I was on Code with the Italians talking about Indie hacking, happiness, money and more. The episode was recorded live on Twitch on February 6th, 2022. You can watch the full episode on Youtube. This is the transcript of our chat.
Sebastiano: Hello everyone and welcome back to code with Italians where we have no code today, but we have two Italians and a Greek person. Hi Alex Welcome.
Alex: Thanks for inviting me.
Sebastiano: Our pleasure. We start with that. So Alex, I think it would be best if you started by this, like telling everyone who you are first. Well apart from our from being one of our supporters, and a friend of mine, but who are you, what do you do?
Ivan: Why do you do?
Sebastiano: Why are you here?
Alex: My name is Alex Styl, which is short for Alexandros Stylianidis as the Greek name suggests. And I’ve been doing Android for about 10 years now. In the past five months, I decided to just basically pick up my own projects and try to make profit out of them. That’s the super short version.
Sebastiano: Fine. I can tolerate such a short notice. So before we start talking about indie hacking, I think we have to do the obligatory Ivan section where Ivan does the Ivan thing.
Ivan: The Ivan section where we are, it’s the section where we are very grateful for your support.
Sebastiano: I want to make it clear we are very grateful outside the event section as well.
Promotion part of the stream has been omitted
Ivan: But so Alex I want to, I want to thank you for this because the experiment that you are running it has been in my mind, you know something bugging me like for for a very long time because I Sebastiano knows as our user know, I’m all about pet projects. So I have always had something on the side, right? ideas that you want to build and and problems that you want to solve and it was, they were just pet projects right there.
So do you have like a main job and then it’s like you know, in your spare time you do, you try to do things. So what you are doing for me is incredibly brave and it fascinates it’s super fascinating to me. So I want to know Everything. I would because we have probably like a similar background. So you have been doing android, right? So I have been doing android. So we probably have the same age kind of you and you’re in your 30’s just to have it ballpark. So how, so how how did you end up deciding, you know what, fuck it, This is the year that I’m in the middle of a pandemic. I want to do this thing. That is incredibly brave because you know, why not? Right, people are unemployed. I just want to quit my job and work on my shit, you know, because that’s that’s what we do. Right? So how did it happen?
Alex: what you said that you had side projects in your mind for a long time. It was exactly the same for me. It still is as in I do have main projects and other side projects that I wish that I build someday or explore and so on. What’s changed though is that I kept doing android development basically for so many years and you know, I worked on different projects, different teams, different companies and so on. And the one thing that I realized is that no matter what I do, like the career progression basically that you get is very limited.
Basically if you are to join a company, like a big company, they tend to ask for specializations like if you’re an android developer you either go senior, you know, you level up your seniority let’s say and you get to do very specific tasks each time, you handle the development side of things basically. Or you can become a manager or I think that those are the two parallels that you get and there are in different companies, you get to have different job titles like become a fellow and all these fancy titles. But in the end of the day I realized that that is way too limiting for me. Limiting in terms of, I am not super happy doing only development, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love development, but I love design as well. And I love user research as well.
My Master’s degree is on something called human computer interaction, think of it like academic version of user experience, I’m over a single finding by the way, but it has a bit of the human side of technology, I mean I’m a nerd for those kinds of stuff. Even on the teams that I was working in the past and the companies and all the projects we were working on, I was curious to understand, you know, the thing that we’re building on, how does that help our customers? How do we make profit both for the business, but at the same time we cover for the needs of the users. It’s not, you know, I love writing nice code, good looking code and performant and so on but in the end of the day it’s a means for helping people, basically. That’s how I see it. Or entertained depending on the problem we’re trying to solve.
And the way that I noticed that it works, if I want to continue working in the company in a company and continue progress through that is the more successful in a way I become, the more I climb up the ladder, as they say, the more specialized stuff I will be doing in the end of the day, but that didn’t make me happier basically because ideally I want to be able to do something that touches as many, not skills, but… I’m interested in the whole spectrof building products, both from what is the problem that we want, what that we need to solve? Why is it worth our time to solve it? How do we build it, how do we make it so that people you know, they they like and understand the solution and some a new one of these days that I find myself getting into a lot, how do we convince people that this is actually something that’s going to help them like, you know, so it’s I think that it’s the next step on working on side projects basically.
I think that everyone works on their side projects for different reasons. If you want to learn a new programming language, for example, if someone wants to become better at android development, for example, building a side project on any topic, something that they like, something that they miss that they wish that they had and so on, that’s a fantastic way to learn similar to learning spanish you practice it more and more and in the end of the day you become better at that.
So yeah, I think that covers the overall arc towards the why doing that. It’s funny, it’s interesting that you mentioned Covid before, like the whole pandemic because I feel that it kind of sped up my decision to do something like this. I know that you mentioned brave before, but I don’t see it like that. I saw it more of a how should I put this? I saw a way of working that I didn’t see before, For example, I had never worked remotely like working from home and I realized that this is something that I really, really enjoy. I mean it gives me more flexibility towards my time. you know to tidy up the house for example, in my brakes or something like that. I never thought about that anyway, I think I’m becoming more excited than I should be about cleaning my house.
Sebastiano: Valid excitement.
Ivan: I completely agree. I mean Sebastiano knows that I’m incredibly fond of, I’m a huge final remote working and I try to work remotely in the past, I was able to work in the past remotely for people across europe and on on the other side in the US, then I ended up in Berlin and everything was in the office in Berlin and then you know I lost, I lost the because you need, that was what you needed to do, but now I’m remote again because Covid right? The whole thing just proved that while you can save money and there is no impact on productivity. So just get off my free coffee and cereals, so go home. But I also get very excited because I can do things like that. I couldn’t do in an office like you know raise my baby, I spent the whole day with my baby so…
Alex: I don’t know how it was for you, but for me it was like a whole new world entirely. It was like wait hold on a minute, I get to do my work and also not lose other parts of my life basically that I had to… loses a big word, but I don’t know how to make it less.
Ivan: Yeah, but you need to compromise. You need to compromise.
Alex: … or being able to schedule to fix my schedule according to work. Actually the other way around fixing work according to my schedule. Those things like before being forced basically to work from home, I didn’t even think about this kind of stuff. And I kind of like that, you know, I like working from home and all the nice flexibilities that give oh, by the way, that is entirely on my lifestyle, my situation, my life circumstances right now, it’s completely personal, I think. I totally understand that some people may be in the audience or watching this might hate the whole thing, which is totally justifiable, but I’m just looking for my personal experiences.
Ivan: Yeah, I see. No worries there. I mean we don’t hate, we don’t hate, we are just very, very happy with what we have. But working from home, it also works for me that I’m doing freelancing, you know, so there has to be something different for you because you were working for a company from for a product company or were you working on for an agency where you’re freelancing before this? How was your previous situation?
Alex: So I was working for a product company and I would say that it was one of the best teams that I worked, one of the best projects, one of the best people, best salary, best all, everything was fantastic. But in the back of my head, what I was telling you before about becoming more specialized in development, basically, that kind of, it feels weird to me. Because it’s kind of like you have so many interests but you can only pick one that makes sense.
And you know, ideally I want to be able to do a lot of things that make me happy instead of one. And given the fact that work kind of takes the majority of our days, I prefer to do stuff that, you know, my day to day is as enjoyable as possible. So going back to the, what happened, what is different basically is that given the fact that I, the whole new world of remote working opened up to me, I was like, okay, so that thing exists that is new, What if, what are other things that could be different that I’ve never thought about basically.
Ah and one thing that constantly, like for years now I’ve been living in the UK for seven years now and the one thing that keeps bothering me basically is the fact that I had to choose a location, the fact that I had to for work, I had to live in the UK, which London is a place that I absolutely love, I made so many friends here. I’ve been to so many events, life opportunities, like it’s great, but I don’t want to not be there for my family in Greece or my other friends that are basically scattered all around the world, it’s kind of like too many things to give up.
But anyway, that is something that remote work, that remote work without the boats can fix, right? Like if you can work from anywhere, you don’t really have to worry about that. But it still was something that, you know, remote work with remote work, you can work from anywhere. But the other thing is, you don’t get, you don’t necessarily get to decide when you can work from places because in the end of the day, if you’re working in the case that you’re not a freelancer and you’re working for, for someone else for a company, you have days off. By the way, reminder, please take your days off. I think that a lot of people don’t and keeps you happy you still, you still need to ask for permission basically to say, could I work remotely for a week or a month or whatever. and most of the times like with it when everything is totally fine, people will say yes and that’s not a problem, but it’s still something that you need to ask someone for permission and maybe there’s going to be a chance that because of work, because something happens, whatever you are not going to get that permission right and if you had to go back home or travel for a specific reason, you might not be able to do that or your schedule, you might be completely over.
So in the end of the day I started taking this into a more instead of thinking work, more of a, how should I put this? This is like a separate thing from my life as in I live and then there’s work that I need to cater for. I started thinking more about what are the things I do love doing, What are the things that if I could be doing, they could be doing them every single day, I would be so happy because every day I would be doing the things that I want to ah and I thought, you know, the closest thing is the side projects, but in a more productionized scale, let’s put it like that.
Ivan: Bit more committed to the project is more like not a pet project but like a real project.
Alex: Yeah. It’s interesting because you know, you have one side, which is like how basically I do the things that I want every single day that keeps me happy and so on and you need to understand that it’s not just happiness basically because on the other side you have the big scary monster kind of thing which is like, well, how are you going to basically make a living out of those projects or how is life going to be like not having a day to day job and how are you going to fix your schedule and how are you going to do a lot of things basically that are completely unknown. and where unknowns to me and still are. It’s not as if I have for a full clear picture of things yet, but it’s part of the fun. It’s both fun and scary at the same time.
Ivan: It’s an adventure, that’s an adventure. Yeah, I mean, I really like the, the argument that you you actually brought in about the career that a lot of developers we face right, there is a trajectory. You join, you start coding junior, mid, senior and then you start thinking, okay, what’s next? And then, you know, there’s this management or whatever or how is it like individual contributor is like, how is it called? But the more I work often they are looking for, you know, we want a product focused engineer or like a product of somebody that also looks at the product side of things.
But on the other side, they also want the deo ex-machina that they can fix every possible shit that happens, right? So either you want like an uber technical person or you want somebody that also has communication skill because maybe you are running a user interview or something like that. So it’s it’s it feels like one of those jobs in job descriptions where you need to know like 10 languages, 15 million frameworks and oh yeah we’re looking for a junior that that that mythical figure that does not exist.
But I that actually incredibly close to what I experienced with my pet projects. You know the one that we were redesigning the Kindle Companion app because as you as you pointed out you need to do everything for that thing, right? So you are like, oh yeah now the app is in Kotlin, Hooray, well nobody’s installing it. Okay. So let’s look at you know advertisement or SOE or marketing and okay so but now I get feedback from the user.
Should I prioritize is it like some random dude asking for a feature or it’s a legit use case. Right? So and that’s the that’s the struggle because if you also are working 40 hours a week that’s a huge risk because you know burnout is around the corner you work you are you need to pay rent. So it’s like 40 hours already there and then you are you are also working on your thing with a lot of energy because you’re doing every possible thing around the project. You know it’s it’s a tricky situation but I definitely can’t relate.
Alex: That is the the thing like if you start thinking about, you know those side projects into more of how, not necessarily how do I make profit out of it – like because no one in their right mind would do something like that just for the money. Like it has to be in a more, how should I put this?
If you think about how do I make a business out of it? How do I make a lifestyle that I can actually keep working on it in a way that actually pays the bills, pays rent and all this kind of stuff you start thinking about instead of thinking of how do I make my project my code base better? How do I make my design better? You think about how do I make people’s life easier? How do I build something that people would care enough basically for this? And then you go into another sort of thought process, which is like how do I know what someone wants? And then you go to realize that you kind of need to talk to your users.
Ivan: You need to talk to your users, exactly.
Alex: That is something that I think that if you’re working for a company, you rarely, rarely get the chance to talk to them.
Ivan: because you have another team, probably already doing that right? You have the UX team or user research team. But then you have this urge and say I would like to do that. But you are also consciously I mean you know that if you’re if you go there and say oh can I join a user interview? And they’re like yeah sure. And then you you’re not shipping code right for like a day. So that’s that doesn’t work right? I mean from a company point of view. Yeah. Yeah Alex even we love you but you know you need to quote we’re paying you for coding. But that’s a shame but it’s also unfortunate but there was like yeah but I really want to understand how ads work right? Or analytic words can I can I pair with the data people like the data team for like a week. You know it will be it will be cool. And then you’re like it doesn’t work for a company.
Alex: yep that is so strange to me. I mean five months ago it made total sense. Now, not so much. Like I think that if somehow you get to work with people from other teams then you get the opportunity not only to understand what they’re doing. So if you’re a developer you could potentially help the analytics team with some sort of better data you could provide them better data or any sort of problem that you can only you as a developer can understand that they have. Maybe you could automate something for them. You know that’s a very common use case and that could potentially save the company like thousands and thousands of dollars or whatever currency.
Ivan: Analytics is a great example because I’m a huge fan. Sebastian always trolls me that I’m obsessed with data and shit. Because that for me is like like knowledge, you know, I know how people are using the app because so I I took a minute to put an event on that button. So every time they click we know. And you actually see something like this happened this week. So we were tracking stuff for our you know like non fatal crash leading kind of shipped, you know, you know there was an exception. We managed it but you know we are also tracking that it happened just for the sake of knowing and we were able to have the backend team to actually figure out shit that was completely unrelated to the app itself but they were struggling with like an authentication of blah blah blah and I was like okay but we are seeing a lot of these logs, could it be helpful you know? But again there was a proactive, I think that we did because you know probably seniority gives a bit of courage, you know like, we are doing it, nobody is gonna tell us anything but it’s not, it’s not always the case right there. There are also cases where you are like a bit scared, a bit unsure. You just want to do your job and and the the whole company is missing out on these kind of opportunities, right? Like cross functional kind of opportunities.
Alex: Yeah. What you said is totally true. Like the seniority, you have more courage to do things within the company. I think it’s more either the seniority but you have that you’ve seen stuff in your life and you know how things go from past experiences or you might be a new person joining a company and you don’t know other people. if no one knows you they don’t really know what you’re capable of. which is on that note, it is a nice thing to be working independently doing your own projects and stuff because you can basically do anything that you want which is both good and bad thing, right?
Ivan: Yeah. Because you’re also alone, right? There is a lot of, a lot of stuff to do. So you don’t, you cannot lean on your team. Like you know, today is one of those days, I don’t want to do this. I’m gonna just ask you know for help or you know, the marketing thing is the marketing team is going to take care of this. I don’t care. Oh no, the data team is going to take care of this. So yeah, let’s ask a designer something. So when you’re alone, you’re alone? I mean it’s, it sounds like a joke but that’s actually what it is, right? It’s everything is on your shoulders.
Alex: True. It’s quite of a big burden in the beginning because you’re kind of like, okay, sure, I can do development, I can do design, I can talk to users and so on, but there are 24 hours in a day, how on earth do I, you know, do everything? especially the first month that I started doing this like full time, I was kind of like, I was kind of overwhelmed, like I wasn’t quite sure what to prioritize basically and how to move forward what to build and so on.
Because you, you have like an infinite canvas basically and you kind of need to ship something, no one is going to be there to tell you, you know, you need to do this, this, this and that or you don’t have a zero priorities someone. Yeah. So in the first month it was kind of impossible for me to ship stuff because I would over engineer the shit out of everything basically. Sorry, sorry, what I mean by opening engineer.
If I were to do the the same project in a company time, I would do nicely. I will start with tests, I would have like a nice model, I would have like, you know, do TDD in order to make sure that everything works fantastically well and so on. and the more you do this when you’re working independently is that who’s going to care about the test that I wrote, who’s going to care about the nice code that I have for the nice designer I have and so on. If no one is going to use what I’m building. So it gets into this cycle of, I need to figure out, I need to find people that actually who are going to be my target audience, my users, eventually my customers and then you start building what they need.
Yeah, so the first month I built like a super, super simple website like if I were to do it now, basically it would take me a week, but it took me a month because I was trying to figure out a new technology and also how to do like everything from scratch. and now it’s kind of like the more months passing by, it’s more of a, what is the least amount of effort I can put in order to give value to end users, like that’s all it matters. And the more you think about this, the more you realize that most of the times you don’t even need to do any coding whatsoever, like in the end of the day, you need to, can you do what you need to deliver? Can you help someone, can you make their life easier, can you help them make money and so on, Like in the next five minutes?
Ivan: helping people without coding. I wanted to put this on the table but we we need to thank Alex because he was the one that actually pointed us in the direction of Reddit. Because we completely we we are not user we are not reddit users, I haven’t I mean I have an account for like 10 years, never used it, it was like one Karma point that kind of stuff. The platform never clicked for me. But then he came to us and I was like have you tried this? Because I did some research some, he sent us like an email this big, it was like okay, it took a lot of time for this, let’s give it a shot. And actually we found another outlet for promoting code with the talents on Reddit because because I didn’t know, I didn’t know there are 100 communities there, there are jetpack, compose communities, they’re material designs, computer communities there. So you know, I I like the idea that you can help, it’s just you need to have like a more like holistic mindset, you know what you do like the the technology and your industry without this, you know, narrow focus of “I just code”, right?
Sebastiano: it’s not just about the code anymore at that point.
Alex: Yeah, I think that we know the what’s called their specific bias the hammer. Golden hammer, it’s called if you know how to use a hammer then every single problem is a nail. That is true for so many different things. coding is one, for example, if you’re a developer you are going to be like, oh I can hack this real quick and I’m gonna help, you know, make up this amazing thing and so on, high chances are if you’re a designer, you’re gonna be like, oh I’m gonna design this app or use design thinking for example which is the framework that they use a lot in order to come up with a solution of this problem and so on and so on. But if you start thinking not about your skills and what you do, but the person you’re trying to help, then you start… you’re going to start seeing the world entirely differently and you become you you go high quality, you step in their shoes and then you understand, oh, you know what? Most of the times, I don’t need to overcomplicate things, what is the simplest thing that I can deliver basically in the next five minutes and so on.
Ivan: I was just asking if we want to look at slido because we have a few questions that I’d like to start
Sebastiano: also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone, ask your questions on slido and up vote the ones that you care about that are already there because that helps us prioritizing them.
Ivan: Plus it gives us stats and Ivan is happy with stats.
Sebastiano: I’ll give you a random numbers at the end of the stream, so you’re happy. “five”, whatever.
Ivan: Yeah, so let’s let’s start with the most voted one. So troll-worthy that I have like an idea of who can be. So they are asking
Ivan: What plans does Alex have for the jetpack compose starter kit?
Alex: Cool. The plans itself for that kit is I’m going to continue doing some changes to the kit itself.
Ivan: Do you want to give us an overview because Mark knows what it is, so maybe other people are interested.
Alex: So I recently released a jetpack compose starter kit, which is a nice looking app both in terms of like how it looks and the code itself is made out of modern android practices. so you can use this app if you want to basically build your own android social app or android contacts app. you could either pick the business logic that exists there, say that you don’t want to deal with all the logic in your app, you can steal the code within the project and copy in your own project and do whatever you want with it. The code is unlicensed by the way.
Or if you’re building your own up entirely, like a social, mostly out, you can take the UI bits which is already in Jetpack Compose, you can take either the whole entire screens, which is like a single composable which has other smaller composables built inside. Or if you’re interested in something which is more granular, you can pick up the mix and much specific, compose a bill that you can find there.
After years and years dealing with contacts, basically, I realized how it is such a common use case. like all, most of the apps that I have developed so far, both my personal projects and company wide. One way or another, they interact with contacts and the way that you handle contacts in android is kind of very complicated, very verbose.
Ivan: Sorry, it’s a bitch.
Alex: To put it nice yes. So I decided to make these kits so that if someone wants to just focus on their, on the problem that they’re solving, they can immediately just get the kit and bootstrapp their own app or immediately move forward with their own applications that they want to do. So the plan for that is initially I made this for two reasons. The one is I wanted to see whether this is something that people would buy simply put because I do personally, I do think that as Ivan mentioned that working on (contact) apps is a bitch, but if it is or not that doesn’t go through me. I’m not the one deciding whether it’s a difficult problem or whether people will pay money for that. The only way that you can validate that is through making something and shipping it releasing into the to the market basically. They are the ones that are gonna be saying okay you know what this is worth the money or the time whatever to look into something like that. So the plan for that is continue adding more things into that. For example I’m thinking about having tablet ui like a more responsive UI both so that people first of all have their ready made composables for any sort of screen size for the time being tablet you are mobile and tablet you are And also I think it’s just saying not to include something like that like if jetpack compose provides a nicer way to support multiple screen sizes. I think if someone is building their app, it would be nice for them to have like a nicer layout for tablets as well.
But the second reason why I built something like that was to see whether there is any interest in jetpack compose like for me like as a nerd basically I love… if someone is like doing your work and then they went they did whatever they wanted to do animate all this kind of stuff with the Views and then they touched jetpack compose, I think that they there’s nothing bad to say about it, don’t you can only say good things about it. So I want to see if there is an interest there which seems that there is so I’m thinking about other products and ideas around that’s a jetpack compose specific.
Ivan: Nice. I mean I’m checking the link that we dropped in the chat and the by the way, I love the the Ui and it’s the idea is brilliant in its simplicity because as you said, I’m solving a problem. I don’t want to be unnecessarily fancy, I want to solve a problem. I am also fascinated by the pricing model.
It is actually, it’s pretty unique to me. I probably is the first time that I see something like that. Would you mind to give us the reasoning behind why there is no one single prize.
Alex: So usually specialized software like this, if you’re if you’re to hire developer and ask them to build that, that would be too expensive basically because usually it’s a company asking for a specialized person to do such work and that’s it. So for me because first and foremost I wanted to see whether this is something that people would want or not, but at the same time I want as many people to get their hands on it as possible. I decided to set like a very very low price so that you know I originally had the pre sale of two weeks without any more mockups without any design work, without any coding whatsoever.
So it would be crazy to ask for someone to pay thousands basically for something they don’t know about. I described what it is and I said not advertisement, like a listing on one of those websites where you can sell digital products. and I had a few buyers basically, so it gave me more, you know, this is something I have a good feeling basically that I can put more effort into this, this is worth my time me as a creator basically.
so because pricing is also something that I need to figure out myself, as I said, it’s not everything super clear. I’m pretty sure that other people that see the this whole like the jetpack, the starter kit, that would be like, that’s crazy. Just set a normal price, price it properly basically and distribute it and that’s it. I was like, I don’t feel comfortable doing that. Like, I think that at least for me actually, I cannot talk for other people asking for money is a skill in a way, like initially it takes some nerve, it used to take some nerve basically to ask for money, given the fact that most of the stuff that you can find online can be for free, why would someone say something, your product versus they can find other products in a better pricing and so on, so on. So it was both a way to validate like to get the, to get it out of my system as in, you know what, people are actually paying me money to do this, which is fantastic.
So the pricing model that even mentioned earlier, the reason why it is, he was curious, I assume, Yeah, the reason why he was curious about it is because it started at 9.99 basically and every 10th sale, I am doubling the price. So eventually after like 100 sales, it would get to a proper pricing that would normally get, if you were to hire a developer to do such work and has other like either side effects on that, like if it is low price, it means that developers that actually need that because they want to see how an entire project is structured like they could afford that basically and they can get that and one gets higher price that is automatically a kid for companies for their own projects and structures but they do not want to hire developers to do the same work, they get it, you know, Here it is, There you go.
Ivan: Yeah, ready to go. Yeah, so the project itself, the project itself is, is sold on this gumroad platform and what do you get, do you get a zip file?
Alex: Yes, so there is a zip file with the project itself, normally it’s an android studio project, you can unzip it and loaded on your favorite I d I think that you’re giving away nice bundles from intelligence as well. So you could totally.
Ivan: Yes. Yeah. Well unfortunately, I don’t think, I don’t know but I can’t, I can’t run it on android studio. No, I’m kidding. We can do compose for desktop, so probably I can still steal your composables somehow. so and are you, are you planning on updating the project? How if I buy it, do I get updates? Like you know, do you notify me or even there is 1.2?
Alex: yep. So there is something that I realized yesterday basically oh by the way, the listing itself is what it is, it’s me trying to make sense of how to do proper product listings. Like I’m still learning myself. Right. so if you do buy the kit, you’ll check that there is a README me with way more information there, which yesterday I realized that maybe I should add include the information of what you really get on the listening itself outside. Duh.
So what you’re getting is during the first month, if you find any sort of bug, either it is visual or logic whatsoever. If you find an issue message me using the purchase email and I’m happy to have a look at that and then any further updates. I’m going to work on that such as the widescreen support that’s going to be there for you for free, there’s no charge whatsoever and of course I’m gonna message the people so they don’t miss the update. It’s not going to be like a stale project whatsoever.
I like to think even before the creation of the kit and during this moment basically I see it more of an evolving project. Like if you’re following me on twitter, you could see like as soon as I made the first screen, I said it on twitter, people commented and so on. I added more features, people commented at some point. I asked which kind of designed if you prefer? People gave suggestions. I modified the design so it matches basically all the feedback that I received and went on to the next screen. So it’s more of a evolving project, which I think it kind of resonates with people because it creates a story for them they can follow instead of being buy this, you know.
Ivan: I love it. So we have another question, I’m going top to bottom. So add your questions on slido and vote up. Vote questions if you, if you like them, the next one will be how do you plan financially for something like this? How long do you plan on doing this for? Mhm. I guess the whole adventure. Now we are off the starter kit.
Sebastiano: It’s good to going to adventures with plans, I guess.
Alex: It sure is. So something going back to the decision basically. why do this during the pandemic as well? at some point thinking about the whole commute different sort of lifestyle, different sorts of living and all this kind of stuff. The money aspect came as well. That was one of the first questions that I had in my mind, like okay, that’s fantastic. You know, on paper, but what does it take to actually go ahead and do this kind of stuff? How much money do I need? Do I need a lot of money? Do I I need to take a loan from the bank? Do I need funding to start my own startup and all this kind of stuff? So I take it in a very like as the not cheap, but really pragmatic as possible. And I’m like okay if I am to build the projects that I want to know from scratch without any anyone giving me any money basically. How many months can I maintain my current lifestyle without change? Absolutely anything. Right. So that number for me was about £2,000 per month. And then you know, start doing some maths like okay, so how much do I need for a year? And then I started thinking, wait, okay, hold on a minute, how much money do I actually have? And then, you know doing calculations, You know, you see the numbers in front of you, I’m like well I have enough money to do this crazy thing basically for the next five years. And then immediately it becomes less scary than it sounds like like run the numbers.
Yeah, and you know, I understand that, that’s insane because like both, like it’s luck and some opportunities as well and privilege, like all these kind of things take a big consideration into the moves that you know, I move on forward to. I cannot say that this is pure hard work or effort and I have no clue whether what I’m doing is going to you know, be profitable or not in the end, but at least the next steps I can do them without feeling stressed out that oh my God, I am going to do this and I’m gonna be sleeping on the streets or something, you know, It’s I’m a single guy on my 30s. not having any dependency basically, I don’t have any wives, I don’t have any dogs, I don’t have any kids and so on, so on. So it’s super flexible for me to be doing this random stuff that other people would be like, but why? You know?
Sebastiano: Yeah, I mean, I don’t see Ivan doing that tomorrow.
Ivan: But well, I mean okay, but that’s not true, right? Because as Alex mentioned, You work for 10 years if you’re if you’re not a madman, you probably have a buffer because shit happens, so it’s not even about, oh, tomorrow I want to be an indie developer. No, it’s more like, oh tomorrow I break my hand and I can’t work because you know, damn it. So you need a buffer of sorts, like an emergency buffer
Sebastiano: Slush fund. Yes.
Ivan: I could do that even with a baby with a dog and a mortgage, probably it will be a bit more stressful for me, but the same, the same applies to being a freelancer, right? I could if I if I wanted to be like more probably chilled, I would go for some permanent job and say, you know what, whatever, if something happens, I have, I don’t know, like sick leave or whatever, you know, you know? So even in my current situation there is a bit of uncertainty, but I roll with it, so if I definitely see the privileged position and probably the good timing because there was a conscious choice, I mean I bet for you but I don’t want to over make it over dramatic, like, oh no, yeah, it’s impossible for everybody else, you need to be like in your thirties and you need to be single and you need to hate animals.
Alex: Basically before being like, you know, this is something that I’m doing now, quitting my job and so on, I was kind of like, well I have no clue if it’s something doable or not, but I’m going to give myself enough time to understand if this is something doable or not. Like you can see on the internet, okay. I know that you can find everything on the internet, you can find other people, different circumstances, other people with babies, kids, other people with families and different dependencies, different circumstances and so on. So immediately for me this is kind of like not if it is doable because it certainly is, for me if someone has achieved something that I want to accomplish, I’m like that’s amazing, it’s doable. You know, it gets my the doubt whether something can be achievable or not like okay, that is done.
So the question becomes how can I do that? And I realized for me that if I am to work eight hours a day, I am not really going to, I’m going usually, I would feel drained out by the end of the day. The only thing I want to do most of the times would be to, you know, zone out, turn off everything, laptops, computers whatsoever. Just look at the ceiling for until I go to bed. So because of that, I started doing my own projects in the beginning of the day, the same way as working out like I do that in the first thing in the day, it’s kind of like paying yourself first.
Ivan: I often do the same, we had a conversation on twitter about these people who were like where do you find time for your pet project and stuff? I’m always tired and I replied to one of the comments, I was like I try to allocate one hour before work because I mean it’s not every day because I also train in the morning, so you know it’s a couple of days during the week where you just put one hour in, I mean you can do, you can do things in one hour and then you’re like you’re happy when you’re joined the stand-up because you know them, I’m working on my shit.
Sebastiano: I’ve already managed to code something so I’m happy.
Ivan: Yeah, it’s like if you have like a day full of meetings you just go there and said, you know what whatever,
Alex: it definitely changed, at least for me, it definitely changed the way that I saw work like in a positive way because I’m like well I have already made progress on my own stuff. Not I was working on like side projects on my own time because I enjoy doing that. And actually for a long period of my time during my previous job I wouldn’t do any side projects because I’m like I don’t need to learn anything, basically, I’m good, I have this nice job and whatever. Why would I code on my side? and then I realized that the side projects are so enjoyable to work on, man, I can do anything I want to say that I don’t like architecture, for example, whatever I can do anything I want, I want to try out a different UI pattern like a design UI pattern, I can totally do that. I want to explore a new technology because I genuinely believe it’s fun, I can do that and so on.
I don’t think by the way it’s about finding time, it’s about making time and I think that probably that sentence, you have heard that too many times in the past and I’m going to give you a very good example how you two are actually doing what I do way before than I am doing what I’m doing right now. Actually, let me put words more specific. You are saying about finding one hour in your, you know, you’re finding one hour to do your side projects, right, but how many days per week are you putting in making this incredible show? Like basically it’s the same thing in a way its business on its own. Like all you have to do is figure out how to monetize it. And I’m pretty sure.
Ivan: that’s that at the moment it’s it’s a failing business…
Sebastiano: it’s not failing
Alex: Not failing not at all. I think that you’re doing a fantastic job and a lot of like this kind of opportunities basically is actually starting something because how on earth would you know, not specifically for the, for the show itself, but as a general, as a, as a general concept, how do you know how something is how to do something without starting something? Like building a side project, for example, is one thing monetizing, it is a different thing, but you kind of need to get started to get to the point of monetizing something
Ivan: you need people to use it. That’s the thing, right?
Alex: Maybe maybe like you could potentially make money out of something before it even existed, if you can find someone that, you know, they have this incredibly problem in the day to day life, if you come out of nowhere and be like, hey, I can offer this solution to you and they’re like holy shit, this is amazing, take my money. but then goes all the different discussions like where do you find people, how do you do this and all this kind of stuff.
Sebastiano: Can I, can I add something to this on the, on the topic of side projects? And also time back to what I was saying that I don’t consider this project, even though it doesn’t bring me money, but right now I’m actually, it’s fine. I like I’m not on the street, I’m not like obviously the more money you get the better, but this is not about it, like this. Yeah, this like the money we get, we spend it, like we we invested in speaking stickers. But yeah, the the point is for me of doing this is it’s something that is so enjoyable and it’s so interesting. It’s always interesting because like sometimes it’s just the two of us telling bullshit and then like even if things don’t work, we have fun anyway. Like we laugh, we suffer together through gradle and everything. But and this is an example. I was, I was talking with someone today over lunch and they were telling me like, oh you’re, you’re doing a lot of work for the stream and and whatever. Yeah, we get trolled together Mark I guess, by you mostly. But I was telling them like we are doing work for this. But to me what this brings to me is something that I’m looking forward to. It is something that even if I invest time into, I don’t feel like it’s giving me back more than what I put into it and not just like this is not a money thing. This is a purely personal feeling thing. On Wednesday, I had a ship day I had problems that I needed to deal with. CI was broken. I was having problems with things that I bought that I needed to return. But it was getting complicated. I was very nervous when I got to the point of starting the stream and within 10 minutes I was so happy. I had forgotten everything and it’s like that’s the mark of something that even if you don’t make money after the fact that it can make your day better in and by itself is worth it.
Alex: it’s a form of self expression I think like who make things that make us… you know, we we spend our free time into things that make us happy right? If we think that something is important, we put our energy or our soul and passion and everything, whether that makes money or not, it doesn’t matter in any way. but but going back to decisions, life choices and all this kind of stuff. work and these kind of things that you’re bringing pure joy doesn’t have to be a different thing. That’s what I believe and that’s what I’m currently exploring basically.
Like why could I not, for example, both do the things that I want to be doing, accept the fact that there are more other admin things, other things that I don’t like doing. because in the end of the day, you know, you have responsibilities, you have other sort of problems you need to take care of, but you have to do them otherwise. You know, things are not going to be good and joyful forever, but why can I not do all this kind of stuff while like making a living basically out of that, I’m gonna be happy doing things that make me happy, I’m also going to be solving people’s problems true problems out of what I’m doing. So they’re going to be happier. So I don’t see what is the bad thing about this, you know? A little bit more clue the more months going by. But you if you’re interested in something like that, for example, I am I put more of my effort and resources into figuring out how to do that. I think it’s like a something I’m super interested in. I want to make my living basically. So that’s where I go.
Ivan: I want to go back to. So we have a question about work life balance. And I also want to add what what you say just now about doing what you what you like, right? What you what you want to, it makes you happy in your spare time. Can you try to to turn it also into something that I do as a living for for a living?
And I always think about what my wife’s always say when you have free time, you code when you’re like that’s that’s that’s incredibly odd, right? Because you know, normal people, they hate their job and when they don’t when they don’t work and then this is not me. There are research and the last one that I looked at Sebastian was on post a few a few months ago and they were they were talking about Francisco Costa we love you.
I pay for my newspapers, so that’s that’s the that’s how I do newspapers. So I I’m a subscriber, like the yeah, no, not the not the printed one, it’s an online one, it’s a news, news website. so, and they were actually pointing out stats, they there is a research in in europe where like, Like 10% of people on average people living in Europe, like their job 10% and in Italy and in Italy it goes down to 5%. Okay, so that’s that’s how work works for, for human beings apparently.
Right, so when, when you tell me when you have free time, you do the same thing that you do the whole week for me, that’s that’s that’s luck, that’s privileged, that’s something that I built over time, that’s me being thankful because they gave me a computer when I was eight years old, you know, it’s but on the same, on the at the same time, that’s a huge risk of balance, because well if you, if I don’t check on myself, I’m constantly in front of this thing coding stuff, like there is, there is no other way.
I’m lately, I mean since I, since Sebastian oh, convinced me to buy a desktop machine, I also have an NVIDIA graphic cards, so I can also run Steam and video games, so I kind of saved myself because every now and then I also run Steam, I’m playing, What was it like? Ghost Recon Wildlands. Very, very, very strategic, very, very, very, very like a puzzle game kind of shit, just killing Narcos. But the idea is that also saved me from, you know, one more evening in front of the computer coding and the question that they are asking is working from home can make it hard to find work-life balance. Working on your own with external goals can make it even harder. How do you keep on track?
Alex: I think that is definitely, it’s incredibly difficult to stop doing what you are very interested in doing. Like if you are coding something or you’re sketching more playing basketball or whatever and you are very into the moment you’re like, this is amazing. I love this. This feeling, I don’t know what it is and choosing to stop is incredibly difficult. I think we can all agree or felt that one way or another.
So for me, because I basically, one of the reasons why I’m doing this is so that I don’t, I don’t only work, even if it is enjoyable or not, it’s still work at some point, right? I want to be able to do other things hobbies and talk to people like family, friends and all this kind of stuff. I have set some boundaries to myself, basically.
I have promised myself (promise is a hard work, but let’s), I have said the constraints to work for four hours per day. Now that kind of makes work a bit more. How should I put this?
I need to put more efforts and like make work more meaningful in a way it is, it stops becoming a, you know, those are four hours that I’m going to be looking at the screen and typing stuff and hope stuff to happen. It becomes more of a planning into the future kind of exercise. I know for example that what am I going to do tomorrow, what what I want to achieve the next day and I’ll wake up, I’ll do my own rituals, read my book, have my coffee, go for walk or exercise and then I’ll be back to work for those four days, four hours a days.
And after that I’m going to stop whatever I’m doing set goals for the next day and do other things, maybe read a book, watch a movie, talk with friends and all this kind of stuff, It’s not perfect yet. I don’t know if it will ever become perfect as in to, to have a day and think of like I managed to both have an enjoyable day and both do all the things I want to achieve and you know, all this kind of stuff, but it sets a specific framework at least specific routine that I can keep up and not lose my mind basically. I think it’s one of the things that you, but not for both for physical and mental health because I do believe that I can start, you know coding and designing for hours and hours and you know lose my sleep during the night to do that. I’m addicted basically to that I guess.
But it’s like an infinite resource of energy that they can just use forever. But that wouldn’t work because first of all that is greedy. I would only be happy myself and nothing else matters. And if I want to continue doing that, I need to be thinking about other people as well how what I am building helps them. So it’s taking that into consideration and for me to do that is by thinking, you know about other people, about planning, how to achieve the things for them and so on. So it’s setting constrains to yourself is both, you know, it’s hard but it pays off. I think I believe.
Sebastiano: Do you do like you’re you’re mentioning that you have like your rituals and and you decided to allocate four hours a day. Are you more flexible or more the kind of person that is like I’m going to put this in the calendar and this is the time of work and when that is done it’s done.
Alex: No, I am a bit flexible in terms of work. So basically when I wake up and have my coffee and my book, I kind of need that because it kind of sets the mood for the rest of the day. For example, normally I would read books about the things that I want to learn about my business or about something that I’m genuinely interested in. The books for me have this effect where it’s going to sound stupid, but it makes me believe that I am an expert in a topic.
Sebastiano: It’s not stupid. That’s what books are for.
Alex: I think it’s completely false. Like the fact that you’re an expert.
Sebastiano: “I read a book. So I know that”
Ivan: “I read it in a book.”
Alex: I read the book and I’m like, I know all these things now. I can you read a book about business, whatever that means. And then you close the book and like I know everything now I’m a business person, even though there are like thousands and million different books and things to learn, it never ends. It never ever ends. You get this motivation basically that okay, I have enough information to move on forward towards what I need to do. For example, what I said earlier that I kept over engineering kept everything. By the way, my day sucked at that point because I’m like, well I can put effort into this, but I don’t feel like I’m moving forward, what do I do? And then I stumbled across a fantastic book. It was by the folks that made the basecamp. oh yeah. What’s, what is the name of the book? I cannot…
Ivan: Remote. No, that’s on remote.
Alex: It was about basically building things and shipping things.
Sebastiano: Wait, I’m going to find it. Don’t worry.
Ivan: Yeah. Yeah, we can add it to the episode notes. Don’t worry.
Alex: Yeah, it’s like a digital copy. It’s for free and everyone can find it.
Ivan: I think, I think, I can’t remember. I think “shape it”?
Ivan: “Shape up”
Sebastiano: “Shape up”. Yeah
Ivan: “Shape it, shape up”
Alex: Not sure if it is not. I’ll go through my own lists and find it. But the idea is that basically what they’re saying, what they’re talking in the book is like you don’t need the all the things that you think you need in order to ship the product. You don’t. You don’t need fancy ui you don’t need fancy code. You don’t need all the analytics basically. If you don’t know what exactly you’re going to track, you can totally ship the product without any analytics whatsoever. And like getting early feedback from users and so on.
Like those are the things that I had at that specific moment to read. It resonated with me so much that basically unblocked my brain into thinking, oh, you know what I am doing everything that I don’t have to do. Like at some point, one very tangible example: developer side. I was building a Saas like a software as a service And I was trying to find out, I’ve never done that before in my life like all my years as a developer was doing mobile developer mobile apps basically, and I had to figure out and understand how to do server side stuff, how to keep your users, how to do login authentication, all this kind of stuff and it was kind of like you know I was paralyzed for a decision fatigue basically, on how do I do this because there are a million different ways to do this which is a specific framework to do this.
I know firebase had like a signing authentication thing people praise about like it has a nice name in the market and even without me doing any server side job I was like that is incredible, I can use that. But then you get into the whole… you need to basically learn a new tool from scratch. Like you need to go check the documentation, figure out how to integrate it. You need to learn the tool basically which is totally normal but in the end of the day you don’t really need any of this kind of stuff. You just need to ship a product that people need most of the times like for at least for the very beginning to ship something you don’t even need the database you need to understand. For starters if people need what you’re building because again if you don’t if you feel that I’m building the most amazing thing and everybody will love it. That’s only something like a thought in your mind.
Only when you ship it and you know distribute it, give it to people and people like this is amazing, I’m going to use it and actually give money to use it because you know if I asked my mom, hey mom are you going to use what I built This is gonna be like well done Alex is brilliant and she will have no clue what I’m doing here. People can say they’re going to use it and they like him whatsoever. But the good thing about money is that people are going to give you money if they need, if they use it basically if they want to use it and so on, it’s not a promise, it’s an action. So yeah that’s what books do.
So for those parts of the day it stays there so that it it motivates me to continue for terms of the day and for work it’s a bit more flexible as in I might not work at 12 o’clock or one o’clock, I might work a bit later on but still going to be 3 to 4 hours a day. Sometimes I kind of go overboard because I might be so excited about what I’m doing and keep on working, but luckily so far, that’s the that’s a rare scenario.
Ivan: I actually can relate on the I need to put time box kind of constraint. Sebastiano knows that I have been using the Pomodoro technique for like fucking forever. You know, it it actually it took me through university, right? Because there was the only way that I could actually do to, like have like a resemblance of structure when I was and I was I was studying engineering, it was supposed to be like, you’re very study fucking I was not, but eventually, you know, I kept it with me also when I work and I’m actually writing an app for that because I’m combining a couple of things. because there’s a freelancer I work for on a daily rate And we agree that it’s 40 hours per week, so there is no paid extra time, right? So, if I, for some reason get in the zone and I end up working 10 hours a day. That’s unlucky for Ivan, right? And when I started working, and when the contract was not mentioning extra time, I I actually forced myself, we with with the timers, probably somebody in the chat already knows I have a work day timer on my phone, because I have my phone, you know on the desk. So I Turn on the computer, start the timer nine hours later. The timer runs because I also have lunch. So you know, it’s for simplicity because lazy, so it’s not and at the end of the day I have this thing that says even that’s it, right, the day is over, just get off.
Sebastiano: “Remember you’re a contractor.”
Ivan: Yeah, remember you are a contractor. So no, they are not going to pay you for this plus you are hurting your your health, you need to, you need to get off. and during the day I also have breaks. So I built timers, I call it, I call it well-being app.
So yeah, so I also have these timers that has like they forced me through breaks, right? So it’s a very, very, very structure thing because if I don’t have somebody slapping me like even just have a drink, you know, we have people in the chart drink drink some water and I was like, you know, I have that kind of stuff. Also my phone and that helps helps to you know keep yourself in check because otherwise when you are passionate and it’s like a passion slash addiction slash I want to fix this slash Goddammit.
Sebastiano: One more thing. One more thing I’m almost done.
Alex: It has diminishing returns. Like if you keep working on something say that you don’t have that and everything is great, you can go on forever and ever it has diminishing returns. The more you do it, the more code you write at some point, you don’t realize it, but it’s going to take longer for you to come up with solutions problem. It’s going to take more time.
Ivan: Even to recover. It’s like drinking, you know, at some point it’s gonna be when you are in your twenties, you can drink and then, you know, the day after you have lessons at the university boom. Now if I drink the same amount of alcohol, it’s gonna take me three days to recover, right? And that’s the, that’s, I mean, and that’s why I don’t drink anymore because it’s a week, it’s not two even three days, but jokes aside, it’s not working. You know, I can do like a deep dive in the zone. Like, you know, they, they show it in the movie. So now I get in the zone, I worked for six hours and then I wake up and I’m like, yeah, I solved the issue and I actually don’t remember how to walk anymore because I’m so burned out. I’m so fried that I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing, where am I who are these people who’s this hurry thing on my couch. So, uh, so,
Alex: you know, we are emotional creatures altogether. if there’s something that feels nice, we tend to just zone in. You know, why would on earth would you stop doing something that feels so great right? For different people by the way, it’s completely different, different people like different things by the way. If for any reason you don’t have similar scenarios, similar feelings about code, everything is totally fine. You’re interested in different things that me and Ivan are interested in, but unless you set some boundaries to yourself, both for coding, doing what you love and a lot of things, it’s going to be very, very negative down the line. For example, think about food, I come from a country where food is incredible, I could be eating all day long, incredible amounts of food, super tasty stuff. At some point, you kind of need to be able to constrain yourself because you know, the thing that you love is going to just, you know, make you feel…
Ivan: Kill you.
Sebastiano: I mean, technically everything is going to kill you at some point.
Ivan: No, but he, he is correct because food is an addiction like anything else, right? When, because I don’t, there is nothing that if you overdo it is gonna be fine, everything is gonna be bad if you overdo it in a massive way. Uh, and you know, food is an example, but also what we do, right? I mean, I’m actually at some level, I don’t know, I don’t want to say that I’m jealous for the people that don’t do what I do over the weekend. You know, people that at some point that there’s just no, no, no, I’m okay, I have other things in my life. I don’t need to code all the time.
Sebastiano: I’m going to go skydiving!
Ivan: Whatever, but that’s also super nice, but at the same time I also think about what I have, right? It’s not that I’m always coding, you know, because I also do gardening, I walk with the dog, I do other other things I build shit, I do electronics. So and so that, that’s everything is nice, but at some point you you need to be mindful. Yeah, if you push it too much, it’s going to be bad whatever it is.
Alex: By the way, on exactly that note, that I think that for some people coding is not to work, it’s like a nice activity. Like for me, I love the, you know, you, you came to solve the problem which seems complicated. Let me put it another way. Some people love solving Sudoku puzzles or do Rubik’s cubes. I like coding. I see it exactly the same thing. Like honestly, I don’t think from, not as an activity, but what you get out of it, I think of it exactly the same way. I feel incredibly luck. Like sometimes I cannot believe my luck how I figured that out from a, like a young age, I think I got first into coding when I was 11 or 12 years old and the fact that I could do that as a job is like that’s incredible that on its own, the fact that I could do this for a living. For me, it was more it was a greater satisfaction than being paid basically.
Ivan: We’re very lucky.
Alex: Yeah, and because of that, it kind of, I don’t know for me, I thought of it for many, many years as a stigma kind of thing, exactly what you said, that other people look at people that like what they do for work as weird people. Like there was a period of my life basically, which I thought I had to stop doing what I do for work outside of work and start looking at other things, I don’t know how exactly to describe it.
Yes, but because it’s not “what people do”, if that makes sense, which is a horrible, horrible thing, like doing other things that what you do for work… actually keep work outside of this for a second, but doing multiple things that it’s much better to diversify, as you said into more than one things. The things that you love doing both for exploring what you like, because unless you actually go out and try out things, you don’t know if you’re going to like it, you might read in books, you might see a movie about surfing for example, but unless you actually go ahead and do it, you don’t know because there are so many bits and pieces into the activity. You haven’t imagined it. Like how do you get to the place where (by the way I don’t surf). Where do you go to the place where people do the surfing, who are the other people that you can interact with? Other surfers and so on? How customizable for example are the surfing boards and all this kind of stuff. Maybe there’s an aspect of yourself that you like that you can apply to that activity or you can take from that activity and apply it to something else. And the more activities that you do if you cannot you know if you cannot go out and surf because the day is bad or whatever it doesn’t allow you to do serve then you have all the other activities. You can still have a nice time. So it’s a good thing to the diversify. Do we have other questions in…?
Ivan: Yes we do. There are a couple of questions. Sebastian do you want? Do you have a preferred one favorite one?
Sebastiano: I mean one has up votes.
Ivan: So okay, so the one with the up votes. How long can you guys stand any benefits?
Sebastiano: I guess they’re talking about standing desks most likely not just standing in general. I’m very good at standing. I have to say that.
Ivan: I can take that if you don’t mind because I’m only I’m the only one standing.
Sebastiano: So by the way, well I could stand up.
Ivan: no no no no nobody wants to see that. Also the the standing desk top thing have been standing. I’m using a standing desk top for it was 22, I started 2,015 and because I have back problems, back issues so the physiotherapist slash doctor or still but whatever the doctor said the more you stand the better try to alternate standing in sittings and at some point I was just standing because it’s it’s actually more practical for me because I usually walk so when I walk away from my desk and then I come back to my desk there is no transition. I’m just at my desk and I put my hands on my desk and I’m back to my desk. There is no sitting. I have like one of those desks that moves but I never I never use it. So it’s completely waste of money because I got the fancy electric one, never used it.
But but so the answer is I stand the whole day and it’s just a matter of habit when I was working in the office in Berlin, I asked for a standing desk top so when I was doing pair programming, the other half of the pair was standing with me. They hated me at the beginning and then they asked for a standing desk top because they started losing weight just because we were pair programming, they were getting they were losing weight because they were standing the whole day. So you know, the first day is like, oh, I’m I’m so tired. Second day, I was like, oh, I’m so sore at the end of the week. I was like, I had I lost alpha kilo this week and was like, what can I tell you? So jokes aside. Yeah, Well no, I mean for me there is no other way around actually, I struggle now and I’m if I sit because I tend to like crunch, crunch, like, you know, like I start coding like this like like a vulture kind of thing because I it’s not healthy posture for me, so happy being, being standing, it’s it’s more effective for me, it’s it’s simpler and yeah, that’s it. No, I don’t know if you have any advice to you
Sebastiano: I do have a desk that I can use for standing as well. I used to do like half and half of the of the day. Unfortunately, I also have back problems, but my back problems are generally worse after I stand for a while. So trying to be sitting in a good position is generally better for my back, so that’s why I keep moving because I I tend to slouch and then I realized and I try to be upright. but yeah, so I do have that, I don’t use it as much these days, but I kind of want to try and do it again and see if it helps because yeah,
Ivan: If you have, if you decide to have a standing desk top or try a standing desk top, I will advise you to get the anti fatigue mattress. There are, there are very, there are maths, there are men to be under your feet when you stand. They are usually used for people that work in. Yeah, something like that. I mean it looks like the batman symbol.
Sebastiano: The cheapest one I could find is the Amazon Basics one. But yeah, it does what it’s supposed to be doing.
Ivan: And because because standing on a hard surface it’s gonna, it’s gonna hurt your joints. So don’t do that. Get a, get a mat and yeah, give it a shot. I mean it’s, you can, you can come up with a very homemade solution for a week using a couple of carpets and a box to have your laptop raised. So you can give it a shot basically for free before you get into buying a desk if you want. So just be creative.
Alex: Yeah, we were really not made to be sitting all day,
Ivan: nope, I don’t think, I don’t think we evolved. But the thing is even if there were, there were very a lot of chairs in the Neolithic (age).
Sebastiano: but even if you do, you prefer to sit because that’s also fine. Whatever works for you take breaks, stand up, move around, even just stand up, move around the the room, go to the toilet, go outside, have a coffee, have a glass of water, just do those things that are going to help a lot just moving. Because otherwise after a certain point that you’re not moving your body kind of like … which is scientific term for getting sick. I don’t know, maybe it’s that I would say I was lost for words.
But yeah, it’s it’s not good for you if you don’t move for a long time. So try to take breaks. you can do it with Pomodoro timers. Like Ivan does, you can listen to your body, your body will tell you when you need to take a break.
Alex: I think what happens completely anecdotally, assuming things not scientifically, I think that if you don’t use your muscles, they tend to just freeze, become stiff. At least that’s what happened when I broke my wrist and for like a month or so I couldn’t use my hands after that you need to do little by little exercise so everything starts moving again. I think it is the same or maybe not, but it feels good to…
Ivan: well I mean I mean, you have to, you have to remember that the your body, the human body is incredibly good at doing what you ask it to do. So, if you tell, if you ask, I want to be an athlete, boom, let’s be athletes. I mean, yes, Do you want to do cardio? Do you want to feel offenses? If you, if you ask your body, I want to be on a couch watching netflix, it goes like boom, I’m gonna be the best at being on the couch. And that’s why, you know, you basically just rot at some point that you wrote.
Oh yeah, the book, there was another book, so sorry for misleading you. So, but that’s actually going to check this again as well.
Alex: But yeah, it’s a really small book and it’s free, you can read it online, it just goes through like Maybe a sitting or two.
Ivan: Okay, I have a new question. If we want to go there before we wrap up, they are asking, are you planning to also work for customers or only work on your products? Do you have a list of ideas? I guess they are referring to the second option.
Alex: So, working with customers ideally, no, ideally if everything goes well and everything is, you know, everything is good. I would be working solely on my own projects. and that what that means, could be so many different things. For example, it could be as the starter kit, it could be a one time thing, let’s say, a bundled solution that people can use even though they get the updates or I’m working on a SaaS product as I said earlier, that could potentially evolve into its own startup and basically, ideally, automate everything, not hire anyone but have its own entity be there and serve people basically.
Sebastiano: Are you talking about audio bites?
Alex: Yes, that is audio bites.
Ivan: Do we have a link?
Sebastiano: Yes, I do this time. I beat you!
Alex: Audiobites in one sentence, is little tool that helps streamers and podcasters to give a small snippet basically of their stream or their audio. Audio bites, converts it into a small video clip and they can share it easier on social media. so ideally if everything goes well, it would be something like that. Liking living off my products basically. The things if things don’t go well, for example, in a year’s time, you know, account balance keeps going down and down, even though I do have like five years of savings, basically. I am still concerned. you know, financially I cannot be doing that forever and first hit zero and then start building, you know, building up savings. So maybe I’ll consider it as a, maybe I’ll work part time somewhere or maybe I can do consulting or whatever. I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought of that through. I’m very optimistic guy. I’m like for a year’s time, I’m doing this solely. I’m putting all my focus into this, I’ll see what happens, I cannot predict the future.
Ivan: So, so your your initial timeframe is one year, one year brutally focused on this and then we reassess in 2023.
Alex: Think of it like a year long sprint and after a year, do the retrospective with myself, I’ll sit down and ask what it went? Well, what didn’t go well?
Sebastiano: would you do it in front of the mirror?
Ivan: In front of the camera? We want you like, first, like first week of january 1st week or january, like running the retrospective live on twitter…
Sebastiano: Like sitting down and be like, “Okay… so”.
Alex: It’s going to be August by the way I started officially.
To the other question, so that it was a two part question about ideas. Originally I was like, okay for me to do this, my original plan was I’m going to write down all the ideas that I have, all the problems, all the domain areas they want to explore and so on, and then keep building everything, build one thing, see if it sticks, move to the next one, build it, ship it and move to the next one.
I am not entirely sure you’re convinced that is the right approach or at least the way that I work after some months into this, what I realized is that I cannot predict anything basically. So I would rather do smaller steps, each time and validate something tiny, see if it works, build something bigger on top of that. So for example the starter kit is the initial validation of working towards more jetpack compose related stuff. So I’ll do another iteration of something that’s more targeted towards where I’m going to be heading at.
I don’t know what that, how that looks like yet, so yeah, but yeah, little iterations, each time ship something tiny, get validation move onto the next bit. And most of the times what I figured is that those things are completely different to my original expectations. Like say that I think that this amazing idea is going to help so many people, but many people might be interested in a subset of the features that I have delivered for example. So I’m going to focus mostly on what people want or need basically. Instead of putting all the effort in building everything.
Ivan: Well there will be, there will be agile, like the de facto right, that’s it, Get the feedback ship something, get the feedback, ship something, get the feedback. This is nice, but you know, I have a few people on twitter, they they went on this kind of journey and they approached it in a different way from how to structure the year.
A few of them, they were like I so I’m sitting here, I have a list of 10 ideas for the next year. I’m going to ship one idea every month. So I’m gonna just focus like desperate coders but one month of this thing build the MVP, ship it and then you know next first of the month build the second thing and ship it and then keep track of what works you know over because at that point when you are on the 6th let’s say mid middle of the year you already have like a few months of users on the first project so you can try to already try to analyze. Okay this thing is just yeah it’s just shipped so this is not working. You know it hasn’t worked for six months, it’s dead in the water. What do you think about this kind of approach?
Alex: Originally I was planning on doing that. That’s why I came up with ideas and I have a full Trello board full of what I thought originally was incredible ideas but now I’m more of a, those are just random ideas man. Like unless I again build something in a validate I cannot know for sure. And another thing that just clicked with me I realized basically later on is that in a month’s time or three months time, five months time I’m going to probably be a different person that I am right now I’m going to know so many different things like five months ago my mindset was completely different to what it is now, like five months ago, six months ago, it was more developer trying to figure stuff out and now I’m toning down into the, how would I do this if I were to be hired as a developer and was more about the people, how we can make sure that this is something worth the effort and so on.
So your mindset changes completely as you go through this journey as you said. So it doesn’t because of that, it doesn’t make sense to me to have a list of ideas that I thought months before. Like does that make sense? It’s like, it’s another person’s ideas basically. And as I go, I iterate I understand better how to move better basically. Okay, maybe I’ll share that list someday for people to see, I don’t know…
Ivan: I’m always fascinated about, you know, a list of the ideas because I’m not that kind of person. You know, I, I build stuff out of pain so has yeah, no, no, no, no. But so it sounds dramatic because I’m from Southern Italy. So you know, everything has to sound like very, very theatrical, but the, the reality is I have a problem, it’s stressing me out. It’s annoying me. I hate this shit. I need to fix it and I fix it and I started doing that for me and for the people around me. So nowadays, most of the opposite, I built, I built them for my wife.
So we had Marcel over for the Glance library for app widgets because I had never built widgets and I was like I’m building a to-do list. It’s gonna be cool to have a widget my life. My wife loves widgets and Sebastiano goes like you know there is a new… because I’m talking to Mark and there is a library that google is going to release that and that’s why you know, and we have Marcel and I built the widget and she loves it. And I think I think it’s crap because it doesn’t, it doesn’t reside. It’s super weird on her fault. I was like, no, no that’s perfect. And I was like, yeah, okay. And and the app is on the play store, there is a business model because there are ads I don’t really, it’s they’re both the child fatto two weekends and that was it.
Alex: That is the thing though. Like if you find the problem that you know it is a pain, then you do have an idea there. You know what you can work on now. The next thing to know whether someone is going to pay for that or not is talking to them, maybe they have another product that they have paid money to use it. So you know for sure that people pay money for that or at least something in that that you know they, they’re paying money for something in that. so if you can validate that without building the whole thing, like straight from the start that would be fantastic.
Another way for ideas, by the way, if you’re looking for for business ideas basically is either to fix a pain point something that people are so desperate to fix that they have to pay money for it or trying to make money for other people. That’s how the whole creators economy right now, that’s kind of blooming (booming? blooming?) it’s growing so fast is because it’s people building stuff for other people to make money, new professions, new careers are generated all of this. Twitch I would imagine was made out of this or at some point.
Sebastiano: who knows?
Ivan: Nice, nice, nice. okay thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks. we have one last question, do we have time for one last question?
Sebastiano: Yes, maybe. Yes.
Ivan: So the question is how do you think while solving new problems or when you encounter something you have never seen before and you are stuck? I guess it’s more like problem solving mindset approach question what do you do when you see a problem for the first time and they say, oh now what?
Alex: It really depends the level of what kind of problem it is and then if it is a feature thing, I don’t know what to support because I can genuinely support everything, but I need to be more targeted in those cases. I just talk to my users, I message them and ask, hey what is your setup basically?
For example, for audio bites, I had to figure out what would be a way for people to provide their audio because I don’t know I don’t do this kind of stuff myself. So after talking to some people interviewing some people have the video calls, it seems like the easiest thing for them is upload the file from the computer to the website and that’s it. Originally though I was thinking of oh I need to have support for google drive or dropbox and some sort of cloud mechanism and so on. But if people are storing the files on their computers, why on earth would they need something like that. That’s a completely different audience entirely. So for starters you start from that. if you cannot have people to talk to then books are a fantastic way or blog posts, trying to understand how other people are solving problems.
Sebastiano: Books don’t always answer when you talk to them though that’s kind of annoying. I tried.
Ivan: It depends if you’re under the influence of…
Alex: It always it always depends about the problem. For sure.
Giveaway part of the stream has been omitted
Ivan: Yeah, fair enough Alex, thank you again and feel free to come back whenever you want. You are more than welcome.
Alex: cheers, thanks for having me guys, it was a pleasure
Sebastiano: Bye everyone
Alex: Take care