Archives For Matt’s Grand Ideas

T-mobile’s pre-paid plans are changing

If you read my article about how I pay $8 per month for cell-phone service and want to do this, you better move quick. T-mobile is changing their plan this Sunday (Aug 17th). Overall, the pricing is simpler and cheaper, except that the “Gold Rewards” feature seems to be going away. If that is the case, then that means you’ll have to top up your phone more often. Also, there is a $3/month minimum, which isn’t that big of a deal. If you rarely used your phone with the old style I described where you start with a $100 balance and add $10 per year after your first year, you’d go 4½ years before you depleted your balance. This will only work if the updated plan supports minutes that don’t expire for a year. (currently refilling $10 only extends your balance by 90 days w/out Gold Rewards) When I get more details I’ll update my blog post.

I’ve been so busy writing a Node.js training series that I’ve hardly had time to blog. I have several posts in the works but they’re coming slowly as I get the draft done and off to the publisher for review. I’ve learned some amazing tricks that I need to share and I also need to update a few blog posts that are getting a little dated. Stay tuned!

ipad-3-retina-display1

Apple is replacing Lucida Grande with Helvetica Neue in Mac OS X. Some people are happy, some are sad. Those that are sad explain that Helvetica Neue doesn’t make as good of a screen font because, in part, it has tighter apertures, which means that at small font sizes some letters get hard to read. For example, lower case Cs look like Os and Ss look like 8s. This is true when you view them at lower resolutions, such as most computer monitors (which are under 150 ppi, but is fine on high resolutions such as print outs (300+ dpi) and retina displays (approximately 300 ppi).

We know Apple cares deeply about the usability of their products, and we know that they have some great designers working for them, so we have to believe that they understand this potential for a problem. But what if the designers knew something we didn’t, that soon, non-retina displays would be obsolete? Continue Reading…

Photo by coolinsights

I often get asked by teens and parents for ideas for jobs. I always answer, “you should start a business.” Usually I’ll include suggestions based on what I know about the person who is looking for work. In my opinion, there is no better time in life to start a business than as a teen.

Why? You may ask? Well, here are a few reasons:

  1. No one is as risk tolerant as a teen
  2. Few people are as undervalued
  3. Learning to fail (aka trial and error) is one of the most important lessons you can learn and it’s better to learn it when you are young and the stakes are low
  4. You can make way more than minimum wage and you’ll more likely be doing work you enjoy

I could prattle off a few more reasons, but let’s dig into these. Continue Reading…

320px-Simple-kanban-board-

In the summer of 2013 a TED talk started making its way around the Internet discussing how to apply agile project management practices to the family. Then a Des Moines local agile coach, Kristin Runyan put the idea into action and blogged about it. This December, a coworker reported how he had seen benefits of this idea.

The timing of the December talk coincided nicely with some thoughts I had. For one, my wife and I have been frustrated with our 12 year old son’s lack of interest in doing the things he was supposed to do. Secondly, at work we completed a team member “work style evaluation,” essentially a personality test, and it caused me to realize that I think my son has a different personality and work style than either me or my wife.

We felt that this “agile family” method may work for us. Continue Reading…

The word processor I wish existed (maybe it does?)

When writing fiction and longer non-fiction I wish I had a distraction-free word processor like WriteRoom or IA Writer (both of which I own), but with a “quick reference” feature, easily accessible in some way. For examples of some references I’d like to access, a list of places mentioned previously, a list of people, biographic information about one of the characters (yes, I write biographies for all my main characters) and possibly a way to search for factual information without turning to my web browser. I’d love for it to export simple HTML that could be pasted into a blog. I’m checking out Scrivener, but it hardly qualifies as distraction-free, so not not sure if that’s the right path or not. Any ideas?

Swimming In The iPool

I’ve told a few other people my “amazing” trick for providing my pre-teen son a nice smart phone without paying much money. As a matter of fact, I’ve told enough people about it that it makes more sense for me to write it down so that I don’t have to repeat myself.

I did quite a bit of research when looking for a cell-phone. At first I used this technique for the whole family, but as I started doing mobile development a few years ago my needs changed and I put myself and my wife on a typical family plan. However, it does kind of pain me to pay $30 a month for my son when really he only uses his cell phone for reference and entertainment and to ask his friends to log onto the XBox. We love being able to get in contact with him when he’s out and it’s good to know he can call us or 911 in an emergency. And, lets face it, he likes to have a nice phone.

I’ll put my disclaimer on this note. I’m able to keep my costs so low because we don’t use many minutes or send many text messages. You can adapt my technique if your usage scenario is different than mine, it’s not hard. Continue Reading…

spike

I help out a popular clothing retailer, kuhl.com, sometimes when they need some after-hours help. Last night at dinner I got an urgent text from the lead developer who is based in Europe saying the website was melting due to being mentioned in a highly popular Reddit post. It seems that one of the Boston bombing suspects was spotted wearing a hoodie from Kuhl.

The first problem was that there weren’t enough database connections available, the second was that, of the M1.extra-large’s 15G of RAM, only 4G was being used, and the third problem was that the disk i/o and cpu usage was close to nil. We solved all of these problems, and they all helped, but ultimately could only handle the load by serving a static copy of the popular page. But here’s the process I took to get there and how each step impacted performance. Continue Reading…

The Marching Band

I’ve decided to start monthly blogging about the links and stories I favorited in March. You’ll find an eclectic mix of web development, open source, usability/ux and whatever trips my fancy.

This month we have news about Firefox OS app payments, how to get Netflix running in Ubuntu, indestructible cell phones and some WordPress tips.

Continue Reading…

chained

Whenever I read Hebrews 7 I wonder how the author comes up with a connection between Jesus and Melchizedek. I don’t doubt the connection, but it strikes me as an obscure reference. When the recipients of the letter read this, did they suddenly say, “A ha!” and understand the comparison, or did they scratch their head wondering who on earth Melchizedek was? (like I did) Continue Reading…