There is no such thing as passive income?

It is amazing how fast time goes by. It is almost half year has passed since I decided to work on passive income this year.

To be honest, I have not put in enough effort in getting passive/semi-passive income businesses off-ground. I rarely put in more than 2-3 hours per week on several of these projects. Let me list all of the things that I have worked on this year:

  1. Selling stuff on Amazon FBA – I started off with sending used items that I already owned. Most of things got sold within first few weeks but rest are slow moving. The hard part is to find more things to send to Amazon that can be sold for profit. It was also labor intensive work to pack and ship inventory. My brother is still working on this, I will help him when I can but I think I am completely done with this.
  2. T-Shirt on Merch by Amazon – My t-shirt designs are not that great, so far I have sold maybe 5 shirts. Also it may appear that this is passive income but from what I am reading, you need to advertise your shirts to really sell any. I have started to advertise on Pinterest. Let’s see how it goes. This doesn’t take much time, so I can continue working on this.
  3. Apps – I am still learning to make Apps in Android but this seems like the most legit way to generate passive income. I have several ideas for Android apps, that’s what I will focus on. My goal is to release my first app, IBS Food Tracker in next 3 months. This app will be useful for me too, as apparently I have IBS. I was looking for a simple IBS Food tracking app but none were that good. Right now, I am taking this course on Android dev.

There is another good reason to focus on Android apps, even if I never finish my apps, at least, I will learn a new skill that can help me get a job if nothing else.

 

Meditation Timer App

I have made several Android apps but never really finished them. Recently, I have been playing with Phonegap/Cordova. These tools let you write your app in html and javascript, and then compile for different platforms such as Android or iOS.

Also lately I have been trying to meditate everyday but it is hard to find time for it. Of course, you don’t need anything for meditation but a timer is nice. At first, I was using an hourglass, my goal with timer is to meditate at least long enough for timer to go off. Problem with hourglass was I would keep opening my eye to see if I meditate enough or not.

So I looked for meditation apps, and there are thousands of them. Many very polished but too complex. You need to tap several times before timer starts. Then there were others which seemed simple but asked too many permissions or showed ads.

So I build a simple timer app using Cordova. It has no settings, as soon as you open app timer starts. When timer reaches 0, it vibrates for half a second. Now you can either continue to meditate or stop your meditation. Another feature I wanted was to slowly increase timer until it reaches 15 minutes. This is exactly what my app does.

At first, I was using it for myself but I decided to polish it a little and release it on Google Play. It is embarrassingly simple, and I doubt anyone else really needs an app like this. But if you do, then here you go: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chaosplay.meditator

The tragedy of 100% code coverage | IG Labs

It is funny how things turn around. ​ For fifteen years I have been preaching TDD (Test-driven development, or as it used to be called: test-first approach), or at least for developers to write some unit tests. However, in recent times I have found myself saying more often, “Why did you write that test?” instead of, “You should write a test.”

Source: The tragedy of 100% code coverage | IG Labs

 

This is something I struggle with too. I see too many unit tests written to cover single line methods. Sometimes, static method calls are moved to wrapper methods for unit tests. It seems to make code cluttered instead of making it easy to read.

You don’t need a web developer

Occasionally, when people find out I am a programmer, they ask me if I will build  them a website or an app on the side. As I spend all day programming at my work, I rarely have motivation to continue programming after work.

However, talking to most people, I realize they don’t need a programmer; most of their needs can be met by a simple SaaS solution. Recently, I directed a few friends to WordPress.com, SmugMug, Shopify, etc. They all were happy with the results and ease of use. Also I am glad they talked to me because one guy was ready to spend a few thousands on a developer for a WordPress-based site.

Here is my recommendation for various SaaS solutions for various business needs:

A website to show business information

WordPress.com

This is my number one recommendation when the goal is simply to show simple business information. Sites hosted on WordPress.com as opposed to self-hosted version cannot install custom themes or plugins. But in exchange you get one of most stress-free website for as low as $36 per year.

Squarespace

This is my second recommendation especially if you want visually modern looking website. Its visual editor let anyone customize beautiful themes. Highly recommended if you have large beautiful pictures of your place of business.

A website for photographers

SmugMug

For a photographer, I recommend SmugMug. Though you can also use SquareSpace or even WordPress.com if your goal is to only show off your portfolio.

But SmugMug provide additional photographer centric features such as private galleries, ability to order prints, and even sell digital prints.

A website to sell

Shopify

It seems that Shopify is gold standard when it comes to ecommerce SaaS solutions. Also it provides beautiful templates and a lot of customization options. And when your business grows bigger, there is a huge community of Shopify developers who can help you integrate your online store with your back-office systems such as ERP, CRM, etc.

BigCartel

Personally, if I was selling something online, I would start off with BigCartel, mostly because it is cheaper and seems to provide as many options as Shopify for new online businesses.

Email Collection for Marketing

Mailchimp

Email is still one of most effective marketing medium. You should be collecting email addresses of visitors to your website. Mailchimp provides very clean and easy to use interface for collecting emails and sending out newsletters.

Good news is that Mailchimp has integration for all of above SaaS website solutions except SmugMug.

When You Really Do Need a Developer

Ok sometimes you really need a software developer or developers. Here are some reasons when you should look to contracting or even hiring developers:

  1. Your product is a software, a website, or an app. If you are selling such a product you probably already know that you need programmer or multiple programmers.
  2. You want to build iOS or Android app. A lot of people in service industry have asked me for a simple apps for their businesses, such as appointment schedulers for a hair salon, or a simple app to show special menu for little mom n pop restaurants. Personally, I haven’t found any easy way for business owners to create their own.
    1. NOTE: Most businesses don’t need a simple app to show just information about their business. Instead focus on a good website that is equally useful on cellphones as on desktop.
  3. You want to integrate your website with ERP, CRM, accounting software, etc. I have worked on Magento integration with various systems. Let me tell you, it is not easy or simple. Even as a developer, I was pulling my hair out.

 

 

 

Error: xcode-select: error: tool ‘xcodebuild’ requires Xcode, but active developer directory is a command line tools instance

I have been playing with Cordova lately and was getting this error when building iOS version:

Error: xcode-select: error: tool 'xcodebuild' requires Xcode, 
but active developer directory is a command line tools instance

Even full install of Xcode didn’t fix this error.

The solution was to run following command to use full Xcode instead of command line tools version that I had installed earlier:

sudo xcode-select --switch /Applications/Xcode-beta.app/Contents/Developer

San Juan, Puerto Rico Trip 2017

Beach San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of Old San Juan from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Soldier's Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal Soldier’s Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of sea from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I learned of Mark Manson through his blog, especially this post, 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Purpose. Since then I have been on and off following his blog. He usually has a lot of good advice, so finally I decided to get his book. Makes it easier to have all information in one place.

I had no idea what Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was about. It was an impulse purchase, perhaps to support his blog. It turns out to be a really good book. As a semi-regular reader of his blog, I sort of knew what his philosophies were. Still it was good to read everything in one place.

He is not encouraging to not care about anything but to care about things that matter. It is human nature to care. But a lot of us start to worry about things that don’t matter. Sometimes, it is because we have nothing to care about. For example, elderly lady in retirement home who has all her needs met, would get really pissed if her coupon is not accepted at super market because that is all she got.

Sometimes, we care about useless issues because real issues are too hard to deal with. For example, unemployed person may go back to school for their 3rd degree just because they are unable to get a job.

The basic idea is everyone cares about something but is it the right thing. His philosophy is very similar to Stoicism or even Buddhism philosophy.

The book is written well and easy to read. If anything negative, I would say that he is a bit verbose. Some of stories in it dragged on a bit too long. For example, when he was in his principle’s office, it was clear about what was going to happen but he dragged on that scene a bit too much.

Overall, I highly recommend this book especially if you are interested in some sort of self-help book.

Maui 2015

Island of Maui from Plane Island of Maui from Plane
Just Beach - GoPro Photography Just Beach – GoPro Photography
Driving in Maui Driving in Maui
Sheraton Maui Resort Sheraton Maui Resort
Ziplining in Maui Ziplining in Maui
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Driving from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Driving from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Drums of the Pacific Lu’au Drums of the Pacific Lu’au
Whale Watching Catamaran Whale Watching Catamaran
Whale Watching Catamaran Whale Watching Catamaran
Whale's Tail Whale Watching

Exchanged MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for One without Touch Bar

It didn’t take me long before I started to miss function keys. Yesterday, I exchanged my laptop for MacBook Pro with Function keys. So far this is my favorite laptop.

The main problems with Touch Bar are:
  1. No tactile feedback. While Escape key is always visible and easy to press but without tactile feedback, you are never certain if you pressed it or not. I am so used to certain key combos in vim that without physical Escape key, my fingers could not even find regular keys without me looking down at keyboard.
  2. Cannot adjust brightness of Touch Bar. When working in dark at night, Touch Bar is too bright and distracting.
  3. Drain on battery. Finally, online reviews show that MacBook Pro with Touch Bar have shorter battery life than the one with Function Keys.
  4. Cost – after dealing with above issues, I didn’t think it was worth spending extra $300 for Touch Bar and small performance improvements.

Here is blog post of another programmer who did same exact thing as me because lack of function keys on Touch Bar model.

Pros of Touch Bar

However, I was really impressed with some of the functionalities of Touch Bar. I just wish Apple had included functions keys along with Touch Bar.

  1. In Photos app, you can see and scroll through your photos. I think it was easier and more natural to use Touch Bar for this.
  2. It shows slider when watching YouTube videos. Again it was more natural to use slider on Touch Bar than use slider with mouse. You can also perform various actions like liking a video there.
  3. While typing it shows possible word choices, I can see it increasing typing speed, at least for me.
  4. And of course, login with Touch ID is awesome.
MacBook Pro with Function Keys

Now I have slightly slower MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. I got the base model with i5 2.0GHz processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD.

However, in my usage so far I haven’t noticed performance difference. During initial setup, beach ball appeared more often on the current MacBook without Touch Bar than the previous one. However, I was able to render 5 minute 1080P GoPro video in less than five minutes. About same speed as my i5 2.9GHz MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This is no scientific measurement but good enough for me.

My big concern now is SSD space. With only 256GB, it will require me to think about what to store on this laptop. However, I have rethought how I store data. Most of my data is in the form of photos and videos. Perhaps I should start storing these in external harddrives. This might be useful in long-term as then I can upgrade my laptop without thinking much about how to transfer my data.

UPDATE 3/27/2017:

Last Friday, I dropped my Macbook Pro damaging on corner a bit. As you can see it below. Luckily, it still works. But I guess now I am officially stuck with this computer as the resale value of is shot. And while Apple’s Return Policy is only 2 weeks but I still had option to sell it if it was not working out.