Moving over to WordPress.com

I am starting 2017 by moving nicklewis.net from being self-hosted on Digital Ocean to a new life on WordPress.com. The reasons being are:

  • My current server is vulnerable and I keep having security issues with it
  • I like the whole Calypso interface that WP.COM has here
  • I am moving more and more to a world of micro-services and APIs with a lot of the other sites that I am developing

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish you all a very happy and fabulous Christmas holiday. Don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to getting my teeth into 2017 and to keep the blogging spirit alive 🙂

Quick post! I am an Uncle!

What a week it has been and a beautiful one too. My dear brother and his wife officially became parents. Baby Izobelle was born on the 29th. We shall get to meet her for the first time over Christmas when we fly out to Malta on Boxing Day. To say we are excited about the trip is an understatement!

We shall be staying for 7 nights and my parents will be out there just ahead of us. I have to say my Parents are eager for the 22nd to come along, as that is the day they fly out. 

The Apprentice

No. Not the TV circus that features Alan Sugar!

I’ve taken on an apprentice, his name is Dan and he is a family friend. We’ve known his whole family for some years. Really nice family too. 

Dan wanted to do something with computers, and when we heard he was looking to do an apprenticeship of some sort, we decided to take him on. 

Now my business is (or was until last week) just Tina and myself. We set up the company originally for the sake of my contract work in software development, mainly web. Tina joined nearly 3 years ago as a Director when she also started working as a contractor. We never work together because we work at different locations and the work Tina does is different too. 

The thing is my contracting work is stable but about a year and a bit ago we rented the office at Ferneberga house. Originally to move my office out of the dining room at home!

A lot of the time I’m working at client sites but slowly, slowly, I have started working on some direct projects. People approach me about building sites and mobile apps. For awhile I turned them away but when Dan was looking, I jumped at the chance. I am training him up. He gets to occupy the office during the week, so it’s not empty. I can delegate work to him that I don’t have time to fit in. 

My plan is to stop contracting and turn our business, into, well, a proper web shop, consultancy sort of thing. 

So last week Dan started and we were both in for the whole week. I got him started on a few things and we got stuff going. He has already proven in five days that he has the aptitude for this. It is exciting. 

This week we are split up for the best part of it. I’m commuting to Epsom and my client there who I may be extending with until Christmas. I’m having to find ways of communicating with Dan whilst I’m there. Slack should be enough. I’ve left him with stuff to do and a few online courses on HTML and CSS!

A new journey has begun!

Surrey Sculpture Trail, RHS Wisley

September is the month of the sculpture trail. Tina and I have been to see it for the last 3 years without fail. 

This year, it is as fantastic as ever. I share some of my favourites here but there are nearly 100 in total, maybe more, it is massive. 

What’s more, it leads you on a trail of marvel through the gardens that are now taking on their Autumnal hues. 

You still have time to see it, it’s there for another week!

Times gone by


Ryde on the Isle of Wight is a town that has nearly stood still. Every time I go there, I feel as if I have stepped back in to another era where a younger Nick would have been building sand castles, looking forward to a stick of rock, swimming in the sea no matter the temperature. 

Halcyon days. 

This window display pre-dates me but tells a story that would perhaps bring back memories for my parents generation. It would have been them building the sand castles at that point in our history. 

It is a shrine to a man who once sold postcards here, the famous “saucy” cards that made Donald McGill famous. Nowadays you can buy them as souvenirs for innuendo is harmless in our generation. 

However at the time they became illegal and such things would have been confiscated by the local constabulary! 

This shop window has been setup. It wasn’t left like that from 1953 but a good 31 years later as a memorial to the man who once lived and worked there, all of those years ago. 

Still that is now almost half a century ago in itself. 

The Shard

Over the weekend Tina and I visited the Shard and it was utterly incredible. I swear we could see our house from up there if we looked hard enough some 35 miles to the South West!

The Shard is over 800 feet in height or at least the viewing point is that high up. So I could equate that to flying my drone twice its illegal altitude to the point I would lose sight of it. In fact I lose sight of it being 100 feet up, let alone 800!

The view was spectacular and you get four levels to explore between 69 and 72 though two of them are just the point at which you exit the lift and the last part is by a series of steps. 

I had no idea that the uppermost level is open to the elements or at least parts of the ceiling are as you look up and admire it’s Spire and the undeniable genius of Renzo Piano the chief architect of the project. 


The view made me realise just how much I love London the vibrant European city (ahem) and you could see so much. I focuses my eyes on the whole to start with and then I found myself “zooming” in on smaller details such as the trains leaving London Bridge station far below. 

We spent an hour and a half up there and had no idea we’d been there that long!! 

New Contract begins and why JavaScript?

Last week I started at Premium Credit working from the offices of their agency partner The Bio Agency just off Tottenham Court Road, London. It is a 3 month rolling contract which could keep me busy until this time next year. That’s always a good thing to know. It gives you options as to whether you accept extensions when they come or move on to something else. 

It is giving me exposure to some interesting JavaScript technology such as the concepts of Functional Programming and Reactive programming. The thing with this is that you have to think differently not necessarily harder. I am also learning more about React, Flux and Graph data. These things all really matter at the moment because they are being used in so many projects by so many businesses. 

Why?

I often ask myself, “Why?”

We all get used to working with languages such as PHP, .Net and so on, so why do we need JavaScript and why has it become so popular? Indeed why use it in such a major way?

Over the past few years I’ve solely become a “JavaScript Developer” I use it as part of my LinkedIn headline for example. 

Maybe it is because it is a cool language? Which I think it is but I’m being biased. I think some people hate it though because it is quirky in some ways and takes a bit of learning. 

The truth is; It’s ubiquitous because it exists within your web browsers, on all of your devices and with the introduction of Node, you can now build servers with it. The “full stack JavaScript developer” now being a popular role on job boards the World over. 

It is a great and indeed essential skill to have if you are a freelance contractor. 

In other news….

What will Brexit mean for us contractors exactly? I think this warrants an article of its own. If you follow me on Facebook, you will have come across my bitter, angry side last week. I’m still feeling scared by it all but getting on with life as normal. 

I still have loads of photos and video clips from our Malta trip to share. 

I’ve got a nice new iPhone 6s and will take a few more pics of Londonwhilst I’m working there and will blog them. 

TTFN

Going to Kent

We are off to Kent this weekend and booked into our hotel just outside Sittingbourne. It’s about an hour and half from our home in Hampshire but despite having worked there once for a whole year. I just don’t know the county very well. 

Tina and I have some ideas of where we want to go. 

  • Sissinghurst 
  • Canterbury 
  • Dover Castle
  • Chartwell (Winston Churchill’s former home)

Where else could we go? Any recommendations? Please post in the comments section thank you! 

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