I recently quit my job to go it alone, which is both exciting and terrifying. I want to document this journey and also share lots of other information. Normally I would do that on this blog, but writing and editing posts frequently takes a lot of time and I am struggling to do it. Recording a short video and editing it takes no time at all, so I am experimenting with this new medium. I have put up my first video which is an intro video to the channel. It feels very off seeing your self on the screen, but I will just have to get used to it.
I want to make this channel useful and not just a diary so I will be discussing lots of topics around software development, leadership, working from home, passive income and other things that I find interesting. I also want to do some interviews with people that work for themselves too to get their insights.
If you are interested in listening, then please hit the youtube subscribe button to follow along.
Even though this is the first proper video, it was actually loads of fun to do. I filmed it on my new iPhone 8plus because the front-facing camera shoots in full 1080p HD video, which means I get a higher resolution and I can see what I am doing on the screen which makes this much easier. Sadly this means my bigger camera which also shoots nice video, is a little redundant. oops.
The quality of the video on the iPhone 8Plus is excellent. The video I recorded today was on a fairly dull day so the light wasn’t amazing, but the video looked bright and the sound was excellent. The only adjustments I had to do was run a little noise reduction over the audio, but that was it, apart from cutting out a few duff lines. The rest is pretty much raw from the camera phone.
I have recently been working on a series of new books with the intention of self-publishing them. The first of those books called A Gentle Introduction to Agile Software Development is now out on Amazon as an e-book and a paperback.
I have a whole series of these books to release over the next 6 months. They have been great fun to write. I have released the Kindle book at a very low introductory price at the moment. If you buy the book at this rate, I would be very grateful for a good review on Amazon.
Learning new software development processes can be difficult, but switching to Agile doesn’t need to be complicated. Explore the theories behind Agile Software Development, and learn how to make it work for you.
In a Gentle Introduction to Agile Software Development, author Stephen Haunts will guide you to a fuller understanding of Agile, Scrum, and Extreme Programming. You will learn about the advantages and disadvantages, and how to get the most out of it.
Back in August, I had the pleasure of speaking at NDC Sydney, which I wrote about in a previous post. The videos of those talks are now both available and shown below. The first in my .NET Data Security talk about cryptography and the 2nd video is my social engineering talk.
It’s taken me a while to catch up with some posts on this blog, but back in August, I had the amazing opportunity to fly to Sydney in Australia to speak at NDC Sydney. I feel very fortunate to be offered this opportunity as I have never been to Australia before.
This is is also the longest I have ever flown before too. The trip took 2 flight to get there. First was a 9-hour flight to Abu Dhabi, and then 14 hours to Sydney. To make this even more challenging, I had a 10-hour layover in Abu Dhabi overnight. Instead of just hanging around doing nothing, I decided to pay to use the business class lounge. This meant I could get some decent food, have a shower and use the business centre there to get some work done. To help me adjust to the Australian time difference, I forced my self to stay awake and work. So I got a lot of coding for LadderPay done. I thought this would be very challenging to do, but actually, I got through it fine. Then on the 2nd flight, I had a few whiskeys and some sleeping tablets which meant I got a reasonable 6 hours sleep. This meant that by the time I got to Sydney at 7.30am, I was actually feeling ok. That first day was tough, but once I had a good night sleep at the hotel I was adjusted, so no horrific jetlag for me…
After I arrived on Sunday and checked into the hotel, I met up with my sister (Charlotte) who is living in Sydney. By a bizarre twist of fate and timing, she was due to fly back to London that evening. So we spent the afternoon together before she had to go to the airport. I met Charlotte and her boyfriend at my hotel (Hilton) and we went for a really nice lunch at the Sydney Opera House restaurant followed by hitting a few bars. The weather was really sunny so had a really nice afternoon. After that, I went back to the hotel to rest a bit and then met up with Troy Hunt and a few others for dinner and drinks.
The next few days were spare for me as the conference didn’t start until Wednesday so I did a bit of sightseeing as well as working. On Monday I took a ferry to Manly Beach and spent the day walking around there and working from various coffee shops. I was very productive and got loads done.
The conference started Wednesday and I was booked to do 2 talks. The first was my cryptography in .NET talk, and the 2nd was my social engineering talk. Both talks went really well and rated very highly. For my social engineering talk, one of the people in the audience (Sammy Connelly) made an awesome infographic version of her notes (see picture below). She came and saw me at the end to give me the original copy. She likes to do these pictures and give them to the speakers as gifts. This was such a nice gesture and I was delighted to receive it. I am looking for a suitable frame so I can put it on my office wall.
Once the conference had finished on Friday, we went to the official afterparty called PubConf. I was speaking at pub conf. All the talks were supposed to be funny and done in front of a drunken rabble of developers. You get 20 slides and 15 seconds per slide. The slides increment automatically so you have no control over them. This is probably the hardest talk I have ever written, but it was so much fun and the audience seemed to like it. I did a talk called, How to lead like an utter bastard, and it got a lot of laughs. This was quite a boozy night, but luckily I had no commitments the following day.
I wasn’t due to fly back until Monday evening, so I had pretty much 3 days to myself to explore the city. On Saturday I went to Sydney and the Harbour taking photos. I also had booked to do the Sydney Bridge Climb, which was an amazing experience. It was very windy up there but very safe as you are in a climbing harness and attached to the bridge. The whole thing took 3 hours including getting kitted out and doing some training.
On Sunday, I took the ferry to Taronga Zoo which was about a 15-minute boat ride away. I had a really good time here. The weather was nice and they had lots of animals. My favourites were the Giraffes as they overlooked the Sydney Opera House. I deliberately didn’t do too much this weekend and just took in the sights.
On Monday, I didn’t fly until 9pm, so I decided to do the Sydney Opera House tour. The tour was amazing as we got to see all the main music venues. We even got to see the Sydney Orchestra rehearsing for a performance, and the sound inside the main opera house was amazing. After this, I got lunch again at the Opera House restaurant and then went to the Sydney Modern Art Gallery for a good look around. What was really cool as this was free entry, which is nice as everything in Sydney is really expensive.
Overall this was an amazing experience. As always, NDC put on a fantastic conference and I feel very privileged to have spoken at one of their events again. I will definitely be submitting again next year, as I would love to go again. The flight back was hard work though. 24 hours on a plane with a couple of hours in Abu Dhabi. I was shattered by the time I got back to London as I struggled to sleep on the flight, but it only took me a few days to readjust before I met my Wife and Kids on holiday in north Wales where I got to properly recover.
I have been nice and busy since leaving Buying Butler and RightIndem. Along with my co-founder, we are setting up a new FinTech startup called Ladder Pay. LadderPay is an innovative payment platform that unifies Business to Business, Business to Consumer, and Consumer to Business payments into one product with an emphasis on security and compliance backed by blockchain technology. I can’t write too much about it just yet as we are still working through a lot of details, but I am very excited about it. We have 3 potential customers who will use the platform first, so we are getting things ready for that.
My main role at the moment has been developing the backend platform so I have been spending most of my time coding, which has been really nice to get back into full-time. The product is being developed in Microsofts .NET Core 2 platform and deployed onto Microsoft Azure. I will write more about this in the future, it’s a little too early to reveal too much at the moment.
I am mostly working from home on this at the moment, but we are looking for an office to work from. We have found a place we like, but are still sorting through the details. I always found working from home difficult, but since working on LadderPay, I have set up in my dining room and have a really nice setup which is nice on a sunny day as I can open the doors to the garden, so I am really enjoying this at the moment.
Whilst I am doing LadderPay during the day, I am also continuing on my Pluralsight courses in the evening. I have signed up for a new course that is all about the algorithms that are used to build up blockchain. A challenging but very interesting course. I can’t wait to share more details.
Today I start the next chapter in the Life at a Startup. I have made the decision to leave Buying Butler and RightIndem to go solo. I have been contemplating this for a while, but I have now decided to make the jump. So what does this mean? What will I be doing? Well, lots of things. First I want to spend more time of making Pluralsight courses, speaking and training. I also have an idea for a small tech startup that I want to explore, so I will focusing a lot of time on that too as I am pretty excited by it. I have been preparing for it for a while, and now is the time to become a free agent.
That doesn’t mean the life at a startup series is dead. It will just be a different startup that I talk about. Well, a mix of startup and the trials and tribulations of working from home. I am not ready to reveal what the startup idea is yet, but over time I will do that once I have explored it more, so not too much detail in this post, other than I am taking a different path, and a path that means I am my own boss, working on the things I want to work on.
Part of me is sad to leave Buying Butler. I have helped hand pick a great team, and I am leaving them on very friendly terms. Nothing negative in the slightest. I have made many friends there and I will be in touch with many of them.
More soon to follow soon. I have a new desk at home to setup 🙂
I will follow up again next week with my experiences of remote working, maintaining focus and much more.
As well as being the head of development for Buying Butler and RightIndem, part of my role is speaking at technology conferences around the world. I speak about many subjects around technology, but I do this as a representative of the company, which helps us spread the word about what we are doing.
In June I went to Oslo in Norway for the NDC conference where I spoke about restructuring teams using techniques that were first described by Spotify. We have tried to adopt something similar in our company, but as with everything Spotify’s technique is not one size fits all. The main message from my talk is that you have to adapt the model to fit your own companies structure and requirements.
In the talk, I discuss how Spotify have done it, and also how we have tried to implement it. The key difference is that Spotify is a B2C (Business to Consumer) company and we are a B2B (Business to Business) company.
I am thinking of writing a more in-depth article on this, but for now, I will leave you with my talk from the conference. It is the first time I have done the talk, and it seemed to go down very well with people. I had lots of people come and see me afterward to ask me about it in more detail.