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”
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”
gov.uk is the gateway to everything that the UK Government has to offer online and since 2012, it has been a shining example of how so much information can be well organised and provided for people for all abilities (both technical and physical) to use.
Government is not usually at the leading edge of, well anything, but not least technology.
As the noughties rolled on, the UK Government had a wealth of information online, but it was so fragmented that you couldn’t be sure if you were reading the most up-to-date information or whether you were getting the information from the right source.
This is very typical of most governments in the modern age. If anything, we were probably ahead of most just by having that information online somewhere as opposed to other countries which may have been slower to put this information online.
In 2011, the Government Digital Service was created with a mandate to completely revolutionise the Government’s digital offerings and to adopt a “digital by default” approach where every service and piece of information is planned from the outset to be available or delivered digitally. Continue reading “This is what the websites of central governments should look like – a homage to gov.uk”
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”
Let’s Encrypt is making the Internet much more secure by providing strong SSL certificates completely free.
Ever tried installing an SSL certificate on your website? Sucks, doesn’t it? The whole process around procuring and installing SSL certificates is so archaic and cumbersome that it sends shudders through the body of anyone facing it.
After Edward Snowden let the world know that everyone is watching everything you do online, we started to realise that we should be able to use the Internet without every benign and every private bit of data being visible to others. The answer to this problem: encryption.
Encryption scrambles data between the provider (say, a website, server or application) and its end user, such that if the data is intercepted anywhere between the two, it can’t be read. If you own a website, the way you encrypt data sent to and from it is through an SSL certificate.
Late last year, several do-gooders came together and agreed that the status quo for producing and installing SSL certificates was terrible. So they set about changing it, and with the vision of allowing anyone to produce and install an SSL certificate with the greatest of ease and with zero cost, they created Let’s Encrypt: a non-profit certificate issuing authority. Continue reading “Free high-security SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt”
As FBPE starts to allow digital seals and their use becomes more widespread, I needed to create a digital replica of my seal so that I could start applying it to documents and then signing them digitally, so I made this Photoshop template
As digital seals become more and more prevalent and permissible in the engineering industry, the need for a digital representation of our rubber stamps and embossing seals is greater than ever.
With FBPE recently overhauling its statutes and rules on seals to explicitly allow for digital seals, I wanted to get on board so that I could stamp PDFs and other documents and then apply my digital signature. Continue reading “A Photoshop template for Florida PE seal”
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”
This past weekend was WordCamp Tampa which was again a raging success. Despite being underprepared for my talk, it went relatively well and I can’t wait to come back next year.
This past weekend, I attended and spoke at WordCamp Tampa. It was the second WordCamp Tampa and was my third time speaking at a WordCamp (after 2014 WordCamp Tampa and 2013 WordCamp Orlando).
The sessions were not a letdown this year. I’ve yet to be disappointed by what I learn at WordCamps. Even though I bought a ticket to attend in person, I also purchased a live streaming ticket, so that I could watch the sessions I missed after the event (you get access to the videos for 30 days after the event).
In particular, Shawn Hooper’s talk on using wp-cli (similar to his WordCamp Columbus talk) was fantastic and made me want to start using wp-cli straight away.
My own talk
This year, I submitted a talk on Creating Custom Sites with Post Types, Taxonomies and Meta, which was accepted. I knew for about 6 weeks that I needed to prepare my talk, but could just never muster the time to finish it off. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t finish my slides until 2 hours before the presentation and had no rehearsals. Continue reading “My experience at 2015 WordCamp Tampa”
WordPress developers have gotten away from making decisions, not options, resulting in settings pages bursting at the seams and users getting increasingly frustrated with not understanding how things work.
Decisions, not options is a philosophy fostered in core WordPress development. It can be found on the WordPress site in the section discussing the philosophy of how WordPress should be developed. This particular point reds:
When making decisions these are the users we consider first. A great example of this consideration is software options. Every time you give a user an option, you are asking them to make a decision. When a user doesn’t care or understand the option this ultimately leads to frustration. As developers we sometimes feel that providing options for everything is a good thing, you can never have too many choices, right? Ultimately these choices end up being technical ones, choices that the average end user has no interest in. It’s our duty as developers to make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users.
It’s meant to make WordPress as simple as possible for the masses for removing options where 80+% of people will choose one particular option. Filters and hooks should be used to accommodate the needs of others.
When developers adhere to this philosophy, their users are content with how simple and robust the product is. The burden of deciding how the plugin/theme should work should rest with the developer, not the end user.
It would be great to see a return to plugins without settings pages and themes without color pickers for every single element on the site. To developers I say “Man up and make some decisions, while allowing users to make options with hooks and filters”.