Archive for Personal

HackToStart Podcast

I got interviewed for my first podcast recently. It’s called HackToStart, and it’s one that I’ve been listening to for a while now, so I was excited to be a guest on the show. Check it out here:

Hack To Start | Phil Freo, Full Stack Developer, Close.io

In the show we also discuss one of my latest blog posts: The last 20% before shipping.

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My mobile workstation setup

Since my wife got a nursing job in Stockton, I’ve drastically increased the time I spend working while traveling, in coffee shops or hotels where I don’t have my typical desk and monitor setup. Since I get a ton of compliments and questions about it when I’m working from Starbucks all day, I thought I’d share my ultimate mobile workstation guide.

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Launched: ArticleListen.com – integration between Pocket & Umano to hear your saved articles read aloud

I built a quick mashup/integration between two services that I love using, that I thought would be “better together”. It’s live at ArticleListen.com.

I use Pocket to save a queue of any article (blog post, news story, etc.) that I see on Hacker News, Twitter, Facebook, etc. There’s a web & mobile browser extensions for saving articles you see, and Mac & iOS apps for reading these articles later all in one place, even offline.

Using Pocket can be good for productivity because you may see a headline that interests you, but you really shouldn’t be reading it now. By saving it to Pocket you know you can easily find and read it later. I’ve got a few hundred articles saved from over the past couple years. I often read a few articles at a time, but they still build up.

I also use Umano, which is a service that has professional voice actors record narrated articles from across the web. It’s perfect for commuting. Many of the articles are only a few minutes long, so even a quick trip to the store or walking to the train can be enough to hear an article or two about something that interests you. Tech, current news, etc.

Umano has some article discovery built in (a “popular” page and a way to see which articles your Facebook friends on Umano liked), however they have thousands of articles already recorded and so finding what you really want to listen to is still difficult.

Then I realized that all the articles I wanted to read or listen to were already saved in my Pocket queue, so during part of a couple weekends I put together this site to do a few things:

  • Look through my Pocket queue and identify which articles were already on Unman
  • Allow me to very easily add matching articles to my “playlist” in Umano
  • Also allow me to “Vote” in Umano for the articles that are already in my queue
  • Add “tags” into Pocket for articles that were added to my Umano playlist, so I can easily archive those in Pocket

Umano does have a Chrome extension (and generic bookmarklet) for “voting” for articles, but I wanted my primary queue to be something like Pocket, which is better built for general purpose article saving, I didn’t want to have to save every article to two places, and I mostly wanted to listen to the articles that were already in my queue.

Check it out: ArticleListen.com

Feedback is welcome.

Built using Python/Flask and Bootstrap.

Future improvements I’d like to make: It should continually monitor a Pocket queue for new articles ongoing – looking for matches and adding them to Umano without any user interaction. At the moment you just have to login to the site occasionally.

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My IKEA standing desk

I’ve been wanting a standing desk at home, ever since our old Elastic office had standing desks. The key though is getting it to be the perfect height, and not spending a fortune. After some careful measurements I determined that my standing desk surface should be exactly 40″ from the ground, so that my arms at ~90 degree angles would fall perfectly on them when I’m standing (I’m 5’6″ or 5’7″).

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End of 2012 Review

At the end of a year I like looking back and seeing what I’ve accomplished and what new technologies I started working with in the year. Here’s a little summary.

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Mac Software I Use

I just got a sweet new MacBook Pro Retina – way faster than my old MBP. I wanted to do a clean install rather than restoring from a TimeMachine backup, which meant reinstalling software and manually transferring stuff over that I really needed. I kept a list…

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PhilFreo.com v3 (and past versions)

I setup my first personal webpage (philfreo.com) in 2004 when I was in high school. It’s had some server-side includes and a tiny amount of logic written in ASP. It looked like this:

I redesigned it once in 2006 during my Yahoo! internship, and it looked like this:

And there my website sat from 2006 until 2012. That’s forever in internet years!

So here we are in the summer of 2012 – time for a redesign! Nothing too fancy, just clean up the styles to be more modern and representative of the current web. It should tell people about the 2012 Phil Freo rather than the high school or college version of me. It should no longer focused on my freelance website design (where I once dominated SEO for terms like “gainesville web design” and “jacksonville web design”) and now more focused on my work with startups, modern full-stack web development, and my blog.

You’re probably looking at the new site now, but for archival purposes, here are some screenshots:

Homepage:

Blog article page:

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Two Years at Quizlet

The last two years (2010-2011) I spent working at Quizlet were an incredible learning experience.

Like I did in Jan 2010, I wanted to reflect on some of the technologies I learned and things I did over the last 2 years…

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Behind the scenes look at my work at Quizlet

I just wrote a pretty in-depth article on the Quizlet Blog: “How We Do Product Development at Quizlet: An Inside Look at the Making of Speller” which describes the process of how Andrew and I created “Speller”, the latest study mode on Quizlet.

…a behind the scenes look at how we created Speller, our engineering challenges and processes, and how we obsessed over the user experience and the educational experience.

Includes some technical details of how we programmed it (mostly JavaScript), the text-to-speech, development process and usability testing, and lots of screenshots of the different iterations we did in order to get the UI right.

It’s a little long, but hopefully worth the read!

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New Job with Startup: Old School Industries

I just accepted a full-time position at a small startup in San Francisco as a lead Developer and Product Manager.  The company is called Old School Industries LLC and is a combination of two businesses: Quizlet and Collectors Weekly.

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