Life Like a Government

I think of life like the government. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron. Since humans organized into tribes, there’s always been a clash between individualism and collectivism. So how can I can possibly equate life to that of a government?

It’s simple. I, myself, am the government/nation, and I organize my thoughts, actions, and plans into different “departments.”

Most governments are divided into smaller entities. Within the executive branch of the U.S. government, we have multiple departments. Each of these groups carry out different missions to achieve goals that impact the health and continuation of the government and nation. Individual life is not much different. We serve ourselves—the government and nation—and to achieve that purpose we must organize our thoughts and actions into logical bureaus of internal interests and outside relations.Keep Reading

Involving QA with the Front-End Development Process

Building interfaces is a touchy area. Behind the scenes, you have ever-changing JavaScript libraries and naming schemes that can ripple throughout your application’s architecture. Then you must take into account the multitude of operating environments and the way they render your interface. A user on Windows looking at your application on Internet Explorer 10 must have the same experience as the user on a Mac with Google Chrome.

With all of these variables to manage, implementing a sane quality assurance process can quickly become a nightmare.

To maintain the sanity and to keep our QA folks from skipping town, my company has adopted a number of processes that streamlines software testing.

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Giving Meetings a Little Structure

Most people I know hate meetings. They’re long, boring and often unrelated to the tasks at hand. And we’ve all been in that environment where every decision requires a meeting. Meetings just suck the energy and motivation from the office.

But what if I told you meetings don’t have to be so cumbersome?Keep Reading

Increasing Web Project Efficiency with Time Tracking

Everyone wishes they could have more time. With extra time, we could get so much more done—finish those long-delayed projects, get more sleep, learn new career skills, read Lord of the Rings backwards (or forwards). But we don’t have the ability to create time. We’re stuck with those finite number of hours per day and nothing’s every going to change with that.

Given how much we value time, why do we allow it to pass so casually? Shouldn’t we track and understand where it’s going?

The obvious answer: yes. Especially for our web projects.Keep Reading

Building a Pub-Style Dining Table

My house has a unique dining area. Situated between the kitchen and front door, it’s a small alcove where not much can fit. My original dining table was far too large for the area, and most of the tables for sale online either didn’t match the decor or were the wrong dimensions. I also wanted a table that was less formal—somewhere where you could just pull out a stool and enjoy a morning cup of coffee.

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Forcing Myself to Write

I’m sitting on the couch, staring at an empty screen. I set out to write something—anything. But my mind went blank. All thoughts circled around the idea of watching YouTube videos or perusing the web. Writing was desired but not necessarily expected.

I want to write more. I used to write a ton—books’ worth of content, actually. However, I’ve found myself in a perpetual state of writer’s disdain.Keep Reading

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

How many times have you started a task—or thought about starting a task—only to quit immediately because it seemed too hard? You wouldn’t be alone. I’ve quit many, many things for the simple but dumb reason that it looked like too much work. We all fall into this trap.

The worst is allowing your brain to shut down a task before you’ve even begun. For example, re-designing my personal website has been on my mind for a couple of years now. I’ve thought about it over and over, about all the work that would be required, about the new content I’d need to develop. My brain would register these seemingly endless tasks and then shut me down. It was just too daunting for me to take on a re-design of my site.

So I quit.Keep Reading

Building a Garden Box

Building a backyard garden is something I’ve always wanted to do since I bought my house. 2017 was the year to make that happen. In order to keep things looking nice, I decided a garden box was the best approach. Below is a small photo diary of that process.Keep Reading

Waiting for the Perfect Time

I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting. Waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting for a friend. Waiting is never going to go away — it’s always going to be there.

But there are things we don’t need to wait on. Creativity, writing, adventures — none of those need to be constrained by waiting. But I do it all the time. I always wait for the perfect time to write a blog post (which, judging by the timestamps of my blog, is an apparent rare occasion…). I say to myself that I need to update my website first, that it must look better, that I must fix some feature before I can write. That’s all bogus. It’s an excuse not to write. And frankly, no one cares. It’s the content that matters, and to create content, you must write.

It’s hard not to wait. Procrastination is threaded within all of us. We rely on waiting to delay the hard work, to be lazy.Keep Reading

Making Email Testing Easier with Grunt.js, Mailgun and Amazon S3

After seeing Lee Munroe’s excellent Grunt.js script for automating the email design testing process, I decided to expand on it and fork it over to my development process. Both Grunt and Gulp have made enormous contributions to my workflow in recent months. And when it comes to designing, building, and testing emails, automation is key.

When testing an email campaign, here’s what’s needed:

  • Legacy code that works across email clients (especially Outlook)
  • A place to host images
  • A way to send test emails
  • And, preferably, a tool to render test emails in different environments

Lee’s script handles all of this, from using Handlebar templates for multiple email bodies to compiling Sass and inlining the styles. Mailgun then steps in to send out the freshly created email code to whatever email account you want.

The only modifications I made to this script was to dump Rackspace Cloud Files in favor of Amazon s3. I also added support for image optimization. Here’s the code I added to my Gruntfile:

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