10upcanada

10up is Hiring

While I’ve only been working here for a few months now, I’m happy to report that the company is a great fit for me, and I’ve been told that we are hiring for many positions, so I am doing all I can to make sure those that know me or read this site know about the openings we have.

I am a Project Manager, and as far as I know, we are looking for more people able to do what I do. Can you organize projects, make sure people stay on task, report to clients your progress, and otherwise support a team of developers through creating websites? Then apply today!

We have lots of openings for Web Engineers and Senior Web Engineers. If you are a full stack web developer with PHP experience, and knowledge of WordPress, then you owe it to yourself to apply. We have a wide variety of projects, and are looking for people that are able to work from home and work on any sized project.

It is a great company, with many awesome perks, not to mention you might just get to work with me, and how cool would that be? Contact me and I can help with introductions. If you’d like more information, please contact me, and I can fill you in with more details.

You can contact me via comments on this site, or via the contact page on this site. I’d love to see more Canadians represented at 10up!

Helping Manage a Pod Meetup

At 10up, where I work, teams are called pods and the pod that I belong to is called Voltron. Voltron recently had its pod meetup in Toronto, and I helped organize the events of the visit of around seven people coming from various parts of the world.

I am hoping that for our next meetup in about a year we will go somewhere a bit more exciting for me, but that remains to be seen.

I can definitely say that helping organize such an event was outside of my normal skill set and I found it a bit uncomfortable to do, but I’d like to think that things all worked out well. It helped that most of the time everyone was around, we were attending WordCamp Toronto, an event focused on the software that 10up uses to power the websites it develops and supports.

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It also helped that my wife came to the weekend events, and it meant that our team had a second vehicle (a co-worker drove up from New York) and that I had an expert on Toronto available, since Georgetown is not Toronto.

I really enjoyed meeting all the people I work with on a daily basis in person, and learning more about who they are as people. It is amazing how little social interaction we had before the pod meetup. Since then, we seem to all be communicating a bit more effectively, and socializing a bit more here and there, though it is hard to keep up the momentum from the meetup.

One thing of note was that the first day we were to get together was on my 32nd birthday, on November 14th. I hadn’t really brought it up as I don’t get too excited about my birthdays, so it was really awesome that my boss brought out a cake at Swiss Chalet for us all to enjoy. It was awesome to celebrate with my wife and co-workers.

i-nNJ3d9C-X2On Monday, the 17th of November, we went to the ROM, did a brewery tour, went through PATH to the Eaton Centre, ate at some nice restaurants and capped it all off with a visit to the CN Tower, where we ate in the 360 restaurant and stood on the glass floor.

Once home from the events of the long weekend of socializing, I quickly wrote up everything from the event and posted it to our company’s internal blog, crafting the longest blog post about any pod’s meetup thus far, and probably including the most pictures as well, something I’m extremely proud of.

I really enjoyed myself, and can’t express how much I appreciated 10up footing the bill for me to really interact with my team.

Did I mention that we are hiring?

My Christmas Letter 2014

Before I begin looking back at 2014, here is a link to My Christmas Letter 2013, for those that are interested.

I had many goals for 2014, but I’ll likely review those in a separate post. The first thing you have probably noticed though is that I didn’t blog much this year. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that it was a boring year, or that there wasn’t much that happened.

I moved out of my apartment on Main street, to rent a nice house from a family friend (my twentieth move in my life), only to end up back in an apartment on Main street less than half a year later (my twenty-first move). It knocked a bit of wind out of my sails, and I’m still trying to recover from it all. I think Annie feels the same way about the whole situation, but we did enjoy living in the family friend’s house while we could.

My career was just as in flux as I went from working at Rocketgenius, to being the Communications Manager for Envirotech Office Systems, to working for a short stint as a Web Developer for Solinst to finally landing in a position that fit my needs well as a Project Manager at 10up. I am working from home again, which has its advantages and disadvantages, especially in the current apartment, but I’m trying to make the most of it and I really love what I’m doing now. Annie continues to work at the same school, and her case load seems to be suiting her well. She has more days where she comes home excited to go back than days where she feels she isn’t getting paid enough. There has been more office politics for her to deal with this year, but she is handling it all in stride, and focusing on doing the best she can for the kids she works with.

On April 26th, Annie and I were married in Georgetown. My post about my perspective is on another blog, click here to read it. Most of my family were able to make it, and it was a nice, intimate ceremony and reception. I think most people had a great time, and once everyone was dancing to the music, I was able to relax. The music ended up coming from Mark’s speakers that he brought from Kingston in case they were needed, which they were, so I am super grateful for his willingness to do that for us. We shamefully still haven’t sent out thank you cards to everyone that provided us with such wonderful gifts, but it is on our list!

Annie and I also bought a new computer in the late spring, and we named it Valen. Annie built it herself, with only a tiny bit of help from me. It runs amazing, and meant that she mostly inherited my MacBook Pro. Her previous machine was a laptop that would create the dreaded purple smoke and we were certain it was hours away from being unusable or catching fire…which I suppose would have made it unusable.

Scream a Little Dream finally came out. It was a web-series crafted by Tom Leroux, my brother from another mother, and his friend Greg Murphy. I acted as a data wrangler (copying files off cards and backing them up), as well as the Thug in two short scenes. If you haven’t seen it, search for it on YouTube.

Once school was let out, Annie and I went on our honeymoon. Going to Florida with her was great, and we really enjoyed her mother’s condo. It wasn’t too close to anything, but we still made it work, and ended up having a great time. Apparently, no one in Orlando walks anywhere, and there were more than a few times where I thought I was going to be run over. We got to see the new Harry Potter section of Universal on its second day open, and it was a very immersive experience, despite being packed to the brim with people. I loved the daily storms that seemed to happen between one and four in the afternoon, and thankfully, Annie and I only got caught unprepared in them once during the two weeks we were there.

When we were back, we decided to use Kickstarter for our novel, Second Class Supers, so that we could afford to pay for some top notch editing and get the book in people’s hands, for real. We are still working away on it, although a bit more sporadically than I’d like, as we struggle through the editing process. I really had no idea it was going to be like pulling teeth! Our Kickstarter was successful, and so now, sitting in my bank account is the funds required to print a bunch of copies of the book, something I can’t wait to do.

In the fall, Annie and I tried to organize the purchase of a house. We found one that we fell in love with, but they wouldn’t budge on the price, and ended up selling to a property management company that now rents out the place for a bit more than the mortgage price would have been. The second house we put an offer on slipped through our fingers as well, causing me to be a bit stressed as we realized that we’d be stuck in our current apartment for longer.

I have also been struggling with depression this year. It is not something I publicly talk about, for fear of it affecting my career aspirations, but I am currently on medication, and hoping to go through some therapy to get some updated strategies on better managing it all. It has been a few years since my last bad bout, and I’m confident that I’ll get back to a place where I’m better able to manage my symptoms. The only stressful part right now is that where we are living is having a negative effect on my emotional state. Annie and I are looking at options to move to another apartment, but it might be tricky as we are supposed to be on a one year lease here. I should note though that my health has been really good otherwise, I’m a bit heavier than I’d like to be, but beyond that, things seem to be doing okay.

Just recently, Annie and I took advantage of an offer made by Kia Motors, and traded in her Kia Rio for a new Kia Forte. We knew that her warranty was running out on her Rio, and it worried us a bit as that car had been a bit of a lemon. The less entry level model, Forte, had many good reviews, and was reasonably affordable. So far, Annie has been enjoying driving it, and the winter package gave her bells and whistles she is super happy with, like a heated steering wheel.

Christmas is quickly approaching and we are looking forward to visiting as many people as we can. Other than the wedding, twenty-fourteen hasn’t been a great year for me when it comes to visiting, but I hope twenty-fifteen will be better.

Christmas Wishlist 2014

I’m starting to get Christmas stuff organized, and as such, I’ve been thinking about my wishlist. Annie’s family is using Wishlistr, and so I’ve posted my details there.

Check out my Wishlistr List.

You’ll see a variety of products at different prices. I’d also love to get gift cards for Cineplex, Chapters, and Mark’s.

Annie and I are tight for space, so being able to go to the movies or other experience style things is ideal.

I haven’t been doing as much photography this year, so I’m not skewing my gifts in that direction, though I’d always love receiving photography stuff.

If you have time, please sign-up for Wishlistr and create your own list, as I don’t have a ton of ideas for what to give people, and I’d like to find things that people really want or need.

Christmas is coming up fast!

Daily Life

So I don’t have much that I feel like blogging about right now. I feel like I’ve sorta fell into a bit of a routine as I work away, eat and sleep as the days fly by. I haven’t put much time into anything fun or hobby related lately, and that bugs me. I feel like as the winter rolls in, I’m ready to hibernate. The lack of sun in the apartment is definitely having a negative effect on me. I haven’t been a very good friend either, so I’ve just been isolated in the little apartment, working away, until Annie comes home.

Thanks to the anti-depressants I’m on, I definitely don’t feel depressed, but I don’t feel happy either. I’m just treading water, keeping my head above the surface, with no energy to really move in any specific direction.

We live above a convenience store again, and too far from a grocery store for me to easily walk to get things that are healthier for me. Add to that the horrible kitchen in our apartment, and I don’t feel like cooking. Usually, I enjoy cooking, but I think I’ve only used the oven three times since we moved here over a month ago.

I do feel like I’m doing well at my job though, so there is some small saving grace in that. My boss continues to tell me that I’m doing a good job, and I feel like she is not the type to blow smoke up people’s behinds.

I was hoping to participate in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) this month, but haven’t felt the drive to do it. I even already had a concept I wanted to work on and a few employees at 10up are taking part and discussing what they are up to.

I’ve been without my cell phone for about a week and a half now as Annie is getting repaired. I gave up mine because she needs it when driving to work and back as I don’t ever want her to be stranded. I’ve realized that when my cell phone contract is up, I won’t be getting another flagship phone, as I don’t need one.

That’s pretty much all that’s new with me. What’s new with you? I’d love to hear from people, and I’m sorry again that I haven’t been up for reaching out.

Working at 10Up

This is my first time as a Web Producer, and it has been an interesting learning curve for me. I am not used to delegating and supporting without access to just fix issues as they come up. It is an interesting experience, and I’m trying to learn quickly.

I am definitely feeling a great fit at 10Up as I continue to work and support my team. My SWS has been direct and forthright with her opinions and needs, and that has made my job much easier. She also continually gives me opportunities to run meetings, projects and even the entire team when needed.

Each day for me is different. One day, I’m going through and auditing all of the hours we spent on a project, and the next, I’m running a meeting with our clients regarding their project. Sometimes I am working through the team’s time sheets to make sure everything is billed correctly and other times I’m writing a blog post for the internal blog about our recent successes. This isn’t a role that I ever saw myself filling, but so far, I seem to be doing okay at it.

The whole thing is extremely exciting, and I am looking forward to my continued career development within this organization. My goal is to lead a small team of my own in the next six months to a year, and help continue to provide 10Up level support to even more clients.

Not Getting a House

So Annie and I were hoping to be moving into a house around now, but it didn’t work out that way. With my new position at 10up, I’m seen by the banks as running my own business in Canada, so they couldn’t use my income to qualify for a mortgage. Annie’s mom stepped in to try to help, but the amount of paperwork needed that was stored in boxes in three different places made it impossible to organize in an efficient timeline.

We are probably going to end up staying here, in this apartment, for six months to a year, so we are trying to make the most of it. The whole situation has been hugely depressing. The only good news is that we’ve definitely seen some great houses in Guelph, for prices that we could make work in our budget. We even made offers on two different houses.

I am hopeful that in 2015 that Annie and I will be able to buy our own place. Thankfully, our apartment is owned by our real estate agent, meaning that he is willing to break our lease if he sells us a house.

I am hopeful that prices don’t increase as aggressively over the next year as it has in the past.

Saving For a House

In the GTA, house prices have been going up by between 3% and 13% per year. An average home in the GTA is now $380,453.

Annie and I would love to buy a house, but we don’t currently have any savings, and are actually in a bit of debt. With our income being how it is currently, we could afford to pay a mortgage on a house around $300,000. In our careers, our income isn’t going to rise much above where it is today, and could go down if we have a child, as Annie takes maternity leave.

We would love to save for a house, but there seems to be a logic issue with doing so: we’d lose money by saving. Let me break down my thoughts, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Say we are interested in buying a $300,000 house. We decide to save up for a year, putting away $1000 per month and at the end of the year, we have $12,000. The house that was $300,000 is now between, $309,000 (3% increase) and $339,000 (13% increase). Let’s go with a lower figure of only a 5% increase in value, or $315,000. We’ve lost $3000 in market access/value by taking a year to save. To save $1000 per month is pretty aggressive as well, and so this divide only grows if the amount put away each month is anything less. And of course, we’d have to save this on top of paying rent on our apartment which is going to be $950 + utilities + storage unit. The value of our rent is approximately $190,000 worth or mortgage value.

If we were able to find a way to get into a house today, then in a year we will potentially be ahead of the game because we would be putting that money into the mortgage, and building equity, in part, through market value increases in the house.

This is an overly simplistic model, I know, but if houses continue to appreciate in value more than three percent, then I don’t know how we will ever save enough to compensate.

Second Class Supers Kickstarter Success

So, by now you have all hopefully seen that the Kickstarter that Annie and I ran for Second Class Supers was successful. We were basically (I’ll explain that later) able to raise our $2750 minimum. As such, we will be able to afford the resources needed to complete our novel around this Christmas.

We haven’t received our funding from Kickstarter yet, as it hasn’t been the full two weeks of business days yet, but as soon as we do, we will go full tilt on the project and complete it. We have a long road ahead of us to get it done on time, but I am still confident that it can be done.

For those interested in stats, ten backers made up half of the funds needed for the project. We received sixty-four backers for our project. We had two dropped backers due to Amazon not being able to process their credit cards. Not sure why, but that’s how it worked out. The drops were fairly large, and actually will put us under our goal, but still in the realm of affordability.

There were some people that missed the window with backing the Kickstarter, but those that have reached out have been told that they will be able to buy a copy from us when the book is ready. Of course this means they won’t get any backer rewards, but that’s not why most people backed anyways, right?

We are probably a third of the way through our second edit, and we have a long way to go on that, but with Annie and I both working on it, I know we can crush it pretty quick. Our first draft was fairly clean, especially later in the story as we got our groove and figured things out. We have beta readers giving us feedback on things, and I’m very excited about getting this book done, and potentially starting a second with my wife.

Thank you again to everyone that supported our Kickstarter. I’ll keep you in the loop about how things are going, and I’ll be developing SecondClassSupers.com more soon so that we have a central place for all book news and developments!

My New Job: Web Producer at 10up

So, I recently started a new job, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about it. I am the new web producer at 10up, one of the largest WordPress focused agencies that I know of.

I am working for one of the largest teams, and my role is to support the senior web strategist on my team. It is a role that I’ve never taken on before, but one that I hope I’m sufficiently prepared for. Recently, I came across some advice that companies should hire people for roles that they are only seventy percent ready for, so that they have room to grow, and while I’ve taken on roles with more responsibilities, I’m enjoying the challenges with my new position at 10up.

I look forward to discussing my position more, and I hope that this job fits me well and I’m there for a long time. I’m definitely tired of floating around, unsure of where I belong. Wish me luck!