Tim Wasson - web nerd guy.

Blog

There goes that one.

 So, here we are, end of January and I've only done 1 blog entry. So, that resolution hasn't been super awesome. But I still gotta try. 

I'm working out a lot harder in the new year. Four times per week with a personal trainer, and my days off I go on a run when I can. The days I train with my trainer are especially helpful. I do feel in better shape now. Certainly not the best shape of my life, but give it a few more months and maybe I will be. 

Hill's pregnancy is going great. Its weird to be getting so excited at a growing belly and reading about the development process. Its getting really interesting now, but I know it'll only get more interesting as things develop further.

New Years Resolution

 Well, it's been well over a year since my last blog entry, and while I'm sure no one will read other blog entries, or this one, I'm still gonna type it up.

This year has been a big one, and 2012 promises to be even bigger and better. 2011 brought another happy year of marriage, a move into a newer, nicer home, changes in my business and workplace and more. 2012 will bring my first baby. That's about as big as 2012 will need to be, to be honest, but I do have some resolutions that will help me accomplish my goals this year. 

- Be a great father. I'll accomplish this through massive amounts of patience and trusting of other people's advice who know more than I do. I've already started collecting advice from fathers and keeping a mental list of their tips and tricks.

- Be a great husband. Hill and I work hard on our relationship and we'll continue to do that. 

- Improve my business. I have a laundry list of ways I want to do that, like branching out to other cities in my area, getting into mobile app and mobile web business, starting passive income streams, finding a reputable accountant and more. I've been really successful in my business, and been pretty passive about it in the last year. Time to get back on the horse and take it seriously. 

- Blog and write more. I have a horrible memory, but if I blog consistently about what I'm doing, at least I can go back and read about what I was doing at certain dates. 

Exhaustion

I've tried to keep this blog away from delving too far into the life of a freelancer and keep it a little more general into just 'real' life, but I guess that gets more difficult once I realize that freelancing has occupied virtually my entire life for quite some time. Maybe that's why blog entries are few and far between and nearly always mention work and how busy I've been and remain to be.

Obviously I'm not complaining. Things are great and being too busy as a self-employed dude is better than the alternative. Still, landing this 6-month contract is like a blessing for me. I can work on that, but still stop working occasionally and focus on the 'next big thing'.  For this round, it'll be focusing on my illustration... both in selling to companies on a freelance basis as well as produce something I can sell many, many times. I'm already seeing the limitations of a freelancer, which is as a 1-man operation you can only produce so much in any given day. I've known for a while that I need to look into transitioning from a service-based guy into a product-based guy, and this will be the perfect, 6-month opportunity to make that happen.

I've already turned away some work to ensure that will happen for me. It's difficult to say no to clients or potential clients, but I have to keep in mind that these are changes that won't only benefit me personally, but my entire life. Once that's in perspective, small sacrifices along the way aren't a big deal.

Anyhoo, in other news, I'm picking up an old, new hobby. The wifey bought me piano lessons as a birthday gift, and I've been trying to re-learn the piano. I took lessons for many years in my youth and got pretty good, but haven't touched a piano in many years and it was all lost. My first lesson was today, and some vague memories of playing came back to me and I was able to power through a children's book of songs in short order. Now I've got a grown-up book, which will probably (hopefully) be a bit more difficult.

The big Three One.

 Well, life goes on, I get a year older. Yesterday I hit the big 31, which is sort of a wasted birthday if you ask me. I guess as the years wear on and there's fewer and fewer monumental birthdays, the ones between them lose their appeal. The wife was way more excited about my 31st than I was, and it came and went without any big to-do, which is the way I prefer it.

Hill got me and my new office all decked out with some fancy wall decor, making my home-away-from-home that much more inviting and cozy. It's strange that I got sick of working from home, so I got an office only to then go decorate that office like it was my home. 

The office is really helping with the whole work/home separation, and in strange ways motivating me to do better with my career. I feel like after 2 years, I've gotten the freelance web developing business under control, and it may be time to focus on my real passion... illustration. It took 2 years to get my web design business into self-maintaining and thriving mode, so I suppose I can use that same amount of time to get an illustration business off the ground. If I spend my 33rd birthday celebrating as a freelance illustrator, I think I'll be at the point where my life couldn't really get all that much better.

In totally unrelated news, after over 10 years of never hitting an animal, I've run over a suicidal squirrel and the world's stupid pigeon in the last few days. I feel like a murderer.

Two in a Row

 Two days, and two blog posts. Amazing.

With a blog thats updated a little more frequently, it offers the amazing opportunity to ramble on and on about completely unimportant minutia of my day. Right now, my main focus is trying to enjoy coffee. I've always been a little proud of my avoidance of coffee, but at the same time milk a pretty serious addiction to diet soda. With my move into my own personal office space, I get free access to unlimited coffee, which means I've got to try to enjoy it a little more. 

Other than trying my damndest to enjoy coffee, I'm working on a few other things. Today I'm working on keeping my nose to the grindstone despite the beautiful day outside and my lack of desire to accomplish anything at all today. 

Blog Neglect

 I hate neglecting this blog, but work has definitely taken a front-seat to my entire life. The work-life balance in my freelance career was always nearly impossible for me to get a good grip on, but I've been making some good strides in that arena lately.

The wife got a great job at a local hospital, and since she now works a mostly-normal schedule I've been trying to adopt her working hours, and when she's not at work I try not to be as well. I have varying degrees of success with this technique, since she's 2nd shift and I still have client meetings during the day. I've also started renting an office downtown, which means I can work at my office and then come home. When I'm home, I don't work. Mostly.

We're currently trying to sell our house, and having very little luck in that arena. Its a bad time to be selling, and we knew that getting into it. But I don't think we realized that it'd be nearly impossible to even get people to look at the house. It's been frustrating.

Work, however, couldn't be better. I'm very busy but with deadlines that are mostly not-immediate, I can take my time and do a good job for the most part. I'm also really close to securing a really excellent contract... the type of contract that I've been dreaming about since beginning my career. If I get the contract and luck out just a tad, it means I could have some time to focus on establishing my illustration career. My fingers have been crossed, and will remain that way until I get this contract.

Top Unsolved LOST Mysteries

 With the finale of Lost aired, I am comfortable posting my list of LOST mysteries that were never properly resolved. Without further ado.

  • Walt. He was so, SO important in the first few seasons, only to be one of the first people to leave the island. He popped up sporadically after that, either as visions or, in his last appearance, a high school kid in NYC. Locke left him alone, saying he'd been through enough. And that was it. Really? This kid who kills birds with his brain that the Others kidnap and do experiments on, and we don't get any additional insight into that?
  • The Outrigger Chase. Anyone else remember this one? Some people do, obviously, where there was all the random time-jumping, and in one of them they were paddling in a little outrigger and started getting shot at? A brief chase ensued, until they flashed out. The chase seemed important, like eventually we'd see the other side of it. Nope.
  • The Hurley Bird. The bird with the distinctive call makes the list with 2 appearances and not even 1 attempt at an explanation. I guess since he's the new Jacob birds just love him? 
  • The Supply Drop. Who is still dropping supplies? And while we're looking at the supply drop, maybe a litte more about Dharma? Are they still around? Run by who? Doing what? 
  • Pregnancies. Why can't women have kids without dying? There's implied reasons, like electromagnetic crap and the incident and whatever, but how about you spell it out for borderline-retards like me?
  • Numbers. Jacob had a thing for numbers, sure. But who recorded the original broadcast of the numbers that Sam Toomey heard who eventually told them to Hurley who eventually used them to win the lotto then hunt down Sam Toomey's wife in Australia and eventually land on the island? Rousseau eventually recorded over this, and it was a big deal in the first few seasons. Then, forgotten.
  • Man in the Cabin. Remember the dude who said "help me" to Locke, but Ben couldn't hear him? Then he got all freaked out by technology and the flashlight and shit started flying around the cabin? What was that about? Jacob lived in a foot, not a cabin. What the fuck was that about?
  • Raised by Another. The crazy maybe-phony psychic told Claire not to let Aaron be raised by anyone else, and even flew her to America to ensure that she'd crash on an island and be forced to raise the kid herself. But... well, Kate raised him, so... now what? Why was that so bad?
  • Adam and Eve. I know this was explained to be the MIB and his mom, but PLEASE. I hate, hate, hate this explanation. Jack, saying the corpses are 50 years old but it turns out they're a few thousand? I know he's no Indiana Jones but I think even I could tell clothes that were 2,000 years old or 50. AND, the producers constantly using this as "this is proof we had a plan all along"? Please. Eve, a chick we've never, ever seen before this episode and will never see again set in a timeline completely incompatible with the timeline you'd set up before? Pick a new Adam and Eve, because this one sucked.

Overall, I'm okay with the series despite constant reassurances by producers that it ain't purgatory, only to have the last big reveal be.... PURGATORY! Or at least a purgatory-ish waiting room. I'd like to see a better resolution for my boy Desmond and it would have been awesome if Kate would have died, but all series end sort of crappily so I guess I should have seen this coming. I just wish Season 6 would have answered old questions instead of asking new ones so I could put some closure to these mysteries that, ultimately, don't matter a bit.

Hating of Spam, part II

Almost 3 years ago, I posted a long dumb rant about how much I hated spam. My, how things have changed, and yet stayed eerily the same.

This week, I had my Gmail account hijacked in an attempt to email all my people in my address book with some sort of spam. Only it wasn't spam. It was just a series of 4 random characters. It's this spam that drives me completely and totally insane, even more than if the outgoing emails had been legitimate spam with links to products for purchase. What is the point other than to inconvenience me? 

Ironically, this coincided with an influx of spam on this blog. Unlike my previous rant, in which I was writing custom software for handling my blog and having to write custom filters, I now use Drupal and have to install and update various modules to keep spam at a minimum. After installing a few spam modules, I then went in and deleted the nearly 4,000 spam comments left here over the past few days.

And, similar to my previous rant, most of these messages contained no links, no message, and no coherent text. Just random characters. What, exactly, is the point of creating bots to post this nonsense, which then necessitates hard-working people to write special software, and even more people wasting their time to install and configure that software? Is posting random characters on a low-traffic site and blog really that important? 

Late to the netbook party

 I know I'm late to the netbook party here. I've wanted them, sure, but I never figured they were worth the money and fell short on too many tasks. Well, I was right about that, but with our upcoming European vacation, I found a gap it could fill: semi-disposable computer to keep our photos and videos organized and properly backed up, when I wouldn't care all that much if it got lost or stolen. 

Everything you've heard is true. The keyboard is cramped, the trackpad is too small. The processor is very slow, it lags in simple tasks. But, it'll do the job.

I did have an inner conflict. I wanted to use Ubuntu Netbook Edition, since it was made for small screens. I loaded it on without much difficulty, and it worked amazingly well for most tasks. It did fall way too short on being able to work with video from our little camcorder we're taking along with us. So, I decided to try loading OS X to ensure proper compatibility with our iMovie and iPhoto libraries.

My netbook, the Lenovo S10 is actually prime Hackintosh material. Loading OS X was no problem at all, along with the card reader, wifi, sleep, and all USB ports. The webcam and inner mic, however, do not work. They worked fine in Ubuntu, which sort of makes me want to partition off a part of the drive to use with Ubuntu. 

I bought this netbook on eBay, used, for pretty cheap and they included a 9-cell battery, on accident I think. So this little guy gets about 6 hours of battery life using OS X for simple web browsing, which is kind of nice. 

The few attempts I made at fixing my audio issues resulted in completely crashing the setup and having to install from scratch, so I've given up the dream of making it all work. It does what we need it to to get us through our trip, and that's enough. 

If anything, this crappy netbook reminds me why I love Apple and OS X so much. I hate having to deal with drivers, incompatible software and hardware, constant restarts to make sure things are working. With my Macs, it all works, all the time. With my netbook, I've been through Windows XP, Windows 7, Ubuntu and now OS X. Some things work, some things don't. It's ironic that the software that works the best for it was never meant to be loaded on in the first place.

Any 80 hours

 Someone much, much smarter than me once said "When you're self-employed you can make your own schedule. Any 80 hours per week you choose." That seems about right, really.

My frantic work schedule has left us in a fantastic place financially, even being a 1-income household for the time being, but is a bit of a drain on me, professionally and personally. Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic being self-employed and successful at it, but I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to just work a normal job like most people and, ya know, be able to stop working every once in a while.

Unfortunately the work schedule means very little time for things like my blogging and other illustration. There is, however, a very bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel, and if I can just keep up this pace for the rest of this week, my schedule will be free and clear. All active projects will be wrapped and invoiced. That is, until the 2 meetings I have lined up for next week about new projects. 

My time off will be spent making yet another play at illustration work. I know, I know, this illustration dream of mine may be worth giving up at this point, but I'm not quite ready to give up the dream right now. I've bought another couple books on the matter, and I need to work on the whole business package like I have for my web design business that has been so effective. Then, of course, I need a portfolio I'm proud of... that's the hard part right now, but I'll get there.