LinkedIn hit the news today, announcing that most of their employees would be allowed to continue working remotely if they desired, although they noted that employees who move to cheaper cities would have their pay adjusted (or “slashed,” as the New York Post somewhat pejoratively put it). This follows moves from companies like Facebook, who have adopted similar policies. A hue and cry was raised when Facebook set their policy, and I expect LinkedIn will receive similar commentary. I wanted to try and offer a non-opinionated backgrounder on these policies.[Read more…] about A Primer on Geographic Pay
A status report from August 2021.
When Apple released their M1 MacBook Air, I got one. Fully loaded really, since there’s only a couple of possible configurations (the RAM is actually part of the processor configuration, as it has a unified memory model, so they only have a couple of RAM options). I love the Air: it’s lightweight, it lasts all day, and the Apple silicon version doesn’t even have a fan, because ARM rocks. I should note that I’m mainly a “knowledge worker;” I don’t need to run VMs or use any heavy-duty creative software, so the Air does everything I need.
The biggest gripe I have with it is that you can’t get media streaming apps that permit downloads. That’s almost certainly because, on macOS, I can get to the downloaded files and potentially pirate them; doing so is much harder on iOS and iPadOS. So even though it was briefly possible to download Netflix’ iOS app and run it on the Air, they quickly stopped that from working. But I consume a butt-tonne of content, and I’m often offline when doing so. For example, when we’re going up to our cabin for a weekend, we have to download anything we might want to watch, because the Internet up there is anemic on a very good day, and we have very few very good days.
As a result, I also have an iPad. I actually had an older generation Pro which was doing “fine,” although the battery was clearly starting to show its age. So when Apple came out with the M1 iPad Pro, I thought… huh. Limitations of iPadOS aside, I wondered if I could actually use an iPad as my full-time machine. I mean, it’s the same screen size as the Air, right? Same processor. Same RAM. Different OS, yes, and that’s where the experiment comes in.
I’ve found that… I more or less can ditch a “real” computer and use the iPad Pro. This is in huge part because I don’t run anything especially heavy-duty or that requires a ginormous screen; I’m very comfortable working on a laptop screen, and I honestly tend to run most apps more-or-less full-screen because (a) the screen is small and (b) my eyes are old.
I just finished filing an Allegation of Use with the USPTO for one of my trademarks, and I did it all on the iPad – which involved generating a PDF of an Amazon page in addition to filling out forms on their archaic TESS site. And it wasn’t hard.
The ability for Zoom to continue using the iPad’s front-facing camera while I have another app multitasking side-by-side has been huge. Apple’s offered that special entitlement to the major meeting-app vendors, and it’s an unexpected game-changer. I can now participate in Zoom meetings whilst I have a Google Doc open side-by-side to look at whatever we’re talking about.
My writing and blogging are entirely possible on iPadOS as well. I’ve switched to the Ulysses writing app because:
- It’s got feature-parity across macOS and iOS/iPadOS, something Scrivener (my former app) doesn’t.
- It uses iCloud for sync; Scrivener has a vexing and obtuse Dropbox-based sync that I revile.
- It publishes directly to WordPress (DonJones.com) and Ghost (https://ampere.club).
I can use Pixelmator (which also runs on macOS), and although the iPadOS version is decidedly dumbed-down, it’s enough for what I need in terms of fussing with book covers and making runes for my stories of witchkind series. All my work apps—Zoom, Google Docs, GMail, Google Calendar, Workday, Monday.com, Slack, you name it—all run natively on iPadOS and have decent-to-excellent experiences there.
My one hurdle right now is Vellum, a macOS-only app I use to turn my manuscripts into beautiful print and ebooks. They don’t offer an iPad version, although now that they’ve recompiled it into a universal macOS app (meaning it runs on M1 and Intel machines), I’m hopeful it’ll become easier for them to port it to iPad someday. Their UI is simple enough that I don’t even think it would need much (if any) refactoring, and if it can run on my Air, I presume my iPad would also be powerful enough (although iPadOS does have different restrictions on memory allocation, something Apple is addressing in iPadOS 15).
Apple’s Files app has also been a game-changer. Now that I have an actual cloud-based file system that’s accessible through standard cross-device API calls, it’s VERY easy to save files and call them up. For example, Numbers can export a sheet to a CSV in my cloud-based Documents app, and Socialbee (which I use to manage my social accounts) can accept any CSV file I upload to bulk-schedule posts (like my #DailyLearner tweets). Without Files, that wouldn’t be possible.
I did splurge on the Magic Keyboard, mainly because I like the hardware keys better than the cloth-covered ones of the Magic Folio, and I hate having to pair and charge a separate Bluetooth keyboard. The Magic Keyboard brings the entire system weight to within a gram or so of the Air’s, so it’s not a real weight savings, but I can do almost everything AND have all my streaming-media consumption on a single device. I do find that I almost never use the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad; although iPadOS now has “decent” trackpad support (albeit with a weird disc-shaped pointer), I’m so habituated to touching the screen that I almost never bother. I do like it for scrolling web pages and news articles, though, since I can keep my hand at rest rather than hovering over the screen.
I will also note that I did run VMs on my old iPad. That is to say, I ran them in Azure, which gave me plenty of power in a very lightweight device. I even ran conference session demos that way. There’s a bit of extra cost in doing that of course, but at the time I was an MVP and got a solid amount of free monthly Azure credit that more than covered it. Nowadays, I don’t even know what I’d do with a VM.
So for me, and for at least certain use cases, you can make an iPad into a full-time device. It comes with bonkers power characteristics; I can easily run it on battery for a full work day and then some, which until the M1 Air I’ve never pulled off with any laptop. On-the-go, if I ditch the heavy Magic Keyboard, the iPad is super-light and portable, and it’s soft keyboard is sufficient to get the job done if all you’re doing is texting or Googling or something. I love its always-on nature, FaceID unlocking, and the relatively yooge screen (I have the 12” version). The multitasking is a wee bit “meh,” but because I’d already gotten used to running most apps full-screen and swiping between them, it’s actually not a tremendous change for me. Again, there are LOTS of use cases where the iPad would be totally unsuitable as things stand today… but I’m not in one of those cases.
What I’ve found is that there are tasks which are very familiar and easy on macOS, and I’ve tended to pull out the Air to do those. But these past weeks, I’ve been forcing myself to try and do them on the iPad… and it turns out that while the process might be a bit different, it’s not actually harder or more time-consuming. It’s just a matter of changing my habits a bit. And now when I do grab the laptop, I start touching the screen and leaving fingerprints all over it. So it’s turned off now, sitting in my office and waiting until I need to use Vellum again.
If the Vellum folks manage an iPadOS version… I’ll giggle and put my Air up for sale ;).
As previously announced, I’m putting together an online virtual “Career Fest” and it’s starting to really shape up. Here are the details:[Read more…] about Virtual “Career Fest” Shaping Up! Wanna Participate?
As part of my Ampere Club project, I’m putting together a virtual “Career Fest” event. The event is about helping people amplify their career outside of “hard” tech skills. The intent is to pre-record sessions (via Zoom or whatever you like), and optionally show up for a short, live Q&A at a scheduled time. Sessions can be 30-60m in length, and I’m looking for some of the following themes:
- Career skills:
- Contributing to a sense of belonging in your workplace
- Becoming a Daily Learner to keep your learning muscles strong
- How to approach job interviews
- How to be more effective in a multi-generational work environment
- Why to add certain leadership skills, even if you’re not trying to get into management
- How to think about your career, and how to think about steering it
- Soft skills:
- Crushing your next meeting – both live and remote (speaking skills, organization, etc)
- Writing better emails and instant messages
- Communicating with non-tech people
- Leveraging emotional intelligence and mindfulness
- Time management
- Career Marketplace:
- Most in-demand tech skills and skills that are starting to shrink
- How to analyze the market to detect career/skill trends
- Hot non-tech skill adjacencies (project management, business analysis, etc) and how to start conquering them
- Business acumen:
- How to better align tech recommendations to business outcomes and present recommendations as mini business plans
- How to think more like a businessperson
- OpEx, CapEx, market metrics (like gross margin), and how they drive a lot of business decisions
- Career Case Study:
- This is what I did with my career, and this is how it worked out.
Honestly, sharing these types of experiences—good and bad—are invaluable for others. Yes, it requires a bit of vulnerability, but that’s one reason it’s so valuable.
- This is what I did with my career, and this is how it worked out.
Also, that’s not an all-inclusive list—consider that to be a set of “themes,” and I’m very open to other topics within those themes that you think might be helpful.
There will be an admission fee to the event, in order to cover platform costs. It’ll be as moderate as possible—think $50 for a dozen or so sessions, plus the live presenter Q&A and such. I’m erring on the side of losing money, but if the event makes a profit, the intent is to funnel that to a charity. So, presenting would not come with a speaking fee. However, you’d be encouraged to highlight your other, money-making life activities as a part of your presentation. Note that paid Ampere Club members will get free admission!
The hope is to get ~100 people attending this first one, although that may be pretty aspirational. It’s also possible it’ll be a dozen, which is why I’m planning to be okay losing a little bit of money on it <grin>. The long-term goal is to start building a place where technology professionals can come work on their careers on any ongoing basis, so I’m regarding this first event as an investment in that direction.
DEADLINES: I’d like to put together a session list by end of July, and have recordings in by August, with a tentative “launch date” in mid-September (which is when we’d schedule the live Q&A bits as well). So jump in before 10-July with your proposed session, please!
If you’re interested, please let me know what you’d like to present on! Just use the “Hit Me Up” (HMU) link right here on the website to contact me.
Now, for the elephant in the room: I don’t have anything I could contribute! I don’t feel my own career is excellent enough to be able to offer advice to others!
Bullshit. If you’ve made it to the point where you have a job in tech, you’ve done something right. Maybe it was struggling through an interview—share that. Maybe you’ve figured out a time management technique that works for you—share it. Maybe you recently learned something about the way the business you work for is run—share that. Don’t try to come up with something “impressive,” just come up with something that you did. This is just about sharing experiences, not about being an expert or something. And, presenting at something like this will be good for your own career. It’ll help you hone those public speaking skills, and those are the ones that let you be more effective in meetings and other day-to-day interactions with your colleagues. So let’s hear from you!
On July 1st, I’m going to be formally launching a new project, but wanted to offer you a sneak peek.[Read more…] about Launching a New Side Gig About Careers
I’ve lowered the pricing on many of my eBooks on Amazon—and later this summer they’ll be rolling out to other ebook stores as well! All of these titles are now just $2.99 each (with equivalent pricing outside the US). You may need to allow 2-3 days for the new pricing to propagate.[Read more…] about Reduced Pricing on Many of my Fiction and Nonfiction/Tech eBooks!