What Icy Roads Reminded Me about Web Coding

I have moved this post and lots of other WordPress posts over to my new site at https://wpsteward.com, where I will continue publishing helpful tips for Website owners going forward.

When you are driving on an icy road in a neighborhood, it makes sense to only go as fast as you are comfortable running into something. This has been the lesson I’ve learned looking out my front window over the past few days.

This hill (outside my house) has been like a wonderful social experiment on how bad decisions are made on ice. Wife and 5-year-old son for scale.
This hill (outside my house) has been like a wonderful social experiment on how bad decisions are made on ice. Wife and 5-year-old son for scale.

The same can be said for web coding. Let me tell you a story about that (filed under “just this past week”):

It was a routine change to a theme, swapping out one image for another… and it turned everything purple.

Read the rest of this post over at the brand-new WP Steward Blog

Beginner Mistakes in WordPress: not using a Staging Site.

I have moved this post and lots of other WordPress posts over to my new site at https://wpsteward.com, where I will continue publishing helpful tips for website owners going forward.

Easily a top-ten mistake I see beginner WordPress users making is updating plugins, themes, and other code on the live site. Updating your code on the live site, without checking to see if it’s going to break stuff, is what developers call “Cowboy Coding,” and it’s an epidemic among beginners.

If you update it on the live site, and it breaks things, what are you going to do?

I’ll answer that: you’re going to have a broken website, and a painful day of getting things back like they were.

jesse petersen please tell me you didn't just cowboy code.
Not a developer? You have an excuse. Developers should immediately take <a href="http://wpworkflow read review.co” target=”_blank”>this course from my friend Jesse and stop cowboy coding forever.

“But wait,” you say! “How can we update the plugin on a live site without clicking ‘update’?!?!”

Read the rest of this post over at the brand-new WP Steward Blog

My Phone Company Just Gave Me Money Back.

Apple Logo with Republic Wireless Logo on top
Screams “I like to save money, but I still like nice things,” dontchathink?

I just got a new Retina MacBook Pro last month. The only sticker I put on it (so far) is the Republic Arc due to my love affair with Republic Wireless.

It’s a pretty simple decision, given that they’re the ones who paid for it.

Since switching to Republic Wireless in 2014, I’ve saved more than enough money to buy a brand-spankin-new rMBP.

This week, as if they haven’t given me enough already, they sent me $12 and some change in refund for the data that I didn’t use last month.

Mind you, my entire bill (for that phone) was $25. So they sent me half my money back because I didn’t need much data.

Pay $25/month for a smartphone. Get half of it back. Or, keep paying $TOOMUCH Click To Tweet You read that right. They paid me back (in money. not airline miles or vouchers or empty promises).  A telecom with a soul? Whaa?

Has your phone company ever sent YOU an overage?

Didn’t think so. ‘Bout time you switched to Republic, banked the difference, and bought yourself a MacBook Pro about 18 months from now, to say thank you for being so thrifty.

PS. You’re darn right those are affiliate links in this post. If you sign up, I get even more money. I’ll use it to put Republic Wireless stickers all over my yacht.

Phone lessons: How I’ve used stickers to make my smartphone even smarter.

When I place my phone on the little sticker on the top of my bicycle saddle, I hear a pleasant little “blu-doomp!” that tells me the following sequence has been triggered:

  1. Send my wife a text that says “Just got on my bike”
  2. Open the Map My Ride application.
  3. Tap the “start workout” button.

Once I hear the “blu-doomp!” indicator, I watch my phone for 1.5 seconds until the workout starts, then put the phone back in my pocket (or my amazing Novara Gotham Rack Trunk from REI) and take off.

Photo of bicycle saddle with NFC sticker
That little beauty there on the seat works all the magic.

The smartphone in my pocket (a Republic Wireless 1st generation Moto X) has an astounding amount of computing power. The one in your pocket does, too.

The one thing that computers do better than anything else is speed up repetitive tasks. You can tell a computer using one line of code to copy the paragraph you are currently reading 1,000 times, outlining each paragraph with a different-colored box, and it’ll be finished before you get done reading the paragraph the first time.

Computers are good at repetition.

App developers seem allergic to harnessing that power as it relates to end user experience and NFC, most likely because geeks like me are the only ones who put in the time to get it set up.

(As an aside, the market is ripe with need of an open-source standard uniting the internet of things with the internet in our pocket. I doubt any of the Googles or Apples or Microsofts in today’s world could pull it off. It’ll have to be a newcomer. But that’s another post entirely.)

The magic of NFC (Near Field Communication, or the technology powering the little sticker on my bike) has not taken mass-market hold as I’d imagined it would by now, apart from Apple Pay and Google Wallet with their 45 minutes of fame earlier this year.

Have you made your smartphone smarter? Use stickers! Click To Tweet

You can do a nearly infinite number of things with NFC stickers. Here’s my top-of-the-head starter list:

  1. A sticker in your car that sends a text to your spouse that says “just got in the car” (I use that one), while opening the navigation app and beginning to play music from your most recent playlist.
  2. A sticker on your nightstand that puts your phone on vibrate, turns off cellular data, and opens the alarm clock app for you to confirm wake-up time.
  3. A corresponding sticker placed on the way out the door to turn on cellular data, launch your podcast app, or load up a live traffic app.
  4. A sticker on your desk at work that toggles between “Home” and “Work” profiles.
  5. A sticker on a keychain that automatically toggles you between “on the clock” and “off the clock” for an app like Freshbooks for freelancers.
  6. A sticker that places a call to your mom in a spot you see about every other day, to remind you you haven’t talked to her in a while.

I recommend the Trigger app, to make even a newbie Android user into an automation guru, if you’re willing to put in the minimal time.

Or, if you’re local, I’m more than happy to get your automation set up. Contact me for an estimate on what you want automated.

You should start using that super-computer in your pocket like it was designed to be.

The Best Wireless Company Just Got Better!

I love Republic Wireless. Give me 10 minutes of your time to convince you why you should switch from one of the “big name” wireless companies, and I will work hard to do just that. I’ll take 30 minutes if that’s what it requires.

The only frustration as a participant (active!) in the refer-a-friend program is that every few months it feels like they shut down the program and overhaul it. I’ve missed at least two referral bonuses because they recently (as of October 31st most recently) shuttered the program.

So in light of the program being shut down, and me missing some referrals, I have now transferred my link (http://benlikes.us/republic for those keeping score at home) to a simple affiliate link. This means, dear reader, you no longer get $20 off for using my link. But you’ll still get $1000 off per year, so that’s something.

I get paid a small commission for every person who uses my link and signs up for service, but it doesn’t increase the cost to you at all.

They’ve recently announced that they’ll be releasing the new Moto X (2014 edition) as an option, which is phenomenal. Reading the reviews around the web, you’ll soon see that the new Moto X is an upgrade in every way from the already-good first generation X.

It’ll be available for order on December 10th. Why not use my link to start saving $1,000?

Have you seen the new Moto X on Republic Wireless? Save thousands! http://benlikes.us/republic Click To Tweet