Matt Gemmell

Working from home

I’ve been working from home full-time for more than seven years, and running my own business for the same amount of time. Many of us at least have the opportunity to occasionally work from home, and I daresay that many people would like the chance to do so permanently.

It’s not just as straightforward as pulling out a laptop in the living room, though. Working from home has a number of difficulties and challenges. In many ways, it’s a battle for mastery of yourself. I’d like to talk about a few of the issues I’ve faced, and how I handle them.

Sponsor: Accessibility TV

My sincere thanks to The Accessibility TV Network for sponsoring my writing this week. Accessibility is a topic that’s incredibly important to me (here’s why), so I’m delighted to share this important initiative with you. Please do help out with the crowdfunding campaign if you can.

The U.N. estimates that there are more than 1 billion disabled people living in this world today. With their billions of dollars in marketing power, it’s important to reach them by making your digital experiences fully accessible. No matter whether you are a project manager, a usability professional, a designer, a developer, a consultant, a marketing or an HR professional, knowing what you can do to enhance the experiences you can offer can only lead to a better world for all.

There are many resources on the web where you can read about accessibility; or you could hire consultants to teach you or your company. Support The Accessibility TV Network and its crowd funding campaign. and you can avoid the frustrating search for learning material while finding affordable options to gain the knowledge you need. Keep up with increasing legal and regulatory requirements to make digital experiences accessible and include people with disabilities in the new digital world.

Little guys

I’ve been asked two questions far more than any others during my career: “What’s wrong with my code?”, and “How did you build your audience?”

The first one is no longer my department, and I’ve never really been able to give a satisfactory answer to the second.

I’m not a big time blogger. I don’t even like the term “blogger”, honestly. I certainly don’t consider myself “internet famous” (which is a bit mean-spirited to my ear, though rarely intentionally), even though I’ve been called all of those things.

Small screen productivity

In his piece The Perfect MacBook, Thord Daniel Hedengren talks about a hypothetical 12” MacBook Air:

Cut the bezel and you’ve got a machine that is essentially the size of the 11” Air, just a wee bit taller, but closer to the 13” when it comes to productivity.

I enjoyed the article, and I’d love that machine too. But I have to take issue with the (very common) idea of “productivity” as a consequence of screen size.

Sponsor: Milk

My sincere thanks to Milk 2 for sponsoring my writing this week. If you’re a Tumblr fan with a Mac, you’re in for a treat.

Milk 2 is everything you love about Tumblr, from the comfort of your desktop.

Work your way through your dashboard, search tags, post and reblog without any interruptions or contextual switch. Milk offers a distraction-free reading experience to suit to your taste. And it looks great in full screen.

Taking credit

I read an interesting quotation the other day:

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Harry S. Truman

At first glance, the sentiment here is straightforward: ego and the pursuit of grateful attribution hinder accomplishment. Probably true, in most cases.

My first response when reading that quote was a grin: yes, that’s pretty good. My second response, a moment later, was a sort of vague, directionless sense of shame. Do I live the way that the remark seems to implicitly advise? Well… no, not at all.

Offscreen 8

Offscreen magazine issue 8 is now available. I have an essay in this issue about the meaning of legacy in the digital age (with a beautiful illustration by Tom Froese).

If you’re not familiar with Offscreen, here’s the blurb:

Offscreen is a high-quality print periodical with an in-depth look at the life and work of people that use the internet to be creative and build successful businesses. Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of the technology that makes your digital lifestyle possible? We invite you to turn off your device, grab a cup of coffee and meet their makers off screen.

You can make an app

Future Publishing’s “You can make an app” bookazine (160+ pages) is out now, on paper and in digital format. Paper copies are in UK and US newsagents, supermarkets, airports and so forth (and very likely in other countries too). For a digital copy, grab the MacFormat iOS app, from the App Store. It’s also on Zinio.

(Yes, I know how you feel about the term “bookazine”. Me too. An alternate term is “magbook”, which is almost as migraine-inducing. If you prefer, just call it a really big mag.)

I wrote the “Principles of app design” 5-page intro spread, where I talk about refining your idea, choosing features, designing the interface and interaction, and focusing on the user. I’m pretty pleased with it.

Sponsor: Dash

My sincere thanks to Dash for sponsoring my writing this week. It’s a particular pleasure for my first sponsor to be an app that I’ve personally used for years. Accordingly, these are all my own words.

Dash is a documentation browser for more than 130 API documentation sets, naturally including the iOS and OS X SDKs, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, Ruby, Python and dozens more. It covers web frameworks, templating and scripting languages, and everything from SASS to LaTeX. All the documentation sets are stored locally, for instant access no matter whether you’re online or not, or how fast your internet connection is.

There are two main reasons I began using Dash over Xcode’s built-in documentation viewer (and I still do, for my web work on this blog, shell scripting, and as a Markdown and regular expressions reference).