The Freelancers' Show 095 - Specialization

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The Freelancers talk about the UserVoice question: Is there such a thing as web developer anymore?

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[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]  [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include nine interviews of freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today, nextlevelfreelance.com.] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope is a project management and collaboration app built for freelancers and the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price up new estimates, and once you're underway, helps answer the question, “Will this get done on time and under budget?” I've been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects, and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at planscope.io. ] CHUCK: Hey everybody, and welcome to episode 95 of the Freelancers show. This week in our panel we have Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hi there! CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello, from Romania. CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Hello. CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello, from my office. CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv and this week we’re gonna be talking about – well, we pulled the question off of UserVoice, so let me read it to you guys real quick. “This jack-of-all-trades, is there such a thing as web developer anymore?” And then the commentary basically says, “In this day and age, can one person do both front-end and back-end development or due to the complexities of modern web development, do you need to specialize in front-end or back-end to do your greatest work?” And I think in general, for freelancers, it’s – at what point do you specialize? Or do you try and do it all? ASHE: I'm just saying, I think a lot of people has started. I mean, I certainly started doing everything, just because it was a lot easier. I was working in a lot of smaller projects, so it made more sense for me to be able to just do everything by myself. CHUCK: Yeah, then another angle on that is basically that, when I started web development – I mean this was like seven or eight years ago – most people were doing something with back-end technology. You’d slap a bunch of HTML together and then you’d just manipulate it with jQuery as needed. And so there really wasn’t this idea of major front-end and a major back-end development; it was mostly back-end development with some semblance of front-end tweaking around with jQuery. And so, JavaScript was just kind of a necessary evil that you use once in a while when you needed something you can do on the back-end. So, things have changed quite a bit. I mean now, people are specializing in JavaScript, in doing things like Angular, Ember, or whatever, and then they just build an API on the back-end. So, it’s kind of an interesting thing at this point. CURTIS: I think that when you're starting out, you're probably going to generalize, coz you don’t even know what you're good at yet, right? You're starting out, you're figuring out what you're good at, what you like, and then as you get further into your career, you start specializing in the things you really are good at. CHUCK: Mm-hm. But can you generalize? Does it make sense to generalize your skills? CURTIS: It depends on the position that you’re going for, right? You can, but like what are you trying to be? Are you trying to be the CTO of a company eventually, so having a general knowledge all over is a good thing, or are you trying to be, in my case, like a go-to WordPress developer? Now that I've specialized into same membership and e-commerce stuff, I am able to charge way more – significantly more – and do work that I'm more interested in because I've specialized, as opposed to being – install plugins or doing something more general. ERIC: Well the other thing that I think about is you don’t have to specialize in the technology; you can specialize in a skill. So, you can do everything for e-commerce site; you can do everything for say, the food industry companies. You might do the front-end, the back-end – you know maybe you can do, like e-mail marketing temp [inaudible] – you can do a whole bunch of stuff like that. So, that’s the other way. Instead of just looking at the technology side, there's like the business side or the actual value of the services you provide. ASHE: I think it really depends on what position you're in, too. Years ago, I was doing everything because I had to. I didn’t necessarily have the reach that people knew me for something specific. I didn’t have the kind of flexibility to only do the kinds of projects that I wanted. So as my expertise grew and what people knew me for kind of grew, I was able to pick and choose the things that I worked on and only work on things that I enjoyed working on. I mean, I've spent enough times in the mines making HTML emails and thankfully I don’t have to do that anymore, so it’s something that I used to kind of do as generalizing, but now I don’t have to do it anymore. CHUCK: So I guess the question is, because I still do a lot of the front-to-back web developments. So I do a lot of the front-end, I do a lot of the back-end – I haven’t really specialized toward a particular target market, which is something that I'm trying to figure out. So, I don’t know. I mean, I usually don’t have a problem finding work, so is it really a big deal? REUVEN: I've actually found it useful to be something of a generalist, and actually I just looked up online and I’ll find a link for it. You guys might remember the name Phil Greenspun, or Philip Greenspun, and he did some web publishing and development years ago. And so his book, published in 1999, actually says, “Web publishing is one of the few fields left where the generalist is valuable.” And so back in those days, in the early days of the web, it was true. You sort of needed to know a little about a lot of things in order to do your work, and so I've always had the attitude of, “It’s good to know a bunch of different technologies and a bunch of the different aspects of it, because you'll never know what clients are gonna want. In this way, I can service a bunch of clients. But I feel like increasingly, as the technologies advance and as each of them gets deeper and more difficult to really know well, that even – the current in-vogue term is full-stack web developer – even though I think I can honestly call myself a full-stack web developer, I do wonder if those days are numbered, just because there's a limit as to how much one person can keep up with databases and server side technology and client side technology and do it reasonably well. ASHE: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I think that it’s very easy to have a breadth of knowledge that’s an inch deep versus a mile deep, and I think that that kind of works to our detriment a lot of times. We’ll have a lot of people that’ll say things like they're a full-stack developer and like I have worked with a few where you get them on a project where you have any problem that’s reasonably deep, and they're drowning coz they are absolutely stuck. CHUCK: Yeah, one other thing that’s kind of interesting is that I've been pulled in on several projects for healthcare projects and for financial projects, one of which was kind of both, but that’s beside the point. The interesting thing is that with those projects, you have a specific domain knowledge that you pick up. And so, even though you may be able to do front-end and back-end and give them what they want, your most valuable asset is actually understanding what they need. So you understand the restrictions or government – what do you call them? ERIC: Regulations. CHUCK: Regulations, there you go – that they have to adhere to. And so for medical, it’s – in the US anyway – there's the Health Information Protection whatever Act. And then you also have PCI complaints, and things like that, and when does it apply and when doesn’t it apply, and what kind of data and how do you protect it and all of that stuff. And so, in a lot of cases, you know, if we’re talking about niche-ing down, I mean, niche-ing down to a domain or an arena that an area of business – a vertical, so to speak, is what I've heard salespeople call it – pays off, and then in the other area, yeah, being that guy that can go in there and basically make the front-end do anything [crosstalk]. CURTIS: I’ve niched down into, I guess two verticals, really – membership and e-commerce – and they often go together anyways, because you're charging for membership sites. But that’s what I've done and I do, like today, I wrote jQuery, a SAS, built Grunt tasks. I built a vagrant box for this project and PHP and Ajax. So I've done lots of different technological things but all at the same goal of creating a good user-interface. The only thing I don’t do is design. I’ll take an existing design and extend it to continue to fit our interface but that’s about it. CHUCK: So, one thing I wanna ask about – because it still doesn’t feel like you're a generalist, Curtis, neither in technology area nor in the business area. CURTIS: No. CHUCK: I mean, you're working in PHP and JavaScript certainly, but you're basically working within the framework that WordPress gives you. Do you find that that narrows the scope of knowledge that you have to have to the point where you can kinda do everything? CURTIS: Oh yes. There are certainly times when I look in the PHP docs and be like, “Oh, I didn’t even know this whole function existed. And that’s because I got started as a WordPress developer and that’s where I learned all my PHP skills at the beginning. And since then I've kind of backtracked with their codes to build more of my PHP skills and kind of more of the safety stuff, like sanitizing data out of what PHP provides as well. CHUCK: I know, Eric, you also did the same kind of thing with Redmine. Did you find that it also restricted the kind of knowledge you had to have about Ruby or Rails or [inaudible] or whatever to do that job? ERIC: I mean to a point, it’s – whenever you're working an existing system like WordPress or Redmine, they’ve made decisions for you. So like, you used to, you couldn’t go into Redmine and say, “I wanna use jQuery” because they use prototyped and script-attack [inaudible], whatever that’s called. So if you wanted to choose jQuery, you actually have to bend over backwards to do it. And so, yeah, it kind of – it reduces the scope, but at the same time, you know, you have a lot  more other things. You have this consistent domain that you have to know. Like how do these objects work together, how do you work with the Redmine code? So it depends on what their project is. I think, like Redmine, WordPress, you know, the larger stuff – I don’t think it actually reduces it because it hides 50% of the stuff of Ruby, but it adds 50% of its own stuff to it. CURTIS: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s something you see often with even WordPress code in sanitizing data. It has a special function to sanitize data specifically for HTML that’s allowed in post content. I've seen people write these huge, crazy ones, to do their own version of it, because they don’t know WordPress very well – instead of calling the one kind of built-in function. So there are lots and lots to know in there. And I mean, if you -- and Rails does that too. They might reimplement parts of things that Ruby does already. And then as people realize, “Oh, Ruby does this for us,” they get stripped out. And so, it’s kind of – I don’t know if you can say like it’s a smaller amount. I think it’s just a different thing, and I guess that if you're working on the technology side, like that’s something you can specialize in. The big thing is there's almost guaranteed less people that know WordPress than there are people that know PHP, because WordPress is like a subset. And the same can be said of Redmine and all that stuff, it’s a smaller market at your end of the providers. CHUCK: That’s interesting. Do you guys feel like you can kind of be the full-stack developer, whatever you want to call it, in the sense that you maybe have go-to tools that you use, and so you don’t worry about learning all of the stuff? You just worry about learning the handful of tools that you typically go to well, and then push your clients towards those? ERIC: I do. I don’t know if I mentioned this on the show, but I would always approach a new project where I do everything the same based on the tools that I've used and known to work, but I’ll change one, maybe two, things as like an experiment. So, you know, maybe like one time I take [inaudible] in prototype, I'm gonna bring in jQuery, see if that works. And it worked on that project so I would actually swap in jQuery on the next project, and then maybe bring another new thing and it kind of gives me control of experimentation. ASHE: So here’s my question. So, the original question was, “Is there such a thing as a full-stack developer or is that something that people do?” Do you actually want to be one, though? REUVEN: That’s a really good question. CHUCK: I was going to say that’s some haven’t really thought deeply about before now, so. ASHE: [Laughs] You’re welcome. [Laughs] CHUCK: [Chuckles] You broke my brain! REUVEN: [Chuckles] I mean it used to be, Dryden, and maybe this is true for you guys as well, but it used to be – people would come to me and say, “I need a web application. I need, you know, website [inaudible] the application,” and they would sort of assume that I would do anything technical having to do with it. And so, fine, I would outsource the design to someone else, but if it was code, then it was almost certainly my responsibility. And I find that – yeah, as it gets more complex, I sort of wonder what are the limits of what I'm interested in doing. Right? Like I'm interested increasingly in learning Angular and Ember, but can I really specialize in both? Do I want to do that? I know my design abilities – I think that bleeds a little into the front-end – and I think at the end of the day, I'm probably gonna better serve my clients and myself by being, even if I'm sort of doing full-stack, I'm probably doing, say, 60% or 70% back-end, and a smaller percentage of front-end stuff. ERIC: I’d say I've always tried to do the more generalist. Like I get started and I’ll go deep in an area for a while, I was very deep in like desktop, you know, thick client stuff. And then I was deep on back-end web server stuff like that, and now even deep in IT. And whenever I do that I kind of look at the boundaries and there's – no matter what it is, there's a boundary I hit where there's still a ton and a body of knowledge, but I don’t get interested in it. I get bored with it. And at that point I typically switch, go to something different. Like, recently I've been looking a lot into the client side of JavaScript. And that kind of – I wouldn’t call myself a full-stack developer, but it’s more of “I have a baseline of, I'm mediocre at all these things, but I'm really good at this thing and this thing, and I'm improving at this thing.” And so, it’s a full-stack, but it’s not a balanced full-stack. CURTIS: And the other thing to remember, when I said all the things that I do, right? Say, even three months ago, I could install a vagrant box [inaudible] follow directions. It’s only recently that I’d been able to learn more about it and actually be able to build the vagrant box custom for the client for something that we specifically need. When you're starting out, there are so many balls to juggle; you can nly juggle one or two and as you learn more and more, you can add another one to it and continue to add more to your knowledge. ASHE: I think the other part of this thing is, for me, that the things that I'm not particularly good at or don’t like doing, that’s always like the last 30% of the project that takes me the longest because I end up procrastinating. Like, I’ll find some [inaudible] that will keep me from having to work on that one little thing. Even though it’ll might only take me a couple of hours, but just because I just don’t want to do it. I know it’s gonna be a lot of frustration for me because I don’t necessarily have the full knowledge that – that means that I can do it right away versus sitting and Google-ing, or asking a friend, like, “I'm not entirely sure how to do this, do you have some pointers?” So it’s just easier for me to be able to complete projects on schedule and with the least amount of frustration, to only work on the things that I enjoy and am good at, or things that I want to learn versus I'm stuck doing. ERIC: So it almost seems like – I don’t know if it’s personality, but it’s like a personality, so. I know I've taken many different tests to figure out who I am and all that, and they all say that I am – I jump from idea to idea, I want to know a little bit about everything. But I know some people that are – that if they can learn every single thing in the world about wherein [inaudible] about mice now. If they knew everything about mice – let’s say they are scientists – they would be happy and content. They could care less about learning about a rat. So maybe that’s actually a personal thing, like what you kind of lean towards, what you wanna do, and that could influence how you actually do, you know, your skills and the different services you have. REUVEN: I used to have the attitude of so many freelancers in one technology, and I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to tell people what technology to use. They can come to me and we’ll evaluate it. And I’ll have a whole set of things that we can use. And I’ve gotten away from that because that was just impossible for me to keep track of, but on the other hand, I do enjoy, like Eric said, I do enjoy having a variety of technologies and skills and things to work on. I just sort of find it interesting and I find that each one that I learn reinforces another one. And I also found it to be a business advantage. If I were only doing Rails development, then I think I would have fewer clients and fewer opportunities, because I do Rails development, and I also do training, and I also [inaudible] stuff and optimization. It’s not a huge list of different technologies, but it’s more than one or more than two. And so, I like that and I think it’s good for my clients as well. ASHE: Yeah, I'm kind of personally happy. I'm good at these specific things; if you want something else that’s reasonable and I would be happy to recommend you to someone else. CHUCK: Yeah, my thing is is that, if I have training, and I have contracting, and I have all these other things, I'm not very good at focusing on more one at a time anyway, and so I really tend to prefer to just go with one or the other. Now, I do do multiple things, but at the same time, I really only focus on one at a time, otherwise, I'm all over the place. So, you know, I don’t know. I sometimes think that I would be better off just focusing on one area, and that doesn’t mean that I'm gonna turn away people who come in for other things. So for example, let’s say that I focus on Redmine, just because Eric’s on the call and that’s what he did for a long time. So let’s say I decide I just want to focus on Redmine, so I'm gonna write a bunch of blog posts, I'm gonna go contribute to the project, I'm gonna do whatever else I decide to do to get people’s attention regarding Redmine. But if somebody comes to me and says, “Hey, I need Rails work,” I'm not gonna turn him away, either. REUVEN: Right, although probably over time, I'm guessing, that as you brand yourself more and more in that specific niche, you'll get fewer and fewer requests. I mean, maybe you Chuck because you do all these podcasts, so you're sort of well-known on a variety of things. But my guess is that in general, if you brand yourself, you usually get fewer and fewer general requests, which is not necessarily a bad thing, because being seen as an expert, so the big fish to this small pond is probably a good thing. CHUCK: Yeah, the thing is as you focus on one of those verticals – that’s just the term I heard for them, I don’t know if that’s the correct usage or anything. But as you focus on those verticals, the nice thing is that you tend to get the SEO, you get brand recognition for it, you start getting referrals for it, you get people who know that you do that stuff, and I can see the benefits there, so. CURTIS: Yeah, well that’s what I have as I've focused on this, right and the go-to guy for a number of you in Vancouver agencies for e-commerce stuff. So they do all the theming, but any of the hard stuff comes to me and I've had that. You know, they asked around to three or four of their guys now said, “Go talk to Curtis. Go talk to Curtis.” And so, it’s good to get known for that and use this as my marketing as well. ERIC: Yeah, and it’s actually kind of surprising. Like, I – predominantly most of my projects were Redmine, kind of that area for a while there, but I was still picking up kind of non-Redmine projects and a lot of the time that came from clients I did Redmine work with, or a referral from one of those clients, and that goes back to our episode when we’re talking about trust. The client trusted me to do the Redmine project and so they’re like, “We trust Eric to do this other Rails project, or a couple of cases, this PHP project.” And so, I don’t know. It’s interesting like, you know, you think you're just going to only do that project, like that type or that niche or vertical or horizontal, and you could still end up being all over the place depending on what the client needs and now your marketing and referral system works. CHUCK: So, I'm a little curious. How do you go from generalist to specialist? How did you make that transition, Curtis and Eric, in particular? I mean, you started out doing WordPress or started out doing Web or Rails or whatever – how do you get from there to being the go-to guy for whatever it is that you do? CURTIS: Pixie dust and red ruby slippers. [Laughs] For me it was just, I did a couple of e-commerce projects and then, I don’t know, I started liking it and wrote a couple of blog posts about it. In one, I was writing a blog post about a fix for duplicate permalinks before the commercial platform had a fix of its own. And people started asking me about it because I solved one problem, obviously I could solve another problem for them. And that just kinda kept snowballing from there. I did a couple of membership sites as well and blogged about those a little bit, and people kept coming back to me for that. ERIC: And that’s kind of the same thing with me. I started doing stuff in Redmine, sort of writing about it, sharing about it, and I was referring to this – worked on this project – and people kind of saw that. “Hey, this guy knows that he’s doing.” Gave me more stuff – what is that called? A positively reinforcing feedback loop; it builds on itself. Nothing really fancy about it. CURTIS: There's probably an aspect of luck in there too, right? Solve a problem at the right time? ERIC: Oh yeah. CURTIS: Like with my duplicate product links issue – put up the question at the right time and a couple of people said, “Hey, this is a great solution. You should look at it.” And then, it then kind of becomes self-reinforcing as it continues to go, so. ERIC: With Redmine, I was following the project like I used to but I was following it – like the plugin API was added to the latest development version of the code and, I think, not even a month later I had a plugin for it. And so my plugin was the first non-written by the core contributor plugin. And I [inaudible] that Redmine crew, and I was available for doing work for clients and all that. But at the same time, that luck – it can happen to anyone, but I was ready for it. I had the skills behind it; I had the business savvy behind it to back it up. So, don’t feel like you have to be picked or blessed by someone. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. CURTIS: The thing I do now when people ask me what I do is I say, “I do e-commerce and membership sites – typically hard stuff.” And we’ll talk for a bit, and then I often come back to, “Now that means I can also build you a WordPress theme if that’s what you need.” Right? Something that’s just considered on the easier end of what I do. So every time anyone asks me, “What do you do?” You know, “What’s in your bio? What’s this?” I always say. “I do e-commerce and membership sites.” CHUCK: So going back to the discussion over technologies. And Reuven, you’ve talked a little bit about people hire you for a number of different technologies – do you find that you can charge more because you're a specialist or what have you in one area or another? For example, post SQL or something else? REUVEN: No. [Chuckles] But I think that’s more of a marketing thing, like my failure to capitalize on that. I think there are some areas that are easier to charge more in than others, and so I guess I've tried to gravitate not quite as explicitly as Curtis had to doing the harder things, but I’ll tell the people, I’ll say to people, “Look, I could do the basic development, but that might not be worth it for you. It’s probably easier for you, or better for you to have me work on the harder stuff, and then even have one of your in-house people do the easier stuff, and I can coach them or train them or help them of serious thought process on my part, of ‘Gee, I should really aim in directions that are more, sort of I can charge more for.’” CURTIS: Well, and when I say harder, I mean it’s harder for those people. Now that I've done a couple of these “harder things,” they're really pretty basic on my end, right? Someone comes up to me with, say, with this hard solution for some problem, like they want [inaudible] back-end payment for credit cards, and that’s not a normal feature, and I look at it and go, “Oh, I can probably do that.” And I’d put a skeleton code together in 10 minutes and say, “Yeah, you know, I got I showing up. Just a few little things to work out, but I can do that.” REUVEN: I mean I don’t know if I can say that I can charge my clients more in certain things, but being able to be not necessarily a one-stop shop but having familiarity with a lot of different technologies does, I think, make it easier for some clients - not all of them but some of them - to work with me. Because then, we could evaluate a bunch of different options. And this is that trade-off between, sort of being open to everything and being restricted to one domain. So I'm trying to sort of find the middle ground there. So, for instance, here’s an example. Lately, a lot of people have come up to me and said, “Well, we’re thinking of a no-SQL solution. What do you think?” And I said, “Well, what do you want to use it for?” And I can speak with some authority having used some of them, and evaluate them, and then tell them, “No.” [Chuckles] ERIC: Right, and you don’t even have to be an expert. If you just know the stuff. I had a client, came to me, he knew I was a Ruby guy. He had some existing PHP code and I did a review of it, and him knowing that I'm not an expert on PHP, and I told him like, “Even in my level of expertise, I can see that there's problems here.” And he’s like, “Well, should we rewrite it in Ruby?” And I'm like, “Honestly, with the amount you have here, it would probably be better just to keep it in PHP, and I can’t help you with that because I'm not doing this kind of PHP work.” But just knowing the benefits of PHP versus Ruby versus full-on front-end JavaScript thing, I was able to give him an honest answer of I'm the best person for this job to do with an x, but if you don’t want to do it in x, then you can find someone else. I know a guy who can do it on y. CURTIS: Yeah, I've done the same thing. I specialize with WooCommerce mostly right now, and I've had clients coming to me, wanting to switch away from one or the other WordPress options, and I haven’t ever been able to make a business case that actually makes it sound sane, because the problem they wanna solve is, say, an hour problem and that conversion is multiple hours to convert it, and to change the themes, and to give them all the same type of features and to build maybe a custom plugin that doesn’t exist in the other option, so. ERIC: One thing I wanna say is I've seen some people where they get really deep into one area, and it’s that kind of saying that, “When what you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?” I've seen people force technology in where it shouldn’t be and that – if you speak to a lot of freelancers – that’s one of the biggest things of problem projects that happen, at least on the technology side, is just people trying to make like Rails run on the client side as JavaScript or something, really screw it like that. And if you are going to be – you know, you focus on one area, you're not going to be jack-of-all-trades, you need to be aware of when you're trying to force feed the one thing you know very good into where it’s not good at. REUVEN: Right, I've actually started to incorporate that into my sort of picture discussion when I speak to clients. Obviously, there's always gonna be a discussion, “Are you the right person?” And so with potential clients, I explicitly say, “Listen, my interest is not in finding the latest technical doodads. My interest is in making your business run.” And so, if that means using all sorts of concertive technologies and boring technologies, that’s okay because the important thing is your business, not my technical joyride. And people seem surprised and happy to hear this. ASHE: It builds trust that way. I mean, there are a lot of people who don’t have enough of a context to necessarily make that decision by themselves, and knowing that you are not taking advantage of them goes a long way. ERIC: Yeah, and I think like I said, like that client who became [inaudible] PHP project that was looking for like a code review, I think he was looking for that. I didn’t talk to him after that project because we weren’t a good fit, but I'm pretty sure he left with a feeling like, “Okay, yeah this was my gut feel and this is actually – this developer kind of agreed with me and I'm going to move on, do it in PHP,” which is probably the best thing for what he was going to do. CURTIS: PHP is always the best thing here. ASHE: Oh man. So is somebody who came -- REUVEN: [Chuckles] Welcome to the Flame War Show. ASHE: Yeah. ERIC: Next, we have an [inaudible]. ASHE: Yes. Is somebody who came from PHP and now sits mostly in Ruby and Rails? It’s kind of hilarious being in either community and being made fun of for being in the other community. It’s like – CURTIS: Right. ASHE: You have no idea! [Laughs] CHUCK: Alright! Well is there anything else that we want to go into on this? I know it’s a little bit shorter of an episode than we usually do, but if we’re out of things to talk about, then maybe we should just go to the picks? ASHE: Sounds good. REUVEN: Sure. CHUCK: Alright! Reuven, why don’t you start us with the picks, then? REUVEN: Alright, I just got one pick for this week. I don’t think we’ve mentioned it in the past; it’s this alternative to SSH called Mosh, the Mobile Shell. And it came out I guess about a year, maybe two years ago, and I've been using it pretty much consistently for the last year or two. And this is amazing, because it allows me to sort of disconnect and reconnect. And so when I'm away from my servers and phone and my computer and I reconnect to my internet, I'm just automatically reconnected to all the servers I was on. Turns out to be super, super useful and I highly recommend it. CHUCK: Alright, Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: I got one today, it’s a short blog post by Seth Godin. It’s called Winner take all versus local. It’s probably like a one-minute read; it’s a pretty good one though, to think about, especially if you're getting started with freelancing, or if you're trying to refine your services and figure out where you're going. CHUCK: Alright. Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: I'm gonna pick Ashe -- Ashe’s [inaudible] called, “One hundred and one level reader.” Tons of great reading to talk about, equality and everything else. I had that in my list last night; I need to dig through it and find the books I want to read, but I saw that come through and put it right in my to-do list to get some books to read so that I can at least recognize my biases. CHUCK: Alright! Ashe, what are your picks? ASHE: Sure, I just have one. I started another book club this past month, which is a book club mainly – a lot of people that I know happen to be programmers and a lot of the stuff that I talk about in tech communities are things like diversity and kind of understanding the life circumstances and experiences of other people, which kind of led me to writing that blog post. But I started a book club, specifically so we can read these kinds of books together and talk about them and discuss what we learned and what we didn’t realize as necessarily the case and kind of helping evolve the conversations that we’re having in public. So it’s just a book club that’s through Google Groups that you can join and I’ll drop the link in. CHUCK: Awesome! Alright, I'm going to go next. So I've been working on a couple of things that I want to share with our listeners, and one of the things that I've decided to do is a Q&A session about freelancing. So if you have questions about freelancing, something you want answered, you can always put it into the UserVoice forum on the podcast, but I'm gonna do a call and you can actually just call in and ask your question. So if you go to freelanceqa.eventbrite.com, you can sign up for – it’ll be Wednesday, January 15th, 5pm Mountain Time. And if you have any questions, you know, feel free to email them in. I'm gonna be answering the questions I get emailed first, and then I’ll be answering any live questions if we have time. Anyway, and that’s my only pick. I'm not very prepared today. But thanks for listening, and we’ll catch you all next week.

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