promoting more Newfold Digital tools and services (rather than just promoting the paid version of Yoast SEO or other things that Yoast offers). Yoast will almost certainly have to make a bigger profit and continue to get more paid customers as Newfold Digital is backed by an investment firm and a private equity firm which both expect to make their money back.

I do wish Yoast and all the employees there nothing but the best for the future, and everyone involved in the WordPress community will wait and see what happens to Yoast SEO in the future.

Huge thanks to WP Tavern for quickly sharing the news.

Continue ReadingWhat does the Yoast acquisition mean for the average person?

Adding a blogroll to your WordPress site with no plugins required

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Do you know of other blogs that are related to yours? Or other blogs that you read and think other people would enjoy reading? Instead of posting them on social media you can put them on your WordPress site.

Most of the time these blogroll’s are on a separate page so they don’t take up too much on a sidebar or another area.

How do you do this?

First you need to create the page, WordPress.org has a guide on how to do this if you don’t know how to do so.

Once you have that page and you are editing it, you will want to add the Custom HTML block (if you are using Gutenberg) to the page. Where it says Write HTML you want to copy the following:

<a href="https://test.com">My Favourite Blog</a>

That tells WordPress you want it to have My Favourite Blog be a link to test.com. If you want it to link to a different website then change test.com (make sure to keep the quotes) to that other site. And change My Favourite Blog to the name you want it to show.

If you want to add multiple blogs then add <br> <br> at the end of each </a>. Which tells WordPress you want two lines between that link and another one. Hit save, then your page is live for everyone to read.

There you go. You have created a blogroll on WordPress without any plugins.

Thanks to Ultimate Blocks for inspiring me to create this post.

This is post number 74 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingAdding a blogroll to your WordPress site with no plugins required

Are the Olympics worth it?

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Many people watch the Olympics, either in-person (around 1 million people attended the 2018 games), on TV (19.8 million people on average watched NBC a night in 2014), on YouTube or any other place online, and many people enjoy it. However, a question that more people are asking is, are the Olympics still worth it?

How did we get to this point?

The ancient Olymic games were held in the sanctuary of Zenus, in Olympic, Greece and the competition was among representatives from city-states and kingdoms of Ancient Greece. The first games were held in 776 BC and every 4 years after. 1612 AD was the first time in the modern games that the term Olympic was used. Up until 1875 various festivals and games used the word Olympic in them.

1986 was the first Olympic games that was under the guidance of the International Olympic Committee. The aim of the International Olympic Committee, IOC for short, was made to establish internationally rotating Olympic games every four years. At the 1896 games, there was 14 nations, and 241 athletes.

Around 1908 they wanted to hold some winter sports, like figure skating and ice hockey. These were in the summer games, and in 1924 the first Offical winter Olympic games was held. Originally both the summer and winter games were to be held in the same host country in the same year. In 1994, it was changed that the winter Olympics were to be held every four years, two years after each Summer Olympics.

Which makes you wonder, why are the Olympics held every four years? According to the IOC, the Olympics continue to be held every four years in tribute to the ancient Olympic games. Since the ancient Olymic games didn’t have time like we do today, they use the term Olympiad to count the time between each Olympics.

With the Olympics happening every four years, there constantly needs to be a different place to host it. There is a process that happens in order to be in the running to host an Olympic games.

Many cities don’t end up hosting the Olympics. For example, Chicago put in a bid to host the 2016 summer Olympics. While doing the planning, Chicago purchased a piece of land that was to become the Olympic village. The cost for that land, was 85 million dollars. But with all the interest, it’s estimated to cost about 140 million dollars. Chicago was shortlisted against three other cities to host the 2016 Olympics. They ultimately didn’t get to host the Olympics, and due to the secrecy around the IOC voting there is no official reason why they lost. According to the Chicago Tribune, the piece of land won’t fully be paid back until 2024. However, that is a ton of money spent and they didn’t get anything in return.

What about those cities who do end up hosting the Olympics? How much does it cost them in the end? The estimated true cost for the 2012 Olympics was around 9 billion euros (around 11 billion us dollars).

That cost is just for the city, what about those competing in the Olympics? It rely’s on the individual and their family to pay all the costs. Fencer Maya Lawrence told Forbes magazine that it cost her around 20,000 dollars to get to the 2012 summer Olympics, and most of the players don’t make that money back. Cyrus Hostetler said the biggest profit he saw in one year was $3,000. But they do get suitcases full of Nike and Ralph Lauren clothing, that they were required to wear to all team events.

You are probably think, what about the winners, don’t they get a medal and some money? The winners get the short fame of being an Olympic medallist, and they get to keep the medal. However, they don’t get any money from the IOC, instead some get money from the governing body for the country they are in. For example in Singapore, a few athletes have gotten $378,000 for getting silver. US gives $37,500 for each gold medal. Australia and Canada only give gold winners about $15,000 which really isn’t very much.

I know you are probably thinking that the people who compete don’t do it for the money, they do it because they want to do it. However you can’t keep doing something forever if you keep losing money.

The teams also need coaches. The coaches come from the national governing body for that country. According to the Washington Post, the USA track and field CEO at one Olympics made $1.1 million. For some people this may not seem like a ton of money, and in the grand scale of how much money the IOC makes, it isn’t very much money. You could say that the coaches should be volunteers but I believe since they are giving of their time they should be paid for it.

How do the olympics get from the stadium where they are happening, to your eyes? It all depends on the country. In some countries like the UK or US there is only one broadcaster. In the US, that sole broadcaster is NBC, which has had the broadcast rights to the summer and winter olympics since 1988 summer games (and the 2002 winter games). In 2014, the agreement between NBC and the IOC was extended until 2032 which NBC paid $7.6 billion for.

With the Olympics airing on TV there is a much higher stake and nobody wants things to be cancelled. However, the olympics have been cancelled before and they have been postponded. There have only been one time the olympics have been postponded and that is the 2020 Toyko Games. Which was suppose to happen in July 2020 but due to the COVID pandemic it was postponded in March of that same year. It was postponed to July 2021. You may think they would then change the naming of the games but they decided to keep the name for marketing and branding purposes.

There have been 3 Olympic games that have been cancelled in the history of the modern games. The 1916 summer games was cancelled due to World War One and the 1940 and 1944 games were cancelled due to World War Two.

After the Olympics are over, what happens to everything and everyone that was there? The IOC goes to work on the next Olympics, the people in the audience go about their regular life, the coaches start to train the next Olympicans, but what about all the athletes?

Some of them will go on and train for the next summer or winter games. Some will become celebrities and appear on tv shows, get commercial deals, and all the jazz that comes with that. Most however will either retire from the games, or will go on with their life and quickly and quietly fade out of the spotlight.

For many athletes who don’t become celebrities it can be hard to go from huge success in being in the olympics to go back to the old life. Many say that after they win in the Olympics there is only three choices, completely retire from the games, go into public speaking which requires you to keep winning, or coaching which requires you to keep up with the latest techniques. Only one of those three can be done long-term.

What happens to the stadiums, and the new buildings put up for the Olympics? Most of the cities can’t afford to keep up the maintenance needed for those big buildings so they become abandoned. Very few of the buildings turn into anything useful which is sad because the buildings are huge and look so good but if a city doesn’t have any use for them then it’s left to rot.

This happens in every city has hosts the Olympic games, there always some buildings that are left and don’t get used. There is some hope of the IOC requiring cities to only use buildings that they currently have and can only build new housing but as with everything it will take time before that happens.

What about the Toyko Olympics that were set to happen in July 2020? It’s set to take place at the end of July 2021, however the major difference will be no spectators. That means no international or local spectators.

This is a big hit to not only the tourism industry but also the families of those who are competing. You want to be able to watch in-person the person you know win big and celebrate with them. But that won’t happen and will either have to watch it live, or wait to hear the news. One upside will be that there will be less of an environmental impact, as people won’t be flying in to visit the games then leave once it’s over.

What does the future of the Olympics hold? The host cities have already been decided up to and including the 2028 games. Future host cities are starting to think about and plan to bid for games pass that. There are potential olympic athletes training for those games. Beyond that, it looks like the Olympics are going to continue as they usually do. I believe change needs to happen, not just because the Olympics are getting fewer cities bidding but it’s costing more and more to run the games.

How do we get more cities to bid on the hosting the games? The IOC needs to start prioritizing using infrastructure that was built in past games, or buildings that can be change slightly to fit the Olympic requirements. New buildings don’t need to be built for each games, because after the games are over the buildings go empty. Instead, let’s use the buildings that were built for past Olympic games. Yes they may need some work done on them but it will be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than doing whole new buildings.

I hear you thinking to yourself, “that means the Olympics are going to host in cities we have seen them before at”. And yes they we will, but do you really care? The TV stations don’t show any part of the host city so if you were told the Olympics were being hosted again but weren’t told the city, you would probably still watch it.

Will there be a point in which no cities bid for an upcoming Olympics? I think that will happen at some point, I’m just not sure when. It will probably happen when every city realizes that hosting the Olympics isn’t worth it for them. Let’s take the 2028 summer Olympics as an example. In 2015 the IOC announced five cities had bid for the 2028 games, however three cities withdrew which left with only two choices, Paris or Los Angeles. Ultimately, Los Angeles got the 2028 games and Paris got the 2024 games.

To close, it takes a lot of time and money from everyone involved to make the Olympics happen. And many people lose money from it. The Olympics should be changed to focus on using existing infrastructure or past host cities. Viewers don’t care where it is hosted, as long as they can watch it. I hope this made you think about the Olympics and what actually happens behind the camera.

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Twitter is trying to become something it isn’t

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Twitter is known as the place you go to write posts in 280 (used to be 140) characters. But it’s been acquiring and changing itself into something else. And I think it should go back to what it was most known for.

That is being a place where you can post tweets, getting people to follow you, and interacting with people. That still does happen a ton on Twitter but it now has newsletters with both Posterous and Revue, streaming video, “fleets”, Twitter Spaces, Tip Jar and it’s working on much more.

Why are they doing this? Because they have been going between making a positive net income (their net profit after revenues, incomes and expenses) and making a loss for many years. They want to keep making a net income. And to do that, it means getting more advertisers, getting people to have paid accounts, and making more money somehow.

With all these new features will it get more people to use Twitter? Yes I think so, just by looking at my timeline I can tell people are spending more time on Twitter (by doing things like Twitter Spaces) and people will sign up for it because it has “all these features”.

However, I think it’s alienating it’s current users. All they want to do is tweet, interact with who are following them and who they are following. The current users don’t need something else showing up on their menu, or getting an alert about something else that Twitter now offers.

This is post number 73 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Don’t respond if I give you a negative or no reply to your cold email

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I get cold emails every day, they range in what they want or offer, and 99% of the time I consider them spam as I didn’t ask for the email (that is the definition of spam, unsolicited). I also report them to their email provider using SpamCop.

Sometimes that person keeps “reminding me” or keeps sending the same email multiple times to see if I got it. I very rarely reply to these emails. In fact every time you do this to me it’s another spam report. Sometimes I even blacklist entire websites from emailing me because I’ve gotten too many spam emails from them.

On the off chance I do reply, either it’s something I’m interested in, or it’s a negative reply (which is very rare).

I saw a post from Lilach Bullock on what she thought to reply if you get a negative reply to your cold email (no I’m not going to link the post as I don’t think people should read it, but it’s easy to find if you search online for it). I completely disagree with her approach.

If I send you a negative response it means I hate that you are contacting me and I’m telling you to stop contacting me (even if it’s not explicitly mentioned in the email). Lilach is saying to get past the sales rejection and reconnect, “it’s up to you to strategize and win your prospect back”.

But you can’t win that prospect back if they already dislike you enough to send you a negative email, or not to response at all. I understand emailing back once or twice to see if they got that email, but stop after that.

If you do think your being ignored then look into sending “The Magical Email” which is one sentence that I have had used and people have replied back very quickly. If they don’t reply to that then move on.

Lilach does include some ways to write an effective cold email, but she doesn’t ask you to think about the person you are sending the email to. Do they prefer another contact method, what’s in it for them, and why you.

While I understand cold emails can be effective for some people, it is also seem as spam to others, and some may send you a negative reply and that’s when it’s time to cut your losses and stop contacting them.

My friend Kev Quirk also did an post on cold emails which I encourage you to read. Even Troy Hunt got tired of people cold emailing him asking him to place a link on his site.

This is post number 72 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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How to show off JavaScript Fetch API Object results on page

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If you need to fetch something from an API that is inside of an object and display it on your website without any clicks as well and want to use just JavaScript and HTML then read on. If you are using something else (like package manager, build tools, framework, or static site generator) you can use this as an basis but the code may not be exactly what you need.

If you just want to get straight to the code then I posted the code on Github Gist. Otherwise you can read on which explains part of the code.

For this example, I’m going to use https://fakerapi.it, but you can use any API you want. The results for Faker API return an object, which not every API does (I would encourage you to test the API using something like CodePen before it goes to the live, public site).

You first need to create the page, if you are coding this then either use a template that you are given. If you don’t have a template consider using HTML5 Boilerplate.

After that, you will need a div where the results are going to be shown. For this example, the div is going to be named nameHere, so the code will be

<div id="nameHere"></div>

You can use any name for the div, but I thought nameHere made sense for what’s going to be shown there (people’s names). If you do change this name you will have to change it in at least one other place in the code.

Next, you want to tell the webpage you are now going to do JavaScript, it is most likely done by doing

<script>

at the beginning and

</script>

at the end. All the JavaScript will go between them.

Fetching the API is done based on how the API wants you to fetch it, you may be required to have a key or anything else required. For our example, no key is required.

fetch('https://fakerapi.it/api/v1/persons?_quantity=4')

You can change the number at the end to how many or few you want, but I figured 4 was a nice number to be able to clearly see it work.

You need to convert what you fetched to json, because what you get from the fetch is a HTTP response, not the actual JSON (according to MDN). The way to do that is

.then(response => response.json())

Now let’s understand what that does. The .then(italic) says after you have fetched then do this. In this case it’s to take the response (that you got from the fetch) and convert it to JSON. If you are interested in reading the details on this then MDN is a great resource for that.

Now I use a function after that, you may not need to use one but it helps to break it all up and make it readable. In this case the function is going to call the function called appendData, and it’s going to bring in dataIn. dataIn contains the JSON from the API.

.then(function (dataIn)
{  
  appendData(dataIn);  
})

I will talk about the function a bit later as we aren’t finished with what is going to happen with the fetch.

To finish the fetch you can catch any errors that appear. That way if the API stops working, or you didn’t provide something needed in the fetch, it can let you know. The way you do that is with a .catch. Some say you can do this in one line using

.catch(error => console.log(error) );

For readability, I put it into it’s own function which brings in the error and that is run right then.

.catch (function (err)
{  
  console.log('Error: ' + err);
});

Notice the semicolon after the right bracket at the end? It tells the fetch that this is the last thing you want to do.

That part may be finished, but there still is the appendData function that needs to be coded. You can create that doing

function appendData(dataIn)
{

then I use a for loop to go through each of the items in the dataIn object. There are probably other ways to do this but I felt this is best for readability.

for (var i = 0; i != dataIn.total; i++)  
 {    
   document.getElementById("nameHere").innerHTML += 'Name is: ' + dataIn.data[i].firstname +  ' ' + dataIn.data[i].lastname + '<br>';  
 }  
}

Let me explain what it does. You need a variable to do the counting (which I set as i) which is set to 0 since JavaScript starts counting at 0. Then you need something that says once it’s false stop the for loop. In this case I’m saying once i is equal to the dataIn (remember from the second .then) then stop the for loop. And every time the for loop completes add 1 to i.

The (i)document.getElementById(“nameHere”).innerHTML(/i), says inside the html, look for an element that has the id of “nameHere”. At this point you may think to only have an equals sign then whatever text you want to show up, but since it’s in a for loop that would only show the last record (plus whatever text you want to show). If you do +=, it says to add the next text to the right of the text that was just placed. You can look up addition assignment if you are confused with my explanation.

Since the API is bring in names I thought it was appropriate to add something before the record is shown. In this case I have said show “Name is: “, did you notice the space after the colon? That is because you want there to be a space between the colon and the name from the API. If you don’t put it in there it doesn’t happen.

There is a plus equals sign between them because that is saying, in addition add this.

dataIn.data[i].firstname is saying that using the object (dataIn), use the number from the counting variable, and get firstname from the array (in this case it’s inside of an array called data, that is inside of the object) that resembles that counting number. For example, if the counting variable was 1 then it would grab the second array (inside of the object) and grab firstname to show.

What looks like two single quotes after the plus sign, is a space since there is a single space between those single quotes. Telling the page to add a space between firstname and lastname.

dataIn.data[i].lastname is very similar to dataIn.data[i].firstname, the difference is that it’s grabbing lastname.

Since multiple names are being shown it’s nice to space them out, you could put a couple of spaces between them, however to see them better I put each one on a new line.

We end this for loop using a semicolon.

You need to end the page, remember that </script>, and body, html, or anything else you need.

If you have any comments about my code, or want to fully see it again, it’s on Github Gist.

This explanation wouldn’t have been possible without many websites which helped me to understand how to do this, and what it all meant. EDUCBA and JavaScript Tutorial helped to understand the fetch API in general. Mark, Amirmohammad Moradi, Abubakkar, and Jonathan Lonowski on Stack Overflow for answers questions that were related to what I had thought of. MDN Web Docs for the numerous pages I read that helped me understand what I coded.

This is post number 71 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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The WordPress Acquisition Market

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Nathan Wrigley put out a tweet that got me thinking about acquisitions that happen within the WordPress market.

When something is created for WordPress it tends to go in one of many directions,

It either gets shut down after a while, this could be due to lack of funding, lack of free time, lack of passion, or many other reasons why that thing is no longer being updated.

It stays independent, which is great but the creator can’t keep doing it for free forever so pivots to a paid version, asks for donations often, or they start to slow down on doing other things (like promotion, or support), or they find a way to get more people and money to work on it. You don’t tend to hear about this in the news since the creator will slowly work on this and doesn’t have the huge team to be able to do all the promotion.

Then there is the one that this tweet was prompted by, acquisition. A plugin gets acquired by one or many companies and that company runs the plugin for a while and either after a while shuts it down, or changes their pricing, or builds into their the other products/plugins they offer.

We don’t often hear about the companies that keep running that plugin, we just see that the plugin has been updated recently. We hear about a plugin getting acquired, or it being shut down, or built into another product.

The big WordPress companies are acquiring many WordPress plugins & themes, and until we can figure out a way to support the independent creators and keep them independent then this is going to continue to happen.

Thanks to Kev Quirk for his notes on this which inspired me to write this post. This is post number 70 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Why I use Bitbucket and GitHub

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There are many places online to put your code so it can publicly be seen, talked about, and worked on. Most of the ones you may have heard about are Bitbucket, Gitea, Github and GitLab.

There are a variety of reasons why someone may have an account, or upload their code to one or more of these websites. It could be for work, or personal, or any number of reasons.

I do have a number of reasons why I have both a Bitbucket and GitHub account, but I don’t have all the same code on both sites.

I originally just had a GitHub account, but when GitHub was bought by Microsoft in June 2018 I blogged about why I didn’t like the acquisition. And I went searching for another place to put my code. I was originally going to use GitLab but so many people switched to it after the GitHub acquisition that I decided not to. But many people like Tyler Hall, rubenwardy did switch to Gitlab.

I came across Bitbucket, saw it was owned by Atlassian which is a publicly traded company in 2015, not for sale, and based in Australia. That day I moved almost all my repo’s to Bitbucket.

I also like the decentralization of not every project being on GitHub. If it goes down then every project on there is also down. It has happened as you can see on StatusGator.

When I first started to use Bitbucket they also had unlimited private repo’s for free. GitHub in January 2019 introduced unlimited private repo’s for any plans (including free).

On every GitHub profile there is a graph that shows how much work (commit’s) has been done on each day. And while many people love it, I find it to be weird and creepy. Like not everyone needs to see how much work you have done each day.

What do I do with these two accounts? Bitbucket is where most of my code goes (besides being on my computer) and Github is used to show off the highlighted projects and to do comments/pull requests for projects that are only on GitHub. That way in some cases there are 3 copies on my code.

This blog post was inspired by Ru Singh’s post on moving back to GitHub.

This is post number 69 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Did I fail 100DaysToOffload?

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100 Days To Offload was started in April 2020 by Kev Quirk to get people to publish more on their personal blog.

The “challenge” was to get people to publish 100 posts on their personal blog in one year. And there are also other guidelines listed on the website.

By the time of publishing, you may have noticed that it has been more than one year since the start of me doing #100DaysToOffload and I haven’t published 100 posts.

Did I fail this “challenge” by not publishing 100 posts? No. The point of 100DaysToOffload is to get to post more on your personal blog. Did that happen? Yes it did and I’m proud of it. Not every post has been the greatest quality or length but the point is to just write and to have your own place online to write.

Thank you Kev for the 100DaysToOffload. I will continue publishing as part of 100DaysToOffload. After I’m done I will continue to publish on this blog, where I own it and I’m not relying on any social media algorithm.

This is post number 68 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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7 ways to send large files by email

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If you need to send a large file to someone else you can’t send it over email. Most don’t allow files over 25mb. If you have a file over that size how do you send it to the other person?

1. WeTransfer (up to 20GB in size)

WeTransfer is one popular and well-known option. Their free option offers up to 2gb, and their pro plan offers 20gb.

2. Dropbox (up to 2tb in size)

Dropbox (referral link) is another well-known option. Currently their free plan offer 2gb (with the ability to get more space), and up to 2tb for their family plan.

3. Box.com (up to 5gb in size)

Box.com is very similar to Dropbox and they offer up to 5 gb file upload, and 100gb of storage in their personal pro plan.

4. Google Drive (up to 2tb in size)

Google is known by so many people and people tend to trust google drive links. If you use Google services a ton then this may be best for you. Their free plan currently has 15gb and you can upgrade to 2tb.

5. OneDrive (up to 1tb in size)

If you have a Microsoft account, or use Microsoft Word then you can use this. If you have a free Microsoft account then you have 5gb of storage and 1tb if you have Microsoft Word (or now known as Microsoft 365 (US affiliate link) (Canada affiliate link). If you know the sender is using Outlook or Microsoft then consider this method to make it easier for the person you are sending the file to.

6. MEGA (up to 16tb in size)

You may have heard about MEGA as a “secure cloud storage with end-to-end encryption”. While it does offer that, it has a place where you can store and share your files. Currently MEGA only allows you to download 5gb over 24 hours. If you know the person you are sending the link to uses MEGA then it could be a quick ways to transfer the files. Their free plan currently allows 50gb, and up to 16tb on their highest pro plan.

7. FileTransfer.io (up to 6gb in size)

There are many websites that allow you to transfer files, and I’ve found FileTransfer.io to be one that allows you to send up to 6gb files and they store the files for 21 days (or up to 50 downloads). I think this is a good balance between big file size and keeping the files long enough.

There are many other alternatives, and I encourage you to find what works best for you. If you are looking to send files to a client or someone in the business space I suggest you read my business post on this.

Thanks to CSS-Tricks for the inspiration for this post.

This is post number 67 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

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Yikes at the recent changes at Basecamp

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I realize I have some privilege as a straight while male, and this is my own views and opinions and don’t reflect anyone except me.

Basecamp quietly announced some changes (and they made some changes to the post without saying) that have made many people go “Yikes” and here’s my views on those recent changes.

No more societal and political discussions at Basecamp, this simply can’t happen in today’s world. There are so many things that are connected to politics and other social events that by saying this Basecamp is saying, we don’t care about what else is going on in the world and we don’t want any of our employees to talk about it at work. It also creates an echo chamber, where people will only talk to those whose view points they agree with. I’m not sure how to fix this, but I believe Basecamp should allow some discussion about issues that will affect their company and their employees. What happens if an employee needs some time off because of a recent political issue, but they can’t tell their boss they need the time off because of it.

No more paternalistic benefits, they already offer tons of benefits but they believe by offering this they are going too deep into someone’s personal choice. Unfortunately, work does tend to mix into personal, even if the employees work remotely. That is today’s day and age.

No more committees, basically instead of people from different departments to get together and discuss something. The responsibility now goes back to just three people, which creates an echo chamber.

No more lingering or dwelling on past decisions. I understand why they are saying this but everyone looks back at their past to think about what they could have done differently. By looking back it allows some people to change how they are going to do something in the future.

No more 360 reviews, instead of an employee being told as part of a review what they need to improve, they are now told whenever the manager wants. Having set reviews allow everyone to prepare for a review ahead of time, get in the proper mindset, and get a different point of view. By getting this feedback whenever, the employee has to spend more time reading and responding to the feedback they get. And peer feedback most likely will happen less, or not at all.

No forgetting what we do here. aka; stay in your lane. In this world it simply can’t happen anymore. If you are quiet about an issue it either means you don’t know enough about it to mention it, you don’t want to raise your voice because you know there are others doing so, or it means you don’t care about it. Everyone, no matter their age, gender, sexuality, race, or anything else, should be allow to speak about an issue and if they are wrong then professional and respectful communication should take place to let them know and what they may want to say instead.

Basecamp is a whole company of privilege, you work anywhere in the world you want, as long as you get your work done, and they hire the best. Looking at their team page it looks like everyone is white, which creates an echo chamber. I understand not everyone will work at Basecamp but by posting these changes it is saying work is work, and home is home but that can’t happen anyone especially if someone works from home.

Other view points you may want to read:

The other Basecamp co-founder’s post regarding sociental politics at work

The head of design at Basecamp (Jonas Downey) is sad and upset with the changes.

Jay Miller’s tweet on what privilege looks like

Jocelyn’s Harper tweet on this issue

Marco Roger’s tweets on this

“Some straight white men feel that they should be entitled to all the benefits of society without being a part of it. Classic capitalism. Must be nice to enjoy the privilege of ignoring everything that isn’t earning you money.”

Aria Stewart’s tweets on this

“here at tech company, we’ve listened to your concerns. we know that the world is changing, and we have to change too. after reflecting, we’re ready to implement the current changes: 1. fuck u lol”

Kate Taggart’s tweets, on how you introduce yourself and using pronouns can be seen as a “social/political” discussion.

This is post number 66 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Edited April 27th at 12:55pm (UTC-4) to add link to changes that the original post has done, as well as links to other employee’s thoughts.

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EngageBay Review

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Dislosure: I signed up for EngageBay on my own, after doing my own research. Nobody from EngageBay knows I have written this review. This review reflects my views at the time of writing. I’m currently using their free plan, and I have not included any EngageBay refer links on this post so I can show I’m open and not just trying to promote this.


EngageBay provides a ton of tools on their website. They say it’s all in the name of helping you market better, sell faster, and support smarter. Which basically means they do tons of things, the question is how well (or how bad) do they do those things. There are some good things about it, and some not good things about it.


There is a free plan for you. If you go to the pricing page you will see a number of different options (All-in-One, Marketing, CRM & Sales Bay, and Service Bay) and each of them have a free plan. Which is great so you can get started on it, and not have to worry about paying unless you want to upgrade (or you need something which the upgrades offer).


When you signup it requires a name, you may think you have to use your real name. You don’t, you can use any sort of name or username that you want. If you are going to use EngageBay with a team you may want to use your real name so your team knows which account is yours. The password you use to signup must be 20 characters or less, but the real kicker is that it doesn’t tell you anywhere on the signup process how short your password much be. This also encourages everyone to use a password which is short and easy to remember which makes it easier for someone to break into your account.


Soon after signing up, you are required to give your phone number. You can’t give a number with all 0’s (believe me I tried) so it requires a real phone number. They don’t say why they require this, other reviewers say this is so EngageBay can call you and answer any questions you may have. But, a phone number should never be required, and the site should be stated why a phone number needs to be entered.


When you go into your dashboard, it works completely with an adblocker which is great. The marketing dashboard has a “Getting Started with Marketing” checklist which you can’t remove. At the very top is also a banner offering 20% off a paid plan. You haven’t even gotten to know the free plan yet and they are already encouraging you to upgrade.

In the settings, then domain settings, allows you to change the domain name which is useful if you change company names and send out emails using the EngageBay system. However if you want to change it, or any other setting in domain settings, you have to enter a complete address and while they do somewhat explain about how it’s needed for anti-spam laws. They forget that some people aren’t going to be using their system to send out emails so why should they be required to enter their address. To get around this and allow me to continue to use the entire software, I entered an address which isn’t near me.


After the time I had noticed those two things, I checked my email and had 2 emails that were to my EngageBay email address (I used a separate email address so I could easily tell when an email was related to EngageBay). One was from EngageBay, the company, welcoming me to their service, and providing links to guides on their website. The other email from a person, repeating many of the same things in the email that I got from the company, including 20% off (if you let them know you wanted that, and again you haven’t really gotten deep into the tools and they already want you to upgrade), but it also included a link to book a time for a call. I looked at the link and it has many UTM tags at the end of it so that person would know exactly how I got to clicking on that link.


When you are logged in, at the bottom, there is a banner that says you can send a send a low number of emails using their service while it warms up. Basically they don’t let you use all of the branded emails per month (that is included in your plan) until you start sending out a select number. You then have to contact the support team in order to get the select number to be increased. I understand why they do this, to ensure that someone doesn’t use it to spam emails from their service. But it forces people to contact support in order to get their full number of branded emails. You also can’t close or exit this banner, however if you use an adblocker you can block this (by blocking ##.content, and ##.account-limit-noty).


They hide being able to add two-factor-auth to your profile (it’s in the preferences, profile settings, advanced settings. They only have a small number of date format (they don’t allow you to add your own if there isn’t one you like).


You can easily get overwhelmed with everything that EngageBay offers, and I think one day EngageBay will limit what they offer to focus on their best options like many companies have done.


One major thing I’m unsure of is that the company has a US address, but according to LinkedIn, most of the employees are based in India. It seems like the founder is based in the US and he has hired people in India to do the work. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I think EngageBay should be more transparent with this on their website.


Overall, EngageBay is a good service with a nice free plan. It will be interesting to see how the future of the company & the product turns out.

This is post number 65 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingEngageBay Review

My thoughts on Firefox changing Referer policy

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You may think that there is a spelling error in the title, but that it the correct way to write it. If you wish to learn why then you can read HTTPWTF.

If you use Firefox, and let’s face it not many people do (W3Counter estimates Firefox is only used by 4.5% of people) there is a change coming in Firefox 87. It won’t matter if you are using it, but it matters in terms of privacy and for website owners who have analytics.

What is that change? In non-technical terms, it slightly changes how websites know what website you came from. The new “policy” is that the website will only know you’ve come from example.com, it won’t know you’ve came from example.com/blog/example. If you are technical then you may want to read Mozilla’s security blog which covers this in greater detail. This is both good and bad and there is a major reason for this change.

The major reason for this change is because Chrome has had it since version 85 which came out in August 2020 and Firefox is now keeping up with the “standard”.

This is good for privacy, because then a website analytics can’t spell out exactly what the reader what previously doing.

However it’s not so good for website owners because now their analytics are going to be missing something. They won’t be able to tell on what page their website was linked on. They don’t get to know what content you just read so they can make something similar. Once this goes into effect, analytics are still going to be showing information but they are going to be missing that crucial piece that could be something that some companies rely on.

There is some hope, if you use Firefox you can change this setting. It’s not something the average Firefox user may do but it’s available for those who want to change it. Privacy International has a guide on how to change it and MDN Web Docs provides details on what the number means.

While this change isn’t one that I, as a website owner like. As a privacy advocate, I agree with this change.

Ru Singh inspired me to write this post and you can read her thoughts on her blog.

This is post number 64 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingMy thoughts on Firefox changing Referer policy

Highlights are only what you see

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When you are online you will see people posting. Those posts are usually only the highlights of that person, a majority of people don’t post online when something bad happens to them or when they are doing their normal schedule.

Why are people doing this? Because they want to show off how awesome they are, how proud they are of something happening, and to get others to congratulate them. It’s a major dopamine hit.

Some say they post to encourage everyone to try and do better, when in fact many people say when they see positive posts they hate themselves more because they aren’t doing something so cool.

I encourage you to think about why you are posting something online before you post it. Yes it will mean less posts from you but that isn’t a bad thing.

This is post number 63 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingHighlights are only what you see

“Facebook will test a reduction of political content in News Feed for some users”

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It’s funny that Facebook is doing this during a time when there very few elections going on in Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, or the US.


Facebook is doing this just to show that it’s still good, and that people should continue to use it like they always have been.

For those who use Facebook for political content, after they find out they are going to see less of that content they will move onto another social media site.


As Facebook says in their official press release, “COVID-19 information from authoritative health organizations like the CDC and WHO, as well as national and regional health agencies and services from affected countries, will be exempt from these tests. Content from official government agencies and services will also be exempt.”

Facebook said also, “But we’re always trying to make News Feed better, and this means finding a new balance of the content people want to see.” Personally, I think the news feed should go back to the way it was. Showing the most recent content first as in my news feed I tend to see the same people over and over again.


If Facebook had done this back in January 2020 (or earlier) then some people would say Facebook is doing the right thing. Now Facebook is just doing it because they want to, or they are feeling pressure from others.


What do you think about this? Let me know by email, Twitter, or Mastodon.


Other or similar articles online about this:


Reducing Political Content in News Feed | Facebook News
Facebook to temporarily reduce political content for some users in few countries | Reuters
Facebook might cut down your news feed’s political content | CNET
Facebook Will Temporarily Reduce Visibility Of Political Content For Some Users | Forbes
What Facebook Gets Wrong About ‘The Social Dilemma’
Why You Shouldn’t Use Facebook | Kev Quirk


This is post number 62 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue Reading“Facebook will test a reduction of political content in News Feed for some users”

How many companies rely on AWS?

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To make it short: a ton of companies do. Because it’s cheap and easy for them to use.


Now for the details:


What does AWS stand for? AWS stands for Amazon Web Services, which is owned by and run by Amazon. They provide computers that companies (and people) can rent out when they need, which are located in multiple places around the world.


Wait, it’s owned by Amazon. Like amazon.com? The very same company. Amazon doesn’t just run the name brand Amazon site, they run many other things.


How many companies rely on AWS? That number is hard to say, as Amazon doesn’t give exact numbers so we are left to estimates. Synergy Research Group estimates just over 30% of the worldwide cloud computer service spend is on AWS, which may seem like a lot until you see that “Others” is a bit more than AWS at anywhere from 38 to 40%.


What are some big and well-known companies that use AWS? Netflix is a huge one (and is listed on the AWS website), BBC iPlayer uses it, Slack uses it for processing and delivery, Twitter uses it for their timelines.


Why do companies use AWS? Amazon has tons of computer power around the world and they have [99.99% monthly uptime agreement])https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_availability#Percentage_calculation) (except when they go down and half of the internet seems to go down as well). It doesn’t require any companies to have their own data centre, or pay someone to do all the maintenance and updates on those servers. AWS is cost-effective (they can be as cheap as $0.0061 per hour). Amazon does have very high security and they take your data very seriously, and there are also many best practices. Companies can quickly add more computing power if they need (then stop using it once they don’t need it anymore).


Why should you care how many companies are using the same company for their hosting? You should care because it means if AWS has any sort of issues then many (or all) of the websites you use will be down. It’s always best to decentralize as wide as you can so that if one major player goes down it doesn’t mean everything goes down. This is hard in practice as most of the time people don’t care where the website they use is hosted, as long as it’s up. If you care, to make sure not every company you use is hosted by the same company, you can use a site like WhoIsHostingThis.com.


What alternatives to AWS are there? There are many alternatives, which all depends on your needs and budget. Some of the more popular AWS EC2 alternatives are, Heroku, DigitalOcean (affiliate link), Vultr, Linode, Microsoft Azure (affiliate link), Google Cloud Platform, OVH, Scaleway, Cloudways (affiliate link), Luna Node (affiliate link), Alibaba Cloud.


Many companies rely on AWS because it’s easy and relatively inexpensive and they are one of the most popular companies that rent out computers. But there are many other alternatives that should be looked into.


This is post number 61 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingHow many companies rely on AWS?

How is Clubhouse making money?

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Clubhouse is an audio-only app (that is currently just on iOS) that allows people to have a room to talk (about almost anything). As of the time of writing it is invite-only and you can apply to be part of their wait list (or if you know someone with an invite they can invite you).


There are so many people using it (there isn’t an specifics available but many people are talking about it on Twitter) that their servers are consistently going down.


It launched in April 2020, and already has at least $12 million in VC money. On January 24th 2021 they announced another round of money (it is estimated that $100 million was raised, the exact money wasn’t disclosed at the time of writing), but that leads to a question that many probably aren’t thinking about. How are the VC’s going to make their money back.


They aren’t any ads on Clubhouse, and they aren’t selling anything that happens in the conversations, so how do they plan to make money (and pay back their VC’s)?


I reached out to Clubhouse by email to see if they would explain how they plan to make money and pay back their VC’s. I didn’t receive a response after giving them 5 business days to respond.


In January 2021 I’m trying an experiment, I’m going to be posting at least 2 blog posts per week. This is not only to see how the engagement is, but how my writing goes over during the time. As always you can contact me directly if you have any thoughts or opinions on this or what I’ve written on. This is post number 60 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingHow is Clubhouse making money?

Removed Webmention / Indieweb from this site

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Just a quick note for those that may care, I have removed Webmention / Indieweb from my website and I have removed it for many reasons and at this time I don’t plan to bring it back.

Here are some of the reasons I removed them, the big one (at the one that prompted the removal) is that the community has said mean things about similar projects (like Aral Balkan and his Small Web) and I simply can’t support that.

The main aspects are made by only a couple of people, which means they have a big influence over what changes are made (and what is accepted or not). Yes it’s open source and ultimately someone has to decide what goes in and what doesn’t but they want this to be used to everyone which means more people should have influence.

Currently one of the people who does many things is employed by Google. I understand everyone needs to draw a salary and keep a living, but this seems a bit counter productive. Google wants everything to be owned or run by them and one of their employees is working on something that is trying to do the opposite. I fear one day Google will come down and either destroy Webmention / Indieweb or have a major influence or own it.

Webmention / Indieweb is finally just to hard for the average person to use. As Kev Quirk said in a blog post, if you have a WordPress site is takes around 7 plugins just to have everything related to Webmention / Indieweb up. I had fewer plugins but still didn’t feel like it was enough to be fully used. And because it’s hard to use it only means select people will use it and it will become exclusively use by that group, and they will develop functions only for them.

I thank everyone who has included my site in a Webmention / Indieweb and I thank everyone who has spent their time developing for either of those. If you do a blog post (or anything similar like a social media post) in the future I would appreciate an email to let them me know, or a tag on that social media.

Other posts related to this by others:
Praxis and Indieweb

This is post number 60 as part of 100 Days To Offload.

Continue ReadingRemoved Webmention / Indieweb from this site