Working Remote With Kids

Ian just made a post sharing 9 tips for working remote with kids. I thought it was a great list and the tip for making exceptions reminded of a great memory I got to share with my youngest daughter a few months ago

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I couldn’t fit everything in the tweet but she came running into my office with a princess dress on and batting her eye lashes telling me I was cordially invited to a royal ball. It was unforgettable for me and a memory I will cherish forever.

These are the quick moments that I wouldn’t get to experience first hand if I didn’t work remote. While my kids are small I can’t imagine working in an office. They grow up to fast and then it’s gone. No turning back the clock on what you should have done.

Write A Love Letter

The holidays are approaching fast and what better gift to give than a “love letter” to your loved ones. When I say love letter I’m not meaning the sappy kind that you are probably thinking about. No, I am talking about a letter from you to your family that outlines all the very personal important things they need to know in the event of your untimely death.

This is something much more personal than a legal contract such as a Last Will but would still be highly important to your family. I have seen a few examples of this letter but it’s easy enough that you do not need a template.

What I did was include three primary sections. The first a few paragraphs telling them what they mean to you, how much you love them, etc. The middle would have important private information about yourself. For me and I assume all my readers almost everything is in the computer so having the login and the password for 1password would be essential. These are the only two passwords they would need and from here could get access to pretty much anything. Then the final section describing how you want your funeral. Your favorite songs, favorite Bible verses, basically anything that would be important to you for your funeral.

For those that handle all/most of the finances it will be important to also have contact information on any of your advisors and any investment accounts. I have heard stories of families where one primarily handles all finances and the other not knowing or caring. This means if the one handles everything passes then the other will be in for a crazy life change. Anything you can do to make this easier would continue to show your love.

Finally, I would also start a journal if you haven’t. Three out of four of my grandparents have passed away and none of them kept a journal. Of course in my younger years this wouldn’t have meant anything to me but now as I’m getting older I would love to read all the stories they had. I’ve personally been using DayOne for the past year and it works well. It’s nice to have a place to keep your private thoughts, images of important events, and memories that would be forever lost otherwise.

My 2012 – A look back

This past year has flown by and it is really hard for me to grasp that it is already 2013. As I sit here and look back it has been a wild ride for me and I wanted to write a post covering some of the big things that happened in my life both personally and professionally.

New Job

Back in January I took a new job working at UserScape. In hind sight this was an awesome decision. I not only work with two of the smartest guys I know but UserScape is an awesome employer.

New House

A week after starting this new job I bought a new house just a few miles down the street from where I had been living for the past 7 years. It was a foreclosure and they had a front porch auction. That was my first experience in an actual real life auction with big numbers. Luckily we were able to get the house for a good deal even though we went over our initial budget. If you have never been in an auction and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment.

After a very short few weeks we had finishing the closing process and decided to fully go through the house and paint, fix any issues, and get it perfect for when we actually moved. My wife knew that if it wasn’t done before moving then it would never get done. 🙂 Looking back that was a great decision and I couldn’t have gotten finished without the help of my family. There is a reason I work on the web. Painting is horrible, fixing things is horrible, moving is horrible.

One of the perks with this new home is the neighborhood has a pool. So we spent most of the summer swimming and meeting neighbors. Having an employer that offers summer hours is awesome. All this time at the pool did have a positive side effect though. I wasn’t happy with my weight and going to the pool every day made me realize I needed to start exercising.

Losing Weight

In July I decided to get serious about my weight. After researching various diets I settled on just eating less calories. I love sweets and I wasn’t willing to give those up. So I tracked my calories everyday, stopped drinking sodas, and started eating less during meals.

Men or women who are 5 feet 4 inches tall would have “normal” BMI if they weighed between 108 and 145 pounds, for example, and overweight if they weighed 146 to 174 pounds, and obese if weighed more than that.

Next I got my mountain bike out and started riding again. It had been a few years since the last time I rode and I had forgotten how fun it is. I was able to ride close to 100 miles before it got to cold and the time changed. With both riding and calorie watching I was able to go from 172 down to 150.

Just because of the changing seasons I didn’t want to stop losing and in December I started the Insanity workout program. Currently I am down to 144. My original goal was 155 but now I am thinking 130’s.

Work

Work wasn’t slow either. One of the first projects I did was build the simple Laravel Bundle site and convert a design Fixel created into the Laravel site. This was all easy stuff but got my feet wet in Laravel after using CodeIgniter for the past 6 years.

From here we started a new project which later was put on hold and instead it turned into Snappy. Originally we never planned for it to look or work as it does today. It was going to be more a traditional app with some ajax interaction thrown in.

From all of our ajax discussion I started researching JS frameworks and settled on giving knockout a spin. At first glance it seemed to fit with our goals but after a short time I wasn’t really happy with how it was all working. At this point I found BackBone and jumped in to learn it.

I will be the first to say that I have been complacent over the years when it comes to JS and it was never a strong suit for me. Sure I could integrate a jQuery plugin, write some simple stuff, but never dreamed of building anything substantial. So going from pretty much nothing to a giant single page application was a huge learning experience for me. I can’t count the number of days I stayed up to ridiculous hours reading, practicing, and learning.

After a month we had a working wireframe working and then FocusLab was brought in to handle branding and design. As you can imagine the app at that point took another 180 degree turn. As a developer you always hate when that happens but you have to look at the end goal. You have to WOW your customers.

Now it is the end of the year and Snappy is in private beta with lots of goodies in the pipeline before our official launch. It is the classic software design issue where the last 10% takes 90% of the time.

Blogging

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Seeing as I haven’t done the latter I am going to try and write something worth reading. I have put together a new design and plan to write longer article style posts and tutorials this year.

Summer Hours

In all my work history I have always had a 5 day work week. Either Monday through Friday in the IT field or Tuesday through Saturday in retail. I am working at UserScape now and we started summer hours two weeks ago. Which basically means we get half the day off Friday.

Honestly going in to the first week I was a little worried I wouldn’t get as much accomplished as I wanted. Now that we have passed our second week I think I get more done on Friday than some of the other days. My mind shifts from thinking about what I can get done by the end of the day, to what can I get done in the next 20 mins. Friday mornings feel like a sprint and I am focused on getting as much done as possible. This means I take away as many distractions as I can. (rss, email, im, etc)

Not only do I feel very refreshed coming into Monday and ready to jump in but that extra time with the family is awesome. I don’t know about your weekends but mine are so crammed full of activities it goes by really really quickly.

If you are an employer I would recommend you give something like this a try. You may find your employee moral improves and more things get done in less time.

New Year, New Job, New Framework

I am happy to announce that starting January 9th I will be working full time for Userscape. If you are not familiar with them they are the company behind the awesome HelpSpot help desk software.

Laravel

Not only will I be a part of a great company but they have also hired the creator of the Laravel framework, Taylor Otwell. I have been watching that framework closely the past few months and I am very impressed with what he has done with it. Laravel’s motto is:

Laravel is a clean and classy framework for PHP web development. Freeing you from spaghetti code, Laravel helps you create wonderful applications using simple, expressive syntax. Development should be a creative experience that you enjoy, not something that is painful. Enjoy the fresh air.

The simplicity of framework is what drew me in originally. But now it will just keep getting better and better because it will be the framework of choice for Userscape. The reason I feel this way is that HelpSpot can be purchased as either a downloaded application or hosted with their partner Engine Hosting, so Laravel will be tested in a wide range of different hosting environments.

CodeIgniter

Even though my day job will be with Laravel I still love CodeIgniter and I am still on the CodeIgniter Reactor team. CodeIgniter is and has always been near and dear to me and I really enjoy using it. Plus I will be doing contract and freelance work for companies that are heavily invested into it. I am very excited with where CodeIgniter v3 is heading and I think it is a big step in the right direction that we have all been wanting.