My First Web App, Part 2: I Was A Weird Kid

Image: Eight year old me (sitting) and my cousin when she was nine (standing). I believe this was a skit with songs that we inflicted on our parents.


 

Read: My First Web App, Part 1: The Origin Story

 

I’m a Creator. I love making things. Both as a kid and as an adult I’ve made poems, songs, skits, simple video games, and plans for how-to books. (I was a weird kid.)

As an adult add to that: unique performance art shows, new workshops, and businesses no one else has done before. (I’m an eccentric adult.)

 

I had tried making digital products before.

I have a little wasteland on my computer — no, a little… Dreamland! — of half-concocted ideas, courses, apps, and systems that I fully intended to make public some day. I even got as far as user testing a couple of them. (They failed said testing.)

In the Spring/Summer of 2016 I had about 5 ideas on the go that I was sure that, as soon as I did some market research, I would know which ones to finish. I didn’t know how to do market research though so I kept putting it off.

 

And then on July 14th, 2016, on that adorable, rickety, old Montreal apartment’s balcony with the plants, this web app concept happened. Read the first origin story. It didn’t matter to me that I hadn’t researched it. It didn’t matter to me that I hadn’t user tested it. It didn’t even matter to me if people wanted it. At that moment, I knew it had to happen. I needed it. I had a feeling in my heart that other people out there wanted and needed it too.

I began working on it obsessively for the next few months. It’s a simple little tool but it has a lot of details — user-wise and coding-wise.

What clinched the deal for me? What made me KNOW that I was going to finish this one and actually put it out into the world for real? How did the idea get validated and the obsession to complete it get lighted?

 

To be continued…

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My First Web App, Part 1: The Origin Story

Image: Jill Binder on the rickety balcony in Montreal with the plants and the view of the brick buildings, July 2016


 

On July 14th, 2016, I was being pretty hard on myself.

Normally a Vancouverite, I was sitting in my July-in-Montreal sublet adventure—on the rickety balcony with the plants and the view of the brick buildings—and I was staring at my screen.

I had a website coding deadline for a client.

I didn’t want to do it.

That’s not right. I wanted to do it, but I just… couldn’t. All I had in me that day was staring, not doing.

“Well this is silly,” I told myself. “I’m a productivity nerd. I’ve lectured friends about productivity a thousand times. I know how to do this. In fact, I could write out the steps to do this and then follow those steps.” (I love lists and steps.)

Before I knew it, I had written out an (unpublished) blog post.

Was I then ready to do the thing? No, I had more procrastination left in me. “It would be better if I had a web page that walked me through doing these steps, carrying the info forward to each step, giving me a timer, etc. Then I will be able to focus on my work easily.” (I have excellent procrastination logic.)

For the rest of the day, I brushed up on my Javascript skills and I made one page that made going through my steps a breeze.

At the time I pointed to someone else’s online countdown timer that I could change from my page. I set it for 25 minutes, a standard Pomodoro sprint. I still just couldn’t. The thought of even the “doing nothing” step (more on that another time) was too much.

I told myself, “Ok, 10 minutes or bust.” I changed the timer to 10 minutes and you know what? I finished my original task in that 10 minutes.

 

Read: My First Web App, Part 2: I Was A Weird Kid

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Show Your Work!

I’m reading this book about how to be a successful serial digital maker (apps and things): http://makebook.io/

Turns out I’ve done exactly what he says not to do: Creating something in isolation for over a year. Lalala!

I’ve been working on a productivity app for creatives.

As part of my new process, I’m going to start blogging about it.

Welcome to the journey!

My First Web App, Part 1: The Origin Story

Where To Strum A Ukulele

The soprano ukulele sounds best strummed at the base of the neck instead of at the sound hole.

It never made sense to me why, nor why larger ukuleles sounded better strummed closer to the sound hole.

I was finally enlightened at a workshop lead by Lil’ Rev. He explained that the “sweet spot” is exactly half-way down the strings. Physics!

Where to strum a ukulele
My very quickly done crude drawing to attempt to show what I mean

Give it a try on any uke. Don’t go by what’s shown here but rather by the half-way point between the bridge and the nut.

Update: I just learned something else at another workshop — the 12th fret is always the half-way point. There you go!

The Difference Between A Ukulele And A Guitar

Hey guitar players! You wanna try something different and play a uke? Wondering what’s the difference?

This is how to turn a (standard) guitar into a (standard) ukulele:

a ukulele guitar
A “ukulele” guitar

A ukulele is 5 frets higher and uses the four high pitched strings, as demoed by my fingers. The guitar’s DGBE is the uke’s GCEA.

A guitar player could pick up a ukulele, start playing, and probably sound fantastic, but everything will be 5 semitones off. Your G is our C.

You could learn to transpose your chords, or you can “cheat”: Play a baritone ukulele. It’s tuned DGBE the same as a guitar.

koala baritone ukulele
koala baritone ukulele

Happy strumming!

Overcoming Overwhelm

When there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it, this is what I do:

  1. Make a list
  2. Sort my list into highest / medium / lowest priority by marking each item A, B, C.
  3. If there are too many A’s and they all feel important, I HIME (High Impact, Minimal Effort) the list:
    • Give each one’s Importance a value from 1-10 (where 10 is Most Important)
    • Give each one’s Ease a value from 1-10 (where 10 is Easiest)
    • Multiply the two numbers
    • Do the list from the highest to the lowest number value

This creates a simple plan of attack and eases my mind. I am then able to power through the list and get a lot done!