group meetings and scheduling
Posted on September 23, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

Scheduling with the Meeting Planner Preview

Scheduling Should Be Easier

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an ongoing series about startups for Envato Tuts+ about a new scheduling service. Meeting Planner is now in its preview release.

My goal is to make scheduling a meeting or social get togethers fast, easy and simple as it should be. I very much want Meeting Planner to cut down on the often tiresome unnecessarily lengthy email threads about choosing dates and times, places and rescheduling that accompany trying to meet people in real life.

Meeting Planner supports both 1:1 meet ups as well as larger group meetings. I hope you’ll give it a try. Schedule a meeting and share any feedback you have with me at our support site. Or, tweet @reifman. I very much appreciate the help getting the word out and telling me how to make it better.

Meeting Planner is written in the Yii Framework for PHP, not as hip as Laravel, but meeting my needs just as well (or when Laravel was young, better). You can learn about Yii2 in my other programming series at Envato Tuts+. And, feel free to post questions about the development of Meeting Planner within individual tutorials.

The Meeting Planner startup series is scheduled to continue weekly (or more than weekly) through Q1 next year. Some of the coolest episodes coming up walk through the group scheduling features as well as the myth of the one person startup — Meeting Planner wouldn’t exist without a ton of open source projects from Apache to Yii. I’m also beginning to explore crowdfunding — follow Meeting Planner’s WeFunder page.


breast milk tsa
Posted on September 22, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

The Brilliance of Amtrak Security

amtrak northwest photos

Traveling Amtrak in the Northwest

amtrak seattle

King Street Station, Seattle

Traveling in the Northwest by Amtrak was relaxing and beautiful. There were almost no lines and they seemed to know I was carrying a real laptop and had purchased my water at the train station. After having been felt up before a recent flight, I was inspired by Amtrak’s common sense, light touch transformation of modern security to imagine a new marketing campaign for them. Some of the images have background stories which you can read by clicking on them.

Thank you to security expert Bruce Schneier for highlighting this post. Also, a shout out to Chris Pecora for permission to use his growling growler image. If you enjoy this, please read The Obvious Appeal of Disruption (and Donald Trump).

Keep Your Belt On tsa

Keep Your Belt On, We Hardly Know You

breast milk tsa

We understand the breast milk is for your baby

nipple piercing tsa

you have a nipple piercing, it’s okay, we get it

x-rays tsa

Unless your leg is broken, no x-rays!

felt up tsa

we won’t feel you up

security theater tsa

even our security theater is invisible

toiletries quart size bags tsa

we don’t want to see your toiletries

3.4 ounces tsa

growler friendly, 3.4 ounces our ass (growler illustration by Chris Pecora)

Next up: Why Donald Trump Could Win the Presidency

Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump - Caricatures

By DonkeyHotey via Wikimedia Commons

Posted on September 21, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

The Obvious Appeal of Political Disruption (and Donald Trump)

Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump - Caricatures

By DonkeyHotey (Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump – Caricatures), via Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump is a liar, a conman, a narcissist, a likely tax evader and a hypocritical, racist misogynist. Yet, any further effort to demonstrate this to voters is wasted energy.

For most Americans, our quality of life is declining, the cost of living is increasing and we live on a narrowing financial precipice. Wealth inequality is at levels unimaginable for a democracy. Left or right, few are satisfied with the results of either Congress or President Obama on the issues we care most about.

Both Bernie Sanders and Trump exceeded early expectations because of their outsider status and their appearance as disruptors of the status quo. Sanders used his authentic regard for equality and social justice to address these issues, whereas Trump promises to tear everything apart and restructure it without specifics.

Who can’t empathize with his intention? The status quo is broken for all of us. Even when money in politics fails to win elections, gerrymandering and the Supreme Court keep us on course toward an increasingly indebted country with failing infrastructure controlled by the wealthy and corporations for their own benefit. Frankly, there’s not much of a democracy left here.

What unites voters on the Left and the Right is that we all want a better quality of life and more transparency and accountability from our government. But the struggle for most Americans has reached the point that our presidential election is no longer driven by logic, but by the heart.

The cultural and political gridlock in our country has left a vacuum for a man like Trump to exploit, and he has. Until after the election, facts don’t matter anymore and intellectual argument is pointless.

This race is no longer about either a candidate’s credibility or their relative offensiveness.

Certainly the Right has unjustly demonized Hillary Clinton for years to Republican voters, but she lacks both Trump’s authenticity as a disruptor and Sander’s heartfelt concerns for average Americans.

He’s shredded the Republican Party elite and become a hero to those most angry with the status quo and the prospect of a Clinton presidency.

Alternatively, she berates Trump for not releasing his tax returns while continuing to withhold her Goldman Sachs speeches. The sincerity of her views is difficult to discern.

She’s most authentic only in her desire to become President.

For Trump supporters, mostly older white men without high school degrees, the future is increasingly uncertain. It doesn’t matter to them whether he delivers prosperity as much as he simply delivers radical change.

Anger is the only way they know to manage their fear.

To win this election, Clinton would need to simultaneously hold close the plights of women, minorities and immigrants, while speaking authentically to how the corporatization of government which she’s been a part of leaves us all at risk, including angry white male conservatives.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Clinton holds these beliefs nor can she effectively pretend to. It’s why the race has become close enough for Trump to win.

Let’s hope she triumphs; a Trump presidency is unthinkable. But beyond this election, we need to cultivate leaders who run to address people’s hopes and fear much more than their own personal aspirations.

Future leaders also need to have the courage to talk openly about our historical cultural legacy and the ongoing damage caused by racism and misogyny.

Trump says whatever it takes to inspire his followers, but healthy, sustainable leadership will require a balance of courage, truth and emotion to touch all of our hearts — none of which he has. Sadly, neither which either candidate has.

Posted on September 18, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

Notable comment on Success Ruining Seattle

I was touched by Adelaide McAllister’s comment on How Success is Ruining Seattle:

I lived in Seattle my entire life. I was forced to move due to the cost of living doubling in that last few years. I am sickened by it. I hate Seattle and will never go back. I have resentment towards any and all implants. I hate to be like that but they left their homes to invade mine. The traffic is horrific, the cost and the shear amount of people has ruined that beautiful city. I have a heavy heart that Seattle did that to not just me, but many many other people that called it home. Money is the root of all evil in this case. Seattle’s greed is sickening. One bedroom apartments 30 miles outside the city went from $950 a month to $1500 in 18 months. All the young people out of college are piling into one and two bedroom apartments. We are turning into New York, building micro apartments. Only $1000 for 300 sq. ft. Sick.

The data reflects her experience. Seattle’s median income jumped to $80,349 in 2015 from $67,460 in 2011.

Similarly, the lack of empathy is apparent in this comment above hers: “Glad that Amazon is cleaning Seattle up. Shame that some people just don’t like progress,” allegedly posted by Dr. James Russell, PhD, concealing his identity with the profile photo of this guy. Honestly, the white supremacist blogs are so illegible as to make it difficult to describe whether this person hates all people or just those that don’t shop at Amazon.

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Jeff Reifman Misleads T-Mobile Customers to Stores

apple tmobile iphone7

Apple Tells T-Mobile Customers to Go to Stores

It’s one thing to deliver an incredible product year after year managing global supply and demand, it’s another thing to stupidly mislead customers on your product launch website for a week.

Apple’s iPhone Upgrade website instructs T-Mobile customers to enroll by visiting an Apple Store. At the store I went to, I was told by two different senior staff that there was nothing they could do in store until there is stock. They said I was best off to go order on a website.

TMobile responded: “So I have in formed our business support team about this to reach out to our contact with apple to get this resolved at this point this is out of our control, If we had a way to process the apple upgrade program we would do it but at this time it is not possible with our systems. … Hopefully this is able to be figured out some time soon as definitely don’t want you or anyone else to go through the hassle later on.”

After Apple suggested its customers call them if they’ve had trouble with the upgrade program, I decided to try. The automated system hung up on me the first time. Ultimately, it was about 40 minutes on hold and 25 minutes talking to a very nice representative who was surprised, confused and powerless. I asked her to add my name to those frustrated by the upgrade program and she didn’t know what to do.

The iPhone is an amazing device but its amazing Apple can’t update its website text to not mislead customers.

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