Weeknotes and Links for 18th August 2022

Today (Thursday) I’m at a natural pause point, which seems like a good time to jot down a quick update. The gods have smiled on me before, and this is the second time where work has slowed, and a new opportunity has circled in to fill the gap. Previously it was some emergency database work for a day. This time it’s to collaborate on a project proposal. Maybe it’s synchronicity and the magic of being, or maybe I just don’t notice it when it’s less coincidental.

Either way, I feel I’m getting used to managing multiple clients, projects, timescales and threads. I’m "reconfiguring" my own expectations for myself, in terms of the work I need to actually do as a freelancer. Now that I’ve got the hang of regular invoicing and some new tech, my confidence has moved on to other areas.

Visiting a new country is a strange experience, but an addictive one if you can stick the landing. I remember stepping off the plane in Cairo and into a taxi; the night air was several dozen degrees higher than the cool of the airport. The stars were out but the city felt bristling, like a nightclub. The taxi drove past strange buildings, but I was more aware of the dramatic shift in the culture of the road. Tired from travelling, and yet awake and alert as if my life depended on it.

I wonder if there’s a correlation between people who like the thrill of travel and who enjoy being freelance. There is, for me at least, a passing resemblance – the sense that it is on you to merely survive, that you will need to pay attention and use all of your skills, that anything could happen at any time. I’ve got used to expecting interesting and exciting emails these days, in contrast to so much office work.

And, ultimately, a sense that you’ll never quite know where you’ll end up. But that so long as you have some level of agency, and that you’re item to fresh ideas, people, and even emotions, the journey will have been worth it.

What I’ve been up to of late:

  • Acting as target user and working through user flows on the Laravel project that’s – possibly – nearing an end. I’ll wait and see if it has any legs, but originally it was intended to help me learn Laravel properly, which has definitely worked out. I’ve had a lot of space to just get on with code, and have found Laravel (and Docker, Tailwind, etc) to be neat (in the structural sense) to work with, on the whole. I’ve had to practice my project manager skills a bit more than I thought, but it’s helpful to "calibrate" my skills here, out in the real world.

  • More excited than I should be to be asked to go in on a project, as a sustainable tech consultant. I’m finding I can put together proposals for sustainability and environmental approaches pretty quickly and easily at the moment – writing up what you would do, given half the chance, is actually a really good test of one’s skills of planning, contingency and communication. Everyone should practice this, as a form of "work fiction". In fact, I’d love to see more "what if" plans from potential recruits, as well as wha they’ve actually worked on. GitHub your life plans.

  • Recovering from the last few weeks, which have ricocheted between end of school term and all the emotions involved in leaving primary school, driving off to France for heat and Typhoons (the jetplane), and taking an overnight trip to London (which the photos on this post are all from). Really, REALLY glad it’s currently under 30 degrees.

  • Completing my first Fortnite battle pass, not long after my two kids, so pretty proud about keeping up with the youth…

I have way too much "idea energy" floating around at the moment though. 💡 ⚡ There are a dozen little projects I’d love to do, from cleaning up old consoles and controllers, to coding an interactive story in Inkle, and from starting a tech-repair network to doing up the summer house. Like visiting a new city, I need to adjust that energy to expectations – it’s not feasible to visit everything in a short trip, but you can adopt a blended approach of prioritising the must-sees, alongside embracing the chaos. In this case, though, the chaos is of my own ADHD-like attention span, rather than the rapid ebb and flow of a population centre. I am visiting my own sense of being, and enjoying it.

Some recent professional tweaks:

  • Finally took a new photo to replace my old company one. The new one is a bit more informal and includes grey hair and my own house as a background. It feels oddly … authentic? You can see it in action at my LinkedIn page. I’m not planning on updating my Twitter pic though.

  • I’ve ended up starting my own Slack space to be able to connect with a client in a shared channel. I’ve also set up a new Slack space from scratch for the tech network mentioned above, which I’ve not really done before. However I’m not really using it to chat informally – I have a Discord which is more for that "background chatter", which you’re more than welcome to visit here if you’ve read this far 🙂

Time to dash, but just realised it’s been 4 months since I last posted. See you again next season…