Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008, the headlines

  • January: I left ThoughtWorks after almost 4 years. Mixed feelings.
  • February: I started my new job in the City.
  • April: Took a holiday in Scotland. Scotland is good.
  • June: Had vasectomy. My advice: take at least 3 days off to recover. That's all you need to know. Oh, and don't make small talk in the waiting room. Just bury your nose in the gadget magazines like everyone else.
  • July: Lesley started working again. I take the kids to school 2 mornings a week. Discover new meaning to being organised. Lovely to do, though.
  • August: fantastic holiday in France. Unless exchange rate moves it could be Bognor next year.
  • October: Did my one conference of the year - CITCON. Had to pay for it myself. Worth it.
  • December: Left my city job. More interesting things to do. More on that later.
Funny old year. Didn't ride my hybrid bike much (see June). Barely rode the little bike in London at all, unlike last year where I caught the tube about 5 times.

Next year will be new job, scary times and hopefully the chance to do more of what I want to do. Which is write and mess with Puppet.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Farewell to the world of insurance

No longer am I something in the City. I have mixed feelings about this. Insurance seemed to be a safer occupation to have in interesting times, and I liked wearing the suits. I liked the guys I sat with, and the business in general was very interesting.

Wasn't my bag though. I can do Microsoft work, falteringly. There's a time and place for that and I don't want to be a platform zealot. But my approach is very Unix-like. I'm all about the command line, even on Windows. That wasn't a perfect fit for me, and it probably wasn't for anybody else, either.

Anyway, I learned a lot and if I can safely convey some of those lessons on my other blog I will. I'm very shortly going to be doing some interesting things with a media startup and getting my hands on production again. Without a GUI tool in sight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Balancing the books with your schedule

I used to run my own business, fixing people's Macs and PC's. Invoices would be made in my office using a book keeping package on my Mac IIsi. Which was never where I was. Invoices would leave my corporate HQ in desperate bursts, rather than a steady flow.

If the accounting software would have supported it, I'd have used the shiny new Applescript (hey, it was 1996) to allow me to generate invoices from where I was, rather than when I got back to the industrial area where my corporate HQ was.

12 years later (and thanks to @timharding) I think I've found what I wanted. Freshbooks allows you to generate invoices and track expenses. You can buy postage credits and they will generate snail mail invoices. PDF invoices are free. If you have one or two customers, it's free.

I'm also reasonably happy with the expense tracking. It's not as good as something like Xpensr, but it works for me in the UK. Xpensr say that changing the default currency from US dollars is their most asked for feature, but it's not there yet. When they implement that I'd be very interested in using it - they lookup exchange rates at IMF rates, and automatically convert.

Blinksale was quite appealing for all this two years ago, but the competition is looking sharper all the time.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

[N]Ant Refactoring

I just started a new series on the Build Doctor: Ant Refactoring.

What? Oh okay. It'll work for NAnt as well, if any of you .NET guys are still using it.

The unofficial beer of the Ruby community

I'm playing with Blogo's drag and drop and I'm liking it. I bought this Leffe Ruby in the supermarket on holiday. I think I'll stick to Brune.