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Fernando Guillén

a Freelance Web Developer

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software development as an artistic expression

Archive for the ‘profesión’ Category

Lunes, Septiembre 5th, 2011

Work in progress (ode to my pet-projects)


I have been standing aside of new clients and projects for the whole summer, there have been two great reasons for this decision. One: I wanted to enjoy the summer, and two: I needed time for my own projects, or better said: my own projects need time from me.

When I’m working for a client I’m really concentrate on which I’m responsible of. I focus very deep in my client needs and I offer the 100% of me to the project I’m being payed for.

If I want to work on my pet-projects I have to free myself. I have to clean my TODO list and open a clean period, without deadlines or external responsibilities.

My pet-projects periods are very important for me. They are one of the reasons I am very grateful of this skills of me that I have become in a profession.

Spending time working in my pet-projects not only makes me feel fulfilled, it also makes me be a better professional. They feed my passion, and keep me alert, they are very hard exercises those push me to my limits.

So, which are these so important pet-projects?, this is a summarized list of all the ‘on developing‘ projects I’m working on.



“The transparent personal website manager”

The first in the list because is the one where I have placed more energy lately.

Vitreous has been born to revolutionize the personal website and portfolio manager systems environment.

Focused in users with a very minimal web experience, print designers, photographers, writers, any kind of content producers, who wants to have a personal (and customizable) website but feel so lazy to deal with the actual available options.

Vitreous is a transparent personal website management. You have not to login in any where, you have not to upload files using webforms, you just have to copy files into your local hard disk, organize them into folders and Vitreous will do the magic.

We are currently in beta version, we are accepting beta testers and we have already some examples to show.

There have been multiple fights to achieve the actual status of the development. The Dropbox API is not as complete as we would desire, defining a versatile metadata system using files has been a complex work, to offer a secure full access to the templates has needed ingenuity and good programming, implement a solid and reliable stand-alone design render engine has turned indispensable.



“The market place for the independent publishers”

This is the oldest still ‘on development’ project I have in my pocket. I have been working on it for the last three years, not very actively of course.

The independent publishers have a lot of difficulties to reach the final readers, there are multiple reasons for this, the most important is the difficult of the distribution.

BookySitter tries to offer a solution for this, offering a possibility to the independent publisher to create his own online book shop, easy, simple and customizable. With small but useful functionalities especially focused in the small publisher needs like bookshops management.

But this is only one side of BookySitter, in the other side BookySitter wants to be a market place for the independent publications, where any reader interested in books made from the heart and not from the pocket can find a reliable catalog.

So what we have is a multi store system with independent and common catalogs. Full customizable templates. Multi-shopping-cart system.

We are still in a very green development status but we have already a shop in production: escrito a lapiz’s shop

We are also open for beta testers. Any independent publishers who is interested in open an online store can talk with us, we will offer our service and support by free.

The Kids Art Gallery

The Kids Art Gallery

“A gallery that respects and assesses the artistic power that have the most creative creatures on the world”

This is the project closest to my heart.

The Kids Art Gallery is an online multi-gallery for children paintings.

This is a very personal initiative with no any profit purpose underneath.

I want to build an online reference for the producers and the lovers (as I am) of this kind of art. I want to build a pleasant interface to navigate and appreciate in every detail children art sample.

The intention is not only build an online gallery but also a place of understanding and comment this contents, inviting psychologists, fathers and children to comment and write about the works of art.

Currently we are working in the design and the user experience where we have a lot to improve.

In this moment we are accepting new artists so if you know any one please ask me for an invitation code.


“The trade fair stalls manager”

One of the few projects with a very clear business model.

Sitoi is a for rental spaces online manager. Is focused in street markets, trade fairs, parkings, … any situation where there is an space divided in for rental portions.

This project is still in the conceptualize state, but this is the most important part of it. We have defined a very fast, easy and versatile way to publish online spaces for renting.

We are now working in the user interface.


“Data is every where”

When you are not the owner of the data is difficult to follow up and make monitoring of the changes.

ScrapStats allows you to monitor the changes of any data that is accessible for a browser.

With a very simple system based in html scrapping you can register as many data monitors as you need, ScrapStats will take an snap-shot of the data periodically and offer you alerts and charts of the evolution.

We are in alpha status of this project, there is already an operative prototype but we need to improve the user interface.

Space Suckers Chronicles

Space Suckers Chronicles

“You can introduce this space ship where it fits!”

Building a multi-user-text-based-game has been always a murmur in my head. Born as a RMU exercise it is now one of the projects I’m working on.

in S2C you can build space-ships, mines, colonize planets and confront your fleets with the other players ones. Every thing happens in real time, and in a persistent way so even if you are not in front in the computer your fleets and planets are still there living their own lifes.

There is not graphics animation or any other representation of this parallel world rather than the text info you are feeded with.

“It runs on the world’s most powerful graphics chip, imagination.” – Dc. Sheldon Cooper

This project is in alpha version, there is a prototype already working implemented in a three layers infrastructure:

  • The logic
  • The server
  • The client

It is an Open Source initiative.

Now that you know all my ‘on development’ pet-projects you can join me to push any of them that you feel interested in. Just give me a shout and tell me why you are interested and how you can help. Currently my bigger weakness and bottleneck is in the user interfaces development.

Viernes, Julio 1st, 2011

I don’t like end customers

This is not a flash thinking. I have not just waked up angry with something and I just have taken this decision. It has been something cooking very slow.

I remember three years ago talking with one of my respected colleagues about our freelance way of life. I was defending the experience of working with end customer, taking the project from the beginning when it is only an abstract idea, extracting to the customer all the info the project needs, to become one abstract idea in reality, teaching your contracting how to build an internet project is and what it needs.

He was in the other side: he preferred to not deal with all of this.

He had just more experience than me. The time has placed me in the same opinion.

Now I’m starting to generalize so please don’t take offense of my words at least you feel recognized on them.

The history is common and it starts like this: A new email contact achieves to my inbox, someone was looking for a freelance web developer and arrived to this web site and decided to contact me. This history has never had a happy end. Just a waste of time on my side.

These are the mistakes this customer is gonna make:

  • He doesn’t believe there is a relation between quality and price. He thinks all professionals are the same, they just have to find the cheapest one.
  • He is not calculating property the amount of resources that an internet entrepreneurship needs to wake up. He thinks that finding a programmer is enough, no idea about user experience, information architecture, graphics and design, marketing, market studies, usability, SEO, maintenance, servers, customer attention, business model, investors, legal implications, …
  • He overrates his idea. He thinks he has a million dollar idea, but he even hasn’t studied the other players, the competitors. He thinks his idea is the most important part of the project when the reality is that it is worthless without a good development in every sense of the word. He thinks he has the idea very good defined but it is just an abstraction with not definition or analysis at all.
  • He wants it all. Every stupid functionality is indispensable. Not possibility to discern between necessary and desirable. Not possibility to define a first iteration with a basic functionality. Negation of the nature of an internet project: it will ask what it needs, you just don’t know yet.
  • He is not gonna take any responsibility. He thinks his only function in this adventure is to push with the budgets and the timings. He doesn’t accept he has to work, he has to offer answers, solutions, cover no technical tasks, … and do it fast. I need him to be a companion, a partner.
  • He is not gonna take any risk. Really? you are starting up a supposedly great business and you have reserved 1.500 euros to do it real?. This is less than the vegetable store on the corner pays for rent. This is very related with the previous point: one of the biggest responsibilities he is gonna avoid is the obtaining of money. He says he has not to much money and I should understand this issue. What he is telling me is that he just failed in one of his most important responsibilities: the money supply.
  • He doesn’t sell it self. He just writes an email with petitions (usually a budget). He just says he has a great idea and he is expecting me to convince him that I’m the right professional he needs. He doesn’t say anything about him, about his experience in internet entrepreneurship, why should I accept to work with him?, which are his references?.
  • He doesn’t understand his own business model. I know better than him which the possibilities are, even which of them are possible better for his business proposition. I feel scared with his ideas. This is one of the most frustrating situations. He has lost his leadership. He is not an inspiration for me.
  • He asks me for my programming skills and what he is really asking me is to be his CEO. He wants me to build the team, to manage it, to resolve any issue, to be a technical and business consulter. And if for any reason the project doesn’t success like it was supposed to, he will want me to be the responsible.
  • He wants a fixed budget, even if the idea is properly defined and documented (what is unlikely) is literally impossible to know which are gonna be the final needs of the project, or the issues we are gonna find, or the specification modifications we will should face up.

I think I have realized that the desirable end customer, the one that knows the domain, who knows the value (and the price) of the quality, who respects me as a professional, who takes risks to stand up his idea, who has the experience to offer justified and well analyzed ideas, who understands his responsibilities, the one that is a really leader and an inspiration, who really believe on his project, he is not calling you in his own name, will be the start-up he has just created to wrap the project who will call you.

This is why my really preferred end customer, which officially are not really end customer, are the Start-Ups.

Jueves, Abril 29th, 2010

Twitter must become in an open protocol

… if Twitter doesn’t do it, someone must to.

On a recent conversation with Raúl Murciano about the new improvements on the Twitter API I was defending the need of Twitter becoming an open protocol.

The first response could be “Why is this needed?, why don’t just use the Twitter platform?“, the answer is not easy to do with the mind it is more a feeling on the heart.

Twitter has been become on an incredible simple and useful service, twitter is everywhere and it is used for anything. It has become in the chat of our age, also in an alert system, in a marketing place, there where you want to put an small piece of information there is Twitter.

So now Twitter has proved what wonderful it is, what kind of a powerful tool it is, and all this power is always better to be shared and to open it to the people.

Of course there is something wrong on my approach: Twitter has built Twitter so it deserves to keep it, to open it is not a profitable idea and all of us know what is what moves the world. But at the moment Twitter keeps distrustful the control of Twitter it has not anymore the right of keep it.

The natural way of Twitter is being an open protocol where there is not anymore only one service provider but a bunch of them, communicating with each other, and anyone can buildup its own Twitter server, and we can choose our favorite one. I don’t see the difference between Twitter and email, or IRC, or HTTP it self. How would you feel if the email service was offered only by one company?, doesn’t matter how fashion and nice guys they were.

The decisions are not anymore taken on an unilateral way, the power is not anymore owned by anyone, the tool is already uncontrollable (in the good sense of the word), the service is distributed and scalable, the privacy has a possibility, the competition helps to the user, this is the kind of sons Internet is proud of.

Technically it has not to be the most complicated of the protocols, the most important thing Twitter is offering to us right now is just us, the users. Despite the incredible server balancing technology is has to support, but this is just a consequence of being the Only One.

Twitter is awesome and Twitter can be proud of itself, it deserves all our ovations but is time to move on, Twitter has the right to keep what it has built and we have the right to do it better, if Twitter doesn’t do it someone must to.

The real question is: are we willing to change our fashion ‘@nick‘ by a one more standard and scalable ‘‘?

Domingo, Septiembre 27th, 2009

Conferencia Rails 2009, just around the corner

 Conferencia Rail 2008

Another year, another conference, the conference that opened my eyes to the amazing word of Ruby, there on 2007, is just tuning the last details.

Conferencia Rails 2009, this year bigger, more impressive, with new venue, bigger organization team, more energy, and asking to the english spoken community  to meet us with talks.

This year I am not being to much helpful on the organization team, I know they are not missing me: a big and strong bunch of people is helping this year with new energy and ideas. I am on the register application support one more year. You can check the code and help sending patches here on the ConfRor2009 github repository.

As more news arrive to me about the Conferencia Rails 2009 more sad I feel, this is because this year I will not can assists to the event, I will be on New York on an weird adventure.

The Call for Papers is almost closed. Be hurry and propose your talk to Conferencia Rails 2009 on the registration app.

Domingo, Septiembre 13th, 2009

Coding on New York City

Coding on NYC

It’s done, I’ll be traveling with my angel to New York City next October. It won’t be a very short visit: 3 months. All the Autumn on New York.

I’m very excited, very stressed and very nervous, I know not one of this sensations is a pleasure sensation, but this is my way, I am a guy that likes to feel at home, and NYC is definitely not my home. But I know at the moment I’ll know where the bakery is and a good place to take a relaxing coffee I’ll start to feel at home.

This is a very great experience, a personal one, but I’ll like to turn it on an important professional experience too.

I don’t want to make telecommuting on NYC, I don’t want to work at home. I can to keep working for my actual clients on the same way I am doing it here on my house at Mallorca (Spain), but I need something different, I want to work close to other coders, I want to work close to New Yorker coders.

I have spoken with the managers of one of my most important actual projects, and the development team I am deeper working with: LaCoctelera, I exposed my concerns and they are absolutely agree with me, I have to take this opportunity, I will stop coding and committing for this project for a while, and on my return we will see if I am still helpful for them.

So now I have time, but I don’t have any idea if my skills will be desirable there on USA.

What I’m looking for is kind of simple: a Ruby on Rails project, with a development team of at least three persons, with hi coding level, comfortable office space, where a ten agile fingers and a bright mind could be helpful.

The money is not a problem, I’m chasing the experience and the knowledge I could acquire, so if your budget is not weight but your team is amazing I would be proud to work on it. The contract isn’t a problem either, as a Freelance I own my own software company, so this’ll be not a employment contract but a international companies relationship.

But if I can’t access to any kind of refundable job I am also opened to volunteer work.

If you know or are part of something like what I am looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Viernes, Agosto 28th, 2009

The Rails Rumble Experience

Software development is a box of wonderful surprises and the community I have found around Ruby on Rails is the most passionate I have never met.

The last crazy geek stuff I have been involved in was the RailsRumble. A contest where small web development teams have to show what they are able to build in only 48 hours. Of course the web framework to use is Ruby on Rails, which other can you use to implement something almost finished in only this bunch of hours?

The experience, besides being a technology challenge, is a very enriching personal experience

Our group was formed by Raimond Garcia, Felipe Talavera, Carlos Matallín and me.

RailsRumble Mallorca Team

Within a few days of cross mailing conversation we had an approximate idea of what we were gonna build. The 3 developers get together at my house in Mallorca, our designer and front developer, Carlos Matallín, could not enjoy physically the experience with us, but was on continuous contact through mail, skype and video conference.

The previous night was the discussion time.. a few cups of coffee and a lot of pen and paper, our idea was incredibly simple and could become something incredibly helpful, but it was full of small details and possible solutions that should be decided before work started.

Functional Paper Doc2am, Day D -2, Hour H -48, the time of the first commit, just a very concise file and go to sleep.

When I waked up in the morning my partner Felipe had already the server standing up and our most important tool working: the mail digester.

The day was very pleasing, not any pressure stressed us, our code was responding our expectations incredibly well, Raimond was concentrated on the integration test layer of our application, Carlos was sending us very correct designs time at a time, Felipe working here and there knowing all the stack of the application and me focusing on the mail parser. Time at a time we reset our bodies with a very cold dip up on our small swimming-pool.

At the end of the first day our application was working. Not on any casuistic worked well, but it was working.

The second and last day supposed to be only to correct details and test any problematic casuistics, I don’t know if it was for overconfidence or because the problems to resolve were too hard to resolve but the last commit was exactly at 2am on Sunday, that means Hour H on Day D.

The supposed objective of the RailsRumble is to convince the expert judges that our application developed on 48 hours is above the rest of them.. Our project was judged as the #57 of more than 200 applications. Not available to pass to the next level: the public vote. That suppose to mean that we failed. Nothing further from the truth. We built something very transgressor, very innovative and also very simple, we were congratulated for one of the most known Ruby on Rail gurus: Obie Fernandez, we enjoyed ourself a wonderful geek weekend and we have decided to improve the code and to expose it to the community to see if it becomes as helpful as we think.

And over all we were full up of new inspiration and energized passion towards our profession.

What was that we were working this weekend? … :), the new mailing bot to help your mailing list with informal votes: I’ll talk more concise about it on future post.

Miércoles, Mayo 6th, 2009

Ruby: EuRuKo 2009, new dose of inspiration.

This weekend is the EuRuKo 2009, a very concentrate juice of Ruby programmers. 230 tickets were sold withing 3 days almost two months ago.

I am one of the big bunch of people that is on charge of the organization of this edition, I am helping on whatever is in my hand, I am very proud of have been the developer of the registration application, with the help of very big mind people. You can download and use the code on the github repository.

I also sent a design proposal for the t-shirt conquest. Of course Marze was there for putting me on my place :)

EuRuKo 2009 t-shirt proposal

Of course I’ll be there this weekend, I love to attend such events. It’s not because I like the talks, or because I learn a lot.. it’s not that. I love and need the energy that flutters there. It’s some kind of battery recharger. A new dose of inspiration. Company, Cooperation, … Pride of Craftsman.

See you there people!

Miércoles, Abril 15th, 2009

Satanizando Java

(Esto lo tenía por ahí desde hace tiempo… )

Últimamente está muy de moda eso de satanizar los grandes lenguajes corporativos en pro de los lenguajes de juguete.

Llevo 5 años trabajando con Java y sabéis qué os digo: que me uno a ellos, vine aquí para divertirme y creo que para eso se necesitan juguetes.

Lunes, Abril 6th, 2009

Ruby on Rails, Scotland on Rails 2009

Un fin de semana en Edimburgo rodeado de amantes, curiosos y rock-stars de Ruby on Rails, además de un montón de colegas de profesión y pasión, no me lo podía perder: Scotland on Rails.

Gueto español en SoR 2009

El fin de semana comenzó el jueves con un curso de un montón de horas de lo que se esperaba fuera un acercamiento a RoR y se convirtió en curso avanzado de Ruby a base de demostraciones malabaristas de lo que con este lenguaje se puede hacer.

Allí estábamos Raul, Flype, Ray y yo mismo con la cabeza apunto de explotar. Todo el día en una especie de destripamiento de carnicero de las entrañas de Ruby.

Acabé con agujetas de tener la boca abierta.. bueno espera que la cierre para escribir estas otras 2 líneas. Nos acaban de mostrar una especie de trigers o callbacs que se disparan cada vez que incluyes un módulo o incluso cada vez que declaras un método de una clase. Pueden funcionar como filtros también.

OMG.. ahora nos acaban de mostrar una clase que inspecciona Ruby en sí mismo: ObjectSpace.

Todos los ejercicios que vimos están en un proyecto de github:

Los posteriores días transcurrieron entre interesantísimas charlas, otras no tanto, alguna otra en la que no me enteré de nada, chistes, gueto español, cenas, desayunos, paseos, cervezas.. una delicia vaya.

Unas de las partes de la conferencia con menos expectativas pero que resultó ser super interesante fueron las Lightning Talks. En ellas se hablaron de unas cuantas idas de olla, de varios generadores de back y de una gran premier: la presentación de RedCar, un editor TexMate-style para Linux desarrollado por un chaval que no aparentaba ni 20 años.

Los posteriores días post-conferencia fueron aún más dulces, acompañado de un ángel fui a visitar a un amigo en Glasgow que nos llevó de paseo por las highlands.

… Feliz de mi profesión.

PD: por cierto, terminé la conferencia siendo premiado en el sorteo de 250 libras en libros de O’Reilly :) .. que repartí gustoso con mis compañeros de gueto por mi imposibilidad de leérmelos todos antes de que se quedasen anticuados.

Jueves, Marzo 5th, 2009

En la búsqueda de la felicidad

No me mal interpretes siempre me he sentido feliz. Me gusta programar, lo he disfrutado y lo disfruto cada día.

Picaba código de la microhobby pero no conseguía descifrar la magia de esos conjuros.

Conseguí hacer mis primeros videojuegos en BASIC pero necesitaba más potencia y velocidad de respuesta.

Conocí ensamblador y sentí el poder en mis dedos parcheando interrupciones. Aquí lanzo una flecha de agradecimiento a Paco, ese viejo dinosaurio de la informática que le pagaba 500 pesetas por hora de clase.. (que luego se las gastaba en mi bar a base de cubatas).

Conocí C y me derretí al ver como con una línea de código solucionaba todo un día de trabajo en ensamblador.

Conocí Java y me derretía de satisfacción con la cantidad de librerías y documentación que te proporcionaba.

Me empezaron a llamar la atención los conceptos de la eXtreme-Programming que hundían un poco en lo profundo los grandes análisis y documentación, así como defendían técnicas como la pair-programming que siempre me ha encantado incluso antes de saber que tenía nombre. Recuerdo muchas noches en vela jugando a programar aplicaciones con uno de mis mentores en Java.

Conocí los patrones de desarrollo de software que te guiaban en la resolución de problemas contra los que ya no tenías que luchar solo. Implementé varios de ellos a golpe de pico y pala: un motor de persistencia, un MVC, …

Conocí Struts e Hibernate y solucionaban un problema grande pero empecé a sentir que la solución empezaba a formar una pendiente, que ya no volaba tan ligero…

Bajé a iBatis y sentí que remontaba el vuelo, la potencia de Hibernate no justificaba los dolores de cabeza que me dio y me sigue dando con insistentes poltergeist.

Comprendí la importancia de los patrones KISS y “menos es más” antes de conocerlos.

Ahora bajo un poco más y me alejo de la gran pista de los tanques, me estaba perdiendo, las grandes herramientas pesan demasiado y mis pies se hundían en el barro, me sentía empantanado.

Quiero divertirme, quiero ser feliz, quiero sentirme ligero, mis proyectos y mis herramientas deben ser también ligeras.

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