A year since my last blog, time really does fly when you do nothing fun and work all the time. I think this blog is just me checking in every year and saying sorry for not posting, that should draw a crowd.

I started off with a “This is what I’ve been doing” post, but it’s turned into a moan fest/cautionary tail. I guess I’m feeling introspective on my 33rd birthday, which technically ended half an hour ago. I’m sitting here watching people on Youtube play games that I don’t have the time to play or the funds to buy, armed with a rum and coke, trying to breath life into my dead blog once again.

I guess I’m feeling introspective on my 33rd birthday, which technically ended half an hour ago. I’m sitting here watching people on Youtube play games that I don’t have the time to play or the funds to buy, armed with a rum and coke, trying to breath life into my dead blog once again.

Things have been interesting over the past 11 months. I quit the webdesign business I spent 3+ years building, that was a tough decision. Me and the family were forced to move house, which was unfortunate. At one time we thought we would buy that house and live there for a very long time. It stung when the landlady said she needed to sell the house and we just weren’t in a position to buy it. It was strange, the number of people who said, why don’t you just buy the house? As if we were giving away rent for shits and giggles. I don’t know why people thought we had a £10k deposit lying around, or what sort of mortgage we could get on my wage of £7000 a year.

It seems silly to say I was quite miserable in some ways, living in a run down house that we were struggling to fix up, keeping on top of, but never making a dent in student loans and credit cards. Truth be told I felt like a failure, a bad provider to my kids and wife. Luckily I had the girls who never failed to give me purpose with their unconditional love and support. I’d convinced myself that working at home and setting my own hours was a suitable trade off for the lower quality of life I was providing. I would tell myself that I could work around living, but the work never stopped. I’d be getting emails or messages at all hours and would constantly be on the phone or PC replying to emails, doing minor tweaks to websites or researching for the next idea my business partner had come up with. Fixing problem that inevitably arise with IT systems.

Despite the ability to set my own working hours, 50% of the time I was around the family, I wasn’t really with the family.

I keep calling it my business, but the friend I’d started the company with still owned the whole thing 100%, even after years of promises that I’d own my fair share. That felt bad to say the least. In the last 6 months I was still working with him, I only received a full wage 3 of the 6 months, each time there was some incident that would he would brush aside, that took part of my wages away for a week or two and would have snowballed further If I’d stuck around.

Truth be told I’m a complete pushover and I shouldn’t have stuck around for as long as I did, not quietly anyway. I let it go too far and can shoulder my own blame for not speaking up. I don’t think he took advantage of me knowingly or intentionally, but through my own lack of a back bone and his dominant personality traits and a little ignorance to the feelings of others around him, it just happened.

I was supposed to build the websites and he was going to sell them, that was the plan. I was in the middle of setting up my own webdesign company when we started and it seemed logical to partner with someone who was good at talking people into things. I can’t talk money, I’m completely incapable. What I’d sell for £300 he could sell for £1200. A few months in we were talking about our progress. I realised he was talking about me like an employee and this rang alarm bells. I hadn’t given up my own fledgling business just to be another employee for someone else. I still had my full time job at this point and was workings in the evenings and days off to build our business. In an uncharacteristic show of spine I demanded to be a partner in this or I’d walk away. He was taken a back, which was surprising. In his mind I was happily risking my job and burning my wick at both ends to build him a business, regardless that we needed each others skills equally. That’s why he’d brought me a Playstation around Christmas, he’d said it was to say thank you. That was nice, but I’d spent dozens if not hundreds of hours building him personal websites, separate from what I saw as our joint ventures. I’d built community sites that he was selling fitness programmes through and a business coaching services website where he was charging upwards of £1000 a month for some services, despite his business experience being what we’d done together. This was all going to him personally and I’d not asked for anything, the Playstation seemed like a nice thank you, not one I’d asked for, and certainly not worth giving up my ambitions over. He grudgingly agreed when I wouldn’t budge, I was a partner or nothing and he didn’t really have an option, I was willing to walk away.

When we had enough clients under our belt I quit my day job and made the leap to working full time. For the first year I was taking home about £600 a month, which rose to £800 shortly. It went quite well for the first year. My business partner recruited most of his personal trainer friends and we were supplying them services for a monthly fee and were reasonably secure. Not flush, but secure. He ran into health problems which took him out of the business for somewhere around a year and I carried on with the day to day bits and we didn’t lose many clients so things carried on as normal with both of us taking home £800 a month. When he came back, it was up and down for a while, I wanted help with chasing outstanding debtors, bookkeeping and general client relations. I never did get the help with chasing unpaid invoices or doing the bookkeeping over the next two year, I don’t know if he spoke to the clients much. I know they always emailed me so I’m thinking it was minimal. I felt like I was doing everything and getting no help. There always seemed to be something new and more interesting than our core business that took his attention.

I think the point when I decided to leave was around November/December 2017. I wimped out on any immediate action, but the seed was sown after an extended weekend of hell. I’d been asking him for bank statements for about 9 months. I’d used our project management system to send weekly reminders for about 3 months, then gave up. He’s told me our book weren’t due till January so I though I had time to get things in order. One day I got a call from him, a Friday morning, saying the accountant needed the books done by Monday.

He was going out drinking over the weekend because it was his birthday and could I sort it. To say I was angry would be like saying a tropical storm is a bit windy. I still didn’t have any bank statements to reconcile, no receipts from him for the year and I wasn’t very familiar with our new accounting program. At some point the next day, the bank statements did arrive, but half of them were missing and they were pdf’s that I couldn’t import into the accounts software. We had multiple revenue streams, from multiple Paypal accounts, to multiple websites with individual card processing accounts, to direct debits, all which needed entering and reconciling with the bank records. Our money was coming from everywhere and it was an utter nightmare to make everything tally. From the Friday to the Tuesday I think I got 9 hours sleep and worked constantly the rest of the time. I slept at my desk and I’m pretty sure I remember sobbing at points. I’ve never felt so betrayed in my life. Knowing I was putting myself through one of the worst episodes of my life for his good. I reminded myself I didn’t officially own any part of the company, I wasn’t even officially employed by it. Technically I was a freelancer. I could have raised a middle finger, dropped everything and walked away, facing no repercussions.

I’d spoken to him half way through, he was drunk or hung over and going out again that day or was already away on a long weekend. I don’t remember, I wasn’t invited, but I needed the missing bank statements and he had access to the online banking. On Tuesday I spoke to the accountant and later that week our books were submitted on time. I slept for a day after that and told myself, never again. I’d never felt abandoned like it.

I’ve always been a problem solver, the person that people come to to get things working. It never really bothered me that I’d get asked to do thing that a 30 second google would tell you how to do. Quite often I’d google the answer and then do whatever people couldn’t be bothered to figure out themselves. Sometime it took minutes other times hours. This time it was different though, it was such a betrayal of empathy that it felt like a personal attack. It wasn’t even the money, things had been taken out of the bank to buy clothes, or a new passport for his holiday. The business had bought his camera and printer for some reason. I’d agreed he could buy a new laptop at £30 a month and yet  £1000 had been taken out of the bank in one go. Money that we were very close to needing for wages.

That wasn’t what bothered me most. It was the thought that if the roles were reversed, would he do that for me? I had to say no. He’d brush it off and say we’d hire someone to do it at minimum wage, show me someone capable of book keeping that would sort our mess out for minimum wage. That month wages were late and incomplete. I would last another 5 months because I was afraid to leave, but eventually I would apply for other jobs. During that time a chunk of cash disappeared for hemp oil? Funny that a web design firm would need that. It was for a new business idea, one of the half dozen personal projects, that I’d built sites for, that had been taking up more and more of his focus over the last year or two. He was spending more time looking for people/affiliate schemes to sell websites for him than he did actually selling sites. I don’t think we even had 10 new paying customers that year. I was doing more free websites than paid ones. I spent about 20 hours on a site for a local tattoo artist, then had to wheedle the information from him that it was a freebie because he’d probably want more services in the future. Then I noticed on Facebook he now had a full back tattoo from the same studio, funny that.

As for the business that had looked after us for 3 years, I was finally promised to be made a director and owner. I was made a director but never owner. I had the legal responsibility but not the reward. Luckily about this time I had a job interview and was successful, because a couple of weeks later we lost our house. If I had to pass a credit check on my self employed 7k a year, my family would have been homeless. I walked away on good terms with a 3 loyal clients, I don’t hold grudges, they don’t help. Writing this probably proves that a little wrong. Three ears of my life spent for three clients.

I thought I started off good humoured but I’ve gone all ranty.

Anyway I should have some sort of positive message to finish on. The whole thing was a calculated risk, and I probably would do something similar again because the experience was invaluable. I’m now experienced in project management, have been a company director, can do company book keeping, can set up an online store ready to take card payments and sell stuff in a matter of hours (call me) am a Photoshop wizard, can do 3D graphics and video editing and have come to realise my own self worth, and the worth of my skills. I’ve had no training in any of the area I now use regularly, everything I know is self taught (with the exception of my degree in animation, though that’s a rant for another day), through long hours of research and trial and error. I have a day job and a small side income from the little webdesign I still do. We moved into a nice new house in a much better area. I might have to cycle 20 miles a day to get to and from work (still can’t afford a car), but the wage is regular and bigger than before and all that exercise means I’m not getting desk belly anymore. We’ve restructured our debts and killed off all our credit cards, life is under control.

I think what I’m trying to take away from this is; don’t get stuck in a rut that you think is comfortable. Look at things objectively and take action that might be scary if you have to. I should never should have let myself get into such a position. I still can’t help feel like I let my family down a bit, I’m not stupid and should have done better for them, but I think that’s partly male ego talking. Now onto the future and more enjoyable things. I’m 60,000 word into my novel, about half way, and that is something I’ll be talking about soon.

Today is Wednesday, on Monday and Tuesday I sat at a desk all day and got very little useful done. No tasks were knocking down my door so I had comfort room. Today is going reasonably similar, though I have spent 3 hours fighting with something that should have been simple, it feels very unproductive. At lunch time I thought I was hungry, so I walked to a couple of shops and decided I wasn’t hungry for those things and walked back to my desk. Yesterday I spent hours organising stream overlays and subscriber alerts, I told myself it was necessary. Today I’ve set up automated tweets and facebook posts that go out when I blog, that’s useful right…

 

On Monday I pulled all my T-shirts out the draws, bagged half of them up for charity and organised the rest, I now have a draw of ones I like, a draw of massive sloby ones, a draw of jumpers I never wear and a draw split between decorating attire and smart-ish ones, I don’t own any actual smart clothes… that was productive?

I could go on, but the point I’m trying to make myself realise is. These are minor satellite tasks, distractions almost, not usefull in the grand scheme. If I’d gotten on with what I should be doing I wouldn’t have a jobs list for the rest of the week. Instead I’ve sat at screens for 3 days and all I’ve successfully done to myself is a headache, because I’m comfy I can get away with this. I have enough in the bank for food and bills and it makes you slip into a terrible rut. I’m not hungry or driven right now, I need that feeling back. I’m going to go search for some motivation. I used to find it in a good playlist but that doesn’t seam to be having the effect these days. Maybe coffee is the answer.

Just a side note, in streaming news I got my camera yesterday another thing I wasted time on, stream overlays. All the same its an awesome camera and I can’t wait to start streaming with it. With the newer model out the price has dropped and if you lookout for the amazon warehouse one with scuffed packaging you can get it pretty cheap.

Hope to see you on a stream one day soon

If there’s anyone that reads these blogs and I’m a little dubious of that, you might have noticed that my attentions are all over the place, I spin a lot of plates. This usually means things don’t get the attention they need to be complete/work properly.

Things that make you.. alive

There’s obviously the things that are vital: Family, food and work to support them, these things have to be taken care of. Work is currently on a bit of an upswing, I’m in the lucky position to be my own boss, so I can manage my time in a non conventional manner and work whenever works best, morning, Read more

What happened today? I brought a load of fitness equipment, gotta look good for my wedding in 7 months. I played with Photoshop which was fun, and started a trial on a website that does online courses. I’m supposed to be learning how to write my story but just having lectures on in the background while I do other work doesn’t seam to be working. Something more fun, see these before and afters.

Photoshop is fun, I like photoshop. Would anyone like a video on how to do this? I could do that if you’d like. I just used the fitness equipment I am sore now. I think my brain is broken. I’m gonne sleep now. See you again soon!

Writing a story now… Youtube’s been on hold for a few months while I finish the streaming rooms renovations, made some good friends on twitch but only stream about once a week, didn’t stick with the game building very long,  gave up on the animation pretty quickly, stuck with the drawing for a while and improved a bit, but haven’t done that in ages. Yep sounds like business as usual for me.

Catch up with everything we’ve been up to.

 

 

 

Oh and I’ve learned to make awesome bread.

See bread, awesome

See bread, awesome

Any-who all these odds and sods, writing, making games, getting back into animation (I have a degree in it so shouldn’t be too hard) , getting good at drawing characters, was all towards the same goal of telling the sci-fi story that’s been bouncing round my head for the last 15 years. Ever since I started my first webcomic back in school I’ve been building this. I’ve probably posted the odd snippet or character sketch before, but I’ve actually been building a wiki of sorts behind this blog for a while. So after bouncing between pretty much every medium and moving on I’m now onto writing it as a story.

It’s a complete mess currently full of spoilers and essentially brain spew. I’m just trying to get things in order, at one point I had 2 complete walls covered in post-its just trying to get the organisation of the military sorted out. I’m rambling now, read my first bit of actual story writing here. it start about half way down the page, still a mess but I think it’s a start. Ordered a load of weight too gonna pick that back up again. Is this normal is this what normal people do, start tons of different thing and drop them after starting to make progress, who knows come join me on a stream some time.

Interesting weeks are interesting. I had a site go so popular it completely overwhelmed my cloud hosting ability to cope. I think I was back in the office for a day or 2 after new years when the brand went viral. A few well place blog entries in select nerdy communities, a few well placed tweets from some well known individuals and the brand was everywhere, luckily most of the links were pointing to a shop on etsy, but there was enough spilling onto my site to consistently overload the host. First time I’d ever had that happen.

I used to be a massive fan of my hosting company, but in recent years their service has degraded considerably and it’s going to be a struggle to break out since we’re established on their new cloud system, in any case I moved over to wp engine and the difference is amazing, i’m sold, it’s much more expensive but dear god does it show. They’ve managed to adsorb the increased traffic and more and the site runs better than our smallest quietest sites on my old host, guys you have impressed me and I don’t think that’s easy. Anyway check out the funky 3d faces it’s a very cool idea, nice site too 😉

Anyway it’s been a mental week and I need this

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Oh.. I did laugh at myself,  I did the most British thing today, I was walking to my office down a corridor someone at the end of the end was holding the door for me so I stepped through and said thank you. I watched them walk away through the glass pannel before stepping back through the door and stepping stepping into my office just on the other side.

I stopped drawing again didn’t I? I’m so bad at this, instead I’ve been trying to get all the stuff out of my head and building int into a Wiki of sorts, it’s a little bit secret I’m not shouting about it yet but if one or 2 people check it out I’d love some feedback. Avaria

 

I can’t remember how many times I’ve left my blog to fester while I’ve not had the time or oomph to work on it, and it happened again.

Had a few big changes in the missing time though, lets see, I’ve left my day job, started my own business and had a hand in a few others. It felt like more things when I was saying it in my head, doesn’t look like a lot on paper. Oh I stopped being a fat desk monkey, joined a Gym and started eating right, that’s going well. I also turned 30. More things are starting to add up now, and this is just turning into a stream of consciousness, I bet it’s horrible to read, tell me in the comments how hard it was to read my ramblings.

I think the reason I’ve come back to my home on the internet is to try and create a bit of a record and some accountability for myself. It seems like in the last week I’ve undergone so many major things I need to get my thoughts together. I want to try and break things into sections but it all seems very interwoven in my head, but I’m going to try.

Leaving my Job

I’ve been working as a web/design/general tech/ware-houseman/phone answer-er & order taker at a small local business for the last 4 years, I think for about 2-3 of those I’ve been trying to break out on my own, slowly chipping away in my own time. As of yesterday, mon 2nd Nov I started my first full week working for myself. It’s a little worrying, won’t lie but my business is stable and the income is recurring so it just felt like it was time to redirect all my efforts into growing my own business rather than someone else’s.

If i’m honest I was really unhappy and unsatisfied at my work, it’d been going downhill for a long time which had pressed me into working even harder to make the move. I worked with some great people but an utter failure in management had meant the place had stagnated and was becoming more and more unbearable. I was also leaving in the morning before my kids were awake and was arriving home after they were asleep, it was not the way I wanted to live and it was slowly destroying me.

That’s all behind me now though, and my success or failure now depends on me alone, and so far I’ve been able to spend alot more time in the evenings with my family and i’m alot happier, no more 18 hour days either YAY!

Wish me luck.

Health and turning 30

So I’m 30 now holy f*ck, I still figure my age as 10 + * but that doesn’t seem appropriate any more. Anyway the last 4 years of constantly sitting at a pc for 2/3 of the day eating whatever I fancied that morning didn’t do my figure any good. I couldn’t fit into many of my clothes any more and I was struggling to tie my shoes at points, not good really. Anyway not going to dwell on it, a little over 6 weeks ago I thought enough is enough and made some changes. It’s been going really well, luckily for me I know a great personal trainer and a new reasonably priced gym opened up really close to me about the same time and I’ve not looked back. The most immediate change happened because of my diet change I believe, cutting out carbohydrates for the most part seemed impossible at first but you get used to it. After about a week a massive amount of bloating goes down.

matt in danger of getting too large.

I looked at myself and though reign it in before it goes too far.

Before this I’ve never been to a gym I didn’t think they were for me, there was a knowledge gap I didn’t think needed filling or I was afraid to fill, I’m not sure, it seems very silly looking back on it. I’d tell myself I’ll just fix my bike up and cycle to work that’ll keep me in good shape, and to an extent it did. When I lived 19 miles away from my job cycling in the summer certainly did help, but when I got a closer job and didn’t have to worry about finding money for the train any more I got lazy and quite often made excuses. In the end you can’t exercise yourself healthy anyway, not without putting the right food in your body, and I don’t think that’s something I would have believed had I not made the change myself.

I’ve been going to the gym 4-5 times a week with some friends and it feel like a totally different place than I expected, I still find it really strange that large amounts of people gather in a building to lift heavy things and put them down again, or run on the spot for ages, but i’m much more comfortable in that environment than I was initially. Plus I can really see the difference. I’m glad I caught myself before I got silly because my road back will be quite short and easy but I can’t say enough how happy I am to have started that journey. Seeing the change as it happens is a great motivator and I’m really looking forward to seeing it continue.

I’m probably going to be blogging a bit more about this just to keep myself accountable to the wider world, but I might squirrel it away elsewhere on the site no one wants to see pics of me in my pants every week.

Drawing

 

I still want to draw so badly… I was making some decent progress with regular practice before I had to concentrate my effort in other areas. Now I have more time again and I’ve been watching livestreams and tutorial on drawing again. Today I searched my house to dig up my tablet again and undertook a mammoth search to find the right drivers for my 6 versions out of date wacom (had to get them from the .asia site in the end). I got there in the end but didn’t have time to start drawing, tomorrow though I intend to pick it back up again, I’m all prepared; no excuses. I’ll probably loosely carry on with my specific area of practice like before but with a bit more fun stuff mixed in. I’ve been working on my sci-fi stuff in my head again, every time I listen to my favorite music, a fight scene happens and I’ve just got to get this stuff out of my head. I’ve been making some changes to how this site functions to try and make a bit of a wiki/brain dump so I can start to refine and get these Ideas out of my head.

This song for example

Every time I listen to it I work on the story of the 1st Airborne company. The most elite scout unit in the Avarian military. Usually deployed alone or in teams of 3 to scout the wild lands and monitor the threat level from the wild manifested that inhabit the continent. An unprecedented situation has called for their deployment em mass. They jump from Airships floating high above the continent and as they enter cloud cover thin spines protrude from the back of their armored bodysuits and fan out into wing like structure, a feint blue glow shimmers between the spines and the soldiers and shot towards their destination by their high-tek wing suits.

I’m probably gonna have to put this in it’s own post it’s getting a bit long now and I could yabber on about the mechs fighting with the manifested in my head for hours, it should stand on it’s own.