Fees: the death of your brand’s reputation

I’ve long had thoughts about fees charged by service providers but a recent experience annoyed me enough to want to write about it.

I booked a trip to Boston to be with family up there over the 4th of July (which always gives me mixed emotions). Owing to the holiday, flights were fairly expensive, so I opted for the cheapest ticket which happened to be with Spirit Airlines.

I was happy with Spirit, having nabbed a reasonably-priced flight over the holiday weekend and everything was going well until it came time to check in.

During the check-in process, Spirit let me know that there is a fee for checking a bag. Okay: that’s to be expected given the current climate in the airline industry and the fact that this is a budget airline. However, what I was not prepared for is that aside from a free, small personal item, they also charge you for your carry-ons. And they’re not cheap.

Mechanical music

My wife happened upon this YouTube video today and I was just blown away by how creative it was.

Wintergatan is a Swedish folktronica band that have spent the last two years ago building a giant music box out of wood, metal and LEGO that uses steel marbles to play instruments including a bass guitar, vibraphone and drums.

I have watched this several times, in awe at how each marble is lifted into place and rhythmically fired towards an instrument to hit the right note at the right time. So creative.

Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier

I love automating things. For a few years now I’ve configured my site using Jetpack’s Publicize module in conjunction with Buffer to automatically post new content to my social networks. However, there’s a couple of limitations with that approach:

  1. Publicize seemingly won’t let you use the post’s short URL,
  2. You have little control over when these posts go out on social media.

With my new found love of Zapier, I sought to rectify both of these issues.

My unremarkable story of becoming a WordPress core contributor

It has been a goal of mine to become a WordPress core contributor for a few years now. I’ve tried on a couple of occasions but made more of a concerted effort last year.

I was aware of the Good First Bugs list and started there at the onset of the WordPress 4.5 development cycle in January 2016. I opened each ticket to see whether a patch had been submitted. I found a couple where patches were not present and where not much in the way of changes were required in order to put forward a suitable patch, thus increasing my chances of putting forth an acceptable patch.

Automate your life or business with Zapier

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of automation. I’ve previously discussed how to create items on your To Do list from form entries and how to automatically track all of your deliveries in an iPhone app. So when I decided to move my accounting to QuickBooks and employ my mother-in-law as my accountant to maintain my books, I sought to overhaul how my books were managed and to make the process as easy as possible for my new accountant.

This is where Zapier comes in. I had long known about Zapier since it was a fledgling service, aiming to join up the mountain of online services which provide and/or receive information but don’t necessarily speak directly to one another. For example, you might want to create a new tweet every time you posted a new image on Instagram or create a new message in Slack whenever you received an email matching a specific set of criteria, such as a new statement notification.

A call for WordPress developers

I’m fortunate enough to have been working with WordPress for a number of years now and have built up a good client base to support my business.

However, add that substantial growth to having a wife and now, two young children and there’s simply not enough hours in the day. In order to keep serving my existing clients, responding to new requests and growing the business, I am needing to rely more and more on others to help me complete the work that comes my way.

I’m looking to build a pool of freelancers (not agencies) that are very proficient with WordPress whom I can send work out to. You can take as much or as little work as you want as your schedule will allow.

This is what the websites of central governments should look like – a homage to gov.uk

Government is not usually at the leading edge of, well anything, but not least technology.

As the noughties rolled on, the UK Government had a wealth of information online, but it was so fragmented that you couldn’t be sure if you were reading the most up-to-date information or whether you were getting the information from the right source.

This is very typical of most governments in the modern age. If anything, we were probably ahead of most just by having that information online somewhere as opposed to other countries which may have been slower to put this information online.

In 2011, the Government Digital Service was created with a mandate to completely revolutionise the Government’s digital offerings and to adopt a “digital by default” approach where every service and piece of information is planned from the outset to be available or delivered digitally.

Why Uber should and will win out over cabs

I’m betting that a good portion of Uber’s income goes straight into the pockets of lawyers. For years now, Uber have been defending their service in countless nations, states, counties and cities in expensive and protracted lawsuits.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Uber is a service that connects people who need a ride with people with a car. It’s similar to the very familiar concept of taxis, except that one must privately order a ride from an Uber driver rather than hailing an Uber on the street.

Uber has been immensely successful and taxi drivers and owners rightly see this as a threat to their livelihood. Someone came up with a better way for connecting drivers and riders than the centuries old method that most cabs continue to employ. Now anyone with a smartphone can quickly and easily say where they are and where they want to go and an Uber will typically be able to pick them up within a few minutes.

Why engineers rule

Everything that wasn’t invented by God is invented by an engineer.

HRH, Prince Philip

Free high-security SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt

Ever tried installing an SSL certificate on your website? Sucks, doesn’t it? The whole process around procuring and installing SSL certificates is so archaic and cumbersome that it sends shudders through the body of anyone facing it.

After Edward Snowden let the world know that everyone is watching everything you do online, we started to realise that we should be able to use the Internet without every benign and every private bit of data being visible to others. The answer to this problem: encryption.

Encryption scrambles data between the provider (say, a website, server or application) and its end user, such that if the data is intercepted anywhere between the two, it can’t be read. If you own a website, the way you encrypt data sent to and from it is through an SSL certificate.

Late last year, several do-gooders came together and agreed that the status quo for producing and installing SSL certificates was terrible. So they set about changing it, and with the vision of allowing anyone to produce and install an SSL certificate with the greatest of ease and with zero cost, they created Let’s Encrypt: a non-profit certificate issuing authority.