Episode #12 - Pete Gallagher tells us about his development career, freelancing and work with IoT

Pete Gallagher shares his experience with the Internet of Things and life as a freelancing developer

In this Episode

Coming in hot for the second episode of season 2, Microsoft MVP Pete Gallagher, is a developer, public speaker, Pluralsight Author and owner of software consultancy PJG Creations.

Pete also organises Notts IoT and Dot Net Notts and sits on the board of LATi, a Loughborough organisation serving the technical community in the Midlands.

Pete’s going to talk to us about all things freelancing.

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We mention a few different resources in the show and you can find them here:

You can find out more about me, Rob Kendal, on my personal website, or follow me on Twitter.


Rob Kendal: [00:00:00] Joining us for season two, episode two is Pete Gallagher, another Pete, I just realized, as I said, the words, our first guest was, was Peter White and I’ve got a Pete Gallagher.

[00:00:10]Maybe we should make season two of the season of Pete’s. I think there was a comedian Dave Gorman, did a show where he just went around the world, finding other Dave Gormans. Maybe I could do the same, just find other Petes.

[00:00:19]Pete is a developer and MVP. That’s a, that’s a, is it the Microsoft or is that the most valued professional? It’s a Microsoft thing. Isn’t it? That’s right. A public speaker Pluralsight author and owner of software consultancy, P G creations, is also organizes, Notts IOT and .Net Notts and sits on the board of LATI a Loughborough organization, serving the technical community in the Midlands.

[00:00:43] And Peter’s going to talk to us about all things freelancing. I mean, straight out the gates, that is a lot of things to be involved in. How do you find time to sort of fit, breathing into that?

[00:00:52] Pete Gallagher: [00:00:52] Yeah, I just don’t sleep.

[00:00:57] Actually. I mean, once you’ve got everything all up and running, the meetups are even easier now because they’re all online. so it’s just organizing speakers and making sure to turn up and to be fair that I find that quite fun. So it’s good.

[00:01:12] Rob Kendal: [00:01:12] Do you find they’re weirdly more successful? The meetups and things being online? I mean, I know it’s not quite the same as being in person, but do you find there’s a bit less friction because people don’t have to be bothered to like get up and put clothes on and, like go outside, do it, do it from the comfort of their own bedroom kind of thing.

[00:01:28] Pete Gallagher: [00:01:28] Funnily enough, it’s six of one and half dozen of the other it’s quite literally that because, the people that either couldn’t come because of family commitments or just too far to travel or whatever reason they are coming, but I found a lot of the people that came sort of not the, not the core of the people, but a lot of the people that just came every now and again, pick and choose cherry picked particular meetups.

[00:01:51] They don’t tend to come oddly. and I think some of it is the fact that speakers are now speaking at so many different remote meetups and [00:02:00] then they’ve recorded on YouTube, but people have seen the talk. So it’s a little bit of a funny one for speakers and during the early days of .Net Notts before I even ran it, I used to record them and we only ever had one speaker say he didn’t want his talk recording.

[00:02:18]but he made a really good point in that, you know, I do this so that I can go around and speak at meetups and get the name out there. But if it’s on YouTube, then people are less inclined to have me along.

[00:02:27] Rob Kendal: [00:02:27] Yeah, because if your first instinct is to think, that’s a really odd thing to get a bit picky over, but I suppose when you put it like that, yeah, that’s a good, that’s a good point.

[00:02:34] Pete Gallagher: [00:02:34] same for things like NBC. people are a bit worried about, you know, if they do local meetup and then applied to NBC, although some of the criteria for being accepted at NBC is that you’ve done that, that you have a recording, but yeah,

[00:02:46] Rob Kendal: [00:02:46] Now we’re going to talk about freelancing and I don’t know if this is just one of these things where there’s always been an underlying trend or not, but it feels like there’s been quite a big upsurge recently in kind of the interest of it. There’s certainly a lot, you know, on, on the channels I’m involved with on Twitter.

[00:03:00] There’s a lot of chatter about it too. I mean, I was on Whiskey Wednesday. it might’ve been last week, might have been three months ago, it all blurs into one,

[00:03:07] Pete Gallagher: [00:03:07] if he’s put whiskey in that sentence and then blurred. So.

[00:03:12] Rob Kendal: [00:03:12] the, the, the drunk YouTube stream we did. and, and that was all about kind of freelancing.

[00:03:16] So especially with the 2020 situation, people are thinking about doing it more, whether they’ve been made redundant, which I know a lot of the people I’ve come across. That’s been quite a big catalyst for starting their own businesses. They’ve been given a bit of a golden handshake given some money gone off you go, we don’t need you anymore and that’s been a bit of a push for them. but I think a lot of people get stuck with how they go about kicking off their freelance career and things. So, I mean, what, what’s your story with it? How did you get into, into freelancing?

[00:03:43] Pete Gallagher: [00:03:43] You mentioned there about redundancies. So I worked for, a company called Thomas Automatics and they made change machines and sort of cash handling equipment. So kiosks and things like that. But if you go in any of the arcade, premises up and down the motorway in the service stations.

[00:04:00][00:04:00] And there’s nearly, always a Thomas Automatics change machine in there, blue and yellow or black silver machine. And I was involved with them. and I was there straight out of university for a 11 years. And, I was in a position where I’d been paid an OK wage. it wasn’t great. I could’ve got more elsewhere, but it was a couple of miles away from where I lived and it was varied job.

[00:04:24] And I was the only dev which had its ups and its downs, as you can imagine, but yeah. When the financial crisis happened that had a big hit on them and they made some people not including me, thankfully at that time redundant, but then they never really recovered properly. And I think also the management had seen sort of the outcome coming and, and they didn’t put in as much effort perhaps as well as they could have done so that the company folded, but six months before they folded, they did make me redundant.

[00:04:53]And the previous couple of years been doing a little bit of work on the side, creating applications, one for a clothing company in Lester and my, girlfriend at the time, my wife now, her parents, had a marketing agency and, they were doing a lot of telephone interview stuff and I created them an application.

[00:05:10] So there was, there was stuff happening. So when I got made redundant, I’d saved up enough because I’d seen the writing on the wall and I had a couple of clients and I thought, well, I’ll just carry on and see where it gets to. And I’ve been doing it for a decade now.

[00:05:23] Rob Kendal: [00:05:23] Oh, wow. That was going to be the next question. Is that, how long have you been doing it for a decade? That’s that’s impressive

[00:05:27] Pete Gallagher: [00:05:27] this year. In fact.

[00:05:29] Rob Kendal: [00:05:29] Wow. Congratulations. That’s amazing. what, what sorts of, what sort of development do you do? I mean, are you a front end back end? Any, any specialisms? And I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you’re more of a Microsoft guy given all the .Net stuff and the MVP, but, but yeah. What sort of, freelance developing do you get into?

[00:05:45]Pete Gallagher: [00:05:45] if they’ll pay me to do it, everything it’s like includes dancing in the rain outside I’ll perhaps even do that. I don’t know, you know, it’s always raining. It seems at the moment now. So, you know, if you go outside, it’s going to happen. anything it’s quite literally though, I mean,

[00:06:00] starting with the change machine works all, was all assembler historically.

[00:06:03] So that’s where I started. My professional career was writing assembler for microchip microchip pick stuff. So, and I still support that because that company that went bust got bought by another company and they got back in touch, not long after that and said, Oh, we want you to carry on supporting this stuff.

[00:06:20] So I got them. As a, as a third client, which was, which at the time was massive for me, because that was a big client for me to get. And as low work there and I still do work for them now, but part way through that contract, we created a kiosk. And during my time at the change machine company, I was doing VB 6 .

[00:06:38] I looked at C++, but Oh geez. Trying to do anything GUI-wise for C++ was just abysmal, and VB6 has made everything easy. So, I mean, I’m old enough to do that. I mean, obviously I grew up with a spectrum in the house, so I knew BASIC, and to be able to make some desktop applications in BASIC was great, oh cool. I’ll do that. and then I moved to .Net, when that came out in 2001 or whatever. And stayed with VB because I’d built a library of stuff. And, you know, I, wasn’t going to suddenly switch to the first version of the version of C-sharp. So, I still do quite a lot of VB stuff. the change between company and the clothing company actually, but I also, work for a company design agencies and they do a lot of stuff in WordPress.

[00:07:21] So there I’m doing PHP and JavaScript and obviously HTML CSS, on top of that.

[00:07:28] Rob Kendal: [00:07:28] That’s a good mix. Assembler!. if anyone’s listening, especially if you like more the junior and you’re not quite sure what Assembler is, if you complain about things like JavaScript and React , they’re like fully fledged English, basically.

[00:07:39] You get almost near, near perfect sentences. Assembler a language is basically the grunts and shrugs that the machine does to the CPU. Iit looks, it looks horrendous, which is from the outside. It’s a, it’s not, it’s not something you just go, Oh, fancy learning, fancy learning a bit of Assembler.

[00:07:53] Pete Gallagher: [00:07:53] like looking at, you know, when you watch the matrix, it’s like that in a way, you know, you’re kinda have to get into the right frame of mind. [00:08:00] I’ve luckily, I mean, I’ve spent 10 years doing it, so it doesn’t take me long to flick back into that, but Oh yeah, you lose, it was no such thing as intellisense.

[00:08:11] Rob Kendal: [00:08:11] Yeah. And I bet it’s punishing. There’s no cushtie error message saying it’s this line here. You’ve messed it up. It just, it doesn’t work.

[00:08:17] Pete Gallagher: [00:08:17] I mean, luckily, the, the microchip pick stuff comes with, or to a degree, in cicuit emulators, ICE’s. So you’ve plugged them in and you can step through your coding and view all the registers and it gives you a very nice experience, even back then. And you’re talking 10 years ago, or more, in fact, 20 years ago we had quite good tooling and that was invaluable because yeah, trying to debug Assembler is painful.

[00:08:41] Rob Kendal: [00:08:41] people have a similar struggle with slightly higher level languages, like C plus, where they’ve got to, you’ve got to manage memory and things as well. So we don’t know we are good we have it in there in this React and Vue world where it’s like, Oh, it’s so difficult that you’d have to worry about any of this. You have another class in there? It’s fine. No one cares where they’ve got to, you know, it’s a bit like when I got into it, it was all kind of the 486 DOS levels. And you know, it was kind of, you couldn’t run that game, if you didn’t have, you know, 42 kilobytes of memory, you have to run into our memwin in and try and just free up an extra one kilobytes just to get it Simon The Sorcerer to run.

[00:09:11] I’ve seen some interesting things on your Twitter feed about like actual physical things that you can like poke with the, the breadboards and the wiring and things. It seems like you do a lot of stuff with the internet of things. What, what sort of stuff do you get involved with in that side of things?

[00:09:25] Pete Gallagher: [00:09:25] Yeah. I mean, essentially my first foray into that again, I mean, a lot of my experience comes from that change between company. I was like, yeah. Half of my professional life working for them. So I’m going to refer back to them. But one of the projects we worked on was a Royal mail stamp, vending machine, and they, they had modems inside them and he could dial in.

[00:09:44] So they were hardwired to a telephone line, but you could dial in and you could pull out all the reports and usage, statistics and stuff directly from the machine. And that was, I dunno, 1999. But we’re doing that. So before, what would be the modern [00:10:00] IOT world existed? We were, we were playing with that. I didn’t write the original software, but I supported it and worked with it then going forward in various different guises, not various different machines in a similar way.

[00:10:14] So yeah, it started there, but I mean, this, the stuff I’m working on just today. is a company and it’s all under NDA. So I can’t tell you a massive amount, but they are looking at how buildings warm up and cool down. the sort of scattering sensors around them. I’m using the PI as a gateway and sending that up to, the Azure services that I need and I’m processing them up there.

[00:10:35] Rob Kendal: [00:10:35] It’s such a cool little bit of kit that, that Raspberry PI it’s sort of appeared seemingly out of nowhere. And it’s like this little thing that’s barely bigger than it like a child’s hand. It’s like, but there’s the flexibility of it. I mean, we had, I think we’ve got two, we have one run in a pie hole, like ad blocker thing, and then we have one runnin retro pie we’ve put on it. So it’s got like hundreds of the old games, you know? Such a flexible little bit of kit.

[00:10:58] Pete Gallagher: [00:10:58] I think I’ve got four or five running around just, I’ve got one as a file server and file downloader. so that sits there. Then I’ve got sort of like 11 terabytes of storage sitting just off that. And there’d be a Retro PI and a Kodi box. And, I’ve not done a Pi Hole weirdly. I’ve not really felt the need. And actually when I’ve thought about it, I thought it could cause more problems than it was worth. But I think that’s just me not knowing enough about how it works. And certainly if you, if you look at Troy Hunt and he uses it, so, you know, it must be all right.

[00:11:28] Rob Kendal: [00:11:28] Yeah, we, kind of, we changed network and it’s such a faff to kind of change it cause you need to be on the same network to get into it. And I’ve kind of killed that before I realized that that’s why I had to do so we ended up using one, I think it’s called add guard, but it’s like a set of DNS servers, which does the same thing, but without actually having to get into Linux and fart about with it,

[00:11:46] Pete Gallagher: [00:11:46] I think it worried me just that. Obviously if I wasn’t a developer, then I’d probably be less bothered. But as a developer, if something doesn’t work, I don’t want to have to be thinking, is it Pi Hole that’s causing that? cause it’s just an extra variable. it’s [00:12:00] probably just me being super scared.

[00:12:03] Rob Kendal: [00:12:03] Well, you’ve got to defend yourself against these things, because I mean, we have enough to deal with, with family relatives coming along, going, can you fix this? So

[00:12:10] Pete Gallagher: [00:12:10] Oh

[00:12:11] Rob Kendal: [00:12:11] this computer is broken can you have a look at this. That’s not what I do.

[00:12:14] Pete Gallagher: [00:12:14] Every other one of my clients do that. They ring me up and say, can you just give me five minutes and just help me with X? And of course no charge. yeah. And yeah, that was start stacking up.

[00:12:24] Rob Kendal: [00:12:24] Oh, we’ll cover that sort of stuff in the freelance in how to avoid stuff that’s outside of you, your core offerings. And by also see your, a Pluralsight author. Now I’ve used Pluralsight loads in the past. It’s a great resource. what sort of things have you authored on there?

[00:12:40] Pete Gallagher: [00:12:40] not yet. Really. I mean, I, I got my, my audition and interview, if you will, through Steven Horn, he very kindly hooked me up. I was supposed to be going to Pluralsight live. In fact, I was supposed to be going to run MVP summit my first year being an MVP second. Now, if you include the, this be the second part of my 2021. and so this would have been my first summit over in Seattle, and of course COVID struck and wrote that off. And the week after, MVP summit was supposed to be the Pluralsight summit down in London. And of course, that got canceled as well. And, and I’ve arranged to meet the, the sort of author reps that go to that to talk about joining. and so we moved all that online and I did my audition and then it was off or great and passed a first time, which was nice. It’s apparently it’s quite hard. I mean, I didn’t find it hard at all, but then I’ve been making videos and presenting for a while now. So I don’t know if that helps, but I mean, that aside, one of the reasons why are interested in me specifically was for the IOT side of things, because there was a few IOT things you had lined up, but COVID stroke that put that all on the back burner. and that really is my speciality is the IOT stuff. That’s the stuff that they don’t have much of as well. There were a few on there. But they needed some more IOT resource

[00:14:00] for some new projects that were coming out and yeah, sadly they said, yeah, you’ve passed, you’ve got an audition. Keep an eye on the upcoming courses that you can author.

[00:14:08] Rob Kendal: [00:14:08] Is that, is that something you would kind of recommend people to go down the avenue of kind of content creation as a, I don’t know, like a side aside to the freelance in all this kind of different revenue stream alongside that?

[00:14:19] Pete Gallagher: [00:14:19] Yeah, I mean, not even for the revenue or not directly. I do it for the same reason that I do talks and the same reason I write blogs in that well, primarily so that I can remember next time, how to do it, because it really sort of reinforces the learning that you do when you’re making something and often the reason for, for carrying on and making it then is that information, or at least the way that that you understand it, isn’t out there in a way that you’ve had to understand it.

[00:14:46] So you kind of want to democratize that information a little bit too, but I mean, off the back of that, there’s so many other good, the reasons for doing it. One is, you know, if you want to speak at places like NBC, then you need to have content out there for them to be able to refer to if you want to be an MVP.

[00:15:02] And then that sort of stuff is, you know, speaking, blogs and videos are, are really good ways to help that. Cause if you will, but obviously, you know, when clients come to you, then they’ve got a resource they can look at to say, Oh, this guy looks like he knows what he’s talking about. So as a little bit of, reputability to you, if you’re doing that and you’re keeping your knowledge up to date.

[00:15:27] So, you know, teaching yourself stuff as a freelance, so you’re not going to get paid to do that. No, one’s paying you to do that. and you can’t charge your customers for it really. You should have that knowledge up front or at least preload some of it. So you know, where the gaps in your learning are. So,

[00:15:39] Rob Kendal: [00:15:39] Yeah. That’s, that’s primarily why I do it. I mean, I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people. but yeah, I think that’s, that is two of the most powerful reasons kind of reinforcing your own learning and helping other people learn because everyone does have a different perspective. You know, thousands of people have written about React, but I still write stuff cause they might not write it in a way that other people understand it the [00:16:00] way I do. So, you know, it’s yeah, it’s great for that. ,

[00:16:02] Pete Gallagher: [00:16:02] I used to put Google AdWords actually on my site. For that reason, I used to make a reasonable amount of money and used to be able to put that into YouTube as well. And there was a couple of videos that were quite popular, but weren’t programming actually formula one things that I put on there that I got a fair amount of the money from.

[00:16:19] Rob Kendal: [00:16:19] now what sort of advice would you give to people starting out or considering life as a bit of a free agent? A bit of a Maverick.

[00:16:27] Pete Gallagher: [00:16:27] yeah, we touched on that before. I think getting your head into the fact that you need to learn more, certainly it depends on how specialized do you want to be, but I don’t think you’ll find very many highly specialized freelances, cause it almost sounds a little bit like that can’t happen. Right. I think if you’re going to be a consultant, I think it’s slightly different.

[00:16:49] Isn’t it thinking to go in and do a specific job for companies? And I think you can specialize a bit more, but if you’re going to freelance, I think you’ve got to be able to sort of just, take the opportunities when they arise. So broadening your experience? I think I was listening to, like an orchid and Layla on Twitch early.

[00:17:07] And when they were talking about people who were sort of happy in the job and the nine to five, and they know what you know, and they’re happy with that. And I’m not sure if you’ve got that attitude or if that’s your standard attitude that it’s going to work very well for freelancing, because I think it just takes a little bit more, entrepreneurial-ism if you will, slightly different attitudes.

[00:17:28] I think his program programmers generally anyway, we, we like to learn. So I think most programmers are well suited for, for freelancing. Anyways, there’s not many programmers out there that want to do that nine to five and not learn anything and most, or go to meetups or read blogs or listen to podcasts and stuff like that.

[00:17:46] Anyway. So, I think we’re well suited as, as that sort of people to, to do that, but you’ve got to, you’ve got to find time to do it. And although I said earlier that your clients don’t pay for your learning, they really do because there’s very rarely [00:18:00] everything you do in any work that you don’t have to learn something for.

[00:18:03] It’s you’ve got to build that in. So, whatever it is that you’re quoting or estimating or anything that there’s going to be, things that you can’t sort of figure out. And it’s possible that you’ll lose your support network in there as well. Certainly if you’re a junior dev and you rely heavily perhaps on code reviews and paired programming and stuff like that. You might not have that anymore. So yeah, a complete change of mentalities is possibly what you look forward to when this happens, but there’s so many upsides. but yeah, I think, one of the things I is don’t ever do quotes. Always give estimations because people take quotes value as they are.

[00:18:42] And they’ve never happened that way. And normally, if you’re working for an organization, you don’t have to get involved in that side of things. And if things spiral out of control, then somebody else’s problem. But when it’s on you and your clients coming to you and telling you that ‘no this is how much he told me! I don’t care if it’s going to take you twice as long!’ Yeah. You’ve gotta be careful.

[00:19:03] Rob Kendal: [00:19:03] It’s one of the things that was raised on the Whiskey Wednesday actually, we talked a lot about kind of pricing and how people do it. And I think, you know, some people start off with the kind of it’s this per hour and then off you go, yeah, one of the things that came up was that kind of estimating and how you do it.

[00:19:18]and if, if you can give like a fixed scope, because it’s, it’s easier to do that then great. But if it needs a bit more depth, then there should be some kind of, almost like pre-project discovery phase that you kind of charge for to kind of almost find out what you need to do. and then it’s easier to estimate into cause then, like you said, yeah, you do end up in that.

[00:19:36] Oh, it’ll take. Three weeks, this much and a done. And software development just isn’t like that, you know what I mean? We struggle in just day to day nine to five. Just how long is this going to take? I’ll be half an hour job and it’s like three days later. Why isn’t it working?

[00:19:50] Pete Gallagher: [00:19:50] Yeah. I mean, I’ve, I’ve learned the hard way I know most people have, but I mean, I’ve, I’ve worked Christmas day on my birthday before, because of that problem and relationships have soured, [00:20:00] thankfully not with the end client, but I’ve had a relationship sour with a sort of somebody who was working on the project with me in a different role entirely towards the end of our relationship, he came to me and went software, doesn’t have bugs. None of my stuff that I do in Excel has bugs. I don’t understand. And then about a month later, he came back to him and he says, Oh, I’ve just explained to the client about, you know, our software does have bugs and you look at your iPhone and the number of updates you get.

[00:20:25] And I was like, Oh, geez.

[00:20:30] Having a contract is important of some sort. If you are worried, if there’s a lot of money involved and this particular project did have a lot of money involved and I didn’t have a contract, cause it was a friend. And I think it’s very easy to start your freelancing career working for friends and yeah.

[00:20:46] And it can get awkward. Certainly. I mean, if you’re talking about small about some yeah. And you’re not relying on it and that’s fine, but if you’re talking about, you know, this was into the tens of thousands of pounds in the end, And they were holding out because of this guy I make mistakes hold the hands up because I was inexperienced and I did things wrong and not, not sort of making it clear what was involved, but to be fair, his remit was, they need it.

[00:21:10] Just go ahead and do it. And he went away to America for a couple of weeks and then came back and wondered why was so much, but, you know, that’s what you learn as you go along and guess, but if he got a contract, at least that says what you will do and your discovery phase is a really good one to say, if the project is really complicated and you know, it’s going to take a long time to even work out what’s involved to then quote because they’re not giving you a tied-down spec, then you can include that and just make sure that they’re aware.

[00:21:38] But I think you’ll find that the more fun you can be with people from the get go, then the better cause either they’ll go, ‘sorry that’s just going to be either not the way we work or we can’t afford that’. And both of those are well, You know, you’ve got to take your decisions, but maybe on the, we can’t afford that.

[00:21:54] You can, you can change your prices a little bit if you’re desperate for the work, but on the, we don’t [00:22:00] work that way. Or we don’t accept that. Then you’ve got to take that as a smell at that point and save yourself a lot of potential bother and become a little bit Deanna Troy from Star Trek and reads the situation and get right good at how people react to the way that you work, because the more you get the experience, the more you’ll sort of pick up on.

[00:22:22] Rob Kendal: [00:22:22] I don’t think people talk about that balance enough when it comes to, to kind of freelancing what you said to start with about, you know, taking the opportunities and having a slightly broader range of skills. I think, you know, the page one out of the one Oh one book of kind of freelance and our businesses like doubling down on, get a USP, you’ve got to be absolutely a hundred percent unique to anyone else out there, and you’ve got a niche, you know, right down to the brass tacks and a thing. And I think then people, you know, you risk missing out on opportunities that will come along. And also it’s, it’s, it’s relatively naive. It’s good to be like, right. I’m going to handle WordPress projects and yeah, you can make a living out of just doing WordPress things, but you can’t just be, ’ oh, it’s, it’s this type of WordPress’. Cause people will come to you with all sorts of stuff. I mean, when we used to build a very marketing led WordPress thing, you know, you’d have clients come along and go, I’ve got these three domains on these three different providers and I’ve got this bizarre kind of VPN for some reason that’s kind of over here costing me 300 quid a month, with like a tiny site on it. But then I’ve also got. 400 plugins over here and it talks to this e-commerce thing. And another, I just, the way things are, there’s a lot of services out there. And I think to be so kind of niche, it’s almost like walling yourself off.

[00:23:31] You need to be kind of, you know, have that balance. So you’re gonna miss out on opportunities that do come along.

[00:23:36] Pete Gallagher: [00:23:36] Yeah, that’s definitely, you’ve got to be able to reinvent yourself when you’ve got to be able to do it ahead of time as well. actually, I mean the IOT stuff, once I left, Thomas Automatics, I didn’t do very much IOT in any sense now because that was sort of hardware. it was where I started. So designing the electronics and then assembly level stuff I class as hardware. I mean, you can’t get much closer to the metal. but after that, then I was dealing with [00:24:00] from 10 and 12, I mean, database driven applications, desktop applications, primarily, and that WordPress. So it kind of didn’t do any for, for a while. And it, I think he mentioned it when the Raspberry Pi came out, it really piqued my interest again.

[00:24:13]because. Obviously I’d come from Assembler and I didn’t have anything that was IOT that was high level language based. So then that sort of flipped the switch in my head and I bought one of the first ones that came out and started playing within the community around it. It’s awesome. so yeah, but I didn’t have any IOT work.

[00:24:32]until, you know, years after that, a few years after that, I was just relying on the other, other languages, but. I think doing, doing something you love really helps and doing something you don’t love is gonna make your life hell.

[00:24:46] Rob Kendal: [00:24:46] yeah. Right. You know, it’s, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to sort of whore yourself out for these, you know, cause this race to the bottom thing people do where they’re like, I can do it cheapest. because it’s just it’s any old work, but yeah, you, you know, if, you sometimes can’t be quite as choosy as you might want to be.

[00:25:00]you, you touched on, on some things with kind of around, maybe working practices and contracts and things, but in a similar vein to some good things to look out for, what are some common gotchas or red flags, certainly from, from like your own experience that people should watch out for when they’re, when they’re freelancing.

[00:25:17] Pete Gallagher: [00:25:17] Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I mentioned the one about a contract and being up front and working for friends, I think that other cultures, because it’s, that’s most likely you will be doing your first. work for somebody, you know, either, you know, the company you’ve just left or somebody leaves that company and sets up on their own or joins another company and they ring you.

[00:25:35]so that’s important. One of the other things is try not to annoy anybody because it might be that that person works for that company today. And you’re not bothered about doing any more work for them, but if they leave and go to another company, You know, it might be, they’re working for Joe blogs now, but they go and work at Pinterest.

[00:25:52] You don’t want to blow Pinterest out entirely because somebody, you annoyed at Joe blogs has gone there, which is possible, you know, obviously

[00:26:00] works flip side. You know, if you, if you make a really good connection and I’ve done that multiple times, then if they leave and they often do and they go work at other companies, then your network automatically grows and.

[00:26:11]yeah, then that’s one really good thing. I mean, on a personal level, balance is relatively important. Although I cannot preach about balance. My, my work life balance is terrible and I’ve got a wife and two kids and I don’t see them nearly enough. And I, you know, I do regret some of the stuff that I do, cause as you said, right at the very start, I do quite a lot of different stuff. but I do try not to work at the weekend if I could possibly help it. not only just because I can spend time with the family and not only because my family don’t then tell me off if I have working at the weekend, but you know, I like sports as well.

[00:26:45] So I like to be able to watch some of that, but yeah, try and balance it.

[00:26:49] Rob Kendal: [00:26:49] No, it’s a, it it’s an important thing. I, I have had some times where, I mean, I, I work slightly longer hours. I kind of do a tiny bit of freelancing on the side here and there. Just to keep a hand in by, I have like a normal, like a quote unquote, proper job. For all I’m here saying ‘freelancing’s ace, but I don’t do it’. but it’s, but it’s just the way of life steers you, you know? But yeah. I try to, you know, dedicate more time to, to the, to the little one, especially while she’s, while she’s kinda a little, when she’s kind of 12 and kind of doesn’t want to, to see the sight of me, then it’s got all the time in the world back, but yeah, work life balances.

[00:27:24] It’s something that I think people. As well, they’re naive too. They think, Oh, if I’m in charge, I’ll have, I can pick and choose what I do. And they see books like, you know, the three hour work week. And it’s like, yeah, it doesn’t, I don’t know that guys done really well, but I think that’s maybe because he’s wrote a book about how to do less work, but it’s, it doesn’t really work out like that for, for a lot of people.

[00:27:43] Pete Gallagher: [00:27:43] I mean, there’s, there’s cash implications. You’ve got to talk about as well. And one of the things I read right back in the early days of when I was doing this was try and work out. The value of your own time. And that value will change depending on what it is that you’re doing. I know if somebody comes to [00:28:00] you with a job, then you have a genuine interest in it and you kind of find it really interesting and they get to learn a lot and it’s going to be fun.

[00:28:05] And the client’s good, which is going to be really important. Then you can actually get away with charging less for that. but if that it’s going to be a bitch of a job and the client’s not very good, then just charge more and that’ll make you feel better.

[00:28:19] Rob Kendal: [00:28:19] Yeah. And it sounds, it sounds really mercenary, but it’s like I think people underestimate how much time gets sucked out of you by things. Like, difficult client, because the work is harder to maybe fathom and get through. if they’re more demanding You know, you only have to spend time spent in six, 10 minute emails.

[00:28:35] That’s an hour of your time gone. And if you have to keep writing these little bitty things back to sort of say some clients who are like constantly needing updates and things like this, that is more of your time gone. And it sounds awfully kind of very capitalist and very mercenary to go I’m with, to charge more.

[00:28:48] But it’s like, if it’s justified with things like that, then you’ve kind of got to. Are you doing yourself out of over living really?

[00:28:55] Pete Gallagher: [00:28:55] Yeah, on that point of charging, I think it’s important to know that you don’t have to charge the same amount to everybody or the same amount for every job as well. Even with the same client, they could come to you and say, we’ve got this bit of work. Can you do it? How much they get a cost of me to look at it and decide how complicated it’s going to be and how much you need to learn.

[00:29:14] There’s often the thing, but. It, you know, there’s a completely the different scope of work if somebody says, we want you to buy an entire CRM to, we want you to input some data for a week. It might take the same length of time. you can happily charge something, charge less for something menial so long as, and it’s quite important then to make sure that you’re not putting off better paid work to do poorly paid work. And so it’s a balancing activity there as well.

[00:29:41] It’s a nice problem to have though, because that means you’ve got

[00:29:46] Rob Kendal: [00:29:46] That. Yeah. one of those never complained about the too much work. There’ll be times when it’s less, is that we’re almost at time. Is there anything else you want to, is there anything you want to plug? Anything you want to talk about before we wrap it up? [00:30:00]

[00:30:00] Pete Gallagher: [00:30:00] yeah, I mean, obviously Notts IOT, if you’re interested in IOT, then we have a monthly meetup. we’ve got one a week tomorrow. In fact, talks on smart bins, and a guy doing Tesla coils, which we booked these two talks, for the physical meetups, and then COVID, so I’m really gutted specifically about the Tesla coils.

[00:30:19] Cause this guy goes to EMF camp and stuff like that and demonstrates this stuff, high electricity, high voltage stuff in person. And it’s awesome to see. So it’s just recorded a video and taking questions, which is going to be great, but not quite the same. So that’s good.

[00:30:34]If you’re in to .Net, then we do .Net Notts.

[00:30:37]and we’ve got, the end of the month, last Monday of the month. We’ve got that coming up as well. So, yeah, definitely do that. And I’m also a member of the Agile Engineering Podcast. There’s a few of us that record that, but I think there’s four episodes out there at the moment. We’ve just done a bit about the agile manifesto and we’re going to do about the principles that we’re going to have a call about that next week.

[00:30:56] So. Do go and check those things out. And obviously I’m on Twitter. I guess you’ve got show notes for this. So you’ll put my social stuff in there anyway. So

[00:31:05] Rob Kendal: [00:31:05] I do. I will. If you send me any links that I may not have, because it’s quite a few on Pete’s, Twitter profile, which is at Pete, under Scott codes (@pete_codes) . If you want to find him there, any of the bits and bobs, if you, wing we some links over, I will shove them all in the show notes. but Pete does have a lot of the other Twitter links to things which were linked to the websites.

[00:31:22] If you go on his website on his Twitter profile. so that is, that is fantastic.

[00:31:26]Certainly go and check out his podcast. I’ll go and listen to it; love a bit of agile. It’s it’s just, it’s just once you, once you’ve done anything that isn’t agile, agile just is a lot better when it’s done well, you know, it’s, implemented a bit too zealously zealously, but too possibly by some people they get a bit too over zealous with it, but, but yeah,

[00:31:44] Pete Gallagher: [00:31:44] I’m not even the expert in that room either, I’m sort of the guy asking all the questions about why a lot of the time, because Just, I don’t have time to be as agile as I’d like to be.

[00:31:56] Rob Kendal: [00:31:56] Well, if you ever need a guest I come on a whinge about the bad bits of agile.

[00:32:00][00:32:00] Pete Gallagher: [00:32:00] Yes. Yeah. We do want guests. Brilliant. Yeah. I love it.

[00:32:03] Rob Kendal: [00:32:03] Invite me along and thank you very much for coming for coming along and giving your time up. I say, go and follow Pete. You’ll find him at Pete underscore cards on Twitter. if you’ve got any other questions, you can use the, if you’re listening to this via anchor, you can drop us kind of little questions and I can answer them in some freelancing things and put it on the website.

[00:32:20]follow Pete, give me a follower, you know, share the podcast. If you found that it’s helpful and yeah. Thank you very much for coming on Pete.

[00:32:27] Pete Gallagher: [00:32:27] Thank you for having me.

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About The Front End

The Front End Podcast explores the in's and out's of life as a developer. Covering topics such as modern-day development, learning and professional growth, frameworks, tools, techniques, UX/UI, and careers.

Created by Rob Kendal, a UI developer from Yorkshire.