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keep riding that dead horse

Whether Mr Abbott even survives as prime minister until the next election is open to debate. But the fact remains he has instigated a series of changes to the fundamental nature of Australian society that were never put to the people before the last election and which have been kept shrouded in euphemism ever since.Tim Dunlop, in Spook Magazine

I wanted to quote more, but I won’t. Well worth the read, if you’re at all interested in understanding the underhanded, dishonest government we’ve had since late 2013.

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Does a Daring Fireball sponsored post actually work?

I was putting all of my proverbial “eggs” in one basket and was hoping that it would work. But, it wasn’t without research and it wasn’t a decision I took lightly (obviously). You see after reading DF for years I’ve been witness to many companies that have had great success with sponsorship. The kicker was that I have purchased many products just because I first saw it on DF.
John Saddington, creator of Desk

A fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of high profile sponsored posts. I’ve often wondered if blog sponsorship was an effective marketing channel for apps and products. There’s a lot of it going on in tech, also on podcasts, but are they actually effective? For Desk, the answer is a clear yes.

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Paul Ford on Reply All

Two of my favourite things are now in one place: Paul Ford on Reply All.

It turns out that you’re not as important as you think you are, nowhere near as terrible as you think you are and actually fairly ridiculous.

Reply All is the new show from Gimlet Media, created in part by former Planet Money & This American Life producer Alex Blumberg. Paul Ford is one of the best technology writers on the internet today. His writing is always poetic, human and sometimes hilarious. On this episode, Paul talks about his anxieties, how crippling they can be & how he decided to manage them. In short: he built himself an anxiety box. I won’t spoil it for you, just listen.

If you’re into podcasts and the internet (hello? is this thing on?) you should go subscribe right now. Alex also hosts a remarkably good podcast called Startup, logging his journey into the world of internet businesses. At first I scoffed, then I listened, sat up and paid attention. Both shows are very well produced, never longer than half an hour & always worth the listen. Reply All is particularly good.

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Gamergate finds new depths

Yesterday, ArbCom announced its preliminary decision. A panel of fourteen arbitrators – at least 11 of whom are men – decided to give GamerGate everything they’d wished for. All of the Five Horsemen are sanctioned; most will be excluded not only from “Gamergate broadly construed” but from anything in Wikipedia touching on “gender or sexuality, broadly construed.”

Mark Bernstein, Infamous

All is not well in the wiki.

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Friends don’t let friends look out of date on the internet

Content on the internet can be frighteningly fast-paced. You don’t need to look much further than twitter or Facebook to notice the deluge of content being posted daily. It’s overwhelming – blink and you miss it. Yet websites often fall into the trap of hard-coding content into less-obvious page elements and forgetting all about it. One excellent example of this is the Copyright text appearing in the footer of many websites. You’ll often see something that looks like this:

© 2015

Obviously, the content on jasonmcdermott.net is not © Marco Arment.

This innocuous piece of text doesn’t only lay claim to copyright protection, it also clearly displays the year in which the website was ‘last updated’. It dates the content you’re currently reading. It plants a flag, sending subtle signals about how fresh your site happens to be. It might be dead-right, but then again it might be way off. Like, several years out of date.

Now why is this a problem? Well, most bloggers and webmasters tend to think about these things very infrequently. You might look at the footer text when setting up a new theme, or changing plugins, but that doesn’t happen very often & chances are that your web footer text is now a whole year out of date (© 2014). If you run a website, I’ll pause here to let you go check your footer text. No really. You’ll thank me for it.

Ok, so now you know. Is your footer text up to date? If not, I’ll bet you just changed it. Job done, right?
For now, yes. But what happens 12 months later, when 2016 rolls around and you’ve forgotten this piece of sage wisdom? You’ll be back where you were today, before you read said piece of wisdom. There must be a better way.

updateyourfooter.com is here to help.

updateyourfooter.com is here to help.

Well, there is. Computers are fantastic at doing things without even requiring human thought. Automatically. It’s great. Here’s my special tip that will save you literally seconds, once a year, every year from now until your website dies.

Just use software to automatically update the date. It’s that easy. Set it and forget it. If you run more than one website, you may never need to think about checking your footers (feet?) again. Let the computers keep track of the date, you can get back to the business of writing killer headlines & splitting long articles up into separate pages.

It’s called software and it works. One change and your site will look fresh and new, every year, for as long as you like.

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Bringing the progressive calendar to Australia

David Malki (creator of the insanely great web comic wondermark) recently posted a progressive calendar PDF that he’d produced for printing & hanging. I’ve long thought that this kind of calendar is so much better than calendars with months separated by white space, but never thought about creating one of my own. When I saw David’s calendar, it was a no-brainer to download it for my own use.

But there was one small problem. David’s based in the USA, so some of the details of the calendar are US-centric. The Daylight Savings dates, for instance. Or all of the holidays. These aren’t deal-breakers for me, but wouldn’t it be so much better if you could have one with Australian dates?

Well, now you can. I downloaded and tweaked David’s calendar PDF to reflect the correct Australian dates for 2015.

You too can now download the Australian Holidays 2015 calendar.

Thanks again to David Malki for the idea & the heavy lifting on the original calendar.

[Update: David added this page to his download section on wondermark!

João Paulo Bernardes has also made a Brazilian version! Spread the love..]

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Being too popular for a day

Two weeks back, Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper, development brains behind Tumblr, creator of Overcast, founder of The Magazine..) published a typical Marco-style post criticising Apple’s recent software quality;

I suspect the rapid decline of Apple’s software is a sign that marketing is too high a priority at Apple today: having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it’s an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality.
Apple has lost the functional high ground on marco.org

Which then spread like wildfire;

This morning, my words were everywhere, chopped up and twisted by sensational opportunists to fuel the tired “Apple is doomed!” narrative with my name on them. (Or Tumblr’s name, which was even worse.) Business Insider started the party, as usual, but it spread like wildfire from there. Huffington Post. Wall Street Journal. CNN. Heise. Even a televised CNBC discussion segment.
What it’s like to be way too popular for a day on Marco.org

Which might seem like a blogging dream-come-true, but you’d be wrong. Fascinating.

See also: Marco went into more detail on both ATP and The Talk Show, both of which are equally long and worth the listen.

Image Credit: Marco.org

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How to overcome entrepreneur loneliness

Curse this modern work-lifestyle. At first it seems too good to be true, the freedom to work wherever you want, the autonomy to dictate your own hours, the liberty to create the work environment most likely to see you flourish as a professional. And yet, despite having this expanse of work place luxuries, you feel a cold, dark emptiness which gnaws at your subconscious. You’ve made the leap into the new workforce, the empowered remote professional, the cafe-dwelling urban nomad, but something just doesn’t quite feel right.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This is actually a big part of the problem, though you won’t understand it until you’ve taken the plunge and gone solo. The work life of a freelance professional (consultant, photographer, designer, developer – you name it) can be remarkably isolated. Beware, the grass is always greener, especially when you’re stuck in corporate-land and dreaming of a life outside of the 60 hour commute-toil-commute nightmare. Solo work can seem like the solution you’ve always longed for, but never found. The elusive silver bullet.

That’s what makes the reality of solo work so much more of a shock once you do take the plunge.

The truth of it is that solo work – startups, freelancing, passion projects – can be a lonely endeavour. There’s a reason why two-founder startups are more likely to succeed compared to solo-founder projects. It can be remarkably isolating to leave the corporate team and go it alone. Gone are the basic infrastructural luxuries of an office, the camaraderie of the team, the water-cooler politics, the pleasures of explaining why you’d do things differently if you had the power. Life as a solopreneur (yes, it’s an awkward term, I’ll admit) can unlock a whole range of beneficial life habits, opportunities and experiences – but it does come at a cost. The solo life is, in a word, lonely.

There are other pressures you’ll face, but let’s focus on this one issue for now – isolation. It’s the single biggest emotional challenge I’ve faced, working on my own. Being so disconnected from people on a daily basis can become a burden. Instead of spending 40+ hours a week with a team of peers, you’re suddenly your own best and worst company. You may find yourself second guessing thoughts and ideas. You may find yourself obsessing over unimportant details. You may even find yourself procrastinating on small jobs or chores that you don’t want to do. The solo life isn’t always laptops on beaches, it can get ugly.

It doesn’t have to be. Here are my top 3 tips for avoiding solopreneur cabin fever:

  1. Find a co-working space. Most cities in Australia have co-working spaces that are located near public transport hubs, come well furnished and are very affordable. This is the most efficient and effective way to avoid loneliness, as it brings you into contact with other people like you, helps you to find your solopreneur soul mates, gives you access to a support network & may even provide you the missing link in your entrepreneurial journey (be that users, co-founders, money, inspiration or – simply put – good advice). Being part of a community goes a very long way to maintaining your sanity. You don’t even need to become a full time member of co-working communities (especially useful if you live far away or can’t bear commuting anymore) you can join them and enjoy the benefits of these communities online. You’ll be invited to meetups, to events, receive resources and more. It’s such an investment, I could even stop here and my job would be nearly done.
  2. Join an interest group. Meetup groups are increasingly common, cover a wide array of interest areas and often don’t come at any cost to join. You could join an interest group for personal reasons, getting connected to a wider community of people who share similar goals. Alternatively you can join an interest group for professional reasons, finding new client or networking opportunities. I’ve also found interest groups are an excellent way to find incredibly talented people, all of whom I’d love to work with.
  3. Which brings us to our third tip: find people to collaborate. Common goals and passions can unearth collaboration opportunities & these are very valuable for undoing the harm of isolation. A common goal is very effective at bringing people of different backgrounds together & the future network benefits of great collaborative projects are endless. Surround yourself with smart people, find worthwhile projects to work on & you’ll soon realise you’ve kicked that isolation to the curb.
  4. One more tip for good measure: there are literally hundreds of resources for entrepreneur lifestyle success. Podcasts, blog posts, books and more. Don’t stop at this blog post, dig deeper. Find the voices you aspire to emulate, the people who’ve tackled the same challenges you face, or simply find someone whose message resonates with you – and hit subscribe. It’ll make a big difference.

Loneliness was the last thing I anticipated, when I went solo nearly two years ago. It hit hard. It took me a while to understand what I was going through & to find the right balance for myself. I found a co-working space (hat-tip to Fishburners in Sydney), joined a community of entrepreneurs, met some incredibly talented people & found projects to collaborate on. You will build momentum, so the sooner you take the first step, the better.

Just remember – you’re not alone. We’re right here with you.

Note: this article was originally posted on tklr.net

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Do not go gentle into that good night

The effect is profound. Traditional film suddenly feels very small and almost claustrophobic. Those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen become horizontal railings that while perhaps not trapping us in, are clearly guiding us along. When the screen opens up to IMAX format though, you’re set free. I kept moving my head up and down trying to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. MG Siegler, over at Medium

I couldn’t agree more. The IMAX experience is literally jaw dropping. I found myself looking around on the screen, trying to soak in every last pixel. Don’t miss this one.