Anniversary Rambling

I attended an important birthday party this weekend and worked quite a bit so I forgot an anniversary of my own, May 6th was the 3 year anniversary of my last day of gainful employment. That’s right, one thousand and ninety five days out of work. Well, obviously, that’s a bit exaggerated, I did work my fair share. Correction again, I worked quite a bit and except for the first 5-6 month where I was mostly lounging around, I have been going from one contract to the next but considering the lifestyle that comes with it I can’t, in my opinion, call it fair. It’s too pleasant to work from anywhere and be able to take more weeks off compared to a “real” job to say that I worked a fair amount. It’s not fair, it’s a privilege.

Anyway, the point is not to tease people, that would be bad luck, the point is that I had one job in Montréal and then went freelance. That job lasted 3 years and 7 months. The point is that it feels like that period of time lasted 2-3 times longer than the following 3 years. The two big differences are that, first, it’s been a hell of a lot more enjoyable and that second, it’s been busier. We were super busy at times at Sungard but there were also some boring as hell parts. It was also enjoyable, we had fun, I met some of my best friends there and the local bosses were fun to work with, in the good times anyway. But except for the previously mentioned lounging time, I’ve been doing stuff more constantly and working on more varied projects on my own so even though they might not all be fun, they come to pass and are often in collaboration with new people which also makes it interesting.

Humm, ok, thinking out loud here more than making any kind of meaningful point. So yeah, last three years have been going by wayyyy quicker than the previous three and quite incredibly so. Another anniversary that I kind of forgot about is that I started blogging around January 18th of the same year and going to Yulblog meetings starting a couple of months after that so those two 3 year anniversaries have also gone by. Pretty big year 2003.

The interesting thing is that when I left Sungard I had a vague plan that included blogs but not to the extent it worked out. The vague plan was;

  1. Finally take the time to realize all those projects I couldn’t get myself to do nights coming back from a job I hated by that point. Those were coding and design oriented, in the hopes of mastering those things better and making for a more interesting CV/portfolio to help me get a better job. Mayyyyyyyybe have one of them work enough to make some money off of it. And mayyybe freelance.
  2. Make connections through groups like W3qc and Île Sans Fil. I was interested in them and not looking for contracts (didn’t even know I’d make a living at it at that point), I was just aware that we were entirely disconnected from the industry at Sungard and I needed to meet people to at least know what was going on.
  1. In the same vein, through the blog meet more people and get more some visibility.

    The truth ended up the almost exact opposite.

  2. None of the projects I initially had in mind panned out. One I lost interest in, the other was almost finished, scrapped, started over with a buddy and then scrapped again when Amazon and Yahoo tweaked their services and rendered it obsolete. After the lounging I put up the Yulmetablog which led me to pick up Yulblog, I put up YulWifiWiki, then later on Yulzine Duality and was involved in the initial rumblings for the W3qc and ISF sites although in both cases I ended up leaving the job to others. I list all of those as “projects” but really, they were just fun things I did with other people, not the things I had in mind at the start.
  3. This one worked almost as expected, I did meet people and find out more about the web/tech industry in Montréal but instead of going back to work for someone else, I ended up freelancing and some contracts were found in part through those connections.
  1. But really, those same connections were made possible through blogs at the same time. One of my first interestingly sized contracts came from Sylvain through the W3qc mailing list but I believe (corrige-moi sinon) it was through my blog and meeting at Yulblog that he decided “hey, might be interesting to work with him”. That was the first and 90% of the following ones were the same way; people met through my blog or who find me through it send an email and contracts ensue. Fun.

    Before I finish this way too long post I’ll mention that although it sounds like I attended W3qc and ISF only with ulterior motives it was first and foremost because of the interesting/important work they do and to meet the people. I think the friends I’ve made in both groups can attest to that ;).

    To finish up, when I first remembered the anniversary, I thought I’d write about time flying and being relative, which I kind of did. Then I thought I’d be writing about, or that it might lead to, another post about the differences between networking and simply meeting people, which it kind of did but what all those paragraphs up there lead to is pretty much one thing;

    Thanks readers, thanks blogosphere, it’s been a fun 3 years that lead to friends and work and it just flashed by.


mtl3p May 8, 2006

yay patrick! :-) let’s hear it for another 3 years of trailblazing (‘cuz that’s another way of describing the stuff you have pulled off / been involved in).

Patrick May 8, 2006

Humm. That’s so exagerated I’d almost think you’re pulling my leg.

But thanks :).

Vero.b May 8, 2006

Enviable… très enviable…


karl May 8, 2006

Congratulations, and that’s very cool. Both of you (Boris and you) are doing something that I find highly respectable and challenging, I’m not sure I would be able to do the same. So just big and deep bow! Respect!

Steven Mansour May 8, 2006

Félicitations – being able to to your own work, on your own terms, while meeting great people along the way – that’s not something that everyone can claim.

Reading your post made me think about my own “evolution” and leaving gainful employment. I guess you could say that I sorta followed in your footsteps for part of it.

For various reasons, I ended up leaving Colubris Networks (which is where I met Boris – we started on the same day, but he “toughed it out” longer than I did ;) ) in August 2002. The next 4 – 5 months of my life consisted of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Ok, no drugs, really.

Ok, maybe only Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Anyhow, I took up a terrible 6-month IT contract at a software firm, then started writing some wireless articles (from my experience and training at Colubris) which got picked up by mainstream media (like the Montreal Gazette) and there I was, a “wifi security consultant”. Trouble was, I was falling into the same environment that I tried to escape from by leaving Colubris. I did do some interesting work though, setting up a wireless network in the ginormous L’Oreal building, and installing “wireless traceability systems” in slaughterhouses and meat processing factories across Quebec, Ontario and the North East USA. Ah, vache folle – where would I be sans toi?

Then near the end of 2003 I met a longtime family friend who was looking to do some “computer stuff”. I offered to help, thinking it was just some IT work. It turned out to be some pretty hardcore community web / blogging, so I turned to Boris, who pointed me to Drupal…

I guess where I diverge now is that I don’t do any corporate contracts much anymore – I’ve been able to focus on international development, social work, research and sustainability.

Hey, I’m not flying around SXSW and Mexico and all, but I’m happy. :p

Anyhow, thanks for writing this, made me sit back for a few minutes and think about the past few years as well.

Patrick May 9, 2006

Thanks Karl!

:-p Véro

Steven: Glad to help you look back and thanks for sharing your own experience. Being able to not only work on your own but also to specialize in something worth while is quite an accomplishment. As Karl said; respect ;)

I’ve worked with a few non profits myself and just signed a contract this morning with another, I’m certainly hoping to do more of that vs working for big clients with furry CGI animals for mascots.

I really liked what Matt Webb wrote about variable pricing and would like to figure out some system along those lines.

julien May 9, 2006

As someone who is only starting on a similar road, I have to say that I hope I end up being as lucky (or work as hard?) as you do. Félicitations.

Sylvain May 11, 2006

Yep. Right on Patrick. C’était la combinaison de tout ça qui fait que j’ai pensé que ça serait une bonne idée de travailler avec toi.

D’ailleurs, encore à ce jour, ça demeure la meilleure manière de trouver des gens avec qui je veux travailler. J’assume que quelqu’un qui lit mon blogue, est actif dans des groupes locaux et contribue à des communautées d’intérêts dans le domaine (j’aime pas le mot mais j’en ai pas d’autres) démontre un niveau certain de curiosité et d’autonomie. Ça vaut cher ça, ce n’est pas par des offres d’emplois sur Joboom et des entrevues à l’aveugleutte qu’on peut trouver ça.

Alors longue vie à tasteofblue et bravo pour ta persévérance et ton flair.

Martine May 13, 2006

Bravo bravo bravissimo!

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