Assigning Task Clusters Across Different Browsers

I’ve been finding myself opening multiple browsers types (say, Chrome, Safari and Firefox)  just to run specific workflows at work. This was brought about by a recent acquisition by my company that required me to log in to different accounts from the same website. Going through this process was pretty hard, considering that  I had to log-in to some sites where I actually have a personal account (case in point, Amazon). So as to preserve my cookies and a rock-solid Chrome workflow that relies heavily on the Bookmarks bar, I’ve resorted to opening Safari and Firefox just to perform a series of tasks.

Having said that, I’m totally fine with this until a better solution comes to Chrome (or a better approach). I find grouping tasks by browser pretty productive as well since I have a different set of browser-specific bookmarks that I can just click in sequence. To illustrate, I currently use Firefox for Payroll, Accounts Receivable/Payable and updating our monthly P&L. Safari on the other hand, is used for tasks that require me to regularly check account balances. It’s just easier this way. I once used the Incognito Window in Chrome for this, only to realize that I’m just wasting so much time trying to log-in and out of these accounts. So the obvious solution? Multiple browsers.

So let’s get this out of the way, Chrome remains to be my default browser but I’m not happy with the way they supposedly improved the native bookmarking feature. I find it really hard to manage multiple bookmarks and organizing them to workflow specific folders. It’s a classic case of list view doing the job pretty well.

Panic's Status Board

Revisiting Status Board

I first talked about almost forgotten apps in my last post with the OS X Dashboard. Since then, I actually took some time diving deeper with OS X’s notification center. Maybe it’s wasn’t them (Apple) all along and I was just being stubborn, hanging on to this to feature. I cleaned up my notification center a bit and still find more value in getting some stuff done via the OS X Menu Bar (with an active developer community around it).  I’m still using my Dashboard.

Another ghost town that I’m still rooting for is Panic Software’s Status Board App. Released in April of 2013, it  reached #1 on the AppStore charts when it launched. Like a lot of people back then, I was a big fan of the original blog post that inspired the creation of the app. Paying $9.99 for the base app was a no-brainer.  I’ve always dreamed of  a dashboard as my third screen so a few days later, I ended up buying a gooseneck mount in Amazon.  Community driven sites like statusboardapp.info had a steady stream of DIY panels in its database.  Apps like Vigil (which I still use) and GoSquared played really well with the board with native support.

The Status Board app got its last update in October 2014 and by this point, I’ve stopped using the app. Some fans have expressed their disappointment too, it seems. On the app page, you’ll see 1-star reviews from users complaining about how Panic just abandoned the app. My interest in the app came back when I upgraded my RescueTime account to the premium version and learned that they have a custom panel for Status Board. Awesome! Almost two years after first installing Status Board , I’m rebuilding my board again and looking for panels that I missed.

So maybe it’s not really a ghost town, it’s still ranked pretty well in the Productivity Charts. My only wish at this point is for SaaS developers to allocate some time and resources (I don’t think it’s that complicated) to add Status Board support. After all, it was what prompted me to sign-up for services like Vigil and GoSquared before.  Sure, there are a lot of DIY panels out there in the wild, freely available on Github but adding these to a Status Board still takes a lot of work (except for the awesome Fitboard.me ).

Developers should also be incentivized here, like a simple app-store for Statusboard panels. IFTTT and Zapier support would be great too.

The OS X Dashboard

I’ve been a fan of hot corners on OS X since I switched to a Mac in 2006. On the top left, I have Mission Control, Notification Center  on the top right, Desktop on the bottom right and on the bottom left, you’ll activate OS X’s legacy Dashboard view. Yep, the one with the widgets.

Some people have been declaring the Dashboard’s demise for quite some time now.  While people are celebrating its evolution to the notification center, some are shocked to learn that it still shipped with the latest version of OS X with no new features or improvements whatsoever. While OS X has transitioned to a flat aesthetic, the Dashboard seems to hang on to its Skeumorphic UI. Not even Apple could be bothered to change it. And oh, have you seen the Throwback Thursday feel of  Dashboard website?

Is this the equivalent of an OS appendix? 

Well I’m quite happy with my appendix thank you very much. Despite the obvious lack of support, I still find myself using the dashboard only because I’ve built certain habits around it through the years. It’s just easier to browse stocks and foreign exchange rates, use the calculator and view my the world clock instead of scrolling down notification center.

I still see no reason to decommission my Dashboard. It has served me well. The fact that Dashboards have a full screen view dedicated to it means that you can focus on each and every widget. It’s just a shame that we’re not seeing new widgets for stubborn ones like me. Maybe it’s time to develop meaningful experiences again on the dashboard?

2014: A Year in Review

2014 brought a renewed focus to things that matter. I’ve been blessed with a vibrant professional career and a family that’s due to expand early next year (read: my wife and I are having a baby boy!). It’s the last day of 2014 and I’ve booked a Breather room in Central Park South . My yearly planning session begins with an honest review of how I spent the past 365 days.

It’s been almost 3 years since I moved to New York. Since then I’ve gotten married (2013), stayed in 5 different apartments and consumed a lot of pizza. I made it a point to write again this year so hopefully I can keep this up despite the distractions of Social Media, Tumblr and Medium. It just feels good to talk about anything on my own site. While this post may not cover everything that happened in 2014, it pretty much represents some of the notable ones.

Open for Business: The Year of the Side Hustle

I didn’t really have a concrete game plan in 2014 in terms of rekindling my love affair with personal projects. I just knew that I had to do it again, having left a hybrid corporate/entrepreneurial life in the Philippines. Who would’ve thought I’d end up with 3 new ventures? I talked about my remittance-in-kind website AndyanAgad here and a few days ago, I wrote about my hot sauce project Traydor. Since I plan to do more projects in 2015, I partnered with my long-time collaborator Jeffery in setting up a software foundry in the Philippines called Tweeklabs, with 3 employees and counting.

It’s been a great learning experience, considering all three businesses have different revenue models. Most importantly, these businesses have generated enough revenue to make them all worthwhile.

Analytics

It’s all about adding a new practice layer every year. In 2013, I decided to be a web designer and bill man hours for it. This year, well, I wanted to develop some expertise on web analytics. There’s a huge analytics talent gap in the market right now and while data science requires a special aptitude in Maths and Statistics, Google Analytics provided me with an accessible training plan (through Analytics Academy) and more importantly, a lot of opportunity to practice through my clients. After going through the initial course and doing lots of self-study, I got my certification from Google in less than a month. Devoting a couple of hours daily to learn this skill has proven to be useful in numerous situations at work.

Writing

JC and Seth Godin

Of course I had to do content marketing this year. It was inevitable. To be honest, I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about “corporate blogging” becoming a thing again. But it was more than that. After completing the Copyblogger Authority course at the start of the year and actually doing content marketing at work, I can confidently say that content should be the cornerstone of anybody’s marketing plan. Key highlights include flying to Denver to attend Authority Intensive and almost reading the Buffer Blog archives in its entirety.

In a past life, I used to write for Entrepreneur Magazine Philippines. Did it for almost 5 years. Getting back to writing and applying what I learned has helped scratch that itch.

Here are some select articles from 2014

Blueprint: How to Create a Secure Downloads System in WordPress
Better Social Media Measurement with Google Analytics Solutions Gallery
Get Qualified People with 4 Facebook Advertising Strategies

Reading

The writer should also be a reader. I’m on my 3rd year of doing the Goodreads reading challenge and for 2014, I read a total of 24 books. I could’ve read more but my Instapaper reading list got in the way. Standouts include Tracey Thorn’s Bedsit Disco Queen, a pretty candid memoir from the other half of Everything but the Girl and Greg Sestero’s “The Disaster Artist,” which was an entertaining read, given that it was also my first time to view the Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” at the Landmark Sunshine.

View the full list here.

Music 

jcmedina_listening_trends__5_

Music provided a lot of warmth during colder months as shown by the squid-like graph above. Critics have officially declared 2014 as a horrible year for music but I personally loved Yumi Zouma, Little Dragon, Basement Jaxx  and La Roux. Yes, there was an obvious shortage of great music, but that also meant revisiting old favorites like Everything but the Girl and Gonzales.

Rica Zouma

Travel

travels

I go where my friends and family want me to go. Due to its proximity to New York, we found ourselves escaping this year’s Polar Vortex to Cancun, which turned out to be a real vacation where you stuff yourself silly, drink frozen margaritas the whole day and not leave your hotel. Bermuda, a trip we took during Summer, had the most amazing beaches.

Work, on the other hand, allowed me to see the rest of Murica with me visiting Phoenix and Denver for the first time. I had a short trip to San Francisco in the first half of the year and actually considered moving there. But for now, NYC is home.

GR Caribe by Solaris Cancun Mexico

Niagara Falls

Bermuda 2014

Montreal 2014

Movement 

I fell in love with running again this year and clocked in over 400 miles with my old pair of Lunarglider 2s.  With an apartment conveniently located between two amazing public parks (Riverside and Central Park), I had no excuse to run. Weekend runs have turned into a 3x a week morning running habit, and I push myself to do longer and longer runs. With baby Max on the horizon, it’s time to get fit.

So I tried crossfit…it was a disaster.

JAM-fitbit-2014

A record setting year for fitbit miles. Thanks to running!

 

JAM-nike-2014

Slower but more or less consistent.

Productivity

I’ve always been obsessed with ambient activity tracking (I am my own personal NSA) so upgrading my Rescue Time account was a no-brainer.

RescueTime_-_Your_Yearly_dashboard

A productivity pulse of 73 is okay, by any standard…considering my Macbook Air also doubles as a personal machine.

Here are some boring stats (in bullet points):

  • Work Email – 189 hours
  • Work Chat – 125 hours
  • Basecamp – 88 hours
  • Photoshop – 33 hours
  • Facebook – 87 hours (yikes!)
  • Twitter – 30 hours (yikes!)
  • Spotify – 22 hours
  • Soundcloud – 10 hours
  • Evernote – 18 hours
  • Wikipedia – 14 hours

Meal of the Year

Excellent Pork Chop House

Eating out in New York can really put a dent in your wallet. My wife and I decided to eat out less and just cook dinner (roughly 5x a week).  Still, we had a chance to enjoy meals at Perla, All’Onda, Maialino and other restaurants that had restaurant week promotions. We’re cheap!

Speaking of cheap, New York will never run out of cheap meals that make eating out truly worth it. I’m a creature of habit so it’s no wonder that my favorite meal of the year was the Porkchop over Rice at Taiwan Pork Chop House in Chinatown. For a little over five bucks, it gives you an amazing piece of pork with some pickled vegetables, an egg on top of rice. A close second would be the my happy $21 meal at the Flatiron District’s  Taste of Persia, composed of Kabab, Fesenjan with Saffron Rice paired with their signature Ash Reshteh. The graciousness of its owner, Saeed makes the meal extra good.

Kabab, Fesenjan and Ash e Reshteh

 The Year Ahead

The beginning of 2014 had a lot uncertainty to it until it emerged as one of my most productive years.  2015 brings about a lot of change with fatherhood as my flagship project. My wife and I already repurposed some space in the apartment, we’re putting stuff into storage and anxiously waiting until our little winter baby  pops out. It’s going to be amazing.

While I already have an idea on where I’d like to bring myself professionally (), it’s time to experience new things and make the most out of the new year. The objective is to sustain all these small projects, drop the distracting ones and keep on creating value for my companies, employers and employees.

And probably reduce Facebook time by half.

Baby Max

We’ll see you soon Max! From our family to yours, Have an awesome 2015!

A Thousand Bottles

Airmail

Tired and jet lagged after a 22-hour flight from New York, I wanted to catch up with friends before things go crazy. I was getting married in two weeks.

At around this time, I’ve already decided that I would like to start a hot sauce project.

It was 2013, and the torta joint near our apartment had bottles of this interesting looking condiment. El Yucateco Kutbil-ik, stood out for the following reasons, 1. The packaging looked authentic (like a Mexican pantry staple), 2. it had a weird name and 3. It had a grayish brown color -not your typical red pepper sauce. I doused my sandwich with this strange looking sauce and as soon as it went down, it felt like a punch in the gut. I wanted more.

I drench my fried chicken with Texas Pete’s, my Baos with Sriracha and oysters with Tabasco. I love the stuff, but you can say the same for a majority of people who have a certain tolerance for hot sauce. For me to taste this strange Mexican import made me realize that there’s so much to discover at the grocery hot sauce aisle. Eventually, each trip to the grocery meant buying $2.99 bottles of hot sauce to add to my collection. There were good ones and some gathering dust because it was just bad.

I’ve always been fond of my friend Toogy. He was the guy who’d make Porchetta for us after a Sunday long run and once cooked Cochinillo for our Rockeoke Christmas Party. A CIA-trained Chef, he moved back to Manila after cooking for restaurants in the US. Even when I moved here in New York, we’ve always kept in touch. So it was good seeing him that December in Manila.

Toogy was  looking for something to reboot his career. I told him about my plan of making hot sauce and there was clear congruence on what we wanted to do. Gabe, my closest friend also tried to dabble in the hot sauce business  and he suggested that we call it “Traydor” which is the Tagalog word for “Traitor”.

As soon as I got back to New York, we started a Basecamp page just to get things organized (and for everyone to take this seriously). Having a project page  meant that we were going to communicate efficiently despite being 8000 miles apart. I even had a recurring task named “Traydor” checkpoint every Wednesday just to make sure we were on the ball with this.

The initial prototypes were developed mid-January. We posted some amateur market research as well, like potential competitors, chili suppliers and recipes. We tried to be consistent with our communications, we’d make sure that not a week goes by without posting anything on Basecamp. Toogy got busy with work February so at one point I was just posting articles about hot sauce. And yet, he was experimenting with different recipes during his free time.

I flew back to Manila in April for my in-law’s wedding. I finally had a chance to taste the prototypes. In the process of developing Traydor, we decided on leveraging the ubiquity of Siling Labuyo (Capsicum Annuum) which is indigenous to the Philippines. It’s small but terrible, pulling in over 100,000 Scoville Units. We ordered some chicken fingers and pizza that night and the prototypes had a distinct kick to it. It lingered in your mouth. But it just stayed there, and didn’t quite shake things up in your belly.

I posted these notes:

Traydor_Foods__Project_Update

Toogy went on to develop 4 variants. The thing was, I can’t really do much work here in New York, so I’d post items on Basecamp asking Toogy if there’s anything I can do to help (Traydor Checkpoint –check). Funding? Should we incorporate the company? How about a website for this? I even registered traydorfoods.com at one point. I felt lucky enough to do this project with friends, and when asked if this is something worthwhile and fun for the founders, it was an obvious yes.

Then comes May. Toogy wanted to use medicine bottles for packaging so went ahead with that. We commissioned someone to do the packaging as well, and we were lucky enough to get Toogy’s sister-in-law to design this.Traydor_Foods__Update__Traydor_Hot_Pepper_Sauces

We were ready to launch at this point. All the 4 variants have been tested, but we never really had any form of validation except for that one time where Toogy invited his friends to try our sauces over barbecue.

I was chatting with my friend Dara one day in June and told her about the hot sauce project.

Traydor_Foods__Bottling_and_Labeling

After a hilarious Facebook chat with the Uncle, we signed up for the Chilliheads Philippines group on the network. The group page was one big lovefest, with people posting photos of Chilli plants, homebrew hotsauce and seeds(!). Members were trading seeds and sharing tips on cultivation. These guys were pretty serious about their hobby too. They had Bhuts, Morugas and Scotch Bonnets. It was intense, and their enthusiasm was infectious.

At around this time, we already had the labels in place. Things were really looking good.

IMG_0776

Gabe had his improv group test our sauce and we used the feedback to further tweak the recipe into something that’s actually worth paying for. My folks were moving apartments here so we donated an old chiller to Traydor to store the initial inventory.

A friend of mine hand carried two bottles of Traydor in August. It was a huge improvement from the ones I tasted last April.

Traydor_Foods__My_Review_

At around this time, Toogy’s attention shifted to the Hot Sauce competition happening in October. We were all in support of it since it was good for initial publicity and of course, bragging rights. While this was happening, Toogy’s wife Laveena helped out in conducting a focus group discussion just to the marketability of the hot sauce brand. We also got into a call with some branding people, but ultimately, we decided to be more conservative and just focus on launching it without much fanfare. It’s been 9 months and this is taking longer than expected. It was time to ship.

1932590_10152383491732256_1857194881574429509_o
Winning the hot sauce competition (under the labuyo category) was the shot in the arm we needed. For one, it energized Toogy and Laveena in taking this to the finish line. It also helped that the Christmas season was just around the corner. A Facebook page was set up for this purpose. While this was happening, the husband and wife team was also working on a line of pasta sauces, salad dressings and flavored butters. These elves in the kitchen were out to make this happen.

Come December, everything just fell into place. We got a nice writeup in Philippine-site clickthecity.com and got featured on the Instagram account of Pepper.ph. I was getting emails from Laveena, which contained a tally of people ordering from the Facebook page and email. We were already thrilled in getting over 8 orders at the start, mostly from friends and family. To reasons unknown to us (or maybe it’s really like this during Christmas), 8 became 60, 60 became 300, 300 became 600.

A photo posted by Pepper.ph (@pepper.ph) on

In reference to Laveena’s email sent last December 15. We were on track to sell over a thousand bottles of Traydor Hot Sauce. Since they were doing this all by themselves, I was surprised that they even lasted this long, enduring all-nighters not to mention handling customer inquiries. Just like that, everything became a reality. I’m really proud of these guys.

It’s a wrap for 2014 and the Traydor team is looking forward to regroup and take this little hot sauce project further. Maybe we should do custom blends for Manila restaurants or how about asking other indie hot sauce producers to release a special bundle early next year?

I can’t wait to regroup on Basecamp.