Small Changes = Big Results

Looking to make some changes in your life? Try doing the same – small – assessable changes. Small steps allow for big changes. Every month or so – I try and re-assess where I am at both personally and professionally and then create new goals. (Think mini New Years resolutions that actually happen.)

Examples:

  • Personal: take 2 hours to do nothing except relax on a weekend day (without feeling guilty)
  • Personal: do 100 push-ups for 100 days
  • Personal: substitute nuts for chips for snacks
  • Personal: call old friends who I have not spoken to in the last 2-3 months
  • Professional: increase transparency by making sure each client logs in and understands our project management system
  • Professional: find a way to give back (donation, time) to a cause
  • Professional: talk about the benefit of unit testing for clients who could benefit from it

Make sure you write your goals down so once you have achieved them, you can cross them out. This sounds simple/not-important but crossing something off is surprisingly rewarding. This also helps you re-assess your priorities and goals for the next month.

Planning/re-assessing every few months works well for me because it makes me focus on things that are obtainable, assessable, and allow for tweaks/changes along the way (vs. big plans/big failures). I know not everything will go perfectly or as planned – but keeping on track and allowing myself flexibility ultimately allows me more success than failure.

How to Empty Trash with Google Drive

Over the last week – I have been trying to clean up my files and delete any non-essential email in order to tidy everything up. After deleting a number of files – I noticed my quota within Google Drive was still showing the same percent full before and after I deleted the files.

After waiting a few days and still not seeing any change in the size in the Google quota – I decided I needed to take some further action. I then realized – that when you delete files in your Google Drive – you then need to “empty the trash” before the files are actually gone.

How to empty the trash:

  1. Log into Google Drive
  2. Click on the trash icon in the left sidebar
  3. At the top of the page – you will now see a Trash menu. Click on that and then choose “Empty Trash”

After you are all done emptying the trash – check out your newly updated storage quota.

Fix for Bluetooth Mouse with Apple Mac OS X Yosemite

“Yesterday I thought I was going to throw my Apple magic mouse out of the window, today we are best friends.”

I wanted to follow up on my recent post: Mac OS X 10.10.x Issues with Bluetooth/WiFi. After a few days of almost acceptable behavior – yesterday my mouse was losing connection, acting very slow, and I could not drag anything across my screen without having to take deep breaths out of frustration.

I thought I had tried everything. I was desperate for a solution and I finally found it. I read the Apple support article: Bluetooth: Unreliable wireless performance may occur when USB 3.0 external devices are close and after moving my Mac Mini away from my external USB 3.0 hard drive (just 6-9 inches instead of being on top of it) – my mouse has worked flawless.

If you still are having a jittery mouse or any problems with Bluetooth devices and have an external USB 3.0 hard drive – try moving it away!

Mac OS X 10.10.x Issues with Bluetooth/WiFi

It has been at least three months and two point releases with Mac OS X 10.10 that I have been stuck using my old iMac/G3 mouse (because I was the strange one that loved my hockey puck mouse) instead of my beloved Apple Magic Mouse. Why? Ever since moving to Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10) – I have had nothing but problems with Bluetooth and WiFi. I spent half my day yesterday going through forums, help articles, etc to try and get this all sorted out for my Mac Mini.

I finally was able to put my trusty hockey puck mouse on stand-by because my Bluetooth issues seem to have seemed to go away (at least for the past several hours) but I am still unable to get any WiFi signal. I have delete preferences, configurations, changed my router settings, and nothing. Better yet – this is on a brand new Mac Mini – with a clean install of Mac OS X 10.10. All the while – my other three computers that sit on the same desk – can find my WiFi networks as well as my neighbors. Fortunately I still had an ethernet cable lying around so I am able to connect via that – but seriously. I am not alone with these issues and while I am usually one of the first to upgrade – this whole mess has really made me reconsider updating with future releases.

I hope Apple soon gets a fix in place for people like me (there are a lot) so we can work wirelessly once again. If you are one of the lucky ones like me – make sure you try the following (in hopes something works for you):

Don’t hold your breath…instead, be glad you kept that ethernet cable and that old trusty mouse from the 90s…you know the one with the cord.

Management Tip: The 3 Ds

Running a business can be both rewarding and stressful. Over the years – my biggest stress is that I could (and still can) be the bottleneck with projects which then causes even more stress. Wildly enough – I learned one of the most important lessons that has helped me run a business from PTA training.

“When you get any task/communication from someone else – you need to do one of three things: do it, delegate it, or dump it.”

  1. Do it:This task is important now.
  2. Delegate it: This task can be done by someone else. Let me be more effective doing something else – knowing someone else can take this on.
  3. Dump/Delete it: This task is not important and I am not going to let it sit in my list of things to do/inbox.

By doing one of these three things each time with your tasks – you can easily get through your list of things to do while making you more effective.

5 Cardinal Rules When Creating a Web Site

Over the years – working as a developer I have seen both a lot of great and horrible things with clients. In order to avoid the “horrible things” – I would highly suggest taking a moment and reading through the points below.

Step 1: So you need a web site…

Your development options:

  1. You also know someone who has a cousin who does web sites on the side
  2. You outsource it to a company who charges $10/hour
  3. You find a reputable web development company

Cardinal Rule #1

Realize your development decision has consequences. All options have costs you might not be thinking about. Not everyone wants/can spend a large amount of money on a project so they decide to choose option #1 or option #2. The initial project cost is lower on paper so you go with it. The costs you really need to consider with the first two options are often hidden.

  • Communication: How can I get ahold of you to talk about the project/status/any issues? (If this is someone who does it “on the side” or is located in another time zone – are you ok with a delay or odd hours of communication?
  • Quality: Can your cousin’s friend who does this on the side create something that you want to represent you? Perhaps sometimes – but more than often – you will get something for less money and quality and it will show.
  • Cost: Option #3 is not always the best for you either. Perhaps you have a new business and you want something really professional, but you do not have a budget to match what you want. I have seen companies put so much money into their site – that their business fails because they overspent.

No options is perfect – but you need to be comfortable with the decision and realize there are potential downfalls.

Cardinal Rule #2

Get a contract in place with guarantees/terms. If whomever you decide to work with does not want to get this in place first thing – huge red flag and good luck. This is an essential part of any business as it sets expectations and protections for both the client and developer.

Step 2: Let’s start this!

Now that you have started the process and selected the right web developers – it is time to start building your site. The fun (or nightmare) is just about the start.

Cardinal Rule #3

Never let your developer register for all needed accounts/licenses. I have seen it time and time again where a developer registered something, stopped working for their company/client and with their departure also went all the licenses/accounts. Example – your developer offers to register your domain name for you, but when they do – they then get all notifications of when it expires, and control renewal. The developer then ends their business relationship with you for whatever reason and when your domain name needs to be renewed – you have no control over it and after spending money/time on building your online presence – lose it all because your domain name has been bought by someone else. Ouch. I have seen it. Another example: your developer sets up your hosting account. The developer leaves and they stop paying for/close the hosting account. Good bye web site. Better yet – you do not own the account and cannot even request a backup of your site. OWN YOUR DATA/LICENSES/ACCOUNTS

Step 3: My site is amazing!

After the development is over – now you can enjoy the end product (or can you?).

Cardinal Rule #4

Know what your backup policy is/make sure you actually have backups. Some people think $5.00/month hosting is a great deal until they realize they do not have any backups or that backup are an added cost that they never sign up for. Whoops. I have also seen more expensive hosting packages that only keep backups for 48 hours. This may work for some people – but if there was an issue on Friday, and you get in on Monday and realize it – your backups are not going to help. Make sure you are comfortable with your backups.

Cardinal Rule #5

Keep your software up to date. If there are security updates – apply these sooner than later. No excuses. If you are worried about an update breaking something – set up a staging environment and test there. If you do not have a staging environment but feel like testing is still important – spend the time and money to get one. I have seen clients who have had a security breach because they decided it would be best if they “only update quarterly” which may sound nice in a written report to someone – but when security issues come up and there are patches – they need to be applied ASAP or your site becomes vulnerable. Resolving security issues always cost greater than applying the updates.

In summary – not everyone knows the process or what they need to do when starting a web site project or maintaining their own site. My company has helped a lot of clients from start to finish and will make sure we go over the items above. We have also seen/helped a lot of clients who had an issue with one of the cardinal rules above and I, if possible, hope reading this has made you more aware of potential things to think about when doing any web site development. Creating and maintaining a web site can be a great experience or a nightmare. I hope your experience is great!

Disable iPhone Calls Ringing in Mac OS X Yosemite

After upgrading one of the three computers in my office from Mac OS X 10.9 to Mac OS 10.10 (Yosemite) I thought to myself – wow – I like the option to answer my phone using my MacBook Pro. A few days later – when I had the other computers upgraded as well – any time I got a phone call – my office sounded like a call center (2 bluetooth cordless phones, 3 computers, and the actual iPhone itself were all ringing at the same time.

facetime

Thankfully – you can easily turn off this feature in the FaceTime app by simply unchecking one thing in the FaceTime preferences (see screenshot). So if you are like me – and do not need this or prefer to not use it – the fix is easy!

New OS: Reminder to Clean Up

If you use a Mac, it is that time again – time to update to the latest OS (this time called “Yosemite”). While most people get excited about new features, improved performance, etc – I get excited to do my annual cleaning. Before any major updates – I spend time deleting files and apps that just waste space (and you should too).

trash

I go through and delete:

  • those photos that were blurry and just never trashed
  • apps I never use (and their preferences)
  • duplicate media files
  • outdated installers
  • downloads that I no longer use
  • old backups that I no longer need
  • email (you do not really need most of it)

By removing all your unwanted files on a regular basis – you will save room on your hardrive, backups, and not allow your stuff to become unmanageable. Like with everything else – keep it simple and focus on what counts the most.

* As usual, make sure you have a good backup before you delete anything

Check for Valid Date with PHP

I stumbled on this handy function this morning when putting together a form that required a valid date (example: 02/30/2011 would not be valid because there are not 30 days in February). Very simple and useful!

checkdate ( int $month , int $day , int $year )

Checks the validity of the date formed by the arguments. A date is considered valid if each parameter is properly defined.

Documentation: http://php.net/manual/en/function.checkdate.php