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Archive for April, 2010

Don’t learn new things when running your business!

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…unless you’re willing to eat some costs.

Generally, clients don’t pay you to “learn” how to do something.  They pay you to do something you’re already an expert in.

So if you want to raise capital quickly, you need to offer services you are already an expert in, and not services that involve you to learn new things.  If you’re an expert in something, you will be able to accurately predict budgets and time lines.  If you’re less than 100% familiar with the services that you offer, you will not be able to dictate accurate budgets and timelines.  If you add too many research and test hours to compensate for your lack of expertise, your client will go elsewhere.

So this means for the next few months, for the sake of raising capital for my business, I’m only going to agree to projects I’ve done over and over and over again even if they are no longer technologically challenging for me.

I think this is why it can be very difficult for back-end programmers accustomed to working for big companies to become freelancers.  Although they can be extremely intelligent and experts in what they do, often what they did was too specialized for their previous employers.  Anyway ,i need to return to work, will elaborate on this later.

**edit – perhaps anytime you want do something new that requires a lot of research, do it on a volunteer basis for your client.  That way, if you find it takes more time than you had originally imagined, and the assignment cuts into your other priorities, you don’t have to feel as guilty putting the research assignment on hold.

Written by John Lai

April 15th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

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Projects that require a lot of research time

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If it is something I haven’t done before, be aware that:

a) it will take an unknown amount of time to research
b) it might take a LONG time to do

Before I do something I haven’t done before, I must:

a) determine how much I can bill: either nothing or something much lower than my standard rate
b) determine if it is worthwhile to learn (greatly influenced by step a)
c) determine if my schedule permits me to take on an assignment that requires an unknown amount of time to implement
d) not take on more than one learning assignment at a time

Other things to consider:

If it is a long project with a decent size budget, ask client to pay for a prototyping phase.

Written by John Lai

April 8th, 2010 at 2:20 pm

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Upload Image/File TinyBrowser for TinyMCE

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TinyBrowser allows you to upload images and files through TinyMCE.

Here are image upload instructions for the end-user:

1) go to your CMS page with the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor
2) select image icon from the WYSIWYG editor
3) click the red-blue icon to the right of the image upload field to reveal a pop up window
4) click the upload tab
5) upload an image from your computer
6) click the browse tab and select the image you want to insert into the WYSIWYG editor
7) press insert

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Here are file upload instructions for the end-user:

1) go to your CMS page with the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor
2) type in the text that will act as a link to the file
3) select link icon from the WYSIWYG editor
3) click the red-blue icon to the right of the image upload field to reveal a pop up window
4) click the upload tab
5) upload a file from your computer
6) click the browse tab and select the file you want to insert into the WYSIWYG editor
7) press insert

Written by John Lai

April 8th, 2010 at 10:50 am

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Magic Jack Review

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I bought a couple of magic jacks.  Each cost about 40$/year.  I plan to replace my entire home phone system with a magic jack and a netbook with winxp on it.   That should save me about $500/year.

My impressions of magic jack so far -
Pro: good sound quality, very inexpensive, easy to use, free calling anywhere in North America
Con: if you intend to use it as your primary phone line, you need to leave your computer on all the time (with internet connection), doesn’t work with linux operating system (i tried windows in vmware, but there was a lot of interference in the audio)

So far, I love using it as a secondary line for my business.

Written by John Lai

April 7th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

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Failing to learn is learning to fail

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Fear of failure discourages people from learning new things.   So the trick is to make people classify failing as learning.  Failing and learning are essentially the same thing, with the former having a negative connotation and the latter having a positive connotation.  Take Thomas Edison for example, he says, “I didn’t fail.  I’ve just found 10000 ways that don’t work.”

So people need to be more positive about learning.

Written by John Lai

April 4th, 2010 at 11:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized