thursday Thursday Bram

All articles by thursday

 

Download my Hanukkah zines here

I shared 8 zines on Twitter, one each day of Hanukkah. I’ve gotten around to scanning and posting. So here they are as a PDF. Hanukkah Zines PDF Feel free to print and share these zines for personal use, but please talk to meee if you’re interested in selling copies of any or all of...
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What they don’t tell you about creating style guides

This text was the basis of my recent talk at Write the Docs NA 2018, mostly about the glory and greatness of creating your own style guides from scratch. It highlights some of the major lessons I’ve learned about writing style guides, because I really like style guides — like, a lot. I make style guides...
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Announcing the Portland Prospectus

I help with sponsorship at a lot of tech conferences here in Portland. Last week, someone even tried to give me money for a conference I’m not helping with because they assumed (correctly) that I knew how sponsorship worked for that conference. Apparently, I have a reputation. I’ve had my own little cheat sheet on...
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Glitter, Radical Protests, and Tee Ball on the South Lawn.

Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals The whole book is a useful read, albeit a bit dated — it was published by a professional organizer in 1971. But Alinsky’s rules remain widely applicable: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. Never go outside the expertise of your people. Whenever...
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Download My In-House Style Guide Template to Use However You Want

I’m excited to share the template I use for creating in-house style guides, as a reward for The Responsible Communication Style Guide Kickstarter reaching $10,000 in backing. Want to really improve your company’s communications? Back the Kickstarter today! TL;DR: Here’s the link to download my in-house style guide template: the style guide as a .docx! Keep...
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The Responsible Communication Style Guide: A Kickstarter and an Explanation

TL;DR I’m working on The Responsible Communication Style Guide with Recompiler Media. This project is something I’ve been thinking about for years and I wanted to write up how I got to this place. Our Kickstarter is here — backing at the $15 level is the fastest way to get a copy of The Responsible...
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PyCon, by the Zines

I spent last week at PyCon NA (in Portland this year — how convenient!). I made a zine to hand out explaining the Python community in Portland, along with suggesting some events for out-of-towners. Here’s a PDF you can download if you want to check it out. Even better, I wasn’t the only zine maker...
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What Writing Fiction Will Teach You About Writing Documentation

I gave this talk at Write the Docs this morning and wanted to share my slides. They’re embedded below, but you can grab a PDF here and a link to a Google Drive version with my notes here....
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Susan Sontag Nailed It

Found this postcard at the Letterpress Fair this weekend. It’s made by Dead Feminists and I agree with the sentiment whole-heartedly....
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The PyDX Post-Mortem

Because I'm the sort of person that takes pics: #PyDX pic.twitter.com/VbbKFY80s0 — social interaction (@brianwisti) October 10, 2015 We spent over a year planning PyDX. From my perspective, the result was worth every bit of stress. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say about the conference now that it’s over. I’ve stopped and...
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A Preview of the Conference I’ve Been Planning for the Last Year

I’ve been working on PyDX for over a year. So have my phenomenal co-organizers, Rachel Kelly, Georgia Reh, Melissa Chavez, and Christopher Swenson. This weekend — October 10th and 11th — all of that hard work is going to pay off. PyDX, by the way, is a community conference for Python programmers in the Pacific...
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Seriously, How is Spec Work Still a Thing?

Speculative work is a bad bet, both from the point of view of a creative and from that of an entrepreneur. Asking people to do free work (or doing that work yourself) is rarely the most effective way to move a project forward — and yet I keep seeing calls for spec work. I would...
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One Weekend, One App

Over the weekend, my husband and I put together FriendshipAPI.com. He did all the coding, while I wrote copy, designed a logo, and did a little bit of marketing. Christopher wrote up the technical side of launching an app in one weekend, so I figured a rundown of how I spent my time would be...
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My Template for Technical Resumes

Offline, I spend a lot of time helping friends with their resumes. I’ve even given a couple of workshops about technical resumes. This is the template I use in helping someone get started in creating a technical resume: You can also access the document here. You may notice a lot of comments in this particular...
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A Brief Review of PyCon 2015, Based Entirely on Swag

Last week, I flew up to Montreal for PyCon. I’m now home, without any new international incidents to add to my record. It was my first PyCon, but it won’t be my last. If Python (or open source development in general) is your thing, all of the talks from this weekend appear to already be...
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Investors Always Want to Be The Coolest Kids in the Room

Investing in an amazing startup is like buying the hot new gadget that’s just come on the market. Just being able to lay down your cash, either for an investment or a gadget is a good social signal, telling the rest of the herd that you’re cool. But sometimes you get the iPod and sometimes...
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Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Report Remains Well Worth Reading

The 2014 Annual Report from Berkshire Hathaway came out recently. I always look forward to reading Warren Buffett’s letter to shareholders, but I found this year’s report especially worth reading. 2015 is the fiftieth anniversary of Buffett Partnership Ltd. taking control Berkshire Hathaway (then a faltering textile manufacturer). The textile manufacturing part of the business...
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IFTTT’s Do Apps Are Pretty Cool

IFTTT released a new set of apps that have kept me pretty entertained lately as I’ve worked on figuring out just how to use them. The apps are: Do Button Do Camera Do Note All three are available for iOS and for Android. Each app allows you to set up a certain action that happens...
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A New Use for Hemingway: Ghostwriting

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...
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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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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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The Value Of A Crap Job

When talking to entrepreneurs, it seems like everyone has a ‘crap job’ story: the tale of the a job so bad that it forced the person telling it to decide how to get out of a situation she absolutely hated. I have held a few crap jobs over the years. They all had their own...
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A Bug With A Logo?

We all know that we need to take our online security seriously, but we rarely do anything to improve our own situations. Even when we hear about data breaches, the odds that we’ll go and change passwords are relatively slim. We might get occasional emails and updates from the sites we log into about our...
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The Value Of Routine

Building routines into your day is rarely an easy process. I’ve gone out of my way to structure my life so that following my routine is the easiest option; I walk to my office because I picked a location that is a pain in the posterior to find parking around, for example. It’s worth going...
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A Few Thoughts on Profanity

I’m a writer; the thought of excluding even a part of the rich vocabulary that makes up the tools of my trade tends to make me pause. But most people don’t find profanity particularly appealing, especially in professional communications. I tend to avoid certain words as a result, only occasionally dusting them off to really...
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A Pioneer Nation Follow Up

I spent a few days at Pioneer Nation, a small conference geared towards entrepreneurs here in Portland. I heard a few comments over and over again, to the point that I wanted to bring them to your attention: It’s so amazing to talk to people who get what I’m going through. My family just doesn’t...
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The Age Of The Uncredentialed Curator

Tumblrs full of kitten pictures, websites ranking the helpfulness of individual restaurant reviews, Pinterest pages full of tasty ways to prepare vegetables you’ve never even heard of — at its core, the internet is about collections. We find topics we care about or people who we want to connect with and we build lists. Some...
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Modify Watches: Making Individualization a Core Principle

We want the best of all worlds: a perfectly designed product with that special customized touch that makes it clear that no one else could possibly have the exact same item. We want to be able to brag that we not only have something just as cool as the kids next door, but that we’ve...
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Anyone Can Compete On Price

I get twitchy whenever I hear someone suggest that they should drop their prices to land more clients. Part of that is due to the reality that make creative professionals have a hard time remembering the value of their own work. If you don’t put a value on how you spend your time, how are...
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Should You Touch The Code On Your Blog?

Looking under the hood on a website can be intimidating, especially if your creative talents don’t lie in that particular direction. Just the same, I consider tinkering with the code for my website to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for my business. To be clear, I don’t mean building my own website...
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Do We Need an Algorithm Beat?

The idea of the beat reporter is alive and well, even if the institutions that sparked it aren’t doing so well. Bloggers — especially those who come from a more traditional journalism background — tend to focus very closely on specific topics if they want to do well. They are beat reporters, of a sort,...
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Are Tools Like Zapier the Same as Programming?

Truly amazing things can happen when you can pair one app with another, integrating the results to get something better. But the actual integration process slows down the speed at which such mashups can be rolled out — or at least it did. While there are still plenty of apps that require developers to write...
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Our Tools Dictate the Way We Think

The tools we use for writing change what we have to say. While most of the time I write in front of a computer, I also spend a lot of time writing long hand. I use a fountain pen and a legal pad — an echo, perhaps, of reading about an author who did just...
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Hemingway’s Automated Approach to Editing

Hemingway is a new writing app that helps writers improve their craft. You can write directly in the app (though doing so wouldn’t be my first choice), but it really shines during the editing process. When you put some text into Hemingway, the app automatically highlights problem areas. The process is subjective, of course, but...
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Review: Be Awesome at Online Business

I picked up Be Awesome at Online Business during one of those Black Friday / Cyber Monday / Whatever Day of the Week sales a couple of months ago. While it puts a heavy emphasis on the design aspects of online business, it’s a good introductory text for people who are thinking of moving into...
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The Family Business Advantage Puts Some Entrepreneurs Ahead of the Game

I started freelancing in high school. Even though I didn’t really know it at the time, I’d started my own business at a time when most of my peers were applying for whatever jobs would work around their school schedules. Some how this experience has translated into an assumption that I know something about how...
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The Memory of Money in the Modern Age

  Deep down, I’m always surprised when I can give someone a dollar and I get something back. Money — paper or plastic — doesn’t really seem like it should be worth anything. We’re all in on this giant unspoken conspiracy to agree that money will continue working and that we can exchange it. But...
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Why Libraries Would Make Great Ebook Publishers

I’m a big fan of public libraries. The sheer amount of time I’ve spent in libraries (including those I didn’t actually have a card for) makes every library feel a little like home. While I love wandering through the stacks, I’m comfortable with how the best libraries firmly embrace technology. As long as there is...
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Keeping the Open Source / Creative Commons Eco-System Healthy

When writing blog posts, particularly for clients without a budget for images, I rely heavily on the kindness of strangers — those strangers who post their photographs to Flickr under one Creative Commons license or another. I’ve been known to get downright snooty about how carefully I search out the images I can legal use;...
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Why Only One Senior Thesis?

My sister finished her capstone project for her degree in graphic design this spring. Before I jump into some thoughts that her work sparked, check out this short (two minutes) video about how she taught kids in Baltimore how to create signs — and why. The site for the project is here. Baltimore Sign Project...
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Your Starbucks Name Versus Your SEO Name

My name is great for SEO purposes: if you type my name into any of the major search engines, everything that comes up on the first page of results refers only to me. I thoroughly dominate the first several pages of results, too. It’s unusual, though. I spend quite a bit of time searching for...
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The Blessings of the Coworking Space

I come from one of those families where missing a sibling’s high school graduation gets you tried for high treason. If we’re talking about missing graduations for graduate degrees, you may face summary execution without a trial. This, and other family obligations, results in a situation where I’m often traveling. Add in travel for business...
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How Much Infrastructure Do You Need to Build to Get Where You’re Going?

You can work without infrastructure. Some people compare it to an acrobat working without a net, but it’s more like an acrobat working without the rings, high wires and other apparati that makes an act more interesting. An acrobat can still do plenty of flips and other tricks without the tools of her trade, but...
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What Makes an Ebook Really an Ebook?

When is an ebook better than a printed book? When it includes resources that a physical book could never provide. I picked up a copy of The MacSparky Markdown Field Guide (an excellent resource for anyone using Markdown) and have been thinking about what really constitutes an ebook ever since. I opted for the PDF...
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The Very Real Appeal of Random

For all that we can spend hours searching for exactly the right item to buy, the appeal of buying something random is always there. When a site like Woot offers up random items to its audience, the sheer number of people willing to put down money for a box without any hint of what will...
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TextExpander: A Useful Tool for Writers

There’s a benefit to finding a niche, especially as a writer: you can make sure that you know the topics you work with inside and out. You know exactly where to look when you need a particular piece of data for a project. You can be an expert, to the point where people beyond your...
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A Little Bit of Markdown Makes a World of Difference

Over the past few months, I’ve made the switch to writing just about everything in Markdown. It’s a bit like writing in HTML — but much easier! I’ve reached a point that it would be hard for anyone to convince me to go back to my previous approach. I’m becoming a bit of an evangelist...
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