The Freelancers' Show: LIVE Q&A #3 - December 23, 2014

Download MP3

The Freelancer's release their third live Q&A session which was recorded on December 23rd, 2014.


REUVEN: Bananas![This episode it brought to you by audible. Audible is the first place I go to keep my business skills sharp. They offer over 150,000 books of business, finance, planning and much more. They also have a great selection of fiction that keeps me entertained when I’m just not up to some serious content. I love it because I can buy a book; download it to my iPhone and listen while running errands or at the gym. Get your free trial at]**[This episode is brought to you by Code School. Code School offers interactive online courses in Ruby, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and iOS. Their courses are fun and interesting and include exercises for the student. To level up your development skills go to]****[This episode is brought to you by ProXPN. If you’re out and about on public WiFi you never know who might be listening. With ProXPN you no longer have to worry. ProXPN is a VPN solution which sends all of your traffic over a secure connection to one of their servers around the world. To sign up go to and use the promo code T-M-T-C-S, short for teach me to code screen casts to get ten percent off for life.]****CHUCK:**Alright, here we go [chuckles]. So this is the Reuven’s neighbor’s piano concerto – ding, ding, ding!REUVEN: So annoying. He has three pianos, he has to use the one with the wall adjoining my office. CHUCK: Yeah, of course he does. He wants to make sure you’re still awake. REUVEN: Great, great. It’s a safe assumption most hours of the day these days anyway. CHUCK:[Chuckles] Staying busy huh?**REUVEN:**Oh my God, yes. Oh my God. Well this morning – this morning I got a five am meeting with a client in Chicago, good for their time and good for my time. Then I had Chinese at six, then I took a 7:15 train [inaudible02:01] doing this. Then I got a meeting with a client in St. Louis after this in which I will convince them that, “Oh yes, I’ve done lots of software development over the last week,” and in fact then do it over the next two days while they’re on vacation.CHUCK:[Chuckles]**REUVEN:**Hopefully they don’t watch the podcast right? [Chuckles].**CHUCK: The perks of being Jewish instead of Christian, huh? REUVEN:**Exactly. Well I mean [crosstalk 02:28].**CHUCK: I know you won’t be working. REUVEN:**Right, right. Well I’m teaching actually. December 25th is a totally normal day here, so I’m heading off to Apple to teach a class on that day. So [inaudible 02:36].CHUCK: Ah, yeah. My week has been a little less interesting. So last two weeks, you know you hit those times where crap hits the fan. I think I have admitted this on the show before and if not, I’m admitting it now. We didn’t have a couple months worth of savings like we should in the bank and I got a bunch of sponsorship money for the shows; the different podcasts back in September, October. Then just a bunch of little things came up and that money got gone. So we started running low on money right before thanksgiving and so of course, it’s really hard to get anyone to do business during thanksgiving. REUVEN: Right. CHUCK: Then it stayed slow for a little while there, and now I’m in Christmas and it’s still hard to business during Christmas. And then on top of that we had a bunch of mice get into our food. REUVEN: Oh my God. CHUCK: So we had to throw a bunch of it away. REUVEN: Oh my God, that’s the worst. CHUCK: And my truck broke down, and so I had to fix it. Did I mention that I didn’t have any clients and that I was pretty much out of money? REUVEN:[Chuckles] That’s right folks, you can get great advice from us [chuckles].**CHUCK: So I know what I should have done. I should have had the money in the bank because that would have solved that it at least for a month or so. And we were able to pay for Christmas and keep up on pretty much everything but it’s getting to that point where it’s, “Okay where is the next mortgage payment going to come out of?” The reason I’m saying this, I’m not trying to complain actually, but we don’t have any questions and so I thought I’d talk about for a second. But I have noticed that at least for me things tend to start working out right when I hit the bottom. So right when I got to the point where I’m like, “Okay, I really have no money. I can keep the lights on here and food on the table and that’s about it.” And so, I started getting phone calls from folks, just out of the blue. One of the phone calls was actually a direct result of this Q&A. REUVEN: Wow. CHUCK:**I believe. It was either the Q&A or one of the episodes where we talked about – no, it was the episode where we talked about [inaudible 04:49] consulting. I don’t remember who our guest was but it was the last one that we did where we were trying to find a product for Reuven. Anyway, I mentioned that I had done social networks on there. So I got a call from one guy who is – or is, we are going to be talking after the holidays about building a social network for one of his clients, which is no mean feat, so it’s going to be a bit of work. So last Thursday and Friday I talked to five different potential clients in two days. And then I talked to another one on Monday. And that one’s going to be a little bit hard to sell and maybe we can talk about how to do that in a minute. But anyway, it was just really interesting that if you’re doing the right stuff, putting yourself out there, you never know who’s going to be paying attention. And I’m a person of faith and I feel like if I’m living right with God will help me. I don’t think He solves all my problems, especially when they’re my fault, which they usually are. But I feel like I have good things come back to me when I put good things out into the world and if live right then He’ll guide me and help me. So it was the combination of all of the things that I’ve been doing and I think a little bit of providence. So I have a contract that pretty much starts next week. And then I’ve got a whole bunch of work that if I can wind it up, I’m probably going to end up hiring people. It’s just funny how it all works [chuckles].**REUVEN:**Right, I totally, totally hear what you’re saying. I’ve been there before also where basically I started to wonder, “Okay where are the next things going to come from?” And then roughly around that time, I hear from someone. I mean doing the training and having someone else selling my training has managed to smooth out those [inaudible 06:34] a lot because basically it’s scheduled months in advance. So I know – these two weeks are covered, we will be able to make most of our payments. Although we are still paying back oodles of loans from the last two years where I was finishing my PhD and working a lot less. So I mean I’m looking at how can I squash those or pay that back a fast as possible. But definitely, definitely, I’ll tell you I’ve started reaching out. I started - I don’t know why I’m so reluctant to do this, and I started reaching out to people I know who are really well connected. And saying to them “If you know of a project, let me know,” and I had some great conversations as a result of that. People have been very friendly and willing to at least say they’re going to do that and I think it might actually happen if you talk to enough people. I had a great conversation with someone just last week. Where I thought maybe he would be able to put me in touch with some projects but instead we [clear 07:23] brainstorming on doing a partnership that has nothing to do with any of the projects we were thinking of. It had to do with doing training. So we’ll see where that leads to but I’m actually quite excited.**CHUCK: Awesome, it’s funny. I guess you had a major distraction for a few years there – getting that PhD done. REUVEN:**My god, it was also kind of a financial distraction where we ended up just the few last years or so to get enormous amounts of loans personally and from the business. I’m lucky that I had the business, and I’m lucky that I had the business in a different bank than my personal account. So I can [inaudible 07:56] through each other and say, “Oh yes, the business isn’t getting much money now, so I need to get a loan.” I go to my personal bank and say “I’m personally not getting any money now, so I need to get a personal loan.” Now if they never talk to each other, they may not have agreed to it. We are able to pay it back which is good, but the faster I can get that load off my shoulders and feel just an enormous amount of money each month is going to repaying those which is like – I just, I feel I’m really firing on cylinders now, I got all sorts of stuff [clear 08:21] going on and yet I’m still paying for this thing that supposedly ended six months ago.**CHUCK:**Yeah, and yeah that’s another thing that happened was – I emailed out to some of the people who had been on Ruby Rogues and one of them came back. Now, they also sponsor the show, but he came back and he said, “Hey,” I guess they were TechStars start up. For those of you who don’t know what TechStars is, it’s like Y Combinator except they’re in multiple cities, so they’re start up incubator. I’m not sure if they buy equity in the company to give them money to get started or if they give them money. I don’t know how all that works but basically they give them money, they give them mentorship and things like that to help get their company started and it looks like this was one of those companies. Anyway, there’s a group of CTO’s for those companies. And the person that we had on Ruby Rogues was the CTO for this particular company, and he’s like, “Yeah, if you want me to I will email all of the – or I will you know let the TechStars CTOs list know that you’re available for help.” But then, he went and looked at my website, my non-existent website and this goes right then into the question that we got here so maybe I’ll read the question and then may then we can start answering it. He says, “I’m not planning on being full time until next year but I have purchased Book Yourself Solid, and Get Clients Now so be on those [clear 09:44] resources. Do you have any other good advice when starting out and maybe how important it is to have your website up?” And that’s where I’m going with this. So I’ve been freelancing for four and a half years and I never had a website that I was proud of. But there were opportunities there that I was missing because I didn’t have it up and so I put one up. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. It’s fairly preliminary but it’s not something I’m embarrassed to share anymore.REUVEN:[Chuckles] That’s a high threshold.**CHUCK:**So yeah, I got a bunch of stuff on there; I’ve got my portfolio up there. I need to add one or two things to it. But anyway so since I had spare time [chuckles] because I didn’t have any contracts I put the website up. I feel like I probably did miss opportunities by not having a website up.**REUVEN: Look, I had a website in different incarnations for many years now and for a long time it was just sort of ridiculously bad. I think my current website is okay, but I don’t think it’s good for marketing and sales. But I’ve got to decide what direction I want to go in and then market in that direction. For you at least it’s clear; you do web development. And I’m like, “Well, everyone says they should specialize.” Maybe I should say that my specialty is doing training because doing training and project might be too many things to spread around. But then again, I want to do the projects so that people know that I can do them. So I got to figure out exactly how to do it. I would say virtually everyone though who calls me at some point has definitely looked at my website and definitely says, “Okay, he can do X and Y and Z,” and then go ahead and make the call. CHUCK:**Right. One thing that I’m seeing – I experienced with this though, just putting it up is that I’ve had more people taking me seriously. It’s also a few people I’ve talked to well they’re like, “Do you have somewhere I can go and see your work?” And now I can say, “Yes. Yes, I do, you can go see it.” But the other thing is – and this is something that you touched on that I want to talk about for a minute because I think it’s important to answer the question that we got and also its important just to think about and that is – so this is just the agency website, okay, this is not the Chuck website. This is the agency website and the Chuck website is going to – I’m still working on it but it’s just going to be a worker’s log [clear 12:03] at this point. And so what I’m trying to do now is I’ve been working – I’ve been reading this book called Become a Key Person of Influence and they talk about becoming one of those people that people pay attention to in your field. And they talk about finding a niche which we’ve talked about quite a bit on this show. I think several of us who haven’t niched down far enough have mentioned, “We need to be better about that.” Anyway, so this is just the agency site and then my personal blog which will be at If you go there right now – I don’t think it’s up. It’s going to have the blog posts and things. And that’s going to be me building my brand as person of influence in the areas that I want to own or be a person of influence in and work things out that way. And so will be the, “Hey, you want to hire Chuck to do training? You want to hire to speak? Then do this. If you want to hire Chuck to write code for you then go check out Intentional Excellence Productions.” Since it’s – we do agency work now, not just one guy freelancer work. And so focus is a little bit different and I don’t really want to split the effort of writing for my blog between the two sites. I don’t think that as productive.**REUVEN:**Right. I mean just to address a few more [inaudible 13:21] this, these questions here because a bunch of them packed together. The other advice would start take the whole networking, for the LinkedIn episode that we had, I don’t think I really use that many tips from the LinkedIn episode other than one thing which I guess you touched on briefly which was using it to really promote yourself. So I have definitely since that episode been doing two things in LinkedIn. One is I’ve just been trying to get as many people connected to me as possible which is the nature of the beast, but until then I was reluctant to do it. Before that I was like, “Well only if I’ve done work with them.” And now I’m just a mad man, I meet someone – boom. I try to get them on LinkedIn because you never know what the connection can be useful for. And then, I connect that to – every time I blog, I have my WordPress site set up to send it in LinkedIn, to send it in Twitter, to send it to – I think those are the two that I send it to. And sometimes I’ll just put up an update on LinkedIn pointing the things I don’t want to put on my blog. And I’ve seen that gets my name out and that hopefully is lighting a spark, letting people know that – I get to use the phrase you just [inaudible 14:26] the become a person of influence, that people will see me as an authority figure on the topics that I’m posting about. And even people will see it once a year, every six months, once every two months they will still see it and a lot of people will see it, and their friend’s friends will see it or their – I guess in LinkedIn terms their links, their contact’s contact will see it. So it definitely spreads the word much more. I would try doing that for sure. It hasn’t hurt and I think it actually helped me a bit.**CHUCK: So for me I’m much more passive user on LinkedIn so I get requests from people to connect and I tell the recruiters to go jump in a lake. I connect with podcast listeners. I don’t connect with the people who say – who send the default message, “Hi, I’d like to be in – I’d like to add you to my network,” no. But if you tell me who you are, you tell me you’re a listener of the show; I’m totally good with that. Yeah, I have gone in if I need a particular type of help so if I need a programmer, sometimes I need just somebody who can tweet things in ways I don’t know how, or a designer. In a lot of cases I’ll go on LinkedIn and try and find them. Though I am starting to go to other social networks and communities where those folks hang out like Dribble, d-r-i-b-b-l-e for designers and find people there instead. But, yeah so I haven’t used a lot of the tips from the LinkedIn episode either. And I think generally it works for building your network but I don’t know that it works all the time for getting the people who are going to hire you into your network. And so for me it’s more of a professional connection thing as opposed to a find clients thing. Does that make sense? REUVEN:**Yeah. I mean, I definitely – look I think I’ve mentioned this on that episode that I actually look at – probably once a day – the list of people who have looked at my LinkedIn profile. And almost always when I see someone new who has looked at my profile, I can expect to get a call from them or email from them within the day or two. It’s clear that people are looking at my profile before they contact me as a potential consultant. So I probably should keep it more up to date. But it’s clear it’s becoming a first point of contact along with the website for people gaining – getting an opinion of who I am and what I’m doing. Something that I did on my website which I think has actually been useful and helpful is on the homepage there – which one of the rare, really smart things I think that I did with having to do with my website and marketing, on the front page there I have the links for – I think it’s either four or five most recent blog posts and most recent [inaudible 17:03] columns. I feel like that gives people a taste also what I’m writing about, what I’m talking about, what I’m able to do.**CHUCK: Actual credibility there to be sure. REUVEN:**Right, or so I’d like to think. No one’s ever saying – no one’s ever said to me, “I went to your website, and I saw this blog post and now, I must hire you. How much do I pay you? And I’ll just [inaudible 17:23] the money.” Right, it’s never quite that simple, but every little factor, every little bit adds some more credibility, adds to the possibility of people coming to you and hiring you.**CHUCK: Uh-huh. Yep, yeah you never know where they’re going to come from. So being there is definitely good as long as you’re keeping up on it. REUVEN:**Yeah, yeah, and I’ll tell you that it actually is a sort of a forcing factor for me to make sure to blog every so often because if I don’t then I really feel like I’ve really done something foolish. I feel foolish that my website has stayed relatively static for a while. Also on the point of you never know what’s going to come from it. So one thing I know we’ve mentioned this on the show a bunch of times, going to speak at users groups or conferences, it could be so useful. So I just got a call, two weeks ago from someone completely out of the blue saying, “I heard that you are Israel’s biggest database expert. And I must hire you to work on this project for a bank.” Now, it is completely false that I am Israel’s biggest database [clear 18:24] by a long shot. I wasn’t going to dissuade the guy at this but he called me up, but why would he ever think this? Because a friend of his saw a talk I gave at IBM for free two years ago. And somehow by word of mouth, he came back to me. Now we’ll see if he actually gets this project. But you really, really never know who’s going to hear you and who’s going to want to work with you. And so just get your name out in writing and speaking. It’s just one of those important things you can do, I think.**CHUCK: Yup, and the then other thing is find your niche. REUVEN: Yeah. CHUCK:**As far as advice goes, I mean. The more I see, the more I read, the more I talk to people. People who are really killing it are the people that figured out what their niche is. And it doesn’t have to be [inaudible 19:06]. We’ve talked about this before but one thing that I’m figuring out right now is you can be a – I hate the word thought leader, but you can be a person of influence in sub-areas    around your area of expertise. So for example, one of the areas that I want to build that person of influence area in is within the Ruby on Rails community. I want to be the guy that they go to, to find out about making websites responsive [clear 19:30].**REUVEN: Right. CHUCK: And then when they’re talking to people, then they go, “Okay. Well, this is going to be customer facing, there are going to be a lot of people using it and so we need to be mobile friendly.” And then they immediately go, “So you need to go talk to Chuck.” That’s the whole point right? I considered doing that with Rails Security as well because I can’t think of the go to person for Rails Security or scaling in Rails or different areas like that. And so you can niche down that way as well and just really own one corner of the market. And then sure, you’re not the person they’re calling to build the overall application but you’re in there nailing it every time that they have an issue come up or they’re concerned about security or concerned about how it looks on the mobile device. REUVEN:**And let’s even assume that you’re not the only go–to guy on this. Let’s assume there’s another hundred people out there, which is almost certainly an exaggeration, but a hundred people who know about Rails and responsive websites [clear 20:36]. Well there are an awful lot of Rails sites [clear 20:40] out there and all of them need to be responsive. So I’m sure that if you position yourself in this way, all you need is 50 clients a year right, if each of them is a one week engagement, and often it’s going to be more than a one week engagement. So there’s a limit to how much you can personally service and I’m sure that can work very well.**CHUCK:**Well the other thing is [crosstalk 20:58] – the other thing is that of those 100 people – let’s say that they really have the expertise to be able to do the work. How many of those people are going to go out and write a bunch of blog post about it? How many of those people are going to go out and write a self–published book about it? How many of those people are going to go out and make videos on YouTube about it? You do one or two of those things, and you’re going to own that area of the market because people are going to see and hear and learn to like and trust you. And then it’s not a hundred people who are capable, you’re the one of three or four people out there that actually have content on, and that people are going to find and want to hire.**REUVEN: I agree completely. And who’s available, right? There might be a bunch of people who know about it but have full time engagements. They might have actual jobs and so they can’t just sort of takeoff for two weeks or four weeks to help someone with a project. Whereas that’s exactly what you do, you’re available for hire to do that. CHUCK: Yep. REUVEN: That’s pretty great. CHUCK: I mean those are the tips this book: Becoming a Key Person of Influence has. It has a lot of information on how to do that stuff. It’s not this step by step on how to write an E-book or how to write a blog, but it does go into the principles behind how you become that key person of influence. And they encourage you pretty heavily to find something you enjoy doing. REUVEN:**So we had a question here about training and how to get started as a trainer, so I just fell into it. I fell into it in multiple steps. So when I started consulting back in the Stone Age – I started consulting back in ’95. And I think already in ’96 I had a few clients come to me and say, “Listen, can you teach us about –” at that point it was Apollo, and Apache and such things. And I said, “Sure,” and I just put things together [clear 22:44]. And I’m sure if I wrote about it now I’ll just laugh at how bad it was but you got to start somewhere. And they were happy and just built on that. It was always intertwined with my consulting work. I would do some training and then some consulting. Probably a 50-50 mix, probably a three quarters development, and one quarter training mixed at that point. And I guess it was five years ago now, I was talking to a colleague, he said, “Hey, do you do training?” I said, “Yeah, sure. I do some training.” So he said “Oh I got to hook you up with this company that does training in Israel, John Bryce. Actually at that point it was high tech college. It’s a very complex soap opera of acquisitions and mergers and names. [Inaudible 23:24] So he hooked me up with them. And they actually gave me a screen test. They tried to have me teach a pretend class for five minutes and that was a total failure. And they were like, “No way, this guy just cannot do it.” And my friend who had introduced me said, “Give him a chance, let him go and do it,” and I went and did it, and it went okay. The other thing was that – and this is always a good position to be in – they were desperate. And I sent them my – I told them, I wanted to teach Ruby and Ruby on Rails stuff and they said, “Ruby? I don’t know. There’s not much demand. Fine, send us your resume.” And they saw my resume, and they called me right away and said, “Listen, you know Python. We desperately need someone to do Python because our guy just left us.” And so for five years now – for more than five years I’ve been working with them, this company John Bryce. And it’s now up to such a crazy amount of work. A, I’m restricting how much time I give them. I give them most about two weeks out of each month because otherwise they will take over all of my time. And B, I’m now scheduled to do courses through October because Cisco decided they want to have a ton of my courses and don’t want to be pushed aside by other people. So it’s this totally, totally crazy situation. And over time I’ve gotten better, there’s no doubt about it; that my courses now – even a year or two ago, my courses are much better than then. And it’s because I would say I’m constantly thinking how to teach better, and constantly monitoring what the students are enjoying and not enjoying; I’m tweaking it the whole time. And I would say that over the years, I’ve learned to teach less and less. If people wanted to Intro Python course, I’m sure that I [clear 24:54] maybe a third of what I taught in my first courses but it’s much more depth, there’s much more exercises, it’s much more context [inaudible 25:02]. Now, I’m basically planning to go off on my own, and not work with them in the future – in the very near future in fact. So we’ll see how that works out.  Although I think it should be okay. But if you want to do training, if you know a subject or even better yet, if you want to know a subject, approach a company and talk to them about it. Or I would even say, put together a presentation, do a local user’s group or at a conference get some familiarity with speaking and with presenting and then, offer your skills, offer your services. And it’ll be hard at first and you’ll have to figure it out. And different companies have different requirements. And every single company – every single one I’ve ever spoken to says that their engineers are above average smart, and thus they don’t really need it to take four days – they can just do it in three days or similar such things. So you’ll have to negotiate with them and it’ll take some time. But I have a great deal of fun with it. And if you can go [inaudible 25:54] that definitely ease the burden because they take care of the billing, scheduling and logistics and what-not. But I feel like presenting, I have a blast. I was teaching for eight hours today at Apple and I totally loved it.**CHUCK:   I want to break into it too. So it’s all useful for me. REUVEN:**Yeah, it’s fun. The analogy that I [inaudible 26:14] every software, I think, “Huh, I’m getting the same course again? Shouldn’t that be boring?” And I find it exciting. And the analogy I sometimes use is that it’s like putting on a play, like an actor who just night after night puts on the same play. And I feel I can get into the groove and I know what explanation I’m going to give. I’m now at the point where some of these exercises – if someone say, “I got this error.” And from across the room I can say, “Did you type that?” I can debug in twenty yards. Which is a great trick, it’s a party trick. But no really still it’s an enormous amount of satisfaction also to see these people come in with either Python or Ruby, they’re very skeptical [inaudible 25:50] C++ programs are like, “What is this garbage language?” Then after three or four days they come out saying, “Wow, that’s really cool stuff. I’m really glad I was in this class.” That’s the sense of satisfaction, if they’ve learned something and they appreciate it, it is just enormous.**CHUCK: I have to say that it really hits my fulfillment factors, is what I call – I don’t know if that’s what the correct term is, the clinical term for my ailments are – being able to interact with people is a big deal for me. And then the feeling like I helped somebody or made a difference is also a big deal. And so that’s why the training appeals to me. And it sounds like you’re a lot the same way Reuven. REUVEN: Absolutely, absolutely. I love seeing that people have advanced. Especially the advanced classes, the beginning classes they’re more homogenous, but the advance class is people come in from all levels, often not advanced. But I say to them, “Whoever comes in, my goal is for you to move ahead. You should know more than you did at the beginning.” And for somebody that’s going to be a lot – for somebody that’s going to be little and when I see that happen, it just really gets me right there. It really is a tremendously warm feeling. CHUCK:**Alright, we have another technical question [crosstalk 28:04]**REUVEN:**No, [inaudible 28:04] this partly why I’m so resistant to doing recorded classes online.  I mean, you said this Chuck, “I love the interactions, I love the questions, I love the back and forth.” And it feels in some ways to extend the acting analogy. I now understand why actors talking about working on stage versus working on TV or movies. It feels very, yes, sterile and quiet to be recording things as opposed to talking to people and getting their feedback. I really thrive on that feedback that I feel, that I hear. And especially in this field [clear 28:33] people would be like, “That’s so stupid; I can’t believe you said such a thing.” So [chuckles] I [inaudible 28:38] a little strong, but it’s better than just sitting in front of my computer recording stuff and not knowing what people think.**CHUCK:**Yeah, I tend to do – so I’ve done some recorded training and I’m planning on doing some in the future. I’m not announcing anything right now but I’ll probably announce something right here within the next couple of weeks. But the thing that I like to do with the recorded training besides the weekly episodic videos that I’ve talked about doing that in the past. But if I’m doing an actual course and I’m doing a recorded course, because you tend to be able to put your best performance in and edit out all the crap. But then what I do is I tend to put in Q&A sessions so that I can get that interaction and then they still can get the best content that I can give. And so I can see that working for me. But if it was just straight up videos stuff I just don’t think I’d get the same level of fulfillment out of it. I don’t know, just stuff to think about. So the next question is do you use any configuration management like Chef or Puppet? Now I’m not sure how many people watch these are technology people, so I’m going to back up and let me give a little bit of context and then I’m going to answer the question for me and then Reuven can go ahead. But tools like Chef or Puppet are basically ways of making the set-up of computers, usually servers automatic. And so Chef is one; I think it’s a lot more popular than Puppet. There is also Puppet, Ansible – there are a whole bunch of them. And basically, what you wind up doing is you wind up using that system and in many cases writing sections of the program. You can think of them as a kind of recipe or a procedure for adding things to a server. And so you pull all those together and then you tell the server, “You’re one of these, and you have all of these procedures that you have to run.” And in the case of Chef at least, they try and make those procedures so that you can run them ten million times and you wind up with the same result whether it’s the first time or the ten millionth time. So that’s the quick overview. I use Chef; I have wanted to check out Ansible but I like Chef. There are a lot of things that work out for me there. I typically don’t manage enough servers or other machines to want to have a Chef server so most of the time I’m just working out of a repository or a collection of recipes that run Chef-solo. And Chef-solo is just without the server involved. I am also a big fan of Vagrant and I use that to test my set-ups for the different applications. I’ve been working with a friend of mine named Ryan and we’ve actually been rewriting recipes, which are those procedures. We’ve been rewriting the recipes specifically for Ubuntu which is a distribution of Linux. And the reason is, is because the recipes that are written by Chef the company or by a lot of the other folks out there – they write them so they don’t run against any server system. So they run against CentOS which is a Red Hat variant or they‘ll run against SUSE Linux or they’ll run against Mandrake Linux or they’ll run against Ubuntu which is a deviant variant, which is the one I tend to go with. And so the problem is, is that a lot of times they end up being way more complicated than I feel like they need to. And so I just want a simple procedure that says, “Go download the source code for Ruby, go install all of the prerequisites, compile Ruby.” [Chuckles] And not figure out which system I’m on. And then if I’m on one version, “Go get these packages,” if I’m in another version, “Go get these other packages,” because they have these different names on the different systems. So I use it and I really like it. I’m working on getting together a few more so it’s hardened SSH. So it changes the port number, disallows password log in – things like that. Having it set up my common user across all of my system. And it puts all of the access keys in there so that I can log into them. So I got some recipes on progress. Ryan’s written a bunch for like NGINX, SeQuaLite, Ruby, there are a few more. And some of them are going to be really simple so, for example, if I need Redist, I’m probably just going to install the Redist package on Ubuntu. So it’s just going to be one line package, Redist slash server. But some of the other ones – Node.js and Ruby ones for example – they actually go to the website for Ruby or for Node.js. And they find the latest version number and from there you can figure out what path is to download it. So then he goes and downloads it, untars it and builds it. But it’s relatively simple and you can go and look at the recipe and figure out pretty fast what it’s doing. The only complexity I would add to those is if you specify a version number I’d like you to grab [clear 33:24] that version number. So instead of just always grabbing the latest version, if you wanted version 2.1 then I would go get 2.1.3. Yeah, so that’s probably more of an answer than you probably wanted. But so I’m a Chef-solo person. Reuven, do you use any of those tools?**REUVEN:**I don’t use any of them, and I keep thinking that I should. But I just – most of my clients are very small. So they don’t have a need for that, or at least I don’t believe they have a need for that. I’ve heard people dispute that and say look even if you have one machine, it just makes life so much easier. So maybe – I got one client where I can see we’re trying to scale [clear 33:55] them up. So I’ve worked – I’ve played with both Chef and Puppet and I gave each of them half a day or a day to sort of play with and learn about but it was already a year or two ago. I’m sure both of them have also changed since then and improved since then. I’ve worked with a bunch of people who use them, but I don’t have any direct experience with using them. I can see why it’s popular, why people would want to use them. I’ve heard really good things about Ansible. People say that Ansible makes life way easier than even Chef or Puppet do. But that’s just based on what I’ve heard from people, and not any direct experience.**CHUCK: So I’m actually working with Ryan on a project right now. And he put into the system in the configuration folder; he put a script in there. It’s a provision script and when you run it, it goes and installs the Chef Client on the server. Then it downloads all of the recipes onto the server. Then it just runs all of the recipes that it’s configured to run right on the server. So what that does is if you want to set up another server, you just go onto that machine, you check out the source code repository. Then you go to that folder and then you run one script and it does all of that stuff for you. So it automates the set-up. So everything is set and ready to go as soon as you run that script. So you might have to do a little bit of NGINX config so that it knows where to get the app but that’s it. And that’s the power behind it, so if you have to repeat the set-up even once then you save yourself a bunch of effort. REUVEN:**Right, I’ve definitely had people say you can use it to [inaudible 35:23] to do X, Y, Z. It’s always amazing to me how long it actually takes to set up the server. And so I can see [inaudible35:28] and using Chef then setting it up becomes a no-brainer. You just run the script and it does that in the background and you’re done. As opposed to – I mean it’s easier and cheaper and more consistent for you and also for [clear 35:41]**CHUCK:Yeah, and in a lot of cases if I have a new Rails app that I need to set up. Then I just point it over there and say, “You’re a Rail server.”  [Inaudible 35:51] in there, puts Ruby on there. I can tell it that I’m going to run rescue and so I’ll put Redist on there. So then it starts to solve all those issues. It’s definitely interestingREUVEN: No more questions guys? Have we answered everything you need to know? CHUCK:**Yeah, we’re so smart. So I have to say I have two things that I’m working on here in the short term. One of them is going to be a freelancing course – I don’t have the [inaudible 38:17] page up for it yet but I will announce it on the show when it’s ready. Also put a note in YouTube where this will be live and I’ll put a note in the show notes as well. But anyway I know a lot of people who have some new year’s resolution for 2015 to go freelance. So I’m really looking at pulling that together so that people can get started. I’ve got the outline together and so I just need to start recording video. But I get a lot of the same questions over and over again and if you have specific questions about your situation I’d love to hear them. You can just email me That would really help – but yeah, so we’ll go into the, “Okay I don’t have any clients. I don’t have any contacts or anything. What do I do to find work?” So if you get laid off or fired or if you just hit one of those lean periods like I just went through. What do you do? And then we’ll talk about preparing to go freelance. Or if you’re already freelance, some of the things that you could do to up your game so you get a better position to get clients and to avoid some of those downward trends I guess. So I’m really excited about that, so keep an eye out for that.**REUVEN: That’s pretty great. CHUCK: And yeah, it’s going to follow the format that I told Reuven I was going to do. It’s going to be videos then I’ll have some Q&A’s for a few weeks when you join up. Hopefully then, it will be more directed at the content. And you’ll have some more contexts on under which you can ask those questions. REUVEN:**I can’t really tell if there’s a growth in number of freelancers or just people who are doing it are getting smarter and organizing themselves, and talking to each other and or people seeing business opportunities. I’m sure could just find – [clear 37:38]. Suddenly there seems to be definitely a growth in people who are catering to freelancers and want to help them do better. When I started there was nothing – nothing out there. The most useful advice that I got was from lawyers who had been in business for themselves. But almost no one I knew who was in software for themselves or this technology niche.**CHUCK:**I lucked out because I wound up in a group that Eric and Evan Light and Jeff Schoolcraft those guys were in. I made the dumb mistakes before I was in that group but then afterward, after I was in the group then I could talk to them about what I was doing before I did it. And so I avoided some of those things. So that’s what I’m hoping we can do with the Q&A coming up through the next year is if you have a specific situation that you need feedback on you can come in and say, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this.” And we can talk through some of the pros and cons on this call and make a difference that way because that was [crosstalk 38:59] always valuable for me.**REUVEN: Yeah, I agree that would be a great thing. CHUCK: Well, looks like this one might be a little bit short. Any other questions out there in listener land? REUVEN: Everyone’s actually with their families. CHUCK: I know. Yep, we did this one two days before Christmas. I don’t know how this falls in relation to Hanukkah or anything else. REUVEN:Oh, it’s the last day of Hanukkah, but Hanukkah is the most minor holiday in the Jewish calendar with perhaps one or two exceptions. The fact that it has been turned into anything major is an accident of the calendar and Christmas in the US and that Israel, for historical military reasons, promoted it. But in terms of actual religious significance it’s close to nil [chuckles]. Everyone in America knows about Hanukkah, right? But ask people what they know about Sukkot or Shavuot which are way, way, way more important and I know this from experience. When I was in college and I would say to my professor, “I can’t take an exam because of Sukkot or Shavuot,” and they’ll be like, “What? Are these real holidays?”CHUCK:[Chuckles] Is it a kind of a meal?REUVEN:Yeah [chuckles] oh God. Generally the Rabbi would send out a letter saying, “Please believe the students when they say they can’t come on this day.” It is really not much of an issue. Although for all sorts of crazy political reasons the education minister – I think we’ve had three in the last four years, three in the last five years and so each of them decides to put a stamp on the education and the school system – so they change around all the holiday, the vacation schedules. So somehow it worked out that usually the kids are off around Hanukkah from school for no good reason. And this year they only have off for three days. So my kids have just been exhausted for three days trying to cram in a week’s worth of vacation in that short time.CHUCK: Well, whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, we hope you have a terrific one. And just to be clear if I do tell you merry Christmas, it’s me wishing you the best of everything from where I believe the best of everything comes from. So I’m not being exclusive, I’m being friendly. REUVEN: And I will not be profoundly offended, so there you go. CHUCK: There we go. Alright, so I guess we’ll just wrap this up. Thanks for listening guys. Hopefully there’s some content in here that inspires people to go out and do great things. Oh, one other thing I do want to bring up is starting in January we are going to be doing something a little bit differently. So the third week is lifestyle and business, the fourth week is the Q&A, the first week is marketing and sales, and the second week is going to be – I don’t even remember because we have guests that are over the top of them. But anyway, so if you have particular topics that you want to have covered on those weeks then, by all means let us know. Oh the second week will be a guest appearance. REUVEN: The idea is, to make it easier for us and easier for listeners and also have more of these Q&A’s. CHUCK: Yeah, and to tackle particular topics. Because we went for quite a while where we had a lot of guests and we want to make sure that we covering topics that are relevant to freelancers. Especially the more important ones like sales and running your business on a regular basis. We want to be talking about those. Anyway, hopefully, that gives you an idea of what we’re after. REUVEN: Excellent. CHUCK: Alright, well, I’m going to push the button that makes the broadcast stop. But thanks again for watching. Bye. REUVEN: Thanks everyone. Have a good holidays. [This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the iPhreaks and their guests? Want to support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. You can sign up at]

Sign up for the Newsletter

Join our newsletter and get updates in your inbox. We won’t spam you and we respect your privacy.