New Project added to site – Author Assistant for Marie Trout for “The Blues – Why It Still Hurts So Good”

In October of 2013 I set out on Elance.com (now Upwork.com) to make a few extra bucks. I was lucky enough to find Marie Trout who needed someone to transcribe recorded interviews for her thesis. Since my full time job as a 911 dispatcher requires me to listen, understand, and type quickly, my skills were perfect for the job! After completing her Doctorate, she decided to turn her research into a book “The Blues – Why It Still Hurts So Good” which is now on sale through Amazon in paperback and as a Kindle e-book.

In the 3 and a half years since I met Marie, I have transcribed interviews, analyzed interviews, edited a manuscript into book form, added footnotes to the book, edited the book into an e-book, helped navigate Amazon’s Seller Central, Author Central and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) tools and updated Marie’s WordPress website using PHP, HTML and CSS.

Purpose: Most of my projects start with a specific purpose which drives the project. This project started with me trying to earn a few extra bucks and has turned into “How can I help Marie best?”

Solution(s):

  • Communication: Since Marie is in California most of the time, we communicate mainly via email and Skype.
  • Transcribing: I used Audacity to listen to interviews so I could slow them down to type-able speeds. I can type fast, but not that fast. I typed up the transcriptions using Microsoft Word to make it easier to deliver them to Marie.
  • Analyzing Interviews: Marie and I would review the interviews separately, then meet via Skype to discuss our findings. We also used an application Marie found to tag sections of the interviews, but I forgot what that was.
  • Editing: I used Microsoft Word to help edit the book and turn it into an e-book.
  • Website: Marie’s site was already using WordPress with a custom theme so I had to learn how the theme was set up. All edits are done in HTML and CSS using Atom then copied to Marie’s site using WordPress tools.
  • Amazon: Marie asked for my help getting her book listed on Amazon. I had no experience selling on Amazon so my solution was to dive in head first to learn about any solution that could help Marie.
  • Billing: We started with Elance.com, but soon switched to Paypal for billing.

Challenges:

  • Communication: Marie and I haven’t met in person, yet. I found that working remotely requires a lot of communication. My theory with remote work is to err on the side of over-communication. I would rather have a client say “Too much! I know you’re doing the work. Just tell me about…” than have them wondering if I’m paying attention.
  • Transcribing: It took some trial and error to figure out my workflow, but being paid for the work helped me figure out the best way to get the work done. I learned to create shortcuts for common words to make typing faster then use ‘Find and Replace’ to turn them into real words.
  • Analyzing interviews: Marie is the expert. She’s the wife of a professional blues musician and was the one doing all the research. It was up to me to find ways to add value to her work and she made that easy and comfortable.
  • Editing: I have a theory that most people use barely 10% of Microsoft Office applications. Editing a manuscript into book-sized pages (Marie self-published) and adding footnotes and styles allowed me to learn a lot about Microsoft Word’s capabilities. I think I can use 20% of Word’s tools now.
  • Website: I got to learn how to update a WordPress site with a custom theme without ruining it. This was my first time being paid to do any sort of web development so I was excited and nervous. The biggest challenge was using only WordPress tools and access to update the site.
  • Amazon: The Amazon Seller’s Central dashboard is an intimidating array of options and information. This makes sense since just about anyone anywhere can sell almost anything through Amazon. It takes a jump-in-with-both-feet kind of attitude to sell a physical item through Amazon for the first time. KDP was much easier to set up and navigate thanks to Amazon’s guides and Author Central also has some very helpful tools. We ended up using every kind of support option for sellers (chat, email, phone, etc.) to get things set up.

Outcome:

I have become Marie’s go-to person for most things internet and technology related. I believe this is mostly due to our mutual respect for each others’ time and effort along with a lot of timely and honest communication. I now consider Marie to be a friend and I enjoy helping her succeed any way I can.

Colorado Tech Weekly #22: Thank you from a veteran

Colorado Tech Weekly Binary FlagColorado Tech Weekly brings you the top 10  technology stories of the past week and the best upcoming local events every Monday morning!

 If you know a veteran, you will probably tell them “Thank you for your service” today because you’re awesome and they will probably mutter a “You’re welcome” in a way that says “It was no big deal” because they’re awesome. See, we are uncomfortable with the attention because we didn’t join the military for attention or glory. We joined because of a sense of duty, family tradition, or because it sounded easier than getting into college. Those who did sign up for the glory of it soon found out that glory comes with too high of a price.

When I think back on my time in the Marine Corps, I think of trying to get out of barracks duty, hung-over Company runs and buffing floors. I don’t think of it as me being brave, selfless or in anyway better than my friends that didn’t join the military. Most veterans will probably tell you close to the same thing.

On Thursday, my daughter’s school had an assembly to recognize the veterans that are in students’ lives. After having each student introduce their veteran the principal told all the students to cheer for the veterans. Oh man did they cheer! It felt amazing. If I did something that can make an entire school of elementary students cheer, I must have done something pretty cool. I know it sounds silly, but thank you for saying “thank you”.

Local News

  • DigitalGlobe rejected more money from Longmont [DBJ]
  • How Colorado voted on fracking, schools, broadband, pot, Boulder utilities [DBJ]
  • Longmont-based Lassy Project focuses on child safety with smartphone app, GPS and “village” community [InnovatioNews]
  • Developing A Spirit of inspiration and collaboration at the Internet of Things Hackathon in Boulder [BuiltinColorado]
  • OpenWorld Learning (OWL) Gala and Silent Auction “Writing the Code for Success” raises more than $133K to support OWL students [OWL]
  • LUCAN Technologies launches $500K Indiegogo campaign for PC aimed at reducing e-waste [InnovatioNews]
  • Hip to be cubed: Modular Robotics raises more Than $56K via Kickstarter [Xconomy]

National News

  • KitKat’s WebView is powered by Chromium, enabling Android app developers to use new HTML5 and CSS features [TheNextWeb]
  • New API Commons Platform Allows Developers To Share APIs Under Creative Commons Licenses [TechCrunch]
  • ‘Vets in Tech’ expands its work helping veterans find tech jobs [SiliconValley]

Upcoming Events

Thank you for reading!

If you know of any other good news stories or sources about tech in Colorado, please let me know! Also if you attend any of the events listed, I would love to hear from you!

I have a break in my courses at Regis until January. I am using that time to work on my own projects. During this break I am focusing on learning UX design and how to implement it with my website. You can find all my updates on my website design project here.