.blog

As you may have heard, Automattic recently secured the rights to operate the sale and registration of .blog — a new top-level domain, which is currently in the Sunrise period, where trademark owners can apply.

get.blog

The Landrush period, where anyone can apply for their desired .blog domains, is scheduled for November 2nd, and public launch is expected on November 21st. However, a few select bloggers were granted the possibility to get .blog domains sooner as part of the Founders Program, and I was very lucky to be one of them.

Welcome to konstantin.blog — a new home for my archive of almost eight years worth of writing on many topics, including SEO (yeah…), AWS, Twitter, robotics, Linux, PHP, WordCamps and WordPress.

I admit I have neglected this place for a while, haven’t posted as much as I should have, and I can probably come up with plenty of excuses. But this new domain comes with a little string attached — I have to write more frequently, which I intend to do, so watch out for fresh thoughts, ideas, tips and hacks, and a lot of WordPress of course.

If you’re looking for your own .blog domain, head over to get.blog for more information and updates.

MegaFon Moscow: Privacy & Advertising

Funny thing happened today. My car insurance expired, so I called my insurance company (RESO) from my cellphone. Nobody answered my call, it was Friday evening after all, so I hung up and decided to call them on Monday.

A few hours later, I received a text-message:

megafon-moscow-advertising

For those of you who can’t read Russian, it’s an advert from INHELP, a different insurance company offering its services. The message came from PROMO — the official MegaFon advertising channel.

At first I thought it was a coincidence, so I asked my wife to dial the same number and moments later she gets the exact same text advert!

I wouldn’t consider this a big deal if I had registered on some website online and given them my phone number. I would actually expect them to sell the number to third-party advertisers, but this is different.

Here’s what I think: MegaFon Moscow, one of the three largest network operators in Russia, is not only selling my phone number to advertisers, but also the fact that a phone call was made to a certain number. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if a recording of the phone call was also handed over.

Talk about privacy.

Knock knock! Who’s there? … 1Password.

I’ve been using 1Password for almost a year now and I love it.

1Password Mini (that thing that lives in the OS X menu bar) is my favorite, especially combined with the Cmd+Alt+\ (or ⌘⌥\) shortcut key that opens the menu, focused on Search. Type a few letters, hit the right arrow, hit the down arrow, hit Enter and boom — you have your password in your clipboard for 90 seconds. Amazing!

However, a recent update to 1Password added a nice little animation to the item details screen that pops up in 1Password Mini. The animation lasts for less than a second, but during that fraction of a second you have to wait before you can hit the down arrow and select your password.

1Password Mini

So now it’s more like type, right arrow, wait a bit… down arrow and Enter. And if you didn’t wait enough, you’ll copy your username instead, and now you have to do it all over again. Argh!

I counted the number of times I copy passwords from 1Password Mini on a daily basis, that’s around 30! Rounding that extra delay up to one second means that this animation now costs me approximately three hours per year!

It’s the little things.

Update: Here’s what 1Password had to say on Twitter:

As I already mentioned in the comments, I’m not really worried about the browser — my copy/pasting almost always goes to the Terminal for things like SSH, Subversion, etc.

But it seems like #2 gives me my 3 hours/year back. Thank you 1Password, did I mention you rock? Well, you rock.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Today I turned 24 and my wife got me a Kindle Fire — something I wanted for ages, primarily for reading, but turns out it’s a great tablet for work and play too.

Amazon Kindle Fire

The first thing I did was go to the Amazon App Store to install a couple of free apps, but got quite a disappointing message: your payment method contains a non-US billing address, please use a US credit card, which I don’t have.

Luckily PayPal has a list of dummy credit cards where I got my American Express, entered a random US billing address, removed all other credit cards and addresses on file, and soon had free apps running on my Kindle. Great, though this method will probably not work for paid apps or books, and you’ll need an actual US credit card, or an Amazon gift card.

Anyway, time to make a list of things I’ve always wanted to read. What a great birthday present!

San Diego vs. St Louis

Enjoying our company meetup in San Diego this week, and one of the things on my todo list is baseball, since it’s difficult to find baseball outside of the US, especially in Russia ;) So here’s the proof:

image

San Diego vs. St Louis. Check! Apparently it wasn’t a very exciting game, but we had a really great time, and the San Diego Padres won.

US Visa

I finally got my US visa today, multiple entry, for two years! It took 11 days after the interview at the US Embassy in Moscow. Fun fact, they stapled the receipt right to my passport, hope that doesn’t render it illegal. Making travel plans for August and September :)

Great Places to Work From: Local Time, Moscow

I wrote about my first experience working from a cafe some time ago, and I’ve been looking for other interesting spots throughout the week. A few friends of mine suggested a couple of places which were like coffee shops, but not really coffee shops. It’s difficult to explain, but the concept is the following: you pay a certain amount every minute you spend at this place, and the rest is all free of charge — coffee, tea, doughnuts, cookies, wi-fi, board games, books, and so on.

Local Time Moscow

It turns out there are quite a few such places here in Moscow, and the first on my list was Local Time (in the photo above) which is around an hour away from where I live. It’s not very big, but according to the owner, can easily host up to a hundred visitors.

Tea with fresh lemon, and then some good coffee, that’s what got me started working. It wasn’t very crowded since it was a weekday and it was early. A few folks were busy working on the other side of the big room, and a couple folks were playing a board game nearby. I didn’t seem to notice them though, as I was busy doing my work, and quite productive actually!

More people arrived after lunch, it started to get a little noisier. I spent a total of three hours (that’s 180 minutes) at Local Time and had to pay 180 rubles ($6) when I left. I loved the place overall, just wish it was closer to the place where I live, since a one-hour metro drive in the morning is not the best way to start your day.

I’m also thinking about organizing a WordPress Moscow Meetup there in mid-March. They have a big screen, sound, comfy chairs and sofas, and I got a discount price for making it on a weekday. More about the meetup later, in a separate blog post. Back to Local Time.

I’ll be visiting other similar places throughout this month, I’ve got two others on my list: Циферблат (Clockfacer) and Anticafe Babochki. Both are a little more expensive, but look bigger on the photos, worth giving them a try anyway :)

What do you think? Do you have a similar place in your area? If you don’t, would you visit one if you did, and how often? Do you think charging by the minute is fine? I noticed none of them say anything about membership cards, I’d get a monthly pass if it gave me unlimited access for a fixed price, which is also a certain guarantee for them. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Working from a Cafe

Today was the first time I tried working from a cafe, not because I had no internet connectivity at home, though. I just decided I should give it a try. I didn’t have a huge variety of options where to go, since it’s quite cold outside and I didn’t want to spend all day in the metro either. I went to McDonald’s which is 5 minutes walk from where I live.

I didn’t take me long to find a good spot where I can sit with my MacBook, so I had a couple hamburgers and of course coke. It did take me a while to get used to all the noise around, but eventually I stopped noticing it, and what’s best — I stopped feeling weird.

The time flew by (and so did the hamburgers) and since I didn’t need any voice or video, I was quite comfortable writing and committing actual code :) There were a few distracting moments though: the wifi spot was made to disconnect every 30 minutes, so I had to reconnect and relaunch proxy and SSH every half an hour; and people came by once in a while, asking if they may sit next to me. The last time that happened I didn’t even look — I just nodded.

The funniest thing, though, is that I met a person who was sort of starting his own business in Moscow, and he wanted to hire me to make him a website for $100. And I didn’t say “no”, I just pointed him to the right direction (a freelancers job board.) I thought of telling him about WordPress, but I had more important things to focus on at that moment :) Maybe next time!

Another funny story is that I asked a friend of mine whether he ever worked from McDonald’s, and that I’m willing to give it a try. He was shocked because he thought that I was applying for a job at McDonald’s. To better understand this, the Russian “from” and “at” in that context, can easily mean different things. Like “working at home” and “working at a cafe.”

To wrap up, it did feel a little weird working from a cafe, but I loved the fact that I didn’t have to stay home. Next time I’ll try to pick a different spot, maybe one that’s not so crowded and with a better Internet connection. So what about you? Have you ever worked from a cafe? What places can you recommend for the best productivity?