Weekend Reading: CAC, Alexander Hamilton, and Flow

November 10, 2018 • #

🛒 What is Customer Acquisition Cost?

This is a great overview of the importance of CAC in a SaaS business.

One of the enjoyable things about SaaS is how much you can modify and optimize what you’re doing by measuring various parts of your process, especially in SMB-focused SaaS. Marketing, early-stage sales, late-stage sales, customer success — it’s like a machine with separate stages you can tweak separately to make incremental improvements.

📜 The Legacy of Alexander Hamilton

On the similarities between Hamilton and Edmund Burke:

“There are several significant points of contact between the two thinkers. Both Burke and Hamilton used historical experience as the standard for judging the validity of ideas and policies. They rejected appeals to ahistorical abstraction, disparaging metaphysical and theoretical speculation. Historical circumstances were paramount in their prudential judgment. Consequently, they avoided ideological rigidity in their thinking because they understood that a priori rationalism could not account for the particular circumstances in which statesmen had to navigate the ship of state.”

🚰 Microsoft Flow

I didn’t realize Microsoft had an automation service akin to Zapier or IFTTT. Will have to check this one out and see what it can do with Fulcrum.

Link Queueing with Shortcuts

November 9, 2018 • #

Most reading on my iPad happens in Reeder, Instapaper, or a browser. I wanted to come up with a way to save URLs in a text file for easy access for new link posts and archive purposes. This seems like a great candidate use case for trying out Workflow again which Apple has renamed Shortcuts.

I use Ulysses for most note-taking and writing purposes on the iPad. It syncs with iCloud between desktop and mobile, has good organization support, and is a good Markdown editor. it also is integrated with Shortcuts.

First I set up a sheet in Ulysses called “Link Queue” where I’d keep a running list of URLs to save for later. After that placeholder is there, I pulled up the Share view on that Sheet (by sliding left to see more options), then tapped the “Copy Callback Identifier” option to grab the Sheet ID. That’s what’s needed in the action used in the Shortcut.

Ulysses Share Sheet Ulysses Share Sheet

In Shortcuts you only need a couple of steps. I set the shortcut to accept Text or URLs (in case I also want to append selected text blocks to the same file) and pass that to the “Add to Ulysses Sheet” action. This is where the ID copied above is entered. That’s all — link appended to the end, with a new line after, ready for the next in the queue.

Shortcuts link queue Shortcuts link queue

This has already been a handy, quick way to keep URLs saved in a place where I can get them later.

Every time I mess around with Shortcuts I feel like I’m missing out on some handy automations. I need to keep it in mind when working to think through other repeated activities to streamline.

Elections, 2018

November 6, 2018 • #

Voting is something most Americans take for granted. In our work we cross paths with a lot of folks in other countries where this luxury is rare, corrupt, or non-existent. Humanitarian projects and security work allow us to see firsthand how much less individual freedom and respect citizens have in so many places around the world.

2018 election

Each year when I walk over to the polls to vote and see all the other people out to cast theirs, I think about how cool it is to get to contribute. Our system is definitely not without its problems, but listening to the average day on Twitter or cable news hour, you’d think we lived in an authoritarian police state. I’ve been to a couple of tame authoritarian countries and I don’t think most Americans could conceive of a place where Twitter could be banned for weeks by a single leader’s decree. We’ve got improvements to make, but at least we get to try and make them ourselves.

Running Update

November 4, 2018 • #

After a tumultuous 8-10 months since last summer, I’ve gotten regularly back into running the last few months. I did over 50K in distance during August. I haven’t checked, but that must be a personal record. There were 2 weeks in a row with 3 10K runs a piece in there. Running late in the evening has turned out to be good for multiple reasons; I can always guarantee the freedom on the schedule and the weather is more manageable at 10pm in August and September.

But I think all those long runs in that spell screwed up my right knee. None of those runs that month felt bad — in fact quite the opposite. Each one felt great, during and after. But a week or so later I had a really uncomfortable morning run, only a few miles and every bit past the first felt terrible. Fatigue in the calves and ankles, higher-than-normal heart rate. I think a combination of overwork, dehydration, and poor warm up combined to mess me up. The next several activities felt better, but the knee pain would be noticeable each time — not so much during activities, but the next morning.

On the advice of Caleb, I bought a wobble board and a foam roller to do better with my post-workout routine. The foam roller to avoid fascia injury and loosen muscle fibers, and the board to work on ankle and knee stability. I’ve only been using them for a week, but we’ll see how that cool down activity helps the joints feel better.

The last 3 weeks or so have been busy, with the All Hands week, tons of personal family events, and other various things. I’m hoping to get back on a consistent pace through the rest of the year as the weather gets much more tenable and enjoyable.

Weekend Reading: AV-Human Interaction, iPad Pro, and Buying Out Investors

November 3, 2018 • #

🚙 How Self-Driving Cars Could Communicate with You

Interesting work by Ford’s self-driving team on how robotic vehicles could signal intent to pedestrians. You normally think Waymo, Tesla, and Uber with AV tech. But Ford’s investment in Argo and GM with Cruise demonstrates they’re serious.

📲 The iPad Pro is a Computer

Jason Snell’s thoughts on the new iPad Pro release last week:

I love the new design of the iPad Pro models. The flat back with the flat sides, which remind me of the original iPad design and the iPhone 4/5/SE, is a delight. But when you pick one up, the first thing you notice is that the bezels are even all the way around—and they’re almost, but not quite, gone entirely

An improved keyboard case, new revision to the Pencil, reduced bezel width, and Face ID support are all the right updates to make to get me closer to the goal of iPad Pro over laptop. The Folio idea for the case sounds fantastic, and with the Pencil, it’s amazing how innovative it can seem to add a small flat segment to keep it from rolling off the table.

💵 We Spent $3.3M Buying Out Investors

Buffer’s Joel Gascoigne with an in-depth overview of how they bought out their Series A investors to reset. Their Open blog series is worth a follow. They openly publish all sorts of insider details on running and growing a startup that are insightful for comparison.

The State of RSS

November 1, 2018 • #

The heyday of RSS is long behind us. Ever since the shutdown of Google Reader in 2013, the crown of feed-based content consumption has been taken by Twitter. There’s something about the heavily personalized nature of RSS that keeps me using it consistently, though, at least as often as I go to Twitter these days.

The way I have always used RSS, I tend to subscribe to “trickle” feeds — blogs of individual writers or smaller publications that don’t suffer from the compulsion to post 20 times a day. There’s a calmness with using RSS feeds that you never get on Twitter. A combination of longer-form writing and the lack of endless retweeting and amplification of the same things keeps the peace when catching up on the latest updates.

Since the sting of the free Google Reader getting sunset unexpectedly, I’ve been paying for Feedbin as my reader of choice, with Reeder on iOS for mobile use. I’ve been very happy with both.

With how many blogs have moved to Medium now (at least in my universe), it’s a good thing that they’re still supporting the RSS standard.

RSS has waned in popularity the last few years, but if you want to keep it in your life, there are plenty of excellent content producers still enthusiastically supporting it.