Archive for Personal

Typefully Profile

In recent years I’ve been doing less blogging here, but writing more on Twitter.

When I have a bit more to say, I’ve found Typefully as a really nice writing tool. They also have a “Profile” view that rolls up tweet threads into blog post form. My latest posts are here:



I took my first sabbatical this year, after Close started (generously) offering fully paid 4-week sabbaticals for all employees after 5 years.

Recently I spoke with our CEO, Steli, who just came back from his own sabbatical, about how our sabbaticals went and what we learned. Our conversation was recorded for our company’s internal podcast (we use Castos) but I thought I’d also write up some of my sabbatical thoughts and lessons learned while our conversation is still fresh…

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Introducing TeamHome

I built a micro-SaaS as my pandemic side project: – An internal company directory designed for remote teams. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Read on for details & some background…

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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,

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

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: – 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

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.

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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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I setup my first personal webpage ( 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:


Blog article page:

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!

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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Technologies I’ve worked with in 2009

One benefit of doing freelance development work is that I get the opportunity to get involved in many different technologies and frameworks in a short amount of time.

Since the year is over… here’s a quick list of 15 technologies/frameworks that I got to learn in 2009 alone, during my last year in college.

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Graduation thoughts: best classes at UF for Computer Engineering

In three weeks from today, I will have graduated, with honors, from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Computer Engineering (software emphasis) and a minor in Business Administration.  Overall, I’ve had an incredible college experience and have learned a ton, had some great experiences, and built relationships with a lot of really great people.

I thought it’d be worth mentioning the classes at UF that, looking back, had the greatest impact on me.  I’ve taken a bunch of classes over the past 4.5 years, but these were the ones that I really can appreciate the most…
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Now I’m a PHP5 Zend Certified Engineer

I had a few goals for this summer away from school.  I wanted to go to some tech conferences, check out more startups and web companies in both Silicon Valley and closer to home in Florida, and continue with my freelance development work.  I also decided I wanted to take the Zend PHP 5 Certification test to learn more, see what I know, and to separate myself from every other kid who thinks they know PHP.

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Google Summer Internship Completed / Goodbye California

This summer I had the privilege to intern at Google and spent another summer in Silicon Valley – the hub of all things tech-related. My internship lasted 10 weeks and, much like my Yahoo! internship last summer (I gave my reasons for not going back to Yahoo! this summer), I had an incredible experience.

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Google Summer Internship

I’m was recently offered and accepted an internship at Google for the summer. I’m extremely excited about this opportunity as I’ll be working at the company which has been having such an incredible amount of impact on the web. I’m looking forward to being around and learning from the very talented people that work there.

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Thoughts and Recap of SXSW

This post comes a bit late, but I wanted to recap my experience at SXSW Interactive 2007. I decided to diverge from the typical college spring break plan and headed out to Austin, TX for the 4-day conference covering topics such as web design, usability, blogging, and other technology.

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New Website Launched – 24/7 Tutor

I just completed a web design project for 24/7 Tutor – a new Gainesville-based tutoring service for UF students. They let students call them literally 24 hours a day for tutoring in a growing list of difficult classes…

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Interesting School Projects

This semester has lended for some school projects a little different than usual. Some seem to be even… useful?

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Look, I’m famous…

Look mom, I’m famous… the Yodel Anecdotal (Yahoo’s Corporate Blog) released a podcast on social networking that features me and 6 other interns discussing current trends in social networking. Go check it out.

Internship with Yahoo! Completed

I have officially completed my internship with Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, CA for the summer and am back home in beautiful Jacksonville, FL. Overall I had an incredible experience and learned a ton. My eyes were opened to the large amount of tech start-ups and large companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. I got to see the office buildings of Yahoo!, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, eBay, Adobe, Altera, McAffee, WebEx, Facebook, Flock, and Meebo. You just can’t do that anywhere else. I always knew there was a Silicon Valley, but living in the area and rubbing shoulders with so many talented people in one area was a new experience for me.

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Some lessons on business from traveling

I am fortunate enough to be able to work from Florida for a couple days due to July 4th, leaving me with a nice 9-day visit back home. While traveling, I observed a couple of interesting things about business, opportunities, and life. Check them out… Read the rest of this entry »

Fun times in Cali – including BarCamp

I’ll post about working for Yahoo! more later, but I just want to write about some fun times in northern California over the last couple weeks. From disc golf in Santa Cruz (photos) with Dimitry Bentsionov and Scott Schiller, to taking a road trip to Santa Barbara with some local Kappa Sigma guys, or just hanging out in San Jose (photos), my time here has been great so far. Read the rest of this entry »

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