The Struggles of Being An Idiot

I’ve been around technology professionally as a web developer since 1998. That was the year of my first job in Porto, Portugal, doing websites on Notepad in HTML4, an exciting new standard that had just come out. Since then, I never left the development world and got even more into technology.

I loved the idea behind remote services. Yahoo was very strong back in the early 2000s, had a bunch of APIs for businesses to implement, and the idea of have information coming from other sites and feeding your site with useful information was a super interesting concept to me.

With the expansion of mobile devices, this concept of remote information got even more interesting, and because of that my interest in college and books just evaporated and I traded the course for dedicating myself 100% to development – I’ve tried to finish my degree 3 times, unsuccessfylly.

Back in those early days of the web development, Microsoft had ASP 3.0 and ASP.NET as scripting languages for the web, a path I chose to follow and make my salary from, getting to know in depth about how VB.NET and C# were the future to me. Receiving an XML payload, transform it in HTML and present to the user in different devices was to me reaching the goal of success carrier wise.

My early “successes”

During that period, I launched portaldemp3.com, gargalhadas.com, co-launched gsmboys.com and megabenfica.com with Leo Xavier. The first site was the first music portal in Portugal, the second one of the few sites at that moment with jokes in Portuguese, the third a mobile devices related website where you could send free SMS’s online (!), get unlock codes for phones (!) and know about the latest models, and the forth a website about one of the biggest soccer team in Portugal. Back then I did most of the code, logo design, and managed the hosting for those sites, in a couple of machines that were hooked to a dedicated telephone line underneath our desks.

I remember very vividly skipping college to go to the office and code. Always with a new idea in mind and wanting my bosses at that time to buy into the ideias and allow me to work on them. I got hooked into turning ideas into a project and eventually into a product.

Those projects were later on sold to other companies, where I did near to nothing, but got all the knowledge and experience on how to launch ideias into website and websites into business. That no one can take away from me.

The year I switched to WordPress and mobile development

Fast forward a couple of years and a bunch of other ideas made reality and failing, others (a few) being acquired by telecom and media companies, I eventually abandoned the Microsoft ecosystem in 2007/2008 and directed myself to WordPress and PHP, which defined my course until now in terms of a career as a developer. During this period, I’ve dedicated most of my time doing client work.

Later in 2011 I’ve tried Apple and developing for the iPhone when iOS 5 came out and dedicated myself to learning how to build tools that could help business get information on the tip of their fingers, an awakening of that early desire and pleasure of consuming services and presenting information. I did a bunch of apps related to photography, a Flickr client app before Flickr had one, a Dropbox client app before Dropbox had one, during the flourished period of easy making-money apps.

But as I got older, it wasn’t anymore the development part that got me fired up, it was the business part of it, being able to create products and turn them into business, what we commonly call entrepreneurship. Basically, a one-man show, doing all to get everything off the ground and getting noticed by potential investors. I started a couple of companies which didn’t work that great, together with a bunch of products (apps for iOS), but again, the learning part was the most important part of the whole experience.

Which areas are you most interest in?

Fast-forward to today, my current struggle as an idiot – a person full of ideas, most of them stupid ones – is that most of them are just that, with little to no time to make something out them, and the enlarged spectrum of my personal interest in music, photography and videography makes things even more complicated. Here are some of the accomplishments I’ve come to achieve because of the interest in an area and investment of time:

  • music: had one of the most successful bands during high school where I played the drums, and later learned how to play guitar, keys and bass guitar, never really gave up and was able to play along accomplished musicians like Rui Veloso and what later became the band called Os Azeitonas;
  • photography: began doing commercial work for companies and later formed a company to shoot weddings and events, where I did 50+ events in 2 years and gave up due to the fact of it being very stressful, but opened the door for my wife to start into the photography business, whose career couldn’t be in better shape today;
  • software development: the struggle between having to do client work to pay the bills and to invest time in my own ideas and products gave me the opportunity to get to know Corry Miller and Matt Danner, where I later joined iThemes and was able to establish important relationships and meet awesome people

What about today?

So today as you probably know, I’m dedicated to being a full-time WordPress/WooCommerce freelance developer within Codeable. I love it! Nonetheless, there’s still this struggle inside of me, pushing to be creative in all the above-mentioned areas, making it hard to choose where to invest my free time or even take part of the time dedicated to work to redirect the energy to the next idea. This is what’s on my mind, a lot of buckets to grab stuff from when I’m about to do something different other than my main work:

  • oh, I could take my phone outside and explore this concept I have for shooting cool “mobile” pictures and publish them on Instagram (before Instagram existed, I had this idea of publishing my pictures, in the midst of the rising of the social networks;
  • wait, I could take my instruments and record another track and get those melodies and chord sequences I have in my head down into Logic and open a Soundcloud account;
  • no, let me get that idea of creating this WordPress related SaaS that is an amazing idea and continue coding on it;
  • wait, I know, open that folder you have with all those apps and ideas and finally decide to take one of them through actually, like really publish it and make something out of it;
  • what about that promise you made last year to write a blog post each month?
  • or how about that WordPress plugin you wanted to create and contribute to the community?
  • you said you were going to learn JavaScript, Kotlin and invest more time in Swift, didn’t you? Did you finish reading that PHP e-book you bought? Right…
  • what about that 1 hour per day reading all those articles you’ve bookmarked and never came back to?
  • didn’t you also talk about getting the 50k+ pictures you have organized into multiple online drives with an awesome backup system and accessible all the time?
  • oh, I see, you promised your wife to improve her website and keep her social media accounts active and implement this new concept for her IG stories;
  • you also wanted to custom paint your motorcycle, being more active on Twitter and Instagram, and dedicate more time to connecting to older friendships you thought of investing more time in…

The struggle is real. Every time I get all these ideas in my head I think of Gary Vee and Chase Jarvis saying: put your thoughts into actions. The question is always, which bucket should I invest in today, right now?

Remember my last post, where I said: I’m ready to just fucking do it? It’s not an easy thing to do.

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What’s cooking for 2019?

I’ve been off blogging for a lot of months. I guess the questions really is, was I ever into blogging at all?

I’ve written a couple of articles before this one, promised myself to write more, over and over again. Here we are, almost 9 months after the last one. Will it be this year? I’ll try, I promisse. It will make more sense this year, I guess, you’ll see why in a bit.

Some couple of things happened. I left iThemes in December 2018, left hellodev in January 2019, and am now working full time as a freelance WordPress / WooCommerce expert at Codeable.

Codeable is awesome! Per and Tomaz are awesome, all the team behind Codeable is awesome, the platform is awesome, my colleagues and the clients are awesome, it’s a wonderful concept. Check it out if you haven’t yet (plugging this right in: you can hire me at Codeable now).

So you might ask, what happened with all the products you worked on in the past? Well, the plan, for now, is to hold them offline for a bit and dedicate myself to client work again for the next 12-24 months. In the meanwhile, a stream of ideas has been passing inside my head, more than 14+ different products related to WordPress that could be either plugins or SaaS products on their own.

I figured the best thing, for now, is to let them written in a paper that’s always visible to me and let the ideas mature. One of them, which got the most interest off of a close group of people I showed them to, is going to be number one on the list. What is it, you ask? I can tell you this much: #wooknows :-).

It has been an awesome time working with Cory and Matt and all the other awesome people at iThemes, it has been amazing to be the co-founder of one of the most successful WordPress agencies in Portugal, hellodev, but the time has come where I want to make my own path with my own ideas by myself, as an entrepreneur and business manager. Nuno Areias is joining the ride as my friend, co-worker, and all-around hustler, in a concept we’re calling as the pluginslab.com. We’re the scientits :-).

I have a lot of plans, ideas, I want to be disruptive, inventive, creative, free to explore, try, fail, and try again. I guess this year will be awesome, not because every new year we say so, but because this time I have the feeling inside me, not just around me. It’s time to take care of myself and let the failures and (hopefully) successes of my ideas tell the future.

I’m ready to just fucking do it!

Stick around, it’s going to be a hell of a ride (and hopefully a lot more blog posts).

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Update on What’s Going On

There has been almost 6 months since my last blog post, and one of my new year’s resolution (the same thing as to say “I’ll get this done from now now” and not follow through), was that I’d write more.

Well, three months in and not a single blog post. Creating habits and sticking to them is the hardest thing. I see writing blog posts as an opportunity for me to share things that I thing might interest other people, and also for me to be constantly training my English. I do that with my German, too, I write in German as often as I can.

So what’s up Marcel, how was last year?

Absolutely awesome! The best year professionally and also personally for sure. At hellodev we’re strong getting your knowledge down with WooCommerce and developing iThemes’ (now LiquidWeb’s) Sales Accelerator, and now working closer together with Chris Lema, we’ll have a lot of cool features to add in and make it the most awesome WooCommerce add-on to have.

And you’re trips, how where day?

Well, I hate to repeat myself but… absolutely awesome! Getting to visit Azores and Madeira in the same year was amazing, those island are Portugal’s most well hidden secrets for sure. You should for sure visit them. Seattle was amazing, too, I love visiting the USA. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you’re already seen some amazing photos. This year we’ll have some other cool trips to attend to, more on that soon.

And what’s up with your food photography, what’s going on there?

Oh you’ve noticed, hu? I get to see a lot of Creative Live’s lessons to help my wife’s business and also to get creatively inspired. Once I say Andrew Scrivani’s course on food photography and felt in love with it. I’ve tried other photography areas in the past before, such as wedding photography, but, although they were fun and profitable, being away in the weekend after having a kid is a big deal. Food photography you can do whenever you like, with whatever you like, being it your own food or someone else’s. I like the technical part of the setup, composing and editing, and also the creative part, so I have there all the ingredients for fun. It isn’t a business for now, but I wouldn’t say no to a renown chef that what ask me to do a shooting, that’s for sure. I wish… :-). More on this in a later post.

So that’s it?

Pretty much yeah, my wife’s business is going super well, she has a new studio (where I also shoot some of my food photography), and it’s 38 seconds away from our home, by foot! Could you ask for more?

So there you go, an update on what’s going on! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (I’m this close to give up on Facebook, more on that later).

Be safe!

Electric car: owning one and realising the future

So I finally got an electric car, thanks to Tiago, my friend and partner in crime, who had a wonderful ideia and encourage me to get hold of a piece of the future, a not that far ahead future it seems.

Disclaimer: we both got one, Renault Zoe’s, my 2nd favourite color for the car was sooner there. My first pick was red, a choice that would end my carrier as an exemplary husband in seconds. Tiago’s choice is dark gray.

Are electric cars a thing of the future?

Electric cars are no thing of the future. They’ve been around for some time already, but I don’t know if it is because of all the publicity Tesla is getting, or because there are much more brands making 100% electric cars, or if it is the fact that people from closer friendship circles are talking and getting themselves this cars. There is certainly a growing hype about this vehicles. More than you probably think!

So why are electric cars getting more popular?

Well, there is another subject that is trending, and that is autonomous vehicles. It’s going to happen, take note, but not to an extend where, as Mercedes tends to sell it, a vehicle where you turn your seat around and turn your back to the streets, it’s more like Nissan is doing it with an upcoming version of the Leaf in 2020, where it takes you from point A to point B 99% autonomously. All this is happening within electric cars for the big majority of cases.

So automation and electric car equals technology of the future?

See Tesla, they were the most popular ones providing driving aid with some level of automation. Volkswagen were the first ones parking their cars automatically. Geohot, the first being able to successfully crack (jailbreak) the iPhone, was assembling a system where the car was able to drive pretty much by itself. Technology is moving forward very fast. When you see what Apple is capable of doing with augmented reality, in real time, it’s no wonder how the 10-12 cameras in an prototype Nissan Leaf can read traffic lights, pedestrians, crossing bikers, barriers, and other day to day road obstacles. It is pretty impressive! Also, take note, Tim Cook says Apple is “very interested in autonomous systems”.

But how wide are electric cars spread?

An electric motor has a lot of power, it is energy efficient, it’s batteries can go a long distance already, they can charge very quickly, and if the energy they receive is created through a clean source of energy, such us 28% of the energy in Portugal is created, 17% average in European countries, then I think there’s only so many oil dependent countries that can do something about it. The shift is happening. Technology is here. The only thing missing is the buyers trust.

What about China?

According to this Fully Charged video with Roger Atkins, China is investing a lot of money in creating electric vehicles, and sees more business opportunities in this type of transportation than in thermal vehicles. China is already mass producing batteries and electric cars, for me this was a complete surprise, see it for yourself. It is not a situation where the brand gets its bucks from repairing vehicles anymore, it’s about giving them electric cars and charging for the energy. It’s a long term deal, a more profitable one, so they say.

And in Europe, what can we except to happen?

If that wouldn’t be enough, take this into consideration: Germany is prohibiting thermal cars production starting 2030, Volvo is stopping their diesel motor production this year, expects to have its offer on 100% electric cars expanded in the coming 3 years, 29% of Finland’s automobiles are 100% electric already, being it the biggest marketshare holder in the world.

So to sum up

It is clear that the future lies within the electric motor, be it a car, a motorcycle, a bike , train, or even skates, whatever means of transportation. Electric is the future, and we citizens of Portugal, have a privileged country regarding clean energy production and geographic location. Autonomous vehicles are here coming, 2020 will be the year of technology driving cars and making everyone’s life easier. Now mix that with augmented reality and machine learning algorithms. Exciting times are coming!

Elon Musk is right, artificial intelligence is not that far away and could be potentially dangerous. But at the end of the day, it will be us, the consumer, having benefited from technology.

Love to talk more about this particular theme or any other with me? Contact me!

Hello World

Hi! My name is Marcel, I was born in Blumenau, Brazil, currently living in beautiful Porto, Portugal, married and father of my super hero João. I work at my company hellodev as an iOS developer and also as the CTO of the company.

It’s been a while since I wanted to start a personal blog where I can share my thoughts on iOS development, my work at my company, share code, eventually open source some of our code, and other stuff related to coding, Apple, WordPress, mobile development and eventually photography.

I wanted the blog to be something relaxed, not the ultimate reference for iOS development, with super accurate highly technical stuff. I want to share simple, practical and cool resources, that can be understood be any mortal common developer.

Searching for the right theme was always a struggle, having a simple, clean, good-looking site with the focus on content, good reading text format, intelligent responsive layout and the ability to post content from Twitter and Instagram. I think I found it! Do you like it?

And please feel free to comment the posts, post corrections, enhancements, alternative ideas or point out other resources, it will help other readers to enrich their knowledge.

Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Github!