Nik Spyratos

August Update

Table of Contents

Toybox, PHPZA, Pathless Paths

Another month comes to a rapid close. This is a high level post of what I've been up to for the last month.

This month has had three focuses for me:


My passion project for the last two months has been Toybox. The TL;DR is that it's an opinionated modern Laravel starter kit for rapidly launching SaaS products, with some extra scripts for semi-autonomously handling common tasks like provisioning servers and deploying code updates. I built it to give myself my own launching point for future projects, and to consolidate my understanding of the ecosystem at this point in time.

If you'd like to support it, you can interact with the Show HN and Indie Hackers post (Product Hunt coming soon).

PHP South Africa

PHPZA is back in action. After a year-long hiatus (I left for mental health reasons and the other organisers have been too busy), I've come back and the team is now restructured. For now it's myself and one other organiser.

I've long felt that PHP South Africa could be a much larger project - there's even a conference under the same name that was last hosted in 2018. In current times I feel like PHPZA could return to that form, and beyond with different kinds of media and content. Of course, one lacking ingredient is time and energy - I can't do it alone! That's what I need to engage with the community on to develop.

Tech wise there's also a few tools I'm excited to try out, beyond the standard fare. With Zoom's recent AI drama, I've had another look at Whereby for hosting meetups. It seems to be competitively priced, and a decent product. The only lacking feature is streaming meetings to other platforms (they offer this in their Embedded product, but not ordinary calls yet). The next tool is Luma - an events hosting platform. Meetup in my opinion costs too much for very little benefit - ideally we wouldn't need discovery on that platform with a more sizeable PHPZA community, newsletter, website, etc.

The other thing to consider is sponsorships. It's a delicate balance between "Sponsored by XYZ" and just becoming XYZ's event, but at the same time sponsorships of various kinds help with running costs and expansion.

Pathless Paths

After my Deviations, New Challenges, New Beginnings post, I've been freelancing full time for the last few months. I've also been doing more community work and side projects than ever before, which I've found more fulfilling.

I've wanted to freelance for a long time, after having been through the "normal job" industry grinder. Freelancing always has the allure of being in control of your own time and income. The cost is that you're also responsible for your own time and income. For some that's a benefit, for others not. I think for me it largely is.

The true cost I'm finding however, is the overheads of freelancing -client sourcing, marketing, content, networking, invoicing, etc.-, as well as context switching between different projects, eat into the mental space I'd like to reserve for my other projects.

Like many developers, one of my core wants is to control my time and income outside of needing clients or employers. I see the path forward on how to build a successful freelancing practice. I also see the long game ahead on being a successful "indie hacker". It would require creating a bit more mental space than I have right now.

A potential "alternative" indie dream, or indeed one that would even better enable becoming indie, is to massively reduce lifestyle costs such that I don't need to earn very much to cover my living expenses. I know other freelancers doing this: at a high skill level and demand, with trusted clients, you honestly wouldn't need to work more than 2 weeks out of a month to cover your costs. The rest of the time you could do with as you please.

The other option for creating this space: ordinary employment. It won't give as much time as the above, but it is an easier solution for some. Maybe that sounds like a cop-out, or a very roundabout way to getting back to "normalcy". I prefer to see it as figuring out through experience and first principles why normal things are normal. There's value in understanding things on a deeper level and making your decisions accordingly.

What's next?

Lots, as usual.

Now that Toybox is released, there's no other form of procrastination on my projects available, haha!

The Investec SDK probably needs rounding out.

There's one or two more community ventures that I'd like to be involved in beyond PHPZA.

I also want to make some more content - perhaps have a hand at some video creation.

Spring and Summer are also coming up though, and this winter has been rough, so I intend to thoroughly enjoy the good weather.

#life #lifestyle