Monthly Archives: February 2019

Weeknotes 5

4th February 2019 – 10th February 2019

A long feeling week due to low motivation and a very long to do list.

Client work

Dealing with the host for my client with a recalcitrant Windows server is still ongoing, there were various updates for my other clients, and a rush build of a regular newsletter which I’d forgotten about and the details hadn’t arrived for anyway.

My projects

I moved my much neglected site about keeping my old Beetle running to new hosting without any problems, and installed a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for it via the hosting control panel, which worked straight off and was therefore very easy. Similarly, The Farm site also moved easily, which is testament to Haze building a straightforward site using WordPress for it.

Moving the site for my and David’s SEO services was harder. Although I’d been keeping up with WordPress and plugin updates, it turns out two of the plugins haven’t been updated for years and break with the current versions of PHP due to the way they access the database. I looked at re-writing them to use MySQLi instead, which I’ve done of the older custom sites I’ve build from before I started using PDO within PHP. However, a lack of time and worries about testing and making sure the plugins would be secure turned me off this. Fortunately I had a copy of the site I’d made while testing Cocoawget a few years ago.

So, I had a copy of the site that the tool had made link up properly, although some parts needed a bit of a clean up. I then replaced the contact form which had been using the Contact Form 7 WordPress plugin with some code I’d written for a client’s custom site which has Google Invisible Recaptcha set up with it. The recaptcha has greatly cut down the amount of spam we have been receiving from the site. Now I need to find time to re-set up the site either in a modern WordPress theme, or something else David can easily edit. This might call for a new Perch site.

I had an interesting talk with Elliot about whether it would be worth me offering a service to make static (non-database accessing) versions of WordPress sites. It makes them quicker, and more secure as the pages aren’t doing anything interesting, just sitting there, but it seems a route to a lot of clients that I’m unlikely to want to deal with. Still, I have another site to resurrect and convert to static, so I’ll see how I feel about the idea after doing that one.

I felt low on motivation all week, which might mean a cold is incoming or might mean it’s just a return of the burnout I’d been feeling for the last months. I also seem to have a mental block about falling over the line on the last bit of my mini-podcast notes tool.

Realising I need a change of attitude about pushing on and promoting my ideas, I signed up for the 30×500 course offered by Alex Hillman and Amy Hoy. It’s training for people to find ideas for things a community of people really need and will buy, and guidance on how to promote them once the product is built. I’m hoping it’ll give me a roadmap for where to put the effort in to promoting what I’m building, and guide me on finding more simple products I can make for the PPC industry. I’m only a couple of videos in to their course so far, so it’s very early days.

Next week I need to move this site to new hosting, resurrect and make a new, static site from the old Farm Hack Day site, and get on with some work on my projects and the course. Here’s hoping I’m feeling more up to it.

The Farm

Only 8 people along this week, as it was hammering down with rain early in the evening.

(Notes will appear here when I find the notebook they’re in.)

Reading: I finished Jeeves in the Offing, which was a fine jolly tale but didn’t have enough Jeeves in for my liking.

Writing with: Still with the OHTO Capsule multifunction pen. The red refill has started playing up so I’m going to contact Cult Pens about it as I’ve tried everything I can think of to get it flowing again. I don’t use the red much, but it’s useful for highlighting bits of a to do list.

Weeknotes 4

28th January 2019 – 3rd February 2019

An easier time with childcare this week, with mostly morning drop offs, and some progress on my own projects as well as juggling client work made for a decent week.

Client work

A combination of catching up on work delayed by a server move for one set of clients, some straightforward updates for another, and dealing with more server problems for a third. The server problems were to do with an ageing Windows server and the host is hopefully now fixing them in the quiet hours of our night (a helpful side effect of being hosted in America for that set of sites.) Fortunately Laura was able to keep going with our mutual clients projects while I was distracted by the server problems. Mixed in with this was some invoice chasing, which has borne some fruit so far, although the situation is still a slight worry.

My personal tax return uncertainty from last week was resolved by the self assessment pages on the HMRC website updating and letting me know what I should pay them, which automatically included the on account payments from the previous year without me needing to put that money on the self assessment form. So, I had made the right choices on it.

My projects

Progress!

I managed to install and set up the latest version of Vagrant and Laravel’s Homestead. I’ve got my retrieved data in to the new MySQL. Fiddling with the sites I have which should have started working again… I’m having to reinstall Laravel and Spark for them, but that’s a straightforward process so didn’t take much time. I still have to do the final steps of copying over my code in to the new installs and adjusting a few bits to get it working. I hope to get that done next week.

Other progress – I spent some time working on the small version of the podcast notes app I’m hoping to use on a few sites. Plumbing in some server side code and getting it working gave me some very satisfying moments which have been missing on work projects over the last year or so. The workload I’ve been juggling for the last four years has definitely left me burnt out, and the feeling of satisfaction from this gives me hope that I’m pulling at the edges of the worst parts of the burn out and this is an early sign of some recovery.

Sky’s jQuery/Javascript code that the app is using is very easy to work with, but it still took me a while to get everything working correctly as Javascript is not my happy place. This and discussing some learning of React that Haze has been doing has reminded me I have a book on Vue.js to start working through, which will hopefully up my Javascript knowledge to a more useful level.

The personal version of the notes app is almost done, so hopefully I’ll be able to post some soon here as a beta test.

The bootstrappers group I run has suffered this month as I did not manage to organise a meeting, but I’m feeling the hours I would have spent on that were better spent making practical progress on my projects. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the time to fit one in during February.

The Farm

21 people along this week, which is nice as we’re getting back to normal numbers. My notes:

  • Scoble scale foods
  • Back problems
  • Worthing Digital
  • Property prices
  • Racist relatives
  • Ex-Football players burning through their earnings
  • Brexit
  • Mutual project catch up
  • Personal / small projects can be funy
  • Using an amp
  • Moving on after splitting with a high intensity client
  • Improvements in The Skiff

The Skiff

The Skiff has some new monitors that everyone can use, and chairs which we were talking about replacing recently, which is great. I was saddened to learn this was due to a project a friend runs closing their teaching centre, so I need to catch up with them about how things are going. Juggling family, client work and my own projects has meant I’m losing track of what a lot of friends are doing.

Also at The Skiff, I had an interesting conversation about Oliver Winks about Vuepress, a static site generator he’s enjoying using. That’s something I definitely want to look in to, although I’m not ready to dump WordPress just yet.

Reading: Continuing with Jeeves in the Offing, settled in nicely with the over-complicated situations and Jeeves has finally appeared in person.

Writing with: Mainly an OHTO Capsule multifunction pen. It is good for a multipen and pencil combo, but the black ink is a bit more grey than I’d like, and the two nib sizes are a bit close to each other so it’s hard to be sure which you’re using. Although not perfect, it’s very good looking for a multipen and works well enough for me to keep using it. I’ll be replacing the pencil lead with some I already have, which will hopefully last longer as the lead it comes with pretty much evaporates when it touches paper.