Book Sample

I wanted to give you guys a sneak preview of the book I’m working on. This is half of the introduction chapter and it lays the groundwork for the ideas that I’m going to present in the book.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I have here, drop me a line at machinecompatibel@gmail.com or leave a comment at the bottom. Thanks.

Why Producers?

Producer: noun prə-ˈdü-sər, prō-, -ˈdyü-
: someone or something that grows or makes particular goods or products

There are a lot of words floating around in the world that attempt to describe what we do:
Creator. Maker. Blogger. Podcaster. Artist. Author.
All of these apply, but fail to encompass the scope of what independent new media professionals do in our day to day work. It’s for that reason that we turn to the world of old media for a kind of catch-all term.

It’s a term that refers to those who manage and supervise the creation of content from start to finish. It’s a term that’s often modified to capture the specifics of a position (i.e. TV Producer, Film or Movie Producer, Record Producer). But because the word doesn’t carry specific meaning in the old media paradigm, it allows us to capture the full range of our day to day efforts with a single term.

For our purposes let’s add a new definition for the word “producer”:

Producer: noun prə-ˈdü-sər, prō-, -ˈdyü-
: someone who is responsible for carrying the creation of a digital work from inception to completion

This is not to say that every person creating content (whether painting or writing or speaking or singing) is doing the same work. It is, instead, an attempt to cope with the fact that those doing work online share certain responsibilities.

Because the responsibilities are so similar, our workflows tend to look similar. I use the term “Producer” as an acknowledgement that we are, in fact, running a business concern from top-to-bottom and end-to-end.

What is New Media?

New media: noun ’nü ˈmē-dē-ə
:means of mass communication using digital technologies such as the Internet.

While new media is often created by long-established, large companies, we will limit our definition to that media created by independent producers for direct distribution to their audience. This includes digital painting and other static visual art, music, talk and other audio programming, written content (books and blogs), and video.

The specific medium is not of great import to our discussion. We’ll concentrate on the tools and processes that we use and put in place to produce a finished product. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll borrow another term and refer to these tools and processes as the backline.

The Backline

A backline is a stage term referring to the amplifiers, instruments, and other equipment that musicians use in live concerts (the equipment that’s lined up behind the band). The new media producer’s backline will include any software, scripts, equipment or even other people that our media is processed through in order to turn it into the finished product that is presented to our audience.

We’ll focus on these tools in broad terms. I want to describe the types of tools that you’ll need to be successful rather than risk becoming obsolete by detailing the specifics of a particular application that will change with the next update. So rather than describing Omnifocus or Asana in the first book, we’ll concentrate on what I call The Hub: your calendar and task manager.

Kicking it New School with OS X and iOS 8

Apple’s been doing some interesting things over the last couple of years. The updates to OS X and iOS 8 have included the kinds of things we’d expect from Apple, and some things that we never thought they’d consider. Take Continuity and Extensions, for example.

The One We Expected

Continuity is the kind of thing we’d expect from Apple. It’s a system for providing a seamless experience between the Mac and iOS. It allows me to pick up where I left off when I switch to a different device.

I’m typing this blog post in Byword right now. If I had to get up and leave[1], I could pick up my iPad. Because Byword supports Continuity, a little Byword icon will appear on the lock screen. I can unlock the iPad by sliding on the Byword icon and my document is ready for me to continue working.

Armed thusly with my Bluetooth keyboard, I set off in search of coffee.

That’s the kind of feature we’ve always expected from Apple. In fact, most of us have wondered why this wasn’t included years ago. The introduction of the Mac App Store would have been a great opportunity. Now that I have it, I find it difficult to live without it.

The One We Dreamed of but Dared not Hope

But let’s consider Extensibility. The collection of features lets an app extend its functionality into another app. 1Password uses this to great effect in iOS 8 to extend the password manager’s services into Safari. Rather than using 1Password’s built in browser[2] I can tap the “Share” button and select the 1Password icon.

I never expected Apple to ease up on sandboxing[3]. This was especially true when Apple introduced the Mac App Store with a sandboxing rule for apps. Apple isn’t throwing off every constraint, though. They are opening the door just enough to provide enhanced functionality for the apps in the app store.

The Payoff

Both of these additions to OS X and iOS 8 will alter the way we use our computers. They remove one more barrier between us and our work, letting us work on the things we need to work on regardless of the device we’re using. We’ll dig in to some of the other features that enable this sort of behavior in the coming months.

What’s you’re favorite feature in the new operating systems? Let me know what you think of Yosemite and iOS 8 in the comments below.


  1. Sometimes you need an emergency latté.  ↩

  2. Or worse, copying and pasting passwords like previous version  ↩

  3. Sandboxing is the way apps work in iOS and OS X(in some cases). Each application runs in it’s own “sandbox” and has access only to the features provided by the operating system. This is a more secure way to run apps so that they cannot interfere with the rest of the system. The downside is that it prevents any interoperability between apps that’s not expressly allowed by the OS.  ↩

Snapchat Breach

From Techhive

If you used a certain third-party Snapchat client, photos you received may be among the over 100,000 photos allegedly taken in a major privacy breach, according to Business Insider.

SnapSaved was the culprit in this case. The service is no longer active. This incident is just another reminder that what we do online is never truly private. If you are using online services there’s always a chance that your data is vulnerable. Use strong, unique passwords and think about what you’re uploading.

Snapchat Photos Get Leaked but Snapchat Isn’t to Blame:

Are You Still Using Google Apps?

From imore.com

While compiling the list of apps on my iPhone 6 Plus I realized something — I’d listed not a single one from Google. It was something of a shock. Previously I’d had Gmail and Google Maps, Google+ and Hangouts, YouTube and Google Search. I’d even been using apps they’d acquired, like Snapseed. After setting up my iPhone 6 Plus as new, however, and downloading apps only as I needed them, after close to 3 weeks, I still hadn’t needed a single Google app.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been slowly drifting away from the Google Apps proper, myself. I’ve started using Mailbox for email on all platforms and I don’t use Google Calendar for much. Because I use a Nexus 5 I still use Google Hangouts a lot on that device, but I hardly touch it on my iPad. I use Google+ a lot because I like it.

Do you use the Google Apps more or less than you used to? Are you drifting to other services that work better for you? Let me know in the comments.

Why I’ve Stopped Using Google Apps on my iPhone 6 Plus:

Be a Goat

Don't be just a follower
Don’t be just a follower

There’s a crowd of followers out there. It’s not wrong. They’ve found someone who’s work they love. They like the way that someone has set up their website or built their platform[1]. But look at the image above. The goat is certainly following the cows ahead of it. The cows are providing some measure of guidance. But the goat is doing it’s own thing.

There’s a collection of websites out there that look identical. Sure, the pictures are different, the words are different, the products are different. But there’s a sameness to the design, to the layout, to the language.

In a sense, that’s how the web operates. When someone finds something that works, others will emulate. But that tires me after a while. I lose interest in the work these people are doing. I start wandering. I start searching for producers[2] with their own voice and sense of style. People who have their own way of saying something, not the sanitized, SEO conscious form of the followers.

This isn’t to say that I don’t fall prey to that form of imitation. It’s easyto do. When I find a producer’s work that I really love, it can be easy to let that consume my own work for a while. It’s natural to emulate others.

But what if we studied a great producers work rather than copy it? What if we took the time to understand what makes that work great? Why not take the theory behind the work and emulate that rather than copy the work itself?

This stuff is important. Don’t be like everyone else in the space. Consider using Squarespace, rather than WordPress; archive.org, not libsyn; Audio Technica AT2020s, not Heil PR40s.

While I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week writing about how to find the right tools, make sure you’re spending time creating. If you have tools that will get the job done, don’t wait. Start writing, drawing, podcasting.

Start producing. Be a goat.

Do you ever hold off on a project because you don’t have the “perfect” tool? What helps you keep focused on the content rather than the production tools?


  1. This is not necessarily a commentary on Michael Hyatt’s Platform specifically. There’s a whole lot more to this phenomemon.  ↩

  2. Producer is a term I’ve started using to describe musicians, writers, artists and other creators that do their work online. I’ll be publishing a book in the next couple of months with some more thoughts on the idea. Keep an eye out for that here and on my Twitter feed  ↩

Funny Post from The Macalope

From Macworld

You know that joke where you say a year called and it wants its whatever back? Yeah, it’s been overused and turned into a cliché, which is OK because the Macalope thinks this piece by the Tampa Bay Times’s Daniel Ruth was literally filed from 1920.
“Consumers Picked a Sour Apple” (tip o’ the antlers to @JonyIveParody)

The Macalope is an opinion blog on Macworld, often reacting to pieces in other news outlets that are absuredly critical. This one had me rolling this morning. Please enjoy.

The Macalope:

Repurposing Someone Else’s Toolbox

Don't repurpose this tool. Unless you're going to use it as a paperweight. Or a decoration. Actually, use it for anything but writing.
Don’t repurpose this tool. Unless you’re going to use it as a paperweight. Or a decoration. Actually, use it for anything but writing.

My tools are stupid. Some are too simple. The rest are too complex. They don’t work the way they should. They look like they were designed using sidewalk chalk in a parking lot.

You’d be crazy to try to use the tools I use. But my tools are perfect for me.

What Works for Me…

I spent[1] a lot of time finding the right apps for all the jobs that I do. Any other person would look at my Applications folder or my iPad’s home-screen and just shake their head. It’s not necessarily a collection that I’m proud of, but it gets the job done.

I’ve found, and am still finding, apps that do the job that I need them to do. What I’ve found won’t work for you because you don’t work the way I do.

Don’t Copy, Learn

This is not to say that there’s something wrong with looking for suggestions on how to build, record, or write. In fact, you should find smart people and learn from them. But that’s the crucial distinction: find people to learn from, don’t just do everything those people say.

The way to do important work, meaningful work, is to make conscious decisions about the way I’m doing something. To make those decisions, I need to understand what I’m doing, not just do what someone else says.

This is something I struggle with. It’s easy to slip from looking for suggestions to implementing someone else’s workflows. It’s easy because I’m lazy. I don’t want to take the time to understand the problem and work out a solution.

The problem with the copycat approach is that we’re not all the same. We differ in both how we approach and carry out our work. My workflows won’t work for you[2], you’re workflows won’t work for me. Don’t try to force them to.

Make it Yours

The real solution is to take concepts and tools and repurpose them. I’m writing this in Byword, a plain text editor. I’m not collaborating with anyone. I need a little bit of formatting, some footnotes to unclutter my prose, and a blank page to write on.

I’m working on a book that will include some video segments. I’m using Pages because it allows me to format the book the way I need it. I can include videos and export the individual chapters to iBooks Author to do the final layout.

But you may be working on a legal document with a lot of people on different platforms. Pages and Byword would be terrible choices for that project. You’d choose Microsoft Word, or some industry-specific tool that suits your needs.

Take some time to understand your needs. Think through the problem you’re having. Find an appropriate solution. It might save you some time, it will certainly save you some frustration.

How have you repurposed a tool to use it in your workflow? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Am spending. I think about this stuff way too much.  ↩

  2. Mostly because they’re really, really bad.  ↩

A Deal on Marked 2

From Brett Terpstra

I’ve built Marked 2 to be a tool for professional writers. More than just a Markdown previewer, it boasts features for improving your writing and keeping track of advanced statistics. Marked works with Scrivener and Ulysses 3 too, showing you compiled versions of your complete document as you work, and seeing changes instantly as you make them.

If you’re a writer I recommend you look into Markdown. It’s a way of marking up plain text documents in a way that’s easily portable between different applications and operating systems. John Gruber originally devised it for the web, but writers in all fields have found it useful.

Brett Terpstra is offering Marked, a tool for previewing the output of your Markdown-formatted text, at close to 30% off for the month of October in preparation for NaNoWriMo. Marked allows you to use any text editor with Markdown. A lot of professional writers use Markdown with Marked (I just purchased Byword, or I’d be getting in on this deal). Check it out if your interested.

Marked 2:

How to Find Tools That Work For You

keyboard search

I wrote a piece a few days ago on the importance of choosing our tools with care. Then I linked to an article yesterday by Shawn Blanc on the tools he’s chosen to work with.  I think this a theme that’s worth developing.

Don’t Worry What Other People Are Using

We can count on one thing from the internet: flame wars[1]. I was scrolling through my feed and ran across this question: “Should I upgrade to iOS 8.0.2?”[2]

There were a few helpful answers among the 30-something responses. But the first answer to a simple “should I update?” question was “NO! Buy and LG3!”. Most of the responses were in that vain.

HUH?

That answer didn’t just ignore the question, it assumed that what works for one person will work for another. That is false. Don’t let what someone else is using determine the way you’re going to work. Think through the options. Understand what is important to you. Know what tools you enjoy using.

Use What Other People Are Using

I know, I’m not making sense. But you won’t find the tools you need without a little help. Check out review sites. Look at app recommendations from people who’s work you follow. Ask around.

There’s someone out there who has encountered the same problem and has found the solution. There’s no reason to take the long way around. If you’ve found a tool that almost works but could be better check out sites like AlternativeTo.

There’s so much great software and hardware available that there’s no excuse to keep using tools that don’t work for you[3].

Use What Works

You are the ultimate decision maker when it comes to your tools. If you love using something, nothing else matters. If you’ve found tools that make your life easier, that you couldn’t dream of working without, use them.

Be Respectful of Other People’s Workflows

This is one I’m still working on. It’s hard to get over the idea that I know what’s best. It’s difficult to imagine someone working a different way than I do. But people do work differently. They act differently. They think differently.

A lot of the arguments we get into online stem from this. We can’t understand why someone would use an “inferior” tool when the tools we use are available. Remember, someone’s choice about what they prefer to use isn’t an indictment of you or who you are. They’re just tools.

What are your favorite tools? How did you find them?


  1. Flame Wars: This is a fascinating Wikipedia entry. Of course, if you don’t often read Wikipedia for fun, you may find it less than entertaining.  ↩

  2. A reasonable question. iOS 8.0.1 caused no end of problems for iPhone 6 and 6+ users, loss of cellular connectivity and Touch ID, specifically.  ↩

  3. The companies we work for often do put a damper on this kind of thing, but try checking with your IT department. They may be more flexible than you think. Or less. It depends on the company.  ↩

Tools to Help You Work Faster

From Shawn Blanc:

Computers are great at doing the boring, automated stuff we don’t like to do. So why not automate common tasks (like performing backups of your computer), pre-make decisions for your computer to carry out on your behalf (such as auto-filing certain email newsletters), and generally just find ways to make yourself more efficient?

Shawn posted a list of the tools he uses to get his work done. This goes hand-in-hand with what I wrote about yesterday. Take a look at his list. Use it as a starting point for your solution. Your final workflow will look different from anyone else’s, but it’s always good to look at what others are using.

Shawn Blanc Little Things That Improve the Way I Work on a Mac: