Monthly Archives: December 2010

Initial data

Some of the results are in and they’re not pretty.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that today I would gather some data for my effort to lose weight in 2011.

And gather I did.

Ho-lee crap. I won’t share the details until later, but let’s just say I shouldn’t waste any time getting things moving. It’s not like I’m likely to die tomorrow or anything, but I’m far outside of some safe measurements.

Here’s to a weekend of festivities, then let’s see where this rabbit hole goes.

Baby killing

Today I decided to kill one of my babies.

Before you call the police, I have to tell you that it’s not the 4-year-old or the 18-month-old baby I’m going to kill, but rather, the one that’s 11 months old.

On Feb. 1, my sidegig, Rumblestrut, launched a job posting website for nurse practitioners called If you’d like to know more about the technical aspects of the experiences, I wrote another blog entry called 5 lessons from the NPJobSearch launch.

Rumblestrut has done work for another NP-related website, 4 State APN, and  my mom also is a nurse practitioner. (My dad is a registered nurse, too, which has saved me a few trips to the ER thanks to their insight.) In the process of working on 4 State APN, I stumbled across some job posting sites catering toward NPs that were obviously successful – taking considerable amounts of money to have employers post positions – but were terribly designed.

I believed I could do better and make some good bank at it. When it launched, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I thought the design was good, I had social media integration that posted the jobs from the site to facebook and Twitter automatically, and people could sign up to get e-mail notices of job postings when they were posted to the site. Pretty sweet, eh?

My goal was to keep it free for six months, then start charging to have people post to the website.

What happened was, shortly after I launched it, I realized that I had made a mistake. I tried to shake it off. Perhaps I was dealing with post-launch dénouement.

No, that wasn’t it. The cold, hard, bitter fact of what I was feeling was this: I wasn’t passionate about it. I’m not in the medical field. I don’t really run in the same circles (although I know some and have certainly lived around nurses long enough to know quite a bit about the life).

Should I have chosen something I know about, such as webbys or even Lawrencians, I would have been all over it. But trying for a nationwide job search for nurse practitioners? I look at some things going on in Lawrence such as the A.D.D. podcast, Police Scanner Action in Lawrence, Kansas or Those Polish Thingies (makers of Polish pierogies) and it seems so obvious now what to do. By whatever measure you consider something a success, people who go after things they’re passionate about seem to get more momentum than those doing something only for the scrilla.

I was doomed from the start.

And so, tonight, I’ve decided to finally shut down the site. I need to do a little cleanup, notify a few of the subscribers that are left and then I’ll pull the plug.

All is not lost. I’m going to repurpose parts of the site for some other projects that I’m much more interested in. I learned a great deal in the process and I have an excellent point of reference to start from when building out my own ideas in the future.

But believe me, the next time I get into something I’ll be asking myself “Are you passionate about this?” If not, I’ll move on and do something else.

How to force a user to unfollow you on Twitter

Author’s note: As of this posting, this only works with the old version of Twitter. Although still available, Twitter says “old Twitter” will eventually go away completely.

Twitter is a pretty fascinating communications tool, which means you can meet great people or get some really crappy spam. In #NewTwitter, classifying someone as spam is fairly easy and instantly removes that user from following you. The drawback to this approach is now that person has been flagged as a spammer, which might not always be true.

Sometimes you don’t want to associated with certain riff-raff.

There can be  good reasons to remove a follower. Perhaps you don’t want to be associated with a user’s viewpoints, which shouldn’t be taken lightly with Twitter’s “Who to follow” feature. For example, I got followed by someone today who I don’t know, nor do I have any interest in following back. But since the user also is following some of my Twitter friends, Twitter seems to think I might be interested.

Hmm … Ten tweets and 1,600 followers? Sounds fishy. I’ll pass.

But what if this wasn’t a spammer and just a regular user? I could protect my account, but I’m not into doing that. Twitter works better when it’s open, not closed.

Following these steps will remove a user from your followers, while avoiding classifying the user as a spammer. Don’t ever say someone is a spammer unless they really, truly are a spammer. Blacklisting is nasty.

  1. Sign in to Twitter with your account.
  2. Switch to “old Twitter” (if not already)
  3. Under Settings, scroll down to the bottom and select Protect my tweets
  4. Press the Save button and enter your password when prompted
  5. Go to your Follower list
  6. Find the user you want to have unfollow you.
  7. Under the Actions menu on the right, click on the Settings button (it looks like a gear)
  8. On the menu that appears, select Remove {username}
  9. When prompted if you want to actually remove the user, say Yes (if you’re sure)
  10. When finished, unprotect your account and switch to “new Twitter” (or don’t)

There you have it. I’d love to see this feature come back in future iterations of Twitter, but only time will tell what  Twitter plans to do with its features. But if forcing a user to unfollow you on Twitter is something you want to take advantage of, get going: “old Twitter” won’t be here forever.


I’ve made some momentum toward my goal of getting healthy and losing weight in 2011.

Appointments have been made. In the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 29, I will have my first physical in about two years. Let’s get the measurements! I want to know how my blood is looking, if my pipes are clogging and all that other stuff.

But another crucial bit of data I’ll be gathering will be the one I’ve not done in roughly seven years – bodyfat percentage.  The last time I had that done I was around 14 percent. I’m sure that now I’m [REDACTED OUT OF SHEER EMBARASSMENT, BUT C’MON, LOOK AT ME – YOU CAN FIGURE IT OUT].

Granted, gathering the starting data isn’t as good as say, actually working out and exercising. But I’m trying to do a little prep work here so I can settle down into a routine and have a good “before” measurement.

Lastly, I’ve told my co-workers that when the time comes, when I tell them “it’s on,” I’m seriously going to need their help. Little questions like “are you getting workouts in” or “put the candy down and move away from the wrapper” are encouraged.

Have you thought about your goals? What are you doing to meet them?

Missing the mark

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Five things to achieve in 2011.

Number five on that list was Finish some personal projects. Mostly, when I say projects I mean websites. I have a large number of ideas that get accumulated in my Action Method subscription and a good chunk of them are web-related.

In the last week, I’ve seen two similar ideas launch. It’s not that I don’t want competition – I’m a big fan of it, actually. But what really sticks in my craw is that I didn’t get either of them done this year. Welcome to the world of me: full of ideas, half-full on the skills to make them happen, empty on execution.

In the last six months I’ve spent an enormous amount of time working on projects for other people. It’s not like I don’t like helping others out – be it for money or pro bono – but it’s taken away from the limited time I have to work on things for me.

At the beginning of 2010 I had similar plans. I had an aggressive strategy mapped out for launching three homemade projects, but only got one of them out the door. I might be a little too hard on myself. We did buy a house in May, and I managed to launch the Free Kids Meals and Deals! website, too. But because I was busy doing additional web work, I didn’t get to spend that time making the things I want to make.

I’ve definitely missed the mark on the things I wanted to achieve in 2010 and I’m a little bummed about it.

You can’t go home again

As I write this, I’m in the bedroom of my youth.

It’s not the same, though. It’s now a “guest bedroom,” with a gigantic iMac, soft pastels and beach decor.

As if that isn’t different enough, it is also clean.

This might be the same room, but it’s a far cry from how I left it.

When the chips are down

“You got to know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em/Know when to walk away/And know when to run”

Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

When I moved to Lawrence in early 2000, I was working in the newspaper industry as a reporter and page designer. Part of my job was to post things to the newspapers’ websites and over time, I got to thinking “I wonder how all this works.”

Curiosity was piqued.

After a few terrible attempts to get started learning about the web, I enrolled in what I call Borders University. I went to my local Borders bookstore, picked out an HTML book and got busy reading. I would take my lunch breaks and sit in my car reading my little HTML book, then I came home and worked in the evening on exercises and code from its pages. I picked up another book and did the same.

And then I got a call from an old friend who needed a website. “OK,” I said. “I’ll give it a shot.”

He was running for a seat in the Kansas senate and I built a website for him.

He didn’t win.

But the experience was enough to pick up another side gig and then another. I was excited. I really enjoyed learning about the web and how to create stuff for it. Hoping to explore the web in my full-time job, I angled to do more web work than simply posting content online. I had moved around to different news companies in the area and my then gig was pagination editor. It wasn’t too shabby. I enjoyed laying out pages for a daily newspaper and even had people kind-of-sort-of report to me.

They wanted me to keep doing that.

I wasn’t interested.

After fishing around for awhile, sure I’d never find anything with my level of experience (practically zero), I found a place in Kansas City that was willing to take a chance on me.

And that was that.

One of the most important books I read at that time was Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger. It confirmed what I had already suspected: I was in the wrong field.

That was in 2004. I’ve been working professional on the web ever since.

It’s terribly cliché, but when the chips are down, perhaps that’s life telling you it’s time to change course. Maybe it’s time to figure out what you need to do to be happy. Maybe it’s time to figure out who you need to work with – or for – to find more meaning in what you do with your time.

It’s tough to say. Results may vary.

It’s worth taking a look, though.