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  1. rowan says:

    hey man free brushes eyy

  2. RickNunn says:

    Thanks for the linkage Curtis.

  3. mitzs says:

    So far I am happy with CS3 so I don’t see any reason to go for the newest when what I have is just fine with me.

  4. I have also been using DW CS4 for a few weeks now and while I enjoy some of the new features, such as not forcing you to create CSS in the ‘line-by-line’ approach, and some of the other CSS tools there to help you – but I am not sure what else they can offer to warrant a full upgrade from a tool I am fully happy using now… and the same applies to the rest of the suite – I am very curious to see what’s new.

    I do a lot of print and web and in our studio (of 3 designers) and we saw the reason to upgrade to CS3 (bridge being a surprising improvement to help sway the funding as well as a rebuilt Illustrator) from CS2, like you say. I can already see my studio passing on this iteration of the creative suite to keep funds down as typically we tend not to use all the ‘new’ features anyway because we are so used to doing it the ‘old’ way – if that makes sense…

    But we’ll see. I am pretty excited about seeing what’s new though.

  5. Oh don’t get me wrong, I am excited to try it, I’m just not convinced that it is a ‘needed’ update for me at work or at home.

  6. Douglas says:

    I’m glad to hear that you were able to update your WordPress blog without any issues. πŸ™‚

    Douglas Support

  7. K3v says:

    Interesting read! These are things you should know the moment you set up your website! πŸ™‚

  8. Nice little article! Keep up the great work! πŸ™‚

  9. curtism says:

    Thanks. I’ll admit that while I was writing it I went through my social media profiles and beefed them up a bit.

  10. Niki Brown says:

    Great post! I guess i never viewed the things i do online as a way to promote my business πŸ™‚ (not that i do much freelancing anyways)

    And you are correct, ive never met Collis or Cyan face to face!

  11. Seth says:

    Great post. I loved the wordpress article. The cross browser differences article was good as well, though some may feel that is should be exactly the “same” on each browser.

  12. curtism says:


    Yes some feel that way but I think it depends on what browsers you see on your site. On this site I see 90% Firefox or Webkit based browsers. So I don’t worry that I have achieved the rounded corners with browser specific border radius tags. Yes IE won’t see them but that is 10% or less of the people who see my site and I think the design comes across fine without it.

  13. Thanks for the mention! πŸ™‚

  14. curtism says:

    no problem. I’m always quite happy to link to articles that make me rethink things I am doing.

  15. Jacob Cass says:

    Thank you for the link out to Doug’s interview πŸ™‚

  16. Niki Brown says:

    I think things like this will always exist and its easy to get pissed off by them. Its our job as designers to educate our clients on why great design is worth paying for.

  17. curtism says:

    Agreed we should be educating our clients. I suppose often those that just want this type of work are probably the bad clients anyway.

  18. Elmerante Acacio says:

    Good Article information thanks for that post

  19. Shadowcall says:

    Good thoughts! Would have had my hand up too. (Who here has launched a project prematurely?)

  20. CM Cheng says:

    You have got some good points there! I should actually use this a check list. Thanks for sharing!

  21. A.J. says:

    Oh yeah, been there. I usually launch then realize a certain feature could be tweaked a bit to serve up better. I’m in the middle of redevelopments as we tweet.

  22. curtism says:

    @shadowcall – I’m sure I’ll have my hand up again as well

    @AJ – it always makes my heart jump when I realize that a feature doesn’t quite work the way I thought or could serve the users better. Feel like i failed at my job.

  23. Dave says:

    I’m sorry that you’re still using web authoring tools. I’ve tried quite a few, and very last one of them blows, and for the same reason: they write code for you. I realize that novice developers may benefit from this, since they don’t know what they’re doing. But I’ve now been doing cutting edge web dev for two years, and there is no such thing as a program that can automatically generate well-written HTML and CSS. None of them do. The closest I’ve found is Visual Studio, and only because it tends to not write code for you PERIOD. It lets me write my code the right way, and provides tools to gasp help me do it faster. In all honesty, I can’t take any dev seriously who thinks Dreamweaver is a quality tool. Which is sad, because Dreamweaver is the best “web authoring tool” out there…

    • Curtis McHale says:

      @Dave what do you mean you’re sorry I use Dreamweaver? It’s a good texteditor. That’s all I use it for. I have used Notepad to fix someone’s site when that’s all that was available to me. Maybe I didn’t make it that clear. The use of Dreamweaver as a text editor is fine. The WYSIWYG tools are the things that are the problems. I whole heartedly agree that someone using the visual tools in Dreamweaver (or any similar tools) are not web developers but if you’re using the text editing capabilities what’s the problem?

  24. I use Dreamweaver for the fact that it makes it a lot easier to handle my CSS and DIVs a lot easier, and that’s basically all I really deal with because everything I make is controlled by the script that it’s created for. I only use the WYSIWYG to give me estimates, I’ve been experimenting with website creation for ten years now and it just amazes me just how much it has changed. I think I was about 7 when I used to have this HTML program (before CSS was mainstream) and compare it to the functions we have now, it’s nothing.

    I personally don’t like the guys who use notepad to create websites, I believe there has to be some guideline that you’re having to follow, otherwise it’s just guesswork – and that isn’t exactly professional. it’s one thing to be proficient and another to not use the tools available to you. It’s hard to look like you’re really working when all you’re doing is typing multiple lines of code in a blank box, and in the end, people would rather hire the person who can show you their progress in real-time.

  25. Brian says:

    Oh Jessica, Dreamweaver does a terrible job at CSS and Div positioning. If you know how to code, it should take you a lot less time than to go through all the steps in Dreamweaver. You have a lot less control and the options are a lot less advanced. Believe it or not, Dreamweaver does not follow W3C standards; they add a bunch of unnecessary code that could have been written in just a third. Just because someone codes in notepad doesn’t mean they are clueless. They should be following a strict guideline. Dreamweaver won’t correct your mistakes for you. Microsoft Word checks for spelling and fixes reasonable grammar but if you don’t know English well, they won’t even pick up most of your mistakes.

  26. I really like the design! – Joe

  27. Excellent summary, thanks – I will try and suggest this to the non-profits we volunteer for..- Joe

  28. Dave I agree VS2008 rox for web dev, but most webservers use LAMP, so as others have said, Dreamweaver in code view is the best alternative for non-Windows servers. SitegrinderPro add-in for Photoshop is also a great tool that spits out the cleanest CSS I’ve seen (and plays well with Dreamweaver).

    But the main point Curtis makes is that recruiters are CLUELESS and should not be posting ‘tools’ as criteria. Instead they should be looking at work the applicant has accomplished. – Joe

  29. @joe Hendricks.

    That last sentence is exactly what I was trying to get across.

  30. Brian says:

    People who use Dreamweaver tend to rely on it way too much. That’s all I can say. If all you do is hand-write code in Dreamweaver, then those job applications shouldn’t offend you. It’s implied that saying “Do not apply if you use Dreamweaver” are for those who use the WYSIWYG interface since, after all, that is what Dreamweaver’s known for.

  31. haha…I was confused for a second when I saw the main image. Looked familiar to me πŸ™‚

    You might need a redesign if:
    Your website was last designed in 1997
    Your website uses frames
    Your website uses iframes

  32. magesh says:

    lol.. nice
    you may also have to redesign your website
    When you see one of your friends has a better designed website then you πŸ™‚

  33. magesh says:

    that looks simple and nice… iam also thinking of making a good business card for me

    • Thanks. I’ve got a few fun ones in the works. Short runs probably super expensive but kinda fun to hand out to other designers. Sorry they’re secret for now.

  34. Shy says:

    Sad thing is after almost 4 ish years My 5th gen is starting to die. The damn thing won’t connect anymore, my headphone jack is screwed and It no longer plays music. . .

    • That sucks. Mine stopped working properly a few weeks before the warranty expired so I had the opportunity to take it in and have it rebuilt. Still works great and I used my 5th Gen Video almost all day every day.

  35. I’ve been using YAHOO! for 10-15 yrs. to play cards. Have sent suggestions, abuse, and whatnot messages to Yahoo and what happens? Yahoo gets a new homepage, whoopee do. While the players are putting up with people with loud foul mouths, stallers, or the cheaters. OK, the foul mouths, true, put them on ignore. But the stallers or cheaters? Can’t boot them tjl after the game. Have to go thru a game with that? NADA. Have the host boot them, if he/she had full control of the table, not partial.

  36. Don’t forget spinning globes images. The earmuffs of internet design motifs.

  37. Dude! I just found a collection, A COLLECTION, of spinning globes:

    Which came from a page with a collection of spinning globe sites:

    I have been laughing for the last 30 minutes browsing through this. Can you write an article about spinning globes? That would be sweet.

  38. Kitty says:

    Great article Curtis! It’s so overwhelming when as a designer you’ve been working on a project for a long time and then have the client tell you that it’s not at all what they wanted, even though they said otherwise. What I’ve found useful is just stepping away from the email/call answering for an hour or so. That allows me to think thoroughly what my next move is.

    • Yeah despite knowing all of the above I still feel a bit crushed when they don’t love the first design I come up with . We put so much of ourselves into the work so it feels like they are making comments about us personally.

  39. sinful says:

    I did not know that I could use such resourcesone these sites until I read your post.

  40. magesh says:

    nice post dude… i also aspire to become a good iphone developer.. so which version of the SDK is availble for the free developers?

    • The 3.0 SDK is available to all now. The paid developers got an early look at it. I am not a paid developer right now. Way too much on the go to keep up with iPhone dev. I’ll get back to it in the future.

  41. Good article! I use google docs all the time, but am always around a wifi connection. I guess the always trusty notepad is there for us when we need it (online and offline!

    • Thanks. I love google docs and would use it with no problem if only the offline worked. The real stumper is when items aren’t synced. I could live with all of the other quirks but when I want to finish off an article and I can’t it’s just not acceptable.

  42. Niki Brown says:

    Glad you like me Curtis πŸ™‚ I agree that you need to realize that you are basically endorsing content when you link to things.

    On a completely unrelated note… the image in your blog post is a shot of downtown Boston. I work right smack in between those two tall buildings πŸ™‚

  43. Ashish Jha says:

    Is there any demo available for this stylesheet??

  44. Ethan says:

    Thanks for posting this. It helped me out a lot.

  45. yzack says:

    Hi ! good screencast ! but best part will be 2 i guess. I’ve faced very painful mysql driver installation with rail 2.3.4 (no embeded driver anymore), will you show us ?

  46. yzack says:

    and when ? πŸ˜‰

    • I plan to record part tomorrow night and part on Saturday for a next week release. I’m going to do the first part just using SqLite3 (which I had trouble with the first time) and in another post I’ll do MySql.

  47. Brandon says:

    I have been running into issues with my WinXP RoR setup similar to what yzack was explaining. This screencast couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks Curtis! Looking forward to the upcoming casts. πŸ™‚

  48. Thu says:

    You need to install rake by
    sudo gem install rake

  49. Brian Mayle says:

    rake is already installed when you install ruby

    sudo gem install rails
    Successfully installed rake-0.8.7
    Successfully installed activesupport-2.3.4
    Successfully installed activerecord-2.3.4
    Successfully installed rack-1.0.0
    Successfully installed actionpack-2.3.4
    Successfully installed actionmailer-2.3.4
    Successfully installed activeresource-2.3.4
    Successfully installed rails-2.3.4
    8 gems installed
    Installing ri documentation for rake-0.8.7…
    Installing ri documentation for activesupport-2.3.4…
    Installing ri documentation for activerecord-2.3.4…
    Installing ri documentation for rack-1.0.0…
    Installing ri documentation for actionpack-2.3.4…
    Installing ri documentation for actionmailer-2.3.4…
    Installing ri documentation for activeresource-2.3.4…
    Installing ri documentation for rails-2.3.4…
    Installing RDoc documentation for rake-0.8.7…
    Installing RDoc documentation for activesupport-2.3.4…
    Installing RDoc documentation for activerecord-2.3.4…
    Installing RDoc documentation for rack-1.0.0…
    Installing RDoc documentation for actionpack-2.3.4…
    Installing RDoc documentation for actionmailer-2.3.4…
    Installing RDoc documentation for activeresource-2.3.4…
    Installing RDoc documentation for rails-2.3.4…

    There error comes from sqlite3. To fix it you need to install the sqlite3 connector:

    sudo apt-get install libsqlite3-dev
    sudo gem install sqlite3-ruby

    • Yeah I was talking through it with another friend and that’s what we came up with as the likely problem as well. Thanks for writing it down for us all though.

      Have a good one.

  50. One of the things I love (and hate) about web design is designing for a variety of screens, Operating systems, and browsers. We should take user stats into account as much as possible when designing. Good article!

  51. Yeah I do try to tailor designs based on browser and screen stats. I suppose netbooks could be small enough for Evernote that they just haven’t got to the design around those devices.

  52. Max says:

    Thanks for posting the video. It is very easy to understand. Make sure to check out Part 1 of this tutorial before reading the second one.

  53. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. Was really getting frustrated trying to figure out why MacPorts ports wouldn’t compile.

  54. I agree with you, visual elements and symbols are much more powerful than strictly textual messages.
    In addition, in a world where a lot of non english speakers visit english speaking websites, this solution can have positive results.

  55. It’s a chicken an egg problem. IE6 is a horrible browser, and it’s definitely holding the Internet back in terms of progress. If Microsoft were a responsible company, they’d take ownership of the problem and help their clients migrate away from it, or even release an update to IE6 that has an IE7 or IE8 engine in it. But instead, they are offering to support IE6 for another few years. But yes, IE6 is currently still a dominant browser, and it’s silly to ignore it.

    If a client is making tons of money off their website, then there’s definitely value for them to support IE6. But if they are already pushing their budget on a new site, and the site doesn’t have an eCommerce component, it’s hard to convince them to drop another wad of cash on full IE6 support, especially considering traffic is slowly disappearing for it (obviously it’s still far from zero, but last year most of my sites had about 25% IE 6, and now it’s around 10%). For most small sites, IE6 support isn’t too difficult to achieve. But on larger sites with lots of Javascript, Flash and other moving parts, it can be a real challenge to get it to work, and sometimes you have to write separate code-paths for different browsers, which makes maintenance more difficult. In those scenarios I don’t blame companies that charge extra, since it’s a substantial amount of work. But ultimately I think the IE6 decision should be the clients, and not forced by a web designer or developer.

  56. Also, I want to pose an alternate scenario here for fun.

    Let’s say you just finished building a $30,000 website for a client, and it currently doesn’t support IE6. Let’s say you figure it’ll take a full week of time, or $6,000 to properly support IE6. In doing so, they’ll appeal to that 12% of their traffic, and make a bit more money.

    Is that the right approach for the client, or does it make more sense to invest that $6,000 in enhancing the current website for non-IE6 users, and possibly doing some A/B testing on their sales page? That way, they are investing that money towards the 88% of their traffic that is non IE6, instead of for only the 12%, which potentially could earn even more money for them.

  57. @Duane

    To you hypothetical scenario yes that could be the right way to deal with the issue. It is possible that doing good a/b testing and appealing to the 88% that is on other browsers would bring in more money than spending that money on the support of IE6 users. I personally am just getting very tired of all of the righteous arguments from web designers/developers that just don’t support it at all and refuse to do so. I believe it’s out job to give our clients the best advice possible and if their budget allows for extra time spent on IE6 we should do it. We should even recommend that IE6 should be supported for those clients that it makes sense to do so.

  58. Curtis,

    Having been part of the Rails community for 5+ years now.. I agree (to an extent). We’ve always had designers on staff that work within the Ruby on Rails code base. In fact, this is a requirement for any designer that we hire/work with. I believe the problem is the big problem is that many developer-focused agencies see design as a nice-to-have and/or something you can use to polish an application, which is completely the opposite of how our team approaches it.

    Coincidently. we just posted a new episode (last night) on our podcast where we share how we went about hiring a designer. Perhaps it’ll be useful to you and/or others looking to find with within a Rails team.

    Beyond this, I wonder how the Rails community compares to other development environments. I’ve worked in .NET and PHP shops where design was even less discussed… but that’s based on my experience.

  59. It’s funny many of the good ROR developers I know say they start with the UI and design before they start to code at all. In fact I continually hear that then when the rubber meets the road it seems that people are actually tacking on the ‘pretty’ after the code is almost done. As you said this is bass akwards.

    User interaction starts with the interface and the design. It’s not something that should be left to the end.

    I’ll check out your podcast for sure. Thanks.

    As for the other development communities I’m not sure how the interaction changes. I do a lot of work with WordPress right now and there is a strong emphasis on design and the users interaction with site content.

  60. This isn’t actually specific to Rails, but to every major web framework. The M and C in MVC both focus on the developer, so the designer is only left with lonely little V. I totally agree on Rails’ docs, though they use to be much worse and there’s still a huge amount of magic in Rails that really needs to be explained in plain English.

    As far as job ads? I’ve heard similar arguments where companies said things like “Why would we use [lesser known framework] when there’s only 10,000 developers for it instead of [better known framework] which has 100,000 developers?” You only need to hire a handful of developers, not 10,000, certainly not 100,000. In a similar vein, designers who would be working with major frameworks would probably be doing so as a full time employee, so they only need one job, not 60.

  61. @Felix

    Good point on the MVC and what is left of designers but I do have to disagree with you on the designers working in house if they work on a major language. You could say that about developers too. All of the Rails devs I know work for themselves. Sure it’s not a huge sample but why does a designer have to work in house while a developer doesn’t. I have worked on Rails projects and never as the in house designer always on contract.

    All of these developers also acknowledge that they aren’t designers and need a designer to work with them. They’re not looking to hire someone into their one man company. As Robby said design often seems to be something that gets ‘tacked’ on at the end instead of something that is thoughtfully considered from the beginning. The reality is that designers and developers should be working together on the project right from the beginning. That is what will bring the best results for the user.

  62. Unfortunately IRC is never the best way to ask a question. Its full of people asking their urgent questions and unfortunately also filled with jerks since its difficult to moderate. As creator of the Spree project I’m sorry if anyone told you to RFTM. That’s just rude. If someone is being lazy we generally just ignore them. If its a legit question (even if it’s in the FM) we usually link to the manual or try to be helpful.

    When it comes to spree, you might have better luck with the spree-user mailing list. Most of the core people hang out there and try to answer questions when can. Sometimes your question will go unanswered because we only have so much time in the day but we try to discourage rude behavior.

    • @sean thanks for replying. I personally am totally not opposed to sending links to question askers with the answers. We should be asking people to learn more themselves instead of just relying on a quick fix they don’t totally understand. I also understand that in any community there will be rude people and nice people so I don’t hold it against the Spree community in general.

  63. Hi Curtis,

    I use two tools, Expressionweb 3 & Notepad. I started with Notepad and then FrontPage 1.0, stayed with FrontPage until Expressionweb. I don’t use Fp Ext. or the Bots that came with FrontPage, I like the idea of OPEN.

    I use the code side of each of those tools most of the time, it’s what I know and I like to keep my hand in the old school way of coding websites.


    • If you like the OPEN idea how does Expression web fit into that? It’s a MS product and while I have no issues paying for a good product I’m not sure how those items go together. Of course I could just be misunderstanding you.

      I’ll take a look at Expression and see if it can get on the list to try.

  64. You forgot vim – powerful and cross-platform!

    • Does Vim have a project browser? Honestly I’ve discounted it because of issues I’ve had working with VI with mysysgit on windows but I’ll look again. Maybe I’m not savvy with the difference between VI and Vim?

  65. Vim does have various project and file browsers; NERD Tree is one of the better ones:

    But still, Vim is not the easiest thing to get to grips with – it takes a serious investment in time to get the most out of and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get to to feel completely comfortably integrated with Windows.

    You should keep an eye out for E Text Editor 2, which is currently in development and takes some inspiration from Vi.

    InType really shouldn’t be classed as a “TextMate for Windows” because it cannot use TextMate commands and is generally much more primitive. It looks a lot like TextMate but that’s a very superficial likeness. I think the developers themselves don’t like InType to be thought of as a TextMate clone.

    Sublime Text is the most obvious omission in your list. You should check it out if you like TextMate-style text editors. It has quite a few innovations of its own. I still believe E2 will be even better, though.

    • I would really love to try E Text Editor 2. Is there en ETA on it? I’ll be at this for a number of weeks/months so I can leave E 2 till a later date for testing.

      I’ll have to agree with what you’ve said so far on Vim. I find it fine to edit my .gitignore file or write commit messages in Git on Windows but I have tried it before as a fulltime code editor before and it was nothing but pain for me. I to hear that if you can get it you’ll write way faster code since you don’t really have to move your hands on the keyboard but so far to me it’s just been too painful. We’ll see if I get to trying it or if I can make it two weeks on it.

      I just took a quick look at Sublime and thanks for the awesome suggestion. On the list for sure.

  66. Cliff Tyllick says:

    Curtis, you are right on target. I just had to comment on the instructions in the CAPTCHA illustrated at the top of your article: “Enter the letters as they are shown in the image above.”
    I can’t – at least, not “as they are shown”! I can read those letters, but there’s no way I can make them lean and distort them like that in the input field. Oh, and they would be black, not red.
    So, note to all CAPTCHA users: Your CAPTCHA already has folks peeved. Don’t touch another nerve with poorly worded instructions.

    • Ha good call. I didn’t even catch that one. It’s all about micro copy being instructive and not hindering the user. Might be a bit picky about how it’s worded but the little details are what makes something great.

  67. Andrew Vit says:

    I was wondering myself if I should have another look at Dreamweaver, since so many designers still say it’s great & so much improved, and I it’s installed anyway with CS4.

    Thanks for saving me the time. I think I’m in your camp, I could never see the use of the extra features beyond a good editor, which it apparently isn’t.

    • @Andrew

      DW is an okay editor but like I said it keeps dropping into ‘design view’ and has a lot of bloat that just make it not the right one for me. I personally have no issue with developers that love it since it’s really just a tool

  68. Thanks for reviewing Komodo Edit! I thought I’d respond to few things in “The Bad” list though:


    There are a few things you could try to improve general performance. They’re mentioned in this FAQ:

    … but these are mostly tips to improve performance once Komodo has started. If Komodo is really slow while starting, drop us a line at so we can look into it with you – there might be something that we can fix.

    Desktop icon on Ubuntu / Linux install:

    The Ubuntu Netbook Remix UI seems to handle *.desktop files differently than Gnome or KDE. There are a lot of different X window managers and desktop environments out there for Linux, so getting it to “just work” is a pretty tall order. We’ll keep at it though.


    You don’t have to use the Project manager if you don’t want all the bells and whistles. If you’re just looking for a sidebar for quick access to your files and directories, I’d recommend the JSTreeDrive extension:

    Key Binding for Show/Hide Projects:

    In Komodo, check “Help|List Key Bindings”. By default, you can close the Projects sidebar with “Ctrl+Shift+P”. If you don’t like any of the default key bindings, you can change them under “Preferences|Editor|Key Bindings”. With a little exploring and tweaking, you should be able to do everything in Komodo without ever touching the mouse.

  69. Thanks for the response. I’ll look into the items mentioned. I have really wanted to like/use Komodo Edit and have used left/returned to it many times over the last year. There are lots of compelling features and the price is right.

    Keep up the good work.

  70. Arcterex says:

    Sounds like a cool site, looking forward to seeing it and helping to contribute to it if I can!

  71. very nice post dude! great website… will be back soon!

  72. ryan says:

    WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE A MAGIC SEO WAND!? nice article… but something tells me they still are not going to get it.

  73. This isn’t a case against plugins, it’s an advocacy for best practices (which I applaud.) But your post title will likely be consumed by many who won’t read your post and it will give them “ammo” to argue against using good plugins, or having custom plugins developed or even using WordPress at all. Your post title is doing a disservice to the community; is that what you intended?

    • Of course I don’t intend doing a disservice to the community. I like using WordPress and think it’s a good idea. I don’t think throwing a plugin at everything that needs to get done on a site is the best way to do it. My intent was to express that and define cases under which I feel plugins start becoming better options, so yes defining best practices.

      I suppose a better title would be ‘Why I Prefer Not to Use Plugins in WordPress’ but it’s already up and indexed so…

  74. Try reading your code backwards when you’re searching for errors.

  75. Steven says:

    I think this happens to all of us at some point no matter how much experience we have.

    Personally, I’ve found that Google can be my enemy when these things occur. It’s tempting to start doing a bunch of searches to find out if anyone has had the same problem, but if it’s just a silly mistake by me I’ll only end up following false leads and waste my time looking for non-existent issues before I realise I’m no closer to having it working. It’s like chasing the end of a rainbow. In the meantime I’m not doing what really needs to be done to solve it – looking at the code!

    • Yeah that’s where I get stuck. Maybe the plain of action is not to go to Google looking for solutions to problems but to read your code in detail a few times, even backwards as Miles suggests. If nothing comes up then head over to Google.

  76. I wish you had written this a week ago. πŸ™‚ I was working on admin panels for a child theme and ran into a problem with template_directory. I don’t remember where I located the solution but it was buried in the comments of another article – then I learned to use stylesheet. Took awhile though.

  77. Thanks for the feedback, Curtis. I’ll have to think of something better when I dive into the site design over the next week or so.

    My icon designer ( has a great solution that I’ll probably steal when I get around to it. πŸ™‚


    • No problem. Like is said the rest of the site is beautiful, just that last bit was not so wonderful. I was actually looking to see what your contact form looked like since I figured it would be awesome and I should have a screenshot of it for later.

  78. damienp says:

    Hey Curtis. I just wanted to comment on the copy/paste buffer with vim. I think you’re right in that vim has its own copy/paste with yy and p, but it should be able to utilize your system buffer as well. As a sys admin I use vim daily and I have noticed some slight differences in linux distro behavior, but it should still work. (Now, I haven’t tested this on a hackintosh, but I know it does work on OS X (10.5) and on Linux). In linux you may have to use the CTRL+SHIFT+C and CTRL+SHIFT+V commands while on OSX it should use the standard COMMAND+V and COMMAND+C. While we’re talking about editors, might I suggest a peek at redcar? It’s very similar to textmate, but it’s written in JRuby (so it’s completely cross compatible) and it’s free (for those that like cheap).


    • I’m totally willing to acknowledge that this could be a bug in how the Hackintosh stuff works so it’s good to know that it ‘should’ work. I’ll have to dig deeper into the issue and see if I can come up with a solid repeatable use case that could be put to solid bug testing and thus hopefully fixing.

      As for redcar I’ve heard of it but never tried it. Since I’m always cheap πŸ™‚ I’ll totally give it a shot, thanks for the recommendation.

  79. Scott says:

    The system clipboard is accessible in the “+ register in Vim. So, “+y and “+p or “+P will copy to or paste from the system clipboard. I use this so often that I have a key mapping for both. I use y and p. This is what I have in my .vimrc file:
    nmap p “+p
    nmap y “+y

    Then, to use them, all you do is type your leader character, which I have
    remapped to “,”, which becomes something like: ,yW or ,p to copy and paste.


  80. Scott says:

    The comment system removed the leader tag from the above code. Sorry.

  81. I switched from TextMate to vim about 2 years ago and there is no going back for me.

    As for TextMate’s cmd-t: there is a vim plugin called command-T ( that will fullfill that need. Also: I love using vim in Terminal, but for better desktop integration, give MacVim a go: you can select text & copy/paste from/to the system clipboard.

    My tip is: whenever you have an itch, search Google for a vim plugin. 99% of the time, the solution is already waiting for you.

  82. I had a hard time with the trust thing in office settings too. My last office job required an advanced degree and a lot of skills and they still treated up like we were in high school and were idiots. Although I don’t think anyone should be treated like that regardless of their age. I also have a bit of a problem with authority figures too – especially when their decisions have nothing to do with logic and everything to do with micromanaging and sucking the life out of you.

    I also found that after my husband and I split up that it was really hard to work a traditional office job schedule and be there for my daughter when she was sick, had a field trip, a school conference, etc. I decided that I was going to work from home so I would have more time with her and our schedule would ease up. Like you, I was working a full time job and freelancing on the side for about a year before leaving the full time job. It was a bit of a struggle at first but now everything is working out great. Also, like you, I am happy if I can pay the bills and don’t worry too much about extras.

    Lately, however, my daughter has been asking me what I do all day. And I try to show her but I still get the impression that she thinks I am hanging out and playing games or something πŸ˜‰

    • Yeah my experience is that bosses are there to boss people around more than get anything done. One of my favorite things to ask my boss when he told me to do something was what was he going to take off my todo list this week so I could add something. Most often the request of the second was dropped right away. I also got out of lots of meetings that way since 99% of meetings are not important at all and you just talk about maybe make a decision without actually making a decision at all.

  83. Scott says:


    I would think that you would have moral and legal justification for using a “copy” of CS4 for OSX regardless of where you get that copy from, on the basis that you DO own a license for it and you are only using it on one computer as well. You can still upgrade to CS5 (or CS6 or whatever) later, and don’t lose any of the benefits of being registered.

    Just because a company won’t send you the CD’s, doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to do something. Just my 2 cents. I wonder what a lawyer would say.


    • I don’t disagree with you. I’m going to look into less than ‘official’ options as well. I’ve heard in the past that there are often upgrade issues with them though.

  84. beauty says:

    I respect the persistence you put into your weblog. I wish I’d the same drive πŸ™‚

    • I get questions about drive from friends and relatives all the time. I think it just comes down to deciding what your priority is. If you’re not blogging then it’s not your blog. Just live with it don’t feel bad. Figure out the things that are important to you and then do them, the rest doesn’t matter.

  85. Tom says:

    Finaly! Seriously, I’ve been banging my head over this, trying to get this working on my new WordPress theme, when calling a theme option.

    I’ve tried different codes in the functions.php and so on, but it was really this simple.

    Gawd, what a relief – thanks!

  86. Laurie says:

    I’ll never use that plugin again… One theme build using it was enough, I found it caused more problems than it solved. I’m still on the hunt for a better e-commerce solution for WP…

    • That’s the problem while the other solutions might have a better theme creation experience they have poor checkout which means our clients don’t convert sales well. At the end of the day we are supposed to help clients accomplish their business goals not make sure we have the best experience. I’m totally looking for a plugin that has a great theme creation experience and a checkout that clients need for sale conversion.

  87. Ron says:

    Just in the fyi category- the reason most shopping cart have a 3 (or more) page/click process is that it significantly reduces the number of purchase disputes the business has to deal with.

    A one click process makes “I clicked the wrong link/button by accident.” plausible.

    If you’ve ever bought a domain through godaddy you’ve seen the number of clicks & screens you have to go through to purchase a domain. It’s pretty difficult to argue that you “accidentally” bought the domain.

    Obviously, some clients are going to want the one click purchase. There are lots of products that likely have a low dispute rate where the one click will be fine.

  88. Gem Webb says:

    Thanks so much for the Curtis. I had a friend share this post with me even though I am subscribed to your blog. This is a jewel of info. I’m going to be contacting you shortly to get get help with a wordpress website. Thanks again. This is great info. If you want, feel free to post this sort of info on my facebook fanpage I just started to educate people on tech information at:

    • I’m glad you found it useful, always happy to pass on information. I don’t really do Facebook for business so I’m going to pass on the offer thanks. I just figured I had to draw a line on how far I’d let my business mix with my personal life and since I don’t really like Facebook anyway it seemed like a good spot.

  89. As long as people set their own boundaries and don’t impose their business ideals on my business.
    I find facebook to be an excellent source of traffic, but then.. I use it, frequently. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah like I said I know people that swear by Facebook for business contacts, and if it works for you go for it. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone that likes it and uses it.

  90. Brian says:

    I’ve been looking at several eCommerce solutions that integrate with WordPress and I boiled it down to WP e-Commerce and Shopp.

    Looking at some examples of Shopp I noticed that one of the sites showcase does a “one page” check out.

    I’m not great at programming and can’t figure out how they do it.

  91. Jean says:

    We looked into FB for biz purposes, but decided for now we’re stretched too thin for true interactivity which requires a person to monitor FB and respond/delete spam.

    (edit: link removed by moderator b/c it had no bearing on the comment)

  92. Good summary on the uses of code in the functions.php file or writing a stand-alone plugin to do the same job. You might consider submitting this as a useful discussion reference for the WPTRT, too.

    • Yeah I’ve been thinking about that. The hard part is building a theme that requires plugin functionality to work on the repository. Bundling the ‘special’ sauce as a plugin would let updates happen faster since reviews aren’t done of plugins and theme reviews can take a bit depending on everyone’s schedules.

  93. Ashish says:

    The CRM app you’re looking for sounds like exactly the app I (and every other Mac-using small businessperson) is looking for.

    Doesn’t sound like Relationship is quite it. Did you find something more suitable?

    • curtismchale says:

      No I haven’t really found anything that’s any better or even worth while more than address book and OmniFocus reminders. Just like many others I have aspirations to build something but we’ll see if that actually happens.

  94. Hi Curtis, a small correction: the Sparrow website was made by us at Cactuslab. The app itself was made by a French team, and you can read about them on the site.

  95. Sri Vemuri says:

    Hi Curtis!

    This is Sri from Harvest. Thanks for writing a detailed overview of Harvest! Invoice customization is definitely on our radar.

    Re: reports, have you tried using Scythe with Harvest? Scythe is a menulet app for Harvest that lets you keep an eye on what you’ll be billing at the end of the month. No continuous clicking necessary. You can check it out here:

    And do let us know if you have any questions during your search!

    • curtismchale says:

      No I didn’t see that add on at the time and it looks decent. I’ll have to take a look and update the review.

      If there is anything else I missed that may make my mind change please let me know.

  96. izoel says:

    Thanks for shared Curtis, you will never know, what i’m handling right now, Wp Ecommerce + 32 Plugins Installed from the last developer who had to stop developing because so many error ….yes..32 Plugins know what is the worst scenario using this.. my localserver has died because of this, so many bloated ..mixed clashed plugins , but would like to try this clean one.. hopefully it will save the day .. even tough that i’m not superman enough to take the challenge, but in other hand it’s good for my experience , Dear client..if you see this message , .. like i told ya πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      I’m not a big fan a lots of plugins either. Most plugins do way too much and should be cut in half.

  97. I just bought EasyTask and although it looks slick, it’s crashed a few times already and I’ve tried to get support but only received vaugue emails back. In addition, you can’t easily move information around from folder to folder so I’m not going to bother….. another $20 wasted….. hopefully this stops someone else from the same,

  98. AE Thanh says:

    I think that’s a great approach. From my experience too, if your list gets longer than 10 items of things you need to do (like the list of DVDs you want to rip), it’s easier to store that list somewhere else (in your case a text file, in my case Evernote note) and make a task in Omnifocus with a link to the text file / Evernote note.

    The task can be something like “Rip DVDs 19/200” and you update the external file with what you’ve done.

    • curtismchale says:

      I’m not really sure why I didn’t do this before but I think the idea of ‘capture everything’ gets way out of hand with lots of people. They want to be efficient and use OmniFocus and then use it when it’s not the most efficient way to store items. As always optimal workflow is a work in progress.

  99. Mario says:

    Hi Curtis,

    I’ve been using curdbee for my invoicing all this time and they launched time/expense tracking recently, where I took part in their beta phase. After reading your review and the main problems you have outlined, I do agree they are quite useful for any freelancer.

    Though I am not sure whether curdbee fits your workflow exactly as you wish, I have been using it for similar cases in my day to day work and it has worked pretty well for me all this time.

    You may give it ago and see for yourself whether it meets your demands. πŸ™‚

    • mp
    • curtismchale says:

      I did use Curdbee for about 6 months and while it was a pretty good solution I’m not using it now. I don’t actually remember why I stopped using it outside of the cost maybe since I was using it just as I was launching my business on my own. It’s on my list to look at again.

    • curtismchale says:

      I did just take another look but unfortunately you can’t actually try the whole workflow estimate->invoicing without paying. Not sure I really want to fork out a bunch of $$ for something that may not actually suit my needs. I got in contact with them to see if there is a way to trial it more than the demo since you don’t really know how anything truly fits till you’ve been at it for at least a week.

  100. martin says:

    did you ever figure out what they use on their one page check out?

    • curtismchale says:

      Nothing in particular you just have to work at building it yourself. I’m not sure if it can still be done with the 3.8.x version we’re currently on but the guys at BraveNewCode have a 1 page WP eCommerce checkout already.

  101. Gem Webb says:

    I totally agree with your insights that: Web and Print designers are two different mediums that require specialized skills.

    They keep trying to make simple web software apps like “Adobe Contribute”. Why not keep focusing on Fireworks? It builds websites also. Sheesh, adobe is reaching with this one. Good luck, seems like a waste of invested expert time to build it. Better to make a button in illustrator or something to export for web… wait it does that already doesn’t it? -lol-

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah how about making Fireworks 64 bit on Mac, it’s the only Adobe CS product that isn’t 64.

  102. I spent the weekend trying it out. I have to admit, it impressed me initially.

    I have to cover the gap in my job between print and web design, so I thought this might be the perfect tool to use for some of my simple sites.

    Then I looked at the scripting. The redundancy is horrible, and in general, very poorly done. What really gets me is I did a six page site and wound up with seven stylesheets, most of the contents of each being the same as all the others.

    Maybe Adobe can rework things so it streamlines things, writes presentable code or gives more control to the designer as far as naming divs and such. I’m not going to hold my breath though.

    Thanks for posting about it curtis!

  103. I wrote a guide on moving from Textmate to VIM where I detail, side-by-side, actions in VIM and their equivalents in Textmate. You’ll find it useful.

  104. While I agree with you that the generated code may be a mess to the human eye, I do on the other hand see a giant potential in Adobe Muse. Not just for designers – but for coders as well – however, I do concur that Adobe need to sort out the code structure issues. Although standard compliant it’s not very handy for coders that need to rework a design made using Muse.

    Nonethless, I have been playing around with muse for 1.5 week and as you can tell from my initial response I am quite impressed. I think muse has the potential of being useful to most people provided they make the output more developer friendly…

    • curtismchale says:

      I know that I’ll simply refuse to work on a site that’s generated with Muse. The headache isn’t worth it even if I’m working hourly.

      I still think that Muse will create a bunch more ‘web designers’ that really have no true knowledge of how to work with the medium of the web and thus we’ll get a bunch more crappy Web sites. There are plenty of tools that allow people to build bad Web sites without Adobe throwing their weight behind it. Besides like I said why not focus on their other apps and make things like Fireworks 64bit on OSX?

  105. Bobby says:

    I have a tip for you: Instead of a group of text files (which is what I also used in the past) I strongly recommend Notational velocity [] which is a cloud synced, fast search enabled note taking app. It also has an iOS app (simple note) so you can check all your files on the go. With this combo any ideas or scraps of info I have go into a notation doc and then I can pull them up wherever I am. Enjoy!

    • curtismchale says:

      I’m actually using nvALT and WriteRoom for iOS. I’ve never tried Simple Note but it’s on my list to try.

  106. Hi Curtis,

    I’m interested if you’ve got any more updates to this – I’m trying to evaluate a few shopping cart plugin options at the moment and the one page checkout is such a big plus it’s hard to look past this plugin.


    • curtismchale says:

      Sorry Alastair looks like I missed your comment. Anyway the more I use WP eCommerce the less I like working with it. Stuff just doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. I’ve been fighting it with the built in PayPal payments this week, FedEx was last week. I’ll be using/trying Woo Commerce next project just to see how it compares.

  107. Andrew says:

    Generated code aside, the fact has been for a long time – and now Adobe presents it this way in their videos – that I don’t need to program page layout or illustration programs to get my documents to look as they should, and I should not have to do the same for web.

    The tools for simple website creation that allow full graphic control without coding are astoundingly behind the curve.

    Muse is on the right track. And frankly, if it works, most people don’t care what the code looks like.

    Now, I fully get that coders are needed for a lot of development – but for making a “basic” site look good and work well while allowing the author to genuinely make it “their own”, they should not be.

    All that said – unless they rethink their subscription model, I’ll never use the software regardless of how well it codes.

    • curtismchale says:

      More and more people will start to care what the code looks like. Using code generation tools like Muse can even possibly put you on the wrong side of accessibility law. I know in the UK there are laws around how a site must treat users with disabilities. While these tools may makes steps that bring them closer to what is good I don’t think it is possible for them to stay up to date with the latest requirements.

      Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.

  108. Rabbit says:

    I know this post is old, but I am curious. I can’t seem to find any information on the web regarding in-house designers and creative briefs.

    I just started a job as an in-house designer(brand new position with me the first in it) and was asked to develop a creative brief of sorts and I was wondering how detailed I can make the form/brief. Can you please give me a sample or idea of what you use at your company.

    • curtismchale says:

      I don’t actually work in house anymore but really it’s pretty much the same as when you work as a freelancer. Of course you already know if they have a logo…Check out my creative brief and steal what you want.

  109. Angus says:

    I’ve read elsewhere that this is supposed to work, only problem is that my database doesn’t have a table called wpwpscproduct_order.

    Am I looking in the wrong place or something?

    • curtismchale says:

      Not sure really without seeing your database. That was for an older version of the software and they have moved to using Custom Post Types so that most likely changed a bunch of database stuff. I haven’t dug back in to the database since the change so I’m not sure what tables are still there or gone

  110. nacho says:

    I have installed WP-Commerce once and I promiss I wont do it again. It’s a time consuming plugin, with zero support even with gold cart update and several problems and bugs.

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah I’ve been less and less impressed with WP eCommerce. The support (or total lack thereof) is one of the most maddening parts of the plugin. I certainly understand that support gets expensive as you get more customers and you need to make money somehow but probably 90% of the time I post I don’t get a response of any type from anyone. I’ll be looking at Woo Commerce, Cart 66, and Shopp for future projects. The extra time I’ve spent on the last few projects easily covers paying for something that has some support and good documentation.

  111. Harley says:

    To those wondering about the one page checkout shown on, it’s more of an optical illusion.

    This still uses Shopp’s standard 3 page checkout process, but the cart.php template includes a version of the forms present on the checkout.php template with all of their fields disabled.

    • curtismchale says:


      I didn’t know that actually. I’ve worked with Shopp but never had to try a one page checkout. I knew it was possible from the guys at BraveNewCode (it’s on their site or they did it for someone). Thanks for clarifying.

  112. StevenZed says:

    I also attempted to use this and after about 2 days of trial, I have given up. My reason was the lack of features. I wanted to replace my current ASP.NET ecommerce site, but this turned to be a dead end. I now work hard on replacing my site using magento despite the fact everyone says the learning curve is too long. So far (after 3 month of fooling around) reasonably impressed still.

  113. Erick says:

    The bottom line is if you’re using Dreamweaver, then you should not expect to be taken seriously as a web developer. It makes no sense to pay for a product that keeps updating itself so you that you pay for the upgrade every time when there’s great tools like aptana that are free. People that use Dreamweaver suck, all they do is rely on the little icons to generate code and end up with this awful code, so when a real coder has to fix it, it plain sucks.

    • curtismchale says:

      @Erick all you really do with your reply is show you’re ignorance. It’s been a while since I used DW but it was a fine code editor. Sure you could just click on the icons and get things working but you certainly don’t have to. In your world what is the ‘approved’ code editor? Are you cool enough to use Vim, Nano, Emacs….? A more accurate statement is that if you don’t know how to ‘hand code’ then you shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously. You probably also shouldn’t expect be take seriously for short sited rants in the comments on old blog posts, but I suppose it doesn’t apply to your comment does it?

  114. Do you have the most recent version of the plugin?

    • curtismchale says:

      Nope, haven’t worked with any WPMU Dev plugins for a while now. It would be great if that was fixed.

  115. I think that Relationship has a great future if some mods can be included in future. I run a small Design and Marketing business and it is great for this apart from I want to expand and have other members of staff using this to keep client and project details upto date. There lies the flaw. No inter mac syncing, this should be high priority for next update. Heres hoping

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah a web based solution is great for working with teams when you need to share tasks and information and Relationship just doesn’t do that yet.

  116. Mark Wbber says:

    This is true, I’ve got a new Henge dock and struggling to connect it!! OMG they only give you 5days to return as well, so I’m !”Β£$*&.

    • curtismchale says:

      I’d give them a call. When I talked to them they were very reasonable. I’m sure you can get it working.

  117. Mike says:

    I am having major problems with Postbox 3.0 on win7 323bit. It wants to access my gmail account to save drafts, and runs slowly for other processes too. I am frustrated by their support site because I cannot find a solution to this issue. My wife is running an earlier version and has none of these problems. Both are paid and licensed. If I pay for a program I expect it to work and I expect answers when it does not.

    Any suggestions?

    • curtismchale says:

      Sorry I don’t have any 32bit versions of windows around nor do I use PostBox anymore. I’m on a Mac full time now and use MailPlane to interface with gmail and google apps since that’s what all of my accounts are.

  118. Peter says:

    I agree with much of the sentiment expressed here, however, my background started with typography that went by the wayside. Then I embraced film output, which also came and went quickly… etc. etc etc. As a Designer and web designer, I have always preferred the nuts and bolts method. I design magazines and also design websites which I hard code. I never liked Dreamweaver and others, because they too write very complicated unorganized code. Having said that, I know that a lot of new users will come on board if the program survives… (more users will keep it alive LOL). I have been using it for testing purposes and I have to say that the end result is quite impressive if a user has no idea of the background functionality (regardless of the bloated code generated). I am going to push this one to the limits and sit back and watch the marketplace. But for serious web designers and programmers, this will not make much of a dent in their markets.

    P.S. As an example, as a color specialist in the print industry we used to be held accountable for correct print color… Now nobody cares!

  119. Jimmy says:

    Have you tried instead? Looks like a more thought through version if anybody wanted a unified inbox in the first place.

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah that’s kinda interesting but really I think it just makes the issues I have with unified inbox worse. Since writing this I’ve decided that unified inbox isn’t not only because it increases your cognitive burden when sending emails but also breaks up your workflow.

      Like many I have email for personal, my own business, and the business I’m on contract for. I don’t want to see messages from each mingled. Same with Facebook and Twitter with email. They all require different interaction paradigms, which requires a change in thoughts and process. Trying to put them all together seems like a great idea but in reality I think it increases the amount of switching we have to do as we try to deal with the information overload. Increasing the switches just means we feel more rushed, and that’s never a good thing.

      So ultimately cool but I’m not interested.

  120. carmen says:

    Same problem here with the newer version…pls help!!!!

    • curtismchale says:

      Sorry I don’t use this crappy piece of broken software anymore. Try WooCommerce for something that doesn’t suck.

  121. Mike says:

    Sorry you are having problems but you might be using an old version of Chrome, I just tried and all my ebills load just fine in Chrome

  122. Roger Robie says:

    My thoughts on Craptcha EXACTLY. Cannot wait until this “service” goes away. Death to geeks….

  123. Ty says:

    Hmmm… I am actually not sure who knows what in here… but I will back up the original author in the main purpose of this post. I use ANY tool that is necessary to get the job done. If a developer before me used DW, then that is the tool. If they used VS, then that is the tool. If it’s a fresh start app, then I will choose the tool best for THAT job. As for DW. IF you KNOW what you are doing, and you are a TRUE developer, then you know that DW can be MODIFIED to do whatever you want it to do. My version (which I took the liberty to modify) writes code EXACTLY the way I have programmed it to. You all ARE aware of DW Extensions, right? I mean seriously, I WILL NOT take ANYONE seriously who talks about things they really know NOTHING about. It sounds like the majority of people who have an “issue” with DW are affraid of it because they know not what it truly is. So in close; DW is a VERY good tool if you knnow what you are doing. And that is the key… actually knowing what you are doing.

  124. Robby says:

    Oops! Forgot to close the link tag.

    Trying again:

    Thanks for this review, as I’m researching iPad book reading options for a friend.

    Here is another article I found that may interest you.

    It describes how Kindle provides a convenient on-line reference to all your highlights and notes from any device on which you read.

    I have the impression that you can also send any PDF to your Kindle, but I don’t know if notes made there appear in this on-line reference.

    • curtismchale says:

      I’ve never tried to send a PDF to the Kindle software but I do believe you are correct. I don’t think that notes would sync though. If I remember correctly the notes are a feature of the proprietary format Kindle books.

  125. Oscar says:

    Sure, people who dont know anything about webdesign and webdevelopment will probbably enjoy muse. But that isn’t a good thing. More crappy website are being built. I dont think the coders and designers will be as happy about it though. To chop up a PS/AI template to code is part of the fun of being a webdesigner. It’s nice to solve problem that appears when working on a website. The webdesigners and coders will get half as fun as their having now. Eventhough muse is in beta I too belive the generated code thing sucks. If muse become a hit and they are planning to use same kind of generated code in the complete version i think that even css3 will die… Their using images for border radius!!!

  126. Your experiences are similar to mine, and I had the same issues with OS X.

    You can change the start-up layout by enabling the root user, logging in as it, and changing its keyboard layout to Dvorak. If you’re running Mountain Lion, this is currently broken.

    You can also force the language menu on the login window by going to “System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Options” and enabling “Show Input menu in login window.

    It’s taken me about a year to get to where I feel is about 80% of my efficiency with QWERTY. I make more typos than anything else, but I’m able to program just fine. Also, if I sit in front of a physical QWERTY keyboard, I’m totally lost; 18 years QWERTY tough typing was purged from my memory in less than a year.

    Good luck with your progress!

    • curtismchale says:

      Thanks for the tips, not sure I will actually bother with the change to the login screen. Figure it adds another layer of security since I effectively have 2 passwords now, the same one with two ways it needs to be typed.

  127. Christine says:

    I like the classification of “a place someone can take a look at what you wrote”.

    I write code everyday and push it on a live server most days, but I working by myself, no one ever looks at it. But I guess the websites wouldn’t work without it.

    I just never heard of “shipping” before. To me it sounds a bit odd… like using UPS or something. πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      Way to many coders get in a spot where the tack away all day and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. They congratulate themselves on getting things done but nothing of any value came out of it, they just pushed letters around a screen. I actually try to have working code pushed to a site every few hours. I’ve found the more often you ‘ship’ the more likely it is you’re actually getting things done, and you catch bugs faster.

  128. Chris says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been on Dvorak about 5 years now but Vim only a few months. I think it’s a nice pairing. Programmers’ Dvorak really looks worth checking out though I wish it was not an add-on…

  129. Arek says:

    Unfortunately Postbox sucks. It was a great client with some issues to fix to make it great and I’ve bought it. But then they decided that it’s great as it’s time to add a lot of useless stuff to make more people buy it. Like integrate it with every possible social site you have. and they broke functionality which was working well, too. I have version 2.x and see no reason to buy version 3, rather I’m looking for a new email client. Shame πŸ™

    Their support isn’t great either. Put any negative feedback there and it’s removed. It was a good start but is a downhill now.

    • curtismchale says:

      That is unfortunate. Way to many companies get caught up in adding features that their users don’t really need at the expense of a solid product. I bought the lifetime license so I’ll try the next version but my regular email client is MailPlane now.

  130. Eric Mann says:

    Point #4 is often the most important lesson all writers need to learn. Unfortunately, it’s also the hardest to practice when actually writing.

    • curtismchale says:

      Have to say that 4 didn’t resonate with me till you mentioned it. That is a hard one, something to work on as I tack away on the fiction projects I have going.

  131. Great article! I agree with most of it, but I think he’s slightly off the mark with the “Co-workers and bosses are not usually your friends”. You should at least treat people like friends, even though they’re really not. Your affability is as much a value skill as your coding skills.

  132. Eric Mann says:

    Unfortunately, this is a lesson I only recently learned. I spent most of my life living to others’ expectations. I have to admit, I’m a bit envious of where you’re at and still working to get to a similar place myself πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      I’m working towards being able to hire a few people and intend to make it easy to strike a real work/life balance. Most employers totally miss that in favour of trying to get as many hours out of you as possible. Really a 40 hour week is a full week of work because society decided it was (or someone), not because it’s the maximum number of hours someone can work and be productive.

      I would think that the goal of anyone (employer or self employed) is to make sure employees are getting the work life balance they need. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Sadly few get it.

  133. Eric Davis says:

    I’ve thought about taking one day per week for myself, like Google’s 20% time. It’s hard to remember though.

    • curtismchale says:

      I think you just have to plan it and stick with it. You schedule days for work on personal projects so just add this. It may not be a day you need, how about an afternoon? Just get enough rest time that you have the mental capacity for the work week.

  134. Eric Mann says:

    My parents asked me why I don’t show up on Google Latitude any more. I tried to explain it’s because I turn the Internet off during the day and only use it when I want to use it. I don’t check my email every 5 minutes, listen for beeping Facebook messages, or let apps notify me of updates.

    A tool is there for me to use … not to control my time.

    • curtismchale says:

      I have my auto reply on GTalk set to:

      “I’m working it better be good” after my mom used to message me for hours every day.

  135. The whole appeal of team sports runs on clearly defined roles and responsibilities. It’s also important to have shared responsibilities that everyone can take care of. You don’t want anybody to say “not my job”.

  136. Funny that I found this post on twitter! πŸ˜› But in all seriousness, the only reason that Free is such a thing on the internet is that the technology to distribute evolved faster than the technology to pay for things. The money you give as a subscription fee might be a pain in the ass, but it’s insurance that the providers will be motivated to give you a certain quality of service.

    • curtismchale says:

      Ha very true. I don’t rely on twitter for business (well not like I would a project management system). I actually think that twitter should be charging for their clients, even a few dollars, which would at least make some money.

  137. I think we non-marketing types shoot ourselves in the foot with our self-talk about these techniques. If we are pissing someone off with our sales, we are actually doing something right.

    This guy is taking the same approach to marketing that many take with programming. We come up with a solution that works, not necessarily something that follows an abstract notion of what a program SHOULD look like.

  138. Eric Mann says:

    Honestly, that article reads more like someone taking offense at a kid poking fun at his favorite toy. I’ve used Eclipse. I’ve used PHPStorm. I’ve used Notepad. There is a use for every tool and a tool for every use case.

    Personally, I see things in Light Table that I like and things that I don’t. But I also see where it fits in the landscape of all the other tools I use. Will it replace PHPStorm? Not for me. But I’ll happily use it all the same.

    • curtismchale says:

      True true, you’ve inspired another blog post on the use cases for me with MacVim, PHPStorm, Sublime Text 2, and Coda.

  139. Eric Davis says:

    When you are charging by the hour it is easy to compare your leasure time to the time you could spend working. I’ve set some strict guidelines like you but I think it would be impossible to completely shut down and stop thinking about work when you’re not working. (Unless you change your work to be something you hate, which is even worse)

    I just try to do my best and to not to stress about things too much. “try” being the key word…

  140. Eric Mann says:

    Interesting article, and I see 100% where you’re coming from. This is a lesson I try to teach the kids I work with, and one I hope to teach my own children in the future.

  141. Food for thought … several of these ideas are in play with a new project I am working on.

    • curtismchale says:

      Look at you teasing a project. Anywhere to sign up for a notification when it’s ready?

  142. Eric Mann says:

    I read a similar post by Scott Hanselman a few months ago. He encouraged people, when out to meals with friends/family, to stack smartphones in the corner and ignore them. I laughed at the idea because, well, I know when and when not to be using my phone.

    Then I took my parents and brothers out to dinner one day … and had to ask each and every one of them to put the phones away so we could actually have a conversation. Tech seems to get in the way of the tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy alike. Still, life is infinitely more important than anything happening on that piece of plastic in my pocket.

  143. curtismchale says:

    I didn’t mention that my wife (and daycare actually) has a special ring so that I don’t even need to look at my phone to know it’s her calling. The wife is also the only call I answer on my bike since she will only call if it’s truly serious.

  144. I’ll definitely let you know …

  145. What makes a good boss? Have you ever had a boss that makes you better? One that works with you for an hour every week to improve your strengths?

    • curtismchale says:

      Yes I’ve had a good boss or two. One company I worked at in the paddling industry was truly concerned about me as a person. They were free with company resources (borrowing trucks for whatever reason). A result of the generosity and overall mood was that the few hundred hours of overtime I got each year, never felt like all that much extra work. I was happy to do it. I still help out when I go by the store, and I have not worked there it years.

  146. Ryan says:

    I definitely like the new design! I haven’t converted to a CSS Preprocessor yet… It seems that everyone that does pick one up loves it. Any reason why you went with LESS over SASS? Or any tips on getting started? Maybe it’s about time I picked one up.

    • curtismchale says:

      I tried SASS out a few years back when it was whitespace dependent and hated it. I am told that it is no longer that way but I just have a bad taste. People I know and respect love it, so don’t let my opinion stop you.

      I did a screencast that will come out Thursday at WP Theme Tutorial. Next week I’ll look at how it saved code and some of the ‘mixins’ I have in the site to make changing things easy. Past that I just dove in and looked up stuff as needed. I’d recommend CodeKit though. Totally worth the $20 and it will compress your JS on the fly, auto-refreshes your browser, and can compress images. A must have tool for any dev.

      • Ryan says:

        I’ll have to compare SASS and LESS a bit more. I’ve heard great things about both, so I doubt I’ll be unhappy with either.

        I also haven’t used CodeKit before, so I am checking it out now and it seems awesome. Thanks for the link!

  147. Sam says:

    Is it 30Β° on the V3? Kinesis indicates only 15Β° on their site. I’d like more than 15Β°, so if it’s in fact 30Β°, I’ll get the V3 instead of the VIP.

  148. Do you think it’s better to have a slow but sustainable business model or to get filthy stinking rich off an overvalued product sale?

    • curtismchale says:

      I’d prefer to have a slow steady business in something I love. Seems that most/many people are running a sprint to as much $$ as possible.

      I’m more of a long distance guy.

  149. Amy Hendrix says:

    Good point, but why two buttons? Why not one “Apply License” button that prompts you to download/install if it doesn’t detect the software?

    • curtismchale says:

      That would certainly be another step to making the process even easier. Really the AppStore has it down. Just purchase and download and it works. I certainly don’t blame any devs that don’t want to give Apple 30% though, so it’s great to see them making the process easier.

  150. Eric Mann says:

    Every now and then, I’m faced with a captcha. What’s worse is that, in an effort to make them harder for computers, they’re nearly impossible for humans. I once had to complete a captcha to order something online … and ended up submitting the form a total of 17 times because I kept getting the captcha wrong.

    If someone who works in technology can’t cope with the technical tools that prevent spam, what hope is there for non-tech-savvy users (i.e. my parents)?

    • curtismchale says:

      There is no hope for them. I end up doing a bunch of them for my wife when she can’t, and she is fairly technically savvy. Like I say, it’s just pushing the solution to the issue of spam on to the people that it doesn’t actually affect and decreases usability. Bad practice.

  151. Eric Mann says:

    I have degrees in physics, math, political science, and marketing. Never taken a single computer class in my life and literally taught myself PHP and JS over a weekend from a book. I question every day whether or not I really know what I’m doing. When my code breaks, I nearly have a heart attack because I think I’ve finally been unveiled as a fraud.

    I don’t think “fear” is a strong enough term to describe how I feel about holes in my knowledge πŸ™‚

  152. Still uber impressed. Way to go Curtis!

  153. Very impressive. Honored you would ride all that way to come to our WordCamp! Hope to see you again!

  154. Ron says:

    Andrea & I found the same.

  155. Between all these issues and potential future online “clearance” sales, the benefits of getting your mitts on the latest game releases are becoming fewer and fewer.

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah I guess. I don’t play a lot of games anymore so when there is one I want I just get it when I want it. The last game I purchased was Star Craft II or maybe Modern Warfare 3 when it came out for Mac.

      I’d rather be out on my bike or hanging with the wife. I’ll take the time to beat Diablo III but I won’t bother with online play. I might take the time to beat it with every character but that is not even for sure.

  156. Eric Mann says:

    Good lesson to learn for software design, too. Sometimes an abundance of options is a negative, not a value-add. Take a look at the Weaver theme for WordPress, for example (

    This is also the reason my family prefers Quiznos to Subway. It might be more expensive, but you can walk in and choose a sandwich rather than having to build your own from an ever-changing list of options. Sometimes users don’t want to think and just want to use your product.

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah Weaver is a bear. I had a family member want to install it on the MU I have for them and I just said no.

      I still prefer Subway but I have been ordering the same thing for 10 years. If they didn’t have it anymore I’d probably stop going, just another decision I’d have to make.

  157. Ryan says:

    That last tip is 100% true. If you don’t set clear timeframes and deadlines, before you know, you can lose a whole day to tasks that shouldn’t even take a quarter of the time that they did.

  158. curtismchale says:

    I’ve been moving myself to 2 Pomodoro’s (25 minute blocks). One in the morning and one in the afternoon. That at least lets me sort it all. I do end up coming back to some emails as they apply to a specific project but don’t deal with any other items that may have come in.

  159. Do you go pomodoro for your whole work day? I tried that for a while and it was as if my motivation rebelled against my attempts to manage my time. I think I need to mix things up somehow every now and again.

    • curtismchale says:

      Certainly in the mornings when I often find it harder to focus. I’ll use it in the afternoon if focus is a problem but it’s not an all day all the time thing for me.

  160. Thats interesting… my hubby and I use tech together all the time – more like, “look at this, hon!” stuff like that… we don’t actually WORK in front of each other.

    At home, I use the phone (the real phone) in the same way – I answer it when its convenient for ME, not the caller. My parents think I’m absolutely nuts. If the phone rings – they jump. I think they’re nuts. it works well. πŸ™‚

    Love the idea of putting the camera away and enjoying the sunrise. Some moments should just be enjoyed. πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      My wife and I do show things to each other, but we also often say that we feel like we have not really talked in a while. I’m sure that many couples say that but I wonder if the tech gets in the way?

      All of my family and friends have a special ring actually. So after work hours I know if it’s a call that I am even interested in taking or not. Yup that means no client calls in the evening since they don’t match up with the ring. I don’t even look, though I do check the voicemail if there is one just in case it is something that I need to address right away.

  161. I still find that Daylite is still to large for any small business. I had used billings for years… But found Freshbooks a much better fit to my business.

    I know Daylite fits for some people business, But I found I was filling out Daylite more then I was doing work… It just didn’t fit with me and my style of workflow.

    • curtismchale says:

      I just find that the Freshbooks pricing scheme doesn’t mesh with how I want to use it and I pay monthly for enough stuff already. I would like to cut those charges, not increase them.

  162. RSchulman says:

    I would LOVE suggestions as to OS X software that comprises the features set of Daylite: calendaring, tasks, projects, contacts IN ONE PACKAGE. I’m a longtime Daylite user, but understand the complaints. I just don’t know what the alternatives are — I can’t find them!

    • curtismchale says:

      I have not found one either, at least in one package. Daylite may be the best option, but the friction they put in front of me trying it is enough that I’m not bothering.

      On another train of thought, just because something is the only option does not mean its a good option. I once won a running race because it was me and a guy my height but 100lbs heavier. I was not fast, just faster than the other guy. I would have lost every other age by many minutes (5km run). I’m not a good runner, just the guy that showed up.

  163. Avrum says:

    “still find that Daylite is still to large for any small business”

    I’m a 1-person family therapist who adores the CONCEPT of Daylite. I don’t use everything, but the integration is so powerful. And the email plug-in rocks.

    “Daylite is the server setup”

    God – I’ve been at this for most of the afternoon. But the promise behind the upgrade has provided me with enough mojo to keep at it. I’ve played around with 4, and I’m very impressed.

    • curtismchale says:

      You have way more patience than I do. I guess that my current workflow just doesn’t have enough pain points in it for me to tackle the setup of Daylite, and I set up servers and stuff daily.

      Daylite is on my list to try, just lower down than other solutions that have an easier path to trying it.

  164. Avrum says:

    The pain points have accumulated, so much so, that I left only hours after basking in the glow of a possible 1-stop shop solution.

    • curtismchale says:

      That sucks. They really need to find a way to smooth the setup. Even provide a preconfigured server. I’m sure they’d have to charge for it but it would mean more customers I would think.

  165. This also comes up over the subject of breastfeeding. We make so much noise over breastmilk versus formula when we ignore the fact that half of all parents can’t breastfeed πŸ˜‰

    But seriously, this is a pretty good heads up for all the Dads to be out there.

    • curtismchale says:

      That doesn’t really get me going, it’s simply something we can do nothing about. One thing that we did to still help me bond with our daughter early was to have me come up and read her a story before bed after she was done feeding. Yes a number of times she was asleep and I really just read to myself but I enjoyed the bonding and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

      • My wife read “how to raise a reader” and apparently bedtime is golden time for bonding with the little ones. That’s when they are most receptive to what you have to say.

        • curtismchale says:

          I put her to bed a few nights a week still. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

  166. I’m all for safe products, but at some point we’ve just got to let nature take its course.

  167. There are quite a few alternatives, but they’re a lot like email clients in that they all suck to varying degrees.

    Among some of the alternatives:

    Contactizer Pro –

    Relationships – which looks like abandonware –

    Elements – but it’s cloud and subscription based

    • curtismchale says:

      I’ve looked at most of those and they just didn’t fit what I wanted. I suppose I should take the time to build what I want and sell it. There should be a few people that agree with my needs.

    • Jorge says:

      Contactizer is pretty much abandonware too – their forums have been in ‘maintenance mode’ for a couple of months now, this after many users’ posts about the lack of updates/activity from the dev for the app.

  168. Eric Davis says:

    I’m starting to use my iPad for work more now. I like Textastic or Prompt (ssh) + emacs for coding or working on a server, though my heavy development is still done on my laptop (though I could ssh into my laptop from my home wifi…)

    • curtismchale says:

      I’ve got prompt and it’s been useful a few times to do some work on my server. I’ve heard about Textastic but haven’t tried it. The thing is that using the iPad regularly would require moving away from a local (laptop) dev setup to some set up where I have a dedicated dev server with all my projects on it.

      Not that it can’t happen, it’s just a barrier right now.

  169. Jorge says:

    So you deny yourself something based on someone else’s “opinion”, instead of judging for yourself? (In other words – you let others decide for you?)

    • curtismchale says:

      I’m not sure that anyone is saying they are not choosing Daylite because of a review. I’m certainly not discounting it for that reason. I think the review I read was more incentive to battle the difficult setup experience and try it.

      • Jorge says:

        Fair enough – I guess I misread what you meant.

        There’s been a few updates already within the first few days of release, so their being quick at fixing the bugs out.

        I don’t agree with the review’s “rushed” statement however – it was no more “rushed” than Apple’s own OS updates (5.1.1 breaking SSL, etc.). And given this, I don’t buy the all the sandboxing hoopla Apple’s forcing devs to bend over backwards for instead of better spending the time on features for their apps.

  170. Does an MU setup streamline the publishing process?

    • curtismchale says:

      Multisite streamlines the updating and maintaining process. To update anyone of my 10 sites (a bunch for family) I just have to hit the main site and update. That’s all plugins and themes. Cut’t down my time a bunch.

      For publishing, it’s really the same as regular WordPress.

  171. I despise those intro techniques where you build yourself into some kind of magic business pixie. Networking is more natural when you are trying to make friends first and customers second.

    • curtismchale says:

      But are you willing to do them if they bring in lots of business or are you sticking to your principles no matter what?

  172. I wonder if it’s harder to spread content the farther you are from a population center. Places like Vancouver and Seattle are full of people who know how to share links and have friends who will read their links. By the time most content reaches the Fraser Valley, it’s already gone viral and no one has to share anything with anybody. That works out because it’s a place where “not being into computers” is still perfectly valid.

    The only way to reverse this trend is through local groups like the Ruby brigade which encourage people to create and share online content.

  173. Failure is the only road to success my friend… Geniuses such as Einstein and Steven Hawking were not only labeled geniuses because they were smart but rather because they failed more times than most other individuals.

  174. teresa says:

    i’ve really been trying to make an effort to put my phone down or ipad down at some point ‘after work’ so that i’m not constantly checking online. i liked when i had a blackberry because it would only blink when there was something waiting. now i check all the time and often there’s nothing there.

    i like this pomodoro technique for work. i get really distracted since i work from home, by laundry, cats, outdoors, twitter etc. 25mins sounds like a long time to me at times πŸ™‚ maybe i’ll try the 15min interval you talked about in your last post.

    • curtismchale says:

      If you’re going to use the Pomodoro technique I recommend reading this book. It does say to start with shorter intervals as you get used to it.

      It’s really hard to put the phone down, I keep catching myself checking it when there is no good reason for it.

  175. Eric Mann says:

    I would seriously question a publisher who says you need to use Word. Yes, change tracking is important, but Word is absolutely horrible for typesetting anything for publication.

    When it comes down to it, stick with Scrivener for research/storyboarding/drafting. Then go to a fully-featured publishing app (i.e. InDesign) for layout.

    • curtismchale says:

      Many publishers want it in Word the they move it to a pro app for layout. At least all the publishers I’ve talked to about writing books.

  176. I’ve never seen an example of a client call crib sheet online before. Thanks for posting about it!

    • curtismchale says:

      I hadn’t really thought about it either. I thought about a project template but just haven’t got around to building it.

  177. Thanks for linking to us! One of the things that gets me is when I’m at the grocery store with my son and he’s being his average three year old hard-to-wrangle self, random people (!) and the cashiers will make comments about it as if I’ll be glad when it’s mom’s turn next time, or laugh and joke as if it’s a punishment for me to be at the store with my kid.

    • curtismchale says:

      Yup that’s annoying. I often reply that I’m the full time parent and I don’t really care about the whining. I usually take my daughter shopping even with the wife home. Gives us more time to hang out.

  178. Eric Mann says:

    This is why I added the meta sidebar to my new (evolving) site design. It includes both the publication date and the last modified date.

    Sometimes, a really old post is still relevant and is updated … should the publication date change? I don’t think so. But if a post on code was published in 2009 it’s important to show that yes, it has been updated in the past month.

    • curtismchale says:

      I’ve thought about adding the last modified date as well, but just haven’t got around to doing it. Sheer laziness.

  179. Michael says:

    I’m not a big fan of Microsoft Word either, hence why I use LibreOffice (much better in my opinion, plus it’s free).

    Pages is a good tool for Mac users as well as you mentioned πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      When I was on Windows I was an Open Office user but I just never found it great on a Mac (compared to Pages). I admit, I have never tried the Libre Office ‘fork’ from Open Office. Libre would be my choice now if I was looking for a Pages and MS alternative and really needed a bunch of features. The reality is that plain text with Markdown get’s about 99% of my writing time. The only documents I have in Pages are my client contract so it looks nice and documents (typically Word doc) that clients sent to me. Most users I know (admittedly power users) are in the same boat.

  180. Michael says:

    The thing I most dislike about working as a freelancer (at home, I should add) is that you don’t have any co-workers, with their knowledge, around. Working by myself I can get stuck on a problem, which previously only (usually) required me to ask my colleguae, sitting next to me, to take a look. Sometimes it was as simple as, lets say, a mistyped colon, which he or she spotted immediately, where I had been starring at my screen at for 15 minutes.

    Now that same typo may cost me an entire morning, searching various solutions on StackOverflow etc, not giving me just the right answer and getting frustrated to the point I simply walkaway from the project. I open up the project the next day, spot the problem right away and get on. But at the expense of a morning wasted and a lot of frustration.

    On the other hand, being able to go out for a quick bike ride when it’s just perfect weather outside beats a lot of those frustrations πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      Yeah it’s easy to get stuck on problems. I use Pomodoro and if I get stuck on an issue for more than 2 rounds I stop the project and come back at it later. I’ve joined a local co-working space so that I have an opportunity to ask some questions.

  181. I have quite a bit of local clients, although I do notice the budget is smaller in general than my clients in the US and the rest of the world.
    I don’t charge people for meetings, because it’s also a way for them to see who they’d be dealing with. I’ve been in “face-to-face selling” for years, and 9 out of 10 initial meetings result in a project.
    I’m guessing it all depends on your area. People here in SK are probably different from BC clients.

  182. Eric Mann says:

    I wonder if there would be value in a curated membership network. As in, you pay once to get access to a group of sites like TBR and all of the site owners get a cut. This would still benefit the producers of good content (they’d have to earn their way in and keep producing to stay in the network), but it would avoid burning the users out on signups.

  183. curtismchale says:

    I was listening to a podcast recently where they floated that idea (I think the B&B Podcast).

    They put forward that there are many groups of sites that ‘play’ off each other. The issue is, you’de need a huge number of readers (much more than individual memberships need) to make it financially viable. At least that’s the theory.

  184. Dustin says:

    I guess my first question is: why pay $3/mo? I don’t know who he is…he may be famous, he may have a wealth of information, but knowledge should be free. Surely if he’s that interesting he could find revenue via other methods, instead of charging his readers, no?

    Furthermore, “Shawn Today” doesn’t seem like it’s worth the extra money…really, the more I look through this site, the more I’m frustrated that people are paying him. I fully believe in donations, not memberships, but to each their own.

    • curtismchale says:

      If you don’t know him or read the site then don’t pay. I read the site already.

      In addition to the Shawn Today episodes there is an email newsletter for members only. I forgot about that because I choose not to get it.

      Yes there might be other ways to get cash for the site, but having a site plastered with ads looks terrible and he (and myself) don’t want to do that. After ads what business models are there? Memberships, selling products, and???

      If you have a better idea the share it. Knocking others idea who tout providing an alternative solution is an easy way out.

  185. Dustin says:

    I’m not knocking it, I just don’t like people trying to charge what knowledge and information that can be obtained for free elsewhere, especially writing online. He could have text sponsors, a corner sponsor that is out of the way, he could ask for donations which is my personal favorite.

    • curtismchale says:

      I don’t view it as charging for the content, it’s still free in both cases. For Shawn Blanc all the main content is just plain free, members get perks. For TBR it’s free if you want to wait 7 days. I view it as donating to help the author.

  186. This is slightly off topic but how do you limit the amount of time you are kept on the phone? I had a scheduled call the other day and the potential client was rambling about unrelated topics. The call went way too long and I wasn’t sure how I could have managed it better. Or do you set a start and end time before you even have the call?

    • curtismchale says:

      I always set a start and end time for every call. If we are going over time I work out the time to book again to continue. For new clients, I’ll jump in and say that once we are over an hour (sometimes 30 minutes if it’s not a big project) I charge for my consulting time.

      If a client calls out of the blue (almost always a new client) I’ll just state up front that I have at max 30 minutes. That’s pretty much regardless of how much time I actually have. Truthfully, I rarely answer my phone if I don’t have the number on caller ID. I’ll listen to the message right away (or shortly) and call back when it works for me. I’ve never thought it was fair for the client whose code I’m working on, to have me interrupted in the middle of the train of thought.

  187. Tim says:

    Looks to me like their policy doesn’t apply to the offending tweet.
    Only non-public, private email addresses which haven’t been previously published are barred.

  188. Now that Mountain Lion takes dictation, won’t Dragon be pushed out of the Mac market now?

  189. curtismchale says:

    Not likely. Dragon does live dictation (you can watch the words appear). Mac works like Siri, you speak the text then wait for it to hit the server and come back. That means you could speak a whole sentence and not know there was an error. Also if the server rejects it for any reason you just lost everything you said.

    They were just talking about it on the last Hypercritical episode and John is a big dictation guy.

  190. Rae Arnold says:

    Curtis, I try to write under the idea of “make it as general as possible”. That way, when I find myself needing to write duplicate, or very similar code, I first check to see if I can just extend a function I’ve written elsewhere and call it in the new location.

    It doesn’t work quite as well in environments like WP, at least on the plug-in side, but my functions.php can get pretty large with helper functions that can be used by many templates, allowing me to keep my actual templates very streamlined.

    • curtismchale says:

      I’m more often building “template tags” now as well and saving them in Codebox so I can find them later. Most of the tutorials on come from template tags I built.

  191. A very good philosophy to approach work / projects with … well done!

  192. Dave Zille says:

    I like the approach..

    Personally, I’m thinking about taking an iOS development course this fall – Although I am currently outsourcing my iOS development projects, but want to learn more as I think it will let me hire and manage projects better.

    • curtismchale says:

      Knowing about the technical constraints certainly helps you talk the same language as the developer and helps you call foul when they say something will take way too long.

  193. Eric Davis says:

    I’d recommend getting outside of PHP also. Try to learn new languages or frameworks, they might not be something you use later on but you never know.

    This is why I have a lot of JavaScript scheduled and even C.

    • curtismchale says:

      The language I’d probably ‘default’ to is Ruby. I know so many local Ruby devs, and have done a bit myself. That may be the ‘easy’ way out though. Javascript would be a good choice, since I write a lot of jQuery, but no proper JS.

  194. They’re only doing this to thumb their nose at Google. Microsoft’s loyalties will always side with their Enterprise customers and against their competitors, never with the end user.

    • curtismchale says:

      You’ve got the MS of 2 years ago pegged, but I’m not sure that’s the same MS of today. I think we’re starting to see a new side of MS that may just be great for users. Most enterprise doesn’t like the new Metro (yeah I know we’re not supposed to call it that) interface and MS has made it so that you have to hit that first on boot. There are no enterprise level setting to change it.

      MS is interesting again. Have to give it a few years to really know which of us is right.

  195. I don’t know Curtis. If you ask me, MarsEdit has upped my game considerably πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      There is a time and place for trying out new tools/workflows. Most people get caught in trying new things instead of actually putting work out. That’s what the issue is.

  196. I switched from TextMate 1 to TextMate 2 when the beta got released and I really happy with it.

    I don’t like Sublime as much but they are both very excellent of course.

    but I could not think of switching back to TextMate 1 from TextMate 2, that’s for sure.

  197. The problem with open letters is that only people who are already interested in being nice will straighten up and fly right. Asshats will just keep Asshattin’. Sometimes it’s just better to name names.

    • curtismchale says:

      True. Then you walk a very fine line to becoming the asshat in the story. I’ve certainly done my fair share of being an idiot, I just hope that when I get called on it I can take steps to fix the situation not default to “Hey I’m just telling the truth.” That’s totally an escape for being a jerk.

  198. Tim says:

    The medium affects the message. With only have 140 chars to play with there’s not always room for a sugary coating. If you assume someone is being offensive, that’s what you’ll see. I’m not saying the asshats aren’t out there (they are) but if you’re going to survive on the interwebs (like in the rest of the world) you have to adjust you asshat-sensitivity filter or get used to crying yourself to sleep at night. If you put yourself out there (nobody is forcing you) then haters are gonna hate.

    • curtismchale says:

      Yes there does need to be a level of grace extended because of the lack of characters in a Tweet and the lack of tone, body language. I suppose I’m trying te speak more to a few people where a few times a week they are telling someone not to get offended because it’s just the truth. If many people are calling you on the same thing, maybe you are the issue.

  199. Andy says:

    An excellent rebuttal to DHH. Your last paragraph sums up my feelings also.

  200. thank you says:

    The 37 Sig gospel gets so old.

    • curtismchale says:

      They do have good points from time to time but they seem to forget (often) the postion of privilege fram which they speak. It’s a lot harder to say the same things when you need to feed the kids.

      I’m still going to read the blog.

  201. Andrea_R says:

    You wind up not wondering where people get their ideas about things like this when you realize it’s perpetuated everywhere. :-/

    • curtismchale says:

      That’s the unfortunate part really. Need to stop it from being the case if we can.

  202. I think modern dads are a little over-sensitive in this regard. We can still raise our kids no matter what society thinks.

  203. Eric Davis says:

    I shoot for 4.5 hours of quality work out of an 8 hour day. That gives me room for email, communication, marketing, and breaks. Somedays when I’m deep in code I’ll get in 6-7 hours in an 8 hour day but that usually kills my energy for the rest of the night.

    • curtismchale says:

      Email, marketing and Admin are all things I totally didn’t account for when I got started. I know few people that do remember to include time for that in their day.

      The last company I worked for on a full time contract was expecting 8 hours of coding in an 8 hour day. Totally not sustainable but they were upset that it wasn’t happening.

  204. While there is a demand for technology, there will always be sensationalist reporting to fuel the anticipation for new tech.

    I’m waiting on the iPhone 5 myself, having just finished a 2 year contract with an HTC Desire. Like yourself, I’m also of the mind, “It will be here when it’s here.”

    Journalism like this is speculative and it’s a common thing in 24 hour news channels as well. Too much speculation. Whatever happened to reporting on the hard facts of a story?

    • curtismchale says:

      I don’t mind a bit of rumour talk but it’s just stupid the lengths to which sites go to be the first with a rumour. A year ago I cared way more about the rumours and followed them all, but I just don’t have time (or desire) for that. I’m 100% burnt out on rumours.

  205. Yup, we are dealing with that here as well. Absolutely pervasive in crappy enterprise software development. It is TERRIBLE.

    • curtismchale says:

      I kind of understand browser requirements for large internal applications that cost millions to rebuild, but no public facing site should have anything resembling this.

  206. And this is getting added to future quotes:

    “…if a client wants to support something older (like IE7) we bill hourly for it.”

  207. Between sensationalist reporting and obtrusive ads (some of which crash browsers on the iPad) I’m starting to think someone needs to create a tech journalism blacklist.

    • curtismchale says:

      I think we’d be out of most tech sites. They’re all racing for pageviews and throwing accurate reporting and proper analysis to the side.

  208. tourpro says:

    It’s weird to allow racing, but no points.

    Also, in regard to Beijing and other quickly approved World Tour races:

    Corruption At The Heart Of The UCI –

    Tour of Hangzhou cancelled amid corruption allegations –

    It seems that UCI and McQaid cronies have a conflict of interest when it comes to punishing “stars”.

    • curtismchale says:

      I think that no points ups the punishment for riders and tries to spread it to teams as well. Contador is a bit less desirable for a team if he doesn’t bring points along. It’s still totally possible for a team to turn a blind eye to doping and ‘use up’ a rider then leave them out to dry because they don’t have points.

      I think that the UCI needs to devise a system that penalizes teams as well when a rider is doping. Teams need to take a lead, like Garmin Sharp, and push hard for no doping at all. At the very least a team should be required to demonstrate that they were doing everything in their power to ensure that doping was not happening. Stuff like their own testing. If they can prove that they have worked hard to keep dopers off the team then they should get a pass at punishment. Right now I don’t think that teams do enough to make sure that there is no doping.

      I don’t think that they’re encouraging it (at least not as much as it once was) but they need to do more.

  209. @tourpro says:

    Yeah, lack of point accumulation is meant to be a punishment for the rider – making them less desirable for a team to hire.

    For riders with marginal performance, this would be huge.

    The AC case is kind of different. He’s a Grand Tour winner – past, present, and future. Plus, he has a huge fanbase which translates to continued sponsor value in spite of his transgressions. This also means that big races would want him to be there. At a certain point, perhaps race organizers and team might even feel that UCI accreditation is unnecessary. Thus, the creation of a breakaway cycling league.

    It sure is a complicated game being played. Bottom-line, we do need to have the rules-of-the-game clearly defined both for fans and racers in a very transparent manner.

    What really amuses me though, is how the UCI’s rule is coming back to bite them (McQuaid and cronies) in “their” races.

  210. It was the gamification of going outside that really attracted me to Foursquare. It’ll really come in handy when I decide I need a life again!

    • curtismchale says:

      The gamification just doesn’t matter to me. So what, I’m the mayor of Decades? Doesn’t make me a better person just means I go out for coffee a bunch.

  211. Theron says:

    Fully agree. I’m not a ruby guy but a WordPress and php guy and their discussions are always very helpful.

  212. You’re right Curtis, the enterprise isn’t sexy, but the other problem is that the tools that the enterprise would require developers to use aren’t nice either.

    Think you can walk into your new job in ACME Ltd. and bust open MacVim to code some Ruby? Think again.

    Many large companies use proprietary software like ERP systems that require developers to use a limited selection of tools.

    Who wants to work in a job where you’re told the tools you will use?

    Not all companies are like this, but there are a fair share of them out there.

    • curtismchale says:

      I’ve been lucky never to work in a company like that. Any time I’ve been coding at a ‘large’ company they had no idea what I did and I was the only developer so when I told them the needed tools they had no reason to say no. No one knew any better/different.

      The whole mandated tools thing is just another way enterprise works to make itself unsexy.

  213. You are correct about the Comparison of and to Apple and Linux. is a walled garden that will eventually disappear due to being closed and, or another smart, decentralized, free and open service will eventually succeed and become a defacto standard in social media. This is why Linux runs the embedded space, the mobile space and the very Internet itself while Apple runs overly-priced hipster devices. ‘Nuff said.

  214. Mo Jangda says:

    The only number that counts is your source control revision number πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      And I’m sure I will be able to quote the Git hash of things. Every one will understand it.

  215. brian pearce says:

    Your final comment seems contradictory. You’re going to stop worrying about version numbers but you’re going to continue bumping it? So you are still concerned enough to bump the number. Which would mean you haven’t stopped worrying about them?

  216. It seems pretty likely he has doped to me, based on all the allegations from former teammates. I find it hard to believe they all have an axe to grind against him, so I can’t help but think they are speaking the truth. The unfortunate thing is there really is no scientific proof (failed drug tests).

    That said, I think he should just own up to it and take his beats at this point. I understand not wanting to go through the whole process with the USDA, but given that he has been a role model, I think he should do the moral thing and admit it if he did it (and it seems fairly likely based on that report that he did). The sad thing is I think LiveStrong would take a major credibility hit, but so be it I guess.

    • curtismchale says:

      I think he should own up as well, but given the stories about his conduct with others I think that’s unlikely.

      Regarding a specific failed test, there is one supposedly out there. When the USADA asked to test it again the UCI asked Lance’s permission to allow the test and he said no. I don’t think the rider should have a choice since it brings up a huge conflict of interests, but that’s how the broken system works.

  217. brian pearce says:

    I don’t know if I agree about making it a league like baseball or hockey. It would certainly change the dynamic. Even then players in those leagues suffer the same pressure to dope etc. Money in leagues just gets burned away as well.

  218. Eric Davis says:

    I think most creative people deal with this. There is always something else that could be tweaked: a bit more paint here, a few more notes here, a few pixels here.

    I’ve come to realize that it is much better to ship something that isn’t “perfect” than to make it “perfect” and never ship. There are countless stories about great code or products that never see the light of day.

    Then I use my spare time to make products or side projects “perfect”.

    (I quoted perfect because you can never get some things perfect. Getting them good enough for you and your style is all you can do.)

  219. Perhaps selling your time at a reduced rate for these tinkering sessions is the way to go?

    Agree with the customer on a number of areas where the product could be improved upon and use the offer of a reduced rate to fix these areas.

    I face the same problem every day at work. Most of the time the customers do not want to spend extra money on getting some smaller improvements in their ERP systems.

    A bit of education on how small improvements could give them better performance/maintainability of their ERP installation is probably needed.

    • curtismchale says:

      It certainly would be noble of me to reduce my rate, but I run a business not a charity. Clients are not only paying for me to type code, but my years of experience doing my job for them. Reducing my rate for ‘tinkering’ would also encourage them to negotiate the rate down any time they wanted to call work tinkering.

  220. I’ve been subcontracted recently, and this (thankfully) has never been the case with my, erm, hirer. She always had paid me when the work is done, not when the client has paid her. Just lucky I guess. πŸ™‚

    • curtismchale says:

      Most times I’ve not had an issues. I’ve found that the larger the company the more likely it is they want to pay you on longer terms. Maybe I just need to say no to all larger companies.

  221. This is precisely why I have a blog and tumblelog. I then don’t feel guilty about posting links, quotes and random media from the internet on my tumblelog.

    I keep my blog for longer articles. Opinion posts if you like.

  222. Definitely a good idea for getting more attention; and, I also agree it can be a sacrifice if the compensation is compared to typically “development” rates.

    The question I keep asking myself, as you are alluding to above, is the practice worth the potential?

    • curtismchale says:

      I suppose I’ll find out. I’ve actually got the article written and if its not accepted I’ll just use it here.

  223. Robyn says:

    Guest posting isn’t really about making money unfortunately. Most people use guest posting as a way to sell their products (webinars, ebooks, consultation service). this is done by offering valuable info in a post to hopefully inspire sales. Also it is good for expanding you audience. But $$? Well…

    • curtismchale says:

      That’s a bit sad though. You can make a living writing for print magazines. Large blogs are simply a digital version of that so one would think that it should be able to support writers.

  224. Deesa says:

    Curtis, you’re comparing an iPhone (device) to Android devices (plural). You can buy a pure google Android phone straight from google, for $359 CAD and get all the latest updates when google releases them.

    When you compare features you won’t get the full experience.
    Try using the latest Nexus phone for a month exclusively, it might annoy you in the beginning as anything new might, but then when you understand the platform you might change your mind.

    I’ve been using multiple phones for a little while now, I’ve had an iPhone4, iPhone 4s, and many Android devices. And I keep coming back to my latest Android phone. It’s more convenient (better notification system), more social (sharing to any app that’s installed on your phone, instead of just twitter and fb that iPhone allows), smarter (application level background syncing), it understands you better (Google Now beats Siri any day).

    just my 2c

    • curtismchale says:

      I certainly can’t disagree with anything you’re saying. I have no doubt that I could get over little annoyances but I keep coming back to the experience that my father has. His experience is mirrored in the post. He has to ‘hack’ around to get the upgrade on his phone.

      Even your point is a pain. I can go find a phone that doesn’t have a bad experience and then take it to my carrier for activation, or I can walk in get an iPhone with no extra leg work and it gets upgrades. In the middle there, I pay more for the phone (since it’s not subsidized) and then still pay the same amount for a contract. So it costs me extra in time, and extra in money. I’ve got enough things that cost me daily.

  225. Andrew Vit says:

    I like to use Sass for this purpose. Even though the the front-end frameworks provide generic classes like “.span-5”, I can choose not to call them directly, and just mix their definitions into my own named structure, e.g. “#sidebar”.

    There’s a lot to consider for modern layouts, especially when designing for the various devices from phones to tablets & desktops and have it look good everywhere. I find the layout abstractions of front-end frameworks to be the most useful pieces for this, actually. Do check out Zurb Foundation as an alternative to Bootstrap, too.

    • curtismchale says:

      It’s my understanding that calling the classes directly (which is fine with me from a philosophical view) means you loose the responsive aspects of the framework. I certainly could be wrong but that seems to kill any real benefit of the framework if it is accurate.

  226. I was just thinking about something very similar myself this morning. Actually, it was in conjunction with a post idea; but, what I will say here is: I mostly agree with these ideas … just have to find my happy median before I publish my own.

  227. It’s a lovely idea, but it doesn’t work in all cases.

    Fixed cost billing is lovely, if you can be certain that you’ll not overrun. You can’t charge more based on the value to the client – that’s unfair. That’s like charging more for chocolate to a rich person than a poor one. It infuriates buyers because they know that you’re suckering them. It also encourages them to simply hire their own dev teams.

    Hourly billing is also problematic, for the reasons you state.

    This is why as a business we’re moving towards product based solutions + hourly rates for implementing and change requests. Then you can sell it multiple times over, but at relatively low cost. Some buyers will get better returns than others, but that’s for them to work out.

    You really need a balanced solution that gets you the best of both worlds.

  228. Randy says:

    Uh.. wait, rich people do pay more than poor people, for chocolate, gas, and code.

    Just check out the prices for things at convenience stores in Beverley Hills and Compton in California.

    Gas and candy prices are much different in those two neighborhoods. Yes, you can adjust what you charge based on the ability of the client to pay, as well as other metrics such as delivery priority, # of features, level of documentation, etc.

    Just be sure you can justify it if questioned about why you charged different rates.

    • That’s a different metric – charging based on your location is normal. After all, setting up shop in Beverley Hills or Primrose Hill isn’t going to be cheap and those costs have to be covered somehow. But they’re in the business of chocolate provision, rather than chocolate making – chances are the shops paid exactly the same to get it from Hershey’s or Cadbury’s.

      The key thing in code is that the marginal cost is zero. You can sell your code again at no additional cost to yourself. So if a client pays us to develop a Kindle periodicals plugin for WP (as recently happened) because it’s GPL and we keep our rights to it, we can resell it again. So there’s a value for us as well as the client.

  229. Have you tried asking WordPress Ddvs what they would pay for such a book?

    Put up a web site with a bio of the book and an example of a chapter. Then ask people what they would pay for the full book.

    It will give you a better idea of what you can charge for the book. Also, the WordPress community is large, so I imagine you wouldn’t have too much trouble getting feedback on pricing as well.

    You could also ask for people to sign up for release dates on the book. Perhaps an early bird offer as well if people buy the book now?

    Just some ideas for you to consider.

    • curtismchale says:

      I have touched base with a few WordPress devs about it, but the book isn’t really for them. The book would be geared towards programmers that have dabbled in WordPress themes but aren’t sure of best practices or a strong beginner that can build a theme and basic plugin looking to take it to the next level. The book is not geared towards me or devs like me. They might get a few workflow tips as they have insight in to how I do it, but that’s about it.

      I do think I’ll get LeanPub going once I have a chapter edited and ready to go. I have the chapter outline already.

  230. Eric Mann says:

    Fully realizing I’m not the target audience for this book, I’m trying to imaging what a good length for a $10 tutorial book would be. Say, one with 10 tips on getting started with Ruby (since I’m learning). With that in mind, I think 10 pages would be a good length.

    Basically, 1 tip per page, with some practical example of how it’s used. So not just “Internationalize your strings” but the point and an explanation – maybe with code – on why and how it’s done.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’ve got 90% of 1 chapter done and I’m at 2000 words, which is more than 1 page. I’m thinking it’s going to be 20 – 50 pages when I’m done so probably worth more than $10 I’m thinking now. Probably more in the $29 – $39 range.

  231. Eric Mann says:

    I actually sponsored a Dave Ramsey seminar once, and I was blown away by his “snowball plan” for paying off debt. It really does work. Since I’ve gotten them paid off, I’ve stopped using credit cards entirely. Instead, I set up my own “self-funded line of credit” for when I need to make big purchases. Not one of Ramsey’s principles, but I like to think he’d suggest it.

  232. Miles Forrest says:

    It also helps to realize finding clients is a numbers game. I found it helpful to keep track of some simple numbers, such as “for every 10 people I meet and talk to at a networking event I usually get work from 1 person”. Knowing it’s a numbers game helps to shrug off discouragement.

  233. Deesa says:

    I sense some bitterness

  234. Hey Curtis,

    Commenting since it appears my tweet with the link to the article triggered this post.

    You make some great points about business models, ones I strongly agree with in general. And for your use-case their business model makes Instapaper a more viable solution for you than Pocket. That’s great that you’ve found a tool that you like and that makes you more effective.

    But when you asked “why pocket and not Instapaper?” I answered with the link I found by googling rather than spend 15-20 minutes answering as I am now. The article I found addressed the reasons I liked Pocket better that Instapaper even if the article mentioned things that were irrelevant to me, the parts which you were critical of above.

    For me it boils down to the fact I like having a simple clean desktop app and Pocket has much better usability than Instapaper in most cases for a task where usability is really the only consideration for me. Pocket speaks to me, Instapaper does not.

    Now as for Pocket not having a business model and thus could go away at any minute, well since I only use Pocket for a quick way to gather items that I’ll read within the next few days it wouldn’t be a big loss for me if they went away. I’m not using it to archive links like I do with with or like I’m currently evaluating doing with Evernote.

    All I use Pocket for is to capture links to read later that I previously would have emailed to myself. Pocket helps me declutter my email inbox because it works to quickly capture links from most of the software that I use to consume content. Pocket is integrated with many apps, typically lets me capture content with one click and has very little lag time between clicking and being able to do something else (this last part is where Evernote fails.)

    So Pocket is (almost) perfect for what I use it for. (I say “almost” because they could polish the UI a bit.)

    As for business model, since Pcoket got VC and are getting lots of users I expect they will find a viable business model. But if they do not, or if they pivot away from my use-case I won’t have lost anything I didn’t have before using Pocket. As they say, no harm, no foul.


  235. Great idea! I like the crowd-sourcing aspect of this, too.

  236. Curtis,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I agree with your response. WordPress cannot try to be three different platforms.


  237. Matt Graham says:

    “WordPress primarily uses templates for the design of the website, and while templates make it easy to add and change the site’s appearance, you end up with a site design, that, well, looks like a whole lot of other WordPress websites.”

    What a load of malarky. If he were a real programmer, he would know that most OOP frameworks for the web use MVC, and View is another word for template! Template doesn’t mean it’s downloaded from a template site. And WordPress is only limited by the designer/developer’s lack of knowledge.

    This isn’t a post about WordPress – it’s a long-form sales page for their CMS, which will cost you the same in the long run, most likely.

  238. Jessica says:

    Unless I’m totally reading that article wrong, they are just wanking on WordPress to better upsell their own site when really: you have to use their proprietary software that is all web-based, as opposed to self-hosting your WordPress site and work/develop locally. Their article is biased, since it’s just self promotion on their own blog. I’m not convinced.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Oh I know it’s totally biased. If you watched the screencast you’ll see they actually even suggest WordPress as the integrated blog for their clients. Evidently their CMS can’t handle the blogging.

      • Jessica says:

        For some reason the screen-cast wouldn’t load for me, but I believe you. The simple fact that they lean on WP for the actual blogging platform says something. And to charge as much as they do? Pfft. At the end of the day, anything that uses a proprietary web-based app like they do = NO NO NO.

  239. Hello Curtis,

    Thank you very much for your Scrivener related blog post! I simply wanted to cast some of that tunnel light on a recent screenshot of Scrivener for iOS running on an iPad mini We’re working hard for a currently planned release in Q1 2013.

    All the best, David
    Scrivener, Literature & Latte

  240. Stephanie C. says:

    Absolutely right. It’s so easy to think how big our house is or how neat our lawns is what defines us, but that’s silly. We need to focus on the things we can do for others and the time we spend with family and friends — that’s what matters.

  241. Mark says:

    Interesting, because I’m struggling with the same, however, I think I found a solution: Trello. I have 3 boards:
    1 that I share with my business partner. This has tasks that we both need to be aware of.
    1 Is my “sales” board, where I can move an opportunity/lead through the columns as the sales-process progresses.

    The last one is my “Web design process” board, where I have columns for the stages of a project: Planning, design, development, content, launch and after care.
    Each project gets a card. In this card I keep track of what I’ve done to it, what the client communicated with me and what needs to be done (todo lists per card).
    I add the deadline to the card, and that card needs to be in “after care” before the deadline on the card.

    Maybe it’s something for you to look at.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’ve watched the videos for Trello before and it looks neat, but I was not convinced of it’s usefulness. Maybe I was wrong.

  242. Rob says:

    Fun is learning. When you were tinkering on your Hackintosh, you were learning. The first times you opened your computer and upgraded the RAM you were learning. Now though, you’ve learned all that.

    Now, building a computer, upgrading RAM, that’s not novel, that’s not teaching you anything. It’s just taking up time, and especially in your case as a consultant, time is money.

    Your daughter however, that’s novel, that’s new, and there’s always things to learn with a new child. There’s also the responsibilities that go along with that.

    I don’t know that I’d say one stops being a nerd in that sort of situation. I’d just say that your focus shifts. I think nerdiness is a state of mind that promotes the fun in learning. You can be a computer nerd, but you can be a chess nerd, or a book nerd, or a movie nerd or whatever.

    It just sounds like right now you are a parenting nerd. Maybe you’ll end up tinkering with computers again when you daughter decides she wont talk to you because she’s a teenager and parents are stupid.

  243. Wes Koop says:

    We’ve used it since our inception, it’s been critical in replacing a whiteboard β€” a high level view of the company, clients, hosting, bills. It’s been good.

    I share the same concerns on the business model, and also gave it a pss because of Fog Creek. I’ve been recommended other “free” systems, but can’t find the reason to jump.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I think it’s going to work for my Sales Channel and maybe for detailed projects with a bunch of things. I’m not sure how it will work for basic things. And I’m not sure how I’m going to relate different boards representing different projects to my overall schedule. The best idea so far is to have an ‘overall’ board with all my current projects on it and a few columns for stages.

      We shall see what happens. I’m sure I’ll end up writing about it.

  244. Aras says:

    We have been using trello for a few months now. I like the minimalistic approach of trello, which allow us to build and evolve our own workflow. But trello actually is not as flexible as it seems at first. For example, one thing I often have to do, which I dont like to, is to delete items from a checklist inside one card and then add them again in another checklist in another card. This happens when I start to break a taksk down and realize that it is actually towo or three different things and want to seperate them more.

    I like the shortcut keys even though there are no global keys. You can see them by pressing ?. We also use a agile chrome plugin for trello that allows us to put time estimates (as story points) inside the header.

    Trello is certainly much better than some of the other agile or other workflow management tools I have used. But I have to say I am not completely satisfied with it.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I don’t think that any system will totally satisfy. It will just be the solution with the least amount of issues for your workflow.

      I didn’t know about the key commands, very cool.

  245. Good advice. We are more than our coding and design skills – we are advocates for our client’s businesses.

  246. Niki Brown says:

    I’ll bite. Publishing updates is a good reminder as well.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Sweet. If yours is out when my updates are I’ll make sure to link it up. Maybe we can get a bunch of people doing it.

  247. Phillip Flores says:


    Just a short note to tell you that I completely share your point of view. As a developer myself I see my task as providing a solution to a problem that my client is having. They really do not care what is under the hood of the solution, they just want their ‘pain’ to go away.

  248. carrie says:

    How do you really feel? πŸ˜‰ Are you anti any grid-based layout, or just in the context of Bootstrap (or other similar framework)?

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Grid design is awesome, but if you have to litter up your CSS and HTML with extra things to make it work I don’t like it. I do design on grids, but write the HTML and CSS by hand to match the grid.

  249. I agree with the idea of being wary of the publisher … not afraid, but definitely make sure you are able to write what you want in the style you want to write it.

    It was mostly for that reason, I eventually turned down an offer from a publisher to write a “micro-book”; and, I wonder now if it will ever be written, too.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      As others pointed out in Twitter, there is a large bit of social validation in writing a book for a proper publisher. At least clients think that. Other programmers see your code and conduct and judge you on that basis. Writing a book from a major publisher is just another thing you do. I can think of a few ‘awesome’ programmers that are published that write terrible code.

  250. Wow – thanks for sharing this. The response on the site has been mediocre at best, so I’m really stoked to see this from you.

    Always appreciate your input, Curtis.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      How many people are you trying to reach? I found it useful to hear, and judging from some of the other comments here I’m not the only one.

      • I’m late following up on this post (clearly), but I’m mainly just trying to reach the readership of the blog and anyone that retweets or links to it.

        I received enough questions that I felt like I had enough material to share it over the course of four or five short podcasts, so tried to do just that.

  251. Ryan says:

    I am guilty of putting site tweaks before my writing sometimes. And I don’t know how many half finished posts I have in my Dashboard… Good post!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I think we all are guilty of that. I’ve thought about moving to some other platform I don’t know well just because I won’t be able to hack on the code. Means I’d have to focus on writing.

  252. Eric Davis says:

    I agree with the Category, I only use one (General) and just use tags for grouping things. The only downside is that you don’t have as much flexibility with your urls (/category_name/post_name).

  253. carrie says:

    Hey Curtis, thanks for pointing out the podcast – I’ll add ’em to my queue!

    Over the holidays I went through Headline Hacks ( There’s an exercise involved – go through and just write post headlines. It actually helped me spark the thought process for post topics. Just an FYI if your well runs dry. πŸ™‚

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Thanks. With the book launch this week (and all the work leading up to it) I am feeling a bit dry right now. I’ve been running so hard for a few months now.

  254. Jorge says:

    “That works out to around $24/month.” Seriously? I laughed when I read this – nice that you didn’t say that it’d be FOR ONE YEAR, THEN THAT’S *IT*, and instead implied it was continual payment.

  255. Really great points. Not only is it a great thing to do – but it also helps the person submitting the pull request learn more about how to collaborate, and they’ll often come out with improved development skills because they’ll have a lot more eyes on their code. Good stuff!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Absolutely. I’ve only added comments and really basic fixes to WPEC, but I have found a bunch of things in WordPress and WPEC that I didn’t know existed before. I’ve learned a lot, despite contributing really basic stuff.

  256. Yup, totally agree. It’s more prevalent in the PHP community though (as opposed to Ruby/Node).

    • Curtis McHale says:

      That has been my experience as well. With the WordPress community (which is the portion I have the most knowledge of) I think that stems from WordPress being used as more of a ‘blog’ platform till recently. As we’ve seen more people do bigger things with WordPress, I’m seeing more talk about code quality and more contributions.

  257. Andrew Vit says:

    Also, somehow opening issues is worth something that closing them is not. Go figure.

  258. Aras says:

    That is a pretty funny post Curtis. It often surprises me when I talk to people and suddenly they go off on a tangant about how terrible some technology they dont really know is. The only thing I can learn from that kind of discussion is that not only they are not competent in what they are talking about now, but they most likely are not very skilled in whatever technology they are using now — otherwise they would be talking about that.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I think this guy was skilled, but had been out of WP for a year or more. Some of his points we valid, just not currently.

      It was surprising to me that he was looking for work and ragged on the system I needed work on.

  259. Now I’m all for saving time, but I think you should know what’s going on before you randomly grab code and stick it on your site.

    This all day long.

    This is my #1 gripe with code generators (assuming all other things are up to par, too – like generating good code ;).

  260. Are there plugins that can transform your WordPress install into a minimal blogging platform? How far could one go in creating a minimal Markdown/Wordpress blogging platform?

    Some coding allowed!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      There are some plugins out there, but to change too much it’s just beyond what is reasonably possible. I use Markdown on my site to write in (I think you can even use it in the comments).

      I’d love to have some time to really chop down the UI for the admin I use, but time is in short supply hear.

      I’d also love to see the WordPress admin be properly usable on a tablet/mobile device. Currently it’s a pretty terrible experience. The WordPress iOS app is okay, but just okay IMO.

  261. Aras says:

    Agree with you completely that it is a sign of brocken process when they try to fix issues only when it has gone into the wild. But good on them for at least noticing that. Maybe they will even improve their process because of this feedback.

    I have not used rackspace but I am using wpengin for our website and so far I am very happy. They offer SSH access. Also their support has been exceptional. I had an issue with file permissions yesterday, 3 minute after emailing them they fixed it and got back to me. It is a bit more pricy, but for those critical projects I think it is worth it.

  262. Hey Curtis, thanks for the open response as well and respect your opinion!

    In truth, all parties have some blame to share – and an open dialogue is just as important. This is the consequence of being a part of this community in many ways I suppose.

    Thanks for the thoughts! I’m looking at your links that you provided as well.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      We’re all learning, heck maybe some day I’ll have a discussion that will make me change my opinion here.

  263. Was this talking about your single motivating purpose in life, single motivating purpose in business, or what?

    I think it’s a good question to answer – just curious what it was for :).

    • Curtis McHale says:

      They were talking about life, finding the things that most energize you. So that could be teaching, teaching code, teaching cycling skills…Find that purpose and then do it in all aspects of your life.

  264. Bob says:

    Great follow-up. The culture around us (speaking from the USA here) really does invite us to spend so much more than we make. I know I’ve fallen into it and now am trying to dig myself out.

    One added benefit of not purchasing the largest of everything is that it somewhat forces you to be content with what you have and grateful for the stuff that you DO have access to. It is always easiest to long for something more, something bigger, something better. Harder is to be content with what you have, or content with even less.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      The culture is very similar in Canada, after I wrote this we talked to 3 other local families that are barely holding off bankruptcy because they spent all they could on a home. It’s now this big possession that ‘makes’ them successful and they are having a hard time letting go.

      Sure I’d love my own dedicated office instead of sharing a the bedroom, but I’d rather spend appropriately.

      • Bob says:

        Right now my office doubles as a play room and a guest bedroom … and isn’t really a bedroom, more a room in the basement. Ideal? No. Do I need a better office? Nope.

        I like my little, strange, office. Lots of character in the faux-wood paneling.

  265. Hi Curtis,

    Thanks for mentioning us in your post.

    The way we look at the Single Motivating Purpose (SMP) is that there is no distinction between business/work and “non-work.”

    Your SMP influences your mode of operation in everything you do.

    For instance, teaching is just one manifestation of my SMP. Mine is:

    I share knowledge and resources in order to help others live lives of increasing freedom, fulfillment and purpose.

    This shows up in all kinds of aspects in my life, both in and out of my business.

    I highly recommend the books that we mention in the post you link to above. They have been extremely helpful to me in finding my SMP and bringing my life into alignment with it. Good luck!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I just wanted to share the great resources I’ve found, so you’re welcome and thanks for sharing so much.

      I’ve got the books on my list.

  266. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for posting this and for being so transparent. This really inspires me!

  267. If you’re feeling really trendy how about Data Integration with an App on your mobile touch screen device which Siri is aware of? (This seems the way to roll). You could push the results to WordPress via xmlrpc or craft your own web service plug-in. “Siri, post my year progress summary to my Blog” (well you get the idea). You can always set up a data integration Service using Jitterbit, and if your data gets to be too much…toss it into Hadoop. Wait, you could toss it all into Hadoop to begin with then figure out the data schema later (after all you might be missing out on some additional hidden data from all these services you’re using). LOL Whatever you do…just don’t use Crystal Reports.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Yeah Hadoop is a bit much for me. I may just write a quick plugin that lets me record some of my daily fitness metrics, then late I could look at importing workouts…from devices (like Garmin).

  268. You raise a good point about content vs. relationships. And I agree, it’s the relationships that are developed that really do matter. But with that said, I might be a little upset if I saw a picture I took on a billboard for Facebook that I didn’t have a say in.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I totally agree with that part, I don’t want my stuff used without my permission. I just think that way to many people think their tweets have value for themselves in a month/year and that by exporting they get to keep that value. It has no long term value IMO.

  269. Bob says:

    I finally canceled my subscription about a month or two back. It just seems that The Magazine is for people who are not me.

    Which is fine …

    … but I still miss the “old” The Magazine.

  270. Bob says:

    I would hope that is what they ultimately do. As a (forced) user of Windows 8 … it is quite terrible on the desktop and laptop, but it works really well where it was designed to work: tablets.

    I would think that keeping Windows 8 RT as Metro-only would be a good way of doing things.

  271. Otto says:

    The screenshots I saw of the Metro UI prevented me from purchasing Windows 8 entirely.

    I’ll just wait for the next version of Windows, thanks, after they drop that sort of nonsense. Windows 7 is fine for me for now.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I do think that there are a host of users (like yourself or maybe me) for whom Metro just won’t work at all right now. But for people like my Mom or brother Metro is great, on a touch based device.

      I’m much more excited about what Microsoft is doing with Windows than what Apple is doing with OSX right now, and I’m an OSX guy full time.

  272. Erick Rodriguez says:

    I like the Moleskin idea. Do you have a direct link to the journals that you are using?

  273. Chris says:

    What about this one: Santa Cruz Bronson C. Check it out here:

    I ride a Santa Cruz myself and like it a lot.

    On a different note: like your Daylite 4 review. Will NOT go for it. But what are my alternatives that integrate with Google Contacts and Google mail? Any suggestion?

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Looks nice, but I’m riding road now. I’d love a Mountain Bike again, but I don’t have the space for one or the cash. I’ve always loved the Specialized Epic since I’m more of an all day distance mountain rider.

      Yeah I don’t have a solution that integrates with Google. Currently I’m using Trello to track projects and Evernote for documents on projects. Clients go in Mac Address book.

      I need to write it all up now that it’s been a few months and I have the system more or less settled.

  274. Drew says:

    I’m a Cannondale fanboy! What are you riding now? Why not buy a frame and move components?

    $6k to spend – Man you could go custom Ti with money left over. And that’s a frame you ride for life. Or even SuperSix EVO, unless you don’t want race geo.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’m on a 2009 Trek 1.5. The parts are not worth moving to a nice frame. The crankset was stripped when I got the bike, so it may not even move. I suppose the rest would be okay (9 speed 105/Tiagra group). I figured I’d keep the old one around for a rain bike.

      I’ve looked at the SuperSix and from what I’ve read, you don’t really sacrifice much in race performance on the new Synapse but you do gain comfort. I know a few of the Cannondale pros (Ted King comes to mind) has said that he does prefer the SuperSix, but if he was asked to ride the Synapse fulltime he would just do it. He didn’t feel that the performance trade offs were a big enough deal that he would be affected.

  275. D.Grey says:

    Hi Curtis,

    I like Asana and Nozbe, they both integrate with Google Calendar.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Asana, I’ve looked at a bit but it felt heavy from a UI perspective. Never heard of Nozbe.

  276. Actually, to your last point, I’m saying I don’t like the new Google+ because using it make me feel sick. Physically, that is. The animations messed with my head somehow and made me have to step away from my screen.

    Is that my problem? Sure. However, it did not pass the “vomit test” for me.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      That is a fair point totally. If it’s physically affecting you then it simply doesn’t work for you at all.

  277. I really like the ideas you are putting forward here … several of which I will be revisiting in the near future to implement in my own projects.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      It even makes it easy to hire subcontractor when you sell a bunch of weeks. Just negotiate a weekly rate that’s less than your charging.

  278. Tzaddi says:

    This does sound great for those who like that structure in their schedule. I rarely work exactly the same hours so I don’t think I could do it exactly as you do.

    Recently I did change from fixed bid to bundles of prepaid hours though, for similar reasons. It saves so much time agreeing on a scope which is inevitably going to change anyway.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’m certainly still working with the specifics, but you’re right no one wins with endless scope discussion.

  279. Eric Mann says:

    I like the idea in general, it just won’t work for some classes of clients – smaller departments in larger organizations, for example. One of my absolute best clients is the PR/Marketing department of a large, regional medical center. The people are awesome, and I’ve been working with them for about 6 years, so no one’s going anywhere.

    But it’s a different department that pays the bills.

    The organization has a policy that they only pay on invoices after 30 days. So weekly pricing, while nice for smaller clients, would mean a lot of smaller checks coming much farther down the road. As much as I like the client, working on those kinds of credit terms as a small vendor is difficult.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      You can still bill them weekly for the work, but you’re right you would have to wait 30 days. For the right client I’d take that, but I’ve never found the right client. The ones offering me 30 days have been agencies who want to pay me 30 days after their clients pay them. That is never going to fly with me, I’m not a bank.

  280. it’s a sad but it’s incurable; it’s just a fact of being part of the human race. people are snooty, arrogant, prideful, and full of egomaniacs. like you, i’m glad i didn’t stop because someone thought i was an idiot when i first started.

    • man, this comment is so full of grammatical errors. oh well. call me a noob.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      One of the best books I read about it referred to it as ‘lifeboat’ mentality. We view ourselves as the last few people on a life boat, and we keep trying to prove that we should not be be pushed off. Essentially we work to prove that we are more valuable than the others around us.

  281. Brian Hogg says:

    Well said! If you’re going to offer help to someone, put your ego aside and just try to be helpful, without using the situation as a way to prove how much better you are. Asking questions to get them on the road to finding the solution on their own is even better.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      It’s hard for many, including myself sometimes. Humans have a fairly natural ‘need’ to show that they are ahead of someone else. We all need to fight that ‘need’ though.

  282. Len says:

    The same applies to all areas of life. Even in my field, experienced guy asks a rookie to get a particular tool or piece of material then flies off the handle when the rookie doesn’t quite understand what he wants. Some people need to remember that before they were great they sucked.

    Anyway, I’m glad you stuck with it. I see your name popping up in various places more and more. πŸ™‚

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Thanks. I still feel like it’s an uphill battle to get recognized (as my wife and I had a long discussion about last night). One sentence encouragements I get here and there totally make my day.

  283. Hi Curtis,

    Nice post. You touched upon this a little bit at the end of your article but here are my two cents:

    I think that the traditional view of someone who is a professional developer/coder is that he has no people/communication skills. To me that’s old fashioned but I think a lot of people still have this misconception.

    Writing a blog is a great way to show that you are intelligent, insightful, creative, well-rounded, and a bunch more adjectives that show you have a personality and aren’t just a code monkey. People realize that they can relate to you and get a better sense for the real value of everything you have to offer.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      There have been a few clients that went with me instead of another person after reading my site. At least only a few have told me that was a reason.

      I didn’t mention it in the article, but the process of writing helps force you to give ideas full form. Instead of something vague rolling around in your head.

  284. agreed. 100%. i write because i can do no other.

  285. this is neat guys. πŸ™‚

    show notes would be awesome!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      There are show notes, at least the headlines on the slocum studio post. The show is really by Slocum and I just happened to catch a tweet saying I had time to join in this week.

  286. thanks for giving it a shot! appreciate that, for sure. it’s one stop among many perhaps!

  287. Don’t expect me to stick with Standard forever.

    O RLY, Curtis?!

  288. It’s a solid theme. I’ve looked at it for a few sites. Looking forward to seeing what you are going to do with it.

    On another note.. do you have any posts on your MU setup? I have been pondering this for myself. I hate maintaining plugins and such on all the sites I manage. Wondering how this works with Apache virtual servers.

  289. is this a ruby show or a freelancer show? i haven’t listened to any of them yet…

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Started as a show with all ruby developers as hosts talking about freelancing. Now they are just making it more freelance focused and less Ruby. I’ve been listening since the beginning as one of my 2 freelance podcasts (unfinished business being the other). Lots of useful information for freelancers even if you’re not Ruby focused, and it’s always been that way.

  290. Dan says:

    I would recommend checking out Gtdagenda for an online project&task manager.

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, but it’s unlikely I’m going to try it. The UI doesn’t lead me to believe that it’s worth my time. Not that I need the best designed app out there, but it needs to look decent.

  291. thanks for including mine! one thought though… it’s hard to know if i’m reading the person above me or below me’s thoughts! clearer indication of authorship would be nice!


  292. Chris says:

    hey i made the list and at the top no less. thanks!

  293. A lot of times writing helps me learn more about the topic I’m writing on. Other times, writing just helps me wrangle my thoughts and put them in a box and put a bow on them. πŸ™‚ Most of all, it’s just addictive when you write something that people read and share and comment on. It feels good!

  294. Curtis, this is amazing. as someone who is now at 10.5 years i understand and completely agree with everything you wrote but transfer the person to dan. (and add 1 cat and another kid). marriage is not easy, and unfortunately people think it should be, i love your honesty, in the few words here.
    so glad that you and Cynthia fight for your marriage, and as parents, for your daughter as well.
    keep fighting.
    you are an example to what it means to stay true in sickness and health, for better or for worse…etc.
    happiest decade to you as a couple.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Cynthia and I were just talking about you two being half a year ahead of us. Makes us very happy to think of our friends that have decided to make it work.

  295. Matt says:

    On one side of the coin writing helps me feel organized and disciplined. When I haven’t put something out for a while, it’s a reminder to get back at it.

    I don’t think I’m necessarily any good at it, but there’s a feeling of achievement and improvement with every post. Like a 0.00001% upgrade πŸ™‚

    Plus, hey, I like to let people know what’s on my mind.

  296. talk is cheap and the internet is so full of cheap talk.

    great work speaks for itself. i don’t care about those that think “OH, BUT YOU NEED TO MARKET MORE!” – that’s such an old-world philosophy it makes me ill. Even “internet marketers” don’t get this.

    I think you’re doing it right. It may be a slower rise but it’s a much better one in the long run. keep on doing what you’re doing.

  297. love. this.

    It’s crazy how much crap I personally get (not just corporately) around WP Daily since it’s our full-time business to promote others… and yet we still get hounded (daily, go figure) about if we’re doing it “right” or “wrong” – the only winner on the internet is… the internet. everyone else is a pure outright loser.


    • Curtis McHale says:

      Someone is always going to think you’re doing it wrong. The ‘best’ part is often they are doing nothing. I’d admit that there are items on WP Daily that I think are ‘wrong’ but it’s not my business, so why do I even get a say. If it’s ‘wrong’ enough I’ll write about it, otherwise it’s simply not how I would do it.

      Doing something in a different way from me, does not make it wrong.

  298. oh, and can you add twitter share links (at the very least) so i can share your stuff? i’m lazy. seriously. lazy.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Maybe. So often they just end up as big fat 0 items showing how little people shared.

      I’ll at least try it again.

  299. omg. shared buttons? WTF!?!


  300. I grew my last company by getting to know my competitors and would recommend doing the same to everyone. They in turn passed on some of the best opportunities via collaborative projects. You will always have your own niche skills or client experience which you will be able to help others with and vice versa.

  301. Thanks so much for the credit here.

    I won’t lie: opting to go the mentoring route (in addition to having a family) required that I cut out some other activities that I also enjoyed doing (which is actually what prompted this post).

    But I will say that, thus far, it’s been extremely rewarding and it’s something that 8BIT and I are trying to do on a larger scale, as well, with our Press Start events.

    I’m really excited to see what you come up with. If you have any questions or even suggestions for how to do stuff well, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      The act of saying ‘no’ to some things is saying yes to others. Still learning that one daily.

  302. please let us know how we can continue to make this service worthwhile…!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I certainly will. I think that this post is part of that as well. At least you know how 1 of your customers is evaluating the service.

  303. John Parris says:

    Thanks for the review and showing how you use Trello. I’ve been tracking projects in WP, but the lack of an easy, quick mobile app that ties into it has me looking elsewhere. I’m giving Trello a shot now, and your post has helped me. I’m curious to hear more about how you use Evernote with it.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      What have you been using on WordPress to track projects?

      Still working on the Evernote post, no real ETA. I do have a post up later this week about being fast in Evernote though. That will help you be quick with Evernote at least.

      • John Parris says:

        I’ve been using WP Project Manager with some minor mods. It lacks some things like project archiving and categorization, and I’ve thought about adding them myself – I just haven’t had the time to dive in.

        The lack of a good mobile interface has been my biggest annoyance. He does have a paid add on for the front end, but I haven’t tried that and can’t speak to how well it may or may not work on mobile.

        I really like owning my data and would love to make it work, and of course it being in WP is nice and means I could do lots of things with it down the road. I’d like to add some features and maybe do a custom front-end theme that works well on mobile… but you know how that time thing goes.

        • Curtis McHale says:

          I’ve looked at that and it hasn’t ever inspired me at all, at least it hasn’t inspired me to use it.

          Actually none of the WP based project plugins look like much at all. I keep tinkering with my own (which would have a proper mobile interface) but there is that time thing. πŸ˜›

          • John Parris says:

            Hehe yup.

            I first looked at that plugin last year, and it was horrid. I came back across it again about 2 months ago and it’s quite a bit different. I’m like you though, not really inspired by it. There are some nice features, but it feels a bit cluttered.

            I noticed some people on Github are offering to pay to have featured added to it. If time could be found, I’m betting there’s a market for a really well done PM plugin/ecosystem.

          • Curtis McHale says:

            You should take a look at my GitHub profile.

          • John Parris says:

            Just followed you and will check out the project.

  304. Hey Curtis,
    I agree wholeheartedly that the lack of published pricing (even if stated that it’s subject to change) is frustrating.

    There’s a pricing PDF that’s been flying around on the interwebs, but I’m not sure why it’s not linked to from the Flywheel site.

    Frustration with pricing aside, I’ve been very happy with both the customer service and the hosting service I’ve received during beta.

    I’ve only had two irritations so far:

    1) Don’t have permissions to add any folders/files to my host directory. It’s just the WP install. Period. (Discovered this when trying to install YOURLs).

    2) The account comes with free site staging, but there’s no demo site capability. (The staging sites expire and are deleted after a couple of weeks unless they’re paid for). I’d like to be able to run demo sites off sub domains. I think this issue will be addressed/fixed later.

    If you do a trial with them, I’d be interested to hear your follow-up thoughts. As a developer, you may want more server access than you’ll get on a managed host?

    • Curtis McHale says:

      After our Twitter conversation on the weekend they said they were going to email me pricing (I had already written the post). Still don’t have that email.

      I keep looking at WordPress managed hosting like WP Engine and I’ve put clients on both of them and either is great. One thing I use my server for is to host a bunch of my Git projects as a backup. If I move to managed hosting and drop my Media Temple GS I’d have to start paying for Github private repositories or come up with another level of backup.

      Paying for Github seems silly when I already have a paid Beanstalk account (the FTP deployment is wicked awesome).

      I’m cheap as any business owner should be so I’ve really got to see an advantage if I’m going to end up increasing expenses.

  305. “loose trust” or “lose trust”?


    well written and a good counter-point to my argument for sure.

    but reading updates after the fact versus before the fact has one critical point that you didn’t address directly or well-enough: that is the opportunity of choice. Don’t take it away yet completely (which is nice with the opt-out) feature.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Ha and I spell checked.

      I think that users opt-out now because they just can’t be bothered way more than they don’t want a new feature. At least users in general. My wife updates her phone and Mac because I’ve drilled it in to her. It took 2 years of asking her about updates, if I hadn’t done that she would have never updated anything.

      Any technical user that wants the choice is going to turn off auto-updates. Sure they’ll complain but we all like complaining anyway.

  306. John Parris says:

    I’m not a fan of auto updates because I got bitten a few times by software bugs. I left iOS a few years ago for Android, so I don’t know the exact rules of the App Store now, but in the Google store I’ve seen a few apps that went from free to trial ware with an update. I’ve seen terms of service change with updates. For these reasons and others I’m for choice.

    On Android I can choose to allow auto updates, or I can choose to manually update. I can even do that on an app by app basis if I want. That’s a great way to handle things in my opinion.

    I always read the update notes before updating apps. I also read the latest reviews before updating. Not just on Android, I do it on my Mac too.

    A final thought – forcing automatic updates is similar to the cloud concept where software updates happen with no choice and/or no user action required. That can be good or bad. Food for thought.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Auto-updates is something you can turn off on iOS7.

      I actually run my whole MU Network with an automatic update plugin and beta tester. That means I’m always running the bleeding edge nightly for WordPress.

      • John Parris says:

        If auto updates can be turned off, I don’t see what everyone’s complaining about. That’s choice.

        I’ll say this though, I think it shows the direction they (and others) plan to go in computing. The whole cloud thing reminds me of the modern day mainframe.

  307. i hate evernote. it’s actually too complex for me.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      What makes it too complex? How do you track all the little things then? Nested folders?

  308. The plugin I’ve been using for some time now is Markdown On Save, but unfortunately as you outlined it too falls victim to some Shortcode issues (I think). I haven’t taken the time to fully flesh out where the issue is taking place, but what I usually run into isn’t so much a problem with parsing the Shortcode, it’s the handling of the whitespace around said shortcode(s). I usually end up with a bunch of empty paragraphs, or other issues with unwanted empty tags messing up the content around the Shortcode. I like how simple Markdown On Save is, and that if I decide to turn it off, I won’t lose a step due to the way it actually stores the content.

    I don’t use Shortcodes a lot, but when I do I’ve resorted to turning off Markdown and sticking with HTML myself (sometimes).

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’ve had issues with Markdown on Save just not working with CPT’s. Specifically with my EDD store the content would look fine for a while then suddenly I’d realize the Markdown wasn’t getting parsed. I couldn’t ever get it to parse again either.

      I’m just planning on sticking with HTML in the post editor. At some point in the next 6 months I’ll simply remove the Markdown plugins since the Markdown content will be older by that point and not get as much traffic.

  309. Drew says:

    I used to hate Evernote, too. Though it’s starting to grow on me. Not sure why honestly.. just wasn’t into it. But when I need to take something down FAST, either Voice Memo or Evernote steps in.

    Still prefer pen/paper over everything, but the organizing ability of Evernote is ten fold better than what I could do with a plain notebook.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Evernote is a bit slow on my iPhone 4 but not terrible. I use it mostly for it’s awesome search. I find it’s easier to use than Gmail/Google Apps search when I need to find stuff.

  310. Same here Curtis, I always copy my html out. I cannot stand this issue, it always seems to be a problem with WordPress. I stopped using shortcodes a longtime ago because of inconsistencies and now I create everything mostly using custom CSS and create custom page or post templates along with custom fields. I was spending more time fighting with WordPress than going custom. I also prefer not to use plugins as much as possible to avoid lag and more frustration.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Plugins are not really a problem, bad code is the problem. You can have bad code in a theme just as easily as you can have it in a plugin. I just use well written plugins.

      I’m divided on shortcodes. There is a good reason to use them when you want to add complex functionality (like Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce) to themes. They are not an end all solution and need to be approached with great care.

  311. Agreed.

    Making this (crucial) hour the first hour you’ll spend (preferably early on in the morning, when your mind is fresh and not inundated with the issues of the day) will definitely be conducive to productivity (in this case, writing), as opposed to the last one, in which you are already worn down.

  312. i spend much of my morning just writing. it’s the best part of my day.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      If I’m not careful I can kill a whole day writing. The bad part about that is that I’m not paid to write at this time so a day writing means no paid client work.

  313. Susan Main says:

    Putting aside time to write is crucial – and then it becomes a habit. But it’s so hard to adopt new habits! I feel this way about working out – and my job is writing from home. I’m hoping someone will provide a comment to inspire me! πŸ˜‰

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I just got a personal cycling coach to help keep me focused on my athletic goals. I’ve been very happy with the results.

      Maybe hire a personal trainer? If you need a recommendation I’m married to one.

  314. I read this post when you first posted it and I’ve been thinking about it since because this is something that I think about as it relates to passing work along to others.

    In short, I completely understand and respect your position. Sometimes, I find myself doing the exact same thing, but there are also times where I’ve taken commission from passing a gig along, or I’ve even accepted a gig and given a commission to the person who has passed the gig to me and am happy to do so.

    I’d like to write up a longer response to your post – a rebuttal of sorts, but not in true debate form (that’s too aggressive for my tastes :)) – but more of a flip-side-of-the-coin perspective.

    If you’re cool with it, I’ll do it; otherwise, I can keep it all here in your comment stream. Your call!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Please go ahead and write something about it on your site. I’m always open for some healthy debate, it makes us all smarter.

      • Awesome – I’ll be sure to give you credit where it’s due, and this will be nothing but another take on it.

        No #dramapress ;).

        • Curtis McHale says:

          I didn’t expect drama nor do I have time to participate in it. I’m excited to here another side.

  315. John Parris says:

    I’ve largely ignored Medium, except for when I happen to run across something linked there from somewhere else. I have read some interesting things there, and I wonder why people don’t write such things on their own sites.

    When I received an invitation to try Medium, I checked it out a few days later – mostly to check out the writing/admin interface. It’s simple, and that’s nice for people who write and don’t want any distractions.

    Content ownership is a major deal for me, and when I first checked out the site I didn’t see an export option, but there is an export option now. It may have been there all along, I don’t know. I literally spent 45 seconds there the first time I logged in. The export option says “Export all content created on Medium – text and media – to a zip file. I don’t know how well it works or what format things are in, because I haven’t written anything there.

    I’m not inspired to write there. I struggled to write at all. Most of what I write is on a private WP install, done more for a way for me to explore my thoughts on various things.

    I guess we’ll see how well things go for them. There are a lot of people who don’t care about content ownership, or design, or doing any interesting or advanced functionality – so there’s a market for it. I guess curation is their game.

    I won’t say never, but I don’t expect I’ll do anything there other than occasionally read.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Yes there does seem to be a market for Medium, I’m just not it I guess.

      I’d strongly encourage you to share a bit of what you write with the world. There is something that helps you refine the idea just a bit more when it’s going public.

      I also keep a person writing habit in Dayone. It gets random thoughts on books and pictures of the kid, and times I want to vent a bit about the wife (just as I’m sure she wants to about me from time to time). Personal writing is important I believe.

  316. John Parris says:

    This is a great post. I ran across Beanstalk a while back but forgot about it. (BTW, the link/shortcode for your Beanstalk setup isn’t working).

    I like everything about this. The part about clients not reporting bugs before you’re finished is nice. On new site projects, I often develop in sort of a vacuum to prevent this sort of things from happening, and show things at certain milestones. I like this open approach though, because it shows them you’re working and there’s more too it than they think. (I find most clients think web development is a piece of cake).

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to check out Beanstalk for my next project.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Sorry that Beanstalk setup link is fixed now. I actually knew about Beanstalk for months based on the recommendations of a friend before I finally bought in to it. No idea why I held off, but Beanstalk has been totally worth it.

  317. John Parris says:

    Saw this and thought about this discussion. Very good points made.
    The Problem with Medium

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I had not read that article and it brings up some very valid points that put Medium even further down on my list of places I’m going to put my content.

  318. 3 VERY good books to read. I’ve recommended Quitter a ton and just finished the Start audiobook last week.

    After working a year and going to night classes 2-3 nights per week to finish my degree, I left the office to work a start-up at home and went to day classes. Then I hung my shingle and finished 34 credit hours in one year while ramping up my own stuff.

    Once I graduated, I felt like I got an instant vacation only doing one thing: work.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      My wife started with all these books then passed them on to me. So much credit should go to her.

      I’m going back through Quitter and Start myself to really dig in to what I want to do for the next 5 – 10 years. I’m not sure that the angle I currently have on coding/WP is exactly what I want to be doing. Lots of parts that I like but lots that doesn’t feel fulfilling.

      I’m not sure that I have my current voice and passion nailed, but I’m close.

  319. John Parris says:

    Good move. One thing on notice on your site, and on other sites that I know of running on GS, is the very noticeable delay in server response on initial load. It also happens on subsequent page loads if more than a couple seconds have lapsed since last page load. It’s like they’re killing the web processes very quickly and it takes too long to fire up more to serve requests. Very painful since we’re all getting very used to snappy sites.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      As I said above, when you were logged in it happened on every page load. MT was great for quite a while but WPEngine is super fast.

      Took a few hours to get all the DNS stuff moved (watched pot and all) but I’m happy it’s done.

  320. John Parris says:

    I’ve never created an account, so I’ve never been logged in. Something is going on at MT lately, as I had a customer who uses them and the time to first response is often 3-5 seconds, whether logged in or not. I wonder why you were experiencing something different. Cache maybe? WP Engine looks great. I hope you do some sort of review or write up about your experiences at some point.

    • (mt) Sara says:

      Have you been in touch with support re: the response time? There are a number of things that can cause latency, often times related to plugins or caching. Our CloudTech team can do some in depth troubleshooting if you’re having trouble figuring it out. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!

  321. (mt) Sara says:

    Hey Curtis,

    We never heard from you re: the issues with support but we’d still love to have a chat. We have thousands of WP sites running on the Grid without issue, and there are a number of troubleshooting processes that can be done to figure out why you or anyone might be having performance issues. We really hope to be able to help you do this if you continue to have problems.

    I should note that, there are upcoming performance enhancements coming to the Grid this week that would be sure to make a difference in speed, even with a lack of optimization of plugins or caching.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I DM’d with support a bunch and there are a few tickets/forum posts on it.

  322. Amba Junior says:

    “Outside of the rare crazy deadline (which I hear all about but I think is a product of not saying NO enough)” Point well taken. Especially for those who desire to have a fully functional life.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’m learning more about saying no each day. No is probably the best word to learn so you can have a full life.

  323. Great points.

    It appears the managers at work, on salary, think the amount of hours they spend at work is the amount of productivity they are contributing to the organization.

    Once you subtract the coffee runs, the hockey/football/baseball talk, the Cactus Club lunches, you aren’t left with a whole lot of actual work happening.

    Good thing they are putting in 60 hour weeks =)

    • Curtis McHale says:

      They are choosing to not put in to family by choosing 60 hour weeks. Some of those social things are needed for work, but very few.

  324. Mike Sewell says:

    Well said, my sentiments exactly!

  325. Nowell VanHoesen says:

    I know the feeling. We can only push through and complete the current project, and hope the next one will bring back the enthusiasm.

  326. I like the part about deploying often. While it isn’t technically necessary, it’s one of those subtle strategies of customer care that’s just so important.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Really we are in the business of customer service. We just happen to produce code.

  327. The internet certainly has problems pricing out its most vital services, doesn’t it?

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Yes it does which is why I’m paying for FeedWrangler instead of using a free service.

  328. John Parris says:

    I do something similar. I host my own Tiny Tiny RSS instance, and have more feeds than I can handle. I’m raising my standards on what I subscribe to, and I’ve started unsubscribing from the ones that just don’t make the cut anymore. Even still, I have some queued up to read that I haven’t gotten around to yet.

    Then there are feeds where the signal to noise isn’t so good, but the good ones are really good. Hacker News comes to mind. I find some really good stuff there sometimes that I wouldn’t find otherwise. Much of it is crap or duplicated posts, but if I unsubscribe I’ll miss the greats. Le sigh. I need to work on better filtering. I’m starring the ones I definitely want, and marking the rest as read and I move along.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I hear that Fever can help deal with the high volume high noise feeds. I keep thinking of trying it, but now that I’m on WPEngine I’d have to do something about a server to host it.

      Learning to say no to things is hard.

  329. Matt says:

    Love the title!

  330. Bookmarks & “I’ll read it later” services always remind me of Douglas Adams’ Electric Monks (

    They function in a similar way to how VCRs would record TV shows that you felt you should watch… but once it was recorded you didn’t have to worry about it any more.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Ha that’s a great way to put it. I should, but now that I know it’s saved I can forget about it.

  331. I found it very easy to connect with several points you made in the post.

    Wouldn’t say freelancing while married, or just living with someone is harder, but I do feel the guilt if I spend too much time working and ignoring my wife (not the best way to put it, I know). Comparing that to a few years ago when I would just crank 12+ hour days and not care how anyone feels about it, it is VERY different.

    One thing that helps is defragmenting my time as much as I possibly can. If I’m working, sorry, but I’m working. If I’m not, nowadays that usually means no email, no computers, phone, anything. It actually helps me be more productive AND have more spare time.

    As long as you know your WHYs, both personal and professional ones and care about them enough, anything is doable.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I just can’t do 12 hour days for more than 3 or 4 days. My productivity and overall drive suffers for days to weeks after pulling stuff like that. Maybe I’m just getting ‘old’ at 33 or maybe I just know myself and need to pace all the time.

  332. Thanks Curtis for sharing this, I’ve been freelancing for 3 years and my first 6 months sound exactly like yours. Thanks for driving home the point about being realistic about the amount of billable hours. I’m burning myself out with multiple projects and looking for a way to change things and you’re weekly billing idea sounds great.

    How did you go about transitioning to that?

    • Curtis McHale says:

      The short version is that I stopped offering a choice I bill weekly and that’s just how I bill and work. If you want to work with me that’s how it goes.

      Another great thing to help avoid burnout is to really define your WHY’s. I wrote a bit about that in my post last week called Who do you Choose?. Knowing why you run your business is crucial in helping you decide what you will and will not take.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Mike I just came across this article today and while it doesn’t explain the transition to weekly pricing it talks a bunch about pricing models and the pros/cons of each.

      • Really interested breakdown there, thanks for pointing it out – Planscope is a really interesting product as well. Your posts are all really hitting home with me right now, the WHY factor has definitely gotten blurred for me, time to step back and refocus a bit. I’m looking forward to your freelance book as well!

        • Curtis McHale says:

          Thanks! It’s awesome to hear that I’m helping people (that was the goal).

          Brennan Dunn’s stuff is great. I’ve got his pricing book and I highly recommend it.

  333. I’ve been using Evernote for years. I actually have two relatively active accounts. One I use strictly for the “day-job” and the other (Premium account) is for everything else. I agree with it being one of the best information storage and retrieval utilities. Anything important goes into Evernote then I can simply choose my device of convenience and search for the information I need.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I tried Evernote a bunch of times before it stuck. Not sure how I’d do without it now. I’m also on the Premium account and it’s totally worth it.

  334. Matt says:

    I agree with your take on 4HWW.

    When I first read it, right at the start of going on my own, I thought “wow this is going to be easy.”

    I didn’t think I was going to be able to be pulling in passive income or clearing my plate like his examples — but I felt like automating would have been easier.

    So the book didn’t really “help” me in any marginal area — but it did open me up to a broader stroke of thinking along the plot.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      But even changing how you thought about business is a marginal gain. Looking for ways to automate will continue to bring up marginal gains.

  335. Hey Curtis –

    Way to go on going for it with a book. I’m in the same boat right now! Just beginning work on my first book about design + marketing.

    Looking forward to swapping notes πŸ™‚

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. This is actually my 2nd book that I’ve self-published. I did my first one on WordPress development.

      My next product will probably be WordPress development courses with Sensei. Not 100% on that yet, but about 90% sure.

  336. I like this too, although I haven’t had the guts to change how I handle this on my own, I’m happy to see when developers do this because they can take your work seriously.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Just do it. Sure you may turn down work but not much really and nothing from anyone good. At least that’s my experience.

  337. You’re absolutely right and it works both ways. When I’ve done work for an ad agency, I don’t care whether their client has paid them or not: the ad agency is my client and they need to pay on time, irrespective of whether their client has paid them.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      When I’ve said that to a few agencies they have said that’s how they pay. I don’t work for them.

  338. Matt says:

    MoleMode! haha nice

    Yea this makes a lot more sense. On larger projects (and let’s be honest, stuff I know I’m making margin on) we’ll do weekly standup calls to run through the stuff we’ve accomplished.

    I like the touch and go emails and tried them on two projects we’re working on since you posted the other day.

    First one went great. Client said, thanks for updating me and that was it.

    Second client, went into a stream of questions about what the update meant, are we still on track what are the next steps and (the killer) when is the next update coming.

    In the second case, I know what this guy is like — not technical and very anxious to get the project going. Matter of fact, I have a private case study about him I’m putting together to evaluate some of the pitfalls I’ve had.

    Anywho, great stuff!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I can see a client that’s not expecting the quick touch emails jumping in that way. I prep clients for the emails so they know that we’ll do the proper update and when. That means they can just write some of the ‘bigger’ questions down and wait for the next meeting.

  339. John Parris says:

    Thanks again for this “mole mode” reminder. I’ve got a project coming up where I need to keep this in mind. Two emails per week like this is good, and I’m thinking it’ll probably help keep clients from asking for useless meetings – as they can be inclined to do. Clear, quick communication twice per week can be a good thing. Especially if you prep them up front about what to expect.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      The communication doesn’t have to be email really. I’m on a project next week and the people I report directly to are developers. My git commits will serve as communication about what’s going on with the project.

  340. Curtis, thanks so much for the kind review! I’m looking forward to reading your book soon.

  341. None of these are available on πŸ™

    Next stop, iTunes. Thanks for the short list!

    • Carrie, this is the first request I’ve gotten for audio versions of the books but something I talked over with one of our guys. Need to research it out but putting MP3 “readings” of them might be doable.

      • I’m more apt to cover business-related reading when I can listen while I work. Generally once I’ve moved over to my Kindle, I’m ready for mindless reads. πŸ™‚

        I went ahead and downloaded two from Amazon. I look forward to reading them!

  342. Remove my last idiotic comment. I have seen the light over at Amazon. πŸ™‚

  343. Ian Blakeslee says:

    This article rules.
    You nailed it, bro.

  344. Jonathan says:

    I call clients who promise more lucrative work in future if you’ll do their first project on the cheap “carrot danglers”. If that next project ever materializes, you can bet the client will want you to do it for peanuts too. That carrot is always just out of reach! These clients are seldom worth the effort, and certainly not worth the discount.

    I vet new clients using a “project planner” questionnaire, and right at the top of it I state my minimum budget. It’s a great way of weeding out prospects who haven’t budgeted adequately.

  345. I think one of the best things about this article, other than the great content, is that it gives an actual number ($2,000). A lot of developers are real sketchy about openly discussing pricing for some reason. +1 for transparency!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I teach a bunch of financial management courses and bring my actual budget books for the last 2 years and let people look through them. I’m pretty open about my rates and my bank account.

      Neither has much bearing on my actual worth as a person. Once you can divorce your worth from money it gets pretty easy.

  346. Great piece. I’m debating on waiving smaller jobs for existing clients as well. I’ve charged them (o)ver(l)y favorable rates because there is a value in knowing what is client is like, having a long term relationship and knowing what the collaboration is like in advance. To be quite honest I’m always apprehensive taking on someone new when you don’t know what they are going to be like.

    But the impact of task switching on small jobs is something I consistently have underrated. The other problem is that I have the occasional low budgety client from the beginning days when I charged very low rates. It’s very hard to charge them the newer rates when you have such a long relationship and you know what their budget is like. But this was a good reminder to reevaluate those.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that clients – if they refer business to you or actually deliver on the ‘more jobs to come’ promise, these people and projects tend to be in the same league budget wise. So there really is very little upside in keeping existing clients who can’t afford to grow with you.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      For the low budget clients, you NEED to be continually dropping the lower 20% of the work. I just tell my clients that I’m raising my rates as of 2 months from now and any work that doesn’t have a deposit before that time gets charged at the new rates.

      I think that you are severely handicapping your earning potential by not bringing them along with you.

      From when I started at $50/hr I have 1 client that is with me at my rate of $100/hr. Only existing GOOD clients get access to me at that rate. Clients that were a pain get week rates no matter the size of the job. 2 hours of work = week rate for bad clients. It costs so much extra to serve them.

      It’s scary to drop clients sometimes, but it needs to be done to really grow your business.

  347. D. Hamilton says:

    Thanks Curtis, I really enjoyed your WordCamp Vancouver presentation. I appreciate your bullet point approach with lots of ideas that I can actually use. Your talk will definitely impact how I spend my next 6 months.

    Any chance of finding a list of the books you recommended during the seminar. Tried to write it all down, but I wasn’t fast enough.

    All the best, Dorothy

  348. chris says:

    The SIMS πŸ™‚

  349. Not sure if I’m interested in the theme, but I love the Sim City reference!

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I had a ‘snag’ late Friday and was away all weekend with no net connection so I just grabbed a theme from WooThemes that had WooCommerce support and I didn’t mind.

      I love the reading experience on single pages but there are parts I’m not fond of.

      I’d expect to switch again in a month or two to something properly custom.

  350. I buy things online all the time through “credit card” gateways… with my debit card. I don’t own a credit card and don’t want to. You’re not a hypocrite πŸ™‚

  351. It might be more correct to say that you accept payment by credit/debit card, or by Visa/MC/Amex/Discover. But unfair to assume that anyone paying by card is putting it on a credit card, which they cannot afford to pay off.

    I personally can’t stand PayPal and take all of my payments by credit/debit card. I don’t think you’re being fair to yourself by calling yourself a hypocrite when indeed you’re offering people the opportunity to pay by debit card (which just so happens to extend to credit cards).

  352. says:

    I happen to agree with you that credit cards (non-debit cards) are a bad idea and financial poison.

    I don’t think anyone would call you a hypocrite for accepting only Stripe on your site since debit cards can be run through the credit card networks. I know Dave Ramsey says it’s ok for normal businesses to accept credit cards, just not HIS business since he makes a living off of railing against them. I think adding PayPal will probably increase purchases. I see a 70/30 split between Stripe/PayPal on my site.

    Just wanted to voice my support for you and say I don’t think you are a hypocrite.

    (just bought the book+vids via Stripe with a debit card πŸ™‚ )

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Thanks for the support.

      Maybe ‘hypocrite’ was the incorrect term. It just felt off to me to not offer another way of payment. At least in Canada I can’t use my debit card as you are.

  353. Actually, it often makes sense to use credit cards, provided they can pay them off in full each month. Many cards give people rewards, such as travel or even up to 2% cash back. If you can put 2% of your purchase money back into your pocket, I think that makes more financial sense than paying cash.

    I think credit cards hurt small business though, since they often have to pay 3% or more in terms of merchant fees when someone uses a credit card. So I try to pay cash for businesses that are small or mom and pop type businesses. But for bigger businesses I always use my credit card and earn rewards. I’m up to about $900 in free travel on my Capital One credit card since picking it up in about four or five months. The amount of interest I’ve paid by using it: $0. So for me a credit card makes more sense, and I suspect many others.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Sorry Duane I’m going to have to disagree with you there. 99% of people don’t use them smart at all and they don’t pay off the balance and they spend way more than they would if they used cash. The average North American spends 12 – 18% more if they use a Credit Card for purchases. Once you factor how much that 12% means in real dollars then you didn’t get out ahead at all.

      I have never seen a rewards program that stands up to the math of 10% overage (which is below average for North America). Typically if you spent cash and spent 10% less you could have purchased reward for half the cost of that 10% extra spent.

      • I think debt in the hands of anyone who can’t be responsible and live within their means is bad, and credit cards are probably given out too freely. I don’t think your example is fair – vilifying credit cards because some people spend too much on them is like vilifying a restaurant because some people can’t push back from the table when full. At the end of the day personal responsibility has to factor into it somewhere.

        • Curtis McHale says:

          I’m not sure that we can really have a discussion properly in the comments about this.

          It’s not ‘some’ people it’s the vast majority of people that don’t use Credit Cards properly. As in above 80%.

          Debt in any form (outside of a mortgage is bad). Having debt means you just bought something you couldn’t afford (or you’d have the cash for it).

          Anyway I think we should just have this discussion in person sometime.

          • A mortgage means the same thing though, a person just bought something they couldn’t afford.

            Agreed though, let’s offline this! I’ll send you an email with some further thoughts.

            Stripe is indeed awesome. I brought my stripe reader with me on my current trip to Europe just in case I sell anything here πŸ™‚

  354. Brecht says:

    On Sunday I was at the end of my rope with a series of technical snafus that killed my trial funnel for days. I rode hard for an hour, returned and had things resolved. Some of my best thinking happens during or immediately after a ride. Nice post. Thanks

    • Curtis McHale says:

      That it does. I think it takes some serious wisdom to walk away and ‘enjoy’ yourself even when things are on the line.

  355. Robert Neu says:

    I think the distinctions you’ve made here are completely spot-on. The reason open source is so successful is because of how easily we can share and learn from each other. Personally, I don’t like to use any code that I don’t at least somewhat understand, but I don’t fault other people for just getting things to work and then moving on.

    We’re all learning all the time and we’ll all encounter things that we don’t understand. I don’t think anyone should feel like a fraud for using Google or not fully understanding everything they create. As long as you’re honest with people and continuously improve your skills, you should hold your head up high. What matters is that you know you’ve done your best.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Totally right Robert. I’d have to admit that sometimes I do use code that I don’t grok 100% but it had better be 70%+. Typically it’s ‘why’ it was written one way that I’ll let slide. I should understand ‘what’ it’s doing.

  356. James says:

    Glad to hear I’m not alone on my path πŸ˜‰ Thanks for this post!

  357. Paul says:

    I agree to some extent. Sometimes, I’ll just use a PHP SDK for Amazon for example. I don’t read all the lines of the library to make sure I understand it.
    I haven’t read all the lines of code of the whole of WordPress core either πŸ˜€

    Maybe someday…

  358. Jason says:

    Thanks for vindicating me for being a good googler, I don’t feel so bad now. And I am working to understand the code constantly, it is a process to say the least. BTW, your book awesome, still making my way through it.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      We all were at some point the fact that you’re working on understanding means you’re working away from ‘just’ being a good Googler.

      If you have any questions shoot me an email.

  359. carrie says:

    What’s the typical response or tone from the client you get after sending that email?

    Thanks for the reminder to stop and educate and not just live in huffy response land. I’ve found myself with a shorter fuse lately and this is a terrific reminder.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Most are thankful for the extra information and that I’m not just abandoning them because of price.

      Some are loonies and send back mad emails about how they want to work with me but that’s their budget. I just let those roll off my back. Haters going to hate.

      A very few don’t respond at all.

      If you have any tips to refine the email to get more in the thankful category, I’m all ears.

      • Steve Gosling says:

        Great site – saw this recently and thought you might appreciate it:

        “There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey (John Ruskin)”

  360. JiveDig says:

    Good stuff here! btw.. .this is the first time looking at your site while NOT on my iPhone. Nice work πŸ˜‰

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Welcome to the desktop then (to the tune of GNR Welcome to the Jungle) and thanks for the encouragement.

  361. Tom says:

    This is a good post and you make some really good points.

    I’d add the following: Let’s say during the course of working on one project, you have to develop a custom library to help achieve some arbitrary goal.

    The library you write equates to, say, $500.

    The next time you have a similar project, you can reuse that functionality and still bill for $500 because of, like you said, the value rather than the time saved.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Very true Tom and not something I covered specifically. I have a bunch of libraries like that around that I use for client projects.

  362. Great post, Curtis. I agree in regard to the intangibles of owning credit cards.

    I’ve never carried a balance on a credit card, but I still got rid of the remaining credit card we had two years ago (I needed it at the time for work expenses in my old job). My friends often say I’m crazy because of the points I’m “missing out on”, but I feel multiple reasons why I’m not missing out at all.

    1) I don’t want to support the credit card industry. For every person that pays their card off each month and carries no balance, there are probably ten that don’t.
    2) If I don’t have the cash in my checking account, I can’t buy something. It eliminates any temptation to spend money I don’t have. It’s impossible to “figure out” where to get the money from at the end of the month.
    3) I tend to carry a much higher balance on my debit card and be less willing to splurge on items, because I know that there is no other super-liquid account I can get money from.

    So even though I can’t get rewards points, I think there are other intangibles that help me save money in the long run.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Thanks Brian.

      The other thing with company credit cards is that typically if you signed anything to get the card (which is a requirement 90% of the time) you are actually liable if the company folds and leaves a balance on the card. It’s in the fine print.

      I’d never sign for a company card.

  363. We went with Billings for our first year because you can make the invoice look exactly like you wanted it. That was impressive to us but I also lost two full days of work getting it to look right. This was before Market Circle released their cloud-sync system thing so another downfall was the fact that only one person had access to the data at any time. We were quick to realize that we wanted a web app to handle it. We hate monthly fees and love owning data so we used activeCollab from the get-go, but that was back when they had a Small Biz license that basically replicated BaseCamp. There was a Corporate version that included all things Invoicing so we upgraded to that and have loved it ever since. activeCollab has changed their pricing model recently, but it’s worked great for us and not having a monthly fee associated with anything project management or accounting has been great.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      Wow I never spent more than 5 minutes trying to customize Billings invoices since the interface was so terrible. I just picked one and went with it.

      I’ve seen activeCollab a few times but never really dug in to it. I’ll take a look at it for my needs.

      • Yeah it was wicked arduous to get the invoice looking how we wanted, but when we did it looked really sharp. We asked some clients who we became close with if they took notice and the lackluster replies lead us to quickly realize that we were the only ones impressed with the outcome. Since then we use the standard (only) “design” that activeCollab offers. Many times invoices go straight to an accounting department anyways, so it has little to do with impressing the client after all.

  364. Kitty says:

    I currently use Billings – I too had an issue making it look good (not a very friendly interface for the templates), but managed to get a set of templates for invoices and statements that worked for me. Since I need to invoice in two different currencies, Billings is able to invoice in either currency (and not every invoicing app/web app has Guatemalan Quetzales as one of their options). So, since now they will be a subscription based service, I am open to other webapps…

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I would love it if Billings Pro would work, but if it doesn’t have a way for clients to pay online without my interaction it’s going to be a non-starter. I’d deal with it if I only had Paypal, but I’d love to have Stripe and Paypal.

      Guess I’ll find out when I really start to dig in to Billings Pro again.

  365. Eric Davis says:

    I ended up creating my own invoicing plugin for ChiliProject (project management system). The big time saver for me was the integration with my PM system. I would say “make the invoice for ProjectA for September” and the plugin would automatically know the client, A/P contact, hourly rate, total hours, and the tasks worked.

    In the end it took me about a weekend to build the features I needed. I didn’t want it to send invoices or reminders to my clients and when they paid me online I’d just enter the payment manually.

    It worked for me because I tend to work with regular clients over a long period of time so at the most I’d send out four invoices per month.

    (Another side benefit is that I was able to open source the plugin, which helped my marketing a bit)

  366. When I was freelancing full-time, I used Harvest – for billing. But if I had to choose again, I’d probably go with They aren’t the cheapest, but I think they offer a lot more than simple time tracking and invoicing. (I love their approach to comparing competitors too. Definitely worth checking out.)

    If you’re looking to disconnect from a monthly bill, is worth a look. It’s a self-hosted solution, PHP-based solution.

    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’m always trying to disconnect from monthly billing on stuff and Pancake looks pretty decent. Hopefully I’ll have time to try that as well.

      I got to talk to Steven Bristol of Less Accounting on The Freelancer’s show and yes it does reporting but it’s not a time tracking app so you’d need something else to track that stuff for projects.

  367. +1 for Billings. I have built a payment form on my own site using Gravity Forms & Stripe, and then just record payments in Billings Pro. Creating custom invoices is a pain, but at least you have that option.

  368. Kelly says:

    Aww poor Eden, that breaks my heart…sadly it won’t be the last time someone decides to not include her but hopefully she will remember how she felt when she sees someone needing someone to play with and will make them feel special πŸ™‚
    Awesome blog Curtis…everyone can learn something from someone

  369. Thanks for the list, Curtis. I’ve read some of Cory’s on your recommendation and you’ve mentioned the “Book Yourself Solid” books enough times that I figure I’d better read it already… πŸ™‚

    As a massive side note, I downloaded the book from We have an Amazon Prime membership (which pays for itself many times over with the free shipping) and prime members get 1 free Audible book per month. Just an FYI!


    • Curtis McHale says:

      I’m a US Prime member but living in Canada. I wonder if I can make the free book work here to. I guess I’d probably have to change my Audible account over to an Amazon account though. I’ve been an Audible member since before the Amazon purchase and account integrations.