Did I mention that I started a Podcast?

Did I mention that I started a Podcast?

A few months ago I was hanging out with my friend Sanjay at Prototype Prime, and the topic of podcasting came up. As we were talking Sanjay said, “I think I want to start a podcast, do you want to do it with me?” The resounding answer was, “Yes!” Honestly, I didn’t give it any thought, it was just a great opportunity, and I took it.

Thus, Tech Talk Yall was born, a podcast about technology and startups with a “southern flair,” meaning that we focus on some stories that relate to Atlanta in some capacity. So far the list of things we have discussed has been pretty amusing (and informative) and includes the following:

  • Underwater server farms
  • Fake Planets
  • Typos that tanked half the internet
  • Farmers hacking John Deer tractors
  • Bots (that are amazing BTW)
  • A thrill ride that goes faster and faster until you are sufficiently scared
  • Burger King hacking your home
  • Bags of juice and the $400 machine that squeezes them
  • Scientist discovered a new blue, who knew?
  • And more!

We just released Episode 8 today. If you haven’t already subscribed, I would love for you to do that here, or here. And, if you are a regular listener, I would love it if you would leave a review!

The Apps on my Home Screen for 2017

The Apps on my Home Screen for 2017

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From time to time I like to reassess the apps on my phone’s home screen. For an app to be on my home screen I either need to use it already every day, or want to start using it almost every day. My home screen apps reflect where my mind is, what my goals are, and how I’m going about optimizing and organizing my life. (HT to Jeff Hilimire for posting his screen and reminding me I should do a post about mine again)

The Apps I’m using the most / most excited about in 2017:

Food.com – this is a new app for me. I downloaded it because I want to learn to cook in 2017. So far I love it. It’s easy to find cool recipes, make shopping lists, etc.

MileIQ – this app tracks all of my driving. Then I open the app and swipe to the left if the drive was personal and right if the drive was for business. Each month it produces a report that I can use for my tax write off or to be reimbursed if needed. I love this app!

Waze – I continue to use Waze as my main navigation app because I can setup Planned Drives. Planned Drives are when I want to be downtown tomorrow at a certain time, I can punch that into Waze the night before, set the time I want to get there, and Waze will tell me how long it will take at that time and remind me to leave then. I love that.

Blinkist – this is a service I’m about to sign up for. It is like Cliff’s Notes for current books, and you can read them or listen to them. The summaries are really good. Since most of today’s books have about as much content as a blog post or white paper, I like the idea of this service to weed through books that have deep content and those that don’t.

Audible – this may be my favorite app! My goal this year is to listen to one book per week on Audible. My drive time has never been so productive or enjoyable.

Sheets – This is the app for Google Sheets. It may seem odd to have this one on my home screen, but it’s there for a specific reason. In 2017 I have decided to track some personal KPI’s (key performance indicators) for myself and using an old school spreadsheet to do it seems best. I’m tracking things like the time I go to bed and when I get up, how many meetings I have per day, if I exercised each day, etc.

Trello – this is a great app and service to use to organize stuff. I used it personally and with my team at Sideways8 to organize blog post ideas.

Slack – If you haven’t heard of Slack, it is an amazing messaging app for teams. None of the teams that I’m a part of could function without Slack. It eliminates the need for internal email and speeds up internal communication.

Social Media Row – I have a row of social media icons that I have a love/hate relationship with. I check Facebook from time to time to see how friends are doing. I use Twitter and Snapchat mostly to look at the news. And, I use Instagram mostly to post #hatselfies on the other platforms.

Cloze – this is an app I just started using last week. It is a personal CRM (Client Relationship Mangement). I like it so far because it integrates everything about my relationship with a person into one snapshot. I can go to a person in the app and see all of the meetings we have had, all of the emails we have exchanged, all of their public social media posts, all of my notes from our meetings and all of the contact information. Cloze does a good bit more than that, but that will be another blog post for another time.

Clash Royale – this game has held my attention longer than most. It’s a fun, card-like game, that I can play when I need to take a three-minute break from my day. The trick is not binge playing games back to back to back!

Inbox – this is Google’s Inbox app. Inbox is a slightly different way of approaching email. I like it because I can easily create groups of like email and bundle them together in the app. Then I can archive the entire group, let’s say it’s theoretically called “Promos,” all at once! I also like that you can take an email and snooze it for a day, to later in the week, or to next week.

OmniFocus – this is still my go to personal task list and has been for years.

3 Lessons from WordCamp US Day 1

3 Lessons from WordCamp US Day 1

Some of our Sideways8 team has been hanging out at WordCamp US and so far we are having a lot of fun! Here are a few things I have learned here:

  1. It’s always about people. You might think that WordCamps are about the talks, but they aren’t, they are about the people. I love WordCamps because I meet amazing people and learn a lot from them.
  2. Even good processes fail at first. Sometimes you might start a new process and assume it’s bad when it doesn’t work the first or second time. But even a good process will fail the first few times; it has to be tweaked and adapted multiple times to work.
  3. There is always more to learn. I have been using WordPress since 2004. It is always tempting to think I know it all. Being around these amazing people, I realize I know very little. I’m excited to learn more.

Here’s to Day 2!

What I bought instead of an Apple Watch (or a Pebble)

What I bought instead of an Apple Watch (or a Pebble)

I have been wearing a Pebble Steel watch for about a year and a half now, and eyeing an Apple Watch for the last year as well. I love the wearable idea and really think there is a lot of value in using them well. But recently, I have noticed my own habits changing and specifically have become more aware of how intrusive my phone alerts (and therefore my pebble watch alerts) have become. So, I decided to control how I’m alerted, and a big part of that was taking away the ability of my phone to alert me via smart watch. You guessed it, I bought a dumb watch. But, not just a dumb watch, a mechanical watch that doesn’t even use a battery!

I got a Seiko 5 because it’s super affordable, looks good, and tells time. It’s also a subtle reminder to me each time I look at it that technology doesn’t have to encroach upon my life. Yes, I’m missing out on some serious benefits of having a smart watch, and I might still venture back into that space later. But for now, I want to re-learn how to be present and my dumb watch is a part of that journey.

Surprise! Snapchat’s not evil, and is actually pretty cool now.

Surprise! Snapchat’s not evil, and is actually pretty cool now.

I confess, I started off thinking Snapchat was evil and would only be used for sending inappropriate photos because of the nature of the platform. It turns out it’s actually not evil, and now that they added the new Memories feature, it’s pretty useful.

I started using Snapchat about two months ago. At first, it was to consume news on there. Surprisingly the news channels on Snapchat are pretty engaging and are very different from other platforms, which I like. Then I started following some friends on Snapchat and started to see the power of the My Story feature. This feature allows you to post a series of photos and videos that people can see sequentially. Each photo or video only remains in your story for 24 hours, so there is no pressure to make anything pretty, it’s just a simple way to tell a narrative. This results in snaps of people’s lives that are more “behind the scenes” and a lot less refined than what you might find on Instagram or Facebook.

While I found this idea of the My Story section interesting, I still didn’t start using the platform because it was exclusively temporary content. I love that the temporary nature of the content lent itself to encouraging authenticity, but what if I wanted to keep some of the photos or videos for the future? Enter Snap’s new feature Memories. With the Memories feature, I can save those snaps for later!

So what does this mean for you? It means that Snapchat just got a lot more usable and interesting. It means the platform will likely continue to skyrocket and will likely become a major player in the social media space. So, like it or not, Snapchat is making its way into our lives and is surprisingly useful and fun. I am embracing it and think you should too.

For more about the new Memories feature from Snapchat, check out my friend Drew Hawkin’s post on it.

Do you ride the bike, or does the bike ride you? Same question about your phone.

Do you ride the bike, or does the bike ride you? Same question about your phone.

I was taking an ethics class and the professor asked the question, “do you ride the bike, or does the bike ride you?” Of course, we all know the answer to that, right? I ride the bike. But, it’s not as simple as that when you dig into it. The bike forces me to move my feet in a certain way. It also forces me to move my arms in a certain way and sit facing a specific direction, otherwise, I will fall off. So yes, I do ride the bike, but the bike rides me as well. The question is, how much control do I exert and how much control is exerted over me?

Now insert “phone” in place of “bike” in the above scenario. Do you control your phone, or does it control you? I realized recently that my phone’s notifications were controlling me, and were completely out of control. I was constantly being interrupted in the middle of work or family time with notifications that, while interesting, really don’t matter and aren’t pressing. So, I have decided to try something new.

I am changing the way I allow my phone to do notifications. I have removed almost all notifications that go to the lock screen (the most annoying interruption) and am pushing the notifications I can into the notifications center or allowing them to show with the App Icon. By doing this, I can look at my phone intermittently to see what is going on, but I’m not interrupted every 10 minutes by my phone buzzing.

All of this really goes back to my thinking about being present in the moment. Reducing the intrusion of my phone notifications is just one of my steps in doing that, more will come, and I will write on those soon.