The Freelancers' Show 121 - Preparing For Freelancing: Products & Tools

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The panelists discuss popular products and tools needed to start and sustain your business.

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REUVEN: I've got my ceiling fan on, so if it sounds bad, you can tell me, I’ll turn it off and just pass out and sweat. CURTIS: Compared to the piano?**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 121 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Curtis McHale CURTIS: Hello. CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hi. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone! CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv, and this week we’re going to be talking about some of the tools that we use to run our businesses. Lately we’ve been doing the series on getting started with freelancing, so some of the tools that we may recommend, we may also put a caveat on there that you may not need them right when you get started, but it’s going to have some stuff that is definitely handy for people who are running their own business. Just to start us off, what classification of software or tools or whatever should we go into first? CURTIS: Well, one of the big things every freelancer has issues in is invoicing. What tools do you guys use for your invoicing? CHUCK: I know that one of the more popular ones is Freshbooks. I'd been using Harvest, but it does time-tracking and a whole bunch of other stuff, and all I have to do is click the Reports, show your uninvoiced time, and then you click the button that says “Make an Invoice,” which makes it really easy. REUVEN: Yeah, I've been using Harvest for a few years now and so I'm impressed, generally, with the features. They were especially one of the only – if not the only – SaaS time-tracking, invoicing programs that allowed you to bill in different currencies and maintain those currencies. There were a few that would say, “Oh yes, you can charge in dollars, euros, shekels, whatever, and we’ll just translate that at the time that you invoiced into whatever currency you want.” I tried to explain to them, “I want it to be in dollars, euros, shekels, whatever.” Harvest – not only did they handle that, but their support people were extremely nice and everything, so I continue to use them for time-tracking and even just sort of keeping track of invoices, but the actual invoices themselves, just because of crazy Israeli government laws, have to be an approved program, and so I actually use this other thing that’s very specific to Israeli companies for that. CHUCK: What’s that called? I'm just curious. REUVEN:**It’s from this company called Tamal, which is a company I've never actually heard of otherwise, and it has the beautiful Hebrew name, Accountbook. [Chuckling] Which is, of course, if you look it up, biblical.**CHUCK: Of course it is. REUVEN: In origin. No, it’s funny – a lot of Israeli companies and companies around the world like to use English because it just sounds cooler. So, their documentation is in Hebrew, their support is in Hebrew – everything is in Hebrew – the whole interface is in Hebrew, but their call their product Accountbook, and it has a little symbol “AB” in the browser tab. Actually, I've learned a lot from them about doing SaaS, because every time – they have a link there that says, “If you have comments or questions, contact us” and I've done it I guess about 10 occasions, and literally every time, I get an email back from what I assume is the head developer – maybe the only developer – thanking me profusely for my comments and it’s implemented usually, whatever I've asked for, within a day or two. CHUCK: Oh, wow. REUVEN: So even as a customer, I've been learning, “Okay, when I do SaaS apps, this is what I want to be like, because I'm really impressed by these guys.” CHUCK: Very cool. You guys using something other than Harvest? Eric, or Curtis? ERIC: Yeah. CURTIS:**Yeah, I use FreeAgent – yeah, that’s what I use. I did a long review a while ago on Harvest, and it just didn’t - [inaudible] few things that I wanted specifically –. Say, I wanted to charge $1200 because it’s the flat rate for something, but then I want to track my time to see if that’s really profitable for me and [inaudible] reckoning that. I didn’t think FreeAgent did either until two days ago when I figured out one day ago – yesterday, actually, because I was not working that Sunday – that if I just mark all that time as unbillable, my client never sees it and it still shows me a profit based on my flat-rate projects.**CHUCK: Oh, nice. That is nice. CURTIS:**And you actually mark by tasks so I knew it in FreeAgent. When you mark  your task as unbillable all the time [inaudible] is unbillable, and then you can even have billable time, say, if there are some other, say, content entry you're doing is billable on top of that, then you can see that as well and it’ll still look at the overall project profit loss.**ERIC: I have ChiliProject as my project management system and I wrote a plugin to do invoicing for it because ChiliProject does time tracking. I have my stuff set up like what Curtis was talking about where there's billable and unbillable tasks – all that’s in there – and so the invoicing actually just slurps all of that data that’s in there, puts it into a text file, text area, and I can edit it, do whatever I want. When I'm done, I submit it and I can get a pdf. It was the easiest for me because I was able to write it, I could actually open source it and let other people use it. It was nice because it actually automated a lot of the – “Okay, how many hours do I need to bill for?” “Oh no, this is a fixed one” or whatever – and it pulls in all the time entries, it pulls in all the line items of what I've worked on in that period and it worked pretty good. CHUCK: There definitely is something that I like about RedMine or ChiliProject in being able to customize the tools as a developer, but I just couldn’t get a flow working there for managing projects that worked for me. But I guess I could customize that too if I had enough time. CURTIS: Actually, it’s left on my site. I have also tried Billings, which is a Mac app. I used that probably during my first two years; that was like a single $50 purchase that I used. It didn’t tie into online payments for people, so I'd have to send them an invoice via email and then go to PayPal and set up the PayPal invoice for them for online payment. I've also used Ronin as well, which was purchased by GoDaddy. At that time I was already thinking it was a little broken in some ways, and then it got purchased by GoDaddy and I moved immediately. Another thing I also tried is Thrive Solo, and Thrive Solo was pretty but freaking useless, like after a few hours, I had no idea, and I actually wrote about all of those ones that I have used. But Billings I have used for years; Ronin, I used for probably a year; and I've been on FreeAgent for close to a year now. CHUCK: Yup. When I first got started, I actually just put together a spreadsheet and exported it to pdf and sent it to my clients. I tracked my time using something else – I want to say it was slimtimer.com. ERIC: Yeah, it could have been. I used that for a while. CHUCK: Yeah, it was slimtimer.com. Anyway, I would just take how many hours it said I worked, multiplied it by my rate, and there you go. So if you're getting started and you don’t need this big thing to do this work for you, then you can just get by on something else. Honestly, Harvest isn’t that expensive. I don’t know how – obviously, ChiliProject and Redmine are free minus your setup time and hosting costs. How does your solution stack up, cost-wise? Curtis? CURTIS: Mine looks like it’s USD $20/month. CHUCK: Yeah? CURTIS: For me? I don’t know. I haven't been paying for it for a while, so I haven't really looked if it’s worked, and it was the cheapest plan I could get away with at the time. CHUCK: Awesome. CURTIS:**But that is like their only plan now, which they didn’t have. They had other plans before, but that was the only plan I see now. There’s multi-currency invoicing, but it’s only okay. I invoice in Canadian for Canadian clients and US for everyone else, basically. And it has trouble if I send them an invoice and they pay on, say, Stripe, which accepts both currencies – no problem – it actually has trouble reckoning with the invoices paid, so I have to go mark my invoices as paid, still. It will work in PayPal under certain scenarios that happen sometimes, and little [inaudible] I don’t actually remember, so I have my assistant go back and mark them paid once you can verify they're in the PayPal or Stripe account.**CHUCK: Very nice. So do you track time in that, too? Because we’ve all basically mentioned tracking time. CURTIS:**I actually do Pomodoros, so I have a little book and I draw tomatoes – literally, draw tomatoes. I have little tomatoes at the [inaudible] and at the end of the day I’ll track all my time in FreeAgent, so I don’t actually –. They have an automated time-tracker, and there's an app called Slips, I think, but [inaudible] as well, [inaudible] like in Mac app that sits in your menu bar [inaudible]. The problem there is, like if I have a new task that I want to add, it’s hard. You can’t add a task from Slips on your Mac, so I’ll write down the tasks as I go through them, and then at the end of the day, if a task doesn’t exist, I can create it from the FreeAgent web interface really easily.**CHUCK: That makes sense. Eric, are you still billing –? I know that Curtis is billing weekly. Are you still billing hourly or are you doing it differently now? ERIC: It’s a mixture of both. It really depends on the project and the client, but if it’s an hourly one, obviously I'm billing hourly and I track all that. My client actually – in ChiliProject they get a different set of permissions so that they can actually see the amount of hours I bill, and then my weekly clients, they don’t get to see that. I'm still tracking my time – I always want to track my time. Even my internal, like if I do email, I track how long that takes just so I know where my time is going. But for clients, if it’s a weekly thing, or if it’s actually something that’s not billable work, they won’t see that even though I'm actually logging it. CHUCK: That makes sense. And you're just tracking that in ChiliProject? ERIC: Yeah. I write it down. I mean, I don’t draw tomatoes like Curtis; I have no artistic talent on paper, but I write it down on paper –. CURTIS: Oh, I never said I had artistic talent. I'd say I just draw circles with stems on the top and color them black. ERIC: Oh, black tomatoes? Okay. CURTIS: Well, I use a sharpie, so – a black sharpie. I could get a red sharpie, but –. ERIC: I just track Pomodoros like that, and then I have another app I use that’s basically like a Scantron-looking form for tracking time. Fill in like 15-minute blocks and at the beginning of every day, I actually take my paper stuff and the one I use on that, that’s Scantron app, and basically do a book import into ChiliProject. I don’t use an actual stopwatch as a timer; I found those to just – they just don’t work for me. CHUCK: Cool. One other thing that I'm kind of curious about is what do you guys use for accounting software? CURTIS: Numbers. REUVEN:**My accountant. [Chuckling]ERIC: Is it in the App Store? REUVEN:[Laughs] No, I mean my accountant really has a fancy schmancy accounting program that’s, again, popular in Israel and approved by the government here called [inaudible] and I just go every month and bring a pile of papers, and when we need to discuss things, they bring whatever reports are there necessarily. I don’t actually do my own bookkeeping.**CHUCK: Interesting. I've been using less accounting, but I need to get into a little bit more of a rhythm. I usually get a few months behind on my bookkeeping and then go catch up, and so –. CURTIS: Which is why I hired an assistant. CHUCK: Yes. I'm actually looking seriously at either handing it off to Mandy or hiring somebody who is just kind of a dedicated bookkeeper, and then I can just look at the numbers and say, “Yeah, that looks right” and “Oh gee, I spent too much on whatever” and figure that out. CURTIS:**Yeah. Mine, I've been using a Numbers spreadsheet for – I don’t know – five or six years now. [Inaudible] been my business and I go see my accountant every year and he looks at it and we make any tweaks that need to be made, but we haven't made [inaudible] two years, so that he can see it right. All he gets at the end of the day is one sheet that totals everything. [Inaudible] we can adjust things; I adjust things right there with him, and then with iCloud sync, it actually lets my assistant work on it [inaudible] on Windows, and she can do, say, 99% of everything that way. We have to actually adjust a few tables around so that she could view it because it didn’t do really good at scrolling to the side, which I did find in Numbers, on my Mac.**CHUCK: Interesting. So Eric, did you mention what software you're using? ERIC: No. I use GnuCash. It started on Linux but I think it’s available for Mac and Windows. It’s open source; it’s been around for I don’t know how many years now. It’s a basic double-entry bookkeeping system. I have a background in finance and I kind of enjoy accounting so it’s not really that much of a hassle and I do it every week during my normal review stuff for getting things done. I think, at the most, I might be behind two weeks on bookkeeping, and with freelance stuff, you don’t really have that many transactions, so it’s not that big of a deal for me. REUVEN: Actually, by the way, I used GnuCash for a while – I guess four or five years ago, maybe even more. Beyond the fact that I'm sure that it’s improved a great deal since then, everything I know about accounting I feel like I learned in GnuCash. The documentation was an excellent introduction to how all this stuff works, so I would say if you'd ever wanted to know what sort of magic your accountant is doing and what some of these terms are, I would highly recommend reading the GnuCash documentation just for that, even if you're not going to use the program. ERIC: Yeah, and you can turn stuff off. You can have it full-on accounting, general ledger style, or you can have it more like a checkbook style, and it’s flexible with that, I guess. I've used it for years. I've used it, I tried other programs and I came back to it and I've ever ran into a bug with it. It’s one of those programs that’s stable, it’s ultra-paranoid – it has backups of your backups and stuff like that – and I haven't had any problems with that. It doesn’t look the greatest, it’s not all web Ajax-y or anything like that, but as far as what you need, you can get in, get out, move on. CURTIS: Yeah, for backups I have my assistant pull the Numbers spreadsheet – just download a copy of it and upload it into Evernote once a month, so we have a second backup. Then I can actually scan all my receipts with the camera of my phone and it goes right into Evernote so we have backups of all the receipts as well. CHUCK: That’s one thing that I've struggled with off and on over time is dealing with receipts. Now I just take a picture of it with my phone and it goes into Dropbox, but getting that to connect into my accounting software, I haven't quite figured out a good workflow for that. Is there something you guys use for that? CURTIS: I use Scanner Pro by Readdle, and then I use Zapier as well, actually. My process with my receipts is that I take a picture of it with Scanner Pro, and then it automatically uploads to an Evernote notebook, “Receipts,” and then Zapier will pick up any new note and push a to-do list in RedBooth, and then my assistant gets that, so she sees everything come through on that list all the time and she can keep it updated. I make little notes on that one while I was traveling in the US; I was marking things as US dollars and where she’d find the transaction to actually do the converting. CHUCK: Huh. I’ll have to look at that. What is Zapier? Is it just a –? CURTIS: Zapier is automation, so it’s like IFTTT – if this, then that – but it had other integrations that I needed that IFTTT did not, so it’s essentially the same thing. Well, it is the same thing, just a different company. And I'm still on the free plan, because all of my stuff is – I don’t have enough. I don’t do enough transactions or Zaps in a month than I really needed. I have a few – Numbers set up a bunch from Evernote and some other ones that I have to look at them now. CHUCK: I have to check that out. So one other piece of software that I use a lot – I'm not sure if we have any other categories for this; I guess we have a Project Management category. Eric has mentioned ChiliProject and Curtis has mentioned RedBooth. I tried a lot of them – RedBooth, Asana, Pivotal Tracker – and the one that I kinda settled on was Trello. The thing I like about Trello is it’s just super simple. If I'm using something that’s a little bit more complicated and more to-do list-y, it’s OmniFocus. ERIC: I have a blog post coming up about OmniFocus and Trello and where they failed, and why I went over to RedBooth. For OmniFocus, you couldn’t share tasks, and that didn’t help my assistant at all, and then with Trello, it’s just so freeform that I couldn’t step back and see all the boards I have and what do I have to do on them all. I'd get to one day and it’ll be like, there's 10 alerts, because you have 10 things to do that day. If I had known that a week out, which I can see with RedBooth, because actually –. RedBooth syncs out to my calendar, so I can see – the schedules do them as all-day tasks, so I can see every day what tasks are coming up, and so I've looked ahead at the next week and I have 52 things to do that day, and I can just hop in and reschedule them really quick so that it’s spread out over the week nicely. CHUCK: I'm really curious to see what your overall workflow is for this, because I think that’s been my issue with a lot of these, is just getting a system around it. I just am not good about building systems and I'm not very detail-focused and that hurts a little bit there, but I don’t know. I've never been good at building systems and I'm trying to get better, but it’s just hard. Maybe you guys have some recommendations for that – some tools or some things, I don’t know. CURTIS: I've already recommended Zapier and I guess I can pre-recommend my pick for the day, which is Calendly, and that is a calendar function. One of the things that I was going to get my assistant to do was to do all of my booking for calls and stuff, but just with the time that she can do it, because she works another job part-time as well, and how quickly sometimes I need calls booked, it just wasn’t working. So I grabbed Calendly, and that basically lets me setup my meeting times. I have three meeting times – one is for intro meetings, they're scheduled Tuesday mornings. They're scheduled for half an hour, and there are allowed three in the day, and then I schedule like a freelancer meeting, and only one is allowed to be scheduled in a day there; only allowed on Tuesday mornings. As soon as that one is booked, there are no freelancer meetings available till the next Tuesday. And then I have one for current clients that’s scheduled a few times during the week, and they can pick one per day, basically, as a meeting time to meet with me. And I can literally just send someone the link and ask for their information as needed, like their phone number on Skype, and it puts it all in a calendar task for me so I can see it right away. And it also sends them an email, so they can put it on their calendar. CHUCK: Hm, interesting. Yeah, my calendar management is more or less we email back and forth, we pick a time and then I put it on Google Calendar. I have been using BusyCal – I really like Busy Cal – and I've also been using this thing called Fantastical. It puts a little thing up in your toolbar – this is on the Mac – and then you can type in ‘this appointment’ at ‘this place’ at ‘this time’ and it’ll create it for you. You can say, ‘Freelancers show tomorrow at 2pm,’ and it’ll just create it in the calendar. You can also invite people from there and then Google Calendar magically figures out all the time zone stuff for you. CURTIS: Yeah, and they have an iOS version as well, right. CHUCK: Yes. CURTIS: I think they just did the universal iPad app, which I haven't tried, but I use the iPhone app as my full-time calendar as well. REUVEN: I also have Fantastical, and I like the feature there where you can add things in plain text, and I have it as well as just my regular calendar program on the Mac syncing up to Google, mostly so that I can then sync it to my Android phone. But truth be told, most of the time when I add events, I prefer to do it with a regular Apple calendar program. That’s because – Chuck, you mentioned something about time zones. For a few years now, and it took them a while to get this, you can add appointments and add a time zone with the appointment. Because I'm dealing with people all over, it’s often easier for me just to have them tell me what time it’ll be for them, so 2pm in Chicago or 3pm in Sydney, Australia, and then I just put that in my calendar and I can set the time zone for that, and then it shows up for me in whatever time zone I'm in. Then when I travel, which lately has been a ridiculous amount, I can change the time zone somewhere in the upper right-hand corner where you can change your time zone, and then it just adjusts how everything looks. The fact that they really have good time zone management now has really improved my life a lot. CURTIS: Calendly does that too. When the first person hits the link first, it actually lets them select their time zone, so then they’ll see all the appointments in their time zone, and I’ll still see it all in mine. CHUCK: Yeah, I’ll have to check that out, for sure. CURTIS: The big think about Calendly is it’s not terribly ugly like the other solutions that I've looked around at. I looked at them and I was like, “I would never want to show my client that I did anything that looked like that,’ because it was just ugly. Calendly looks pretty. CHUCK: Very nice. I'm trying to think of other types of software you use, or that you may use. For communications, the ones I've been using lately are basically Dropbox for files and Flowdock or Skype, depending on who I'm talking to. Flowdock is the app that the team I'm working with right now as my client is using. It’s pretty nice; you can actually talk in different channels, but you can also talk in different – I think they call them ‘flows,’ but basically it’s a conversation. If there are three conversations in the same channel at the same time, they're all color-coded and you can click on the color and it just shows you the stuff on the other side. CURTIS: Yeah. I've been using Slack a bit for some communication. It’s just similar to HipChat, and it’s just okay. I'm not sure that I'm going to use it for client stuff all the time, but I'm actually using it for the students I'm teaching right now so they can ask questions in Slack. I get to respond reasonably quick, and everyone can see the question and response, so that everyone gets the same amount of information during the week when I'm not in Vancouver or when I'm not in class. Outside of that, I use Skype for pretty much all of my client calls, unless they happen to call me on my phone number. But I use Skype and I don’t I'm with my clients; I just always have myself marked as invisible, because I'd get too many IMs otherwise and I can’t work. CHUCK: Yeah, IM's hard with clients anyway because a lot of times it scrolls off of the view and you don’t have that captured anywhere, wherewith some of these others, you can actually capture it one way or another. REUVEN:**Well, it depends on what program you're using. Unfortunately, each of the different sets of people I work with like to use different apps, so I use Skype for most of my work and in communicating with my employees. We are Skype-ing each other, IM-ing with each other on Skype all day long, and some people prefer to use other sorts of – like, Jabber and so forth. For that, I use Adium on the Mac, and that, you can configure it – maybe it’s already automatically configured out of the box, [inaudible] configure it for so long, but it keeps all my history, so I never have to worry about things [inaudible] away and Skype also does that – stores all the history. Google+, I have a client who really likes to use that for IM, and I have no idea how much history is really kept there, but my impression is not a lot.**ERIC:**Well, it’s Google, so it’s all kept, but you actually get access to it. [Chuckling]**REUVEN:**Right. I can file [inaudible] freedom of information request and six months later, I get a printout delivered to my door.**CHUCK: There you go. What about backups? Do you guys backup your computers? ERIC: No. CURTIS: Oh, yes. Pretty much all of my client work lives in Dropbox, so that’s backed up on save, right? Then I obviously use version control as well for everything, so that gets pushed off to the remote repositories and I use Bitbucket for most of my client work, because it allows unlimited free repositories – private repositories – unlike GitHub, so I can have all my client stuff backed up there. I use Backblaze for an all-the-time backup of my computer. I also use Time Machine to back up to an external hard drive in my house, and then I use SuperDuper! to do a clone of my drive every other day. That’s my whole backup scheme. CHUCK: Wow! CURTIS: Isn't that good? I had to do it once, right? I grabbed my clone drive on the day right after I cloned it. I was like, “Uh-oh, everything just died,” and I just plugged it to the other computer here and held the option key and then I booted up off that drive, and I was running again. And then I can literally copy it over to a new computer and be done. CHUCK: Very nice. REUVEN:**Yeah. My backup scheme is not as quite as sophisticated as that, although I think that goes for most of humanity. I have three backup drives on my desk – one of which I used Carbon Copy Cloner, which I guess is like SuperDuper! where every night it’s copying onto two different disks, so I have parallel copies of my entire hard disk that I can then plug in. I can attest last year when my hard drive died in my Mac – it was the same as Curtis described. It was amazing; I just basically kept going. And then the third drive was [inaudible] for Time Machine backups, for incremental backups. Separately, I will probably switch over either to use Bitbucket at some point, because I do actually like them, or install Gitlab on my server. For now, I'm just using plain, old git repositories on my server for most of my work, and so everything I push to my server – I have a server that I rent, a dedicated server – and all the things under my git repository as well as a few other things, like mailboxes and websites, are copied into a directory on the server that’s linked to Dropbox. And so then it sort of comes back to me on my home computer, and if I want to have it anywhere else. Actually, having Dropbox on a server and copy places, I found to be really useful with clients too, like you do a database dump and copy into Dropbox, and then they could get a copy of their own database as often as they want.**CURTIS: I think the big thing with just having hard drives, which I guess you don’t have because you said you do have stuff going off to a server, but if someone comes into your house and takes your computer, they are taking all the hard drives that are sitting right beside it too, or in your office, so you just lost all your backups anyways? So who cares if you had them? REUVEN: That has occurred to me, so I've decided that first of all, if someone breaks in, they're probably going to take my computer and not my hard drives. Usually, I'm not here a lot of times so I’ll probably have my computer. Secondly, I'm going to be really naïve here and say, “Well, our house is actually pretty hard to find.” We’re in the bottom stairs of an apartment building – it’s really hard to sort of get in and out – and we have an alarm, and so I'm sort of playing a game of odds here, but what you're saying has definitely occurred to me and made me slightly nervous. So, thank you for adding to that. CHUCK: Well, it’s not just if you get robbed, but if your house burns down, your backups burn down with it. REUVEN: Luckily, houses in Israel are made of concrete, so when a fire engine passes by, the kids are all like, “Look! Wow! A fire engine!” because they’ve never seen one – or have rarely seen one. CHUCK:**It’s your data [laughter].**REUVEN: Exactly! They will be like, “Oh look, there’s a fire engine – outside your house. We’ve never seen that before” and I’ll be thinking, “Uh-oh.” CHUCK: Yeah, but I hear what you're saying. I just think it’s a good idea –. My backup situation looks like Curtis’ except I'm not using SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner to copy my hard drive. That being said, I am using Backblaze and I have a Time Machine backup running. That way, I can get the stuff that I need locally, so if something goes away or the hard drive goes to put or whatever, I can get it back really quickly and then I have the remote backup in case something terrible happens and everything in here is gone. CURTIS:**Yeah, Eric just mentioned, “Don’t trust Time Machine” and I don’t trust Time Machine. My sparse bundles just corrupt and die every year, so I use [inaudible] and if they happen to work when I need it, then I use it. I kinda do this as a stage line of defense. If my computer dies, then I can grab my bootable drive and have a new computer instantly, and then it’s looking at version control and if that, for some reason, I lost files or stepping back, then I'd start looking at Dropbox version history. And then I can start looking at Time Machine, and then everything –. I figured that if Backblaze is dead, then we probably have more things to worry about because half the continent fell off and no one cares about the website at that point.REUVEN:[Chuckles]**CHUCK: Yup. REUVEN: I had a hard drive die on me I guess about three years ago, and I was feeling pretty good about it. I mean, not good about the hard drive dying, but good about my state of affairs because I did well; I've been using Time Machine so I've got this great incremental backup. I was able to restore it, but it was so excruciatingly slow to restore that I friend of mine who’s a Mac guru said to me, “Okay, here’s what you need to do” and he recommended my current setup, which was use –. As Curtis had said, I use the clone once a night to get a snapshot, and so the worst case is that I’ll lost at most 24 hours, but then I can restore files or things as necessary from Time Machine for those particular things, and that'll run much, much faster than restoring from zero. CURTIS: Yeah. The other thing I'm looking at doing that’s only sort of backup but it’s more in the reinstall thing is that – I remember there's a system called Cask, which actually lets you define all the apps you need installed and literally just run through the with an install. You type a couple of commands in terminal after you install HomeBrew and it literally just drops through everything you want installed and can help you set up your whole computer in a few minutes, really. If you're using the App Store for your other things, you can just click install on any apps as well. CHUCK:**Yeah, I guess we’re talking about Macs mostly. I know Backblaze works over there; Time Machine is a Mac thing; Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! – both Mac deals [crosstalk].**CURTIS: Norton Ghost is, I believe, is similar to Carbon Copy Cloner in that it’ll do a bootable backup. CHUCK: Yeah, I haven't used it in 10 years, so I don’t know if it does it periodically like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! will. But yeah, it is utility that does that kind of stuff. I used it when I was a sys admin to clone servers. REUVEN: Chuck, I know that you used to work at Mozy. CHUCK: I know! I was debating whether or not to bring that up, but yeah, Mozy is considerably more expensive than Backblaze and Backblaze backed up everything I needed and it’s actually a little bit simpler than Mozy, which was something that I really liked about it. REUVEN: Do you guys have a recommendation – and here it’s a little self-interested for my wife. My wife uses Windows, and there does not seem to be a good Time Machine type or cloning backup for Windows. Do you guys know of anything? We might even have one or two listeners who use Windows in the audience. CURTIS: I tried one when I was running two computers; I don’t even remember what it was now, and it was barely passable. I might be able to find it if I Google around and find the same site, but I don’t – it was not great. CHUCK: I know that Mozy was working on an option where it would backup to a local hard drive and to the cloud, but I don’t know if they ever got that finished or figured out. CURTIS: I think CrashPlan does that. You can backup to an off-site as well, as well as having their online one, and I think actually if you backup off site or to a hard drive or to a local hard drive, it’s free. REUVEN: When my wife first got her Windows machine – so we started with Mozy, and something happened with her email and I said, “Don’t worry, it’s all backed up” and Mozy was a very reliable company and everything. And it turns out that they backed up everything except her mail files, and so we had this guy come to the house who actually knows about Windows and looked through things. He said, “Oh, because you're using this version of Outlook, and not that version of Outlook” – it seemed surprisingly complex for a common problem. CHUCK: Yeah. CURTIS: Looks like Windows 8 has its own file history, so similar to Time Machine backup, which, now that I read about it, I do remember hearing about as well. CHUCK: Well, there you go. If you're on that other system –. REUVEN: I've heard vicious rumors that it’s popular, so someone might be using it. CHUCK: Yeah. CURTIS: What do you do for Linux, Eric? ERIC:**In the past life, I was a system administrator and we had Widows on Linux machines, and so the other guide there, he was paranoid in the case –. He lived in a house that had [inaudible] concrete walls, so that he wouldn’t get shot at. He wasn’t badly hurt or anything, but he had that – he had motion detectors, he had a system that would be physically unplugged from the wall at all times, except for a certain time at night, I would plug in when the backups are running to bring his hard drive up, and then it would also transmit over radio waves across the neighborhood to his mother’s house for an off-site backup. This is kind of where I learned my backup stuff from.CHUCK:[Chuckles]**ERIC:**I have a laptop that uses Linux and all my servers use it, and so the systems are pretty much identical, which is nice. I know my servers are getting backed up; in Linux I use – all my stuff’s open source. I use one tool called Duplicity, which makes an encrypted, full and incremental backups. It uses the rsync algorithm, so it’s really, really good about checking which files changed. That runs every night; I have full backups that run automatically twice a month. All of that is copied to my local NAS, which is running dual hard drives. Now I have – it’s [inaudible] on different physical hardware. The NAS then takes all of the encrypted backup, sends it to S3, so it’s now in the cloud somewhere, probably in the east coast of the US. My big stuff – client projects and all that – it’s in my laptop on an encrypted user directory, like a home directory, so it’s encrypted. It’s in git – git has its own history. All of those are pushed into the client’s repository and also one of my other servers where I could get server setups so it has copies of my repositories. That’s also backed up through Duplicity and also in S3. I'm also looking at adding yet another layer to do another off-site backup to another place that’s encrypted and all that, and I counted once and I think my most critical data I have on 12 or 13 different places, four or five of them off-site, out-of-state type thing. I even have an SSD drive in a safe here, so it’s off the electrical system and all that. If someone breaks in my house, they might take the safe, but it’s pretty heavy. I banged my foot on it a couple of times. I even have that security of if there's a power surge and everything in my house is wiped out. I have a disk here – actually, I have a couple of disks here – that I can use to get back up even if the network’s down.REUVEN: I don’t know, Eric. It sounds pretty risky to me. CHUCK:[Chuckles]**ERIC: The other side of it is, in college, I had –. If people have worked on computers, they know about the IBM Death Star hard drives. I had one of those that failed a couple of days before a big term paper was due, and so I basically lost all of my research, lost the entire term paper, had to scramble to get a new one and had to borrow a friend’s computer while a new hard drive’s being shipped out and had to do it all from scratch. Since that time, I've been paranoid and then when I worked with that other guy as a system administrator, I became even ultra paranoid because he was telling me all these other things that could happen, like a power surge can go through and just short out every electrical component in your house and that sort of stuff. CURTIS: Yeah, and like my clone drive, it’s unplugged. I plug it in and SuperDuper! knows when that drive – when it sees it, it would actually do the incremental bootable backup, so it just only does the changed files and then it shuts itself down and I unplug the drive. ERIC:**Yeah, and this guy, he was into robotics so he had that system, but he also had a little robot arm that would unplug it. I don’t know if it’s USB or if it’s [crosstalk].**CURTIS:**That sounds so surprising to me. [Chuckling][inaudible] used Windows, I used to use Genie Timeline, and I don’t know if it’s good or not, but it would be something to look at, at least. It’s like a Time Machine-style backup.**REUVEN: I did actually lose – I've never lost a computer to power surges, but I lost a printer/fax combo machine and I lost it to a power surge due to a lighting storm years ago, but I hadn’t really had any power problem since them. This is despite the fact that my city’s under – well, has been under massive construction for years, and so there used to be a lot of power outages, but now it’s been pretty stable for the last five years or so. ERIC: Oh yeah, I guess that’s the other thing too. My backup stuff is – my NAS is running on a UPS where if the power goes off, it stays running, and it’s the same for my actual network. I don’t know my runtime on my big one, but my stuff can stay out for I think five or six hours at least, so if there's a problem or any of that stuff, I have that there and that’s supposed to absorb huge surges and all that. It’ll fry the UPS, but it would protect the equipment behind it. CHUCK: Yeah, I have a UPS under my desk as well for the same reasons. The UP is an uninterrupted power supply, and basically it’s just a big battery strapped to a surge protector. REUVEN: Well, it can be more sophisticated than that. CHUCK: Yeah. REUVEN: I mean, I know, when I had a UPS years ago, you could – not that I ever did – but you could connect the cable between it and your computer so that –. The UPS basically senses if the power is going out or down, so yes, it would have the battery backup, but it would automatically shut down your computer as well. ERIC:**Yeah, they still have it. My big one has that, and [inaudible] the software for it. It’s mostly for servers, so you can power off gracefully. [Inaudible] if you have something that can be killed where some are required, you can do that sort of thing. Mine actually has two separate rows of plugs, so if it goes on battery power, my big monitor goes off and my speakers go off, but my laptop and stuff like that – the essential stuff – stays on. I could unplug while we’re on a call right now, and it actually has a display that tells me how many minutes I have of runtime based on the current load.CHUCK: Oh wow, that’s cool. Mine would start beeping if I unplugged it. CURTIS: I remember working somewhere and they got UPSs, so when the power went out, everyone could keep doing stuff and you'd be sitting in the building and there’d just be a “beep-beep-beep.” Ten of them. We were super stoked that they got UPSs for power outages so that we could keep working. ERIC: Yeah, well mine has a button – you just hit it and it stops that. I've had it go off in the middle of the night a couple of times and in my old one, the battery failed and it just kept beeping. It was fine, but I just never really recognized that it was okay. CHUCK:[Chuckles] Yeah, they had a whole bunch in the server room when I was working at the university over here, and the whole room would just beep – going all nuts. What do you guys do for passwords? I know the big ones are 1Password and LastPass.**CURTIS: 1Password. REUVEN: Yeah. I've been using LastPass, but –. ERIC: LastPass for me. The main reason I'm on Linux – 1Password doesn’t work on Linux. They have a web kind of thing, but it doesn’t have any of the features I needed and LastPass is pretty universal; it works on everything I have. CURTIS: One of the features that I like in LastPass that I haven't seen in 1Password is how you can share a password with someone so that they can use it, but they can never really actually see the password. Say, your assistant. In 1Password, I have to actually give them access to a new vault and they can do anything they want to those passwords in that vault, then. REUVEN: Wow, that’s pretty snazzy. CHUCK:**I know that LastPass share a password versus give a password – if you give a password, it’s basically that where they have access to it, they can change it, whatever. The sharing isn’t completely foolproof, but it’s pretty [crosstalk]**CURTIS:**Yeah I heard that. A determined person could probably just look at it and go, “Oh, if I do it like this I can still capture that password [crosstalk].” The average person is not going to bother, and it’s better than just giving it to them anyways, right?**CHUCK: Yeah, and that’s what I do with my assistant – I just share the password and then she does what she needs to do with it. ERIC:**I think the more important thing – I've started doing this. I used to have a special algorithm that I had memorized of how to make strong, unique passwords for each website, so I wouldn’t have the same one on everywhere. I've gotten away from that now with LastPass because you have your master password that you memorized, but then I'd generate a 31 or 32 random characters password string [inaudible]. Just being able to do that and if play stationary gets high, you don’t have to worry about that password being used anywhere else.**CURTIS: 1Password just added a feature – what's it called? Basically in your 1Password app, you can click a link based on the app and it says, ‘these are the passwords for these sites that I know to be compromised in the last x number of days’ so you can edit it, keeps it updated, so you can be like, “Oh, I have password on that site that are probably compromised.” And you can also sort it by strength as well, or you can say, “Hey, which ones have I used more than once?” if you have old passwords, they’ll tell you which ones have been used more than once. CHUCK: Yeah, it reminds me of that all the time when I'm slowly migrating them over. REUVEN:**I think I had one password installed for about a year – maybe more – before I actually started trying to use it seriously, because I was like, “This is such a pain! Every time I want to log in somewhere, I have to go and type in this password.” And so I decided at some point, “Okay, this is stupid.” I really should [inaudible] for the exact reasons that you guys have been saying that I do not want to repeat passwords. I want to have, at worst, one break-in, or one password stolen or one identity stolen, and so I just [inaudible] and started to use it. Within, I'm guessing a week or two, it became very natural. Now, every so often I’ll find a site that I'm still using one of my simpler passwords on, I'm just sort of horrified, and I feel much, much, much safer using a password manager.**CURTIS:**I have a photo of my social security number in there – Social Insurance Number, sorry – and I have a photo of my daughter’s health card, and the numbers are all written out so [inaudible] take her to the hospital, my wife has the card and I can tell them the number and show them that that’s the actual card right on my phone.**ERIC: Yeah. And I have big server IPs in there; I have SSH keys in there. Stereotypically, if my house burns down but I have my phone on me, I solve all my passwords, I have access to stuff. I could use my phone to get my Dropbox password to get into Dropbox to get my backup or to log into a server remotely to grab backup. I did that for a specific reason and it’s worked pretty good for that. REUVEN:**On the subject of security, something having to do with that is also –. I've been using this Mac program for about a year now from a company – it’s a Belgian company called Orbicule. Basically it’s installed only for Macs, you install it in a Mac, and every so often the Mac calls home to their company and says, “Hi! I'm here” and it gives as much information as possible where it is. The idea is that if your computer is stolen, then you can go to their website and find out where your computer was last used, assuming that it phoned home. You can even then simulate a crash on your computer, so the person will bring it to the store, and the store will say, “Hmm” and the store probably will figure out what's going on. They do police reports, they let you see what's going on through the camera – you can remote control your computer to some degree – so I installed it and hope they’ll never get to use it. But every so often I’ll get an email from them saying, “Hey, we haven't heard from your computer lately. Are you sure that it’s on and the connection configured?” So it gives me a little piece of mind there to think, if I ever lose my computer in some way I’ll be able to get it back. [Crosstalk]**CURTIS: Which also does say, “iOS device is kidnapped.” ERIC:**US citizens also get that for free – it’s nsa.gov. [Laughter]**CURTIS: You need to file a freedom of information request to find out where your phone is? CHUCK:**Yup. Another one that I've seen or that I've used for security purposes is proXPN, and it’s a VPN solution. For the non-technical freelancer that is listening, basically what it does is it creates a secure tunnel to somewhere else, and then it allows you to essentially connect from wherever that is, but anyone on the local network will just see encrypted traffic, and so they won’t be able to sniff whatever information you're putting through. Obviously, you have to trust your VPN provider, but it’s pretty cool. They’ve given me a coupon code if you want to use it – it’s TMTCS. I’ll put the link to that in the show notes, and then if you're interested you can go check it out. [Crosstalk]**CURTIS: I'm using Screens, and Screens works inside the house and it has iOS, but I haven't taken the time to set it up for external access to mine, because I have a secondary machine that runs the server in my house. ERIC:**I actually use a service, StrongVPN, for VPN. It’s only set up on my iPad and then on my phone mostly because of travel. One time I was at the airport in Portland; they had an open Wi-Fi but I was on the App Store, which [inaudible] go over secure traffic, and somehow someone got my details and so I had to go through a whole hassle to get that reset. Now, whenever I travel, unless on the side of the connection, I go over to VPN and the nice thing about StrongVPN, you can actually go to their website and the first thing on their page is what your IP address is and where your geo-location is, so I can check it. My VPN server is down in LA, so if I'm in Vegas, I can log in, go to their website, and make sure that it’s reporting my IP as LA instead of in Vegas, which is pretty nice. I've been paying seven bucks a month for it; it’s pretty good for that. I've been tempted to configure my router to send everything through that, but I'm not sure yet. It slows stuff down a little bit for me because it’s a hop through the state.**CHUCK: Yeah, proXPN has several different places you come out, and one of which is actually London, so if you want to browse the web like you're in London then apparently you can do that. However it works, it’s really handy when you travel or when you're in a coffee shop, or somewhere where the connection isn’t necessarily as secure as you would like it to be, or you're not sure. If you don’t trust the network you're on, then a solution like this is a great option. One other handy little tool that I use quite a bit with my contracts is PDFPen. I just have a graphical capture of my signature, and that’s the way that I wind up signing a lot of agreements. If I'm using their contract instead of mine, which happens occasionally because some of them aren't to agree just then that I just sign it that way. REUVEN:**Chuck, I don’t know if [inaudible] also the same things, but I use it just if I need to do really extensive edits to the pdf. When I sign something, the preview app in Mac OSX now actually allows you to do some sort of signature. You write your signature on a white piece of paper and hold it up, and it scans it in, and then you can paste it into any pdf you want.**CHUCK: Oh, nice! I didn’t realize that. REUVEN: So Tools>Annotate Signature, and you can import signatures and then use them. CHUCK: Yeah, the other thing that PDFPen does, which you pointed out, is it does character recognition, so it’ll actually – if it can recognize the characters on there – it'll convert it to text and you can actually edit to pdf in-line, which is very handy as well. ERIC: Yeah. A long time ago, actually I signed a piece of paper and then scanned it, and I used that for when I'm sending the contract because it’s just an image, and I actually have a little special watermark-type thing at the bottom so if someone takes that signature and puts it on stuff that I didn’t sign, I could tell that this came from a digital signature and it wasn’t actually something I wrote on. Whenever I have to sign client stuff or also if I'm editing pdfs for the people – say they have an early version of the book they're writing. I use an iPad app called GoodReader; it’s basically like a PDF Reading app and you can put a bunch of different files and stuff in there, but you can annotate and on the iPad it’s a lot easier to draw and sign stuff, so I found that works really good. It connects to my computer through SSH; you can use any of the 50 bazillion different syncing utilities to get files on into the iPad and out of it, but I found that works really good for that. REUVEN: I've worried on occasion that someone would notice or figure out, because it is kind of obvious that it’s a digitally-inserted signature there, but no one has said anything whatsoever. I think, on the contrary, they’ve been happy that they send me a pdf in email; I send them a pdf back in email that’s signed. As far as they're concerned, that’s totally okay. ERIC: Yeah, I mean, it’s so valid – you're agreeing to it on that, and if it comes down in court it might be a problem, but most of the time it’s more of a you guys both agree and it’s the concept of the agreement, not necessarily the actual signature. CHUCK: Any other types of software that we haven't talked about that we should? ERIC:**One thing I've been using a lot is a CRM tool; I've been doing a lot of sales stuff recently. I don’t think you need a CRM tool when you get started; I think it’s kind of overkill, and even mine is a bit overkill for me. It’s kind of set for teams and stuff like that, but the one I use I'd PipelineDeals and I track my leads in there, which are typically [inaudible]. They're called deals, so it’s like it could be a potential project. I track where they came from, discussions we've had –. What I've been using a lot recently is their tasks; they call it to-dos. I can make a to-do in a week to actually follow up with a lead, and then in a week I’ll actually get an email from PipelineDeals to say, “Hey, you need to follow up on this” and that’s actually helped me really systemize my sales process and actually keep following up with people, and it had some pretty good results.**CHUCK: Yeah, I think I've been pretty forthcoming about the fact that I use Office Autopilot for mine. It has a lot of features I don’t use, but the nice thing is that I can actually forward emails to it and it’ll keep track of all the communication that I have with those folks. The other things that I use it for besides that is that I can automate follow-ups, so when somebody is on the show, for example, it sends them an initial email and it says, “Hey, thanks for coming on the show. Here’s your link to the forum” or “Here’s your invitation to the forum,” blah-blah-blah, and then it reminds me every week after that to follow up with them for specific things. I ask them if they know anyone who would like to sponsor the show and I ask them for referrals, and I ask them for if there are people that they think we should get onto the show and what they should talk about and stuff like that. And so we’ve wound up winding up a whole lot of that stuff and it does all kinds of stuff like that. It also manages email marketing, and it also manages the payment systems for all of the forums. That’s a lot of stuff, but I like it. It’s not pretty, but I like it. Curtis, do you use CRM? CURTIS: No, I'm running currently through just tasks in RedBooth. CHUCK: Okay. CURTIS:**I don’t have any fancy system. I would like one, but I have tried and looked at a bunch and they [inaudible] I thought was too expensive for myself at this point, or they just didn’t have the features I wanted. I don’t even remember all the ones that I've tried, and I didn’t blog about those, so I have no idea.**CHUCK: What about you, Reuven? REUVEN: No. Every so often I think about using a CRM of some sort, but for now, truth be told, I just try to keep track of it either in the Emacs buffer that I have for that purpose, or sort of force myself to respond by trying to keep my inbox clean, which usually works, to some degree. The big thing that I'm missing is what you said, which is I have someone that, I want to remind them – I was in touch with them, I should follow up with them. I mean, just today, I saw I got a phone call from someone and I couldn’t get it because I was teaching, and I was like, “Oh, who was that? Oh yeah, we talked about maybe doing something; I talked to him a few weeks ago.” So if I'd called him, then it might have been a little better. CHUCK:**Yup. I tried salesforce [crosstalk].**CURTIS: That’s what I've tracked in RedBooth. CHUCK: Yeah. CURTIS: That’s why I track in RedBooth. Even long-term clients whom I've had projects in the past, I should touch base with every three months, and it’s just like a ‘hey, how’s it going?’ email, ‘enjoying the weather?’ and usually remembering something we talked about previously to see if there's a new project coming up. CHUCK: Cool. Do you guys use any software to demo stuff to your client? So you built them some software, had some design done or something, so you pull it up and maybe draw pictures on it with Skitch or you –. CURTIS: I use Napkin. CHUCK: Napkin? CURTIS: Napkin for pictures, which just takes a screenshot and lets you annotate it then I’ll record screencasts with ScreenFlow, and if I to screencast something just to show them how it works or to answer a question for them. CHUCK: Yeah, I really like ScreenFlow. One that I've used is GoToMeeting to just do a little demonstration. The nice thing with that is you'd get the live feedback, and so I’ll be showing it off to them and they’ll be like, “Yeah, I kinda wanted this to be more like that” so then I can just put it into Trello and keep going, which is really handy. If I can’t get them to do it live, then yeah, I use ScreenFlow. REUVEN:**I think for that I've mostly been – if I do it live, then I just use Skype’s screensharing, or if I want to have something a little fancier for screensharing and [inaudible] control over, I use join.me. That, so far, has been okay, but I realized that it’s not quite sophisticated in terms of the interactions as you'll get on one of these other systems you’ve mentioned.**ERIC:**Yeah. I've done demos, and it depends. If it’s images, I use Shutter; it’s just a Linux app, it’s a lot like Skitch, just to write on it, [inaudible], mark it up a little bit and then send them the image. If it’s video, I’ll use ScreenFlow if I'm on the Mac, but most of the time I have a script – I just use ffmpeg, which just records what's on my screen and dumps it to a video file. That’s nice because it has a script for it, so I just hit on the command line and just start talking and doing what I need to do. Another thing I've done a lot is got on a Skype call or – I actually found Google Hangouts is a bit better. Skype has some weird things for your screensharing, like when it draws, it draws kinda like the progressive jpegs or whatever where it’d be really fuzzy and then it’ll slowly sharpen up, but when you're screensharing, sometimes you're moving so fast that it can never get to the sharp. I found that Hangouts was actually a lot faster, a lot clearer, so I'd be on Hangouts and either using the audio there or a phone and kinda demo-ing what if a customer walked in through stuff. Sometimes I've even done on a phone call, walking them through on an actual VPS that I rented for the demo to kinda show them, “Okay, now if you click here you do this” whatever, so they could see the actual thing, kinda like as a station server. It all depends on what I'm demo-ing and how detailed the client wants it to get. Screencast and Picsearch seem to work the best; it’s easy to produce, it’s easy to send, and they could pause and watch it whenever they want.**CHUCK:**Yeah. If you're on the Mac and you don’t want to spring for ScreenFlow – I think it’s a hundred bucks or something – you can actually use Quicktime and it’ll do a movie capture of your screen on your webcam and use whatever [inaudible] you have things set up for, and that just comes on the Mac, so this is just another option if you're not looking to buy the video stuff.**ERIC: Yeah. And an absolutely worst case, if you have a smartphone or whatever, you could just record your screen while you're talking to it. Depending on what you're doing, that might be fine enough. You can just record into your phone and just send an audio file – it depends on what you're doing. CHUCK: Alright. Any other critical apps or types of apps that we need to talk about before we wrap up? CURTIS: Apparently the only other significant one that saved me a lot of time is Bidsketch, which is putting up proposals and bids, and that saves me probably – cut my time in half or more for creating proposals. CHUCK: I should check it out. CURTIS:**I won’t hold that against you today. [Chuckling]REUVEN: Curtis, I'm curious. I've looked into Skitch, and I'm still trying to understand what makes it so much better than just writing up a bid to my clients in plain text instead of an email? CURTIS:[Inaudible] accept your contract online. I include my contract right in there, and so they have to sign, digitally sign it, and it comes back. It integrates to some PM systems – or invoicing systems; not the one that I have, FreeAgent, but it does do great with Harvest; I can see their logo right there. Even just the templating, right? A lot of the estimates is the same thing, and you can save templates. If I'm regularly building teams, I can easily just save a template for what a team normally has done and what the cost is.**CHUCK: Cool. CURTIS:So really, and If you want to do all the templates yourself and compose snippets for everything, you could probably save [inaudible] for the same amount of time, but they already come with pre-filled ones for you as well. And then they do all the – there are short tags in there with {client_name} is; just translate into the client name, or project name, and there's a bunch of other [inaudible], so you can do that. Like, “Where into my contract?” It will just translate all their names for me right into the contracts properly so I don’t have to dig through into all that stuff manually.CHUCK: Cool. Alright! Well, I don’t think I have anything else, so unless you guys want to put something else out there, let’s go ahead and get to the picks. Reuven, do you want to start us off with picks? REUVEN: Sure thing. I've got two picks for this week – two books that I've been reading. First one is by Michael Lewis; it’s his latest book called Flash Boys about the world of high-speed trading. First of all, I'm just a big Michael Lewis fan. I guess this puts me in a very large group, but I think he writes really well, writes these really interesting stories, makes some compelling drama, and this is all about what seemed to be a pretty boring topic, which is “Oh well, how can people trade on the stock market much faster than other people?” But it becomes pretty interesting to see the different characters involved, and how speed of light is still kind of relevant. I think the most interesting thing I've seen in the book is that they found that every time that there were regulations put in about securities training, someone figured out how to do something to get some of those rules, and that led to the next scandal, and that led to more rules. And so this is all about how people took advantage of the rules made from the latest, and did it basically to their own personal advantage and to the detriment of virtually every other trader in the world. My other pick is a book by Tom Standage, which he calls an Edible History of Humanity, which is a very cute book about the history of humanity through the eyes – or I guess, the mouth of food. Tom Standage, I've mentioned him before – great writer; fun, interesting, funny, so definitely fun to read. Anyway, that’s it for this week. CHUCK: Awesome. Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: I was going to pick Calendly but anyways, we talked about it a bunch and it’s a calendar automating your meeting system, so it gives me all of those emails and the client link, and it’ll book the appointment, show them the time that are available, and they can pick the next time that’s available. CHUCK: Alright, Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: Kind of in a similar vein. I've been using a calendar app for a couple of weeks now. It’s pretty good; I use it on the free version. It’s called YouCanBook.Me. I tried a bunch of them too, like Curtis, and this one had that features I needed, integrated with my calendar, all the stuff I wanted. There are probably a few things I would change, but from the looks it looks likes all those are kind of on the premium plan. Try it out; I think the free plans’ good for most freelancers, especially if you're just trying to schedule client calls and you just want to figure out, “Okay, here are the times I'm available; now I have to do the back and forth.” But yeah, it’s pretty good. It’s been pretty stable for me and I've booked at least half a dozen, maybe a dozen meetings, with that already. CHUCK: Cool! I've got a couple of picks. These are mainly just browser plugins; I've been using this one called TabWrangler – it’s for Chrome. On Firefox I think it’s Tab Coral, but basically what it does is if you haven't used the tab for a while, it closes the tab and then you can click on the little Tab Coral icon and it’ll show you all the ones that it has closed, and then you can just click on it and it’ll bring it back, which is really handy. I've been using this for a while, I really like it. What I would wind up with beforehand is I'd have a couple of different Chrome windows open that'd have like 30 zillion tabs open in each one, and then it would be eating up all this memory. It’s actually kept the memory usage down on my machine which is kind of a side bonus, but the other thing is if there's something that I really need then I can restore it, I can also put a tab lock on it and then it just won’t close those. The email, I use Google Apps, and so it shuts that tab down and it saves me from all the distractions that you get from having your email open. Anyway, I think that’s my only pick for today, so we’ll wrap up. Thanks for coming, guys and thanks for a great discussion. I'd have to go back and look at some of this stuff. Thanks for listening folks, we’ll catch you all next week. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN.  Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]

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