More tech Stories

2009 was a pretty good year for me. I wrote a book, launched a web site, organized a bunch of local events in Portland, had some fun speaking gigs, and worked with some great clients. I have some plans for how I want to do things a […] Read more »

There have been plenty of blog posts and discussions recently about how you need to be “personal” across the various social media web sites, even when communicating on behalf of your company or brand. Social media is about conversations, and people have conversations with other people, […] Read more »

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Most freelancers and telecommuters are lucky enough to have a full kitchen right in our office, since we work at home. We aren’t limited to the food being served in a corporate cafeteria, or the few restaurants near the office. We can branch out past traditional […] Read more »

Air travel in the United States continues to get more complicated with every new change implemented by the TSA. While I’m not a road warrior traveling every week, I do take quite a few business and personal trips. I fondly remember the times when I could […] Read more »

The last week of the year is a great time to get organized. Chances are good that many of your coworkers and/or clients have the week off, so it should be a fairly quiet week for most of us. We could spend that extra time goofing […] Read more »

In the corporate world, this is the time of the year for year-end performance reviews. But as a freelancer, how do you decide how well you’ve been performing? Do you even bother to assess your performance? While it might seem like unnecessary overhead, I still think […] Read more »

Around this time last year, I wrote a post about how hard it was to answer the dreaded questions about what I do for a living when talking to family and friends during the holidays. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t the only […] Read more »

Lately, I have been spending some time thinking about how people react to social media fame. What happens when you reach 1,000 Twitter followers? 5,000? 20,000? 100,000? How do you react when your blog is suddenly getting significant traffic and people are hanging on your every […] Read more »

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Freelancers often don’t have much time to make a good first impression on potential clients, so you need to make sure that everything you do leaves your prospect seeing you as a professional who can be trusted with their business. Here are a few simple tips. Read more »

During the early days of my career, I relied on training classes as a way to learn new skills or brush up on older skills that I haven’t used in a while. The advantage of taking a training class is that it forces you to step […] Read more »

I sometimes struggle with staying focused on the most important tasks, and this is particularly important during the stressful holiday times. My love of fun side projects is a big part of the problem for me — I always have to be careful not to let […] Read more »

For those perfect freelancers who remember to carefully record and track every expense, there isn’t much to do at tax time other than hand over their perfectly organized documents to their accountant. For the less perfect among us, we probably have some work to do. I […] Read more »

As we move into another holiday season, I’m already noticing an increase in my stress levels. During the holidays, we all face additional expectations on our time. We still have our regular work to do, but we also have holiday shopping, additional expenses, extra cooking, family […] Read more »

Twitter lists are a great way to group people into various categories, filter conversations, keep up with experts within a specific field and track a topic without needing to follow all of the relevant users — and can even be used as an RSS reader replacement. […] Read more »

Do you know how people feel about you on Twitter? Are the tweets about you or your product mostly positive, negative or neutral? While things like feelings and sentiment can seem fuzzy and “touchy-feely,” there are sentiment analysis tools available for Twitter that attempt to classify […] Read more »

Last Friday, I was attending Portland’s weekly Beer and Blog event, and I stumbled across what later turned out to be an interesting trend. I had two separate, unrelated conversations about an hour apart with people working in the technology industry who once used RSS readers […] Read more »

I’ve talked about the importance of fitness for web workers many times before. A side effect of spending our days working online is that most of our working hours are spent sitting in front of a computer, so we should make a special effort to fit […] Read more »

Playing with applications on an Android phone got me thinking about how I use applications on my iPhone. I’m always interested in seeing what applications my friends are using on their phones, so I thought people might be interested in reading about the iPhone applications that I use. Read more »

This weekend I was on an “SEO Smackdown” panel at our local WordCamp Portland. Two of us were from the content side, while the other two panelists were SEO experts. My take on SEO is that writing compelling, interesting blog content that people will want to […] Read more »

I’m a bit of a data nut, and I enjoy looking for new and interesting ways to find and visualize information. This is especially true for finding new ways to monitor the various conversations happening across social media web sites. There are new monitoring tools appearing […] Read more »

Lately, I’ve been focused on arranging my schedule and splitting my work into chunks so that I can be productive for longer periods of time, while still having some flexibility in my schedule for the other things that I enjoy doing. One of the big benefits […] Read more »

It’s not unusual for web workers to get pulled into various efforts to get more people using a particular online collaboration tool. Maybe your company is implementing some collaboration software (wikis, blogs, forums) that employees are expected to use, or you are helping clients to use […] Read more »

Community has been a big focus for me for a long time. I’ve helped companies build and manage online communities, and I even co-founded a non-profit in Portland that organizes free events for the technology community here. I also try to help people with their businesses […] Read more »

When I’m talking to people about social web sites, one of the questions I often get asked (usually just after the one about whether you actually need to join all the social networks, just because everyone else is) is “how do you keep up with everything?” […] Read more »

We spend a lot of time talking about efficiency and productivity on this blog, but we also devote quite a bit of energy to writing about new social networks and social media. I talk to many people who are concerned about joining new social web sites […] Read more »

Last week, there was quite a bit of discussion about how some social media web sites, including Twitter, were being blocked for at least some White House staff members. The end result was that people were simply finding ways around the policies by accessing Twitter through […] Read more »

Last week, I shared some tips to help you get more out of Google Blog Search. I prefer Google Blog Search for vanity searches, where I want to see every mention across every blog talking about any of my various efforts. I generally use it as my starting point, but for some very broad topics, I just get too much noise and not enough relevancy. When that happens, I have three fallback search engines that allow me to filter out the less popular blogs and focus on ones with more authority. Read more »

I recently wrote about why I think it is more important to spend time creating great content instead of focusing on developing your personal brand. It even inspired one reader to get back in the habit of regularly blogging, and in his post, he touched on an important point. Every blog post doesn’t need to solve some tough technology problem or cover breaking news. People tend to make blogging much harder than it needs to be.

Here are a few ideas for people who want to blog more frequently, but who sometimes have a hard time coming up with ideas or face writer’s block. Read more »

I thought it might be fun to build on my recent Twitter search operators and FriendFeed search filtering posts with another set of search tips. This time, I’ll be talking about getting more out of Google Blog Search with a few tips, tricks and hacks. Read more »

One of the best things about being a freelancer is that I can schedule my time in a way that works best for me; however, this flexibility can be a double-edged sword. While I have quite a bit of freedom to work on projects whenever it […] Read more »

I wanted to jump into the conversation about personal branding that we’ve been having over the past week or so. I really don’t spend much, if any, time worrying about my personal brand, but when I look at my presence online, I seem to have a […] Read more »

A few days ago, I shared my tips for getting the most out of Twitter search by using some less well-known advanced search operators. FriendFeed also has powerful advanced search features that you may not know about, especially since some of the more interesting search operators are not well documented. Like Twitter, FriendFeed has all of the common search operators, but the real power is in some of the advanced filtering options and the ability to find only the most popular posts. Now that FriendFeed has real-time search, these advanced searches are even more interesting. Read more »

I have mentioned the advanced Twitter search operators before, but I wanted to spend some quality time looking at them in more detail. The standard AND / OR operators are useful, but aren’t all that interesting. In this post, I’ll cover the standard operators, but the focus will be on uses for some very interesting operators that let you filter searches based on location, attitude, posts with links, dates and more, along with some limitations and cautions for each one. Read more »

I have definite workaholic tendencies that are starting to induce productivity-draining burnout. In addition to my freelance consulting practice, I am usually balancing a number of side projects, working on the board of a non-profit that I helped co-found, and attending various events around Portland to keep in touch with my freelancer peers and learn about new technologies. This isn’t the first time, I’ve had to deal with burnout. It usually creeps in slowly, and before I realize it, my work and technology hobbies have pushed everything else to the back burner. The feeling of burnout leaves me tired, stressed and less productive, so it’s time again for me to re-prioritize and take control to get my productivity back. Read more »

This weekend is the Independence Day 4th of July holiday here in the U.S., which for many people means a three-day weekend. I’ll even be taking tomorrow off, and I almost never get days off, since my boss is a complete workaholic who thinks days off are for the weak. Oh wait, that workaholic tyrant is me, since I get to set my own freelance schedule. Some of us aren’t good at taking days off, so I have a few tips for making it through the holiday. Read more »

Listening has always been important, but now in the world of social media where conversations are amplified, repeated and spread at a much faster rate than ever before, listening has become even more critical. Many of us, particularly freelancers, don’t have teams of people responsible for […] Read more »

As a freelancer, I spend most of my time trying to manage information overload. However, despite this obsession with efficiently gathering information, there are also times when I actively seek out that overload. While a fire hose of notifications and feeds can be too distracting when I am working on client work, if I am looking for inspiration, I want to see as much information as possible in the hope that something will catch my eye and provide the inspiration that I need to kick start a new blog post or some other effort.

Here are a few of my favorite tools for embracing information overload. Read more »

I read about a study over the weekend that suggests the number of competitors can impact our motivation to compete. The researchers found that with a small number of competitors, people had increased motivation to compete, but even with equal chances of success, our motivation can […] Read more »

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