I get emotional about accounting. That’s probably a personal problem — some sort of deep-seated issue dating far back in my history as an entrepreneur. But the more time I spend thinking about accounting in general, and tax returns in specific, the more emotional I get.

The accounting industry is having a very good year as we’re all pushing to get our tax returns completed. As an industry, accountants tend to do well and can expect repeat business. But this year is something special, as we all scramble to figure out just what the Affordable Care Act means for our personal tax returns.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m ecstatic to have a way of getting health insurance that doesn’t require a marriage or an employment contract. I’m willing to spend a little more time with my accountant in exchange. But the ripple effects really drive home just how much of an out-sized impact the US approach to health insurance has on our economy. With a presidential election next year, I’m sure that we’ll see even more unintended consequences in the near future.

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I’ve been finding Hemingway surprisingly useful when working on ghost-writing projects lately. It’s a useful sort of a writing hack to get some quick insights when you’re trying to mimic someone else’s writing style.

Of course, Hemingway is fundamentally intended to help writers sound more like the man himself. But it does that by highlighting certain characteristics of writing:

  • passive voice
  • adverbs
  • vocabulary

By putting in writing samples from a client who I need to mimic, I can see pretty quickly how they use words. I can do that sort of analysis by hand, but it’s tedious enough that I don’t actually do so except on really well paying projects.

If you’re trying to mimic the style of someone’s writing, I suggest looking at several examples of someone’s writing through Hemingway’s lens, not just one. Getting the style right on a ghost writing project is hard enough when you’ve got multiple samples — getting style right off of just one sample is impossible.

Putting in several samples can be time-consuming, though. I do wish Hemingway had an API so that I could integrate it with some of my other writing tools, as well as automate the process of putting writing samples into the app. But I don’t absolutely need an API to keep finding new ways to use Hemingway — it’s just something that would be nice to have.

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How To Level Up

Stagnation is a very real threat, especially when you do creative work every day. Clients are only ever interested in what you can already do and repeats of what you have already done. (While I can’t speak from experience, I assume the same is true of employers.) Doing just what is expected of you is […]

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Why Freelancers Should Embrace Dwolla

Payment processing is something of a pet peeve for me. Getting paid through a site like PayPal is very convenient, but I have to give up 2.9 percent of my income (plus an added 30 cent fee) on every transaction. Consider what that means I’m paying: Income Payment to PayPal $100 $3.12 $1,000 $29.30 $10,000 […]

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HabitRPG is My New Favorite Productivity Tool

A few friends convinced me to join HabitRPG a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve become an enthusiastic convert! The idea behind HabitRPG is that we can treat our to-do lists like a game. We can get points for knocking items off the list, level up, and even help friends defeat bigger monsters. HabitRPG offers […]

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HTML is the New Latin

Latin is a strange language. No one speaks it as their first language and few people speak it regularly outside of Vatican City. Yet many schools still offer Latin classes and most of us know a few words (even if we aren’t always aware that we do). We still use Latin roots for forming new […]

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Review: Happiness of Pursuit

Chris Guillebeau’s third book, “The Happiness of Pursuit” is a perfect fit with the themes of his previous books. The logical progression of Guillebeau’s books makes perfect sense: In “The Art of Non-Conformity“, Guillebeau laid out a vision of how readers can choose a more personal path. The book offers insights for deciding what your […]

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Community-Run Conferences: The Most Bang for Your Conference Buck

I recently had the pleasure of attending Open Source Bridge and noticed several factors that made it an incredibly useful and enjoyable conference to attend. Open Source Bridge is an annual conference that takes place in Portland, Oregon (just like OSCON). It covers a variety of topics related to open source software, also similarly to […]

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Using Time Tracking Tools Effectively

One of my current projects is to more effectively track my time. While I keep decent track of the time I spend on clients’ projects, I’m not so good about watching my own time. After all, there’s less of a financial incentive at play. The question of that financial incentive is part of the problem, […]

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Why Automating Your Scheduling Is Such A Big Win

I would pay big bucks if I got an extra day a week to work. I always have more to do than I can actually squeeze in and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But while I can’t actually add more hours into my day, I have found that automating my schedule both saves […]

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