Monthly Archives: April 2019

Weeknotes 15

15th April 2019 – 21st April 2019

A calmer week with quite a lot done.

Client work

My clients being surprisingly quiet, and I think in many cases spending time with their family, gave me a chance to catch up with a lot of hanging threads. So I was able to do testing, put prices together and investigate various things that have been waiting for my time for one client, although them not being responsive means I’m now waiting on several decisions which I’ll hopefully hear about next week. Otherwise it was lots of small fixes for various clients. On Wednesday Laura and I both worked in The Skiff, which is very helpful when we need to talk a lot about what’s going on with our mutual clients.

My Projects

Some progress on the negative keyword suggestions system which is part of my Brisk PPC web app. I got done some useful work with suggestions that come out of the database, then got bogged down on some libraries I’m trying to use to help with some text processing for other suggestions. I hit a frustrating part on Wednesday evening where I thought I could get some initial work done on getting a library working with Laravel, but couldn’t quite as I was tripping up on something simple, probably because I was just too tired to focus properly.

Very nice to make some progress, I hope to get the library work done enough to test next week.

Productivity

Once again thanks to friends and family, I got quite a lot of work time this week given Tom was on Easter holiday from school. I’m back in balance on keeping my hip happy so minimal pain on that front helped concentration too. One bad morning / weak migraine in the night of Sunday to Monday which I’m still tracking down the cause of, but I think it was due to relaxing on Sunday – a standard cause of classic type migraines is relaxing after a run of stress/tension.

Learning

Once again not enough time on this, but I’m hoping to restart next week.

The Farm

Numbers up to 21, partly due to a new person brought along by Dan, and Claire who I know from the Skiff coming as she had childcare for a change. In the Caxton Arms as usual. My notes were…

  • A crash course in freelancing
  • Finding work via networking
  • How contracting works
  • Finding work through/within web agencies
  • Getting clients while in full time work
  • Rock climbing
  • When to keep an awkward client
  • Never quite getting to coworking
  • Horrific drinking stories
  • CBD oil
  • Stress/tension
  • Migraines
  • Smoking vs vaping
  • Magento v1 vs v2
  • Laravel
  • ColdFusion – still going
  • Juggling multiple clients
  • Continuous learning

I had a long chat with Nick about migraines and he’s very kindly given me some things to try to prevent them. I’m hoping I’m generally back to normal now, as in avoiding the food that triggers them, but we’ll see over the next few weeks.

Family

I saw my cousin, her hubby and children in the week, which was lovely and I was able to give them their Christmas presents (yes, it’s been a while.) The weekend had a lot of family time as we visited both sides for Easter.

Katie’s laptop, an eight year old merging of two machines, died late in the week and I spent some time getting it going again. Sadly it’s not reliably working again but I’m going to have another go at it. I found this page on different startup options for Macs very helpful it getting it going enough to do some backing up, and James, who used to fix Macs professionally, was very helpful too.

Reading: Still on A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick. It’s interesting seeing how the characters are degrading through their drug use, and how the main character is becoming a noticeably less reliable narrator as the book goes on.

Listening to: Two podcasts I’m particularly enjoying at the moment are Rocket – tech, product and politics conversations, and Focused – productivity chat and interviews. Both from the Relay.fm, so production is excellent – they are well edited I can turn up my headphones and still hear what’s being said when I’m walking along busy roads, and there’s no swearing so I can have it on in the kitchen when cooking without worrying what Tom might hear. One extra nice thing about Rocket is it’s hosted by three women, so their opinions and experiences are different to my own and a lot of the podcasts I listen to, which tend to be two men talking, and most often two white men talking.

Writing with: Mainly my J Herbin rollerball. I thought I might finish the current cartridge of Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, but didn’t quite so may use it a bit next week to get through it. I’m probably swapping it back to black ink next time, for some reason I’m happy writing fiction in brown, but don’t like it for my tech work, even if it’s just notes for my use.

Weeknotes

I’m finding reading other people’s weeknotes helpful as well as writing my own. To help spread the idea I’ve started a Weeknotes subreddit. If you do your own Weeknotes and are a Redditor, please do submit them there. I find Reddit sub-communities highly variable, I’m intending to keep this an on-topic and friendly subreddit.

Weeknotes 14

8th April 2019 – 14th April 2019

A busy week between work, childcare and tiredness.

Client work

Last week I managed to mix in a lot of the work on my client’s new server that was actually done this week – an easy mistake when working across the weekend then only writing up my notes half way through the week. So, on top of the mixed in work, I managed to get the last bits of the sites set up and tested, some database queries optimised to make a report page work correctly again, and the old server switched off so the client won’t be paying for two running with only one doing any work.

Otherwise it was all investigating situations to find bugs, fixing minor bugs, getting Laura to work on bigger tasks with me testing them, and lining up potential future work.

My Projects

Not enough progress to talk about this week. Must do better next week.

Productivity

Thanks to friends and family, I got a lot more work time than I expected, with Tom visiting people for at least part of the day every day Katie was working. That let me get on with client work, and some tasks for home as well on Thursday.

One thing I forgot from the notes last week was I woke up with a migraine during Friday night, which didn’t help my productivity as I had to work that Saturday. This week I again woke up with a migraine during Friday night. Fortunately both were weak, with this one weaker than the previous. I think the cause of both was some food I got from the Street Diner street food market in Brighton, which is the only common link across the two days before the migraines. Most likely the sauce they added to the food was the cause, but I’m not interested in experimenting enough to work out if it’s that or something in the marinade the stall was using. Shame as the brisket they serve is lovely.

Learning

Still not enough time on this, I’m hoping to get some done this coming week as I’ve got a bit more time for work than this week, around some more family care time.

The Farm

In the Caxton Arms this week, and numbers up a touch to 14, and another good night, although I spent a bit too long talking to one person, although he is new and I thought he did need a bit of help trying to slim down what he is trying to do (although he may have felt otherwise.) My general notes were…

  • Handling clients who use technical language incorrectly
  • Automation
  • Hacking Notepad
  • Looking forward to a meeting
  • Reasons to learn Assembly language
  • Smaller services being bought by Amazon/Google/Microsoft/Apple
  • Commenting code
  • Putting out educational material for self promotion and profit
  • Oauth
  • How to narrow down what to learn next
  • Searching Google when there’s not much material on a topic
  • Training a machine learning system

Family

We headed to Nymans Gardens on Sunday so Tom could take part in their Easter Egg hunt, which this year was finding hanging letters and poems scattered around the gardens. A very nice, relaxing trip that let me dust off my old Canon bridge camera and take some photos.

Boy over old stone wall

Reading: Still on A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick. It’s decent, but a bit confusing when I’m tired.

Watching: Solo the Han Solo origins Star Wars film. A decent addition to the franchise, I’m not sure it really needed to be made but it was enjoyable and nice to see another Star Wars film not built around The Force.

Writing with: Mainly a Papermate Inkjoy 0.7 gel pen. Another smooth, consistent writer from Papermate, in common with their other gel pens this one is rather ink hungry, but as it gives a thick, dark line that isn’t a surprise.

Weeknotes 13

1st April 2019 – 7th April 2019

A busy week between work, childcare and tiredness.

Client work

I finally got access to my client’s new server from my development machine, which runs OSX and was having trouble. The end part of the week became packaging up their main site, test site, and 30+ small sites and moving them over to the new server and setting them up again.

We had been using a couple of different ways of doing URL re-writing on the old server, layered in over time. One of them didn’t work on the new server so I had to update several sites to use something IIS 8.5 could run. Unfortunately IIS 8.5 seems a touch fragile, in that whenever I stuffed up a re-write rule it stopped responding and needed it’s service restarting, taking out everything not just the site or set of directories affected by the re-writing. I was glad I got a chance to fiddle with them before the sites were live as although restarting the service didn’t take long, it was still more downtime than I’d like.

Moving the sites was a little time consuming but not too bad, mainly compressing them in to big files and transferring between servers – nice and quick as they’re in the same datacentre (or ‘cloud’, which of course is another name for a datacentre in this case.) Most of the time disappeared in to getting email sending through the client’s web servers – always a problem as it involves two layers of support at their IT support firm, setting up SQL Server and transferring a database, configuring ColdFusion, and myriad other small fixes.

To get everything done quickly before the client starts getting charged for running two servers – they get a grace period for a cross over, a lot of which was chewed up getting me access to the new server – I worked a chunk of Sunday to make progress, knowing the school Easter holiday starting next week would mean a lot of my time would disappear on family things. Hopefully the move will be finished early next week.

My Projects

I have a small web app which I made a couple of years ago to track how my marketing for my app and the Farm was progressing. As part of it’s monitoring of what I put out, it reads the RSS feed of this site and I noticed that was failing. A quick investigation discovered that it didn’t like certain types of secure certificate, i.e. the type used by Let’s Encrypt, due to the version of Java running under the site (which uses Railo, an open source ColdFusion engine.)

At the moment I’m putting up with the irritation of it not working. I might up my hosting package at Viviotech to get some space running Lucee, a more recent open source ColdFusion engine. That’d be cheaper and more robust than spending the time trying to write around the problem, which would involve me having to work out which feeds are affected and then crawl them via another of my sites running something that can read the certificates correctly. Delving in to that felt like a big distraction so I’ve left it for now.

Productivity

I got quite a lot done, in the time I had for work as I was doing a lot of school runs and childcare this week and felt knackered for a lot of it.

A bonus was several hours of no pain from my hip on Tuesday morning, which I’m putting down to doing several short walks in the day on Monday as I needed thinking time for solving some problems. I tried to replicate that in other parts of the week but didn’t quite manage it.

The gap in pain brought home to me how used I am to having it play up in one way or another at the moment, which is not really positive for the future as I was rather hoping my hip would last for as long as I need it (say, another 40 years or so) and it doesn’t seem to be going that way.

Learning

Not enough time on this as I got time in for one lesson, but haven’t managed to schedule some exercise/research time, which I need in a couple of decent sized blocks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get that done once the server move is done.

The Farm

Once again in the Caxton Arms this week, and numbers down to just a dozen, although it was quite a good night – sometimes the smaller group can feel that way as you get a chance to follow so many conversations and threads.

  • Finding bugs in your own old software
  • Car problem noises
  • Doing your accounts
  • Reconsillyrubbish
  • Pay an accountant or do your own accounts?
  • Hardcoded paths and IDs that should never have been hardcoded
  • Mutual almost project catch up
  • Rates for Node.js work in London are _very_ high right now
  • Cavern diving in Mexico
  • “If you crash it, you pay!”
  • Mega zip wires
  • Bitcoin
  • Mackrel, dogfish and fishing on hard mode
  • Learning fishing from YouTube
  • Is there an ethical way to catch a fish?
  • How to kill a goat
  • How to tell a potential client their budget is just too low for what they want to do
  • Cat stories
  • Addiction to Love Hearts

Reading: Finished Ancillary Mercy, which I found very satisfying but I can see why some people don’t like the series. I’m going to try to find time to do a longer write up of some of the themes I saw in the books, hopefully I’ll find time rather than letting it fade in to the background because of work. Started A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick, as something completely different.

Writing with: I did indeed stick to the Zebra Z-Grip Max until it was finished, then switched on to a Papermate Inkjoy 0.5 needlepoint, which is also a nice, smooth writer.