It’s not the tools

This is a broad concept, and I think we have all heard it at some point. A bad workman blames his tools.

A great workman won’t even talk about the tools; they will discuss technique and the goals for the “project”.

While scanning my feeds tonight, I slowed down on some nice fonts (I always slow for fonts) from the Web Design Ledger. Upon closer inspection I agreed with the author, those are some kick-ass fonts.

This one caught my eye:

typefaces03

It was only after looking at the original font here when I realized the craft is in what you do with a font. The font itself looks plain enough, but the real skill is matching it to the right theme and applying that difficult layer of polish.

Skills can be taught and learned. Real art takes focus, practice, attention to detail and thinking outside the (tool) box.

I’m talking about me here BTW. I have a lot of skills, I can learn new skills quickly, and can get pretty good at most new things I try, but my craft is not deep. I’ve become a ‘jack of all trades’ as a User experience developer (the job title even screams that in itself) and should at least have some deep knowledge and expertise in a certain vertical. I’m focusing my energy on User experience at the moment, but even that might be too vague as there are a lot of skills under that one title.

Pick a skill, get great at it. Real great. Proper great.

A mostly mossy movember

A year has passed and I am back on the Movember wagon this year. I want to raise a little money and awareness for Mens health, and I am willing to make my face look somewhat silly in the process.

Rule: If you laugh at my Mo, you must donate! Visit my Mospace.

Movember 20132 years ago I raised over €300 for the Movember cause, last year was not so fruitful, but I intend on beating my previous record this year, so every little helps.

Access your voicemail from a different phone

I left my phone at home today and struggled to find a way to check my voicemail from a different phone, but I did find the answer, so I thought I would share it here for future reference.

This worked with my vodafone phone, but should be similar across most providers. A handy tip for getting staight to your voicemail, or anyones for that matter is to insert a 5 between the area code (086 for example) and your phone number.

  1. Dial your voicemail: 086 5 12345678
  2. Once the outgoing message starts, hit # (the ‘pound’ or ‘hash’ symbol)
  3. You will be prompted for your password. This is usually a 4 digit pin. If you don’t know it or don’t remember setting it, the default is 0000. I would recommend you change it if that is the case. Enter the password and hit # again.

Hope this helps you  (or even future me).

This years resolutions: Check

Put some resolutions up in January . Time flew to be honest and it’s been quite around the blog since. I guess I was busy getting on those resolutions. Some were vague, and some were solid. I think I’ve made a good crack at them all, so let’s recap. Resolutions:

  1. Complete at least 2 Triathlons
  2. Become a stronger, better surfer
  3. Direct my career and improve my professional visibility
  4. Enjoy taking the risks, and earning the rewards.

How I’ve done so far:

  1. I completed 3 Triathlons: Velvet Strand, Clogherhead & Tramore. Tramore being the highlight for me this year as I got to finish with a lot of cheers from family and friends, and felt like a bit of a ledge that day, as most of them had never seen me compete in a race before. Major ego boost resulted. I also completed 2 aquathons (Howth), a sea swim (Snamh Fada), a 10k run (Pheonix Park), 2 Runamuck challenges (4.5k obstacle and 9k obstacle course – more fun run than race really). My times for most of these were middle of the pack, and I learned I have a lot of work to do with my running. Mostly I have learned to enjoy training and competing and the buzz of finishing negates any pain while training or racing.
  2. I have done a good bit of surfing this year, and spent some time becoming more confident on my shortboard (6’6″ fat boy flyer). Had some great sessions recently that have helped a lot, and winter will bring more of that.
  3. I moved job in april. I am working with Dovetail and very happy in a small company where we can focus on building software and forget the politics that large organisations can get stuck in.
  4. Every so often I watch Yes Man. It reminds me what is important and to say yes to more things. I believe I have done this a lot more this year.
  5. Not on the original list, but I got engaged in August, so that was a nice bonus to top off a year of mixing it up. And I am still engaged, woot!

Overall it was great to write down some goals for the year, as it gave me motivation to achieve them. I have more for next year, but will leave them for another post.

The Social Network

I’m a very easy person to inspire. I can get inspiration from a lot of sources, people I know, movies, books, blogs, ideas. Most of my inspiration comes from true stories rather than fables. Fables being ideals rather than having actually happened.

Facebook LogoThe Social Network was a good movie, and quite inspirational. Cutting it down to the basic story, Mark Zuckerberg codes the beginnings of facebook in a few weeks, and it spreads quickly through major colleges. The initial idea was simple and he executed the basics and got it out there quickly. There was no long term plan, just an idea and the drive to build and launch quickly. This is a great way to look at any personal/professional projects.

Iterate

Iterate, the first iteration being launch, then iterate continuously. Forever. Evolve the product with the user-base, and make sure it stays relevant. An idea is just that until it’s real.

Anywho, after watching videos on Lance Armstrong I get an overwhelming urge to get on my bike and ride. Coming back from the social network, I want to crack open an IDE and start coding like a boss. Most of my ideas are (probably) shit, but I’ll never know unless I launch. 2011 goal #1, launch a site. There, it’s written down now. I have to do it.

BTW, my earlier post on goals for this year (written in January), there’s a post coming to see how I’ve done with that shortly. Stay tuned.

p.s. I promise I’m back blogging more consistently from here on in. At least for the winter months.

p.p.s. The blog is now on wordpress.

Need for a change of ‘tude

I am tired. Really tired. All the time.

For about 2 months, I’ve been up and down (it’s ups and downs). Work is going well, I’m learning a lot and doing a lot. I think that’s the problem. I’ve never produced as much stuff in work as I have in the last 4 months. A lot of it is good quality too.

But my personal life is taking a hit. I used to be able to go to work, and come home ready for whatever the evening brings. Now, I barely have the energy to change clothes, and get onto the couch.

Yes I went for pints last night, and they rocked (the pints) and it was a good night overall, but today my head is fucked, I can’t focus, but I can’t relax either.

Some advice would be nice…

(this post was a waste…pointless drivel, expect more like this)

Make Art, Make Art

I’m a very faddy person. This means, I get high notions a lot. Daily. Hourly on weekends. It usually happens like this.

  1. I see something that hits me right here (points to his chest/heart area). Usually a kind act, a movie, graffiti, a sports game. Anything that hits you right there (points to your chest/heart). A large amount of this day dreaming happens on public transport with my favourite mix of music cancelling out the noisy world around.
  2. I analyse and break it down to the why, how, where etc.
  3. I put myself in the position of the character, actor, sports person, depicted art. This makes me feel nice and warm and fuzzy (the music mix is partly responsible). Donna catches me doing this a lot of the time. I stare at space, sometimes her, and have a hint of a smiling grin. Mostly the smile is in my eyes.
  4. I snap out of the day dream, but the ideas and feelings remain for hours, days, weeks and sometimes months.

Fads of Late

The Den. I’ve dreamed of my own dream home for a few years now. Settling down with a bit of land, and the perfect house that nobody else has. The design for the house is in my head. It’s fantastic. I wish you could see it. The Irish housing market has squashed this dream a bit, but it’s still there (, you’ll notice my fads tend not to obey logic or plausibility). More recently, I have honed my design efforts on the den. The den is my home-office & entertainment room. It is used for development during the day. It is used for movies, poker and Wii in the evenings and weekends. It contains a large beer fridge, an old couch and a large workbench for PCs, Macs & pizza boxes. It has one of those ergonomic chairs for working at the computer. It also has a banging TV (which has DVI in, w00t) and 5.1 surround. There are some ground rules. You are allowed in and you are allowed use my shit, but you must respect my shit and remember its my shit. It’s awesome … in my head.

The Freelancer. Meet Mossy. The freelance web (& SharePoint) developer. He works from his Den (see ‘The Den’). He meets his deadlines. His attention to detail and quality is excellent, and his clients love him. He is very personable and he is respected by the development community as he blogs about design/coding, shares ideas and contributes to open source projects. He has a comfortable income and still has time to leaving at noon on a Friday to get down the west for a weekend of surfing. In the beginning, business was slow and he had very little creature comforts, and could not afford a car. Now, business is slowly expanding and he has conceived and launched a successful web application (possibly social, as is the fashion these days) where revenue is generated from loyal paying subscribers. He is managing workload with help from a few other freelancers (see ‘Luke’ and ‘Daithi’), but may need to consider hiring a talented coder to take over some of the more time consuming applications. He might lease some cubicles in the city to make this a more viable option.

The never ending traveller. Mossy has been bitten by the travel bug. He has spent 6 months working in Sydney, and is ready to hit the road with his Girlfriend around OZ, New Zealand & Japan. He likes the feeling from this. He wants it to last. He wants to contract for 6 months a year, and hit the road the other six months. Who doesn’t? Some people don’t, but Mossy does! He’d like to backpack around South America. He wants to visit Disneyland, Hong Kong*. He wants to hang out on a beach in Hawai’i for a while. Possible open a beach bar … it could happen.

The Cog. Mossy is returning to Ireland in July. He has experience in a Focused IT Field, which is currently in high demand. He may have an option to return to the organisation he was with before travelling. He probably has other options too. He could see what other roles are like in competing organisations. Either way, he should not find it too hard to get a decent wage when he returns to Ireland. He can start saving for a deposit on that Den (See ‘The Den’), and get a loan for a car with electric windows, and a heater that works on 1 and 2. The job is not exciting, and he is working for faceless large clients, but it pays well and he has weekends off. He doesn’t get down the west until later on Friday, and doesn’t have time to contribute to the development comminuty or his blog. His side-line clients suffer from missed deadlines and lower quality, and he regrets taking on the extra work.

The Busker. Mossy was inspired by Glen Hansards acceptance speech at the oscars. He decides to get the guitar out again. He always loved it and he enjoys singing at parties. He gets piano lessons and learns how to read music. He starts writing and recording with his friend brian. Brian remixes their words and music into electronic, yet heartwarming melodies. They get brief success when one of their catchy tunes is featured in a Bulmers television commercial, and return to their freelancing work once the country stops humming “Faddy Faddy Fad Fad” from the Purple Monkey Dishwashers.

“So?”

This is just a small selection of the fads that enter and exit my head daily. I guess they are “dreams of an idealist” more than fads. Others include but are not limited to: Philanthropist, Charity worker, Full-time surfer, Triathlon take parter, Ultimate Frisbee player, MOSS Guru, Film-maker (my personal favourite) & Furniture Maker.

I have a feeling that a lot of idealisms I’ve described above may be popular with a lot of people who mirror my style of life, so reading back on it, it’s not too off the wall I suppose. I guess I just wanted to write it down. As a reminder maybe.

*Disneyland, Hongkong. After myself and Donna have visited Japan, we will both have been to 4 out of the 5 Disneylands in the world. On that note, who looking forward to DubiaLand?? I’ll tell ya who. Me and Donna!