Today I'm going to write a little about why I have recently started a blog having spent many, many years not quite managing to do so. The executive summary is that I signed up for a free email course about starting my own blog, I received a lot of encouragement from somebody called John Sonmez (whom I've never met) and here I am.
I can't remember exactly when I first had a website (I've had a couple), but it was at some point in the nineties. I managed to find a bit of one (captured by archive.org in 2001) which was talking about a professional bodybuilder visiting my friend's shop; that site was largely related to a bodybuilding competition in which I competed in June 2000. Incidentally, if you're interested in strength training and sports nutrition you should check out Aktiv Bodz/Muscle Meals as they are still going strong and have diversified a little since 2001.
Exactly a month after that website update I started my first real job as an Analyst Programmer in May 2001.
Since I've been creating software forever it's perhaps not surprising that I wanted to start a technical blog. I never got round to it (until late last year1) for two main reasons:
- I wanted to write my own super-duper blogging engine2.
- I wanted it to be perfect.
Without getting too philosophical, it's quite easy to see that the second point meant I was never going to do anything.
This irked me as quite often I'd solve a difficult technical problem and think,
"I really ought to write that down since it might help somebody else to save a bit of time. Especially since that somebody else is probably going to be me when I meet this problem again and can't remember the details of my own solution."
But then I'd decide that my code or explanation of a particular procedure lacked the necessary polish. It's quite daunting releasing stuff into the public domain, the main fear for many being that somebody bright will come along and pick holes in it. In public. Maybe that's just a combination of a kind of stage fright and the Dunning-Kruger effect, but it's certainly easier not to open oneself up to such scrutiny.
If I don't build it, then they won't come and I won't fail.
Or as a friend of mine called Mike Szudarek once joked:
"I used to look at other people trying and failing and I'd think, 'If they can't do it, then neither can I.'"
Then in December 2014 I saw a post from John Sonmez on his Simple Programmer website that was offering a completely free blogging course. I duly signed up not really sure what to expect. If you know me in real life, you probably know that I am generally rather cynical about this sort of thing, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Not only was the content of the emails rather good, but there were some homework assignments which required me to email John about some action I'd taken towards starting my blog and he actually read the emails and replied, with each of his replies containing evidence of his having read my email. Now bearing in mind this is a free course I was pretty impressed by this personal approach; he offered me some specific advice and seemed to have invested some of his time in me, for free. I'm not sure what I'd been expecting, but I wasn't expecting that.
I don't want to post any spoilers about the course, suffice it to say that if you've ever even considered writing a blog (even if it's not related to the sphere of IT), or if you've started one but have lost your way, then you should sign up to his free email course as you really do have nothing to lose.
John Sonmez motivated me to start blogging where I had failed to motivate myself so many times before. Maybe he can do the same for you. If you sign up to John's course then feel free to comment below about your experiences.
I will probably migrate this blog to my super-duper blogging engine at some point, but in the meantime I'm using https://ghost.org/ hosted in Azure as described here: https://tomssl.com/2015/01/05/installing-ghost-on-azure-websites-and-forcing-ssl-with-a-custom-certificate/, although the process has been simplified greatly since then. ↩