Paul Strickland

Paul Strickland

Rethink and Redesign

If you visited this blog before May 2014, you might notice that it’s changed a bit. I felt like a change in the look of the site, and I’ve done more work to support mobile devices. This site will now hopefully read well on any device that can connect to it.

Whilst I was redesigning my site, I began to think about what I wanted to get out of it. After two years, was I getting that?

Original intentions

Originally I wanted this website to act simply as an online CV, and I wanted to augment that by documenting job-related technical projects that I work on in my own time. I favoured a few carefully considered articles to numerous short-form blog posts. If a portfolio of work could exist for an engineer, that’s what I wanted it to be.

In line with that desire, I didn’t need or want comments from people. I just wanted a presence.

Reflection

Over the last two years, how has my experience of running a personal website matched my expectations?

Online CV

Well, I haven’t been headhunted into that ideal engineering role that is both broad and multidisciplinary, and deeply technical. It must exist somewhere… But despite that, I have enjoyed the additional confidence that openly publishing content has given me. The opportunity to write in a less technical format has also been refreshing, as has the ability to use a bit more creativity than I might get to do at work (beyond trying to make an appealing PowerPoint slide that still adheres to the corporate guidelines).

A portfolio

After two years and only a handful of articles/posts, I think my focus has changed. As much as I enjoy writing long articles such as those abot my interest in third party risk in war, it takes a considerable amount of time to do and therefore happens quite rarely. Another consideration from my perspective of a sensitive (and often secretive) world is the concern that I inadvertently publish material that shouldn’t be widely available. I haven’t done that so far — everything published has been based on publicly available data and has been work conducted in my own time without the influence or support that my job could provide. But all the same it can be quite concerning.

As interested as I am in the study of third party risk, the most read pages on this site concern the building of my commuting bike and then riding it. That was certainly unexpected.

The next iteration

High readership has never been a goal for this site, and I don’t want to write content aimed purely at capturing a larger audience. However, it is a nice feeling to know that something I created is useful to other people, and I don’t want to shy away from that unnecessarily.

My main aim now is to produce more content. To do that I thought of a couple of options:

  • Write about a broader range of topics
  • Use the site as a log for my projects

I intend to keep writing about what interests me, but I won’t limit it to the engineering side of my life alone. I enjoy being creative in a sense, and I think there is more scope for that here than I’ve allowed previously.

Broader topics

I have a bit of an addiction to collecting potential ideas for things to do. It only takes a few minutes of finding out about some technology or a project of someone else to make me think it would be a very good idea to try. Off the top of my head, these are a few things I’d like to do:

  • Build a fighting robot (i.e. relive Robot Wars)
  • Build an autonomous quadcopter
  • Take more (and better) photographs
  • Build a 3D aircraft in Blender for use in work presentations
  • Write more code
  • Hack some radio or other on the 2.4 GHz spectrum
  • Learn to type on my Ergodox keyboard and get it set up perfectly for my needs
  • Read more widely
  • Cook and bake more
  • Cycle more

I think there’s plenty of potential material to write about.

Project log

I mentioned previously that I started using the IPython Notebook to work through some problems, and I store some of them on GitHub. I’d like to go further. Perhaps, by committing a project to this website I will be more inclined to develop it so that I can update its progress here. I think it’s an idea that might work, but there’s only one way to find out.

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