Sarah Parmenter

TwelveSouth Travel Journal

TwelveSouth Travel Journal
TwelveSouth Travel Journal

I’ve been so lucky that my job has afforded me the luxury of travelling over the past few years. I’ve come up with all kinds of travel hacks along the way to keep all my stuff within reach, but ultimately, it becomes a mad rush, the morning of travelling, to find all the correct cables, adapters and chargers; hurriedly stuff them into various ill-fitting cases and run to the airport, patting my jacket pocket for my passport along the way.

I love anything by TwelveSouth. I proudly hold my BookBook case and get comments, every time, about how beautiful it is; I was beyond excited to see they released the Travel Journal, a case in the same vein as the BookBook range, to hold all your chargers and cables in a made-for-purpose case. It also holds your iPad in a soft-pocket envelope to the side.

Here’s my travel must-haves for long plane journeys.

Apple Mag-safe airline adapter
Apple USB to ethernet adapter – some hotels still don’t have Wifi. £25.00
Plugbug World – a piggybacking double-speed charging device for your existing laptop charger. $44.99
Apple Mini Display Port to VGA Adapter £25.00
Anker Battery Pack (holds five iPhone charges) – £25.00
Apple Magic Mouse – I always carry a spare, I find intricate UI work with a trackpad, impossible. – £59.00

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ConfShop

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Next week I’m involved in something called ConfShop for Viewport Industries. It’s a bit of a blend between a mini-conference and a workshop, with all the best social aspects blended in for good measure. The idea is to discuss topics such as;

Client Work VS Products
Business and funding
Side Projects
Work/Life balance

…and have an open discussion in small groups of 25 or less around each of these areas, picking up tips, tricks and ideas as you go. I’m leading the Work/Life balance group as a curator. Everyone will get to attend all four groups however, and we’ll convene, at the end of the day to round up what we all learnt from one another.

It’s an intimate event, something a bit different and something you’ll definitely be able to take stuff home from, honing processes and techniques and perhaps some new ideas along the way.

I believe there are only 10 spaces or so left for the event, and as it’s this time next week – you’ll want to get a wiggle on if you’re planning on attending.

I’d love to see you there. It’s at the swanky Altitude 360 at the top of London’s Millbank Tower on Friday 5th of July.

Get your tickets.

More here from Event Curators, Keir and Elliot.

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The new direct selection tool – Photoshop CC

This has been my biggest workflow killer since the new release. Happily, on Jessica’s recommendation a while back, I switched the shortcut keys of the direct selection and path selection tools to “A” and “S” respectively so that I could quickly switch during UI work. I made the upgrade to Photoshop CC last week and weirdly, the direct selection tool no longer works in the way I’ve been used to for years and years. Apparently, it is a feature of the new CC interface but, I can’t get my head around it at all.

For the moment, I’ve worked out, if you try and direct select by clicking the path, expecting the empty boxes at each corner to pop up, like before, they won’t. To get these back, hit the “escape” key once you’ve got the black “path selection” squares up at all corners. This de-selects all points and allows you to re-select using the direct selection tool once more.

N.B. Looking on the Adobe Forums, you can also option+click on the path/direct selection tool in the toolbar to revert to previous behaviour. But you have to do this every single time.

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Throwing it out there…

I’ve been wondering about the best way to handle memberships within a physical environment, such as a shop. I want to be able to allocate services to that membership and then when that person comes into the shop to redeem an allocated service, be able to record it and have it come off the total.

This creates a few head scratching problems.

1) People sign up to memberships on different days of the month, which means, simply re-allocating the services say, on the 1st of each month, wouldn’t work. Amending each by hand, would be a no-go. I want the memberships to be handled by GoCardless via Direct Debit but GoCardless can’t tell what we’re allocating it against, of course.

2) I want them to take away a physical thing i.e a card. The card can be linked to a barcode reader but probably better for it to just have an individual membership number that is printed, then linked through to a database against that number, rather than another piece of software?

3) Is it best to just build a database for these members and have staff tick off allocations as they happen and re-allocate, somehow, on a given date?

There are plenty of “loyalty-based” systems (handheld systems that read the cards themselves!), but they seem a bit over-engineered for what I’m looking for. Probably really easy to all you ROR devs out there. I’m left head scratching and looking to technology to answer it. Any help, greatly appreciated.

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Getting a job in a recession.

So, I’ve made no secret that I’ve headed in a different direction recently, starting up my own actual “thing” and enjoying every second of it. It has enabled me to slow down and enjoy my client work even more. As the new venture has a physical presence, we need staff, and over the last month have gone through the pleasures and pains of recruiting.

Well, that’s something you’re not usually exposed to in the web world as a freelancer. It’s been quite a roller coaster. At the time of writing this, there’s been over 100 job applications. As much as the volume of entrants surprised me, I was more surprised by the quality of the applications, and not in a good way. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some tremendous applicants, but the more applications flooded in, the angrier I got.

I was very fair on the job application, I don’t need an endless CV, I’m more interested in whether you can do the job beautifully and have a lovely personality to go with it. I also stated that both written and verbal English skills were of the utmost importance. You’d think that would be a clue, right? Wrong.

Here’s the list of things I’d personally say, to watch out for when applying for any job, because I’ve been on the flip side of that piece of paper now and can tell you the frustrating mistakes I’ve seen over and over.

1) If your job is public facing, whether that be via email or telephone, your new potential boss is going to be looking at your grammar and writing skills. Not just looking, scrutinising. At the very least, keep that spell checker close at hand.

2) If the application asks you “why do you want to work at *workplace*” they’re not looking necessarily for your personal reasons for getting out of your current job that you hate – which is what most applicants wrote about. Instead, look into the company, concept or model and find something about what they can offer you that appeals to you.

3) Don’t copy and paste answers from the internet. Especially don’t leave “best answer chosen by asker was:” in the application form (that actually happened). Your tone of voice never matches what you copy and paste and can be seen a mile off. You’ve just made yourself look silly.

4) Only list relevant qualifications. You wouldn’t believe the qualifications I’ve read through only to wonder how on earth they are relevant to the job at hand. One applicant even listed all their dance trophies. Keep it on topic.

5) Be careful about having an open Facebook profile. Before the applications started flooding, I was looking up every single applicant on Facebook to see what other information I could glean. One person who stated in their form they were “proficient on a Mac” had written, not 10 hours prior, that she was “so bad with technology (she) could barely turn on her iPad.” not exactly a confidence booster.

6) Don’t jump questions. The application form I put together was fairly short. There were questions on there that could, theoretically be jumped. They especially wanted to jump the “salary expectation” question for some reason. I then made it a “required” field so that it couldn’t be jumped and yep, you guessed it – the amount of application forms that then came back with a single character in there or just jumble to get them past submission, was quite absurd. If it’s in the application form, it’s there for a reason – don’t jump it.

7) Inject personality. There was a question that read “If you are called to interview, are there any special provisions we need to make for you?” – the amount of people who took this as an invitation to inject some personality, was quite funny. On the better applications it almost became a ‘given’ that something funny would await. Another applicant listed that the best thing about her previous employer was “they had nice cake on a Friday.” – sometimes a small giggle is exactly what the reviewer needs and makes you stand out from a large crowd.

8) Read everything properly. Twice if necessary. I placed an advert on a third-party job board, this advert read, in the first paragraph, “please don’t submit applications here via email – only applications submitted via our electronic form will be considered” – what happened? 8/10 applications came through via email, with a typical CV and cover letter. If you can’t read and follow instructions, it doesn’t give me much confidence as a potential employer.

9) Research the company or concept. It only takes a few minutes. We no longer have to trapse to the library and get out a book, it’s at your fingertips. The amount of people who wrote things that were completely incorrect was bizarre. One person stating that she wanted to work at the new business because “(we) already had stores in America” of which, we have none. A little research will never do you any harm and certainly will get you through the paper sift.

So, nothing groundbreaking at all and what would seem to many, outwardly, as common sense, but with so many people out of work, I wanted to be transparent as to why certain applications got turned down. Most of the time, it was because they fell into one of the above traps. Traps that are easily avoidable.

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