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My Google home minis

So I have recently brought 3 of the new Google home mini’s for my home. 1 is in the kithen, 1 is in the living room and 1 is in my bedroom.

I bought the Google home mini’s because I have no other “home talk” system as of yet and these where priced cheap in a 3 for the price of 2 deal. The deal cost around £100 for the 3 Google home mini’s.

I will say now that I am more of a Apple guy and I did look around the internet to see whether Apple had released a “home talk” system as of yet.

It turns out they have one in the pipeline but it has not been released yet also Apple’s version of the “home talk” system is quite expensive, I think I read figures of around £350 for 1 device.

So with that said I went out and bought the 3 Google home mini’s if I want to buy Apple’s version that option is still open to me but these Google home mini’s will do for now.

Google is up there for me though, I use Google for a lot of different areas including Gmail, Apps and Calendar. It is just I use Apple as my laptop and mobile phone.

So what do I think of the Google home mini?

On a personal level it does exactly what I want it to do and for the price I cannot fault it. The Google home mini does not contain a portable battery as standard but that does not bother me, I just have mine plugged in all the time and it is not my intent to use it as a portable device.

Good points

It is wondeful to be able to say to the Google home mini just before I go to sleep at night “Wake me up at 8:30” and it will set an alarm for 8:30.

The Google home mini can also set various types of alarms such as “Wake me up at 8:30 everyday” etc and it will then set that alarm daily.

I prefer just to tell the Google home mini what time I want waking up each night, then I can set my wake up different each day depending on the time I am going to bed at night.

When I wake up in the morning I can ask Google home mini “What is my day like?” and the Google home mini will give a report of the whether, my agenda and various other areas. The agenda is based on the entries you have in your Google calendar.

Getting the whether and temperature outside is also useful.

I ask Google mini to play some chillout sounds such as the sound of a fireplace or forest. Google mini can hook into music provider services such as Spotify but for those services you need an account on one of those services.

I use the Spotify free account but rarely because the Spotify free accounts sound quality is already reduced and with it running through a mini speaker it is not the best quality of sound available.

You can ask Google home mini to find certain shops in the area for example “nearest pharmacies” and the Google home mini will tell you the nearest pharmacies.

You can then get more specific and ask the Google home mini about the nearest pharmacies opening times or telephone number etc. This is very useful.

I also love being able to set timers on my Google mini, you can set a timer for a particular length of time or you can set a timer for a specific time. I know a timer is not the height of technological advancement but for me it comes in handy when I need it.

Google mini can also act as a clock, you can ask it the time and it will give it you. You can ask it to flip a coin or roll dice and it will tell you the result as well. Just other simple things I find useful.

Google home mini can do lots lots lots more besides this, however these are some of personal favourites.

Bad points

Sound quality, for playing high quality music Google home mini is not the best speaker system out there but then again I did not expect it to be for the price I was paying for it.

I listened to some Spotify music and the sound was not the best quality however I was using a free Spotify account and Spotify reduce the audio quality on the free account.

So I also tried it with bluebooth and played some music from my laptop to the device, again the sound was not the best quality.

Not a problem for me because I would not expect the best quality sound from a £50 (standard price, I paid £33) “home talk” system mini speaker.

Many of the areas of the Google home mini talk system are not quite there yet in terms of the depth of what you can ask it. The Google home mini does not understand every question I ask it and this includes general questions about when I ask it to find something on the internet.

The Google home mini does not accurately report pricing information for example asking “what is the price of the Monopoly board game” will not yield valuable information.

Asking the Google home mini “find the nearest place that stocks the Monopoly board game” and “does that place have any in stock” is out of the question as of yet.

This is to be expected though really as there are different suppliers of the Monopoly board game however I would have thought it may have returned a generic price, or a list of prices from Google shopping or similar.

There are simpler questions than the above you can ask Google home mini and it will still not yield valuable results etc. So all in all not quite there yet in terms of what you ask the Google home mini.

You can ask Google home mini a lot but most of the areas you can ask it are very simple areas.

Another area is the interactivity between different Google home minis. I have not seen anything yet in terms of interactivity between the devices.

I cannot say “Set a kitchen alarm for 9:00” or “buzz kitchen alarm” or “send message to kitchen device” from my bedroom device etc. So again nothing in this area and limited overall as of yet.

These are some of the bad points I have noticed.

Personal business talk system

As a developer it did not take me long to figure out I could create something useful for my business using the Google Home Mini API.

I got stuck in learning how to use the API and developed my own personal business talk system.

I can now ask my Google Home Mini “How is my business doing?” and the Google Home Mini will provide a report on various statistics related to my business.

The statistics are pulled from my personal project management system.

Do nothings vs do somethings

So another area I have noticed in the general perception is this idea that there are “do somethings” and “do nothings”.

We hear people talking about such and such is a “do nothing” or this person is a “do nothing” etc.

The idea being that some people just sit around at work and “do nothing” whilst the “do somethings” are doing all the work.

Going by the model used earlier in the following article …

Good company, bad company

The “do nothings” would fall into the “bad column” category of people and the “do somethings” would fall into the “good column” category of people.

So do these “do nothings” / “do something” people really exist?

In my opinion yes they do however I have noticed that some of the “do nothings” have actually accomplished quite a lot however some would say that the “do nothing” did not do it and the “do nothing” just got the “do somethings” to do it for him / her.

However the above does not explain the “do nothings” that have accomplished a lot that other people could not have done for them for example world professional body builders, tennis players and other sports men etc.

Or take for example Stella English the person who won the apprentice. She was classified as a “do nothing” by one of the managers she worked with after winning the show however at the end of the day she won the apprentice show itself so this is hardly representitive of doing nothing is it.

So maybe the “do nothing” has more to do with the persons character than the person actually doing nothing at all or maybe the person is a “do nothing” in certain areas but not in others.

Please note I have also met people who should potentially be my “double” using this system i.e. people on the same column as me.

Although there where some similarities there where plenty of areas that where not similar so I am not saying this system is 100% correct.

At the same time as this quite a few of the people I have met on certain columns turned out to be the way I envisioned those people.

Maybe there are higher / lower versions of the people on the columns or maybe a person can have areas of difference through culture / upbringing even though they are on the same column.

Anyways typical scenario could go like this …

A “do something” is hired by the company and put under a “do nothing” manager who treats him like rubbish. The “do something” works his butt off for the company and does a huge amount of work for the company.

After a number of months at the company the “do something” is brought into the CEO’s office with his “do nothing” manager and is berated by both of them for his rubbish performance before being fired.

The “do something” employee cannot understand why he was fired and not the “do nothing” manager and he cannot understand why the CEO believes the “do nothing” managers side of the story over his side of the story.

The “do something” employee cannot understand why he did so much work for the company but still get fired for rubbish performance.

Ok so lets try to understand this …

Manager is “do nothing”.

He employees other “do nothings”, his friends.

He also employees “do somethings”, not his friends, you are there to make up for the “do nothings”.

“Fire the do nothings!”, look he is not going to do that! They are his friends, they are batting for the same team, to solve the “do nothing” problem he employees the “do somethings”.

So for every 7 “do nothings” he employees, he will employee 3 “do somethings”. The 3 “do somethings” have to make up for the “do nothings”. Maybe 7 / 3 is a bit extreme but you get the idea.

Do not hype this up as a conspiracy or hatred. We all recognized the “do nothing” people in school. Well now the “do nothing” has a company and he wants to employee his friends. Whats wrong with that?

“Do nothing” realises he cannot maintain the company just by employing his “do nothing” friends, so he has to employee his none friend “do somethings”. The “do somethings” are there to do the jobs of 2 or 3 people.

The point is, if you are a “do something”, you are only there to make up for the “do nothings”. All of the “do nothings” in the company are not your friends.

This is not a problem, nobody is forcing people to have friendships with people they do not want to have friendships with.

The problem is the “do somethings” where not told they where only employeed to make up for the “do nothings”.

You might think as a “do something” doing the job of 2 or 3 people that you will do what the “do nothings” do and minimise your workload. Why should you have to do all this work and the “do nothings” do nothing.

This will get you fired by the “do nothing” boss.

Remember he knows the geniune “do nothings” compared to the “do somethings” that are minimizing their workload.

The genuine “do nothings” are his friends, the “do somethings” that minimize their workload are not his friends.

The “do nothing” boss employed you for a reason, the reason being to make up for the “do nothings”.

You as a “do something” minimizing your workload to the same level as the “do nothing” does not make you his friend and it negates the reason the “do nothing” employeed you in the first place.

Remember he can spot geniune “do nothings”.

It is an unbiased view, an equal opportunity policy, we employ “do nothings” and “do somethings”, but of course the only benefit going to the “do nothings”.

The “do nothings” do want the “do somethings” to work for them but they do not want to give them the respect they deserve.

The “do nothing” will occasionally get rid of a “do something”. This is to make it appear as though the “do nothing” does not need the “do somethings” …

“Wow I am shocked, everyone is replacable, look he even got rid of one of the most productive employees in the company, I had better keep my head down otherwise I will be next”.

The “do nothing” has merely replaced the type of person with the same type of person i.e. replaced a “do something” with a “do something”.

Essentially not really getting rid of the person at all.

He can do this because there will always be another “do something” who is willing to take the position. The “do somethings” do not have the awareness in general to stop the process.

The “do something” who was fired was probably not aware of this and thinks he got fired for rubbish performance etc, when in actual fact the boss has replaced you with another of your type.

Overall, the “do nothings” do not want you there in a true sense, you are not there friends. The only reason they gave you the job was because they cannot be bothered to do it themselves.

In another area I read …

“The company could half the number of managers overnight and it would have little impact on the business” – exactly, so why dont they? No really, why dont they?

Some people like to comfort the person by saying …

“The person thought you where after their job so they got rid of you” – there is no chance of you getting the other persons job.

Some people say …

“People who are ‘do nothing’ at their jobs never leave, they just move from team to team” – it is not a case of the “do nothing” leaving, why is the “do nothing” granted the ability to move from team to team? This is due to the “do nothing” higher ups, as stated earlier they are friends.

Have a look at the diagram below …

Here is the reason your opinions are not listened to, here is the reason the “do nothing” manager did not get fired but you did, here is the reason why you will never get that managerial role you where looking for.

The “do nothing” CEO has installed his “do nothing” friends in all the key positions within the company.

Even if there was 1 “do something” manager who you could talk to, as you can see he will not get beyond the next level anyway because the “Head of Department” is “do nothing” so he will not have the power to do anything about your situation.

The CEO has only employeed the “do somethings” to do the shop floor work at the lowest levels of company but there are also some “do nothings” there also.

Yes the “do nothings” are there because there was not enough management positions in the company to go around all the “do nothings”.

However that does not matter because although those “do nothings” are at the lowest level in the company the “do nothings” there can have a cushy existence because the 4 “do something” employees will do their workload.

Once a management position becomes available one of the “do nothings” will be given it and the “do something” who does most of the work can stay where he is.

Also please note that the above structure of the company does not nessacarily have to be created logically, the CEO of the company may just see it as putting the people he wants i.e the people he feels closest to and who is in agreement with in the upper positions.

It just so happens that those people are the “do nothings” like himself.

What I am saying is that it not nessacarily some conspiracy, it is just that the structure of the company ended up that way by a kind of “un-intelligence” as opposed to being a well thought out plan.

Beware of the “do nothing” CEO, sometimes the “do nothing” CEO of the company can seem “good” and “nice” etc. He can afford to seem “good” and “nice” because he has installed his “do nothing” friends in management positions. They are ones who have to do the “bad” deeds whilst he comes up smelling like a bed of roses.

These types of CEO’s can sometimes portray a “wimp” style image as though the circumstances where out of his control when in reality it was the CEO making the decisions or encouraging those decisions all along.

Essentially giving the effect of you dealing with 2 different people the “CEO” and the “Managers” when in reality their motive and goals are in alignment. The CEO is “do nothing”, exactly the same as those managers he has installed throughout the company.

Make no mistake the “do nothings” are loyal to the “do nothings” first and foremost, they support “do nothings” first and foremost, they give the best projects to “do nothings” first and foremost.

If a “do nothing” boss states something to the effect of “Yes this ‘do nothing’ has been with the company longer that is why he / she gets the best projects to work on”.

Well the answer to that is why has the “do nothing” been at the company the longest? The answer is because they have got rid of the “do somethings” first whilst allowing the “do nothing” to keep his / her job.

Do not buy into such statements as described above as to the reasons why the “do nothing” gets the best projects to work on etc. The only way these situations are created is that the “do nothings” support the “do nothings” first and foremost.

These “do nothings” have no problem getting rid of “do somethings” no matter the workload and effort you have put into the company.

Not only do they get rid of you but they also give a bad reference as well.

The “do somethings” are not “really” doing the same for the “do nothings” as a group of people.

The “do something” sets up a company and the first person the “do something” boss gives a job to is a “do nothing”.

Hang on, this “do nothing” is the person you have spent your life complaining about, this “do nothing” is the person who has been opposing your ability to “do something” all your life, the person is the reason you are not being given the credit you deserve in terms of your productivity and the first person you give a job to is a “do nothing”? A bit of a contradiction here no?

This person has no problem using you for your ability and then getting rid of you.

You cannot really do the same for them because you cannot use them in that way because they … “do nothing”.

What does it say to all your fellow “do something” employees when you hire a “do nothing”?

Well it is a betrayal at the very least, not only this but it dilutes your message. You complain about a “do nothing” then give him / her a job in your company?

At the end of the day, the “do nothings” are using you, getting rid of you and sticking it to you at the same time.

What do I mean by doing the same for the “do nothings”. Well let me answer that by first bringing into the equation something extreme.

There was a person in history who had similar ideas but went to the extreme, do you who that is?

Adolf Hitler.

We have all read about Adolf Hitlers problems with the Jews, but we can also read Adolf Hitler had similar thoughts about tramps, beggers, do-nothings, mentally ill people and people born without “pure” physical features etc.

Notice the “do nothings” are part of the equation, now according to the earlier ideas the “do nothings” are a category of people who are born that way.

According to the documentation Hitler hated the Jews. I think what Hitler really hated where the people on the “bad column” in the diagram.

When we read about his interpretations or quotes of the people he hated it would fit into the “bad column” more than anything.

Due to the fact that the “do nothings” can be categorized and because they are born that way, this means that they can be categorized at birth.

This also means they can be eliminated at birth.

The idea would go something like this …

A newly born baby is born in a hospital and say within 3 days of the babies birth the government henchmen take the baby to an “identification clinic”.

The “clinic” classifies the baby accordingly to its “do nothing” / “do something” nature.

In this case it has been found that the baby is in the “do nothing” category of people.

The baby is then exterminated and the process is repeated for every new born baby that enters the world.

Can you imagine the implications this would have?

Whoever created this world i.e. God, created these categories of people and the humans on this planet are exterminating one of these categories of people at birth. Essentially saying we do not want this category of people “God”, exterminating them and sending them back.

This is like an act against nature itself, imagine a world where the “do nothings” and their entire “culture” no longer existed, not only would their “culture” not exist but it also would not have effected the “do something” culture in any way, in other words not only are the “do nothings” no longer here but the effect of having the “do nothings” here in the first place is gone forever.

This is extreme and this is what Adolf Hitler was essentially trying to accomplish with his correct or incorrect classifications of people.

So this is not “really” doing the same for the “do nothings” is it? Going to this sort of extreme is not going to accomplish anything.

Let us stick to the facts …

You are a “do something” that has been fired from an organisation that was run by a “do nothing” and had “do nothings” in key positions within the organization.

Right so what would doing the same for the “do nothing” really be doing then?

It would not be exterminating people at birth because the “do nothings” are not really doing that are they? This would be going to extremes.

At the end of the day, firing someone from a job and giving them a bad reference is not the same as exterminating people. Yes the CEO of the company is “getting rid of you” but these are words only, he has not exterminated you.

In effect you could argue that they are because they are being selective about who they want in their organization in a similar way as to someone selecting who they want on the planet.

However they are not really doing this because they are only denying you access to their organization and not the planet and there is room on the planet for more than 1 category of people.

So the fact is they are being selective about who they want in their organization.

So doing the same for the “do nothing” would mean setting up your own organization and employing “do somethings” in it and placing “do somethings” in key positions within the organization.

If you where “really” doing the same for the “do nothings” you would have nothing to feel bitter about because you would have your own organization with your “do something” friends in it, would you not?

I mean you are a “do something” right and they are the “do nothing”? You would think if that was the case it would an easy task for the “do something” to set up his own organization, right?

Here is example Glassdoor comment …

Cons …

“Over the last few years they hired a top layer of managment who are unpleasant, self serving, do-nothings. they step on everyone and anyone to make themselves look good.”

Yes this is what happens when you employ a “do nothing” and place him / her in a top position within the company. He / she employees other “do nothings”, so now you have a layer of “do nothings”.

If the CEO is a “do nothing” then he / she got what he / she wanted. If the CEO is “do something” and he employed a “do nothing” at the top level of his / her company unawares …

He will now be wondering why the entire “culture” of his company has changed and he will not be able to identify the original “do nothing” he employed let alone all the other “do nothings” the original “do nothing” has employed.

Advice to management …

“Cut out the fat”

The cutting out the fat comment is more than likely a reference to get rid of the “do nothings”, not likely to happen.

My advice to fired “do something” employee …

Setup your own organization and employee the “do something” people you want in it.

If you are not willing to do this then you are really without excuse are you not?

Another impression I have noticed about the “do nothings” is that they always try to make it appear they are not interested in “politics”.

This is just an excuse for the “selection” they use, if they where not interested in “politics” then why do they give their own people the top positions within the company?

Claiming these sorts of models and ideas are “political” is a convenient way to ignore the fact that these ideas are more then just “political” and have a valid reality.

The culture of a company is deliberate, it has been deliberately created even if it is by “un-intelligence”. It is not an accident that the company is the way it is and from the companies point of view nothing needs fixing.

If there are more “bad column” / “do nothing” employees than “good column” / “do something” employees then the culture of the company will be “bad column” / “do nothing”.

If there are more “good column” / “do something” employees than “bad column” / “do nothing” then the culture will be more “good column” / “do something”.

All this advice being given, do this and it will be great culture, do that and your employees will feel more appreciated, get more of this and your employees will be happy etc.

Yes you are offering your “good column” / “do something” advice because you think the company wants to be “good column” / “do something” cultured but this is not going to work if the majority of the employees in the company are “bad column” / “do nothing”.

All of the comments, literature and perceptions of people on the internet is written in a way as to make the “do nothings” random people, as though anybody could be a “do nothing” and we all better be careful because any person could be a “do nothing”.

How about people are born “do something” or “do nothing” and henceforth are not random people?

Hiring manager …

“Yes let us have a technical test to determine whether we hire the right person i.e. the ‘do something'”.

This leads people to judge everyone by the same criteria and forces everyone to undergo tests and evaluations as though there is a chance that particular person could be a “do nothing”.

The right person i.e. “do something” is born right, there is no reason for the technical test. Even if you did a technical test, there is a chance that “do nothings” could also pass the technical test. This just means you have employed a “do nothing” who can pass your technical test.

It will not be long before the “do nothings” “culture” begins to show and you will realize that even though the “do nothing” passed the technical test you have still not hired the right person.

Removal of high quality

For those of you who have followed my website for sometime you may have noticed I have removed something from my website.

Can you guess what it is? Yes it is the word “high quality”.

My websites description use to read …

“Freelance Web Software Developer from Derbyshire, UK. I write high quality code to create and deliver web based software projects.”

And it now reads this …

“Freelance Web Software Developer from Derbyshire, UK. I write code to create and deliver web based software projects.”

I do not know why I said I produce “high quality” code in the first place, what did I hope to gain from this?

James Barnsley A produces code to power websites.

James Barnsley B produces high quality code to power websites.

Is a potential customer going to read my website and think …

Oh well, I had better go with James Barnsley B then instead of James Barnsley A. It is highly unlikely is it not?

I wrote about this in a previous article which has now been deleted but I will describe what happend again for the benefit of the people who never read the article.

A while ago I rang up a company who I was looking to work with and I explained to one of the people at the company about myself, the customers I have worked with and that I do programming.

I also mentioned that I do programming as a hobby and immediately in a raised voice the person blurted out …

“We do programming as a profession here, we do not do it as some hobby, we are doing this for a living!”

Yes I get that, hence the reason I talked about myself and the customers I had already worked with, some of which are multi-million pound organizations.

Anyways for some reason the person ignored all that and obviously just thought I was a “hobby” programmer.

I actually did programming as a “profession” and then in my spare time did it as a “hobby” also by working on my own personal projects.

There are a lot of these turning a hobby into a job articles online that all follow a similar theme, here is one of those …

The theme generally takes the story of a person who is doing something for a hobby like programming and then after a number of years of doing it as a hobby the person had a moment of “enlightenment” and all of sudden he is no longer doing it as a hobby anymore but as a job.

The person makes all the analogies about he “tightened up his processes”, “defined what he really wanted to do” and how his “programming improved to such an extent that he is no longer doing it as a hobby but as a job”.

The person has left all his / her “hobby” programmers behind because their just not there yet and have not reached the level of “enlightenment” that he / she has. Yes, a person should always wear his “hobby” programmer badge with pride until he has reached the “next level”.

Let me turn my hobby into a job …

“I am James Barnsley and I do web programming as a hobby job”

After thinking about this I can see how that related to myself.

I started out as James Barnsley who writes code to power web software systems. Now James Barnsley has had a number of years experience at doing this James Barnsley is no longer just James Barnsley but is James Barnsley who writes “high quality” code to power web software systems because James Barnsley says so.

Jon Smith starts out as a “hobby” programmer who writes code to power web software systems. After a number of years Jon Smith is no longer Jon Smith the “hobby” programmer who writes code to power web software systems but is Jon Smith the “professional” who writes code to power web software systems because Jon Smith says so.

In reality neither the word “hobby” or “professional” was needed.

So basically once I got “self confident” enough I decided to stick the word “high quality” in the paragraph. I felt I had reached a “new level” and I needed to inform potential customers of this by sticking the “high quality” label on my website.

Why was James Barnsley not “high quality” at the beginning of his programming practice?

Why is James Barnsley “high quality” now?

Why is James Barnsley “high quality” in the future?

Yes “high quality” is a subjective term anyway, but I do not want get into that. The simple point is that “high quality” is just a label. I could have stuck “high quality” on my website at any time I choose to, it means nothing. Even if I was “high quality” it still means nothing.

These labels can become something that haunt you, they can become something that control you, they can become something that irritate you as shown in the reaction of the person at the company I rang.

The person was probably only defending himself and his company but the word “hobby” or “professional” should not matter, should it? What if my code as a “hobby” programmer was greater than his code as a “professional” programmer.

If I take the humble approach it does not matter whether I got a “very bad” or a “very good” label applied to me because I am none of these labels.

These labels are trying to get me to form a conclusion about myself.

An example would be let us say someone said “I look very beautiful” and I accept that label about myself.

Due to accepting this label internally about myself I have now transferred my value into an external person my value no longer comes from myself but from the person who gave me the label.

What happens if that same person or another person now comes along and says “I look ugly”. I would be devastated right? This is because my value is now being derived externally.

Now what happens if I consider myself nothing and I truly believe this to be the case.

A person comes up to me and says “I look very beautiful”, well instantly I know this does not apply to me.

How can it? Nothing cannot be something can it? Nothing does not equal beautiful. Nothing is nothing. Nothing is not beautiful.

Now someone comes along and says “I look ugly”. Well again. Nothing does not equal ugly. Nothing is nothing. Nothing is not ugly.

So you can get what I am getting at. If I accept either label “beautiful” or “ugly” I have really done myself a dis-service have I not?

In some cases accepting what we think to be the decent label like “beautiful” can actually be just as bad as accepting the “ugly” label because accepting the decent label “beautiful” it has still turned the nothingness into a somethingness has it not?

This means it has opened you up to attack i.e. now that you have accepted you are “beautiful” we can get you to accept that you are “ugly” right?

This is what I mean even if I am “beautiful” and it is true that I am “beautiful” the word “beautiful” has no part of me.

It can be true that I am “beautiful” or “ugly” without those labels belonging to me.

There is a difference between these labels and me even if some of these are labels are true.

I heard someone mention the other day the following statement “I have not been that difficult”, what is this statement saying about the person, why would the person say this?

Somewhere along the persons life someone has called him “difficult” and because he has accepted this label into his being he now makes the statement “I have not been that difficult”.

If the person had accepted that he is nothing then he would not be making these statements or feel insecure because nothing is nothing, nothing cannot be “difficult” and again even if in truth this person is “difficult”, “difficult” cannot apply to him, it does not belong to him. The truth belongs to the other person but not to him.

So in a sense he is right he has not been that difficult because he could not have been that difficult because he is nothing but this is only the case if he has really accepted his own nothingness and if he had really accepted his own nothingness it is unlikely he would be making that statement.

When someone says you are “beautiful”, “great”, “fantastic”, “ugly”, “a prat”, “worthless”, “substandard” or whatever, do not be so quick to accept the label, even if it is true. As stated earlier “truth” can belong to another person without having to belong to you in the same way a “lie” can belong to another person without having to belong to you.

For all the people who feel insecure about themselves and what people think of them I would ask them to really concentrate on their own nothingness and really start to feel their own nothingness. Not from a point of vanity or mere lip service but really feel it.

Lip service or vanity could be saying “I am a speck in this entire universe, a worthless miniscule dot of a person”. This is lip service because as stated before “nothing” is not a “speck in this entire universe” or a “worthless miniscule dot of a person”, nothing is nothing.

Part of the problem about this is people will read it and only understand it from an intellectual point of view. This is similar to lip service only not quite as wrong because at least an attempt to understand it has been made if only from an intelleuctual point of view. The point is to really feel it, really feel your own nothingness.

Please note I am not saying that someone could not catch me out either if they wanted to. I am just saying the goal of the above exercise would be to try to feel your own nothingness emotionally as well as intellectually.

I heard somebody suggest once …

“If someone is making comments on you “good” or “bad” then you mean more to them than they mean to you”.

I do not believe this to be the case. You may not mean anything to the people who are applying these labels to you and as stated earlier if you accept these labels then you may be doing yourself a dis-service.

So anyways going by this more humble interpretation and because putting “high quality” on my website is not going to make a difference in the clients that I get I have decided to remove “high quality” from my website for these reasons.

Start of a new year 2018

Start of brand new year, a clean slate and potential opportunities on the horizon …

Client work

Worked with 3 clients last year which was fantastic and proved more than sufficient. I am currently waiting on a couple of people to get back to me at the moment about potential work.

Neptune – Lead tracker

As stated in my Christmas post. I will be taking Neptune Lead Tracker down at some point this year if it gets no usage by people, no point in keeping it online if no one is using it.

Blog

Will keep the blog going strong this year. I will try to write 1 post per week. The standard I set myself to is to try to write 1 blog post per week but if I miss a post one week I just write one the next week.

Goals

My goals this year will all be centred around improving my skill sets and making myself even more marketable. Up to yet I have been doing other side projects which have side tracked me quite a bit from improving on my own skill set.

I would like to get into more front-end website development improving my skills in front-end languages as well as WordPress and Perch content management systems.

I would also like to get into front-end Javascript frameworks such as AngularJS, React and NodeJS because a lot of contract positions on the market are now demanding these skills.

Website structure

You may or may not have noticed that the website structure in the “left side menu” has changed. The homepage of the website is now what use to be the “hire me” page and the website blog now has its own seperate page instead of being the homepage.

Basically if you want to access this blog from now you will have to click “Blog” in the “left side menu”.

I have also updated my portfolio to include a graphic containing images of the projects I have worked on. So each project in the “Portfolio” in the “left side menu” now contains an image of the project.

Looking forward to see what this year brings.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year – 2017

Another year gone by and it is nearly time for Christmas.

Over the last 12 months …

Client work
I have taken on and worked with 3 new clients this year. As you may or may not know I am a one man contractor and my contracts generally last months at a time so 3 new clients has proved sufficient.

Toolkit
I have worked on an internal system for managing my business which is 90% complete. For all intents and purposes the Toolkit is completed. The remaining 10% will involve adding any remaining features I can think up or that may be needed.

Neptune – Lead Tracker
I have developed the initial Neptune Lead Tracker and put it online. Neptune has not seen much growth as of yet, I will leave Neptune for 1 more year then take it down if no one is using Neptune. – http://www.neptuneleadtracker.com

Czech Character Code Converter
I developed a web based software script to help me with work on a particular client this year. Afterwards I gave the web based software script a basic front-end and uploaded it online so it can be used by other people. – http://www.czechcharactercodeconverter.com/

King of Adem
Started writing code for a multiplayer strategy game. This project is on the back-burner at the moment and will remain there until some interest is shown from a game developer who would like to take the project further with me.

Overall a very good year.

As I wind down for Christmas I will not be writing anymore blog posts until January 29th 2018 so please check back then to continue reading my blog.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, until next year, bye for now.

Good company, bad company

I was reading through my emails a few days ago when my Quora updates lead me to this statement …

“My ability to develop software has been improving monotonically over the years, but I have gone from good company to bad company, to good company. I was considered good in a good company. Then I was considered bad the month after I started at a bad company. Then I went to a good company and was suddenly good again. And I was improving monotonically. After you do this enough times, you realize that it’s not you. It’s the quality of the company.” – Link to Quora article

This struck a reasonance with me. Based on what this person has written and my own experiences we can draw up the following scenario …

So first of all it is unlikely that he was either in a wholly good company or wholly bad company but the observation of the good or bad company was based entirely on the people giving him the good or bad references.

Secondly I would like to point out that in this context good or bad is only an expression to describe the positive or negative references so when I state good company, good column or good reference it means positive reference and when I say bad company, bad column or bad reference it means negative reference there is more to it than this though, keep reading.

Now based on the diagram above let us say the world was divided into 2 categories of people, bad column and good column.

One of these categories of people in this case the bad column category are the group of people that are solely responsible for the negative references that people are receiving today.

One of these categories of people in this case the good column category are the group of people that are solely responsible for all the positive references that people are receiving today.

This means that all the bad references this person was receiving was from people who are in the bad column category and all the good references that the person was receiving was from people in the good column category.

So what does this mean in terms of the good or bad reference? Well let us say you walked into a company where the recruitment manager was in the good column category and you tell him that you recieved a bad reference at the previous company.

Would that make a difference as to whether or not you get the job? Remember this good column person would have given you a good reference rather than a bad one for the exact same work.

So would this good column recruitment manager be able to spot the bad column category statement? If the good column category viewed the quality of your work would the good column person even care about the bad reference?

Now let us say you walked into a company where the recruitment manager was in the bad column category and you tell him that you recieved a good reference at the previous company. Remember this bad column person would have given you a bad reference rather than a good one for the exact same work. Well exactly what I said above for the good column person applies equally in this scenario, would the bad column person care about the good reference?

Is there any continuity between the bad column and good column category people? Will receiving a bad reference from the bad column category people “really” effect your relationship with the good column category people? Or does it just not matter?

So what is the solution to this guys problems if he sees getting a bad reference as a problem. The solution is to find work in a company where your manager is in the good column category of people. The “ideal” solution for this person is to find work in a company where all employees are in the good column category of people.

I say “ideal” solution because for the most part it is just an “ideal” because most companies have a mixture of people from the bad column and good column categories.

Maybe the good column director hired somone in the bad column to oversee a position at the company. A few years down the line the bad column employee has hired more of his bad column friends into the company. Now all that remains at the company is a mixture of people.

Or maybe it is a lot worse for the good column director and the company is now predominatly bad column and it is only a matter of time before the good column director gets thrown out of the company.

Please bear in mind that all of the scenarios I have described above can equally apply to the bad column category people as well, just swap the words “bad column” and “good column” and read it again, you get the idea.

It is also important when talking about these bad column and good column categories of people that I am not talking about superficial personality traits that people have picked up but I am talking about the way in which people are born.

The bad column category people and the good column category people have additional traits other than the references they give that define them as bad column or good column. It is something more fundamental in their make-up which leads the bad column category people to give bad references and the good column category people to give good references.

This is not “political” as some people associate it with although I believe the “political” aspects of this where created by a similar sort of model. In other words the “material / political” aspects of this model is only a representation of the real “spritual” model above it. One does not get to choose which “column” one belongs to.

For example you may occasionally get a bad column category person pretending to be a good column person and giving out a good reference but this would be unnatural for the person and at heart he may believe differently. He has not given the good reference because he believes it but to gain something for himself.

Alternatively you may get a “good column” category person using some of the same words as the “bad column” category. What most likely happend here is the “good column” category person has worked for a “bad column” category person company and is now forced to use the same words as the “bad column” category person to describe the “bad column” category persons company.

So going back to this “ideal” solution. Would not the ideal solution be then to have companies that consist of wholly bad column category people and companies that consist of wholly good column category people?

If you are director of a company and you are a wholly good column category person why are you employing bad column category people?

If you are director of a company and you are a wholly bad column category person why are you employing good column category people?

Is the ideal solution to simply have a company of your own category people?

What about your clients? If you are good column company director would you take on clients that are in the bad column category? If you are a bad column company director would you take on clients that are in the good column category? If so why?

This is not about “firing people” or “getting rid of people”. Although I believe a lot of this goes on, a good column category manager gets promoted and decides to fire a few bad column category people and vice versa.

It is about dealing with issues where they matter most and that is at the front door of the company. There is no point in either bad column or good column letting in their opposite and then sit their whining that this opposite is spoiling it for us.

The company must have a director and the director must fit into one of the categories described above. As the company director it is the company directors responsibility to ensure that only his / her category of people are given jobs in the company.

Ahh well, our company has 2 directors, one in the bad column category and one in the good column category. Yes, exactly, this sort of partnership should never have been formed in the first place.

Why would anyone in the good column category want to be surrounded by people in the bad column category? Why would anyone in the bad column category want to be surrounded by people in the good column category?

As the company director you had the chance to create your personal Utopia and not have anyone spoil it for you. So why let in a bunch of people from the opposite category?

As stated earlier it is not about someone climbing the corporate ladder and firing those in the opposite category because he or she does not like them.

It is more about those of a particular category not employing the opposite category in the first place. Do not employ the opposite category, do not have the opposite category as your clients.

Alternatively you could divide the company into good column people and bad column people and put them in seperate teams. Have the good column people deal with good column clients and the bad column people deal with bad column clients.

If you want positive references and reviews why work with someone as a client or employee who is going to give you bad references and reviews? Or as a bad column company employer why would you employee a good column employee to then give them a bad reference from which they will start touting their opinions on websites like Glassdoor?

How many more Glassdoor reviews are we going to hear about “revolving door” companies with high staff turnover or firing people over not being a “cultural fit”.

Yes the bad column or good column category person may have accepted the job at the predominatly opposite category company and it turned out the person was “not a good fit” but whoes fault is that? In my opinion it is the solely the employers responsibility.

The employer knows the state of his / her company, he knows which category he / she belongs to at heart. Why employee the opposite?

This is not a matter of pity or feeling sorry, a “good column” category person rejecting a “bad column” category job applicant warrants no pity, ohh poor “bad column” category person has been rejected for job, look the “bad column” category person can go to companies that are operated by “bad column” category people, he / she can get “bad column” category people as clients, he / she can be invited to parties that are hosted by “bad column” category people, he / she is friends with other “bad column” category people, yes, he / she has friends can you believe it, yes and “bad column” categories friends are “bad column” category people so what place does the “bad column” category person have in your “good column” category company anyway? Vice-versa.

You can only lose a job if you have been given one, well in this ideal you would not lose your job because you would never have been given one in the first place. At least not in a company of your opposite column where you would not fit anyway.

The reason why most people hate being rejected for not being a “cultural fit” is because most companies are a mixture and the rejecting was down to one persons opinion within that company. Most likely the person was of the opposite column.

The reason why it hurts is because there will be some people in the company that where in the same column as you only they where not in a position of authority to stop the rejecting.

If every company had a sign saying “bad column” people only or “good column” people only or similar being rejected would hurt less because you would know the reason why and also it would not bother you because you would realise that you did not belong there anywhere.

So for the people out there saying “getting fired was the best thing that happend”. Well it may have been in that instance for you personally. This was probably due to moving from a bad column person company to a good column person company.

Note that if you got fired from a “bad column” person company and move to another “bad column” person company then it is unlikely that your situation will get any better in terms of the firings and job references they give you.

Chopping database records

I have been working on a project recently for a client which required the user to insert a record into an existing set of records and to modify those existing records to accomodate the new record.

The above diagrams shows what needed to be accomplished. If you imagine from left to right is time on the diagram, each record has a start date and and end date and the new record is needing to be inserted between those start dates and end dates.

The start and end dates can overlap the start and end dates of the new record and this is where the existing need to be chopped and modified to accomodate the new record.

So how did I go about this?

Firstly I decided to bucket the existing records into categories as follows …

And like …

This gives us four actual categories and a fifth “Ignore” category. The four actual categories are LeftRight, Middle, Left, Right. Some more examples are shown below …

The bucketing of the existing records into categories from a coding perspective is accomplished as follows …

Firstly I selected the existing records, pseudo code shown below …

dateStart = new record start date
dateEnd = new record end date
dbDateStart = existing record start date
dbDateEnd = existing record end date

Other columns could be added to this selection code if needed, in some cases a “user_id” or other foreign key could be potentially needed.

Using the above selection code will select all the existing records that exist within the range of the new record start and end dates. In other words the records that fall into the “Ignore” category will not be selected.

This is why the “Ignore” category is not a real category as the records are never selected and thus do not need to be bucketed.

Now I have selected my records from the database I put the records into a loop. Whilst in this loop I bucket the records into a set of arrays using the following conditions …

LeftRight …

Middle …

Left …

Right …

Now that the records have been bucketed into the arrays I loop through each group and process the groups seperately as follows …

new record = the new record you are wanting to insert into the DB via displacing the current records
original records = the record in the LeftRight bucket that has not been cloned

LeftRight …

I take a clone of the record and I modify the original (none cloned) records date end to be the new record date start -1 day this is then saved. I then take the clone and set the date start to be the newly inserted records date end +1 day this is then saved.

Middle …

Any middle records are deleted.

Left …

I modify the records date end to be the newly inserted records date start -1 day this is then saved.

Right …

I modify the records date start to be the newly inserted records date end +1 day this is then saved.

After all of the bucketed records have been processed there should now be room to insert the new record so I insert / save the new record.

So that concludes how I created a system that would allow a new record to be inserted whilst chopping the existing records to accomodate the new records.

Agency vs freelancer my opinion

So I read a lot of articles online about “Agency vs freelancer” the subject of the article being from a client point of view which is best to go with in terms of completing a project successfully.

Sometimes I read the article on a general web development article website which is fine. However sometimes I read the article on a web agencies very own website.

I have possibly written similar articles in the past on this website which I have now deleted and let me tell you why in my opinion it is not a good idea for multi-employee agencies to post articles like the above in their blog.

So let us be honest the article is intended to big up the agency whilst making the freelancer look like a bad choice. This is the fundamental intent of the article and that is why it was posted to the blog in the first place.

Whilst on the surface the article seems to do this there is another underlying tone to the article in my opinion which communicates a different message.

The message it communicates is that the agency views the freelancer as the competition. Writing “Agency vs freelancer” or similar as the article the agency has automatically created the freelancer as the competition. This massive, cutting-edge, leading agency views this small, tacky freelancer as the competition?

This is similar to say Rolls Royce viewing themselves in competition with Ford. Ford does not lose any sales to Rolls Royce and Rolls Royce does not lose any sales to Ford, they are at completely different ends of the market.

The article can give an impression that is at odds with the articles intended purpose.

Having said all this I will also say that there is one other area I will mention in relation to articles such as the above.

Many of these articles attempt to portrait that an advantage of going to an agency is that you get a “team” of people working on your project vs the 1 person freelancer working on your project.

The way this is generally written in the article tends to try to give the following impression …

Freelancer hourly rate = £50
Agency hourly rate = £100

Wow, I am getting a full team of people working on my project rather than the 1 person freelancer for only double the price.

Errrrmmm, not quite. You see that is £100 per hour. So for an agency of 8 people that will cost you £800 per hour. The result is more like as follows …

Freelancer hourly rate = £50
8 person agency hourly rate = £800

You are still paying by the hour no matter what way you look at it. You just happen to be paying double per hour in the above example to have 1 person work an hour for you from an agency.

Let us face it, freelancers have contacts as well and I am certain that if you where willing to pay the freelancer £100 an hour it would not be very hard for the freelance to get some external resources into the project himself thus forming a mini-agency.

Infact you could have just given the freelancer the break he needed to expand his business himself into an agency.

Internal system – Toolkit

I have been using a web based product called ActiveCollab for sometime now …

https://activecollab.com

I have been using ActiveCollab since version 4. When ActiveCollab 5 was introduced it had a complete redesign, less features and a more slick user interface.

More features have been introduced to ActiveCollab 5 though since it was first released.

ActiveCollab is a project management system that also handles Time Tracking and Invoicing plus more.

I will continue using ActiveCollab for projects / task management however for other areas of my business I have created my own internal tool which I have named “Toolkit”.

I built my own system because I wanted a system that would do the following …

Estimate earnings
Fixed fee and retainer projects are entered into the Toolkit. The Toolkit can then estimate monthly and yearly earnings based on the projects entered. The projects also includes a way for me to manage all the projects I am working on.

Incomings
The Toolkit has an area in which all incomings can be entered. The incomings can then be exported in a format appropriate for my accountant.

Outgoings
The Toolkit has an area in which all outgoings can be entered. The outgoings can then be exported in a format appropriate for my accountant.

Mileage
The Toolkit has an area in which all mileages can be entered. The mileages can then be exported in a format appropriate for my accountant.

Leads
The Toolkit has an area in which leads can be managed. I actually pulled this area out of the Neptune – Lead Tracker – http://www.neptuneleadtracker.com software system.

CRM
The Toolkit includes an area in which all the companies and people I have worked for can be managed. ActiveCollab does actually include this feature but the Toolkit version allows more advanced search features and has fields on the create / update forms to match my exact needs.

Timetracking
The Toolkit includes an area in which all time entries can be tracked. ActiveCollab does have this feature.

Invoicing
The Toolkit includes an area in which invoices can be created. Invoices can also be generated from time entries. ActiveCollab does include this feature but the Toolkit version matches my exact needs precisely.

Notes
The Toolkit includes an area to keep notes. ActiveCollab does include this feature.

Files
The Toolkit includes an area to upload files. ActiveCollab does include this feature.

ActiveCollab has a more slick, beautiful user interface but in terms of functionality built specifically for myself obviously the Toolkit wins.

The Toolkit is primarily made up of CRUD screens, no fancy UI / Ajax heavy screens here. Just datagrids and buttons.

I am in the process of live testing the Toolkit I have built and will be moving various functions of my business over to the Toolkit.

What is happening? – general update

I thought I would dedicate this post to informing you of what I am doing right now …

Work
I am currently in a contract with a client at the moment with a rolling end date which means the contract extends indefinitly until I am not needed anymore by the client.

The company I am working with is an agency that creates web based software for their clients. I am currently designated to working on 1 of their projects with another developer who is also a contractor.

I remember when I first started there was a lot of “scare” factor about freelance dry periods and how work can be hard to come by. Looking back over the number of years I have been freelancing I can safely say this has never been a problem.

Yes there has been short dry periods between contracts but another contract always comes along in the end. I treat the short dry periods as my holiday time like regular employees would book their holidays off I have my short dry periods.

It must be mentioned though that in the dry periods I also dedicate a couple of hours each day to looking for new work. Generally what happens is after a number of days a pool is formed of potential leads which gets filtered down into potential actual contracts I could take on.

Like I say, getting work has never been much of a problem. Getting high paying / decent work is a little harder but still not much of a problem.

Infact I was thinking the other week that if I had someone looking for work on a full time basis rather than just me doing it a few hours a week in my dry periods. There would actually be enough work generated not only for me but enough work to grow my business.

The reason I have not done this yet is because I would want the person who is finding the work i.e. my potential business partner to be well known by me and most of my well known collegues already have jobs and they would not be willing to take this chance with me.

Secondly although I am a one man business I am actually quite alright just as I am. I can get the work for myself and provide myself with a reasonable income.

To all the new freelancers out there I would say do not be afraid of finding new work but note that the work might not always be with direct clients.

Sometimes to get work you may need to go to other agencies that act as middle men and sometimes you might need to consider taking up “real” contract jobs i.e. short jobs that are advertised on job boards by job agencies related to your area of expertise that pay a high day rate.

Contract jobs can be treated like projects. If a business is willing to pay you a high day rate for a period of time. Take the day rate and times it by the number of days you are contracted for, that is the value of the project.

Neptune – Lead Tracker
So whats the deal with Neptune? A number of months ago I posted some posts about the Neptune project and the progress I was making on it. Then I released a post telling everyone Neptune was released.

Neptune can be found at …

http://www.neptuneleadtracker.com

Neptune was originally released as a paid product due to lack of sign ups and a need for a user base to use the product and provide feedback I decided to get rid of the paid plans and just have a free plan. Anyone can now sign up and use Neptune for free.

In short, Neptune is currently in a holding area at the moment. It is functioning product that allows you and your team (it is multiuser) to keep track of any leads you might have. My intent is to have people sign up to the free plan and use the product.

This initial user base can provide feedback on the product and have some say as to the direction Neptune will take in terms of its next features / functionality.

I could keep adding features and improving Neptune myself to turn it into a fully featured product however my thoughts are if people do not use the basic version why would they use the none basic version.

Potentially I know it is possible people would use the fully featured but not use the basic product however it is a big time investment to build the fully featured and then not have people use it.

So I have decided to stick with the basic product for now and see if people use it. If people start using it then I can dedicate more time to it as needed.

Czech Character Code Converter
I created the Czech Character Code Converter because a client of mine had a Czech language version of its flagship product. I was given blocks of text in Czech that needed to implemented within the system.

The blocks of text needed to have the Czech characters converted to their respective characters codes to be implemented into the system so rather than convert each character manually by hand I built a small script to do it. I then gave the script a user interface and uploaded the script online.

Czech Character Code Converter can be found at …

http://www.czechcharactercodeconverter.com

The script saved me a lot of time. Although the script is small and simple I have no intention of expanding the script any further and it is considered a completed project. If anyone has any ideas on how to improve it I may consider implementing the ideas but other than that no improvements will come of it solely from my perspective.

King of Adem
King of Adem the latest project to hit the project list and born out of my wanting to learn IOS development. This is a huge project and I only have part time hours to dedicate to all my side projects. King of Adem along with learning IOS could take up to a year to build and in truth the King of Adem project was probably too large a project to attempt to learn IOS development.

I want to build King of Adem and I want to learn IOS development. Both of these can be done seperately or they can be done as one project. I could learn IOS development and do a simpler project whilst still building King of Adem in the background. Alternatively I could incorporate my IOS development learning into the King of Adem project because part of the King of Adem project requires an IOS application.

Most likely to happen is the following …

I will learn IOS development as my primary goal and develop King of Adem as my secondary goal. I will learn IOS development by following the video tutorial course I have downloaded and taking on a simpler IOS project to enhance my development. The King of Adem will take a secondary position to the IOS development learning until the IOS development learning is complete then King of Adem will take the primary position.

Essentially both projects will still be happening at the same time but the IOS development will have more time dedicated to it at the start until complete then the King of Adem will get the most time dedicated to it until complete. As a rule it I will split it 75% / 25% in other words 75% will be spent on the IOS development learning project and 25% on the King of Adem project. After the IOS learning project is complete King of Adem can have 100%.

That sums up what is happening in my business right now. I hope this article ties up any loose ends anyone might have about the projects I am working on. It has certainly helped me clarify where I am with each project and what I intend to do with each project.