Weeknotes 20: 20th May 2019 – 26th May 2019

20th May 2019 – 26th May 2019

Birthdays and work days.

Client work

Various updates for all of my clients. This included trying to use If This Then That to automatically post the items in an RSS feed to Twitter. That went badly as the only set up I could find for doing that was extracting the information differently to how I wanted. So instead I used dlvr.it to do the posting to Twitter instead.

Dlvr.it has been reliable for another client, their free account only allows the consumption of three RSS feeds, which is fair enough. This client had more than that that they wanted to post from, but they were all quite quiet so didn’t really want to pay for an account. I wrote them a new RSS feed which merged together the separate news feeds each main department had, and new jobs, which solved this problem.

I had a day at The Skiff coworking space with Laura to tackle a bunch of the work needed for our mutual clients. A lot of that was around the Apply with Indeed system two of the clients are using and working in the same place helped a lot with making progress. I love the flexibility of coworking for this – the ability to work together when needed, but not all the time.

My Projects

Some notes on a new section I need for Brisk, but no decent progress.

Productivity

Sleep was better, productivity was mainly curtailed by Katie having a lot of late shifts so I was doing a lot of the school runs, although family did one which let me have a good Monday.

Thursday was almost a complete write off work-wise as it was a big birthday for my dad and I went to lunch with my parents and lots of relatives, then went straight to childcare mode. It was great seeing everyone, although not great for billable time. Given the hours lost over the week I’d usually have caught up at the weekend, but as that contained my birthday, I didn’t do that.

Learning

This got lost in all the non-work time this week.

The Farm

Attendance was 17, we met once again in the Caxton Arms. My notes were…

  • Busy weeks
  • Fishing
  • iOS development
  • The problems of buying extra tall clothes, not extra tall and extra wide clothes
  • Big shoes stories
  • Bad hips
  • The joys of growing some of your own food
  • SCSS and when to use it over CSS
  • Structuring CSS sensibly
  • Influencer marketing
  • OCD and phones and cupboards
  • Giving webinars
  • Comedy/improv training
  • Working on your own projects
  • New high resolution monitor
  • Tomatoes

I had a long conversation with Dan as we both have the same problem – we have to buy very large tops to get a sleeve length long enough to reach over our wrists, but then have a body size large enough to fit two people in. And needing size 13 (UK) shoes means ordering from the internet and doing a lot of sending back. Tall people problems. Given how many men in their 20s are at least as tall as me, I’m hoping clothes manufacturers start providing more extra tall clothes in mainstream shops soon.

Hardware

The Samsung U28E590D monitor I got for the Skiff is a massive improvement over my 13 year old Mirai monitor, very high resolution and lots of space for everything. It came with a Displayport cable but I didn’t realise that of course my laptop has a mini-DisplayPort port, not a big version, so I’ve had to order an extra cable to be able to get the best from the monitor. Currently I’m using it via HDMI, but it should run at a higher refresh rate with the cable I’ve ordered.

I also ordered a Perixx vertical mouse, which is pretty comfortable. I’ve used a Perixx split keyboard for ages and so was willing to take a risk on another of their products even though they’re not a big brand name. The mouse is decent – a good shape, rubbery where your thumb rests so easy to move around, and a good buy at £15. It’s not as good as my Evoluent one I use at home, but is a heck of a lot cheaper so the Perixx is well worth trying if you’d like to test a vertical mouse. Now I’ve used one for a while, I hate using normal mice as I can feel my arm twisting when using them.

As I now have a bunch of ergonomic equipment, especially mice and alternatives, I was thinking of writing up some reviews of how I find them. Another thing to add to my list.

Visiting

Leonardslee Gardens. Recently re-opened under new ownership after a few years closed. They’re obviously still sorting the place out after it wasn’t maintained for a lot of the time it was closed, but it’s very beautiful.

Trees and small lake at Leonardslee Gardens in Sussex

Reading: Still reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Going well.

Writing with: the Papermate Inkjoy Needlepoint, almost empty but I got a new pen for my birthday so will likely be using that next week.

Weeknotes 19: 13th May 2019 – 19th May 2019

13th May 2019 – 19th May 2019

Tiredness with a side order of varied pain.

Client work

Various amends and new featured clients for Grafton Banks Finance, meetings with G2 Legal and Skillsearch about site changes and new services, then delving in to how to fix some problems and planning the new developments.

My Projects

No progress, but I did make progress on learning.

Productivity

Started badly as I still had some shoulder and neck pain on Monday and Tuesday, then was bad late in the week as I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Tom being ill on Saturday night meant I was up to 1am, and him getting up early the next day didn’t help me recover.

Both my hips went through a bad phase. I’ve bought a magazine that I think is potentially a bit full of woo as it is trying very hard to look like official information about health, but the one part of it I’m interested in is a long article on hips and a bunch of exercises for them. Hopefully there will be something buried in it which will help.

Productivity-wise it was a week to forget.

Learning

I got the rest of the 30×500 exercise I hadn’t finished last week done, and am working through the next lump of information, which is very interesting. I’d have liked to finish the info but mentally I got to the point where nothing was going in.

The Farm

Attendance was down a bit again at 15, we clashed for some of our time with the Brighton Product Tank meet up, which might have hit us a bit. We met once again in the Caxton Arms. My notes were…

  • Updog
  • Brexit
  • Downscaling
  • Carpentry
  • Bitcoin
  • The advantages of Portugal
  • Lowering stress
  • Projects we have on
  • Bad solicitors
  • Learning Laravel and Vue.js
  • Product Tank
  • Being near the Downs is terrific
  • Brexit Party propoganda
  • Brixton Windmill
  • Learning to delegate
  • Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

Hardware

The thirteen year old monitor I store at The Skiff is on its last legs and I’d really like some more space for my work, so I’ve ordered a new Samsung monitor to replace it. The new one is very high resolution and I’m hoping it’ll be OK to look at as it was what feels like a bargain: £220 for 3840×2160 pixels. More about it once I’ve got it. Along with the monitor, I got an extra vertical mouse so I can have one at The Skiff too. It’s a Perixx model, and hopefully good as it was a very reasonable price too.

Reading: Still reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

Writing with: a Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip, and a Platignum disposable fountain pen.

Weeknotes 18: 6th May – 12th May 2019

6th May – 12th May 2019

Cold and shoulder pain delays… everything.

Client work

A shortish week due to the bank holiday and my cold getting a lot worse. On the positive side, the client we put “Apply with Indeed” in for last week found their candidates really like it. So, Laura rolled it out for their sister company.

Client-wise my week was lots of small jobs – bits of copy, interface changes, explorations of problems, sorting out picture changes. Lots of small, bread and butter changes, which was about all my brain could handle as I got worse over the week.

My Projects

No real progress. I tried to get some work done with Amazon’s Product API for a bit of a break, and after trying a couple of libraries which didn’t get me anywhere, I rediscovered Amazon’s test area, which kept giving me errors too. Researching the error I found Amazon have changed the access to the API so you can only get results from it if your Amazon Affiliate ID has made money for Amazon over the last month. I do have some pages displaying products using Amazon’s affiliate system on my site about fixing my VW Beetle, but earnings are sporadic and obviously not enough to keep Amazon happy in my case.

It would be very helpful if they’d update their site about using the Product API to reflect this situation.

Productivity

Got worse as the week went on as I developed a full version of the cold my son had last week. Thursday and Friday were particularly bad. Then Saturday and Sunday I had a lot of neck and shoulder pain, which might have been caused by running for the train when I was running late on Friday. So sleep is doing particularly badly at the moment.

Learning

I managed to re-start 30×500 and get a lump of time in to get through most of the exercise I’d stalled out on. I should be able to finish that early next week. It feels good to be moving forwards with it again.

The Farm

Attendance was back a bit more to normal at 19, we met once again in the Caxton Arms. My notes were…

  • Finding work
  • Upping your rate
  • Angular and React
  • Migraines
  • Moving/not moving
  • The Skiff coworking space
  • Office space
  • Travelling in South America
  • Old jobs we have had
  • The appeal of mindless tasks
  • Domain issues
  • Getting in to a new project
  • Juggling projects
  • Tinnitus
  • Restaurant service
  • CBD oil
  • Laravel PHP framework

Family

I helped Tom’s Cub group with their orienteering task in the South Downs on Thursday evening. As the pack leader admitted, this was really an excuse to get them all out in the fresh air as they haven’t been able to do much outside over the winter. As an adult this was mainly a shortish walk made long due to it being very stop start and having to motivate the slow movers, but Tom really enjoyed looking for the navigation stumps marked on the map, and wanted to do more so we went out again on Saturday and Sunday to try to find more.

Also during the weekend, we went to a Fair that had set up in our local park, and went to see the film Detective Pikachu at the Dome in Worthing.

Software

I discovered Macromates, who make TextMate, one of the text editors I really like on OSX, had made a new version… two years ago. I’d thought they’d given up on the editor and moved on to other things as it had received only sporadic updates over the 6-7 years I’d been using the original version. I’m glad I randomly checked for it, as the new version is good – the speed and simplicity of the original, with up-to-date features like resuming where you left off when you shut the program or have an unexpected reboot. It has some minor differences I’m still getting used to, but in general, it’s a nice, decent update.

Reading: Still reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I’ve started enjoying it now, although things still feel very slow. I’m sure that’s partly the book, but also a reflection of my being knackered when I’m trying to read it.

Watching: Detective Pikachu which is an odd live-action version of the Pokemon world with CGI pocket monsters everywhere. I’m not sure Tom understood the finer points of the film but it was OK for one both adults and children could watch.

Writing with: Mixing around between the J Herbin rollerball, a Papermate gel pen, and a Fountain Pentel.

Weeknotes 17

29th April – 5th May 2019

Summary: Plague house.

Client work

Various updates chugged through. Problems with the new “Apply with LinkedIn” code came down to us not having the right API keys, which caused me to need to apply to become a “LinkedIn Talent Solutions Partner.” This involved filling in a very long form taking many details about my company, practically up to my inside leg measurement. It was obviously designed for companies much larger than mine is, but I’m hopeful I’ll get accepted as I’ve three clients using paid services at LinkedIn, so they have every reason to let me write some code to let those clients’ websites send more traffic to LinkedIn. The wait to find out is up to two months, so I’m not holding my breath.

On a similar front, Laura and I got “Apply with Indeed” working for a client’s recruitment site. This lets candidates who have their details stored within Indeed apply for a vacancy shown on my client’s site with their Indeed details by clicking a couple of buttons and not needing to type anything new in.

The main stumbling block on my side of the work was the Apply with Indeed button clashed badly with my client’s site design. After faffing with trying to restyle the button, something Indeed would clearly rather we did not do as they set up all the CSS that styles the button in a way that changes every time the page reloads to stop you fiddling with it, I hit a simpler way after talking to Peter at The Skiff.

The pages now hide the Indeed provided button, and uses Javascript triggered by one of our own buttons to click the hidden one. Same useful help for the candidate, but it lets us easily have a button that fits with the design of the site. It would have been much easier if Indeed would let us do some limited restyling within their guidelines rather than faff about in this way.

My Projects

A few tweaks to Brisk based on the work I was doing last week, to make the suggestions of negative keywords a little better in actual use. Not much else achieved due to losing time to illness.

Productivity

Got better as the week went on although I had quite a few wake ups because my son has a cold giving him a nasty cough. Thursday was heavily hit by my son being off school ill, after being bad in the night not only with the cold but having hurt his eye somehow. This meant I had five hours sleep on Wednesday night, and had limited work time but did get in a few useful hours thanks to family having Tom for a while.

I’ve now got the cold he’s at the tail end of, so I’ll have to see how that affects next week.

Learning

Once again didn’t manage to restart as I was juggling some extra childcare and tiredness. Have some time blocked out for this early next week.

The Farm

Attendance a bit low at 14, but a good, interesting meet up in the Caxton Arms. My notes were…

  • Bad sleep = bad productivity
  • Poor support from hosts
  • Freelance Buddy
  • Clients affected by Brexit
  • New startup project
  • Laravel work
  • Digitising the NHS
  • Outsourcing – great for some things not for others
  • Phone calls – by appointment please!
  • Over-automation
  • Mutual project catch up
  • iOS development
  • Backdrop – Drupal 7 improved and with some good bits from 8
  • Looking for React.js work

Reading: I started The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. This is the sort of story that should be right up my alley, but I’m just not gelling with it so far. I think I’m too tired to appreciate its meandering manner and might need to swap on to something else for a while.

I also made a little more progress on Deep Work by Cal Newport, which I started just over a year ago. I think my problem with it is now I’m half way through it seems I’ve had the useful information it has to give and I’m down to repetition of the central points, a view reinforced by the interview I listened to with him by Tropical MBA – the book has now covered in depth everything they talked about. I should give up on it but have clung on, probably because I’m more used to reading fiction where things can get better after a while.

Writing with: Mainly the Zebra Orbitz I had resurrected last week. I’m pretty sure the ink is feeling it’s age a bit with this one, I’m sure the previous one I used was smoother.

Weeknotes 16

22nd April 2019 – 28th April 2019

Progress, slow, but progress.

Client work

A combination of planning the development of a bunch of small sites for marketing purposes, and potential Google Ads campaigns, for one client, and mailing list clean up and Google Ads work for another. Mixed in with trying to work out a new version of LinkedIn’s “Apply with LinkedIn” feature, which they have launched a new version of without mentioning it in their old docs. This seems to be part of LinkedIn being more under Microsoft’s development processes, but is ruddy annoying. Laura and I could have avoided a bunch of work if it had been clear that Apply with LinkedIn had been changed a third way, having worked on integrating with their second version as the first was being closed down.

My Projects

Some useful progress on my Brisk app. I worked on the part that I’d run out of time on last week and found out how to bring in a library from Git using Composer, and then got very bogged down on the library I was trying to use for pluralising words. Someone had made a Laravel wrapper for a library I’d found to do this work in the past, but it wouldn’t work within Laravel and my hacking about with it wasn’t working. Fortunately after explaining the problem to Laura, she solved it one way, then found a more permanent solution. First solution was – we both realised the namespace in the library was different from what was being called. I tried to re-write the library around it but didn’t get all the code, more sensibly, Laura re-wrote the calls to it so they were correct. Then she discovered there were fixes in the development branch in Git, which I’d missed. Frustrationing, but a good reminder of why I work with Laura so much – she’s a very good programmer – and why sometimes it’s best to ask someone else when you get bogged down.

I’m now half way through doing a search terms test for a client using my app as a proper test of how the code is working.

Late in the week I had an idea for a type or series of ebook that I could self publish, which I’m currently leaving as ideas within my notebook. Writing down ideas is what I do to try and get them out of my head so I don’t obsess about them, and is a great way of laying everything out so I can come back later and realise what an idiot past me was for thinking it was such a great idea. Or, perhaps, find something I can develop in to a useful project.

Finally on the personal projects front, nothing useful done with the weeknotes subreddit I started last week. I’ve put in a good post someone gave me when I started doing weeknotes, but haven’t done anything else with it yet.

Productivity

Pretty good but some annoying lapses on Thursday due to tiredness. No migraines and hip relatively good for most of the week, and helped by a bike ride on Sunday. Tom being back at school Katie’s shifts being more favourable to pick ups after school was a great help.

Learning

Still didn’t manage to re-start due to my annoying Thursday lapse in productivity. Need to get back on that particular horse as my delays are getting silly.

The Farm

Numbers down again to 13, with a few regulars away and a lot of rain early in the evening putting people off. In the Caxton Arms, my notes were…

  • Coworking spaces
  • Hot food
  • Hot Ones – Hot food interviews on YouTube
  • Gothic metal /the many types of Metal
  • What to try to boost your website rankings in Google
  • Site speed enhancements
  • Family troubles
  • Migraines (reprise)
  • Guitar playing
  • WordPress Yellow Pencil plugin hack
  • Trying to keep people happy with your app
  • The race to the bottom of app prices
  • Late payments act – put on your invoices!
  • Keeping an old computer as backup can save your business
  • Live app testing
  • Pondering going back to PC as Mac laptops aren’t cutting it for their cost
  • Getting feedback from app users
  • World Championship Snooker

It was nice to have a catch up with Dave before the Farm started, as I was already in Brighton working at The Skiff on Wednesday. Meeting someone between working and the Farm is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it’s nice to see someone, and especially this as Dave is very interesting to talk to, it does mean I am “on” more for the whole day, which lead to feeling absolutely knackered by the end of Wednesday.

Reading: I finished A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick. A good sort of twist, sort of explanation at the end. Probably the best story of his I’ve read character-wise, or at least the most believeable – definitely using a speculative setting to try to tell a version of the stories he had seen around him through his own drug taking and the people he met while doing it.

Writing with: Again mainly my J Herbin rollerball, and still not quite finished the cartridge of Chocolate Brown ink as I wasn’t doing a lot of handwriting this week. Also a bit of use of an old Zebra Orbitz I had lying around, which is now a Frankenpen as I shattered the rubber grip while fiddling with it wondering how solid it had gone with time. Turns out: very solid indeed. Oops.