Apple’s Use of Donations as Marketing

The other day Tim Cook (‪@tim_cook‬) tweeted:

Our hearts go out to the people of Sulawesi and all of Indonesia after this weekend’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Apple is donating $1 million to aid relief efforts as this beautiful country starts to rebuild.

I feel bad for the earthquake victims too, but this kind of marketing makes me a little ill.

Best I can tell Apple reported 53.8 billion dollars in profit over the last year. If you compared the ratio of their donation to say a person making $100,000 a year, the donation would be $1.86.

Now I don’t want to say a million dollars isn’t a big impact to the receivers of the donation, I’m sure it is — but it just feels a little cheap to announce it and have everyone retweet it, the media website repost it, all to build up this fake “good will” sentiment. Hell, you can’t even buy a media ad campaign for that cheap.

Anytime you read this stuff remember, these are the same big corporations dodging taxes that could normally fund proper emergency relief and preparedness along with other infrastructure needs.

Some might say, well Apple needs to answer to their shareholders and this is how every company works. Well I say, everyone has a choice, and yeah it can be easier to fall in line and do the expected but I root for the person who is going to step out of line and Think Different.

At a minimum, donate your $1.86 annomously without looking for a thank you.

Self Employment Estimate Numbers

In a world of being self-employed you need to constantly be evaluating your finances. I was lucky enough recently to finish paying off some long standing debit and so I did a revisit. Today I want to share with you how I do my estimate numbers and hopefully you can use some of these ideas to help plan your own independence and/or make sure your current indie life is in good shape.

The software I use to do this is Soulver. Think of it as a really smart text editor for crunching numbers. Watch the demo video on their site to see it in action. If you are not interested in Soulver, any spreadsheet should do fine. Just keep it on file somewhere so you can come back and rework it as needed.

First thing you need is a list of personal expenses. If you are single you can do this yourself but if you are married or in a relationship where you share expenses get them involved too. You want to have a full and truthful collection of costs here. The goal is understanding what you need to survive and ultimately what you can cut to help make your dream that much more possible.

I did this by first using my credit card and debit card statements as a source. Every item needs to be recorded. Make three lists, some will be monthly expenses, some yearly expenses and some one-time expenses. Once you get done with the statement history try to brainstorm where the undocumented cash goes. Hopefully these lists will help.

Personal Monthly Expense Examples:

  • Rent / Mortgage
  • Home / Renters Insurance
  • Car Payments
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Maintenance
  • Car Fuel
  • Health Insurance
  • Expected Monthly Copays / Medicines
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Monthly Gaming Subscriptions
  • Game Purchases
  • Eat Out Food
  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Patreon Gifts
  • Podcast Subscriptions
  • Haircut

Some of these items might be hard to quantify as monthly. If so just make a yearly entry for them.

Personal Yearly Expense Examples:

  • Christmas Presents
  • Birthday Presents
  • Yearly Clothes Budget
  • Vacations
  • Car Inspection

Once I have my yearly and one time costs I like to total them as a monthly expenses (YearlyTotal+OneTime/12) so I can later think in terms of months. This is fine for back of the hand estimates but if you need to plan out your money for specific times (summer vacation, fall back-to-school kind of stuff) you’ll need to do more planning.

Now do the same for your company.

Company Monthly Expense Examples:

  • Coworking Membership
  • Downtown Parking
  • GitHub Membership
  • Linode Hosting
  • Amazon Hosting
  • Books
  • Google Apps
  • Verizon Phone
  • Dropbox
  • Micro.Blog
  • Clicky / Web Statistics
  • Cushion / Finacial Software
  • Frontend Masters / Online Education

Company Yearly Expense Examples:

  • Two Conferences Events: $4000
  • Tax Preparation
  • New Mac every other year: $4000 × 0.5
  • New iPad every other year: $1100 × 0.5
  • New iPhone every other year: $1000 × 0.5
  • Vimeo PRO Membership
  • Apple Developer Membership
  • Trello
  • Hover Domains
  • Other Software

Notice how I distribute the costs of various hardware upgrades, which are bi-yearly, and do keep in mind this is all for rough estimating. I in-fact have held off on upgrading my iPhone recently so that’s extra money in the bank (kind of).

Next I work out my income:

## hours a week
## hours × $### per hour
{WeeklyRevenue} × 4 weeks
{MonthlyRevenue} - {TotalOfCompanyMonthlyExpenses} tax-free
{AdjustedMonthlyRevenueA} - 0.10 for Savings
{AdjustedMonthlyRevenueB} - 0.30 Tax Estimate Payments
{AdjustedMonthlyRevenueC} x 10 months // assuming 8 weeks off
{AdjustedYearlyRevenue} / 12 months of payouts
{AdjustedMonthlyIncome} $/month personal income

This last number needs to be able to cover your personal expenses. Using this formula you can get an idea of how many hours and at what rate you want to target for the year. Also, just covering personal expenses is probably a risky goal. You might want to up that savings calculation until you have 12 months of living expenses in the bank.

These things vary person to person, hopefully you’ve found this post useful. If I’ve forgotten anything blog your additions and share along. Thanks for reading.

Gaming Update, May 2018

From April trends, I continued to play Stardew Valley into early May. It kind of died off over the last few weeks though since I don’t have much left to do, beside more and more money.

I also finished April pretty heavy into the new Hearthstone expansion. It was fun to see the new cards and decks. Nothing ground breaking, fun times and good fodder while I also listen to podcasts.

What’s new for me is my second attempt at Zelda on Switch. I’ve made it much further than my first attempt (~ 15 hours in) and am getting better with the controls (though some mistakes still happen in the heat of battle). Exploring is fun though if I’m honest I feel like I would benefit from a little more direction. In my last play session I was tasked to fetch some arrows on a hill. There is a mob up there who I attempted to kill. I say attempted cause he kicked my ass repeatedly. I’ve been trying to avoid walkthroughs for this game but I wanted to take a peek to see if I was suppose to be here later in play, with more hearts and armor — turns out you are suppose to be stealthy and avoid this mob. We’ll see how that goes.

Second big update for me is Civilization 6! I bought the game when it first came out but never got too deep into it. I think I tripped over a YouTube video or something which put it back in my mind but yeah, I’m really enjoying it. It’s my first ever Civ game and the rules are overwhelming but fun to learn. The games last forever and it’s hard to put down so be prepared to dump major hours into game sessions. I’ve been playing standard games but it does have a lot of scenarios for a quicker experience I want to try out.

What’s next? Probably more Civilization 6 and Zelda. I also did purchase via pre-order Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze and Hyrule Warriors for Switch. I never got to play them on the WiiU but they look like fun. Also getting excited for E3 in June. There have been some Pokemon leaks for the Switch game and I’m a little nervous about the Go integration rumors but we’ll see how it turns out.

Philly Blockchain Tech Meetup

Local geek friend Ben DiFrancesc­o is starting up a new meetup called Philly Blockchain Tech:

Don’t miss the first ever meeting of Philly Blockchain Tech! Special thanks to our gracious hosts, Elsevier, for providing the space, food, and beverages!

Pizza and drinks will be served at 6:00 PM. At roughly 6:30, we’ll hear two brief talks from our organizers. In addition to introducing the group, sponsors, and thoughts for the future, Ben will discuss “Why Technologists and Entrepreneurs Should be Excited About Blockchain” and Ryan will present “A Look at the Cryptocurrency Landscape” from a developer’s point of view.

After the talks, we’ll leave time for open discussion about the meetup. We want to hear from you about how you’d like to see this meetup evolve and what you’re hoping to get from it! Any remaining time will be for socializing and open conversation.

Please share this event with anyone you know who might find this interesting! While we hope to focus on technology and entrepreneurship, we welcome people with all experience levels and professional backgrounds!

RSVP if you plan to attend!

360iDev 2017 Takeaways

360iDev is a long standing iOS developer conference held out in Denver, Colorado. This was my first year attending after hearing many good things from friends. Some quick notes:

  • Sunday, was a pre-conference education day. It had a mix of full day and half day workshops. I think there was some good content to be had, but I don’t think the majority of the workshops were scheduled and paced right. Some felt like runaway session presentations, more than training. I will admit though I am very biased in what I like to see in my workshops / bootcamp environments being a teacher myself.
  • Monday saw the official kickoff of the conference. The opening keynote from Soroush Khanlou reviewed how his own blog had influenced his career and encouraged us all to share more, which I think is great.
  • The closing keynote on Monday came from Mike Lee and he tore apart the tech industry’s obsession with growth and how it has negatively impacted us all. He wasn’t afraid to point out how we enable it and I will say, while Mike’s loud presence can sometimes put me off, he does get me thinking.
  • Tuesday opened with a second blast of harsh reality with Jay Freeman’s, “That’s How You Get a Dystopia”. In this talk Jay pointed out how we are enabling some pretty scary scenarios, from the fragility of the Tor network, to Apple pulling VPNs from China. For more personal actionable ideas, Jay pointed out how we could augment our own data capturing methods to make sure if the data is ever breached its value could be lessened, eg: no need to capture the identifiable IP addresses of people when zip codes will do and are not 1:1 trackable).
  • Tuesday closed with a Stump the Experts panel and funny enough I ended up on the panel. (Must be my gray hair.) I was very happy to get an Apple IIc piracy/drm question right. Was also happy to hear Conrad’s Philly CocoaHead talk get quoted as a source to help the panel get 10 points for some other question.
  • On Wednesday, John (conference organizer) opened with a very transparent take on how this year conference went and it’s trajectory. While there are many positives experiences it was sad to hear the conference ended up running as a ~$10,000 loss this year. This is obviously a labor of love for John and his crew and to have a negative cash flow on top of all the volunteering is disappointing. They have started up a new Patreon to try help balance the loss. I’m signed up for a $10 monthly donation and if you want to support one of the longest running iOS conferences I’d love to see you join too.
  • Lunches came in the form of vouchers to visit the local eateries in favor of drab hotel catering which I think worked out great. Getting out of the hotel for some sun is a nice break too. My only real feedback here, would be to extend the lunch break a bit more, since I got the feeling more than a handful were late when returning and it’s not fair for the people doing presentations after lunch break.
  • The sessions themselves broke down into a mix of technical and social/skill topics and there were usually a choice of 3 or 4 per time slot. The fact that there were many hard choices is a good sign for the content’s quality.
  • I did two talks. One was on Running a Meetup and the other on Code Review. The Meetup talk had light attendance, which I kind of expected going in — it’s a niche topic. But, for the people who did come, they seemed to enjoy and I’m looking forward to seeing it hosted online for others. The Code Review talk saw a good crowd and many even stayed well after for discussion in favor of running out to lunch which I took as a good sign.
  • Walking away from the conference I’m very excited to get back to work and try some of these things out (both on current projects and new ideas). I also have a strong feeling to get more into open sourcing my code and in general sharing my work.

My thanks to John and all of the rest of the staff.

My New Experiment: Journaling All the Things

At CocoaConf I attended a session from my fellow Big Nerd Ranch coworker, Mark Dalrymple. In this session he explored the questions we ask when looking for bugs — or more specifically their solutions.

At one point Mark showcased a text document that in glorious detail documented the assumptions, questions and answers he was going through to solve a problem. Now, this wasn’t a document Mark made for the talk, it was from a real journal entry he had. He was Rubber Ducking but documenting the discussion like a court reporter.

If you ever work with Mark you’ll quickly discover he is a relentless notetaker. This is just one more example of how it can pay off.

  • Need to step away to work on something else, here is a document to reload your context.
  • Need to invite someone else on to help solve the problem, here is your knowledge transfer.
  • Want to write up a blog post to help others in the future, here is your draft.

I left the session very inspired. As a result, for this week, technically my vacation week but I’m working on side projects, I’m starting an experiment where I try to emulate Mark’s journaling habits as best I can. I have 3 documents at the moment:

  • Daily Journal — Mostly flat list with GOALS for the day and then ACCOMPLISHMENTS of what actually got done at the end. If something in the list has notes in and of itself, it’s hot-linked to those on their own wiki page.
  • Company Journal — Documenting the efforts I’m putting into my side project and the company that encapsulates it.
  • Tech Journal — Starting with Apple, here is where I’m collection my thoughts, issues, and bugs relative to Apple technologies. I expect to make more for other stacks like web in the future.

I’m using VoodooPad for the actual files/wikis themselves. It works well letting me organize like a wiki and can handle screenshots too.

We’ll see how I hold up. I want to give it my all for at least a week and then will do a retrospective as to how it’s working out. There are challenges (like my current typing speed) but lots of potential benefits too.

Update: More from Mark’s own blog.

Do you journal like this? Any tips or other feedback? I’d love to hear it. Message me on Twitter @zorn or via email: mike@clickablebliss.com.

WWDC 2015 Wish List

While I won’t be at WWDC proper I will be in San Francisco the week of WWDC. I have a ticket to AltConf and otherwise expect to be mingling about.

What do I want to see announced? Here is some of my wish list.

Swift Improvements

  • Let me use Xcode’s refactor tool to refactor Swift.
  • Let me use Instruments to measure performance of Swift.
  • Introduce a tool similar to gofmt
  • Add standard library tools for processing JSON.
  • Continue to improve Obj-C Interoperability.
  • Swift versions of NSDate and NSDecimalNumber
  • Fix the “I have to make it public or double add the modules” to let tests see code issue.

Xcode

  • Introduce a cloud service version of Xcode Server.
  • Improve Xcode Templates (eg: should recommend new test file with new class).
  • Add code coverage tools.
  • Improve testing tools. (Maybe add a formal UI testing layer?)
  • Add a spell checker that is smart about function names and other symbols.
  • Stability improvements.

Others

  • Let me slide loads apps outside the App Store.
  • Improve App Store searching, browsing and discovery.
  • Formal API to iTunes Connect.
  • Third Party Siri access.

Mike Monteiro on Selling Design, Getting Paid and Working with Clients

I’m not sure if “Selling Design” is the real title for the Keynote at Interaction15 (1h5m) but that’s the topic your are going to see. Mike Monteiro a does a great job reviewing some of the pitfalls creative people run into when working with and presenting their work to clients and all the delicacies of those relationships. For those doing contract work, a must see.

You might also like Mike’s talk: Fuck You, Pay Me or his books, Design is a Job and You’re My Favorite Client.

Contracting and project management are topics that regularly come up at my job, Philly CocoaHeads and IndyHall so I’m going to try to do better about writing about those issues here. In the mean time, I highly recommend Mike’s work to get your own brain turning.