Work

Telework Forum on the Central Coast

Last night I attended a forum on teleworking held at the Regional Development Australia Central Coast (RDACC) offices at Ourimbah. The reasonable size group was a mix of interested people trying to promote telework on the coast plus those who actually do for some portion of their working work, others who would like to.

For background, 2 days per week I work from home on the Central Coast. I am fortunate that my occupation of software developer affords me the opportunity to easily work remotely from the office. And because the laptop I use is my factory, I can perform most parts of my job on a train, turning often unproductive travel time into actual work, planning or learning time. BTW this post is being written while on the train.

The forum heard from a range of speakers including Barbara Lepani for a federal government perspective on their efforts to promote telework and the obvious tie in with the NBN rollout. Speakers spoke on their experiences and frustrations of long travel time every day and the strain that places on themselves and their family. There was also discussion on approaching employers and the ways workers have been able to get telework as part of their working week, and the obstacles a potential teleworker is likely to find from organisations.

One area I was interested in is telwork centres in Gosford and Wyong which are planned as part of National Teleworking Week November 12-16. These would be great for those unable to work from their homes, and I could see becoming permanent places. Roll that it with collaborative spaces for micro businesses and freelancers, and this could have the added benefit of giving Gosford CBD some weekday life back.

Their is a facebook page for those wanting more information, and more information at innov8central.

To me telerwork is a no brainer for many occupations, with a decent internet connection, a professional attitude by the worker, and an open mind by those they work with. And given that its reported that towards 40,000 Central Coast residents travel outside their area for their work, that is a lot of potential teleworkers.

Given a large part of the audience they want to reach was actually commuting at the time of the forum (5:30), would it be possible to have the next forum on a morning CityRail train?

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Work

Flowerella – New Site

The website for Flowerella is now live. Flowerella services the area around Gordon in the north of Sydney. It is part an online flower shop, and also information about the great work they do for functions and weddings.


The site is built on WordPress, and uses a modified version of Jigoshop to handle the online shop. The site design was done by Matt and I turned it into a WordPress theme. Not the most complicated WP site, with pretty standard plugins and a custom type to handle the testimonials.

Best of luck Flowerella.

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Web, Work

WooCommerce – No Thanks

WooThemes LogoSo WooThemes have released v1 of WooCommerce an ecommerce plugin for WordPress. This is a fork of the Jigowatt ecommerce plugin Jigoshop. Given the GPL licensing of the code the fork was legally fine, but I found the whole process ethically dubious. The reason for the fork seemed to be purely for financial gain given their own attempts to create an ecommerce plugin had failed and they could not come to a commercial agreement with Jigowatt or at least 1 other similar plugin development group.
Jigoshop LogoI have 1 site about to go live using Jigoshop, but another in early stages of development. It would be derelict of me not to at least check out WooCommerce for the sake of my client.
Continue reading

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Work

And Another Door Opens

So as previously posted I am leaving McCann, leads to the search for a new developer position.
Luckily I have found a new Senior Web Developer position with Australasian Medical Publishing and I am really looking forward to it. It is a 12 month contract where I will be working on a project that is consolidating a number of sites from a variety of platforms to running on Drupal. My experience with Drupal is limited and not recent (around v 4.x), but data conversions are something I have plenty of experience with and at least 1 system is WordPress which I know very well these days.
There will be a steep learning curve around Drupal, but I have always liked a challenge. And I have heard plenty of good about Drupal in terms of flexibility and power that it will be interesting to compare to WordPress and Joomla which I have worked with in more recent times.

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Work

A door closes

Back in April I accepted a full time position as the Tech Lead at McCann Sydney, but just the other day myself and the development side of the digital team have been told our positions are to be made redundant and dev work outsourced. This was not totally unexpected, but still an obvious personal disappointment. I enjoyed my time at McCann and was proud of the work we had achieved.

So that door closes but I am not sure which door will be next for me. I like the combination of being part developer, part system admin. The one area I would like to pursue is around improved dev processes. Its the area I wanted to improve at McCann but there never seemed to be the time.

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Business, Work

Clarity of work focus

It has been over 5 years now since I went and sent up a company so I could work for myself. In that time it has ranged from very lean to actually having to say no to work. There was a short detour back to perm work but in reality their painted picture was better than reality.

Lack of clear direction

One mistake I can readily admit over these years is a lack of clear direction. At times the business has been part:

  1. Full service web company
  2. Hired gun contractor / freelancer inside other organisations
  3. Web site content with income from advertising
  4. Web site services with pay for use

Number 2 has been by far the most successful in a monetary sense with the others suffering from being a small fish in a big wide sea. This is not to say the time spent on them has been wasted. I have learnt a lot about business models, promotion & marketing amongst other non technical skills. But it did have me wearing too many hats, and results suffered because of this.

Current Focus

Over the last 6 months I have consciously been moving to a situation where the company structure is purely to support my freelance software development. No more trying to build the next big thing by myself or compete for small fry work from small companies where the dollar cost seems more important than the benefit that can be derived from their web presence.
The core skills are still developing in a Linux / Apache / MySQL / PHP environment. Working with customising WordPress as a CMS has become much more prevalent, and I have been putting effort into taking my front end web skills around javascript and jQuery to another level. I still like to use my skills working with relational databases.

For the Future

A few ideas for the future.

  • Finding & working with other skilled professionals on a project by project basis. Whether they be a project manager, graphic designer, marketer or other developers.
  • Writing more here and sharing some of what I have leant from a technical perspective.
  • Releasing more code when I am in a legal position to do so under a free license. I have lots of custom WordPress plugins and modifications to other plugins that others should find useful.
  • Understand more about non relational databases
  • Learn and do more development for mobile platforms
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Work

Web Thumbnail Service

About six weeks ago I moved webthumb.net into beta. So what is webthumb.net? It is web based service that returns a thumbnail of a remote web site. More details including the api are available at the web thumb site. Usage is free and basic use doesn’t even require any type of registration.
A few years ago I released a similar service, but it was based on inferior technology, and it had the misfortune to get very popular on net, the same night my son was born. Between a new child and existing work, I didn’t have time to give it the improvements it needed, so I took and offer and sold off the domain, but not the code behind it.
Time marches on, and now webthumb uses Webkit as its render engine, and a nice Linux base, so I have decided to relaunch the service.

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