TheInterviewr Blog

Written by:

Roger



September 23, 2021

The Launch of the Twilio Cookbook

Over the past year, I’ve been working on the Twilio Cookbook for Pakt Publishing.

Last week, at Twiliocon 2013, the book was launched, and I thought I’d share some thoughts on it here.

It was with quiet excitement that I traveled to San Francisco for the 3rd annual TwilioCon, and listened to the keynotes that introduced new features which will help make life easier for developers… And it was with not so quiet excitement that I listened to Jeff Lawson announce the launch of the Twilio Cookbook, and later sat down and signed copies for everyone as they asked questions about the book and about The Interviewr.

Listening to a few people, gave me some ideas about the next version, ideas which will be ironed out pretty quickly.


Just to quickly talk about The Twilio Cookbook, this book contains a vast amount of my knowledge from working with Twilio’s API, some of this knowledge has been learned from building The Interviewr, and working with various clients on several projects over the past 3 years or so that I’ve worked with Twilio. And I am very happy to talk about this book and share some of what it contains.

Actually, here’s the table of contents to show what the book covers:

  1.  Chapter 1: Into the Frying Pan
    • Introduction
    • Adding two-factor voice authentication to verify users
    • Using Twilio SMS to set up two-factor authentication for secure websites
    • Adding order verification
    • Adding the Click-to-Call functionality to your website
    • Recording a phone call
    • Setting up a company directory
    • Setting up Text-to-Speech
  2. Chapter 2: Now We’re Cooking
    • Introduction
    • Tracking account usage
    • Screening calls
    • Buying a phone number
    • Sett ing up a voicemail system
    • Building an emergency calling system
  3. Chapter 3: Conducting Surveys via SMS
    • Introduction
    • Why use PDO instead of the standard MySQL functions?
    • Letting users subscribe to receive surveys
    • Building a survey tree
    • Sending a survey to your users
    • Adding tracking for each user
    • Listening to user responses and commands
    • Building a chart of responses
  4. Chapter 4: Building a Conference Calling System
    • Introduction
    • Scheduling a conference call
    • Sending an SMS to all participants at the time of the call
    • Starting and recording a conference
    • Joining a conference call from the web browser
    • Monitoring the conference call
    • Muting a participant
  5. Chapter 5: Combining Twilio with Other APIs
    • Introduction
    • Searching for local businesses via text
    • Getting the local weather forecast
    • Searching for local movie listings
    • Searching for classifieds
    • Getting local TV listings
    • Searching Google using SMS
    • Searching the stock market
    • Getting the latest headlines
  6. Chapter 6: Sending and Receiving SMS Messages
    • Introduction
    • Sending a message from a website
    • Replying to a message from the phone
    • Forwarding SMS messages to another phone number
    • Sending bulk SMS to a list of contacts
    • Tracking orders with SMS
    • Sending and receiving group chats
    • Sending SMS messages in a phone call
    • Monitoring a website
  7. Chapter 7: Building a Reminder System
    • Introduction
    • Scheduling reminders via text
    • Getting notified when the time comes
    • Retrieving a list of upcoming reminders
    • Canceling an upcoming reminder
    • Adding another person to a reminder
  8. Chapter 8: Building an IVR System
    • Introduction
    • Setting up IVRs
    • Screening and recording calls
    • Logging and reporting calls
    • Looking up HighriseHQ contacts on incoming calls
    • Getting directions
    • Leaving a message
    • Sending an SMS to your Salesforce.com contacts
  9. Chapter 9: Building Your Own PBX
    • Introduction
    • Getting started with PBX
    • Setting up a subaccount for each user
    • Letting a user purchase a custom phone number
    • Allowing users to make calls from their call logs
    • Allowing incoming phone calls
    • Allowing outgoing phone calls
    • Deleting a subaccount
  10. Chapter 10: Digging into OpenVBX
    • Introduction
    • Building a call log plugin
    • Building a searchable company directory
    • Collecting Stripe payments
    • Tracking orders
    • Building a caller ID routing plugin
    • Testing call flows

As you can see, I covered a lot of topics in this book.. :)


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Written by:

Roger



September 6, 2021

Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth

Link: Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth

It’s OK to start out with a small idea. [...] If you try to do some big thing, you don’t just need it to be big; you need it to be good. And it’s really hard to do big and good simultaneously. So, what that means is you can either do something small and good and then gradually make it bigger, or do something big and bad and gradually make it better. And you know what? Empirically, starting big just does not work. That’s the way the government does things. They do something really big that’s really bad, and they think, Well, we’ll make it better, and then it never gets better.


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Written by:

Roger



August 28, 2021

Make Every Word Matter

Link: Make Every Word Matter

Des Traynor:

Once a company succumbs to it, bloat seeps through its veins. A round of layoffs becomes a “Strategic Talent Re-Architecture”, sharing a link becomes “Internal Socialising”, or “Knowledge Cross Pollination”. You no longer “think about things” any more you “incubate them internally”. If you’re thinking about them really hard, you’re now “deep diving to disambiguate”.

Wonderful article. Bloat is everywhere, even when you don’t realize it..


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Written by:

Roger



August 23, 2021

On Making Something People Want

Link: On Making Something People Want

Ash Bhoopathy:

Roughly speaking, developing your product-people-want is broken into two parts. The first part is you having sufficient insight into the problem. The second is some creative problem solving and “tinkering” once you are armed with the right data.


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Written by:

Roger



August 22, 2021

Gary Veynerchuk’s Keynote at Elevate NYC

If you’ve been following my keynotes for the last few years, I think you should really watch this one to see how much things have changed. WE ARE AT SCALE. I’m not talking about the future anymore. I’m not talking about what things are going to be like. We need to be telling our stories right now with the platforms that are here right now.

Don’t be the person who refuses to play like the year it actually is. Whether it’s a 140 character story or a six-second one, or even one what disappears forever after 10 seconds. We need to be storytelling for now!

(Via: Gary Veynerchuk)


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Written by:

Roger



July 26, 2021

How to Trick Your Brain to Create a New Healthy Habit

Link: How to Trick Your Brain to Create a New Healthy Habit

Have you ever started a diet or exercise program but didn’t stick with it? If you’re like millions of other people, you’ve set out with the best intentions but failed to keep the momentum going. Here’s why relying on motivation and willpower doesn’t work (and what works instead).

When you begin any new self-improvement program, your enthusiasm is high and you’re motivated by the pleasure of what you want or the pain of what you don’t want. But motivation naturally diminishes with time.

Interesting post from Lifehacker, and along the lines of stuff we like to share when it seems interesting enough..


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Written by:

Roger



June 30, 2021

Changes to new user signups

Effective today, we have made some changes to how our signup process works..

When a new user signs up starting today, there are two steps they have to take to be able to make phone calls.

  1. All new users must verify their email addresses before they can login.
  2. All new users must verify a phone number before they can make any interviews.

These changes are to help ensure we only have valid users on our service, and that gives everyone a better experience.


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Written by:

Roger



June 25, 2021

Cameron Moll: Crafting Virtuoso UX Teams

Creating and maintaining a team that iterate, build, and ship quality projects is one of the most challenging things to master in our industry. And to ship quickly and consistently? Even more challenging. Drawing on personal experience and interviews with teams at the likes of Twitter and Kickstarter, Cameron will share several patterns that are common among great user experience teams. You’ll discover successful prototyping tools, hiring methods, the importance of establishing a strong team culture, the role of collaboration and isolation, and more. Whether you’re manager, team lead, or team member, you’ll return to work apt to craft a virtuoso UX team.

I took in this talk from Cameron Moll at Future Insights Live in Las Vegas last month, and wanted to share the video here… It’s a worthwhile watch, and has some good advice.

Cameron also posted this post around the same time he did this talk that is also a great read.


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Written by:

Roger



June 25, 2021

There are no small changes

Link: There are no small changes:

“We want to limit the length of a review in the product to 140 characters, because we may want to use SMS at some stage. That’s a small change, right?”

Wrong.

There are no small changes when you’re committed to delivering quality software. Let’s look at the above case. A naïve programmer may well get this coded in three minutes—after all it’s just an if-statement.

A background in consulting, where you are paid for your time, teaches you to ask a few questions before proceeding with ‘small changes’. Let’s start with some easy questions.

What happens when the review is above 140 characters? Do we crop the string, or display an error message to the user? If we display an error, where does it appear? What does it say? Who is going to write the error message? How do we explain to the user why we’re limiting them to 140 characters? How will these errors look? Do we have a style defined? If not, who is designing it?

This post resonated when I read it as being one to share.. It’s something I’ve encountered over the years with any project, not just here, but else where as well. Whenever we consider making a small change to the site, we have to stop and ask what else would be affected.. And how it would ultimately benefit our users…


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Written by:

Roger



June 18, 2021

When is done, done?

Link: When is done, done?

When you get into the rhythm of pushing new features through the product development lifecycle, it can be addictive. Theoretically every new push brings more customer value, so why not keep going? Restated, when should you stop writing code and put your efforts elsewhere?

If you assume that you’ll never truly know (except in a vacuum), I think there are two main factors to consider: First, every feature you implement requires justification to build and effort to maintain. Second, if you are following lean principles it’s important to create valid experiments by measuring the viability of your current product, not one that is constantly shifting.

Let’s break that down.

This post talks more to the agile developer than anyone else… Products are never really truly “done”, they just move onto the next phase or the next feature.

We like to think this is true for The Interviewr, nearly two years going and there are always new features to add or existing features to improve.


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The Interviewr Blog is the official online publication written by the developers of TheInterviewr about their online Interview Relationship Manager, related technologies, and whatever else may fit their fancy—like robots.

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