Bonum Certa Men Certa

Doing the Site From Home (What I Always Wanted to Do)

posted by Roy Schestowitz on May 14, 2024


Even some of the hosting was done from home (since 2020). In all fairness to BT, we've been on fibre for over a year now (about 16 months) and the uptime is fantastic, the speeds are great, and prices are quite reasonable

1.5 years ago I quit my job - something I had been planning to do since 2019 (but then COVID-19 happened and I was 'lucky' not to be affected). In 2022 I started setting up my office (replacing the upstairs setup) and it resulted in excellent efficiently and productivity. 8 months ago we deployed to this site a system we had developed and tested since July 2022 (when I was still at Sirius and my wife was in the process of naturalisation), so now we can easily produce over 5,000 stories/pages per year, not even counting the sister site which turns 20 in less than 4 weeks. In recent months I found more time, spare capacity to put it another way, to produce as many videos as I had done between 2020 and 2022 (average of more than one per day). The workflow improved a lot and I tend to record periodically in larger batches (like recording 4-8 videos in a row, then sorting out the corresponding text much later).

WordPress never really worked for us. It wasn't developed for us. This one-size-fits-all approach is a misfit.

My personal experience (in recent years) taught me that leaving the job and seeking major change truly makes sense, even if that seems a tad daunting at first.

When I was about 20 I went to a job interview in Nottingham and it was shortly after I had watched Office Space, so myself and other candidates joked about it. This scene from the movie still resonates greatly. Years later, before he killed himself, Aaron Swartz published a post entitled "Office Space" and that too resonated with me (more so posthumously). To quote some bits:

People are always asking me how I manage to get so much done. For a while I tried to impress them with my pearls of wisdom but soon I just sort of gave up. I don’t really feel like I do anything special — I worry about getting stuff done a lot, but mostly I just sort of do it.

It wasn’t until I started working in an office that the question begun to make sense. Since I moved to San Francisco I literally haven’t gotten anything done. I haven’t finished a book (I finished three on the plane out here), I haven’t answered many emails (I used to answer hundreds a day), I’ve written only a couple blog posts (I used to do one a day), and I haven’t written a line of code (I used to write whole programs in the evenings). It’s a pretty incredible state of affairs.

You wake up in the morning, take some crushing public transit system or dodge oncoming traffic to get to work, grab some food, and then sit down at your desk. If you’re like most people, you sit at a cube in the middle of the office, with white noise buzzing around on every side. We’re lucky enough to get our own shared office, but it’s not much better since it’s huge windows overlook a freeway and the resulting white noise is equally deadening.

Wired has tried to make the offices look exciting by painting the walls bright pink but the gray office monotony sneaks through all the same. Gray walls, gray desks, gray noise. The first day I showed up here, I simply couldn’t take it. By lunch time I had literally locked myself in a bathroom stall and started crying. I can’t imagine staying sane with someone buzzing in my ear all day, let alone getting any actual work done.

I did those sorts of jobs more than 2 decades ago and I always hated the environment, which was full of distraction. It reduced productivity and made happiness a lot harder. In 2007 I started working from home (even as a postdoc at the university), but seeing that the sites were growing it was time to make major changes in my life. I wrote about this in the summer of 2022 (in my personal blog) months before leaving the company. I was careful not to let colleagues see this. Only a month after I left my job I lost my best friend (he died after 23 years of our special friendship). He taught me not to rush through life collecting money, hoping to somehow turn that into "happiness" sometime late/r (like retirement), but we could no longer debate the matter. He had been buried.

My principal priority these days is to run the sites and keep/give a voice to suppressed causes, not corporate propaganda (the press or the mainstream media isn't even attempting to refute such propaganda anymore). I can envision doing this for many years to come, but some people will try to prevent that. Fine, I totally expect them to, as they've been trying to do this to me for 20+ years already, using imposter accounts, LARPing, and direct threats. I've become used to it, I'm totally accustomed by now; I grew thicker skin and I always fight back. The attacks were most intense around 2009 (when they also tried to attack GNU).

Software Freedom is the primary goal. It's not some "brand" like Linux (which lost its way irrespective of the Linux Foundation's intervention). Software Freedom is a concept, so extinguishing it (like causing it to go bankrupt) is infeasible. Software Freedom describes a condition, not some entity with a single point of failure.

Software Freedom is (in many people's mind) associated with or personified by Richard Stallman, hence the relentless attacks on him. He's giving a talk tomorrow (unless the Cancel Culture can figure out some way to cancel the talk). Many Software Freedom advocates - myself included - are implicitly unionised, so it's a lot harder to attack/censor/discredit/shame us.

I will hopefully advocate Software Freedom for the next 10, 20, 30, maybe 40 years to come. That's what I wish to do. I think I'm healthy enough to do that.

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