Weeknote #3

Last week showed that defining priorities is essential when you’re starting a new business.

Traveling

When I voiced my hope to get our hosting website online this week in my previous weeknote, I didn’t think of the Perl seminar that would have me out of office for four of five days this week. So I only had Monday and the travel time on Tuesday and Friday to get the most important tasks done. By the way, I still enjoy taking the train to work, especially if getting there takes me a few hours. I kept the Bahncard 100 which lets me travel by train as much as I need for a flat monthly fee. So, for last week’s seminar, I just had to reserve a seat in a train that goes all the way from Freiburg to Wolfsburg to secure myself 5 hours of solid work time in each direction.

Offline Training

The seminar went fine. I had twelve participants eager to learn Perl and three days to teach them the most important basics. Which is not a comfortable time frame, because actually only explaining all the topics takes more than two days, and then the trainees haven’t written a single line of code themselves. But they got to a basic understanding of the language which was my expressed goal for the seminar. Together, we hope that there’ll be a second seminar where we’ll be able to look at practical problems and more advanced aspects of Perl.

Spending all day in a classroom and the evening in a hotel room still isn’t my preferred way of teaching, so I’ll put more effort into promoting our online trainings.

Training Material

In advance of the seminar, I had to spend some time on my training material. Despite it having matured over more than 8 years now, it’s still not perfect in its explanations and examples and it still contains a few typos and glitches. Additionally, for a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the format I could best maintain it in the future. The LaTeX format in which I had written the book started to show real limitations, especially because I had chosen it for its printing quality but now needed a format for online presentation.

After I spent some hours on looking — and deciding — for a future format, I got back to my original goal of working on the training manual itself. (BTW, I chose HTML and will explain the reasons in a separate blog post.) But departing time came quickly and the seminar took up the rest of the week.

Website

In the end, I didn’t have the time to do the finishing touches on the webhosting website, so I’ll have to postpone the site launch for another week. There maybe would have been enough time, though, if I hadn’t embarked on my journey to a better book and paper writing format.

Those tool and format discussions are dangerous because they can quickly derail a project and bring productivity to a low. Instead of working on your content, you start researching and testing different “solutions” that could replace your working one. Sometimes, “research” is just an euphemism for procrastination. If you have people that pay for your living without asking for a quick ROI, you may be able to go on Holy Grail expeditions. But in a business, you need to focus on what directly benefits your customers. With a training manual, that’s its content, not the format it’s written in.

The second priority is business development, for example with a website. That’s why I’ll measure the success of the new week by how much new business I’ll have generated in its end.