full-time freelancing: after six months

So, after six months, I’m still doin’ it. That says something right there. The summer was a bit slow at times, and my resolve wavered a tiny bit, but I persevered. At the moment, I’ve got a backlog of about 3-4 weeks of work, and I’m meeting with a potential new client tomorrow. If that one goes, I’ll be a solid 4 weeks out. Not bad.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about getting started. I’ve gotten some perspective on that since. Regarding needing an office, I decided not to get an office. The summer was a little rough what with The Wife home every day (she’s a teacher) and The Boy home two days a week (he goes to preschool MWF during the summer). I didn’t get much done on the TTh days, but business was a little slow, and it worked out. Next summer I may have to get an office. But, for now, with everyone back in school full time, I’m happy working at home.

My workflow fu has gotten stronger, but still needs work. I need to get fully back on the GTD wagon. I think one of the truths about GTD is that it really DOES work, but you have to do it ALL for it to work well. Doing it half-assed (like I do it) leaves you with a lot of open loops (in GTD parlance).

In any event, I’m enjoying the challenges and benefits of working for myself. I’m planning to stick it out for the forseeable future.

lane change

So, after working as a web designer/developer in the newspaper industry for seven years, I’m changing gears. Friday is my last day at the paper, and I’m taking my design & consulting business, kudzu design full-time. Yup. I’ve got business cards and everything! I’ll even have an updated and expanded site up on the business site by next Monday (the “official” full-time relauch of kudzu design. I’ll get to spend more time working on varied design projects and less time doing the sort of administrative grunt work that I’ve come to dislike intensely. Plus, I’ll no longer be working for The Man.

My friends and family (with a few notable exceptions) have been really supportive, especially The Wife. I have some really interesting projects coming up that I’m dying to get to work on, too.

In addition to the new and exciting work to do, working for myself will also allow me to structure my workday to allow for more time with family and time for regular exercise (which I desperately need). It’s going to be a very good thing.

And I hope to blog more, too. Stay tuned…

My del.icio.us-powered side blog REVEALED!

I use a special tag in del.icio.us to note my sideblog entries (over there to the right), and a quick and dirty php script to suck that info down to my server and write it to a styled html file that I can include into this (and other) pages. Lots of people are using systems with varying degrees of complexity (and expense) to do it. I’m cheap, so I rolled a way to do it for free (assuming you have a webhost with php) and easily.

The del.icio.us sideblog generator script explains pretty much how I do it. If you know a little php, css, and html, you should have no problems implementing it on your own site. Of course, it’s just one hour and a minimal amount of effort shy of actually rolling your own solution, but, hey, I thought I’d save you that hour.

Comments, mods, improvements, etc. welcome.

del.icio.us links

Yeah, it’s been kinda quiet around here lately. But, there’s at least a daily update of my links posted to del.icio.us which is a totally kickass social boomarks/links app. It’s completely indispensible at this point.

I’ve been exploring more of the social sharing apps lately, and del.icio.us and Flickr are hands down the two best. I’ve got a random selection of my Flickr photos running over there to your right in the sidebar, too, and soon the SWJ Quicklinks will be del.icio.us powered instead of a separate blog in MT as they are now.

New design coming soonish, too. Really. I’m serious. Stop laughing.

recent listening system

Since it’s often a popularly-discussed feature on blogs, I thought I’d go over the newly-revamped “recent listening” section (to the right, in the sidebar). When I first implemented a similar feature, I used Kung-Tunes, a nice little AppleScript app that allows you to upload files to a server via FTP (and will now send an HTTP GET string, too) that listed recently-played tunes in iTunes. I then switched to an all-MT version that used trackbacks and a separate blog in my MT setup. I didn’t care for that solution as it didn’t allow me to easily manipulate the data entered.

Since I was already using Freshly Squeezed Software’s Recent Tunes freeware app to send the trackback pings via HTTP GET, I decided to create my own solution with PHP and MySQL, against using Recent Tunes to send the data from iTunes.

The current upload script just takes the data sent by Recent Tunes (which is configurable and based upon a small tag set) via the HTTP GET, munges the variables a bit, then puts the variables in a database (and adds a timestamp and location stamp — hover over an entry to see them in the “tooltip”). Another small PHP script retrieves the 5 most recent entries from the db and includes them on the page. Real easy and is the most flexible solution I’ve come across.

While there are several utilities that will allow you to transmit data from iTunes to a server, I stuck to Recent Tunes because it’s a neat little app (also has a menu item with some nice features) and is fairly unobtrusive.

I can’t believe I didn’t roll my own solution months (years!) ago. It’s given me more fuel to rolling my own (very simple) blogging tool that will meet my modest needs yet give me exactly what I want in a blogging app. We’ll see how it goes after I finish some humongous projects at work in the next few weeks.

UPDATE 2004.08.24: Thanks to a kick in the ass from Mat, I added a couple of other things to the system:

  1. Clicking on the song title or artist will search Google for that title or artist’s name
  2. Clicking on the iTMS link next to the song title, artist, or album info will take you to a search results page at the iTunes Music Store. If the search is successful (i.e., the info in the ID3 tag in my music collection is accurate and the iTMS has the music), you’ll be able to listen to and buy the music there.

UPDATE: 2004.10.16: code (and instructions)coming soon.