Long time no see, I guess?

It’s been a while since we last talked to each other.

So, what happened since August 2016? Those who know me well would say: “Easy guess, he has been working on quite some projects!” And you are right!
 Supposedly this is a detailed list of things I have concentrated on in the past sixteen months.

Schoolm8

First of all, my own startup — Schoolm8 — went live back in October this year. Party time!
 I went almost radio-silent to work on this project and learned a lot when it comes to legal documents, privacy policies, coding skills and much, much more. In short, at Schoolm8 we are making yearbooks for students who are about to graduate from high school. Those books are filled with a lot of memories ranging from personal profiles and comments from other students about you (only the good ones, of course! ;)) to the reports of school trips and funny comments said by teachers. Oh, and don’t forget the voting who is your favorite teacher!

On a side note, I made some notes about the educational system and wrote them down in the Medium publication “Develop Your Education”. There haven’t been recent updates, but I feel the urge to get something done there — maybe you want to have a look at it and add your thoughts. I am still thinking about becoming a teacher some day…

CEP Panels and Socialm8

Basically, I learned how to develop web frontends using Vue.js this summer after joining CCS in January — so I am not only celebrating the launch of my startup, but also my first anniversary at CCS.
 Creating these yearbooks at Schoolm8 requires some work in Adobe InDesign. Therefore, I created a so called CEP extension for InDesign to ease the workflows of creating the books.
 Coincidentially, at the same time, there was a Adobe Technology Partner Meetup in Munich — and I went there. Luckily enough, I met Ash from Adobe there who is actually the Lead Tech Evangelist for CEP. So we spoke a bit and we both had the same idea to get going with a CEP sample to build upon. Since I was quite comfortable with Vue.js and managed to get my first CEP extensions running, I managed to get a simple boilerplate template up on GitHub.

One of the extensions we created from that point onward was Socialm8, which integrates with Photoshop and InDesign and allows you to upload your assets directly to Buffer, so you wouldn’t have to handle your social media assets called promotion_2017_12_final_v2_final_white_small_changes_here.png. Just open the latest PSD file, select your social media profiles you want to post to, add a comment and hit ‘Post it’. It will take your current file, export it with the optimal settings to Buffer and boom, you’re all set. Since we have concentrated on pipelining content to Buffer itself, you are free to re-schedule content on their website or in their app.

Another extension was a Reference panel where you could load RefMan files and order them in a new panel, so you could use them easily in your InDesign documents:

Using #RefMan in a #thesis? You can import #RIS files to #InDesign now and use them for your #quotations. pic.twitter.com/A4m59d2BaN
— Daniel Baron (@barooney) 21. Juni 2017

User story mapping board

When I started hacking the Schoolm8 frontend, I thought about the reasonability to have a tool where you can note down your user stories. For example, “As Administrator I want to be able to delete a bad comment, so the student who received the comment does not get angry about it.” As simple as this task sounds, it’s not that simple if you have a lot of user roles and more than 120.000 lines of code to maintain and more than 70 actions you could take as a user.actionableactionableactionable

Therefore, I came up with a tool called Storym8 to manage your GitHub or GitLab issues within a single spot and assign user roles to certain user stories/issues and put them in larger epics to have multiple tests in one place and make it easy to find them. We define automated tests on the platform which are run, before a human being is asked to do all the tasks to verify your frontend and backend logic. For example: If you write a test to click a link that is called “About” and it is very small, the software will find it and it will be able to click it. A visually impaired user may not be able to click (or even find) it. So the user story will fail.

That’s where you will have to rethink your design approach. Or whatever loop you are currently in. Maybe you want to discuss things at the next Scrum planning meeting.

Optim8

A tool that is in its really early stages is a tool called Optim8. It allows you to fetch the information about page speeds on your website — but other than Googe PageSpeed Insights, the idea is to measure the runtime on your server. That’s why we first started with a WordPress plugin. It will report to our services when and if any plugins are enabled and will be reporting issues in more detail than PageSpeed Insights would ever be able to. Since I was working with a lot of WordPress websites that had more than 70 plugins enabled at the same time, it might be a good idea to identify those which make the website slow. There are a few plugins that can do this for you, but the idea is also to connect more resources and other platforms that may analyze your website and get a result sheet with viable actions to take. Plus, it should measure your website if you release a new article to check if you added some sort of content that makes the website slow, e.g. a very big video or something alike.

Smaller side projects

I got my feet wet with Playstation Vita development again after I left the Playstation Portable scene in around 2009. I provided a sample program to download a file from the web. This is something I am really proud of since I first did this on my own on the Playstation Portable almost ten years ago.

Just last week, I fetched my Playstation 3 from the cupboard I had hidden it in for way too long to install PS3Xploit (and actually allow me to get back to coding for consoles!) It took me a while to setup the PS3 Toolchain on my secondary computer (currently dual-booting into Windows 10 and Ubuntu). But I may find some spare time to figure out what to develop.

I suppose this sums up all the bigger and smaller projects I’ve been working on.
 One larger project is coming along the way and hopefully, I’ll be able to keep you posted on that much more frequently. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. (Should I? I mean… I can’t write with crossed fingers…)
 I would love to hear your ideas about keeping the pace with writing. How do you keep content coming even if there’s nothing to tell? (There’s a joke about politicans… A: “What did you tell the people today?” B: “Nothing.” A: “Quite obvious. But how did you say it?” — just came to my mind.)

However, I decided to add a second page to this article, because there is more than just my projects. There has been a lot of stuff going on with my personal life, but I guess you were more interested in my projects.
 You may stop reading if you’re a very, VERY bad human being and don’t care for what happened to me in the past sixteen months.

Personal stuff

Life is a rollercoaster.

I found a few references to the song of the same name by Ronan Keating released back in 2000, so I’ll credit him for this quote.

There are a few things that I gladly post to the internet and then there are things that should stay out of the digital ecosystem. However, I would like to mention a few things here that I have gone through in the past year, especially after breaking my leg:

Friends

Two friends managed to visit me in the hospital during my two week stay there. My best friend who was at that time in the U.S. was the first one to visit me at home while I was still on crutches (hell, I have been on crutches for like five months!) Just two other people managed to visit me until November when I dropped the crutches. This makes a total of five. Five people in six months.
 To give you some relations: When I posted an image of the emergency room, about 50 messages came my way. None of them were “How are you?”, “What happened?” or “OMFG — on the way!” They were “Well, we haven’t spoken in a while, but it seems like you got some spare time now. Could you come over and repair my computer?” or my favorite one: “Hey, you haven’t answered my last message — I was wondering if I could drop my phone in your mailbox. You could repair it and return it to me tomorrow.”

Hell yeah, sure! No worries! Who needs crutches after all? Who needs to recover from a severe leg fracture? Right: It can’t be me. I am invincible.
 This gave me quite some depressions and made me think about my “friends” after all. Being on crutches wasn’t fun, but having no one to talk to was even worse. And I mean talking in terms of spoken words, not written ones. I decided not to go to the annual high school meeting I used to organize since we all graduated. I told others for years to organize it — making one phone call wasn’t that hard. No one wanted to do it. And I was definitely not in the mood to take care of this since all of them disappointed me so much.
 I received a message today asking for this year’s event — if it is going to happen or not. Obviously it is not. Because no one planned it. Because no one was able to take the phone and call the restaurant and set a table.

However, it has been a rough step to wrap up connections that lasted for more than ten years. However, it has been a very relieving step to do so. And it allowed me to get to know a lot of cool new people in 2017.

If I had learned something from the past sixteen months then it is

Friends are the ones who stay when you do not work as usual.

Fun

Enjoy the things you love. Be aware of it. I really appreciated spending time with my friends in Berlin — dining with them was a very special moment for me. I had organized it and it felt awesome to see them all come together. It was straight away awesome to be part of something bigger, something meaningful. New connections and more importantly even more friendships were made. I am in awe being the connector for a fraction of them. It means a lot to me to connect people. And right now, I remember that I wanted to connect two more people to each other. Potentially leading to a professional career as a photo model for one of them.

I learned quite some things in 2017.
 One of them was the existence of “Sonder” — The realization that everyone has a story. I came across a conversation, respectively a bunch of thoughts which can be found here.
 Those two things combined together slightly shifted my ideology. But I won’t go into more details here. Everyone should give their thoughts on those two topics on their own.
 However, it would be interesting — if you are aware of what’s going on around you and you can learn from the mistakes others make — you would improve yourself. Boom! Thoughtception. I am you and you are me, just not at the same time. Well, technically at the same time, but… yeah. Just think about it.

I had to take “Sonder” to a meta level. I had to become aware that I was wondering about all the other people around me. And eventually, I might try to write it down at some point.

Maybe make a book out of it. Which takes me to my next point…

Books

I got myself an ebook reader earlier this year and I really enjoyed reading a lot of books on it. It was the best invention and best investment I had ever made. But it is less about reading, rather than writing. I would love to write a bunch of books. One being my autobiography, one being a book about “Sonder” and another book about a post-apocalyptic setting.

My studies

Last, but not least I wanted to mention that I started studying Computer Science and Text Technology and Computer Linguistics in Bielefeld, Germany back in October this year.
 So far, as soon as you got the hang on it, it is pretty cool. It takes up a lot of time, but it is totally worth it. I cannot say that I learned that much in Computer Science so far, but there has been quite a lot of stuff in Mathematics that absolutely blew me away. The best thing I like about studying is understanding the backgrounds. I learned coding when I was about ten years old. There was just no time for the math behind sets and arrays. But we’re getting there now.t

Any final words?

I’ll just share one final image of my vacation in Cuxhaven, Germany where I went with my very valuable friends from all over Germany which I got to know at publishing conferences and InDesign user group meetups. I like to think that this image is a metaphor of my life: No obstacles, no hurdles, no nothing.


Originally published at Barooney.