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.

Launch: LetCheck – Rental property reviews for Ireland

I’ve launched my first proper web application this week. I’ve talked about launching a decent web application for a long (loooooooooong) time. I really wanted to see this through to launch and get version 1.0 live. It’s been 6 months of coding. There was a lot of thinking before this, and a lot of thinking during the 6 months too. This was all evening weekend coding and there were a lot of extended breaks in the process, but I’ve learned so much a developer in my Day job, that when I sit down to code in the evening, an hour is very valuable. With the right framework and tools, you can work very efficiently with little time.

LetCheck.eu is a property review site. It’s targeted at the rental market. I’ve felt over the past few years, that there was a missed opportunity for renters to be able to have a voice about where the live/lived. I’ve had this app in mind for almost 3 years, but finally got some momentum this year to get it live.

LetCheck

Please take a look, review where you have lived, and give me feedback. Launching is just the first step, and I have a lot of work to do to get a solid user base. Without solid content, the site is of no use to general web users (consumers), so it is important to attract and retain content creators.

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.

Old Gil doesn’t stand a chance

I’m working in Derry for the next couple of weeks. I don’t usually work outside of Dublin, but duty calls and all that. I feel like a travelling salesman. I’m staying in a shithole travelodge (room nothing like photos), I’m away from my comforts (i.e. Donna), and I’m tired from the drive up this morning (got up at 5.20am, poo) and working all day.

However, no matter where you are, its easy to make it feel like home. So I’ve bought 2 days of wifi from bitbuzz, and just got some dominos delivered. And there seems to be millions of channels on the telly.


Still, makes you appreciate your own home.

Become an Intrapreneur and say no

Being a “rogue” in a company large, small or even one person in size can be a great way to get stuff done and ultimately work out to everyones advantage. I am always one for encouraging the rattling of cages. Questioning middle and upper management decisions can result in a better run organisation and sometimes respect from your peers and seniors.

The main reason behind this is the fact that they hired you in the first place. You were hired for your unique skills at a technical level and interpersonal level. Each person in an organisation is usually better than every other person in at least 1 specific skill. The decisions on this technology or niche should come on advisement from this person. But may not be the case where you work.

At times it can be worth being an Intrapreneur to just get something changed or done where too many meetings and management decisions will delay the work or stop it in its track altogether. You’ll need a passion for what you believe in, and that has to be evident to convince your peers the advantages of your actions.

I have found myself questioning or saying “no” to my seniors at times. The reason being that I know more about the results of the request than the person asking. People respect no, and they people notice of no. If you question something, you can make it better.

Get yourself out of the “Yes man” rut and start saying no. Always ask why, and say no to yourself and to others.*

*Results may vary. Side affects include anal leakage.

The Business of Blogging

Bit of a pipe dream really. Money can be made from Blogging, some make a lot of money. But most don’t.

On that day more than 500,000 people hit my site—by far the biggest day I’d ever had—and through Google’s AdSense program I earned about a hundred bucks.

That’s not very inspiring. I seriously figured more people clicked on ads. I don’t click on ads, in fact I’ve managed to stick them in my blind spot on most sites I visit, so I guess I can’t assume everyone else does.

It would be great to be able to make money directly from blogging, but realistically, the only main value that can come from a blog is to be able to sell yourself as a writer/designer/developer or someone competent in your professional field. When it boils down to it, this value should be worth more to you than ad revenue. Building relationship with your readers, and converting them into paying clients should be the goal of a professional blogger. In fact a personal (?) bloggers goal should be to build relationships too.

One month I made €4.36 in google ads, and I was stoked. Still haven’t reached the €100 mark after almost 5 years writing BahFlafBurb, so have yet to actually get money (Major party when that cheque comes!!). I guess I’ll just have to put up with the enjoyment of having an outlet and some reliable readers and commenters.

My tip? Like other networking platforms, focus on quality content that sells you as a person/professional.

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)