I hear again and again questions on how to get a good, cheap microphone for doing video recording. People will usually forgive poor video quality but they have no patience for poor audio quality – especially for educational content.

I can show you a great mic for about $20 US and it will work with a phone, camera or computer. If you need a USB microphone, you can add a USB input to it and still keep the price under $30 US. But you may already have a suitable microphone and not even know it! Continue Reading…

I have good news and bad news for you. SPDY is out (also known as HTTP/2), and it’s well supported enough that we’re seeing it in more places. SPDY, pronounced Speedy, is a new web protocol to replace HTTP and promises to make web browsing both faster, safer and more secure.

It’s quite common for web developers and server administrators to need details about what is happening when requests to the server are made. When you use plain HTTP (non SSL or TLS), it’s so easy, you can use any common telnet client. It is possible to use some helper tools to get the same effect to test SSL/TLS based websites.

Sadly, telnet won’t work for SPDY because it is no longer a text-based protocol, but there is a great command line tool that is easily installed that will help you get all the details you need about your connection. Continue Reading…

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…

I have written a lot of non-fiction in my life. Documentation, tutorials, sales brochures, reports and more. Since I was a teenager I’ve wanted to write a novel, and recently I did. That novel is very rough, naive in so many ways, and probably needs a full rewrite.

I am continuing to write non-fiction, but while I am do so, I’m studying writing fiction, and as an exercise I wrote the following as a reason why I want to write: Continue Reading…

How to scale Django: Finding the bottleneck

I’ve published an article for DigitalOcean on scaling Django. This article focuses on isolating performance problems. This is the first of several articles on performance, particularly targeting resource constrained configurations.

Django is an excellent Python based platform for building modern web apps. One of its biggest strengths is that it helps developers work faster.

You’ve built your awesome app and deployed it. Things are great, but now that you’re loading it up with larger amounts of data and you’re starting to have several people use it at the same time, it’s not as fast as you’d like.

It’s a common problem. Fortunately, we have some tools to help alleviate the problems. First, let’s check for a few of the more obvious issues:

Read the article at DigitalOcean: How To Scale Django: Finding the Bottleneck

I was recently reading about Westboro Baptist Church and thinking to myself, “I wish they didn’t have ‘Baptist’ in their name.” The problem is that most people don’t understand how loosely knit, how varied, Baptist churches can be from each other.

Unlike some other Christian denominations, Baptists are autonomous and operate independently. This includes the massive number of churches gathered under the “Southern Baptist Convention” umbrella. Each church is run by it’s own local congregation, elects it’s own pastor and elders and can therefore vary drastically from one to another in both doctrine and organization.

So what does it mean to be a Baptist? Here are a few things: Continue Reading…

One of my coworkers did a presentation in our team meeting on a topic he’s passionate about, usability testing. It is also something I’m fascinated by as well.

If you’ve ever done user testing you’ve definitely observed all or most of these issues. I’m very familiar with them but until now didn’t know the terms to describe them.

So here are my notes from the short presentation by Simon Whatley on 9 Usability Testing Biases (which was adapted from Jeff Sauro’s 9 Biases in Usability Testing): Continue Reading…

I should know better than to read the news right before bed. I know I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight without mentioning this. Daring Fireball author John Gruber posted a link to an article on MSNBC.com that studied 36 years of polling data and came to the conclusion that conservatives’ confidence in science as an institution has steadily declined in America. He’s right, it is a shame, but it would have helped if the “news” article wasn’t actually written as a PR stunt to sell a book by Chris Mooney. Continue Reading…

I just want to remind everyone in the USA that this is a special time in our political process. Election season is beginning soon, and furthermore, there is an incumbent in office. Therefore the opposing party’s #1 goal is to show that the existing president is doing a poor job. It is their only chance.

What this means is that every little mistake and unpopular decision, and believe me, everyone in authority makes mistakes and/or unpopular decisions, will be magnified as much as possible. Continue Reading…