My Latest Updates

Tools and Resources in my Daily Work Flow

Everyone has their own “work routine” that consists of how they check their email, when they respond to emails, which sites or apps they use to help stay organized, and even methods to stay motivated and focused. This is my attempt to share the tools, resources, and sites I use on a daily basis.

Productivity Focused

  • I’m a big believer in Todoist. It is my primary way to organize, catalog, and prioritize tasks and thoughts that come into play during the day. If I “think” something, I’ve learned that it MUST be written down or I will forget it. Those thoughts, planning sessions, and scheduling all go into Todoist.
  • I’m also a “list person” and have found that an outline is a great way for my brain dumps. That is where Workflowy comes to the rescue. I have been using Workflowy’s natural method of managing lists and brain dumps for many years and would be lost without this resource.
  • But sometimes I have to plan with the big picture and it helps to use a mindmap. I use MindMup to help me easily put into visual context the structure of a project or idea.

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The Story Behind The Name

I have been asked numerous times about why I named the WordPress theme framework I built for WPStudio.com the Voce Theme. There are multiple facets surrounding this name.

The word voce means “voice” in Italian. I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell. Each individual and unique story is communicated in different ways. So when building the theme framework I wanted to enable the theme framework to be used in multiple ways:

  • Have an accessible settings panel with simple on/off switches for functionality and features…
  • … yet also create an easy to use interface to interact with some of the more advanced action hook elements of the theme…
  • … while allowing those that want to assemble their “story” using many of the quality page builder systems to let the theme framework take a backseat to the page builders while still controlling the structure and hierarchy of the site…
  • … and also empowering those that want to dig into the code and construct a unique “story” experience using one of the lightest and fastest WordPress themes available.

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Chromebook Tips

Chromebooks keep getting better and are become the perfect travel companion for any web developer. I’ve had Chromebooks all the way back to the original CR-47 that showed up at my doorstep because I filled out a survey for Google. And since that time I’ve used Chromebooks as the companion device whenever I’ve been away from my desk. But first some points of order. Chromebooks may not be for everyone and yet they may fit you perfectly. Let’s look at a few underlying “workflow” issues that contribute to Chromebooks working perfectly for me (and you can see if that works for you as well).

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2016 was a Rough Year for Celebrities

I’ll just leave these here…

  • David Bowie (Musician)
  • Alan Rickman (Actor from ‘Harry Potter’)
  • Rene Angelil (Musician and husband of Celine Dion)
  • Dan Haggerty (Actor from ‘Grizzly Adams’)
  • Abe Vigoda (Actor from ‘Godfather’)
  • Paul Kantner (Musician and cofounder of ‘Jefferson Airplane’)
  • Joe Alaskey (Voice actor of ‘Bugs Bunny’ and ‘Daffy Duck’)
  • Dave Mirra (BMX Rider)
  • George Gaynes (Actor from ‘Police Academy’)
  • Harper Lee (Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’)
  • Tony Burton (Actor from ‘Rocky’ series)
  • George Kennedy (Actor from ‘Naked Gun’ and ‘Airport’)
  • George Martin (Music producer, famous for The Beatles)
  • Frank Sinatra Jr (The son of Frank Sinatra)
  • Larry Drake (Actor)
  • Garry Shandling (Comedian and actor)
  • Patty Duke (Actress)
  • Merle Haggard (Singer songwriter)
  • Doris Roberts (Actress from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’)
  • Joan Laurer (Professional wrestler known as ‘Chyna’)
  • Prince (Musician)
  • Madeleine Lebeau (Actress from ‘Casablanca’)
  • Morley Safer (Journalist from ’60 Minutes’)
  • Alan Young (Actor from ‘Mister Ed’)
  • John Berry (Founding member of Beastie Boys)
  • Nick Menza (Megadeath drummer)
  • Burt Kwouk (Actor from ‘Pink Panther’ and James Bond films)
  • Muhammad Ali (Boxer)
  • Christina Grimmie (Singer, made popular by ‘The Voice’)
  • Anton Yelchin (Actor in the new Star Trek films)
  • Bill Cunningham (Famous photographer)
  • Michael Cimino (File director)
  • Elie Wiesel (Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Gene Marshall (Film director)
  • Barry Jenner (Actor from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’)
  • John Saunders (ESPN broadcaster)
  • Gene Wilder (Amazing movie actor, famous for ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Blazing Saddles’)
  • Jon Polito (Actor from ‘The Big Lebowski’)
  • Arnold Palmer (Professional Golfer)
  • Leonard Cohen (Canadian poet, novelist, and songwriter)
  • Robert Vaughn (Actor from ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’)
  • Florence Henderson (The ‘Brady Bunch’ mother)
  • Joseph Mascolo (Actor from ‘Days of Our Lives’)
  • Alan Thicke (Actor from ‘Growing Pains’)
  • Craig Sager (National sideline sports reporter)
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor (Trailblazer of today’s celebrity-obsessed culture)
  • Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia of ‘Star Wars’)
  • Debbie Reynolds (Mother of Carrie Fisher and Oscar nominated singer-actress)

Current Chrome Addons

I recently realized that my core set of Chrome browser add-ons that I have been using for many years has morphed and changed over the years. Yesterday, I wiped one of my laptops to reinstall a fresh operating system and during the process of re-setting up my work environment, it occurred to me that many of the addons I used to use… I no longer need or use. So this post is to hopefully help other freelance web developers find new and useful tools for your browser.

The first addon is one that has stuck around forever. Different users may prefer different options but I’m a big user of the Web Developer addon by Chris Pederick. It gives me all the tweaks and tools I need to quickly analyze and manipulate a site.

Security and encryption with some of my communication are very important and due to my transient nature of my work (floating between multiple computers and locations) I don’t really have a “desktop encryption” setup. Instead I use the Mailvelope browser addon to generate and exchange encryption keys to protect my web-based email.

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WordPress Usage Survey

I’ve put together a quick survey/bunch of questions about how people use WordPress (from a plugin/theme/management perspective). I would greatly appreciate anyone who took the time to fill out the survey so I can use the results in an upcoming iThemes Training class along with some future focused writing/work. Thanks.

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Hosted Email Options

The options for freelancers who do client work in regards to hosting websites is much simpler than finding the right email solution. While I’m a big fan of LiquidWeb for any managed solution. I’m personally a bit more of a tinkerer who likes a little more control over the hosting environment. I use either SSHVM.com and run an Nginx-based solution or utilize ServerPilot with DigitalOcean to provide a more locked-down PHP/WordPress setup.

But when it comes to email… that’s where the possible problems begin.

Why is Email Hosting a Big Deal?

First off, we should treat our web hosting environment with great care because this is the frontline, the “storefront” of our business. We need to do everything in our power to not compromise the integrity of our web hosting area. One of the easiest ways to jeopardize our website is by having some of the emails sent from the same server as our website labeled as SPAM. It could be because someone doesn’t remember signing up for our email list or they don’t like you anymore and instead of de-friending you on Facebook they simply start labeling your emails as SPAM. Whatever the reason, once your IP address associated with the server your website is being hosted on is tagged as a SPAM originator then it because a much larger mountain to climb to fix SEO and other associated problems.

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Creating a Simple Bitcoin Escrow System

I’ve been digging into BIP38 (https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/BIP_0038) quite a bit lately and using an old abandoned code project as a foundation to build a Trustless Bitcoin Escrow System. BIP38 is all about encrypting private keys (if you don’t want to look it up). 🙂

You can check out the system here – http://bitcoincontract.net/

Right now feel free to test things out. Once I work out all the kinks I’ll move the site over to an SSL cert and tweak a few more things.

BitcoinContract.net

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