5 min read

Moving to The Bold Report

by Tim Smith

Earlier this week, I launched my latest project, The Bold Report.

For some time now, I’d been internally debating whether this site was the right place to keep my writing. I had increased my writing efforts, made it easier for people to subscribe, and I just wasn’t seeing much growth.

At first, I came to the conclusion that it just hadn’t been enough time. However, as time went on, I realized that the message of my personal site was confusing, and potential subscribers couldn’t easily find out what they were reading, and therefore less likely to subscribe. My writing and portfolio deserved exclusive focus.

This is where The Bold Report comes in. Starting this week, that will be the home for all of my writing. In terms of content, there really is no change. If you’ve enjoyed the links, and longer articles, I’m sure you’ll love The Bold Report. I’m also expanding into some other areas, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that.

What will happen to the archives?

All of the content currently on this site, will remain here. In the next couple weeks, it will disappear from the homepage, but you’ll still be able to look through the archives, and search the site. If you feel something has been deleted or misplaced, file a GitHub issue, and I will do my best to fix it.

How to support The Bold Report

I would really appreciate if you subscribed. It’s a new site, none of the archives of this site will be moved, and for that reason, I won’t be redirecting the RSS feeds. Just like here, I’ve made a master feed, an articles-only feed, and a Twitter and App.net account. If there’s another way you like to receive updates, let me know and I might be able to accommodate you.

In the future, I hope to do a membership drive, together with some giveaways so that the site begins to make some money. I’m committed to delivering the best content I can, but I also need it to help me pay the bills. If you’d be interested in a membership eventually, please tell me. It allows me to gauge interest.

Wrapping up

I started writing on this site when I was 161. Over the years, I’ve done many experiments on here. I’ve broken the site many times, designed awesome art-directed articles, and written foolish and idiotic opinions. Some of those still exist, and others, I’ve stupidly deleted. It’s been an exciting journey, and if nothing else, it’s been great to see myself grow, and learn.

Most of all, I want to say thank you. Thank you for supporting my site. Thank you for reading the articles. Thank you for reading, even when I had no idea what I was talking about.2 I appreciate it immensely.3

This is a new beginning, and I’m very excited about it. Hope to see you there.

  1. The first version of this site was made in a college classroom with Dreamweaver. I bought the domain with my mother’s debit card. I hosted it for free on GoDaddy. Unfortunately, I don’t have screenshots of that site, but the color scheme was orange and grey, and the typeface was Arial. I think I did the world a favor by not keeping records of it.

  2. Which still happens!

  3. I started thinking about this post on Monday. In fact, I was supposed to publish it that day. I didn’t realize how sad it made me though. This site has seen me grow so much: from a kid to a man. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously, but I will miss writing on here.

Save Your Money, or Go Out of BusinessLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Save your money. A small business/freelancer needs cash. Keep at least three months of overhead sitting in a savings account. Then personally you need at least two months of living costs in a savings account.

What an honest post. I’m historically horrible at saving money, and yet as a freelancer, I know I should have at least 5 months of savings. I don’t think I’ve ever had that saved in my life, even when I was making good money.

Save your money peeps!

1 min read

iOS 7 Review

by Tim Smith

It’s pretty awesome. Control Center is the bomb-diggity.

RSS Ping for Static BlogsLink to Post

by Tim Smith

When I moved over to Jekyll, one of things you miss out on is RSS Feed pinging. What the hell is “RSS pinging”? Basically, it’s your site letting the internet know that their’s fresh content on your feed. WordPress automatically does this when you publish new content.

For this site, I use a service that automatically tweets new headlines to the Twitter and App.net accounts, and without a ping, these things have no idea there’s a new post in the feed.

Anyway, Hamish Macpherson, came up with a very simple way of making this work. Using a PHP script together with a post-deploy hook, it’s automatic once again!

Personally, I use a Rake task, but I may end up switching for the automation aspect. If you’d like to take a look at my Rake task, you’ll find in the repo for this site.

IPO Could Kill TwitterLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Marcus Wohlsen from Wired:

But once it goes public, Twitter will have no choice but to strive to maximize shareholder returns, which would appear to create a Catch-22. More ads on Twitter means more money for Twitter, which makes shareholders happy. But more ads on Twitter will make users less happy, which means fewer users. Fewer users mean lower ad rates, which makes shareholders unhappy — a vicious cycle.

This is what scares me about Twitter going public. As a private company, they’ve already proven to not give a damn about users, and the pressure of shareholders could make it worse. They’ll serve us just enough ads so we hate them, but not enough so we leave.

I see a very grim future for Twitter clients. Unless these developers budge and allow for sponsored tweets in the timeline, I don’t see how Twitter will allow them to exist. I use Tweetbot exclusively, which can’t be good for Twitter in terms of selling ads and users actually seeing them.

The real shame in all of this, is that a platform like App.net will never be as popular for the masses. Which is unfortunate because they actually have a freaking business model.

3 min read

Dear Readers,

by Tim Smith

As you may have noticed in the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken the responsibility of writing on this site a bit more seriously. If you haven’t noticed, that’s ok, I’m telling you now.

Since moving over to Jekyll, the ability to write and publish quickly has given me fewer excuses not to write. I know that whether people read or not, it’s important to maintain some type of documentation of life and work.

For years, I’ve stressed about writing things that would be “interesting”; judging at every turn whether people would like what I had to say. More recently, I’ve been persuading myself not to care. I write and share my opinion on things that interest me, and call it a day. To my surprise, there are those who appreciate that.

I’m also interested in becoming a better writer, and after doing research, I found that as with most things, the best way is to practice. I look up to writers like Marco Arment, Shawn Blanc, Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Adam Clark, and draw inspiration from how they write. What I love especially about Sara and Adam is the level of honesty they’re able to communicate with their writing. I admire that vulnerability.

So here’s to a new beginning with this site. I hope you’ll be part of it. You can now subscribe to the master feed or an articles-only feed. All of the posts are shared on Twitter and App.net, and if you prefer email, there’s an option for that too.

Please say hello. I love hearing from you guys.

Thanks for reading.

—Tim

Garann Means on Writing about CodeLink to Post

by Tim Smith

All joking aside, our communities need to hear from people who aren’t the maintainers and conference speakers and web celebrities.[…] The big names create an echo chamber where ideas are safe and popular and failure and being wrong are covered up so no one else can learn from them. We don’t really badly need any more of that crap. We need you.

I just love how Garann writes. I haven’t had the chance to talk with her much, but I imagines she writes a lot like she talks, which is awesome. Her and Divya Manian do an awesome podcast about front-end stuff. You should check it out.

Interestingly, this is something I talked about with many people at Blend Conf. Not enough people are writing about their experiences and process. If you finish the article and don’t feel the need to write something, we really need to talk.

Reeder is Back with a New AppLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Reeder 2 features a new design, support for services like Fever’s “Hot List”, and a convenient pull-out tab for sharing reminiscent of Windows 8’s “Charms” menu, but the app’s most important new feature is that it’s “universal” — it works on both iPhone and iPad.

Reeder is back! So happy to see Reeder come out with a new app, that works with new services.1 Shawn Blanc says the new app is great, and I trust him. I’ll most likely buy and give it a try in the next couple of days.

It’s truly amazing to see how the RSS landscape has changed in the past few months. The whole Google Reader shutdown gave everyone a kick in the pants to do a better job with their app, and gave others the opportunity to create new businesses.

  1. From what I can see, it works with Feed Wrangler, Feedbin, Feedly, Fever, Readability, and allows you to bypass syncing and just do local RSS subscriptions.

3 min read

Blend Conf 2013

by Tim Smith

I had an absolute blast in Charlotte for Blend Conf, and I really hope I can make it next year.

First off, I just want to extend a thank you to Bermon Painter for putting on this amazing event. The fact he did it mostly by himself is admirable, and was a complete hit in its first year. Bermon was so kind to take a chance on me, and I’m so grateful, and honored to have spoken at the first Blend Conf.

The interesting thing about conferences is that when you hear about them, often times you hear about the speakers, the venue, the city, friends that are going, etc. Those are all great. However, the beauty lies in the things you have no idea about. The people you meet, the friends you make, and the conversations you have. For me, Blend Conference was definitely all of this. I’ve made great new friends, and I’m following new people who are just so insanely smart.

Two talks that really stood out for me were Garth’s and Wren’s. Garth talked about how designers can open source, and he’s in fact created a site to begin this movement. I realized during that talk that developers are more and more comfortable with sharing how things are accomplished, and putting tons of their source code on GitHub. At this point, it seemed so normal, I’d forgotten that designers don’t really do this.

We’re very protective of our designs and don’t like to reveal how the “sausage is made” per se. This happens for various reasons, but the biggest one is often thinking a particular solution is specific to a project. The artistic side of us loves to believe that our thoughts aren’t somehow reusable.

Wren also gave a great talk about designing on the z-axis. It blew my mind. That’s really all I can say. The way she explained the future of design got me really excited.

You’ll see both of these people on The East Wing soon, so stay tuned for that. If you weren’t able to make it to Blend Conf this year, I definitely recommend it. The atmosphere is just so nice, and Charlotte is a beautiful city.

Hope to see you next year!

The Best Piece I’ve Read This YearLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Every time I open up Photoshop or IA Writer or sit down at the drum kit, a cloud of angst settles around me as I set out to create or write something people will find impressive. And not just impressive, but so damn good, it will be linked to thousands of times and retweeted for all eternity.

Adam wrote so many things that I just didn’t know how to communicate.

I never ship because I can’t face the potential of failure. But this is failure in itself. The only thing worse than being the fat guy in the pool, is being the fat guy in the pool with a shirt on.

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been that guy. Read this, it might explain your feelings perfectly.

5 min read

Microsoft Acquiring Nokia is an Important Move

by Tim Smith

Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition is more important than you think. It’s being brushed off by many in the media, and definitely by a lot of Apple fans; we love to ridicule this type of news. Some just downright think it’s a terrible idea.

One thing is definitely true, the move is late. This acquisition would’ve interested a lot more people a couple of years ago. The mobile market is very competitive, Apple and Google have years of experience, and it seems Amazon wants a piece of the pie.

Microsoft and Nokia may be a joke in terms of market share1, but them joining forces is important news. The fact that hardware and software are now being done semi-in-house is a big deal, and indicative of some type of vision which could be successful2. Microsoft has noticed something very important, and I talked about this when I wrote about Scott Forstall becoming CEO—being responsible for the complete experience is the key to making products people want to use.

Since its inception, the company has allowed others to create the hardware for their software3. They’ve given up control of the experience, and I feel it’s one of the biggest reasons they aren’t the company they want to be. Nokia becoming part of Microsoft begins to fix that.

Microsoft doesn’t want to be just a software company.

In Steve Ballmer’s letter to employees, he said, “We are committed to working with partners, helping them build great products and great businesses on our platform, and we believe this deal will increase our partner value proposition over time.” I predict that in 4 years, Microsoft will be exclusively making Windows Phone. It’ll be theirs; software and hardware.

One of the things that makes Apple so successful is the way they control the ecosystem. Lots of power users are turned away by how little control they have, but to the normal consumer, the careful curation of an ecosystem, makes the experience more enjoyable. It’s also important to note, that companies that don’t exercise this type of control have lots of security problems.

The next year and a half will tell whether Microsoft will take this opportunity, and execute well on it. They need a new phone, running a better operating system. If Microsoft is at all successful in the next 5 years, it will be in part because of this move.

  1. According to this article, Microsoft’s marketshare is just over 4% in the smartphone market.

  2. I think the Nokia Lumia is a great example of some great hardware decisions. It’s a pretty good-looking phone, and has a 41 megapixel camera which is perfect for what people want to do with their phone: take pictures of themselves and food.

  3. This is the reason you spend hours uninstalling software from a PC you just bought. Android has this same problem by allowing carriers to make different versions of it.

2 min read

Keyboard Maestro Macros: Sharing Links

by Tim Smith

I’ve been using Keyboard Maestro for about two weeks, and I’ve enjoyed how much time it’s starting to save me.

Two new Keyboard Maestro Macros I’ve made are for sharing links. I often come across things on the web that I want to share and I have to copy the title, switch to Tweetbot, paste the tile, switch back to Chrome, copy the URL, switch back to Tweetbot, and paste the URL. This get’s irritating, so I created a Macro two copy these two values and put them on my clipboard.

Tweet Sharing Macro

I believe Safari has built in sharing, but that still sucks because you have to click. This uses a keyboard shortcut.

Another thing I do often is copy links for show notes. For most podcasters, show notes are the worst part of doing the show. It’s difficult to get the link quick and save it somewhere. I personally envy the hosts on 5by5 that have a bookmarklet. However, I’ve solved this problem quite easily for me with another macro.

Markdown Sharing Link

So easy! I press Ctrl+Opt+M and the link is in my clipboard formatted as Markdown. The time this saves me! I used to use a Chrome Extension, but again, I try to use the mouse as little as possible.

Hope these can save you some time. If you’ve never used Keyboard Maestro, I recommend you look into it. Keyboard shortcuts FTW!

Getting Interested in Front-end PerformanceLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Harry Roberts:

It’s hard, if not impossible, to deny that performance is by far one of the most critical aspects of any decent web project, be it a small portfolio site, a mobile-first web app, right through to a full-scale ecommerce project.

This is an area I’ve been dabbling into more recently. As a wanna-be front-end developer, I’ve tried to do more research into how I can do my job better, and make the sites I create faster.

This article is quite the extensive guide on various things you could do to make your sites faster. The obvious ones are things like minimizing http requests, and minifying files. Yet, one technique I hadn’t heard of before was using rel="dns-prefetch". On this site, I put this in the head:

<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//engine.carbonads.com">
<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//static.carbonads.com">
<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//use.typekit.net">

Essentially this does exactly what you think it would do. You can prefetch a hostname’s DNS with the code above. This is helpful when you need assets from an external source.

If you’re building sites of any kind, check out the article, very helpful.

Further Reading

Web Performant WordPress by Dave Rupert - A really great article if you’re running on WordPress. It is from 2010, so take the advice with a grain of salt.

Netflix Expands Original Content with Stand-up ComedyLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Netflix is opening up another front in its ongoing battle with HBO: comedy. The New York Times reports that Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari’s upcoming special Buried Alive will debut on Netflix on November 1st, making it the highest profile stand-up special on the service to date.

Netflix get’s it. If I had the money, I’d buy Netflix stock, because they’ve done nothing but make great decisions in the past year. To think, there was a time when Netflix looked like it would go down in flames, and now is a producer of quality content at an affordable price. That’s a difficult thing to do.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the company in the next year. I see very good things.

Speaking at Blend ConfLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Next week, I’ll be flying to Charlotte, North Carolina, to give my second-ever conference talk. That I’m nervous would be an understatement. But, I’m very passionate about the topic,1 and can’t wait to talk about it.

I want to take a moment to thank Bermon Painter and Blend Conf. He invited me to speak even before I had proof that I could speak at a venue. I really appreciate that. Not to mention, Blend Conf has been our primary sponsor since July, and I’m very grateful for that as well. Without Blend Conf, we could not have kept doing the show.

For those of you going, please get in touch! We should grab lunch, dinner, or something. It’ll be lots of fun. If by any chance you’ve been waiting to get a ticket, do it now! I believe there are only 20 tickets left, and remember you can use timsentme for 20% off. If you can’t make it, Bermon has an Indiegogo Campaign to get all the sessions recorded. Then you can watch them from your couch. How cool is that?

Hope to see you next week!

  1. I’ll be talking about side-projects and how they make you a better designer. Here’s the full schedule.

iOS 7 AnimationsLink to Post

by Tim Smith

These animations in iOS 7 feel like its designers are showing off their cool new abilities, and we’re just along for the ride. After sitting through all of these, day after day, it’s no longer impressive — it just feels needlessly, artificially slow.

This is what’s so interesting about interface animations: they need to be just right. Too slow, and the UI feels sluggish. Too fast, and the UI feels abrupt.

All being said, I’m very surprised with the polish and improvements that have been made throughout the beta process. There’s a lot of work to be done, but I’m confident that developers will push the platform forward as time goes by.

Apple TV Updated with New ChannelsLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Today, Apple has issued an over-the-air update to the Apple TV that brings several new content apps. Notably, in line with expectations, an app for the Vevo Music Video service has arrived. Also new are Disney Channel and Disney XD apps.

It’s been interesting to watch what Apple is doing with Apple TV. Will they release an SDK? “Analysts” have been predicting that for years, and nothing.

I won’t speculate too much because I’m no good at predicting this type of stuff. What I will say, is that the Apple TV has gotten a lot of attention recently. The device sells very well, even without being marketed in any way, and from a recent report, Apple has over 575 million iTunes accounts that it could sell content to. No one else, no one, has that type of access to wallets.

The people want a better way to watch television, and I not only think Apple TV has the power to be that future, but also open up to gaming.1

I said I wouldn’t speculate, but I did anyway. The future of TV is one that really interests me, and if anyone has the money, and the customer base to do it, it’d be Apple.

  1. Which would be so easy to do, considering the infrastructure Apple has built around Game Center.

Jason Snell on Logic Pro XLink to Post

by Tim Smith

Would a crazy person like me, who has adopted this music tool for the non-musical business of producing spoken-word audio, benefit from upgrading to Logic Pro X?

After editing several hours of podcasts with Logic Pro X, the answer is a qualified yes. Logic Pro X’s improved interface is easier to use than its predecessor’s, and makes it much easier for novice users to discover the program’s many complex features.

Jason Snell’s article on Logic Pro X is a pretty good read. He makes a really good point. Many of these audio editing applications are built for musicians, and as podcasters, we find a way for it to work how we need it to. The absence of a good noise reduction plug-in is absolutely ridiculous in a app like this. I know I’ve needed it on various occasions.1

Either way, I agree that Logic is definitely a step up from Garageband, and if that’s what you’re currently using, I’d seriously recommend looking into the upgrade. Logic may not be the easiest app to use, but from my experience, no DAW is.

  1. I record in a room with horrible acoustics, and lots of echo. Lots of my guests don’t record from sound-treated rooms either.