ElixirConf 2018 Notes

After attending ElixirConf I am as confident as ever that Elixir is a language, community and ecosystem I want to continue to personally invest and participate in.

About two years ago I made the decision that I needed to diversify my technical skills outside the Apple ecosystem. I then went on to experiment and research lots of different languages and frameworks, including EmberJS, Go, Rust, Elm, HTML5 updates, React and Elixir.

The Elixir interest started from a broad recommendation from Dave Thomas who I had years before followed heavily while doing Ruby on Rails development. Elixir also had gotten momentum from my interests in Functional Programming and looking to solve problems outside of traditional Object Oriented Programming design patterns. Over the last few months I’ve gotten deeper into Elixir and I really like what I’ve found.

I’ll do a post in the future about why I’m liking Elixir so much. It’s a potentially large topic and I want to give it the space it deservers.

ElixirConf was a great event. Two days of training and two days of conference sessions; I took it all in. My personal estimate would put the training day attendance at around 150 and the full conference at around 500.

While educational, I found the class pacing to be mixed. I felt one went a little too slow and the other a little too fast. There was a wide gamut of Elixir experience in the audience so I think it’s challenging for the instructors to find a pace everyone can agree with. That said, I learned a ton in each of the two more introduction-based classes I attended. I was envious of the more advanced classes that were covering GraphQL and hardware development using Nerves — I heard people were very impressed with them. Maybe next year.

For the conference days we had some great keynotes and session. I loved hearing José Valim (creator of Elixir) talk about the future of the language including the core teams failed experiments with adding a type system and why it’s not on the horizon. Chris McCord (creator of Phoenix) did a closing keynote, reviewing progress with the framework including a preview of Phoenix LiveView which was very impressive and has an opportunity to shake things up in the single-page app space. Aaron Renner had a great talk on taming complexity which mirrored some of my previous iOS code patters with way better naming. Aaron Votre’s excitement about GraphQL is contagious and I’m anxious to get my hands dirty. Andrew Bennett has some great tips in his Sustainable Testing talk. Daniel Azuma did a great job showing how we can mix and match Docker with traditional OTP deployments for unique benefits. Some time slots were competitive for my attention. I sadly missed Boyd Multerer’s Introduction of Scenic and Eric Oestrich’s Going Multi-Node session which both were well received from chat in the hallways. I’ll be sure to watch them on YouTube in the week ahead. In fact the majority of the conference keynotes and sessions are already posted on YouTube if you want to take a look.

Despite my general shyness, the community was very welcoming and friendly when I put myself out there. I had some great conversations during breaks and lunch. Hopefully these will continue on the community Slack and forums — I need to spend some more time with those.

Finally, everyone is hiring. Almost every speaker who represented a company said they were hiring. While I’m not looking for full time employment its relieving to see such hiring interest in a more niche language than say my current source of income, iOS.

Next year ElixirConf will be in Denver and assuming I find a way to keep Elixir active in my development schedule (I have a potential Elixir subcontract in the fall as well as some personal projects) I plan to be there.

For more on Elixir check out its homepage.

Photos

Self Employment Estimate Numbers

In a world of being self-employed you need to constantly be evaluating your finances. I was lucky enough recently to finish paying off some long standing debit and so I did a revisit. Today I want to share with you how I do my estimate numbers and hopefully you can use some of these ideas to help plan your own independence and/or make sure your current indie life is in good shape.

The software I use to do this is Soulver. Think of it as a really smart text editor for crunching numbers. Watch the demo video on their site to see it in action. If you are not interested in Soulver, any spreadsheet should do fine. Just keep it on file somewhere so you can come back and rework it as needed.

First thing you need is a list of personal expenses. If you are single you can do this yourself but if you are married or in a relationship where you share expenses get them involved too. You want to have a full and truthful collection of costs here. The goal is understanding what you need to survive and ultimately what you can cut to help make your dream that much more possible.

I did this by first using my credit card and debit card statements as a source. Every item needs to be recorded. Make three lists, some will be monthly expenses, some yearly expenses and some one-time expenses. Once you get done with the statement history try to brainstorm where the undocumented cash goes. Hopefully these lists will help.

Personal Monthly Expense Examples:

  • Rent / Mortgage
  • Home / Renters Insurance
  • Car Payments
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Maintenance
  • Car Fuel
  • Health Insurance
  • Expected Monthly Copays / Medicines
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Monthly Gaming Subscriptions
  • Game Purchases
  • Eat Out Food
  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Patreon Gifts
  • Podcast Subscriptions
  • Haircut

Some of these items might be hard to quantify as monthly. If so just make a yearly entry for them.

Personal Yearly Expense Examples:

  • Christmas Presents
  • Birthday Presents
  • Yearly Clothes Budget
  • Vacations
  • Car Inspection

Once I have my yearly and one time costs I like to total them as a monthly expenses (YearlyTotal+OneTime/12) so I can later think in terms of months. This is fine for back of the hand estimates but if you need to plan out your money for specific times (summer vacation, fall back-to-school kind of stuff) you’ll need to do more planning.

Now do the same for your company.

Company Monthly Expense Examples:

  • Coworking Membership
  • Downtown Parking
  • GitHub Membership
  • Linode Hosting
  • Amazon Hosting
  • Books
  • Google Apps
  • Verizon Phone
  • Dropbox
  • Micro.Blog
  • Clicky / Web Statistics
  • Cushion / Finacial Software
  • Frontend Masters / Online Education

Company Yearly Expense Examples:

  • Two Conferences Events: $4000
  • Tax Preparation
  • New Mac every other year: $4000 × 0.5
  • New iPad every other year: $1100 × 0.5
  • New iPhone every other year: $1000 × 0.5
  • Vimeo PRO Membership
  • Apple Developer Membership
  • Trello
  • Hover Domains
  • Other Software

Notice how I distribute the costs of various hardware upgrades, which are bi-yearly, and do keep in mind this is all for rough estimating. I in-fact have held off on upgrading my iPhone recently so that’s extra money in the bank (kind of).

Next I work out my income:

## hours a week
## hours × $### per hour
{WeeklyRevenue} × 4 weeks
{MonthlyRevenue} - {TotalOfCompanyMonthlyExpenses} tax-free
{AdjustedMonthlyRevenueA} - 0.10 for Savings
{AdjustedMonthlyRevenueB} - 0.30 Tax Estimate Payments
{AdjustedMonthlyRevenueC} x 10 months // assuming 8 weeks off
{AdjustedYearlyRevenue} / 12 months of payouts
{AdjustedMonthlyIncome} $/month personal income

This last number needs to be able to cover your personal expenses. Using this formula you can get an idea of how many hours and at what rate you want to target for the year. Also, just covering personal expenses is probably a risky goal. You might want to up that savings calculation until you have 12 months of living expenses in the bank.

These things vary person to person, hopefully you’ve found this post useful. If I’ve forgotten anything blog your additions and share along. Thanks for reading.

WWDC 2018 Social Recap

I just got back from my WWDC 2018 Social trip and it was a lot of fun. I figured I’d do a quick recap of the social side and leave room to talk about the tech stuff as I get deeper into the session videos in the weeks to come.

Costs

With a nod to Manton’s lead I thought I too would share my costs in order to help others understand what is possible despite WWDC generally being a large cost these days.

  • Plane fare (Southwest, Philadelphia to San Jose Roundtrip taking the early and late times to save a little bit extra): $564.00
  • Hotel: ($125/night, 4 nights + taxes & early checkin fee). Booked early on event date assumptions, was cancelable.: $642.00
  • Airport cab fair: $25 each way.
  • WWDC conference ticket: $0 (Big savings here obviously. If you can get value from the labs, the $1700 ticket cost can pay for itself but if you just want to watch the sessions, enjoy the free video streams on delay).
  • AltConf conference ticket: $0 (I’ve bought the $300 Hero ticket in the past but held back this year since I’m on my own again and trying to keep costs down. Kind of feel bad considering how well I enjoyed the talks there this year.)
  • Food and drinks: ~$300 Made a point to get some supplies at a grocery store early in the week so I could supplement eating out with some in-room breakfast mornings and snacks.
  • Podcast and other event tickets: ~$50

Total: ~$1600

TL;DR: Make your decision about WWDC early and keep an eye on the rumored dates. Book early with hotels that are cancelable. If you need some more help, find a roommate to split hotel/cab costs with.

Events

On Sunday night I attended the sjMacIndie party and saw a lot of conference friends. Venue was a little on the warm side but plenty of space so it didn’t get too stuffy. I did not recognize much of San Jose from my earlier WWDC trips (2002-2004) but I did recognize this venue as the previous pool hall where the student scholarship winners once had a party. In fact it was at said party where I won an iPod which I later sold to help cover my plane fare back in the day.

You can check out some of the old WWDC 2002 Student coverage we did via Wayback Machine and this video, with footage from the pool hall, I was able to find and re-upload.

On Monday I watched the Keynote and State of the Union with friends at the hotel. We had to jump wifi networks a few times but overall was very successful. Afterwords I headed to the live recording of ATP podcast which was a lot of fun.

On Tuesday I took in a few AltConf talks and also attended the Micro.Blog meetup. Really enjoyed the Setapp talk about their growth/recommendations and the detailed talk on improving app startup times. I also took some time on Tuesday to work on my own project, finally breaking down a long list of tasks into a new Pivotal Tracker project so I can start to track things better.

On Wednesday did more AltConf stuff. Really enjoyed Paul Hudson’s review of new iOS 12 additions. Also had a good time in the Finding Product Fit lab. At night I attended the Relay FM podcast recording which went great. Afterwords I went to the Breakpoint / AppCampForGirls event. I didn’t stay too long though, place was really dark and loud. Also kind of irked me that there was a separate VIP section. I really dislike the social cliques that pop up at industry conferences and seeing the VIP thing put a bad taste in my mouth.

Aside: I’d love to see some options for non-bar night events at conferences. A 24 hour hacking lab with whiteboard grouping around ideas; maybe with room corners for Mario Karting or boardgames/poker. I like hanging out but I don’t like drinking too much and I can’t hear people over the crowds. I miss MacHack in many ways. Maybe I’ll lead by example some day should I ever dawn my event organizer hat again.

On Thursday I got to attend a few morning talks at AltConf before heading home. Of them I really enjoyed the review of what Firebase is offering these days. I’ve been watching them since before they were bought by Google. Like any third-party component you have to accept some risk but I welcome the opportunity to use them to bootstrap a new idea some time in the future.

The journey home took a long while. I didn’t sleep much but did enjoy a bunch of podcasts.

Overall WWDC 2018 Social was a great success. It was awesome to say hi to some internet/conference friends and hear how everyone is doing. Now that I’m home it’s time to jump into the technical content and see what the WWDC sessions have to share. I’ll post more on that as I experiment.

Say Hello at WWDC!

A short message to say, yes I will be in San Jose for WWDC next week. No, I will not be in the conference itself but I will be hanging around AltConf and other events. If you see me, please say hi.

Gaming Update, May 2018

From April trends, I continued to play Stardew Valley into early May. It kind of died off over the last few weeks though since I don’t have much left to do, beside more and more money.

I also finished April pretty heavy into the new Hearthstone expansion. It was fun to see the new cards and decks. Nothing ground breaking, fun times and good fodder while I also listen to podcasts.

What’s new for me is my second attempt at Zelda on Switch. I’ve made it much further than my first attempt (~ 15 hours in) and am getting better with the controls (though some mistakes still happen in the heat of battle). Exploring is fun though if I’m honest I feel like I would benefit from a little more direction. In my last play session I was tasked to fetch some arrows on a hill. There is a mob up there who I attempted to kill. I say attempted cause he kicked my ass repeatedly. I’ve been trying to avoid walkthroughs for this game but I wanted to take a peek to see if I was suppose to be here later in play, with more hearts and armor — turns out you are suppose to be stealthy and avoid this mob. We’ll see how that goes.

Second big update for me is Civilization 6! I bought the game when it first came out but never got too deep into it. I think I tripped over a YouTube video or something which put it back in my mind but yeah, I’m really enjoying it. It’s my first ever Civ game and the rules are overwhelming but fun to learn. The games last forever and it’s hard to put down so be prepared to dump major hours into game sessions. I’ve been playing standard games but it does have a lot of scenarios for a quicker experience I want to try out.

What’s next? Probably more Civilization 6 and Zelda. I also did purchase via pre-order Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze and Hyrule Warriors for Switch. I never got to play them on the WiiU but they look like fun. Also getting excited for E3 in June. There have been some Pokemon leaks for the Switch game and I’m a little nervous about the Go integration rumors but we’ll see how it turns out.

Micro.Manton

Long time Apple developer Manton Reece is broken, sources in the Reece household have shared. After embracing a micro format with Micro.blog and now microcasts, Manton has now instituted “micro” all over his household, from Micro.bed to Micro.dinner.

“Dinner is now severed on these little Barbie-sized plates. It’s a sick joke. I’m starving.”

Apparently the family is looking into a Micro.therapist for assistance. Manton could not be reached for Micro.comment.