Friday evening is as good a time as any to migrate your websites. The time had come to move away from SiteGround after being with them for four years.

After inventorizing my websites I decided to delete most of them. Most of those website were never updated and some only had only one or two blog post. At most, some had ten posts written over a few years.

Continue reading

People often say that beggars can’t be choosers. Projected on my current job situation, in which I’ve been out of a job for a few months, I suppose that means I should be considering every possible job offer.

It’s fair enough to claim that any job is better than no job. However, there are some types of jobs which I’ll never apply for because I’d rather be anxious because I’m operating on low income than having to deal with the daily anxiety of doing that job.

Continue reading

Today, I was curious to find out if there’s a simple way inside Microsoft Teams to create an overview of who’s who inside a team. Why would you need that? People that are new to your organization  might not always know who they can contact for certain questions. That becomes even more of an issue when you struggle with social anxiety or autism. If you’re already anxious about having to ask a question it sure doesn’t help if you don’t know who to ask.

While there’s no app inside Teams for this kind of “Who’s who” age yet, you can easily create that kind of page by using the Wiki. It’s super easy to get started, all you need is a picture, the name of a contact person and their username inside Office365!  The picture might not even be strictly neccessary (for people who work remotely) but once you’re creating something, you might as well cover all grounds.

All you need   is a picture and someone’s O365 username. With those, you can setup a page that’ll help people instantly connect to the right person. The Teams username will display the Teams profle card that’ll allow people to send them a message in Teams, mail them or audio/video call them. In my first version I also included the e-mail address and a phone number, but that turns out to be redundant.

Here’s the demo page I made for a team:

 

Team members can now easily figure out who to contact. After navigating to the channel and clicking “Wiki”, all they need to do is find a person in the “right department” and click their Teams username. No need to contact collegues about who to contact!

This solution leaves some room for improvement. I wish I didn’t have to navigate a Wiki, for starters. But it’s a good start and it’s super easy to setup!

Selina Bosmans

I always tought about making a career switch and becoming a developer, but it always seemed to be so hard. So, other than “hacking away” at some existing projects I never really did any programming. Even as a “web developer” most of what I did was focused on using existing tools. Programming my own solution? Yes, I’ll look into that. After I try every single plugin I can imagine to solve this problem.

I tried programming in my free time. I always quite, because I didn’t really see a path forward. I still struggle with figuring out what I should be doing or pursuing next. So my “developer career” never took off.

Until I was forced to make a career change and became a “Jr. Developer”. Or whatever the correct label is. Initially things were off to a slow start. I did a lot of learning and studying of complex concepts. It’s not like I didn’t write code. I had to self-teach myself enough Python to interact with an API and exchange information. I built a small demo portal in C# with ASP.Net Core. But none of that ever really left my development environment.

That changed when I got assigned some other projects. Before that, anything I’d ever programmed rests in some “PHP Projects” folder on my computer. Or it’s uploaded on some corner of the internet, but I never gave anyone the link to it.

The last month and a half were interesting, because I finally started building things that people actually used.  I went from never having built anything publicly used or available, to having built the following:

  • * A web portal used by a big company (I’m talking prime time TV ads, nation wide brand awareness big).
  • * An internal app for sales people
  • * An “app” that reads an API which  extracts data
  • * An app that runs on *my freaking Xbox*

Okay, so maybe that Xbox app doesn’t really count since it only exists in a sandbox environment. But I was crazy excited when I saw the splash screen pop up on my TV. I built a thing. And ran it on my Xbox of all places. That’s so crazy.

I just felt like sharing that with the world, for some reason. So, here you go. I’ve made some progress in my development career and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. Please don’t be Cobol. Anything but Cobol.

Making all that money online

Anyone with a “hiatus” between jobs, access to a computer and knowledge of building a website has been there at some point. You were on the website after seeing an advertisement or Googling “How to make money online”. You were about to click that button that screamed at you to BUY THIS THING NOW. For only $99 you could unlock the secrets to making thousands of dollars online a month. All you would need was access to a computer – and the internet, they always forget to mention the internet – and their course with a magic money generating formula.

Did you end up buying such a course? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below. For those who haven’t, I’ll save you the money and tell you what you would have bought and what their secret to making money is.Continue reading

I tried coming up with a nice story or a cool introduction for this post. Perhaps a story about puzzles, or the stereotype of men throwing out the manual of a new product. To be honest, however, I just want to rant for a bit about some of the “documentation” out there. To make matters worse, this rant is brought to you by niche Open Source software which could they could replace by a cloud solution which would have done a better job. But that’s beside the point.

Last week I was working on a project, trying to get an application to play nice with another application on a Linux server.

I’m not a Linux expert. Nor do I have particularly strong feelings for Linux. That will probably never change since I never bought into the “Open Source is best” ideology. But sometimes, there are things that need are done on a Linux Server. Things I need to do. In most cases, I manage just fine.

It’s when it comes to actually configuring Linux applications that things get frustrating, because half of the time, the documentation sucks.

And boy, does the documentation suck for this particular software. The official documentation was hard to read and made some pretty huge assumptions and never explained concepts properly. In order to get the solution running I needed to Google the puzzle together. Google is often my friend, but in this case it was complicated.

As is often the case with Open Source, the “solutions” for the problems I encountered were all over the place. Quite literally, too. I had to puzzle together comments from Forums, StackExchange questions and blog posts and pick the pieces I thought I needed to find a final solution for my problem.

In the end I got it to work, but not before I decided to scrap an entire “branch” of documentation that I was following. It turns out that there was a completely different way of doing the same thing, which solved my problem. While the “solution” I had started to follow from the beginning, ended up failing.

I’m not sure if there is an “idea” behind this blog post, other than to complain that some Open Source software seriously lacks in “final documentation”. In Open Source, the idea that “You need to figure it out yourself” seems to be really strong.

A Business Opportunity

There is a lot of documentation on the internet. Lots of it is in poor shape or spread out over dozens of websites. I imagine there would be a real business opportunity writing some real good documentation for the Open Source software that’s lacking. I now also understand why some people prefer to use “commercial” Open Source over the free Wild West variety.

Don’t look at me to solve the problem, though. I will happily admit that I am not the kind of person to shell out documentation for an Open Source solution. I’m not that invested in the Open Source philosophy.

However, this experience made me revisit an idea I had a while ago called DIYoomla.  I don’t want to give away too much, but I am planning to write and / or centralize some documentation for software that’s dear to me. Software of which I feel I could write some decent documentation. To fill the gaps that the official documentation left behind. But, more specifically, to help people with specific scenarios that the official documentation doesn’t cover for the simple reason that it’d be too much for the average user.

The name probably already gives away what direction I’ll be thinking of. And no, war hawks of FOSS, it’s not a trademark violation. It’s a clever play of words.

There is something about making phone calls that makes me queasy.  I just don’t like it, and when I have to make a call I roleplay the possible scenarios in my head. Only to say something completely different when actually making the call. But that’s not really the point.

This feeling gets amplified when I am on the receiving call of the end. My first thought is always a panicked “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

As of recently, I “inherited” the cellphone number my dad used for his job. As a result I’m getting a lot of calls from “unknown” numbers. I guess not everyone got the memo that he changed numbers.

Which lead me to my pet peeve of today.

If you are calling me and I don’t know who you are there is a big chance that I won’t pick up. It’s probably not for me, anyway. And if you are a company that got my phone number through my profile, you are better off sending me a mail. I swear I can communicate like a human being using e-mail. No, seriously, please send me an e-mail.

However, after I “missed the call” I will want to know who you are. Maybe it was important, like a call from a supplier or partner our company works with.

So why can’t I find your number online?

So I start Googling and usually find out who tried to call me. In a few cases I realized they did want to speak to me personally and called them back. Social Care company, dentist, company I just bought a product from? I should probably get over my anxiety and call them.

But there are still a lot of companies that don’t think it’s important to list their number online. And a lot of them are foreign companies. I am starting to believe that they don’t want to be called by me. Of course, there is a real chance that a few of them are “marketeers”. I’m using that word lightly.

If I can’t find out what company is attached to that +31 number, guess what happens next?

Nothing. I’m not going to call you back. I’m not going to “accept the next call.”

Make sure you can be found

The point of this post (other than “Wow, you have a problem, dude”) is that I highly urge all companies to list their phone number online. It’s completely up to you how you do that. Here are some ideas. Some of them are cheaper than others, but almost all of them will make me at least consider calling you.

  • Put it on your website. Websites are good, it’ll give me an idea who you are
  • Google Business: Add it to your Google Business entry so at least I’ll get a company name and address
  • Facebook: Hey, I’m not a fan of Facebook. But it allows you to add your phone number to your company page and is indexed by the Google
  • Add yourself to a company index: Have your company listed somewhere. In the Golden Pages’ online equivalent for your region or sector.

But maybe all of that is too much work. Perhaps the only keys you can press are those of your smart phone. In which case I’ve got great news for you. There’s a voice mail option, too. When prompted, tell me why you were calling me instead of being a weirdo.

Maialisa / Pixabay

Past weekend I was considering to reactivate my Fiverr gigs. If you are now scratching your head and thinking “What’s a Fiverr”, here’s a short TL;DR:

Fiverr is a “job market” where you can sell and buy ‘gigs’. The selling point slash marketing gimmick is that “each gig is sold for a “fiver” or five dollars. It’s a little more complex than that. In reality you can offer add-ons and “stack” gigs, but unless you have a stellar reputation you will be offering your services for a “fiver”. Otherwise, someone in Asia will be doing it for you and you get nothing.

I made less that minimum wage

So why didn’t I reactivate my gigs, where I offered writing services? Because there’s no money to be made. For the gigs I sold, I was paid $5 for what was about half an hour of work per gig.

For two gigs, that would mean I’d be paid $10. But wait! Out of every $5 gig, a dollar goes to the platform owners. So you end up with $4 for half an hour of work. Converting that to an hour, I ended up being paid $4.

And that’s where things become very uninteresting, real fast. $8 an hour is less than you make in a minimum wage job. Waitresses make 8.25 an hour and get tips on top of that. I, on the other hand, also had to make additional costs to even make that $4 (which is also true for waitresses, to a degree).

In order to make decent money, let’s say $2000 a month, I would have to do 500 gigs. That’s about 250 hours a month or nearly 150% of the hours I work right now.

Even if I could manage to “stack” gigs so I would be paid $20 an hour of work instead, that would mean I would have to work  a hundred hours a month. Which would still be a crazy amount of time for a side gig.

It lead to the inevitable conclusion that platforms like Fiverr just aren’t viable for your average person offering services. You can’t compete on price. You don’t want to compete on price because there is simply no money to be made.

There isn’t really a point to this rant. My “math” just reconfirmed that I will be staying away from Fiverr while I try some other ways to market my writing ‘skills’. You’ll be seeing some of those experiments in action soon!

In any modern company, there is really no place for magic. Sure, there are sales and marketing teams trying to sell snake oil, managers that expect their employers to bend the laws of time to finish projects against impossible deadlines and costumers that wish their mere looks could kill you. But none of that comes even close to magic.

The closest you’ll get to magic, is the way how people interact with their IT staff. In this short post, I’m presenting irrefutable proof that people think the IT staff are genies. I’ll be updating this list as I think of more. And as always, your suggestions are welcome.

Here’s the proof:

  1. Their wish is your command. (Even if giving those commands isn’t on their job description)
  2. They expect instant results. No matter how big the miracle they’re asking for.
  3. Oh, they also expect you to perform miracles.
  4. Performing these miracles better be free!
  5. They’ll only enter your lair if they need something from you.
  6. They will want your genie powers. If you give them these powers, terrible things will happen.

I’ll be adding to this list. Let me know your suggestions!

This morning I was listening to some music in the car. Since my Aux cable is dead (again) and my radio doesn’t have Bluetooth I had to rely on good old USB Sticky McStickface of which the music is rarely updated. Because there’s only good music on there, of course.  Okay, so it’s because I forget to update it or can’t be bothered. Whatever.

By doing so, I listened to the song “Her Name Is Alice” by Shinedown. They’re one of my favourite groups, and I remembered that I discovered them completely by accident. After the Alice in Wonderland(?) movie with Johnny Depp came out, I rather liked the soundtrack.

So I went and bought the wrong sound track. There were two albums for the movie. The soundtrack and an album with songs inspired by the movie. Of which only the not-so-great Avril Lavigne song made it to the (credits of) the movie.

The damage was done, and I decided to give the album a try. I don’t like a lot of songs on the album. There’s maybe one or two that I don’t dislike or skip. But “Her Name Is Alice” was one of them.

I figured that the band that made it had to have some other good songs. That lead me to iTunes, where I found and sampled their albums. Which I’ve listened to countless times by now.

All of this happened because I somehow got the crazy idea to buy a movie soundtrack. Only to buy the wrong one. Talk about a happy mistake!

It’s a whole lot easier now…

To discover new music. Since then I’ve got a Spotify account like everyone else, which allows me to try entire albums before buying them. In the modern age, this “purchase accident” would’ve never happened. But it makes for a mildly interesting story!

If you’re wondering, the last albums I bought since getting Spotify were bought after I stumbled upon a video on Youtube. Yup, more random chance. It’s how I like it.