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”

Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier

With the incredible Code by Zapier app, getting a short URL for any URL you have is very easy using the API in YOURLS. I used this strategy to promote new content from my websites on social media using the item’s short URL.

I love automating things. For a few years now I’ve configured my site using Jetpack’s Publicize module in conjunction with Buffer to automatically post new content to my social networks. However, there’s a couple of limitations with that approach:

  1. Publicize seemingly won’t let you use the post’s short URL,
  2. You have little control over when these posts go out on social media.

With my new found love of Zapier, I sought to rectify both of these issues. Continue reading “Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier”

Automate your life or business with Zapier

Zapier is in the business of connecting over 500 of the most popular online services by connecting triggers (such as new Stripe transactions or new Instagram posts) and creating actions from them (such as publishing tweets or entering transactions in QuickBooks) which can make predictable, repeatable business and personal tasks much easier by automating them.

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of automation. I’ve previously discussed how to create items on your To Do list from form entries and how to automatically track all of your deliveries in an iPhone app. So when I decided to move my accounting to QuickBooks and employ my mother-in-law as my accountant to maintain my books, I sought to overhaul how my books were managed and to make the process as easy as possible for my new accountant.

This is where Zapier comes in. I had long known about Zapier since it was a fledgling service, aiming to join up the mountain of online services which provide and/or receive information but don’t necessarily speak directly to one another. For example, you might want to create a new tweet every time you posted a new image on Instagram or create a new message in Slack whenever you received an email matching a specific set of criteria, such as a new statement notification. Continue reading “Automate your life or business with Zapier”

A call for WordPress developers

I’m in a position now where there’s simply not enough hours in the day to complete all of the work that comes my way. If you can help, let me know and let’s see about working together.

I’m fortunate enough to have been working with WordPress for a number of years now and have built up a good client base to support my business.

However, add that substantial growth to having a wife and now, two young children and there’s simply not enough hours in the day. In order to keep serving my existing clients, responding to new requests and growing the business, I am needing to rely more and more on others to help me complete the work that comes my way.

I’m looking to build a pool of freelancers (not agencies) that are very proficient with WordPress whom I can send work out to. You can take as much or as little work as you want as your schedule will allow. Continue reading “A call for WordPress developers”

Why Uber should and will win out over cabs

Uber isn’t killing the livelihoods of cabbies and taxi owners. They’re doing that to themselves by refusing to innovate and rise to the challenge presented by Uber.

I’m betting that a good portion of Uber’s income goes straight into the pockets of lawyers. For years now, Uber have been defending their service in countless nations, states, counties and cities in expensive and protracted lawsuits.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Uber is a service that connects people who need a ride with people with a car. It’s similar to the very familiar concept of taxis, except that one must privately order a ride from an Uber driver rather than hailing an Uber on the street.

Uber has been immensely successful and taxi drivers and owners rightly see this as a threat to their livelihood. Someone came up with a better way for connecting drivers and riders than the centuries old method that most cabs continue to employ. Now anyone with a smartphone can quickly and easily say where they are and where they want to go and an Uber will typically be able to pick them up within a few minutes. Continue reading “Why Uber should and will win out over cabs”

The appropriate use of acronyms

Acronyms are frequently over-used. They’re only useful when the bulk of the intended audience knows what the acronym means, otherwise people spend more time figuring out what the acronym means.

Sadly I do not yet work entirely for myself so I’m stuck dealing with the corporate world for a little while longer.

One thing about this environment that really irritates me is the use of acronyms. Our quality control department is especially bad at this. In their little bubble it may seem like a great idea to make acronym of commonly used phrases but to outsiders (which of course of 99%+ of the company) these phrases are used infrequently, so acronyms only serve to confuse people because they’re not familiar enough with the terms to make sense of the acronym. Continue reading “The appropriate use of acronyms”

Why that simple task costs more than you think

Even if I know a web development task is going to take me less than 5 minutes to do, I’ll never quote less than 1 hour to complete any task because there’s so much overhead in even the simplest of tasks.

Some of the tasks that I’m often asked to do as a web developer are fairly menial and may only take a few minutes, but there’s a very good reason that you shouldn’t expect a bill for 5 minutes of my time. Continue reading “Why that simple task costs more than you think”

Why is a flat rate tax such a bad idea?

I’ve never understood why people consider flat-rate tax to be such a bad idea. Seems about as equitable of a solution as you can get, but I suspect it’s a vote winner – penalise the few to the cheers of the many.

Tiered tax rates are very commonplace in most developed societies. However, I’ve never really understood why and I don’t know why flat rate taxes get laughed at whenever they’re proposed.

I get that those who earn more have more of a capacity to pay tax, but does that mean they should? I’m not so convinced. That idea is thrown around in the name of the fairness, but what could be more fair than everyone paying the same amount of tax for every dollar they earn?

After all, high-earners would still be paying much more because they’re earning much more. To me, a flat rate tax would simplify things and level the playing field. You just pay a set number of cents of every dollar you earn to the taxman: I really don’t understand why this is so lambasted when viewing it from a purely intellectual point of view (rather than getting angry that it might mean that you personally might be paying more tax).

Seems to me that it’s just a political tool to appeal to the masses while still pulling in as much tax revenue as is needed.

Why $15/hr for fast food workers just doesn’t make sense

Flipping burgers for the same wage as a teacher is silly. Jobs are paid in line with their value and this is low-value work, so instead of complaining about your job, aim higher if you want that comfortable wage.

I haven’t paid attention to this “news story” where fast food workers in the US are demanding $15/hr for the work they do, but an opinion piece from Matt Walsh (Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK) caught my eye on Facebook and I proceeded to read through his thought process.

Matt’s thoughtfully crafted article is an excellent rebuttal to the orders of fast food workers. Jobs are paid commensurate with their implicit value and as Matt elegantly puts it:

So, real talk: Your job isn’t worth 15 bucks an hour. Sure, as a human being, you’re priceless. As a child of God, you’re precious, a work of art, a freaking miracle. But your job wrapping hamburgers in foil and putting them in paper bags — that has a price tag, and the price tag ain’t anywhere close to the one our economy and society puts on teachers and mechanics.

Continue reading “Why $15/hr for fast food workers just doesn’t make sense”

The importance of a contingency

HGTV drives me batty with the way they go into projects having spent every penny of the budget without leaving a contingency. This is simply irresponsible.

My wife loves her some HGTV. Home & Garden TV makes home makeovers, renovations and purchasing look easier than putting up a shelf in the garage.

As an engineer, I’m used to putting cost opinions for large construction projects together. It would be considered foolish to not include a contingency in your cost opinion: you may start off with a 30-40% contingency during preliminary design and reduce it to 10-15% when design is complete.

The contingency accounts for the unknowns. It’s not a safety net if something goes wrong; it’s a fund to cover the things that will come up that aren’t specifically accounted for in the design. Continue reading “The importance of a contingency”