Safe advice for failure


Every single piece of advice I give is absolutely correct because I only give advice based on my actual experiences.

Yet any piece of advice I give may also not be right for you because your situation is different.

I don’t presume to think my experience fits your situation. People only truly learn from their own experience anyway.

I just hope my advice can be a guide and some small help to choose and navigate your way safely through your experiences.

Failure is good. Safe failure is what I want for you.

Interim (the correct spelling)

“Interim” is one of those words that I keep forgetting how to spell.

Here are the ways you don’t spell it (I’m including this list so I can Google search my name and incorrect spelling to find this post):


Once against, the correct spelling is



A Memory Mnemonic

Here’s a way I thought of to remember how to spell it:

Think “In term” but with an “i” in term.

How to successfully travel the world, make friends and not rub people the wrong way

There are only 2 words you need to learn in almost any language to endear people:

Thank you

If you can’t learn those words for the country you’re travelling to as a tourist, or you don’t at least try to them, then to be honest you should stay home.
And don’t complain about the hospitality of the host nation.

English may be the de facto universal language of the travelling world now, but 99% of the people in the world are good, kind people and appreciate a “hello” and “thank you” in their own language.

If nothing else, at least smile and try to show a friendly attitude.
Commanding attitude, arrogance, ignorance and self-importance just get you spit in your soup.
And a little small talk – even if you can only do it in English (or your native tongue) – goes a long way to create a bond that shows others you’re worth serving.


Bonus Words

Try also learning:

Yes [thank you]
No [thank you]

Again, simple and common words.


That’s 5 words in total to learn that show you have put some effort into understanding and respecting the people you have chosen to visit.


And in case you don’t realise, all of the above applies when communicating with people in your everyday life.


Eye Test

I went to an optometrist a few days ago for an eye test.

I was pretty confident. I’ve always had 20/20 vision.

They sat me down in front of an eye chart. You know the sort – it starts with a really big letter at the top and progressively gets smaller.

I quickly scanned down…

And realised I couldn’t get as far as I used to.

So I said in a huff: “What are you trying to do to me?! I’m dyslexic!”


Ask questions!

My advice to everyone in general:

Ask questions!

The only way you can discover new things and learn is by asking questions.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a dumb question.
Yes, there as “simple” or “basic” questions, but I’ve learnt through the years that these can also be the most important questions. Why? Because people often “assume” the answer should be known so the question is not asked and the topic is not covered. But not knowing answers to the simple questions means we don’t understand the foundations of what we are doing.

Some people are not going to react well to being asked questions, whether the the question is simple or complex.

People like that are ignorant.

Don’t let other people’s ignorance stop you. Keep asking questions until you have answers and understanding.

Asking questions is the simplest and easiest key to success.

Those who do well, love to teach

There’s an old saying:

Those who can, do;
Those who can’t, teach.

Maybe for some people that is true.

But there is a second truth:

Those who do well, love to teach.

Those are my words (I think), but I recently heard a similar sentiment from someone else (I can’t remember who, unfortunately) and a conversation I had today made me think of this again.

People who are good at what they do, and love what they do, love to teach others as well.

It makes sense. It’s biology. Ancient. The passing of information from generation to generation. The desire to give those who follow the knowledge of lessons learnt.

Teaching is not something to laugh at. It’s difficult. It’s important. And it’s worthy.

Without teaching, where would our knowledge come from?

7 minutes and a $1 hacksaw blade vs $16 padlock

I cycled to one of my work places today and locked up my bike out front. 3 hours later I came pack to find… my bike was still there.

But I couldn’t open my lock, a simple 4-digital Master Lock combination padlock.

I suspect when I locked up I accidentally trigger the combination change and didn’t realise it.

So, need to get back on my bike I went to Big W and bought a 3-pack of replacement hacksaw blades.

7 minutes after getting back to my bike I’d sawed through the lock and was on my way (sorry, I forgot to take an after photo of the lock). And 7 minutes was slow – I could have done it in 5 if I did it properly.

Interestingly, only 2 people on a busy footpath were curious about what I was doing.

But this is a good lesson in how poor padlocks can be as a security mechanism.

And with a quiet flurry, we launched today!

I’ve just worked 15 days straight, with 12 hours being my minimum work day.
Some days were closer to 14-16 hours.
That’s a minimum 180 working hours in 2 weeks.
(And since I came back from a holiday on the 4th January, I’ve had a total of 3 days without working.)

Those are not figures to be proud of. Working massive hours as a software developer is not a badge of honour. It’s a bad of stupidity (usually).

But in this case it’s been worth it. The time has been spent on a last minute push as a new university year starts and we complete features for the rollout of a new Intranet for one of the local colleges.

It’s a project 2 years and 1 week in the making since first discussion.
And about 18 months in development.

The first 3 months were binned after the requested technology was deemed non-viable.
They specified SharePoint. It would never achieve what they wanted in the long run.

So I said – almost as a joke – “what about WordPress?”
The IT Managers said “evaluate it and let me know”. So I did. And we decided it was a better choice.
That was late November 2017.

I probably could have finished this project 9 months ago with the base WordPress and a collection of existing plug-ins.
And we would have spent the next 12 months fighting fires, hacking together fixes and losing a lot of sleep over security.

Instead, what started as a project evolved into a product and platform – one we plan on taking well into the future.

Over the course of 2018 – while also working full-time until September – I developed the web application platform designed with security, usability, customisation and extensibility in mind. And, of course, ongoing maintenance and support.
During that time I leant WordPress and PHP development. I also went through nearly 2 full evolution builds of the core architecture – effectively jamming 2-3 years of product life into about 3 months prior to initial release.

I don’t believe in traditional MVP (Minimum Viable Product), especially when security is involved.
Most small-team MVP projects are a “hack”.

Through most of the last 12 months of the project I have been at the helm of design, architecture and development. My business partner has been project manager and [a very excellent] chief tester. And our 2 developers progressively took on a growing share of the programming work as other work finished.

The weekend gone was one of last minute development, testing and bug fixes. Nothing that phased us – just the sort of things at usually come up or get left to the time of “launch”.
And in future projects we will even reduce that happening.

Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I reset and our production environment (which was setup a couple of months ago). It was ready before dinner. We were at that point effectively live.

This morning I sent a message to the project sponsor telling him they can start the 2 week process of creating content.

And that was it.
No stress. No anxiety. No last minute deployments. Just a simple message and we were running.


The story doesn’t end here though. In different ways ways it’s just the start and the middle.

Today, already, there were a couple of inevitable bugs that come from a first-time “real life” use of new software.

We also still have a number of tasks to complete and progressively roll in over the coming 2 weeks.

Then the final phase of the project needs to be run to complete development for another set of workflows and some different types of user.

But, the system is running. And we are proud creators.


The product itself – outside of this particular project – already has a massive backlog of work planned for this year alone.

PWA (Progressive Web Application) optimisation, push notification services, a more responsive SPA-like (Single Page Application) interface, and an accompanying full API. Not to mention plenty of design and UX enhancements.

In a few weeks, as the semester starts and this phase of the project completes, I’ll start setting up fully-functional demo sites people can play with. We don’t have a proper DevOps pipeline yet, but I can still setup a new demo site in under 15 minutes, and most of that is waiting for files to transfer.

And then comes the process of marketing, sales and finding new customers with business needs we can solve.


Regardless of all that, here’s something I can happily take to bed tonight:

We designed, developed and delivered a working product that solves some very real business problems.