Why experts cost so much

It takes a long time to become an expert in anything, so when a lawyer, accountant, or photographer charges an hourly rate over $100, you’re mostly paying for the years, schooling and equipment purchased that it took them to get where they are, rather than their actual time.

If a task takes me 30 minutes to do, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.

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If you’re a consumer, you may get taken aback by how much certain people charge for their services. These might include professionals in well-established fields like lawyers and accountants, but may also extend to people who are professionals in their own right, but in less traditional fields, like photographers, web developers and wedding planners.

The truth is, these people are experts in their fields and it took them a long time to get to where they are. Certain tasks they can do very quickly, not because they are simple (otherwise you would be doing them), but because they spent years (and probably lots of money) learning and perfecting their craft.

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Visualizing bends rolled in 3D

When working with plumbing, or civil yard piping, you might need to roll a bend to some arbitrary angle, which is where the trigonometry can get a bit tricky.

I had an interesting problem come up today, which defeated my Friday afternoon trigonometry skills.

I was laying out some piping today, and it’s easy to figure out how much distance you’ll cover in each direction if the bend is installed completely flat, or completely vertically, but if you roll that bend to achieve a given amount of rise and horizontal offset, it’s harder to figure out the resultant angle in plan view and how much horizontal distance the pipe covers in the other direction.

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The case for role-based email addresses

If you’re telling people to get in touch with you online, you’ll thank me later if you start handing out role-based email addresses instead of your personal email address. Have people email you at [email protected], or [email protected] so that when you bring more people on in future, or people move on, the emails can still end up with the right person.

I’ve worked with my own websites for long enough now – and certainly enough client websites – to know that it is a nightmare to either publish your email address, or to route contact forms to your own email address.

As you’ll come to realise, people come and go at companies. So if you’ve been writing articles for years, inviting people to email [email protected] if they want to discuss it further, when Sarah resigns and now you want people to contact Lisa instead, you’ve got to go through and change all of those articles.

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Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)

I don’t usually play games on my phone, but when I found Mini Metro, which let me build my own subway system and improve it, I found a treasure.

I just came across a new game for iOS which has me embarrassingly addicted.

Let’s be clear: I don’t play games on my phone. The only exception is Chess. However, as a big old nerd with autistic tendencies, building my own Metro/Subway/Tube system, refining it, expanding it, making it more efficient and watching it run makes me happier than it should. So when I came across Mini Metro, I found a new pastime. Continue reading “Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)”

A Photoshop template for Oregon PE seal

After moving to Oregon, I needed to create a new Photoshop template for my PE seal. Since I’ve already put in the effort to make it, I figured that I would share it with others to save them the trouble.

Previously, I created and shared a Photoshop template for a Florida PE seal. Now, since I’ve moved to Oregon, I also needed an Oregon PE seal. So I made one.

Without any fanfare, here it is for your use. Continue reading “A Photoshop template for Oregon PE seal”

Elon Musk’s visions for the future

Elon Musk discussed his work to date, between Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company, what he’s currently working on and how he sees the future (spoiler alert: your house will have a solar roof and you may know someone living on Mars)

I see and read a lot about Elon Musk, between his appearances in the news and the technology and engineering articles that I tend to gravitate towards, but I don’t recall having ever seen an interview with him.

My love of Wait But Why has given me a very thorough run-down of Elon’s projects over the last few years between Tesla, Hyperloop, SpaceX and more recently Neuralink, and it has always been clear from the sheer scale of his vision that he’s a brilliant mind that is thinking decades ahead of us. However, reading about him and his projects doesn’t make you appreciate his genius quite like seeing him talk about them.

Elon recently did an interview at TED2017 and for 40 minutes, he and Chris Anderson talked about all of the projects that Elon is juggling. What is most captivating is the way in which Elon thinks about the future and rationally asserts how things are going to change in the future. Continue reading “Elon Musk’s visions for the future”

Adverbs and Americans

Adverbs have all but disappeared from American English much to my dismay. Thankfully, at least for now, the Brits are holding on to them.

One thing in particular that bugs me about what Americans say and how they say it is their complete disregard for adverbs.

For those who have forgotten since fourth grade, adverbs describe how something is done. The very name is a portmanteau of adjective (describing how) and verb (something is done).

For example, if I run down a hill and I do so with some speed, you might say that I have run down the hill quickly. I did not “run down the hill real quick“. Similarly, if I don’t know the rules of grammar, you might say that I don’t know how to speak properly. It is not the case that I “can’t speak proper“.

Adverbs help add color and imagery to an otherwise factual description of something. They are distinct from adjectives and should be treated as such. I can be quick and I can run quickly, but I cannot run quick.

An introduction to git and how I use it in my workflow

At WordCamp Tampa 2016, I gave a talk about what git is and how I use it in my workflow to make life much easier for myself, my clients and the people I collaborate with. This post includes my slides, video and useful resources.

Today, I gave a talk at WordCamp Tampa about git, what it is and how I use it in my workflow.

As soon as I have a video of my talk, I’ll post it here, but for now, here are the slides and some useful links that I mentioned during the talk.

Download the slides

Fees: the death of your brand’s reputation

We’ve all been there: going through the checkout process buying an airline ticket, or a ticket to a concert and at the last possible second: a booking fee or a caredit card fee or any other number of stupid fees that they can concoct. This is awful for business and I encourage you to build your costs into the fees you charge your customers/clients.

I’ve long had thoughts about fees charged by service providers but a recent experience annoyed me enough to want to write about it.

I booked a trip to Boston to be with family up there over the 4th of July (which always gives me mixed emotions). Owing to the holiday, flights were fairly expensive, so I opted for the cheapest ticket which happened to be with Spirit Airlines.

I was happy with Spirit, having nabbed a reasonably-priced flight over the holiday weekend and everything was going well until it came time to check in.

During the check-in process, Spirit let me know that there is a fee for checking a bag. Okay: that’s to be expected given the current climate in the airline industry and the fact that this is a budget airline. However, what I was not prepared for is that aside from a free, small personal item, they also charge you for your carry-ons. And they’re not cheap. Continue reading “Fees: the death of your brand’s reputation”

Mechanical music

Using 2000 marbles and a hand-crafted machine, Wintergatan has made an enormous music box that is mesmerising to watch

My wife happened upon this YouTube video today and I was just blown away by how creative it was.

Wintergatan is a Swedish folktronica band that have spent the last two years ago building a giant music box out of wood, metal and LEGO that uses steel marbles to play instruments including a bass guitar, vibraphone and drums.

I have watched this several times, in awe at how each marble is lifted into place and rhythmically fired towards an instrument to hit the right note at the right time. So creative. Continue reading “Mechanical music”