Colin Devroe on a kayak

Everything Colin

A collection of the things that I write, share, make and dream.


Every Project is an Opportunity

Last night I was reading Empire Magazine’s awesome piece with the cast of The West Wing (my favorite TV show of all time). I caught this nugget from Bradley Whitford:

Early on in my career I got a part in Revenge Of The Nerds II: Nerds In Paradise. If I hadn‘t done that I wouldn‘t have met Tim Busfield and if I hadn‘t met Tim Busfield, I wouldn‘t have met Aaron. So Nerds II took me straight to the White House!

This is precisely how we feel about some of the projects we’ve worked on at Plain. So that spurred me to write a piece for Plain Text:

We see these types of projects as opportunities. If we can help a client meet an incredibly tight deadline, how more likely are they to ask us to help them with something in the future? They know they can rely on us. The company with 5% of the budget they should have? They may refer us to someone we would have never had access to otherwise, etc.

Man I love West Wing.

Your Two Jobs as a Manager

Elizabeth Speirs:

Over the years I’ve ended up hiring and training a lot of people in their first jobs as a manager, and I always tell them they have two responsibilities: to set clear expectations and to reduce uncertainty for their teams.

I try to do the same thing with my team and also with our clients.

Digging Crowd Favorite

Joe Casabona, fellow Coalworker, recently joined the Crowd Favorite team. I’ve “known” Alex King, the founder of Crowd Favorite, for many, many years. But since Joe joined Coalwork I’ve been digging around their stuff more.

I’m digging what I’m seeing.

continue reading...

A bit of a social break

I’ve recently pushed passed 38,000 tweets and I’m not really sure how I feel about it.

To continue to get the most value from Twitter over the years I’ve tried to change the way I use it as often as I felt as though I needed to. I’ve followed hundreds and thousands of accounts at a time, or — like currently — nearly none at all. I’ve created many carefully curated lists with thousands of accounts to help me get exactly what I want from Twitter when I want it. And I’ve deleted all of them and started over a few times. It helped me to always feel as though I was getting as much out of Twitter as I was putting into it.

continue reading...

30 Days Of Blogging Challenge (continued)

This is great. Om is picking up the blog challenge and pulled in three others.

I couldn’t agree more Om. You go too boy!

continue reading...

Five for the Future (of WordPress)

Speaking of Matt Mullenweg (I’m catching up on his blog)… he has a great suggestion for how companies that benefit from WordPress can contribute to its longevity. He suggests:

I think a good rule of thumb that will scale with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.

This is a great suggestion. We at Plain do some WordPress work. We also have a premium theme called Aspen. And our best-selling product, outside of Barley CMS, is our WordPress plugin Barley for WordPress. So, we definitely benefit from WordPress.

One way we try to give back, in addition to all of our code going out under the GPL, is to do “double donations”. I wrote about this on our company blog a few weeks go. We only recently started doing this. While we’ve always paid for any code we’ve used that people sold, we hadn’t always donated to those whose plugins have a donate link next to them. Shame on us.

Asking our clients to double the donation amount does — in our minds — two things; 1) it helps our client see the value in the “little bits” of code they gather to get their site to work. Some plugins are deceivingly simple yet they are incredibly valuable. That value is worth rewarding. 2) We hope it keeps the entire eco-system moving by allowing the developers some much needed time to support the plugins they put out there and perhaps make more useful bits of code.

Matt’s suggestion pushes the best and most needed resource into the eco-system; time. Ours pushes some cash into it. Both are good.

So let’s do both. Devote 5% of our workforce to helping the WordPress eco-system (for Plain, this would be measured in hours-per-week rather than number of employees) and have both the agency and the client donate for the code used when a developer or designer asks for donations. Oh, and this doesn’t need to be limited to WordPress.

Shane Burcaw

Speaking of NEPA BlogCon… the closing presenter was Shane Burcaw. Shane suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Three years ago he started a Tumblog and decided to hit publish. The rest of the story can be found in a book that comes out tomorrow titled after his non-profit foundation; Laughing At My Nightmare.

Shane’s presentation was, as you might expect, pretty inspiring. It was also very funny. It was evident that just being on stage and speaking to us with very difficult for him. Thanks Shane and all the best with the book!

You go Matt

Matt Mullenweg:

It started with a tweet from Colin Devroe.

You go Matt.

Why iOS 8 adoption rate is flattening

People aren’t updating to iOS 8 as quickly as was first thought. The main reason? Free space on the device.

John Gruber:

continue reading...

GitHub Student Developer Pack

If you know a student, or a faculty member, you may want to point them to the GitHub Student Developer Pack:

There‘s no substitute for hands-on experience, but for most students, real world tools can be cost prohibitive. That‘s why we created the GitHub Student Developer Pack with some of our partners and friends: to give students free access to the best developer tools in one place so they can learn by doing.


Improved Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown videos

Simon Willis, reporting that new, refreshed downloads are now available for the Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown videos:

Firstly, I went back to the source file and used improved compression software to produce higher quality downloads at a faster bit-rate.
Secondly, each film is now an .mp4 file (rather than .mov) and, at customers‘ request, each has chapters built in so it‘s much easier to navigate around the movie. You‘ll also find artwork embedded into the file.

This is equivalent to a software update to one of your favorite iOS apps stating: “Bug fixes and improvements”. A seemingly simple update, often with great results. And it is very welcomed to see this sort of thing. The product hasn’t changed but it has gotten better. It has been improved because it could have been improved.

Imagine if the music and/or music industries were to do something like this? If, one day, you woke up and your DVDs were turned into Blu-rays (technical impossibility, I know) or your MP3s were re-encoded at a much higher bit rate for you.

Good on ya Simon.

Emoji++ Keyboard

I feel the same way David Smith does about trying to find Emoji in the default iOS keyboard:

I feel like I’m always playing a game of memory each time I’m try to craft my perfectly composed Emoji response.

It is pretty painful. So, Smith set out to fix it with Emoji++, a keyboard that adds the Emoji as a single scrolling list. Simple and effective.

Smith also makes Pedometer++ which I recommend.

Don’t be a startup expert

Great nugget from Paul Graham’s latest piece “Before the Startup”:

The way to succeed in a startup is not to be an expert on startups, but to be an expert on your users and the problem you‘re solving for them.

I see so many “entrepreneurs” that are caught up in the startup culture. That are more concerned with having a startup than with solving a problem. I know I’ve fallen into this trap a few times.

Street View in the future

Google Street View is pretty amazing. Here is the corner of Adams and Spruce in Scranton — the same corner Coalwork is on today and from where I’m writing this post.

continue reading...

On daily blogging

Lockhard Steele (how does someone have a name that awesome?), on daily blogging:

Harder than it looks. Fell off the wagon hard last week in the depths of Eater bug-crushing. Still trying to find a rhythm to this practice. Typing this while on a conference call (suboptimal).

Agreed. I’ve been super, super busy at work and with our space. Which is excellent. But, it has stopped me from truly being able to publish every single work day (though, I’m close if you count things like Plain Text).

Tom Hickey

Tom Hickey, of Cork Ireland, on his personal blog in a post titled Stop feeling sorry and start living:

I write a blog that’s mainly about my life coming to terms with facial disfigurement. I wanted to share my pain, hopes and dreams, and show you that despite so many setbacks I managed to come out the other side. I’m not perfect, not even close, but I love my life now. Before I met my wife Trish I wouldn’t have said that.
I have been humbled by the reaction to my blog posts. I never realised so many people would get so much from my writing and my experiences, so I’m truly delighted you care to read my posts and respond. It gives me the encouragement I need to keep writing, and to be more open and honest about my experiences. In some small way I hope it helps others.

Tom’s blog is inspirational to all of us and his lessons apply to far more than only those with facial disfigurement. Good on ya Tom.

Shanghai By Mobile

Brandon Page on Storehouse:

This last trip, I put my pro camera down, and ran around the city with my iPhone. This is the first time I have shown this collection outside of Instagram.

Content exclusive to Instagram. I know a few photographers raised their eyebrows at this… however, it appears that the vast majority of Instagram users are doing exactly that; posting stuff only to Instagram.

The number of photos that are uploaded to Instagram and will be walled up there for good is amazing.

Ello deleted

I went from bullish to puzzled, back to bullish, and now downright miffed by the messaging roller coaster that Ello is on.

I think we all want to see someone, anyone, make great things. You know my stance on these things. I say, applaud people that make things. Making things is hard and people won’t get it right much of the time. But I’m so happy that people try.

continue reading...

Being in the paper

Over the years I’ve been in the paper a few times for various reasons. Mostly good. However, something that I’ve learned is that you never really know how you’re going to be portrayed, what information you provide the writer will use or not use, or how the article will come across to the general public.

So, my advice is this. A newspaper is not your mouth-piece. You need to be actively communicating and refining your message on your own terms. How you do that — a blog, newsletter, Twitter, podcast — is up to you. But do not allow the media, who will slightly bend or twist any story to find an angle that makes it more interesting, to do that messaging for you.

continue reading...

Clay Shirky on multi-tasking

As if I needed more fodder to convince myself as to why I shut off all notifications on my phone, tablet, and computer. Clay Shirky wrote an excellent piece on Medium about why he has changed his mind and now asks his students to close their laptops and put away their phones.

Here is a bit about multi-tasking:

On top of this, multi-tasking doesn’t even exercise task-switching as a skill. A study from Stanford reports that heavy multi-taskers are worse at choosing which task to focus on. (“They are suckers for irrelevancy”, as Cliff Nass, one of the researchers put it.) Multi-taskers often think they are like gym rats, bulking up their ability to juggle tasks, when in fact they are like alcoholics, degrading their abilities through over-consumption.

I think I’m going to double-down on “distraction free” by attempting to only keep the applications I’m using open and closing all others.

/via Michael Lopp.

Same thing, different day

I agree so hard on this. Brent Simmons:

I took two weeks off of all social networking a few months ago. It was glorious.

continue reading...

Not an iPad nano

Jason Snell, on his still smells-like-a-new-car blog Six Colors regarding whether or not the iPhone 6 Plus is like a small iPad:

When Apple announced the iPhone 6 Plus on Sept. 9, I entertained the idea that it might be a replacement for my iPad mini. At last, the promise of a single device small enough to fit in my pocket, but big enough to satisfy my productivity needs.
Then I used the iPhone 6 Plus. And while it will have its fans—in fact, I’ll wager that the iPhone 6 Plus will have rabid fans—it’s just not for me, because I wasn’t seeking a bigger iPhone. I was seeking an iPad nano, and that’s not something the iPhone 6 Plus is willing to be.

Since upgrading my iPad 2 (which I love and use daily) to iOS 8 it is a dog. In fact, I’m thinking of downgrading it to iOS 7. Supposedly Apple will be releasing new iPads in October. I’m going to wait until then to make my final decision — but, like Snell, I was hoping the iPhone 6 Plus would give me exactly what he described; one device to fit them all.

But perhaps the iPhone 6 Plus isn’t the device to do it.

Founders Grid Productivity Hacks

It was nice to be included in Founders Grid’s list of productivity hacks. When they asked me what productivity hacks I had for other founders this is what I wrote:

Productivity hacks are a myth. Not that none of the proposed productivity hacks we see every day do not work, just that any of them will work if you simply put them into practice. For example, John Zeratsky, Partner at Google Ventures, recently shared a Post-It hack that helps him get a few things done each day. Essentially it is a to-do list on a piece of paper. It works if you do it. GTD applications, productivity apps, to-do lists, notebooks, mobile applications, synced Reminders via iCloud – all of these work if you simply do them. My advice? Pick anything and do it and you’ll get more done.

Some other great tips are on their site.

Newer | Older

It is OK. You can reset your password.

If you happened to misplace your password or if it slipped your mind, don't worry. Enter your email address below and we'll send you a new, temporary password so you can get right back to what you need to do.

All sensitive information is SSL encrypted and secure. Learn more.

Reset Password