Welcome to Year Two

I’ve been relatively quiet online for last few months. From the perspective of this blog, I launched a product and then vanished.

So what happened between August 2019 and February 2020?

A ton.

  1. I built an app for a client that integrates SMS via Twilio and Amazon Mechanical Turk to automate the answering of questions and aid decision making.
  2. I wrote an integration script for a client that brought together a proprietary API, Powershell and SendGrid.
  3. I whipped a rogue Bash script into shape so that a client could keep generating Let’s Encrypt HTTPS certificates correctly.
  4. I built an automation system for a real estate agent to help them manage their conversations with home buyers and sellers via SMS; another win for Twilio.
  5. I fixed a bug in Zeit’s node-file-trace library since it was breaking my builds.
  6. I converted a Wordpress site to Jekyll. CloudCannon makes this quite the interesting proposition.
  7. I brought a much beleaguered React Native app back from the dead for a client, and have been fixing bugs, adding features, etc.
  8. I worked on various tools to help supercharge Amazon Connect for a client.
  9. I’ve been developing a marketplace mobile app for a client with Ionic.
  10. I started learning about Salesforce.
  11. I poured over IRS regulations and wrote a program to help me manage my income, taxes, and tithe.
  12. I did some mentoring on Codementor.
  13. I continued using and improving my ORM for MongoDB and TypeScript.
  14. I built a Reddit bot to help monitor for conversations related to my product Site to Image.
  15. I built out a stats page for Site to Image so that I can start to pay attention to it more easily and effectively.

And that’s just the work-related stuff! I also:

  1. Baptized my wife!
  2. Went on an anniversary trip to Sedona with my wife.
  3. Built various small games using Canvas, WebGL, and the good ole DOM API with one of my friends.
  4. Went to my first ever Comic Con.
  5. Hiked Seven Falls, and other local places.
  6. Ran a 5k on Thanksgiving morning with my wife.
  7. Got new glasses 😎
  8. Spent lots of quality time with my godson.

And I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting.

So wait, what about the product? What’s with all this mention of clients?

Well, these words have been echoing in my head for a long time: in order to succeed, I must become a better person.

It was clear to me that I was going about things wrong. I was starting with me. What do I need to do to make this business fantasy of mine come alive?

It felt like bashing my head up against a brick wall. No matter how smart I am or good at building things I am, I can’t pull a profitable business out of my head alone. A business, by definition, intersects with other people. It can’t come from you alone.

So I decided to start seeking out some freelancing/consulting work, and I’ve learned some interesting things along the way:

  1. Telephony-related tech is surprisingly huge right now. From contact centers to SMS automation, this is a big space, and there’s a lot of tech that’s fallen into place and makes a new level of opportunities possible.
  2. Work on mobile apps has a ton of demand. The tech news bubble I live in would have me believe that people have abandoned proper mobile apps all in favor of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) or responsive design or other related tech. Not true.
  3. Salesforce looms large and has become entrenched in many businesses. Knowledgeable people are needed to tame the beast.
  4. There’s an interesting group of people appearing on the scene who are tech savvy enough to know that software and automation can solve their problems, but they lack the time or expertise to actually make it happen.
  5. While I haven’t done any of this work personally, there’s a strange amount of demand for people who want others to use easy website builders for them (e.g. Squarespace, Wix, etc.) - this would imply that they aren’t actually easy.
  6. In a similar area, there’s a lot of demand for people to exfiltrate designs from various web design tools (Webflow, etc.), implying that these tools have a certain amount of undesirable lock-in or are otherwise falling short in some key area.
  7. Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) is surprisingly hard for people, and even when they want to or think they should, they don’t make it happen.

Enough about the past, what’s the future?

Currently I’ve got a couple clients that I’m really enjoying working with, and I plan to continue doing so. Overall I’ve scaled back my client commitments so that I can start focusing on higher-level products and services again.

The goal is to build something bigger than myself. Something that helps my customers even when I’m not around. Something that solves real problems, and in so doing supports my family.

Will I get there? Time will tell. These are my first steps. I’m excited to see what this year will bring.