The importance of being challenged

One of the things I love about what I do is that no two client projects are ever the same. I learn so much with each one.

Sometimes that can be super challenging and I’ve said “I have no idea how to do this but I know it can be done” on an almost daily basis. After more than ten years of continually figuring out the “how” side of that statement, I feel like my skills toolbox is in good shape and my brain has stayed relatively sharp (though tired at times!).

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Comfort Isn’t The Goal

Why is it that when we are “comfortable” we feel like God is taking care of us…almost like the goal in this life is a constant state of COMFORT?

Yet when things are tough and we struggle, those times are when we grow the most. That’s when God teaches us and shapes us. Those are the times when we experience the often un-explainable things.

I’m not saying that if you feel comfortable you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes incorporating regular moments of putting-your-neck-on-the-line into your life can become somewhat normal and a comfort in itself. But comfort is not the goal.

Terrible Customer Service and Amazing Customer Service All In The Same Morning

I use a terrific app called FreshBooks (affiliate link) for my company’s project time-tracking and invoicing. I’ve been using it since 2007 (which is around 30 years in web-years, right?) and in my mind they are the best in the business.

My clients receive their invoices via email and are able to pay them online through the merchant provider of my choice which is currently PayPal. I get charged the regular PayPal rate of 2.9% + $.30 per transaction for credit card payments. In addition, FreshBooks has a really nice option that utilizes PayPal “Business Payments” for clients in the USA. If clients pay their invoice online with a PayPal eCheck (i.e. direct from a bank account) or PayPal balance, I only get charged $.50 for that transaction. For example, on a $3000 invoice, I get charged $.50 instead of $87.30. That’s a huge savings for me. It takes a bit longer for Business Payments to clear but the savings is worth it.

Well, this morning a recent “Business Payment” cleared my account and I logged into PayPal to transfer the money to my bank account. To my surprise, the payment was showing a fee of $80.05 (2.9% + $.30 of a $2750 invoice), not the usual $.50. I took a deep breath and started the process of contacting PayPal customer service and getting this thing resolved.

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How To Measure Objects On Your Mac Screen Without Installing Any Software

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Lately I’ve been working on a few projects where I need to take a pre-designed PSD and build a custom WordPress theme from it. One big part of that is making sure that spacing, layout, and object sizes are consistent between the PSD and the theme. That means a lot of measuring.

One trick I’ve learned is to use the built-in Mac screenshot functionality. There’s no software to install or launch. Just click command + shift + 4 and then the pointer will turn into a cross-hair icon. Click and hold down the left mouse or trackpad button at one side of the object you wish to measure and then drag it across to the other side of that object. The numbers next to the cross-hair icon will then display the height and width (in that order) in pixels of the selected area. It’s that easy!

To save yourself from taking unnecessary screenshots, just click the escape button while you still have the left mouse button pressed down and the crosshair icon will disappear.

Four-Wheeler Tubing, Chainsaws, & A Review of The Sony Action Cam

For some crazy yet awesome reason Sony sent me one of their new go-anywhere HD video cameras, the HDR-AS15 Action Cam. I actually volunteered to receive it through their request on Klout, a website that measures influence and engagement across the different social media platforms. I’m not too big on keeping track of a score for these things – I like social media for the “social” aspect alone – but if you’re going to send me a $250+ camera to test and review, I’ll take it!

All that being said, I finally had a chance to put this camera to the test over Christmas. As you’ll see in the above footage (edited in iMovie), we captured some 120 fps slow motion footage of my brother-in-law and his chainsaw in the first part of the video. I really dig the wide-angle settings of the Action Cam and you’ll good demonstration of that in the very first clip. You can actually change the view from 120-degrees all the way up to 170-degrees.

The second part of the video is from an afternoon of tubing-on-the-ice-behind-the-four-wheeler at my parents’ house – one of our all-time favorite winter activities. The first few shots are from the head of my 5 year-old. Notice the part where she actually falls off and dives head-first into the snow. Hilarious. Eventually I strapped the camera onto my own head and had my dad really whip me around on the tube. The footage this camera captured pleasantly surprised me in how cool it looked.

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Trampled By Turtles on The Lowertown Line

Just wanted to share this Trampled By Turtles concert from Twin Cities Public Television that was broadcasted earlier this week. I love these guys. Great show.

Yank On: Marcus Mumford’s Musical Multitasking

I’ve become a huge Mumford & Sons fan. Not only do I love their music, but I’m in complete amazement at lead singer Marcus Mumford’s ability to do a ton of things at once. Watch the above concert from Live on Letterman and you’ll see him sing, play guitar, play kick drum with his right foot, and play tambourine with his left foot…ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I tried just playing guitar and a kick drum at the same time once and it was a disaster.

Later in the show Marcus sits down at an actual drum kit and proceeds to play those while singing. The man has serious skills.

Yank On: The Fixer’s Manifesto

The Fixer's Manifesto

My wife recently sent me a link to a post on Design Sponge regarding “The Fixer’s Manifesto,” written by the makers of Sugru (more about Sugru shortly…). She knows that I am a die-hard try-everything-you-can-to-fix-something-before-you-throw-it-away individual, and this list struck a chord with me.

I have a hard time throwing things away. I have no problem giving things away if they’re useful to someone else, but to accept that something is no longer useful and simply put it in the trash is hard for me.

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Yank On: Penmanship in the Digital Age

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I had to write a note in a Christmas card yesterday. The finished product looked like it was written by a heavily intoxicated right-handed person with a broken right hand. It was awful and I was hesitant to even put the card in the mail.

I’ve never had great penmanship, but I also realize that I never actually write anything anymore. I don’t journal – I blog. I don’t write letters – I email. I don’t even write a list when I go to the store – I use the Notes app on my iPhone.

The only thing I ever write out is my signature when I have to sign for a purchase by credit card.

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Yank On: WordPress, Tumblr, Opinions, and This Blog

As if my other blogs aren’t neglected enough, I’ve decided to launch another one. I’ve found that I have way too many opinions and observations on a variety of topics to try to fit them into my web-related Lift Development blog or my work-from-anywhere blog, AnywhereMan. My wife and I keep a family blog as well but that’s for close family and friends.

No, the point of Yank On will be to house every random thought, interesting find, and recommendation that doesn’t make sense to post elsewhere. There’s no central niche topic that this site revolves around. My goal is not to generate a ton of traffic or make money. It’s strictly a platform for me to write and share. It gives me a little more space and flexibility to expand on topics than what I can communicate through Twitter or Facebook.

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