The Great Escape of Houdini (the dog)

Minnows and dogs just go together.

Last week, we got an email from the fabulous (and minnow-y) designer who helped us with the Rocket Dog Rescue redesign, and lots of other projects. It read like this:

I am hoping you can help me. I know you have connections at Rocket Dog and I hoped you may be able to ask them on my behalf for help.

2 months ago someone dumped a small dog into our neighborhood. I saw him when I pulled up to my house and immediately could tell he was lost. No collar, his tail between his legs, he was terrified. I tired to get him, but he was too fast. I roamed the street for an hour and finally went home. There he was sitting on my porch as my wife came home. He ran off, of course, and I have been chasing him since. I put out flyers and received dozens of calls. I figured out his roaming schedule and decided to set a trap. I drove back and forth all day hoping I’d catch him, but nothing. He figured out how to get the food without triggering the trap. He knew when I would come and go. Needless to say, he was getting fat and I was getting tired. I told myself I would have to stop pursuing him by Friday and said a long prayer. As part of my last ditch I bought a better trap, went to KFC for chicken nuggets and set the trap one final time. Sure enough, I caught him! He’s now at the Berkeley shelter and being evaluated. We named him “Houdini”.

Now I’ve been talking with a dozen rescue groups to try and find him a foster home and NOBODY will take him because they are all full! I’ve offer medical help. I’ve offered to hire a trainer. NOTHING. He is fading FAST there. They said his chances of getting adopted are slim to NONE. He’s changes of euthanasia are HIGH. He needs to be socialized and to feel safe. He likes other dogs. Being under pressure and stress at the shelter he is now growling and unapproachable. He just sits in the corner. They haven’t even bathed the poor guy after a week of being there.

Do you think Rocket Dog can pull him, foster him and rehabilitate him? They are my last chance.

Needless to say, a few emails, a few texts, and a bit of logistical rigamarole later, Houdini is in the safe arms or Rocket Dog Rescue, where he will be evaluated, nurtured, and cared for until he can find his forever home.

It feels great to have our networks come together in this way. We have been pretty immersed in Rocket Dog Rescue for the last few years, and because they do the amazing and admirable work they do, we have invested in their success. But their work hadn’t yet touched our lives this personally. In this unique moment, when Kathy, a lover and protector of dogs (and a minnow), came upon a dog in need, Rocket Dog Rescue swung into action to do what we know they always do, what we’ve been helping them to do, and it felt magical.

Kudos to Kathy, who couldn’t leave a helpless dog out there alone in the world, no matter how inconvenient it was for her. And kudos to Pali (“the dog whisperer”, according to Kathy) for giving her life over to the welfare of dogs in need, and for inspiring so many other people to do the same.

We have long since been proud to be the pro-bono web team of Rocket Dog Rescue, and to help facilitate the wonderful work they do. But we are all the more pleased, proud and grateful now that their work has touched our lives so personally.

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Pali & Houdini

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Houdini getting a well-deserved rest

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Kathy and Houdini, reunited at the shelter.

UPDATE June 1, 2014: A few short days after Rocket Dog Rescue accepted Houdini, he was adopted at a weekend adoption event. Renamed “Virgil”, he has already found his forever home.

Houdini / Virgil and his new girl!

Houdini / Virgil and his new girl!

Meetup Fun and Productivity Tool Roundup

Lightbulb IconThe latest Bay Area Web Freelancers Meetup lived up to its name – “Productivity & Pinot” – with a healthy dose of both. Individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions descended on MIGHTYminnow HQ to share their favorite tools of the trade. Here are some of our favorites:

Vimium

http://vimium.github.io/
This Chrome browser extension allows you to navigate the web mouse-free. Simple keyboard shortcuts are used for a wide array of browsing functionality (string search, quick link navigation, search tabs, etc). Takes some getting used to, but I’ve been at it for less than a week and I think I’m in love.

Emmet Package for Sublime Text

https://github.com/sergeche/emmet-sublime
If you use Sublime Text to code, then this package is a must. Emmet gives you a massive set of abbreviations that auto-magically turn into their fully-formed code/markup/CSS counterparts. HUGE time saver.

Default Folder X

http://www.stclairsoft.com/DefaultFolderX/
Great Mac app that turbo-charges your finder’s open/save functionality. No more navigating down through directory upon directory each time you save – Default Finder X lets you specify default save/open locations, remembers your most recent locations, and generally saves some serious time and clicking.

Google Hangout (Remote Desktop)

http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/
We typically use Join Me for screen sharing because of its easy-to-use interface, but if you’re looking for a free alternative, Google Hangout now offers Remote Desktop functionality as well.

Skitch

http://evernote.com/skitch/
Looking for a better alternative to your standard screen capture tool? Skitch is a great app (and it’s free) that let’s you take screen grabs, make edits, add notes, and much more.

PopClip

http://pilotmoon.com/popclip/
PopClip takes selecting, copying, and pasting text to a whole new level. Right click selected text and you’ll get a contextual menu with over 90 actions.

Digital Ocean

https://www.digitalocean.com/
This $5/month, SSD, cloud hosting sounds too good to be true, but our trusted friend Eddie Monge (@eddiemonge) seems to think it rocks.

Google Keep

https://drive.google.com/keep/
Another handy tool for keeping your notes and lists organized. Plus it’s Google, so you know it works!

MIGHTYminnow is looking for a new minnow!

MIGHTyminnow is looking for a half time (20 hours a week) marketing and general office assistant. The hours are Monday through Friday from 1-5pm, although some flexibility is required. This is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience working on a wide range of duties and projects. Ideally, we would like to find someone who is interested in web development, marketing or graphic design. Here is a general description of the position.

Duties:

Office Management

  • Making Coffee for the morning
  • Greeting visitors of the office, making sure they have water/tea/coffee and snacks if they want
  • Answering the telephone and directing it to the appropriate person
  • Keeping up with weekly and biweekly fruit and water delivery
  • Placing orders to keep kitchen and office supplies stocked
  • Running errands to the grocery, bank, post office, etc.
  • Filing mail, receipts, etc.

Marketing

  • Create email newsletters to send out bimonthly
  • Ensure that weekly blogs are written, published, and promoted
  • Post to our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) daily
  • Write monthly reports on the analytics of MIGHTYminnow’s website

Requirements:

  • Must come in to our Downtown Oakland Office (Located 1/2 block from 12th St./City Center BART station)
  • Must have experience in social media, blogging, Google analytics, etc.
  • Must have experience with Adobe Creative Suite – specifically Photoshop
  • Must be very organized and keep the rest of the office organized
  • Must be deadline-driven and keep others in office on top of deadlines and tasks
  • Must be attentive to detail
  • Integrity and passion for your work is a must
  • Excellent communication skills both verbal and written
  • Strong time management skills
  • Ability to work independently with guidance from manager

Bonus:

  • Experience with WordPress
  • Experience with Mailchimp
If you feel you would be a good candidate for this position, please contact us so we can get your resume and cover letter. If you know anyone who would be interested, please pass our information along!

WordCamp: San Francisco Edition

Free t-shirt? Yes, please.

Free t-shirt? Yes, please.

This past weekend saw WordCamp SF come to town, and it pretty much rocked my socks off. Though MIGHTYminnow represented last year, it was before my time so this was my first WordCamp. I think I’m totally hooked now. Below are some highlights:

Speakers

The sheer number of hugely talented presenters was astounding: WordPress core developers, prolific theme/plugin authors, and generally a ton of high quality people working on cool stuff. Some of the sessions that stood out include:

  • Confident Commits, Delightful Deploys by Mark Jaquith
    Tons of useful info regarding version control, code deployment, and loads of helpful tools to check out. Bottom line: do version control!
  • (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding by Ian Stewart
    A full-on inspiring talk about WordPress, theming, and the amazing potential that is yet to be tapped in this field. Note to self: time to start theming!
  • State of the Word 2013 by Matt Mullenweg
    And. . . of course. . . the State of the Word. Cool to hear the man who (co-) started it all speak candidly about the strengths, weaknesses, and future of WordPress. End result: WordPress rocks!

Learnings & Doings

It was an information-filled 72 hours, and my brain feels like it just ate way too much knowledge-spaghetti, but here are some of the noteworthy takeaways:

  • Cool tools:
    • Grunt – cool automator, I’m thinking we can use it to quickly set-up plugin and theme files.
    • Jetpack – we’ve used this do-it-all plugin for a while, but it’s time to dig a little deeper into it all of it’s features.
    • WP-CLI – sweet-looking command line tool to expedite all things WP.
  • This crazy retina image technique – TLDR: you can blow images up to 2.2x their display size and export them at low-quality in Photoshop and BAM – you’ve got retinized images. Need to play with this one some more.
  • Got introduced to WordPress Trac and submitted my first patch!
  • query_posts is not so good.
  • The new post revisions interface in WP 3.5 is niiiiiice.

Shout Outs & Thank You’s

Me with Devin Price

Me with Devin Price, the man with the plan

I have to give a huge shout out to two people who made the weekend possible: Devin Price (@devinsays) and Chris Lema (@chrislema). As of one week ago, I had no ticket to this sold out event. I got in touch with Devin (rockstar themer and plugin developer) to see if he knew anything I didn’t. Devin put word out on the twitters, and Chris Lema (author, speaker, and lover of fine cigars) came to the rescue. A sincere “thank you” to both of these gentlemen for an awesome weekend.

Hacking the Hood

Hack the Hood and Panelists

Hack the Hood participants and panelists

Oakland gets its fair share of negative press, especially when it comes to the political demonstrations we have hosted surrounding Occupy Oakland, the shooting of Oscar Grant and the more recent murder of Trayvon Martin. But anarchists smashing widows is, contrary to the media coverage, only a tiny part of what happens here. What these news stories miss and what is often overshadowed is the immense sense of community Oaklanders feel and how many great organizations have boots on the ground here, working to help Oakland reach it’s full potential.

Panelists speaking to Hack the Hood participants

Panelists speaking to Hack the Hood participants

Hack the Hood is one such program. They pair local youth webmasters-in-training with local small business “clients,” and train the youths to create websites for the businesses. These neighborhood businesses are un- or under-represented online and the youths help each business get on the map (like, specifically, Google Maps), and create for them a high quality web presence. The training is run out of an amazing nonprofit called United Roots and the trainers use a very concrete and skills focused approach that helps young people gain real world skills – both digital and interpersonal.

Particpant asking the panel a question

Particpant asking the panel members a question

Last week we had the pleasure of visiting United Roots to talk about MIGHTYminnow and our work, in a panel about “real world practitioners.” The students had a lot of smart and thought-provoking questions. This was our favorite: “How does your work facilitate change?” (which is a topic for another blog post, another day).

We hope to have additional opportunities to work with these talented young people to share our skills and knowledge in the future, and so far, we are very impressed!

*All photos by Sophia Hussain, Hack the Hood’s documentarian

Oakland City Workers on Strike Along with BART Workers

oakland strikeEveryone in the Bay Area seems to know that BART workers are officially on strike today, July 1st. But it isn’t just the BART workers, a large portion of the Oakland city government and services are on strike today. This has affected us at MIGHTYminnow headquarters in a few interesting ways:

  • One of the minnows took the ferry to work. This was fun (as a change of pace) but the normally 35-45 minute commute from SF to Oakland was instead a 2 hour commute using the Muni, Bay Ferry, and Broadway Green Bus. This minnow is hoping the strike doesn’t last long.
  • We have some additional co-workers today – people who were unable to find a reasonable way to get into San Francisco from Oakland. Also fun, we like having fantastic and smart people around!
  • Less fun, it is hard to concentrate on work. We are right across the street from City Hall and the picketers are right outside our window with whistles and kazoos encouraging the passing motorists to honk in support of the strike. There is quite a cacophony.
  • The City Center is shut down and many streets are closed off due to the workers’ protests. This isn’t affecting us now, but it may affect our commute home if the protest is still in the middle of the intersection at 5. We might be stuck at work. Fun?

Commuters and protesters alike, stay safe out there, and if you can’t find a way to work tomorrow, we have free wifi, fresh fruit and coffee, and really comfy desks and chairs.

Free Ben & Jerry’s for the minnows today!

ice cream truckFirst a little back story before we get to the sweet stuff (pun intended): Our building has recently gotten a brand new security system. One of the features is an intercom system that our security guard uses to update us on the latest basketball scores. The real purpose though is to let the building know whether we should take the fire alarm – which goes off quite frequently around here do to all the construction – seriously or not.

Today started off like any normal workday; lots of emails to answer, problems to solve, and code to write. BUT around 1:30, our work was interupted on the intercom system by our security gaurd for what we assumed was an Athletics update. As it turns out, there was a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck parked right outside our building giving away free frozen greek yogurt! We, along with the rest of the building, rushed down to test out the flavors.

Our Results:

Haley tried the banana and peanut butter frozen greek yogurt. This was a banana flavored yogurt with peanut butter mixed in. It was quite delicious, but the only complaint was that since the banana flavor and the peanut butter were so sweet, the sour yogurt flavor got in the way. Mickey tried the raspberry and chocolate frozen greek yogurt. This was a raspberry flavored yogurt with chocolate pieces mixed in. Since the raspberry was a bit more tart, it mixed much better with the flavor of the yogurt, and who doesnt like chocolate with fruit?! So, Ben & Jerry, if you wanted some input on your new flavors, there you have it!

Mm’s “Bay Area Web Freelancers Meetup” is a Great Resource for Freelancers!

meetup_logoWhether you are a web freelancer or just work in the web field, the Meetup group we host at MIGHTYminnow is a great place to come together, network and talk shop. Our most recent event, on June 6th, discussed pricing projects, the pros and cons of outsourcing projects to other parts of the country or world, whether to bill on a fixed bid or hourly, and other topics related to making a living as a freelancer (or small shop). It was a really fun meetup and it was great to hear comments and questions from such a diverse group. Not only does the meetup draw professionals who have been freelancing for many years, but we also welcome newcomers just striking out on their own.

Our next Meetup is August 1st. At this meetup we will be showing off our favorite tools of the trade. We know we will get lots of new tips and tricks in lots of different areas, inspiring debates about which code editor is best, seeing new ways to track bugs, exploring folks’ favorite project management tools. If you are interested in joining in on one of our stimulating conversations, check out our Meetup group, Bay Area Web Freelancers! We’d love to see you there!

Maker Faire: Greatest show & tell on Earth!

mousetrapThis past weekend, a few of us minnows went to our first Maker Faire. The tag line of the faire is “The Greatest Show & Tell on Earth,” which seemed perfect. The event was held at the San Mateo fairgrounds and seemed to have every sort of activity we could possibly have imagined. There were fantastic speakers like Adam Savage from Mythbusters and the Mentos and Diet Coke guys, a life-size Rube Goldberg mouse trap device, model battle ships, and so many workshops that it seems you could have spent an entire week learning, if not more.

circuitThe longest line we saw was for the workshop “Learn to Solder.” As a participant, we received a robot pin and some soldering supplies. Soldering the robot (thus completing its circuit) made its little robot eyes light up. Other workshops we thought were cool involved making kimchi, sauerkraut, noodles (we like food), learning to sew, planting, and making speakers.

skeletonThe most impressive technology we saw at the faire was the 3-D printer and the Arduino Board (which you can learn all about at Workshop Weekend on June 22nd & 23rd!). Some of the things people created with these tools were simply amazing! For example, there was a 3-D human heart with LED lights that simulated how the blood pumps through the heart’s chambers. And a middle school group made a human-sized game based off the popular iPhone and iPad app, Flow.

robot

Haley wearing her robot pin. Sweet!

The most important thing we got out of this event was the inspiration to create something new, just for the fun of it. The event really rekindled our love of learning. We like making the things we make every day (like websites), but we are also excited to make new things and continue to explore. Next stop, Workshop Weekend!

MIGHTYminnow Represented in Louisville, KY

Mickey goes to Lousiville

MIGHTYminnow was proud to sponsor the Golden State Road Warriors.

In Mid-April, MIGHTYminnow’s very own Mickey traveled to Louisville, KY to compete with his team – the Golden State Road Warriors – at the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. After four full days of on-court action, the Road Warriors finished fifth out of 16 teams – go team! MIGHTYminnow is a proud sponsor of the Road Warriors, and we’ll be helping them with a website makeover in the near future. Stay tuned…