Ryan Irelan

is building Mijingo.

Peter Thiel’s best advice

Always prioritize the substance of what you’re doing. Don’t get caught up in the status, the prestige games. They’re endlessly dazzling, and they’re always endlessly disappointing.

Peter Thiel, in an interview with the Washington Post.

Why I’m raving about Plex

I’m late to the game but after a Thanksgiving dinner conversation and demo I was sold on setting up a Plex media server. I raved a bit on Twitter about it but if you really want to know why it’s so great, listen to this 70 minute podcast about it (and one of my favorite every day beers).

PACE book by YNAB founder

Jesse Mecham founded You Need a Budget (YNAB), a software application that helps you track what you spend and keep you and your finances honest with each other. But YNAB isn’t just a piece of software, it’s an approach and way of thinking about your money. And, it applies more to people who make above average incomes where overspending is a well-greased wheel.

Jesse took what he learned from YNAB and wrote a book that covers the same approach but for businesses. PACE stands for Prioritize (cash on hand), Anticipate (big expenses), Change (as needed), Establish (a buffer of cash).

Even if you think you know everything about business finances, you should read this book. It’s not a scheme, it’s a plain and simple way of thinking about your revenue and expenses.

OmniFocus Field Guide by David Sparks

David Sparks has been doing Field Guides (with iBooks) for awhile but now he’s out with a 2 ½ hour screencast on getting started with OmniFocus. If you are confused by OmniFocus or want to get better at it, David’s video will help.

A true mensch

Greg Storey has left the building.

Last month he stepped down from his position at Happy Cog, thereby ending nearly a decade as an agency owner. I was fortunate—truly fortunate—to be tapped as his first hire back in 2006. He’s the best example of generosity and kindness with time and resources (and with me, probably patience, too). There are people who would line up to work with him again. I know I would.


David Weinberger on the quiet re-emergence of blogging:

Blogs are — or at least were — different. They are an individual’s place for speaking out loud, but the relationships that form around them were based on links among posts, not social networks that link among people. I’m all for social networks, but we also need networks of ideas.

Things I Like: Podcasts

I have a weird history with podcasts. I was “part of” the first wave of podcasting back in the mid 2000s. I went to the podcast conferences, unconferences, and other gatherings. I co-wrote a book on podcasting, I ran a podcasting website (with very little success!), and I had a couple of my own podcasts. The first one I had was a weird mix of music and stories. Then I did a podcast on ExpressionEngine, with Dan Benjamin as my co-host.

But then I got out of podcasting when my agency work took over and I started writing and recording screencasts.

And now it’s, like, huge.

So, anyway, I like podcasts.

It’s a wonderful medium that is easy to enter as a content producer. It’s only slightly easier to enter today as it was in 2005 but still pretty easy to turn on a mic and talk.

Podcasting highlights voices and ideas that you’d never otherwise hear. It brings attention to topics and opinions you would miss because not everyone has the time or inclination to write it down and post online to share.

Podcasting is great because it captures what we all do best: talking.

As part of my Things I Like series (of which this is the first post), here are my favorite podcasts. I post these to show gratitude to the people who create them, and the stories they cover.

  • Systematic – Brett Terpstra’s weekly show where he talks to interesting people and technology. Brett is routinely giving a platform to people who are outside of the normal Apple/podcasting/tech circles. Listen to the episode with his wife and her animal rescue work, the one sub-zero bartending, or the show with veterinarian who works at a turtle conservancy, or the most recent show (as of this writing) about the challenges of software development for medical devices. They all gravitate to technology at some point but the stories and people are interesting.
  • Serial – From This American Life, it’s a weekly series about a Baltimore murder case. This podcast is addictive and, like This American Life, really well done. It’s becoming a bit of an online sensation.
  • Slate’s Political Gabfest – I don’t listen to any other political podcasts and I prefer not to read a lot on politics. But this podcast is good. Two of the hosts are working journalists with beats and they are calm in their opinions. It’s an enjoyable way to hear about the bullshit that is our American political existence.
  • CodePen Radio – The podcast by the three guys behind CodePen. Each episode is a new topic on their experience building a web app and a business. An honest take on what they’ve learned, what they do and don’t know, and how they work. It’s not pushy “do it like us” business talk. I like that.
  • Slate’s Amicus – I tweeted about this new podcast recently. Dahlia Lithwick has guests on about Supreme Court cases for conversation deep enough to be informative but not so deep that only law geeks would understand. She also edits in recorded audio from the court proceedings so you can hear the justices give their rulings.
  • 99% Invisible – The darling podcast of the last couple years. This is a successful indie spin-off from public radio and always, always a great listen. It is presumably about architecture and design but it appeals to everyone. Interesting fact: Roman Mars said his close mic technique (you can almost hear the saliva smacking around in his mouth) is on purpose to give a more intimate feel to the show.

A Mysterious Ad

A similar help wanted ad has been floating around offline and online for more than decade.

Thursday is the Only Holiday

Two songs for Thursday.

The first one is from The Features. I’ve known this band (and two of the original members still in the band) for almost 20 years. They were in the college dormitory next to mine. Later, after we all dropped out of college, I did FOH sound for them for a while. I met my wife while working one of their shows. I traveled with them to SXSW 1997 (I think they opened for Spoon), did some road gigs, and spent time recording in Jackson, MS.

One of their classic songs—and one recorded during that stay in Mississippi—is “Thursday.” Back in the day they closed shows with a raucous version of this song. When I saw them last week here in Austin they closed with it again. Never gets old, always great.

If you ever wonder why Thursday is my favorite day, this is why.

And a song with which, I’m sure, you are much more familiar.

You’re Mac

An honest glimpse into how OS X users are still treated in many enterprise and corporate environments. Many companies have begrudgingly accepted the iPhone (but only because the executives wanted them, too) but, as David shows, there’s still some lingering stink of Apple hardware being somehow incompatible with the rest of the world.

Behind Learning SVG

A couple weeks ago I released a new course, Up and Running with SVG, over at Mijingo.

I also did something for the first time: I put together a website with a lot of the course material and made it free.

SVGTutorial.com, the website that accompanies the video course, has a lot of the content that is in the course but in written form. On each page, I politely ask people who get value from the content to purchase the full course so they can get everything and the better experience of watching the video. And, of course, support me and my work.

Creating the website wasn’t a lot of extra work. It only took a few hours—mostly to tweak the Octopress theme I am using—to go from nothing to a published site.

While researching and preparing to record Up and Running with SVG, I wrote out the entire course in a Markdown document, including code examples. This is a new way I’ve begun preparing courses because I’ve found that writing it all down helps me better structure and evaluate the content.

As a nice byproduct I get written content that I can then use on a website or to include with the course as a PDF handbook.

Since all of the writing was already in Markdown—and I use Markdown for the website—I only had to copy content from one document and paste it in another. Fast and simple.

Putting the site together was a lot of fun and I’m planning to do the same for some other courses.

Through the process of writing out the entire course longform (as opposed to just a detailed outline like I used to do), I have re-discovered the joy I get from teaching with my writing. It’s something I enjoyed so much back in the late aughts when I wrote my ExpressionEngine book.

Here’s the teaser for the course:

Do you want to get started with SVG? I know a site that can help you.

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