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Freelancing Task One – Join

For the first time in 16 years I can officially say I am without work. Having worked on and built some amazing things in that time my last job came to a natural end, who says the economic climate is looking up for everyone?. However with great disappointment often comes great opportunity, it was less than 2 weeks ago when the commute home took me 2.5 hours. A 30 minute drive had turned into a traffic nightmare. I came home fuming at the prospect of having to do the same thing over and over again at my current job. Long behold I no longer need to do that. It is a little scary I won’t lie, not having a job is not a nice place to be. I grew up in a family where working to look after yourself and your family was seen as the makings of a man. My father drove a bus for 30 years, he was proud of the fact that when many choose to sit and do nothing he never gave into that temptation and kept at what in the end was a thankless job.

So keeping in the same spirit I must look for work however commuting again and sitting behind a desk to be told what to do and when to do it doesn’t quite appeal to me. Of course there needs to be management in any kind of arrangement but the idea of being my own boss, is just too tempting. I am loving spending time at home with my youngest son it seems i have so much spare time now, something I never really had before.

Because of my circumstances I can now try my hand at freelancing and take control of what and when I work, whilst at the same time contributing to projects from around the world. The idea of having to source my own work seemed a little daunting at first however the Internet has many many sites that allow freelancers to bid and pitch for work. Some of these sites I have even signed up for in the past, one as way back as 2002. The problem is that you could be competing against webshops in India and Eastern Europe, competing against their level of reputation and low quotes is not an easy task.

However I had heard about Toptal before but never really gone through the sign up process fully, I after all had a full time job. However rather than pitch myself to death on some of the other sites I would rather give it a go and join Toptal Web Development Network, i am hoping I get selected into their elite group of coders. I don’t want to be coding low level and low cost solutions but want to work alongside the best and on the best projects. Being a freelancer isn’t easy you need self motivation, hard work and a good reputation. I am hoping Toptal will be able to provide me with both a good reputation and good levels of work. The motivation and hard work I have to handle myself.




The scurge of the auto-playing Video

I have a chaotic, verging on the insane way of browsing (surfing) the web. Most people open up a browser window go to a website, look, digest and move on. I on the other hand go to a website, quickly (I mean within 10 or 20 seconds) lose interest, open a random link which looks interesting in a new tab and go elsewhere. If you multiply this chaos with an hours surfing the net result is many tabs open with very little idea where I started. I know its madness, but its controlled madness and I like it like that.

Recently I have found myself wondering what the sound coming out of my speakers was, I wasn’t playing anything so why was I hearing things. The culprit of the sound is the good old auto-playing video, videos that run as soon as you land on the page. Even Facebook are doing it now.  If you are like me and wander off in a new tab, chances are the advert will still be blaring out with you wondering what the hell is going on.

It was obvious the day Google bought YouTube that advertising and videos would converge one day but no one knew how. Auto-playing content grabs the attention of the user for sure but have these companies gone too far this time?

How long will users bear the fact that they no longer have to actively play a video for them to be exposed to its content?

I personally hate the thing, the only saving grace is that browsers (well Chrome at least) display a little speaker on the tab that is playing sound so you can at least simply close the tab. the clever static app ecosystem

You can find the coolest things by randomly following links, well not totally randomly but a little sniffing around never did any harm.

I followed a link for a company (Clevertech) recruiting on the We Work Remotely website, browsing through the company website I came across something quite cool (well it looks cool) developed by the guys at Clevertech, According to the website it is a ‘A modular way to create your Angular & Node web apps’ which is exactly what I was thinking of when I posted about Static web apps a few days ago.

I haven’t tried it as of yet but will definitely be putting it on my ToDo list in the near future.

Check out Cleverstack here


When Big Data number crunching is of little use

I love stats and a good data visualisation can have me hooked. However there are times when you simply don’t need them, when their place in the world becomes irrelevant . A little like Baseball, Cricket is a game where stats matter and have done for a very long time. For many lovers of Cricket it is not only about going to watch the game but also keeping score, they find the idea of putting a HB pencil made dot on their scorecard during a rain interrupted game somewhat therapeutic. A Cricket scorecard is more that just about the final score , but the bowling and bowling stats as well as the fall of wickets can paint a better picture of the ebb and flow of the game.
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Static web apps are all about SOA

The other day I came across a link on Twitter, the contents about Static Web Apps , essentially single page sites built on a Javascript driven frontend was nothing new. However it featured a great breakdown of the components and key concepts behind building static apps and the fundamental part Service Orientated Architecture (SOA) plays.

Check it out at here:

[Image of kid added just because it was cool, nothing to do with the article ]


Building a multi-tiered payment system using Stripe

Stripe is one of new kids on the block when it comes to payment gateways and has become very popular very quickly. It offers a level of simplicity that gateways such as Worldpay simply cannot match, from setting up an account to interacting with their API, Stripe have tried to cover every base and do it well.

Over the coming weeks I shall be writing about how to build a multi-tired payment system using Stripe Connect, the basic concepts behind Stripe connected accounts, sharing customers across Stripe connected accounts, using StripeJs to become PCI compliant and validate cards easily.

I will try and give as many code samples where possible, but with such great documentation and a brilliant API, it is more about understanding the concepts than pure code.

As an introduction checkout the Stripe documentation