t6r – Twitter Spam Hack Reactor Founders With Their Own Random Quotes

Getting stuck is the hardest thing about learning computer programming.

While working my way through Free Code Camp, I was stuck on the Random Quote Generator project. It’s part of their intermediate front end development certification.

Luckily, I had been applying to Hack Reactor and was conditionally accepted as soon as I completed the Pre-course Accept (PCA) program. While working through the PCA program with a big group of Hack Reactor people, we had the same project as Free Code Camp. We were to build a random quote generator.

So I used their random JavaScript algorithm to display random quotes at the click of a button. Very basic jQuery.

Heres the thing… the quotes are really funny. How could this be more useful?

It’s pretty clear that the random quotes were crafted by people who started the schools. The folks who came up with the first Hack Reactor curriculum.

So I wrote a short click to tweet algorithm and generated the quotes so they were easily shared on twitter. Now, anyone who wants to spam the founders of hack reactor with random quotes can do it with ease.

This is just for fun of course. A little mischievous fun on the internets. Despite the fact that I didn’t end up attending Hack Reactor, my experience learning with them for the PCA portion of the bootcamp was excellent.

Anyways, here’s how it turned out:

http://t6r.ianrobinson.net/

Drone Experiment One – Shots of the Truckee River and Nevada County Forest

Ariel drone photography is problematic for those seeking to make great movies for the internet. Here’s my thinking:

Shooting video with a drone is extra fun. The person driving the camera is generally having the time of their lives, so they love the footage they get.

The problem is that those shots are far more interesting for the person who shot it than it is for the person who watches it.

A post shared by Ian Robinson (@independentian) on

The problem with the footage is that it needs to tie in with a story or a pattern that keeps people interested.

I haven’t figured that part out yet, but I’m seeking ideas.

Unboxing a DJI Mavic Pro

Unboxing a DJI Mavic Pro is a lot of fun. It’s like unwrapping a private aircraft. This is a quick blog and a video about my experience. I’m trying to keep it short and interesting.

Unboxing a DJI Mavic Pro

So the unboxing is great. They package the drone well. Packaging is fine, but the thing that I like the most is the ability to take a camera from the box and use it 10 minutes later. The DJI Mavic Pro scores pretty well on this scale.

unboxing dji mavic pro - Box

At the end of the day, it’s a really complex device. The fact that they sent me a box and I was able to fly a drone and take 4k video from the sky is pretty amazing.

unboxing dji mavic pro - Controller

Setting it up is not the most intuitive thing ever. It took a bit of focus and I actually had to glance at the instructions for a few minutes to understand how to charge the thing.

unboxing dji mavic pro - Blades

As you can see by the end of the video that it takes a little bit of time to set up once I connect my phone to the remote control. This is annoying because they force you to register for an account with the DJI application. That’s a bit annoying, but at the end of the day, it’s a minor inconvenience.

unboxing dji mavic pro First Flight

Once you get it in the air… wow.

These things are a lot of fun. I’d say it’s easy to fly. Many people warned me that I should practice flying before I use the Mavic Pro. They warned me that I risked crashing it if I didn’t have experience flying a drone. At the end of the day, those warnings were warrantless.

It’s an easy thing to fly. I don’t think anyone needs to practice. Just take off and learn on the fly.

unboxing dji mavic pro Landscape 1

If you’re inspired to get one, Amazon will ship it to you quickly. I mean, you only live once right. Get it here.

How to Apply Grout – Another Maker Series by Ian Robinson

This is a tutorial on how to apply grout.

How to Apply Grout 3

Specifically, I’m using 1-Quart Simple Premium Grout which is pre-mixed so I don’t have to mix it myself. This is most useful for when applying grout to a small area. This project is about a 4 square foot area, so it’s a very simple application.

Equipment Needed to Apply Grout

  • PreMixed Grout – http://amzn.to/2mruyxD

How to Apply Grout 1

  • Grout float – http://amzn.to/2mucKS

How to Apply Grout 3

  • Soft Grout Sponge – http://amzn.to/2mJRPf0
How to Apply Grout 2
Sorry this photo is out of focus

How to Apply Grout – Just the Steps

  • Get all your pieces together.
  • Set the tiles using ready set cement and spacers.
  • Take the grout from the quart container and push it into the spaces between the tiles. Do this for about 1-3 square feet.
  • Use a sponge to wipe the unnecessary grout away. Try to keep the sponge as dry as possible. Only sponge the grout once or twice, then rinse and squeeze dry your sponge.
  • Change water often. As the water gets dirty, you’ll be less effective in cleaning up the tile.
  • Repeat across all surface area that you want to be grouted.
  • Once you have the project covered, wait four hours for the grout to cure.
  • Once grout is cured, go back over the whole project and clean up all the unnecessary grout. Especially make sure to wipe off the haze on your pretty tiles.
  • That’s it. Once you clean it up for the final time, let the grout sit for 48 hours. Then you’re done.

How to Apply Grout - Grouting is Fun

Overall Thoughts on the Product

This grout isn’t excellent. I’ve noticed a bit of chipping since installing the floor. Because we put corrugated steel siding behind the stove, we had to stand on the tile to get the steel working. Maybe if we had waited another day the grout would have hardened up better.

Also, the wood to tile joints don’t seem to be quite as strong as the tile to tile joints.

I like the simplicity of just opening up the container and grouting. That is far easier than doing it the traditional way. Traditionally, you mix up grouting dirt with water using a drill with a mixer attachment on it. That requires more tools, more focus and more experience. This pre-mixed grout is far more approachable, especially if you’re new to grouting.

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you find this useful. If you have any questions leave a comment down below.

How to Apply Grout 4

Bottle Gourds – Grass Valley, CA

Today was a big day. We did a lot of fun projects:

  • In the morning I read about eCommerce success stories.
  • Then I solved some significant security and spam issues for a client. Theses solutions will last a long time.
  • We cleared out the garden of wire and un-needed leftover infrastructure from the previous season.
  • We completed a big chunk of the cabin remodel.
    • Removed the old stove
    • Reclaimed the tile from an old junk pile
    • Polished the tiles of old debris
    • Cleaned up rubbish around the cabin
    • Lay the tile on ready-set. Ready for grout tomorrow
    • Cut the floor moulding and oiled it with boiled linseed oil
    • Installed the doorbell
  • Went on a walk through the forest and took the above images
  • Got a checklist of to-dos
  • Cooked some delicious food
  • Watched an episode of Game of Thrones

My First Blacksmithing Project

Kyle Pastrell makes these beautiful Damascus Steel Knifes. For months before that I was geeking out on his awesome knives and finally, the other day we set a date to spend the day at his Dad’s black smith operation in the garage of his house. It was awesome.

That said, my blacksmithing skills are 100% beginner. That was the first time I set a piece of metal into a forge and hit it with a hammer.

Of course, there is no better way to learn something than doing it, so the first day we committed to making a single day knife. Kyle makes really nice knives… but they always take him a few days at the least. So the idea of making a knife in a day was a stretch, but stretching feels good.

Lessons Learned

Overall workmanship on this knife is average at best. The steel is a bit soft because we didn’t have time to temper the blade in oil quite like Kyle would have preferred.

We also forgot to eat so I got pretty shaky towards the end of the day. That’s why my epoxy job was just about as disgusting as it could have been.

We did get lucky in that the knife is well balanced. It’s centered almost perfectly so it actually feels excellent in hand.

It seemed cool to me to keep the old railroad impressions on the butt of the knife. That maintained it’s crude look.

It would be possible to bandsaw the handle off, reforge and grind a little more and make this blade something really special. Perhaps I’ll reforge this one every time I make another 9 knives so this one could become a Damascus beauty like the ones Kyle makes.

That’s a really long way away for me.

Videography Notes

Autofocus is problematic with maker videos. Even though I love some of the beautiful depth of field shots that I get from the d70, it’s the G7X that I find to be the trustworthy camera to shoot with. Best of all, the G7X makes video files that work well with my version of Adobe Premiere.

I love the versatility and indestructibility of my GoPro Silver, but my footage is REALLY hard to edit. For some reason, that footage kills my editing software. It takes way too long to render. There had to be a better way, but so far GoPro software seems really unhelpful.

Thank You

Big thanks to my friend Erik who showed me the first few maker videos. Also, bit thanks to Diresta, Primitive Technologies and Birth of a Tool for your amazing movies. Finally, and without precedent, thank you again to Kyle Pastrell. It’s a huge complement to receive an invite to come work with you for the day buddy. I look forward to future projects.

This one isn’t great, but I feel like it’s a good start.

This is How to Get to Reno From Sacramento During Snowmageddon

Reno Snow!

Crossing from Sacramento to Reno right now is impossible because of the snow. Highway 50 has collapsed and I-80 is subject to close often because so many inexperienced snow drivers use it. This is how we crossed the sierras without either of those highways.

Reno Snow - Alternatives to I-80 and Highway 50

This is an image from CA-20 which has stunning views. We often drive this road in the summer because there are great cliff jumping spots on the Yuba River. It’s actually not even that snowy right now, the snowy part comes later.

Reno Snow – California is Wet

So the drive from Reno to Sacramento is usually a two hour quickie, but today we spent about six hours on the road getting from Capital City to the Biggest Little City. Despite the hyper inefficiency of it all, I had a great time.

Because of the slow drive, we were empowered to catch up on some really good podcasts. One on Science and Culture, one on investing AND an audible book called Ready Player One (get a free audiobook here).

I’m not going to lie, this is an ideal way for me to spend the day. While lots of people consider this a sort of emergency or terrible day, I love it.

Putting on chains, driving where few others drive, seeing small towns in naturally beautiful places; I love it.

When we did get back to Reno, I was excited to stop driving. The drive took about six hours. It would have taken a lot less time if we had gone straight there, but CalTrans closed the road a few minutes before we got to almost the peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Therefor we drove a lot of extra miles because we didn’t know the road wasn’t open.

There are two new towns I want to visit in the summer. One is Downieville, CA, the other is Sierra City, CA. Both of these cities look like great places to write a book or to go on an amazing Yuba River adventure.

Relevant Links When the Weather Gets Weird

Udemy Promotional Pricing | Testing Opting Out – Bad Idea

I really like Udemy.

They have an excellent platform and it’s getting better all the time. If you are making your first online course, Udemy is the best.

When creating an online course, there are a dump truck of little things to get stuck on. Udemy is building a platform to manage those little things for instructors like myself. New instructors get to focus on building their course and serving their students, rather than understanding the JavaScript library and other platform problems like that.

Software, hosting, credit card processing, internet traffic and a million other little things are no longer on the teacher’s ‘to-do’ list. Udemy is a great partner and if you have the opportunity to work with them, take it. It’s a great offer.

Alas, our podcast production business is growing into a larger organization. It’s important that our teaching reflects that growth too.

For that reason, I’m exploring removing our podcast production course from Udemy’s Promotional Pricing for a short time. I’ll test the results and share those results here.

TLDR? Important Stuff First

Professional Podcast Production Stats:

  • Course published April 2015
  • Course has been on Udemy for 21 months
  • $6,009 is Freedom Podcasting’s profit for that period
  • $273.15 is the average profit per month over that 21 month period
  • We’ve agreed to the Udemy Deals Program for this entire period
  • We opted out of the Udemy Deals Program on January 8th, 2017

What is Udemy Promotional Pricing?

Udemy Promotional Pricing

There are two parts of the Udemy Promotional Pricing:

  1. Percentage Promotions – Udemy’s sales team offers the teachers course at a discount of up to 75% depending on the time of year and the promotion
  2. Fixed-Price Promotions – Udemy’s sales team offers the teachers course at a specified price. This is the clause that, as far as I understand it, makes it so that many instructors often see their courses listed at $10.

Why We’re Testing Opting Out

Price is a signal of quality – I’m confident that the course is worth more and it’s important that incoming students know that they are signing up for something that is really going to teach them. A low price signals that the course doesn’t need to be taken quite as seriously.

What Podcast Production Looks Like Discounted
It is possible that dramatic discounts like this hurt the perceived value of this course.

We’re really confident with the course. We have more than twenty students who have gone through the course and created their own podcasts which live on the iTunes store.

Status Updates

Jan 8th, 2017

Even though I removed the podcast production course from Udemy Promotional Pricing, that doesn’t mean the course will be removed from current promotions. We’re currently in a promotion phase that will conclude on January 11th, 2017.

For now, we wait.

Jan 12th, 2017

All the promotions have run out and I no longer see my podcast production course for sale under the listed price. So it’s clear that the instructor can opt-in and opt-out of the Udemy Deals Program.

I’m planning on running this test for at least a month to see the results.

Feb 14th, 2017

 

Well. I think this test is complete.

It turns out opting out of the Udemy Deals program is a good way to make your revenue go down. During the month of February I only received 1 sale for the Podcast Production Course. Today, that student asked for a refund.

Generally, the course would of made between $100 and $300 by this time of the month. But right now, it’s at zero.

Bottom line, I’m going to turn it back on and see what happens. I hope I haven’t angered the Udemy gods and killed my long term sales.

Feb 17th, 2017

Well, thats pretty conclusive. After turning Udemy Deals Program back on, I’ve already received 3 new students. I didn’t change a single thing in my marketing behavior and my website analytics didn’t boom elsewhere. Udemy just started promoting my course again.

So that’s it. Maybe I’ll update this post in the future, but for now, I have a conclusion.

Udemy Deals Program is a valuable offering that Udemy makes to their instructors.

Thoughts?

If you have any experience with this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.