On to something new (redux) (redux)

Posted on 2024-06-16 13:08 +0100 in Life • Tagged with work, YouTube, streaming, gaming, PS5 • 3 min read

It's been a wee while since I wrote anything here (been about a month) so I thought I'd make mention of what's going on.

The main news is that I'm employed again!

Once the news about the Textual layoffs hit I, of course, started the job hunting process. This lasted for a wee while (and I have a couple of stories about that -- perhaps I'll write them up one day). I officially became "unemployed" on April the 1st (yeah, I know), and by the 23rd I had an offer for a new position, which I accepted.

As of the time of writing I've been in that position for a touch over 3 weeks and it's going really well. Right at this moment I'm doing zero Python work (that will change, I strongly suspect) and, actually, for the first time ever, I'm writing some TypeScript (it's tempting me to dive into that some more).

The team I'm working in are great and I'm also really impressed so far by the practices they have in place relating to getting stuff done. It's actually a refreshing change to work in a bigger organisation and actually find it not massively frustrating!

I'm also back to working from home full time. This isn't that big a deal for me as I spent around 22 years doing so up until 2018, and of course it isn't that big of a deal to many folk these days anyway thanks to the 2020- period. This prompted me to finally clear out the spare room (I've only been in here a touch under 5 years so of course there were a lot of "I'll sort those soon" boxes and stuff in there), buy a second desk, and make a work-coding area that is away from totally separate from my for-fun-coding area.

This has turned out to be a really good decision. I love my main hacking space in the living room, and have done a lot of work there, but that was always on the odd days here and there when I'd work at home. Now that working at home is a full-time role it felt important to make the distinction.

Weirdly though, all of this means that I'm spending less time working on personal stuff. When I was working at Textualize, most days, I'd be spending the best part of 3 hours in the day getting to and from the office. I thought that perhaps getting that time back would translate into having more time to tinker with my own stuff. Actually what I'm finding I'm doing is I'm spending the time on more general self-care and domestic things. This is a good thing.

Doubtless once things really settle down and I form my new routine I'll dive back into FOSS coding more again, and perhaps get back to streaming while I code.

Meanwhile though you can find me steaming many late evenings, mucking about on my PS5. Right at this moment I'm finally playing all the way through Just Cause 4 (a game I bought back in 2019 and never finished). In fact last night I finished the main story.

Expect a lot more PS5-based streaming nonsense over the next few months.

One other change I have made is to my VR video publishing schedule. For the longest time I had the time and was playing so much that I published a video every day. This wasn't a schedule I set myself, this was more a case of I was playing so much that to publish less frequently would mean there would be a huge backlog. These days I'm back to working 5 days a week (previously I was working 4 days) so I have to cram a little more into my weekends, and also I want to try and do other things during weekends too. So recently I changed to an every-other-day schedule.

And, really, that's about it. For now expect to see a bit less Python-based content on here, and also quite a bit less Textual-based stuff too. Currently my focus is elsewhere and it also seems that Textual is a bit of a moving target recently, throwing in some fun new bugs and breaking changes which are tricky to keep on top of. That said, you will still find me in the repo, lending a hand when I can, and of course in the Textual Discord too; just don't expect to see me quite so omnipresent there, especially during the work day.

Goodbye Textualize

Posted on 2024-03-28 06:30 +0000 in Life • Tagged with Python, textual, free-software, work • 2 min read

While I have been on the receiving end of redundancy once before, that was after 21 years of service at a company that, while it was in part about software development, I would never have called it a "tech" company.

So, as of today, I can finally say that the "tech layoffs" came for me and I'm one of 67% of employees being let go from a tech startup.

Achievement unlocked, I guess?

!Achievement unlocked

To be clear: I'm not annoyed about this, I'm not even shocked about this; I planned for this from the off and realised and recognised the gamble I was taking back in 2022.

Announcing being hired

I am disappointed about this. Not in a "I'm disappointed in you" kind of way, but disappointed for all involved and what it says about how FOSS projects are funded and maintained.

It's been an interesting journey, and it's been a privilege to do something I've been wanting to do since the 1990s, when I first read the GNU Manifesto and subsequently watched the free software and open source movements develop and grow: work on FOSS for a living. In doing this I've developed my thoughts about the feasibility of such an endeavour, I've refined how I feel about working in very small teams, I've learnt a lot of useful lessons I'm going to draw on in the future (keeping a journal of my experience has been a great move; I have a lot of notes and thoughts written down that I'll be reviewing and distilling for myself over the coming weeks).

Most of all: it's been an absolute blast working on something that people are actually using to build cool things, and to provide help and guidance to those people when they've needed it.

So... what happens now? Well, of course, right now, I'm looking for a new position. If you're reading this and you are looking for someone who's kinda handy with Python and a bunch of other languages and who loves learning new stuff, or if you know someone who is looking for such a person, do drop me a line!

As for what happens with Textual, and my involvement with it...

Well, what happens with Textual is Will's call, of course. As for my involvement with it: I care about FOSS and I care about Textual; I also care about the folk who have been kind enough to use their time to explore it, test it, build with it, commit to it and make neat stuff with it. My intention, as long as free time allows, is to carry on being involved, both on GitHub and in the Discord server.

It's my sincere hope that, as a community of FOSS-friendly developers, we see Textual over the 1.0 line and beyond.

But all that starts next week. It's a bank holiday weekend and I think I might have deserved a run, a bit of mucking about in VR, a beer, and just a wee bit of down time.

Cmd-Tab switcher on all screens

Posted on 2023-07-14 07:56 +0100 in TIL • Tagged with Apple, Mac, macOS, Work • 2 min read

This week, on Monday gone in fact, we moved office. We've now got a bigger space and, as part of that, bigger desks. Somewhat (but not entirely) coincidentally the work desk will also convert into a standing desk1. Also also... I inherited a second screen for the desk too. Ever since the days of CRTs and video cards that supported it, I've been a fan of having at least a couple of screens in front of me, and now at my work desk I've got 3 (two external displays and the display of the MacBook Pro itself).

This caused a slight problem though: horizontally there's quite the spread of things to look at. This is fine, mostly I'm looking at the screen that's in front of me; the MacBook is to the left and the "second" screen is to the right, both with "other" stuff on them. In front of me is Emacs and my browser, which I flip between lots.

The problem is this: the MacBook needs to go to the left (because of physical layout), which means that despite me setting the screen in front of me as the "main" screen, the Cmd-Tab display (you know the thing: when you hit Cmd-Tab you see the icons of all your active applications) appears on the left-most display, which is the MacBook.

Not great. If I'm looking at the right-most display, and want to switch using the keyboard, I've got to look over to the left, as a worst case. That makes for a lot of unnecessary head-swivelling.

One quick Google later and Today I Learnt that the following pretty much solves the problem:

$ defaults write com.apple.Dock appswitcher-all-displays -bool true
$ killall Dock

As the name of the setting would suggest: once done, the switcher appears on all displays.

That's perfect.

  1. Although the work one is manual hand-cranked, not electronic button-push goodness like my new one at home

On to something new (redux)

Posted on 2022-10-05 09:24 +0100 in Life • Tagged with coding, work, life, Python, news • 4 min read

Just over five years ago I got a message from my then employer to say I was going to be made redundant after 21 years working for them. After the 3 month notice period the final day came. Meanwhile, I found something new that looked terrifying but interesting. In the end it was less terrifying and way more interesting than I imagined it would be. It was fun too.

But... (there's always a but isn't there?)

In the four and change years I've been there the company got bought out, and then the result of that got bought up. As I've mentioned before I'm generally not a "big company" kind of person; in all my years I've found that I'm happier working in a smaller place. After a couple of buyouts my employer had gone from being 10s of people in size to 100s of people in size (and technically 10s of 1,000s of people in size depending on how you look at it).

This change in ownership and size meant the culture became... well, let's just say not as friendly as you tend to enjoy when it's a smaller group of folk. On top of that I was starting to notice that my efforts were making less of an impact as things got bigger, and I started to feel like my contributions weren't really relevant any more. There were some problematic things happening too: undermining of efforts, removal of responsibilities without consultation or communication, that sort of thing. Plus worse. There's little point in going into the detail, but it's fair to say that work wasn't as fun as it used to be.

That felt like a good time to start to look around. If work makes you feel unhappy and you can look around... look around.

Thing is, I wasn't sure what to look for. I was in the comfortable position of, unlike last time, not needing to find something, so I could take my time at least. Over the course of the last year I've spoken to many different companies and organisations, some big (yes, I know, I said I don't like big places -- sometimes what's on offer deserves a fair hearing), some small, but none of them quite said "this feels like me". In some cases the whole thing didn't have the right vibe, in others the industry either didn't interest me, or felt uncomfortable given my personal values. In one particular case a place looked interesting until I checked the CTO's socials and OMG NO NO NO AVOID AVOID (that was a fun one).

Then I saw Will McGugan saying he was hiring to expand Textualize. This caught my interest right away for two good reasons.

I can't remember how long I've been following Will on Twitter; I likely stumbled on him as I got back into Python in 2018 and I also remember noting that he was a Python hacker just up the road from me. We'd vaguely chatted on Twitter, briefly, in that "Twitter acquaintance" way we all often do (I remember one brief exchange about fungus on The Meadows), and he'd seemed like a good sort. A small company run by a "good sort" kinda person felt like a damn good reason.

The second reason was Textual itself. I'd been watching Will develop it, in open, with great interest. I had (and still have) a plan to write a brand new CHUI-based (okay fine TUI-based as the kids like to say these days!) Norton Guide reader, all in Python, and Textual looked like the perfect framework to do the UI in. The chance to be involved with it sounded awesome.

Now, I said two reasons, but there's also a third I guess: Will's pitch for applying to Textualize felt so damn accessible! I'm on the older end of the age range of this industry; for much of my working life as a developer I've worked in isolation from other developers; while I first touched Python in the 90s, I've only been using it in anger since 2018 and still feel like I've got a lot to learn. Despite all these things, and more, saying "aye Dave this is beyond you" I felt comfortable dropping Will a line.

Which resulted in a chat.

Which resulted in some code tinkering and chatting.

Which resulted in...

Something new.

So, yeah, as of 2022-10-10 I'm on yet another new adventure. Time for me to really work on my Python coding as I work with Will and the rest of the team as part of Textualize.

Or, as I put it on Twitter a few days ago: I'm going to be a Python impostor syndrome speedrunner!

On to something new

Posted on 2017-12-12 13:59 +0000 in Life • Tagged with coding, work, life, news • 2 min read

Today is a fairly significant day for me. For the past 21 (and a bit) years I've worked for the same company. I know that, for lots of people in my industry, that's a hell of a long time to be in one position. It was a setup that served me pretty well; the company was small (I'm not much of a big company person), I generally got to dictate the development tools and direction, and I also got to work from home.

The working from home part was especially helpful as other life events involved me and happened around me. The job I've been in has seen a marriage come and go, and a move from Hampshire to Lincolnshire, and then from Lincolnshire to Midlothian. There's been a few adventures along the way.

But, three months ago, I got a call to say that I was to be made redundant. This sucked, obviously. It also appeared pretty stupid on the part of my employer: a company that is based around software had decided it no longer wanted an in-house software developer. A bold, and I think unwise, choice. From this point on they've decided to only go with contract developers and only contract developers from overseas (or so the story goes).

As it goes, things have turned out okay. Today is my last day with my old employer and, as I'm sat here typing this out while having some lunch, I'm actually glad that it's coming to a close and that I can get to move on.

I have a new employer, and will be starting in my new position during the first week of January. It'll be very different. It'll all be different. Not only will I be back working in an office (one where jeans and t-shirts are the norm, thankfully!), I'm also going to be working in an industry (as a developer still, of course) that I have no background in and no real knowledge of. It's going to be a seriously exciting challenge.

New book

Over the next couple of weeks I've got a fair amount of background reading (and video watching) to be doing. This isn't so much that I can get on with the job of development (although there will be a good bit of that to do too -- who doesn't want to be trying to understand new options for development?), it's more about understanding the language of the industry I'll be in and so that I can understand the needs of my users.

Goodbye fashion retail and all related things. Hello genetics and... well, I don't know, I'm going to find out. :)