Category Archives: Work

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My First Month with Grammarly

So after publishing ‘Space Rogues‘ I decided to pay for Grammarly and run it through the service. Several early readers remarked about the grammar offenses, so I decided to take a look at what I could do (can’t afford an editor yet) to fix it up.

Talk about tedious. Lesson learned, now I put each scene through Grammarly after I finish it! Two days of monotonous copy-pasting and I had what I consider a whole new (or at least dramatically improved) book!

ApparenGrammarlywords uploadedtly, you get an email each month with your Grammarly use, and I thought it was interesting.

I started with Grammarly as a Safari plugin so have been using it for roughly two weeks, before committing to installing it, and passing ‘Space Rogues‘ through it. So, about 52,000 words of this 97,809 are my book, the rest, sort of shockingly, are just things I’ve typed in Safari. Holy cow! I mean there are a few conference emails and blog posts, but really, 40,000 odd words… wow. YOu can clearly see the day I spent pasting each scene of ‘Space Rogues‘ into Grammarly. I hope Scrivener 3 integrates Grammarly.

I did think this little bit was kinda neat, I don’t know what this says about me, or the other 99% of Grammarly’s users, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

 

 

 

This, however, was not at all surprising. Honestly, I am a bit surprised it was this high.

 

 

 

 

So the funniest part of the email I got, basically captured what I’ve known for some time, and has been driven home since reawakening my writer self. It’s something I’m actively thinking about now as I write.

My top 3 issues that Grammarly fixed

This renewed journey into writing (and publishing) is an exciting adventure! Thanks for following me on it! Remember you can also get non-blog post stuff from my newsletter. It’s 100% dedicated to writing, so sample chapters, character insights, etc.

 

 

 

Google Wifi box

Thought on My First week with Google Wifi

I just switched out my Apple Airport Extremes for Google Wifi. I’m normally all in on the silo I’ve chosen (Apple usually). I’ve had Apple Airport Extremes since the second generation of them. They’ve never been the best devices, but again the silo. They worked remarkably well within the Apple ecosystem. Mac and iOS would see APs that needed setting up, etc. Easy. The app was nice enough.

Updates were few and far between, barely a scrap of pro user support, or more modern considerations, but they worked and managing them was easy enough from a non shitty app.

Google Wifi unboxingI’ve been keeping an eye on the emerging Mesh Wifi world, and saw this review. Wirecutter has a great writeup as well, but it didn’t cover Google Wifi and a few others, because they hadn’t shipped yet. One of my main things was it has to look not terrible since at least one will live in plain sight. Apple kit sets the bar high there.

I’ll admit, the unboxing was Apple like. A nice plain white box, subtle logo, three very pretty little pods resting inside. Cords and unsightly bits in nice individual compartments below. Nice.

Google Wifi Setup

Setup is pretty straight forward, and you can read all about it in the blog post linked above, so I won’t re-hash that. One thing I’ve learned in keeping up a home network, changing your network name is a big pain in the ass, so don’t unless you need to. Prior to booting the first Google Wifi up, I powered down the AirPort Extreme. Then as I went through the process I named my network the exact same name as the majority of devices would look for, and made sure the password was the same. Most things just reconnected no problem.

The one hassle I had in this area is that Airport Extremes let you treat your 2.4 and 5gHz networks as separate things, so I had “Wilker” and “Wilker 5G”. This was also my own thing, since it made sure my machines connected to the faster AP that was was serving 802.11ac and the slower b/g/n wouldn’t slow down the ac connections. A hold over for sure. The downside was that the device that would be the biggest headache, were the ones on the “Wilker” network. iDevice switches and the Sonos speakers. Things that don’t have a UI to interact with. Long story short, lots of resetting and reconnecting later, everyone is happy on the new and improved “Wilker 5G” network.

Google Wifi App

Google Wifi appWhile I like the app, it’s clean and pretty easy to use, it’s also the only way to interact with your Google Wifi. No desktop app, no (blech) web interface, sadly also no iPad app. Phone only. Deal breaker? No, but a pain sometimes when I’d rather use my iPad.

It is nice to be able to see my network like this, it’s one of the things I liked with Apple’s Airport Utility. This is even better since I don’t have to look at each device to see what’s on the network. They’re all listed regardless of which AP they’re talking to, very nice.

I’m not sure of it’s overall utility, but the idea of a priority device is in the app. google Wifi device list When looking at the list, you can tap that little green circle in the bottom right, and assign a device on your network priority traffic for one, two or four hours. I’m not sure why I would care do to that. It might be useful to do it indefinitely for say my media center, or the AppleTV to ensure streaming is always good, but I can’t imagine having to every few hours, pick who gets priority.

 

The other really nice thing in the device list, is seeing the data usage. You can see it in the list, and tapping on a device let’s you see that devices traffic either real time or back a few days/weeks/months. Kinda neat.

Google Wifi Mesh

Google Wifi meshI’ve been interested in mesh since I started reading about. The idea isn’t new, in fact I’ve used my previous generations of Airport Extremes in a mesh setup, but it’s much more manual and labor intensive to setup and manage. Google Wifi makes it much easier!

I do wish you could wire additional base stations to help spread the load down through the modem, but not a deal breaker.

The hardest part of set up was placing the units. Our house is a rowhouse, tall and skinny. My first thought was one unit in the office closet where the Airport Extreme was, then one upstairs at the entry to the rooftop deck since usually internet up there is the pits.

Except as you can see, the office closet isn’t a great location, I suspect because the washer and drier are right in line between the main google wifi unit and the office one. I’ll play with location later.

The rooftop one right now is in the master bedroom, straight down the hall from the office. The Unit gave an error, when on the roof. I’m not sure if it was just a fluke or if all units need to be close the main unit (which goes against my understanding of how mesh works). Will play with that one as well later.

I did some tinkering and realized my office AP was on the closet because that’s where the old Apple one lived. It was in there because that’s where the network drop was. Lightbulb moment, I moved the office unit into the room on a shelf and signal strength was vastly improved. The closet still has a switch for the wired devices.

Final thoughts.

So far so good. All devices are connected and doing well, internet speeds don’t seem any different, things stream well, etc. These are smaller and more discreet than Airport Extremes which is nice. We’ll see how Google does as far a feature updates, etc.

One update, I had a weird google service issue the other day. I don’t know if it was google DNS, or their servers or what, but it directly impacted the google wifi since the app talks to their servers as well, quite frustrating.

 

 

 

I won NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerIt only took ten years, but I finally won NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal is start Nov. 1, and by the end of Nov. 30 have 50,000 words written.

Every year for the last ten years I’ve at least done something. Some years it’s been open the site, be too busy to dedicate myself to writing, and close the site. Some years I’ve started writing, either something new, or picked up something I’d started randomly in the year. I’d get various amounts of words in, miss a day, then two, then four then I’d see that I was so far behind the average per day needed to win, I’d give up. Ten Years.

This year, my friend Tom and I both decided we’d do it again, both agreed to give it our all. I was especially motivated because a few months before Tom had shared a manuscript he wrote some 15 odd years before, and after reading it, I was more energized to create my own.

capture-2016-12-01-at-12-33-32-pmI don’t know what was different this year, other than being a bit lighter than usual on “stuff to do” work wise. But I was able to start strong, and even when I fell behind a few times, it was never so much so that it became impossible.

I actually thought I’d crush it over thanksgiving, but did the exact opposite, then when I was in the final week, the little author dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site was like at this pace you’ll finish on Dec. 2. “SO CLOSE” So I made time, and pushed through. I crossed the “finish” line around noonish on the last day.

I think one factor of the win was that I finally found an app I enjoyed using to write. I’ve tried most every app out there aimed at authors, and haven’t loved any. Some of come close, some haven’t, some have simply gone away. Scrivener, is here to stay, the iPad app is great for when I wanted to try to add a few more words but didn’t have my laptop, the Mac app is fairly intuitive to use.

Until the last week, I wasn’t sure I’d finish on time or finish at all. I have to say I’m pretty darned pleased with myself. My plan is to let it sit a week or two, then go back over the story with an eye for cleaning things up. Then anyone who’s interested may read it (warning it’s Sci Fi). Then Maybe I’ll toss it up on Amazon. Who knows.

Any how, wanted to share, because like I said, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

Gratitude

IMG_2478Saying “Thank you” is important. If nothing else it’s polite, but for events, it’s important to realize, you’re the least important piece of the pie.

No one is buying a ticket to hang out with you. They’re coming to see the speakers, possibly to meet sponsors (especially if they’re looking for work). If you factor in at all, it’s a distant third.

For every event I organize I hand write thank you cards. Every speaker gets one (barring hiccups in the process, etc) when they check into the hotel or when they arrive at the conference.

For 360|iDev that’s almost 60 cards. For 360|AnDev is was just under 30.

I think too many event organizers forget that it’s not about them, they form a cult of personality around them as if their presence is the key. Sure great organizers do great events, but the ‘great’  part is the event, not the organizer.

 

I’ve thought about using something to automate my thank you cards, but realized that’s not what I’m about. Sure some have words crossed out, because my hand moved faster than my brain, sure I sometimes write them upside down, or misspell a word, but that’s what authenticity looks like.

Conference Signage V3

IMG_2523So I wrote a while back about Conference signage, and what my “version 1” looked like, and where I wanted to see version 2 come in.

Turns out V2 came sooner than expected. The awesome team at Essemble, who built the conference app, were able to quickly work up. rough version 1 of a conference signage AppleTV app.

It wasn’t fancy to start, I have a few things I’d like to change for next year, but overall it was awesome. Of course training people to look at this vs. the crappy little monitors hotels install outside conference rooms might be a bigger challenge than I expected.

IMG_2542Each room had a large monitor out front, and an AppleTV. The app had a list of rooms, you selected the room the TV was in front of and that was it. The app polled the server that drives the conference app, so any changes I made to the schedule in the app, were reflected almost immediately on the screens. Certainly faster than I could update the website.

 

As a first cut of this, done in … I think 2-3 weeks at most, I’m thrilled. The information I wanted to present was presented. I didn’t have to print out session signs for every session in every room, and have volunteers running around to change them. I was able to quickly move sessions based on capacity, and everything I needed to reflect those changes, did so quickly.

IMG_2540There were a few hang ups, the way the app pulled data left the previous evenings listing until 15 minutes before the next mornings event, vs. starting wth the first thing that day. Not a big deal, and easily addressed.

I loved that general sessions were able to be called out as basically “Not in this room” so anyone walking in, not only knew it was a general session, but where it was, and that it wasn’t in the room they were standing at.

I’d love to have them run in portrait, mostly because hotels don’t have small screens, and nearly 50″ is a lot to have sitting there in landscape. Not a deal breaker.

I’d love to have a bit more styling on the display, maybe using the header image for the event along the top, or as a full background, again not a deal breaker.

Down the road, a bit down the road, I’d like to own my own displays (probably smaller, 46″ was nice, but I felt it was a bit overkill) so I have more control on size, and placement, etc. but even using hotel kit, it worked out great.

I’d love to make conference signage more valuable and realistically more trustworthy for attendees. Hotels have small monitors that they use, but those changes aren’t in my control, they’re scraped from the schedule and any changes require emails to be sent, delay, etc. Updating the website is something I do as we go, but it’s also not as fast as simply changing the data the app uses, and not just updating the app, but the room signs at the some time.

Bushel to the Rescue!

So I heard about Bushel on a podcast i was interviewed for. I fell in love.

I’ve had a long standing family rule, use the devices I tell you to, and you get support, use something else, and you’re on your own. My mom until recently was a PC user, she was hella on her own!

Then she got a macbook air. I have lots… and I mean LOTS of macs. The conferences have 4 for session recording, i have mine. I have 2 mac mini’s, various iOS devices, my wife has a Macbook Pro and iOs devices, etc.

Work and family devices, managedI can now manage them all. No more “Gah, you have 3,542 updates waiting” or “Why don’t you do X?”

Between bushel and Screens (i just the other day remotely helped my mom, not by trying to understand what she was seeing on the screen, but by seeing the screen directly.) I can make sure everyone uses strong passwords, disk encryption, and more.

What’s nice, I can establish different schemes (called blueprints in Bushel), so i have work computers managed one way, family machines managed another. This is especially awesome since work machines can all have the same settings, and this let’s me manage that much easier than touching each one.

Setup is easy, you toggle on “open enrollment” go to a website on the device, install the certs, done. (Well done on the client, you have to do some Apple stuff as far as management certs, approval, etc. But just once)

What’s nice, you can use it for free for the first few devices. See if you like it. If you do sign up, use this link.

 

360|iDev 2015, What an amazing thing we did.

So i just finished my big event of the year, 360|iDev and wow. What a rush (as always).

TL;DR; So honored to share a room with so many awesome people being awesome. Making amazing things, being parts of amazing teams, etc. I honestly feel this event not only has a positive impact on my life each year, but also does on others, which is humbling to say the least.

There’s an amazing photo pool here.

Now the long form.

I start planning 360|iDev the moment the preceding event ends, so yes, I’ve already begun work on next years event.  A 4 day conference with 55 speakers, 400 attendees and a handful of sponsors isn’t something that comes together in a few weeks.

There were a few good, and one bad thing this year. One of the things I like about doing 360|iDev is that we bring about 400 people into Denver, more than 85% of whom aren’t local to CO. Many who aren’t local to the United States. Sure when compared to city wide events, that’s nothing, but to me it’s a big damn deal.

360|iDev is my bread-n-butter. It keeps enough money coming in, my wife hasn’t forced me to get a job… yet, LOL. I get to see people from around the world that i may only see once (maybe twice if I’m lucky) a year. I get to show off my home town (by claim, if not birth), and show everyone why Denver is so awesome, why it’s where I’m where I am.

There was a lot of great stuff this week, much of it conference specific, so I’ll talk about it on the conference blog, but some of it more personal and Denver specific.

Lunch (good)

Last year we ate lunch outside the hotel because yeah $50/person for conference lunch is stupid and well hotels are often stupid. One place however can’t handle 400 ppl, no matter what they think or say. Lunch last year wasn’t awesome. Long lines, long waits, etc. As experiments go, it failed.

This year I had 3 (4 on Tuesday because of Civic Center eats) options for attendees. Lunch tickets were available for each place, people picked what they wanted to eat. It was awesome to see groups form on the fly each day to explore someplace new. We spread the lunch tickets, so no single vendor had more than 150 people a day. So far (bills are still coming in) it looks like i spent half as much this year as last, and had 3x more options for people. That’s awesome!

The only thing that went a bit sideways was my failure to account for vendors not being open on weekends. Out of 3 only 1 was open on Sundays. Oops.

Local Community (good)

One of the things being downtown has afforded was the opportunity to spread some money around vs. bottling it up in a hotel chain. This year we spread about $18,000 to local restaurants in the downtown area. I think that’s pretty awesome, i know i’m not a rain maker, but i think any time I can give money to local businesses, that’s a great thing. Not only am i not paying for over priced hotel food, but I’m boosting (in a small way, sure) the local economy.

While small, i think every dollar helps. I think as a conference organizer, it’s my job to not just dump money into the pockets of a massive hotel chain. It’s my job to better the city that is hosting my event. Whether that’s financially or even just from exposure like not keeping everyone indoors all day and night.

Police (Bad)

During lunch on Tuesday, the attendees ate lunch at Civic Center Eats. A few attendees were enjoying their meal on the grass when some Denver PD officers came over. Sadly instead of assuming these folks weren’t criminals, vagrants or some type of malcontents, they treated a group of international visitors to Denver like criminals, demanding they all present ID while telling them they were sitting in the wrong grass. Not cool Denver PD, not cool. I get we’re trying to revitalize the grass in the park, but maybe wrap that section in tape, vs. the handful of tiny ass signs. Also maybe, just maybe assume people (wearing conference badges, even!) aren’t trying to kill the grass or break the rules and start with “Hey guys, can you move elsewhere, this grass is off limits for now.” vs. oh i dunno, accosting people eating their lunch, making them all present ID before letting them go.

back-side-black-textAs someone who brings people from around the world to Denver, i’m not super thrilled that happened. Small incident, yes? bad experience for people in Denver the first time ever, yup. In the end we all joked about it, but is that really what Denver wants people to remember about it?

I have much respect for law enforcement, I know their jobs are hard, but that’s not an excuse. Be better please Denver PD.

If you’re one of this years’ attendees, thank you, really, truly, thank you. Being able to do this event, and make even a small living is huge! I can’t thank every single speaker, sponsor and attendee enough for being a part of something so truly amazing. Conferences are hard, harder still when balancing making a living, with making an awesome experience. I already can’t wait until next year.