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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And the Rest

Search for the mythical Linux laptop

It is time to get a new laptop for work purposes. The current Dell laptop is now 3 years old, and although it still runs perfectly, it was always a desktop replacement, and never designed to be moved around. And although it originally came pre installed with Windows XP, it has been a Kubuntu machine for most of its time.
So besides being smaller (12-13″ screen), lighter and with much longer battery life, my other requirement was that I do not need Windows installed or pay for the disks. The Kubuntu Linux 8.04 with KDE 3.5 CD was waiting and that would be the operating system.
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And the Rest

KDE4 and back again

For many years now I have been a very happy KDE user when it came to a Linux desktop. Not that I have anything against Gnome, but KDE just felt right. So for a while now I have been looking forward to KDE4 as a big jump to even better functionality, ease of use etc. The KDE developers have been very open that KDE4 is still rough around the edges, but the best way to get the most users and widest use is to take away beta from the title and let it go. Now KDE 3.5 is serving me fine, but with the release of Kubuntu 8.04, this way the chance to give the new KDE a real go.
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Software Development

FileZilla for Linux

Back in the dark ages when i did all my dev work on a Windows machine, my FTP client of choice was FileZilla. It was one thing I missed in the Linux world. gFTP was ok, but sometimes flakey, and Konqueror did the job, but the layout was not as good as FileZilla.

So now the great news. Filezilla 3 is in beta not just for Windows, but also Linux. I am running 3.0.0-beta7, available in the Kubuntu Universe repository. So far smooth and reliable.

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