Kiss

The Great Divide

Never Confuse Urgency with Importance

One of the biggest things that has helped me to figure out how to prioritize the tasks in front of me and get things done this year was coming to the understanding that urgency is not the same thing as importance.

Maybe you received an email from someone requesting that something be done ASAP. Maybe you have an unpaid bill that is due in the next few days, or was due a few days ago. Should you work on that wedding video for the next few hours, or should your time go towards that side project that you’ve been putting off, or building a lifelong skill?

Just because something seems urgent, doesn’t make it important. Urgency usually comes last in my book.

What is important?

Think about the one thing that you can do right now that will make your life better a month from now.

What is going to make you happy to finish up right now? What is stopping you from working on what you want instead of what you feel like you have to?

  • Importance is setting yourself up for a better future.
  • Importance is creating something that has meaning long-term.
  • Importance is taking a step towards the goals you have set for yourself.
  • Importance is doing the 20% that you can do that will make 80% of the difference.
  • Importance sometimes means ignoring that email you just received or the ringing of your phone.
  • Importance means putting off watching that must-see youtube video until lunch or break.

Urgency usually makes its way up to become our top priority, even though it isn’t always important. Don’t confuse the two.

How to Buy QuarkCoins with PayPal or Credit Card

I’m sure by now you’ve heard all about the Bitcoin frenzy after the market price just recently exceeded $1000 USD per coin. All of this bit-hype finally persuaded me to take a closer look into what all the fuss was about.

In doing so, I learned about Altcoins, which are basically these alternate, lesser-known digital currencies that are out to compete with Bitcoin. Nobody really knows how viable these things will be in the future, and the markets are pretty volatile, but I had a few hundred bucks that I was willing to invest on the off-chance that one of these things blew up just like Bitcoin.

I decided to go with QuarkCoin due to the recent strong performance and fast transaction times. It also helped that it was only $0.22 per coin when I decided to buy. The whole process was kind of confusing, so here are the steps you can take to purchase and secure your own Quarkcoins.

Disclaimer: this whole process will take a few days because of security verification measures taken by the accounts you will be signing up for.

1. Set up a new account at virwox.com

Virwox, or the Virtual World Exchange, is the main hub that I used to convert my actual USD into a digital currency. You can sign up for an account by clicking on the “Not registered yet” link under the customer login box.

You’ll be emailed a password that you can use to sign in to your account for the first time. Once you’re logged in, you’re ready to deposit your “real” money.

2. Deposit to Virwox via PayPal or Credit Card

Under the “My Account” section of your Virwox account, click on the “Deposit” link. You’ll be taken to a page where you can choose your method of depositing to your Virwox account.

Each method restricts the amount of “real” money that you can deposit per day/month, and at the time of writing this I was only able to deposit about $100 a day. I used PayPal, and the transaction completed instantly.

3. Exchange your “real” money for digital currency

You can’t straight up buy Bitcoins or Quarkcoins like you would a pair of jeans on Amazon, rather, you need to first convert your “real” money into Linden dollars (SLL) – these are the virtual dollars of Second Life, an insane online virtual world developed by Linden Lab.

To do this, visit the USD/SLL page under the Exchange section and place an order to SELL the real-world currency for your Linden dollars. As of writing this, you get about 230SLL per $1 USD

4. Exchange your Linden dollars for Bitcoins

Virwox doesn’t support exchanging your new Linden dollars directly to Quarkcoins, so you’ll need to now swap out your Linden dollars for Bitcoins first.

Visit the BTC/SLL exchange and buy Bitcoins of your desired amount. With $100 USD, you’re only really able to purchase less than a tenth of a Bitcoin, but it still has value so don’t be too sad.

5. Sign up for a Cryptsy account

As I mentioned before, Virwox doesn’t deal with Quarkcoins at all, we just use them to convert your “real” money into Bitcoins. Now, we need to sign up for another new account, this time over on cryptsy.com

Once you’ve created your new Cryptsy account, login and visit the “Balances” section. You’ll see a bunch of big fat zeroes, since your account is empty right now.

Scroll down the page to the BitCoin account balance, click on the green BTC Actions button, and click on Deposit/Autosell BTC from the flyout menu.

Now, click the Generate New Deposit Address button. You’ll see a long password-looking code appear. Select it and copy it – this is the address where you’ll send your Bitcoins to.

6. Send your Bitcoins to Cryptsy

Now back to Virwox account, go to “Withdraw” section under “My Account”. The first option that appears on that page is “Withdraw to Bitcoin”. Paste your deposit address into this withdrawal box and click the withdrawal button.

For new Virwox accounts, they verify your withdrawal requests by manually processing the first two. In my experience, the first withdrawal took about 48 hours and I received an email when it was complete. The second withdrawal took around 8 hours, and the third was instant.

7. Buy Quarkcoins with your Cryptsy Bitcoins

Once your withdrawal has been approved, you should see your Bitcoins in your Cryptsy account under your account Dashboard.

To buy your Quarkcoins, visit the “Balances” page, scroll down to Quark, click the green “QRK Actions” button and select Go to BTC Market. You’ll see a chart and a section that reads “Buy QRK with BTC.”

Simply enter the amount of Quark you’d like to purchase based on your current BTC balance and click “Submit Buy Order.” Your order should be processed almost instantly, but no longer than a few minutes.

8. Download your QuarkCoins to a Quark Wallet

You may have heard about some nightmare stories of online accounts being broken into and coins being stolen. Since we don’t want that to happen, visit http://www.quarkcoin.com/ and download the Quark wallet for either OSX or Windows.

A wallet is basically an app that holds your coins for you on your actual computer instead of in your online account. This makes it a lot easier to feel safe about your new coins and also allows you to encrypt them in case your coins are stolen.

After installing and opening the wallet, it will take about an hour to automatically sync up with the Quark transaction history. Once that is done, click on the “Receive” tab and copy the Payment address that was automatically generated listed in that window.

You can then visit the “Balances” page, scroll down to Quark, click the green “QRK Actions” button and select Withdraw QRK.

Enter the amount of Quark you’d like to withdraw, paste in your Quark wallet address and retype your Cryptsy password. Then, click “Process Withdrawal.” The withdrawal will appear automatically in your Quark wallet under the “Overview” section in just a few minutes.

Did this guide help you?

You can show your appreciation by sending Bitcoin to 1GHbZLLui92EAPLYwgTxMuf4FhQuc5y8Yj or Quarkcoin to QLf7DUNA5JFrWN5vkohQhcGdsfetcdT36F

Hopefully this helps clear up the confusing waters of digital currency. It’s certainly an interesting use of software and I am looking forward to seeing how it plays a role in online transactions in the near future.

Save with this Vimeo Discount Code

Vimeo is the world’s largest user-made video site in the world, with over 18 million registered users. It also just so happens to be my favorite place to host the videos I create.

The good news is that Vimeo just started offering its very first Vimeo discount code, so if you’re in the market for a Vimeo Plus or newly-updated Vimeo Pro membership, use the Vimeo discount code below to save some money.

Use the code Q4FIVEOFF to get a 5% discount on a Vimeo Plus or Vimeo PRO membership. This Vimeo promo code expires on 11/10/13 and is only good for first-time memberships.

Vimeo discount code

Vimeo discount code

2013 PrototypeCamp: Build Stuff That You’d Use

I was honored to have spoken yesterday at the 2013 PrototypeCamp, organized by @ChicagoCamps. I felt like just as much of a student as I did a mentor there and it reminded me of all of the opportunities around us to continue to learn. Even when you feel like you know your stuff, it just takes listening to someone else’s experience to make you aware of how little you actually know.

My talk was based off of a blog post I wrote earlier this year about building things that you’d find useful. The slides are below. I hope to present this one again soon.

Slides

Adventures with Status Board – Pinball

For the past week, we’ve been playing around with Status Board, the latest iOS app from Panic which provides a simple way to create beautiful visuals for any kind of arbitrary data.

Since a bunch of us around the office have an obsession with pinball, we thought it would be neat to keep track of everyone’s scores and share them on the TVs that hang up on the walls.

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As of writing this, there is no reliable and universal way to code something that pulls the actual score data off of the games we have, let alone identify who actually played the game and received that score. So, instead of having one person keep track and type in all of the scores, I set up a Twilio trial account which provided us with a local programmable phone number.

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The process goes like this: Whenever someone new wants to join in on the stats game, we register them in our system by taking their name and phone number. When they finish their game, they can text their score and which game they played to our Twilio number.

When someone sends a text message to this number, our script reads their message and strips out all of the numbers into one variable and all of the A-Z characters into another. Then, it checks the phone number that just texted the score and finds the person associated with that number in the local database.

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If the person is found, the script then checks which A-Z characters are stored in that variable and pings our database to see which game they actually played. For example, if the text message reads “Sm 9,598,360″, we can look up “SM” in the database we built and identify that they actually played the Spiderman machine.

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Once we know who played, what game they played, and what score they ended with, we save all of that data in a new entry in the database and respond to their text message saying that we received everything okay.

The Status Board app runs on an iPad Mini which broadcasts to the televisions using Airplay. We then tell the app to look for the incoming data by pointing the individual widgets to a few different URLs that we set up on our servers. The scripts at these URLs run the necessary database queries to retrieve the data we want and then format it in a way that Status Board can easily digest.

Status Board Screen

Complete with smudgeprints and all.

As long as the player is accurate when typing in their score and makes it a habit to do so, there are all kinds of interesting data nuggets that we can assume and present. Wanna know your best score this week and how it stacks up against everyone else’s in the office? What about your average score on Twilight Zone this month?

We’ve only just started building out widgets for this data, but already have a few more in mind:

  • Allowing a player to amend their score by typing “No, 4,837,203″ in the text message that follows the erroneous text.
  • Validating a player’s score by using OCR and having the player snap a photo of their score along with typing it.
  • Hooking up an Arduino to some of the switches on the games so we can track physical goals. How many times was Tron played today?

Pinball is just a fun example for us, but this stuff can be used to track what was once lost data and turn it into some actionable goals.