9: Remote Work Reflections

Alan and Mario talk about their experiences of remote working and Alan talks about his reasons for building on dotplan to improve remote communications.

Alan: so I've been remote working for,

I left my corporate job


2002, 2003.

That was, Sun Microsystems,

which obviously don't exist anymore.

Not, not in the way they

used to.

Anyway, I guess there's shelf
the shadow of their former self.


So I was, I, I sold the little web
app that I made then, and I worked for

that company for a little bit, but it was

pretty much there was an

office in a cool part of London.

And it was.

it was.


if you

want to hang in London,
it was those, the owner of

the company lived

like a few minutes walk away
from the office and it was like

a four person, five person.

And we kind of just

went to

the office if we felt like it.

And so I think from that

moment on,

I've never

been a,

an office person.

I just have a, either it's been,

I go in, because I want
some social interactivity or

there's something that we
need to talk about together.

It's just easier,
especially, you know, video


It wasn't really as good or It didn't
really exist in the same way back then.

And there was the, the, the
previous job I had here was through

the, there was the first time

since then that I've actually
been like daily going into an

office and it would took
some getting used to

Mario: Yeah.


Alan: And I think that the thing


for remote

working is a

company has

to, they have to buy into
it like big time, not

a dipping their toes in and say, well,


know, it's not really working.

You've either got to

commit to it and change

your working practices to,
to take it remote first.


you know, there's gotta be a, a definite

goal in

mind, rather than just

seeing what

happens, whether that's like a hybrid goal


You know, some kind of flexible system,
but it has to be a stated thing that

you want to make work rather than just,
oh, well, it didn't work out right.

Mario: Yeah.

Yeah, for sure.

So for now I'm having to commute a
couple of days a week and next week

it's going to be three days a week.

And so, Yeah.

I don't think they are planning to fully
support remote work for now, even, even

though they've had a long time to evaluate
it and to see the effectiveness, because

work has gotten done, you know, everyone's
been working and you know, it hasn't

really made that much of a difference.

And certainly for certain
specifically for certain types

of jobs, so certain roles, right.

That make it super easy to
just do the work remotely.

You, don't have to be in the office,
but they're not even differentiating

that they, they they're throwing a
blanket statement and everyone has

to come into the office eventually.

So, I'm working on that though.

I'm actively looking for a different
role somewhere else and I'm not planning

on staying there for very long time.


Alan: I mean,

Mario: I've been there for a long
time already, so I it's time to move

Alan: you, you know, there's, there's
no one knows that you know what,

that, what will happen kind of thing.

You can make very strong predictions
about how they're dealing

with this.



Mario: Yep.


Alan: Yeah.

I mean, I,

I, I saw her on the news about, you know,

apple saying that, you know,
it's like, we're, we will not be

becoming a remote first company.


Pretty much.


mean, you,

you, it's a strange one because

I guess, you

know, they've just spent all of this

money on


campus, that gorgeous building.


Mario: Yeah.

Alan: it, I can't blame them
if I had spent all that on


And I think apple has such a, a, a

distinct culture goal that, that
it's sad in one way That you know,

they, they seem to not be willing

to, to find some


But I,

if, if I lived

close, I'd probably want to.

go into that office.

That was probably a a

strong desire to

go there if I was there
because you know, the

facilities and things

are somewhat different, once you've


the flexibility of remote work Even after
it's hybrid or whatever, then it's really

difficult to go back to

thinking that you

have to be in a particular
place at a particular


So many days a week, it's
like, well, I, it always kills

me that I don't



people get things done because

how do they,

I it's, yeah.

When I was going to start to going

into the office again, every day
as a real, real job, I guess.


was, I, I don't know how all of the things
that I was doing, I don't know when I'm

supposed to do them anymore

because they just slot into
natural ebbs and flows of your day.

But to be put on the spot and say, no,
you will be here a particular time to.

do a

particular thing.

It's like, but what if
I don't want to do that?

Or what if it's not the
right time for me to do



It, it felt such a

I guess if you've always

done that that's normal and you don't

question it so much, but when
you've not done it for so

long, and then someone's put
in this position, it's like,


Mario: Yeah, Yeah.

and I can understand if a certain
role requires that you are

physically present at a location.


And I can see apple, for example,
they, they build hardware, right.

They design hardware.

So I can imagine that's, you
know, you can't do all of that

remotely a hundred percent.

You have to be present.

and there's I don't even, know, what,
you know, kind of work really requires

to do that I mean, I can imagine, but,
but I can only imagine that you cannot

be a hundred percent remote if you're,
if your role is, you know, designing

hardware and testing things And working
with hardware, but, but there are certain

roles, That You know, lend
themselves to be remote if you're

just writing software and you're
just, you know, coding all the time.

I mean, why not?

You can be anywhere and
meetings are conducted virtually

anyways, especially nowadays.

Alan: Yeah.

we kind of got used to that.

I mean, they're not necessarily optimal.

And I

think I think there's still a lot
of learning to be done with regards

to how we approach online meetings



So but again, that's, that's,
that's one of the things I

want to try and solve with dot

plan or at least provide
an alternative that is,

It offers different types of benefits.

I mean, the, the big goal for for
dot plan for me was to try to try to

reproduce the serendipity
that happens in an office.

And, I think, that was

a big shock for me

about returning to office life
was there's a lot that you

miss by being.

Completely remote.

And I didn't realize

that so much before I went back

to it and just people talking
on a phone call and the other

side of the

office, you've you

pick up things and you're
like, are we working with them?

Hold on, who who's

doing that?

And I should probably be
involved because I know

something about that, but because
you weren't involved with it,

sometimes it's not known, are

you again, if you're

talking to somebody about a technology,
somebody across the other side

of the office is like, hold on.

I've I've I know about that.

And that just

gets lost often in remote work,
because everybody is doing their thing.

And unless it's assigned to

you, or unless it's made explicit that

we're looking into a thing, then
you just don't know about it.

And that's

that, that,

so the previous

company that.


spent, like six or seven years
working for remotely, I Three

of the staff at a conference.

And, but the

rest of them that the other 30 something
people I never met, we, I, I never

even spoke to the majority of them.

It was purely text-based



it's great.

You know, I, I have some

really good friends.

I know it was

probably the best working environment

that I've ever had in terms of trust and


between each other.

But it was, there was a lot

of serendipity lost there because you just
don't know what's going on, unless you

become communicative in a particular way,
you just disappear into the background.

And so th the, the whole, the whole
premise of me starting to up plan was I

want to be able to make it easy for people
to share what they're working on, what's

going on without making
it like formal, you

know, without me writing a report
saying we are thinking about

this thing, and if anybody has

any input, please, that it's
like, well, I'm looking at this.

And then people.

That's interesting to me.

So I wanted to try to

form a different way of that

serendipitous communication.

That's like a in , non direct

Mario: Right, right.

Indirect, indirect.

Alan: Non explicit.

So it's, there's still some ways
to go, but it's interesting with

it kind of skipping all over the

place today.

But I had a,

We had some communication with
one of the beta users here

in Fukuoka and his explicit,


for wanting to try this out, try using

dot plan was he wasn't, didn't feel
on top of what his stuff we're doing.

and it's like, well, that's exactly
what we're trying to solve it.

So he.

I don't want to say

hesitant, but he was somewhat
unconvinced when we started the trial.

He's like, I'm happy to try it
because I want to solve this.

I want

to make this better.

I don't know if what you're doing
is the answer, but I'm happy

to try it, to see what happens.

His big worry was that his
staff wouldn't do this.

You know, it, or they would take
it with you know, begrudgingly

do it rather than buy into it.

And so we were talking to him about a
feature that we're trialing with him

only him because he had a specific
request and I'm like, I'm not sure

if this is part of this needs to be
part of the product in the future,

but I'm willing to give it a go and

see how it fits in.

So it's this small feature
that I added for him.

And it's just behind a
feature flag so he can use it.

And so we said, well, you
know, how is the other thing?

And he's like, oh, that's great.

You know, that.

Almost like not a problem anymore.

I'm more interested in this new feature
and the fact that the dot plan is.

Providing the benefit and it's solving
that problem that he had already.

He's already thinking about the next


And that was, that was
a big like, oh, hold on.

The fact that he's now reliant on
this, the company has kind of accepted


This is just part of the way

they work now was like, oh


He's, it's weird because you now looking

at the next problems and he's
almost like skipping ahead.

Oh, it would be better if
we, if we could do this and

say, yo, hold on.

I've got to convince everybody else at

this first step first.


Mario: Well, that's nice.

Alan: absolutely.

It was really like


felt very reassuring to
think that especially someone

who was hesitant and unconvinced to start

off with and especially, it was like,
there's going to be like pulling

teeth, getting my staff to do this,
but they're doing it and they seem to

have so the next step is we're
trying to arrange another meeting

to go in and talk to him in


Hopefully try and get his staff's feedback
as well, because it's, it's great.

If it solves his problem, I want

to know how the staff feel about it now.

That's the next thing
we need to understand.

So it's like, it's great
if he's happy, but I don't

the staff happy as



that's yeah, it felt really good to


that that

just that validation of like,
yeah, of course it's working.

So that was exciting.

That was a good bit of new this news this


Mario: That's awesome.

Can you describe the feature?

Are you at a

Alan: the feature that
that we've built for him.

Yeah, sure.

I mean, it's the,

it's, it's pretty simple.

It's, it's a time tracker.

It's a timecard system.


Japan, I may have mentioned this
before, but Japan has a labor law rule

that if you're running

less than.

10 million yen.

If it's an office job, if your

unit learned that less than 10 million yen

per year, a

hundred K or, and you're not a
director level employee then you

have to keep timecards.

Mario: Yeah.

I remember you mentioned mentioned that.


Alan: so I mean, it's to stop overwork

and stop people being taken advantage
of in terms of their office hours.

And he said, would they

currently have a complicated system
with like, there's a clocking machine?

There's people making notes of


There's people writing messages


like a slack type thing.

Yeah, I'm starting
work, I'm stopping work.

And he's like this, this takes a lot of

time to aggregate this.

There's gotta be some something you
can, and because the way they're

using dot plant is


think I mentioned this before,
but again, different people seem

to be using it in different ways
and I'm trying to now figure out

what's the quote unquote right way.


There's it works

differently for different people


well in different ways
for different people.

But the way they're doing it is
they're doing a morning and an evening.

Check-in so first thing in the
morning, they say, this is what I'm

going to, this one they plan to do.

And then in the evening,
this is what I've achieved.

That's that

I'll come back to an interesting
point about that in a second, but

that's what they're doing
and that works well.

So he's like, well, can't we
just say I'm starting work and

then I'm stopping work
and record those times.

And that gives us a,

Like a recorded list of when

people start and stopped work.

Can we use that?

And I'm like, well,

that you don't necessarily know.

I want to tie

that to an official clock-in
and clock-out, but the certainly

overlap there between the systems.


And I'm like, I, I didn't want
to build I didn't want to build a

time-tracking system to be on that.

That was like the, almost like
the opposite goal of dot plan.


wanted to produce something that
was, that didn't feel formal.

Didn't feel like something you had to do.

It was more of


getting a benefit from it.

But at the same time, but then I


thinking of the aspect,
you know, there's a lot of



you know, recording what you've done as

a productivity and you
know, personal tracking

kind of tool.

Like, you

know, what's, how long
did I spend on that?

And you know, yourself, you
know, I started to try doing

like, time-blocking just

to try to

control the amount of what I
spent my time doing, because

it's easy to either lose time

on something that isn't important or,

You know, I'll waste time.

Looking at Twitter, right.


or or just

working too much, you know, that's
the other thing as well, you

know, we, we, we've mentioned,
you know, things about just being

able to be aware of how
much time you're spending.

And I, so I kind of got back to this

Came to this realization that it might
be relevant because if you're adding

what you're working on, what you're

doing and what you've achieved, then
being able to correlate this with

some kind of time based system
that could be personal benefits

as well as corporate benefits.


You know,

so the socially something I was going
to maybe mention is I'm curious what you

think about how you respond to people's
requests for features, because in this

case, it's, you know, he said,
I'd really like a time-tracking

system as part of this.

And I like this, isn't
what I want to build.


I don't want to build a
clock-in and clock-out system.

You know, this is not how I, I know
remote working doesn't work well, if

I have to plug in at eight 30 in the
morning and clock out at six but at

the same time, the more I thought about
it, I just let it bubble for quite a

long time before agreeing to build it.

I was like, let me think about this.

I don't want to commit before I before
I understand the implications of

this, but I also didn't want to say
no outright, but my first reaction

was no, I'm not building that.

And then before I, you know, that
that was going on in my head as like,

there's no way I'm going to build that.

And so I just said, you
know, let me think about this



And, and it took probably about
a week for me to convince myself

that there might be something in


And again, I don't know if it is,
but I kind of decided that the, the

spending X amount of time, again, a
reasonable, I didn't I didn't want to

just go down a rabbit hole and build
out this fully feature thing, but I

scoped a very tight version of this.

And I'm like, okay, if I built
this, is that useful to you?


He said I'm like, okay.

It's, it's very tightly scoped.

It's not a full-on, you know,
time-tracking, it basically allows

you to start and stop a timer.

And either just a generic timer
or one related to a project that

exists in the system already.

So, you know, dot plan now I'm moving
to, like, the projects has been like a

central part of how the interface works.

And if you're a member of a project,
you can effectively start a timer on a

project and at the time, and that's it.

And it just gives you
a list of your times.

The account owner can see
everybody's times and that's it.

And so we turn that on for him this week.

And so we will find out how useful
that is to him, but just in using

that on my, for myself as well.

I'm like this isn't, it doesn't
feel like it doesn't feel too heavy.

It's super lightweight, just lives
in the, the menu bar at the top.

And I feel like have this extra
quantitative data about myself.

Now, what I've been doing is like,
I can see my, how I, the time I've

spent and it doesn't feel invasive.

It doesn't feel

Like controlling or anything.

It just feels informative for me.

So I think there's something in it
and I don't know what that is yet, but

it's been an interesting experiment to

take somebody's request that I was
not convinced about and S and just

iterate on it and play with it.

And I, I've got like, so many
sketches here of like, okay,

how can I make this work?

That doesn't feel like I'm making
a time tracking system, right.

I'm not, that's not what I'm
doing, but how can I incorporate

those aspects into this and make
it feel part of the same product?

And it's, it's worked out well so far.

I think I say I'm, I'm still
not a hundred percent convinced,

but I'm like 90% convinced.

So I'm curious to know, like,
so say for instance, you know,

someone comes to,

you with Fusioncast and says, you
know, it would be great if it did


And you're

like, that's not on my

roadmap at all.

I'm not really interested in doing


What would you do

with that

Mario: Yeah.


It's a tricky, it's a tricky
thing to consider those

requests and give them a weight.


Give them relevance.

I think the key thing is I think
you, you touched on that the key

is to have you have an idea of
what your product needs to be.

And some of these requests
may align really nicely with

your, your idea of the product.

And some obviously will not
align, you know, at all.

So I think if there's a way that you
can mold or shape that idea or that

suggestion in a way that it'll, it'll,
integrate into your system in a more

seamless way, then you can do that.

I handle this in a similar way.

I, my first reaction is usually
no, because because I, I have

an idea of what I want to do.

but you know, as long as It's a
request of a feature that is, sort of,

related or tangentially, related to

Alan: not a completely different product.


But it's, it's, it's kind of
just out there a little bit.

It's just a bit beyond the limits of where
you ex what you planned to, do, right.

Mario: Yeah.

For example, with the thing with fusion
cast is that it's a recording tool, right?

So I want to stay true to that and
keep my course, in that direction.

And I don't want to deviate too much
from that because I want to take care

of one thing and hopefully do it well.


It's just this one to,
it's a recording tool.

it's not meant for editing.

It's not an editing tool is not,
you know, so I've gotten requests

where, people suggest that maybe, you
know, if they could edit, you know,

Alan: Automatically uploads to like Yeah.

Distribution or something.


I can imagine

the request.

Mario: Yeah.



And so it's not, It's not
a it's not an editing tool.

So I, unfortunately I
have to, say no to, those.

but there are some other requests where
even if it's not directly related to

recording, but if in some way it enhances
the experience of recording, then,

you know, I can consider that maybe
implemented as suggested or, shape it in

a different way that kind of, Integrates
better with, with my main mission.

and I and I think that's kind of what
you touched on earlier where, okay.

your first reaction
was no, but then, okay.

Let me think about how I can kind of make
it work and, have that thing that feature

bring more value into your core mission,

Alan: I mean, th th that's the
interesting thing about this, you

know, by embracing something that

Not embracing it, but, but giving it

space to, to at least try
to, live I've touched on

something that I think
could become kind of core.

You know, the, the, especially this idea

of you know,

this, this of self of,

of recording, not

just for other people
what I'm doing, but also

having the I mean, even using dot

plan for me, the company of
me is actually useful having

this log of what I was doing last week.

And just seeing

full patterns

appear in that is
actually very interesting.

And seeing

you can see your mood changes because,
you know, mood tracking built in as well.

So not just for

From a a

manager company, you
know standpoint, but just


And how am I, doing?

I can almost see the ebbs
and flows in my own work.

You know, how much time did
I spend on each project?

And again, you'll see by

doing this, I,

I I,

want to try some visualization of
this, but we can already see the

patterns in the list

of data of hold on.

I was really focused on this


this week are, you




of time and you can, it'll be

interesting to

do some visualizations on it.

So by seeing that it's not, not,

completely out there, it's actually has
some interesting side effects is paid off.

I, think.

So I say I'm not

a hundred percent sure that it's going to

exist in it's in the same format to
this right now, but I'm becoming more

convinced that it is
part of what dot plan is


And I think the.

and again, when I started on

dot plan, I had a a reasonably

strong idea of what I thought the

product was.

And it's really interesting to see
how it's because it's I guess in

some ways it's, it's not a tightly

defined, I it's probably


I think I've said this before as well.

It's probably


wrong project to do as an Indi, like a



You know, it should be super nice like
tightly scoped something that, you know,

it's, it has hard edges.

But by kind of approaching something

that is fuzzy and I've
got an idea in this space,

but it

isn't strongly defined and typed
and it doesn't have hard ideas.

It's it, it has potentially long tendrils

reaching out into other


It makes it

It makes it tricky.

But it also feels super
rewarding to see where it goes

because it's, it's, it's growing.

I mean, the fact that, you
know, projects, weren't an

integral part of the, the, my original
plan and it's become kind of core

just by seeing how people use it

and how I use it.

And you can see these patterns coming out.

And again, if I was a different

type of person, I probably could have
done this before I started coding.

I mean, this is, you

know, I guess what service designers
and user experience designers do, right?

You know, this, all of this

would have been prototyped out and kind

of worked with clients.

And, but the easiest way for me

to, to do and learn is to write
code, you know, I can write code

easy, then I can draw on Figma or

easier than you know, doing, interviewing
clients with prototypes and like, well, I

can build it for you and see how you use
it as the easiest way of learning for me.


I am sure other people will work
differently, but it's been a,

an interesting journey so far.

And it's really interesting to
see it's becoming clearer to me.

Well, what it is, even though
my initial is not far, but

it's different from my original


It feels now


it is becoming much more in focus
and now it's just a matter of like,

you know, getting it perfectly in
focus and, and building it out and

building stuff, which I now know now
no needs building when, before I wasn't

even aware that it needed to exist,

Mario: Yeah.

And it sounds like you, you, in
analyzing the request and how the

feature would work, you kind of broke
it down to parts that, oh no, not

parts, but you shaped it down to a way
that it would work with what you have,

what your, the rest of your product.

So it's not, so it doesn't
become a whole other product.

It's just an added feature
that works well with the main

purpose of your, of your product.

Alan: exactly.

And I think that was

I also want


buy by not committing to building a

on time tracking system,
but what's the what does a

time tracking system look like
in the context of dot plan?

And, and it did take,

Took a good few weeks for


to figure that out, even at just a

high level, you know, sketch view.

And then seeing it actually come in and


be there and it


It's, it's nice.

It feels good.

So I'm, I'm kind of interested to see

how this

works out just as a yeah.

It's, it's been an interesting
experiment for sure.

Mario: Yeah.

Sounds like it.

That's awesome.

Alan: Anyway, how's your
what's been going on there.

Mario: So Haven't had any
time to work on product.

I need to, I think I talked
about this last time.

I'm still working on other things
besides the product itself.

I'm getting a little impatient
and I need to get back to

working on the product itself.

And so I think I'm going to be doing that,
this week next week, the latest, I've

been focusing on the marketing website.

I got some feedback from some folks
And it was good feedback to, improve

the marketing site improve the message.

so I've been working on that
and one of those things was.

Include a video, which
I was planning to do.

And we talked about that so,
I finally spent some time

recording a video for that.

it's just a quick demo of how
fusioncast works from logging in

creating a podcast entry, creating
a session, joining a session, have

someone else a guest join and.

Just showcase real quick, you,
know, backup, recording, progress,

local recording in progress.

It's uploading at the
same time And that's it.

And, just showing the recordings
I get generated from that quick

session, you know, It's about
three and a half minutes or so.

I'm still editing a few
parts here and there.

It's almost ready to go.

And as soon as I finish it I'm going to
update the website with that, And I have

data to copy a little bit on the website.

a little bit of styling as well,
just to make it a little more, alive.

One of the, yeah, one of the feedback
that I got was that it was a little

too grayish you know, kind of

Alan: that was good.

That was going to be my only

response to it is yeah, it, it needs a
bit of color and that needs to look a


I mean, it's.


Especially with something like

a podcast that you don't
want to it to feel like a

a boring corporate thing, right?

The people who are recording podcasts

are generally

a bit more lively And, upbeat, right?

So you want to fall
into match that, right.

Mario: Yeah.


So I did add a little
bit of more color to it.

Not, not, yeah, not a whole lot, but

Alan: not being a designer at
color is, I mean, that's one of

the reasons DotPlan is blue and
purple is it's difficult to make a

massive mistake.

All of a sudden everything's indigo.


And I experimented briefly with trying
to do a dark theme and I'm like,

okay, I need to learn a few things
before I venture into that world.


It's without having any design background
it's it's very easy to screw up with

a color, right.

Mario: Yeah.


Dark, dark mode presents a unique
challenges and I've experimented with

that a little bit with my own website.

I created a dark theme.

if your system is in dark mode,
then my site renders in dark mode,

but it's a really simple design.

I don't, I didn't use that much color.

And kept it really simple
because it is challenging to

have color on a dark mode, a

Alan: Yeah, exactly.

And it's even, even some
of the big sites, you know,

like I mean, get to a bar now

has a dark mode and stuff and
some things work well and other

things you're like, nah, it

feels just feels off, right?

Mario: Yeah.


They, sometimes they use,
these sort of neon colors on

dark mode on dark themes and,
it doesn't look all that great.

It looks really colorful, but
it's a little too much, you know,

Alan: Yeah.

There's a fine life.

W what,

that's actually, one of the
things I'm trying to add to a to

dot plan at the moment is, so at
the moment, the only place color

is used outside of the purple

is for your, like the default user icons.

So, you got a little circle.

So I'm trying to add this as
a, an identifier, a way of,

Identifying visually projects from one

another, because projects are
becoming like the, say, like a

core aspect of the, the, of the
check-ins and things now I want

to try to tie colors to those too.

So at the moment

I'm just doing it as

like a I wrote a thing
which basically takes a

string, does a hash, And you
get a a, a hue based on it.

So you can set the saturation and yeah.

You know,

Mario: Yeah, oh

Alan: hue, saturation.


Mario: a hue saturation.

and what is it, contrast?

Alan: Maybe something like that.

so so I just vary the hue,

Based on so it always looks ish, right?

Because it doesn't look too stand out.

It's just reasons subtly
enough that it's it

looks colorful, but it doesn't look
too out there and then have it.

So you can

just choose a different one later.

But at the moment I'm


taking the the ID and something
else and creating a hash from it,

using that

To see the to create a hue.

And, and it's nice.

Just, Just,

actually suddenly having
a bit of color appear on



in both tags.


Like the, the project view it's suddenly

gives the, it makes

it feel more


And, and it

also, I feel



my boring indigo and

white or rather gray 100,

Background certainly paid off

because the colors all
work, having just colors.

If I'd already


with a strong

opinionated color scheme for the rest
of the project, it would be like, oh my

God, someone just knocked over a box of



But because everything


kind of blend to start off with having

just these little injections
of color, actually, I was

pleasantly surprised how good it
looked and I'm like, okay, this

I feel like, I, I feel like I
planned it, but I didn't it was just.

Mario: Yeah.


Color can be tricky and
design as a whole is, is just.

a whole other field, especially for us


Alan: Adam's a refactoring

UI book.

Mario: I have the book I
haven't gone through most of it.

I only started and did a little bit of

Alan: I read it when I

first yeah.

When he first

released it.

So I'd probably go back and reread
it, but it's interesting how

certain things

a bit.

Mario: wait, I'm sorry.

No, I don't, have it.

I was thinking of a
refactoring to collections.

The older book that he wrote,
not you're talking about the UI.

Alan: did, Oh, Okay.

I knew, I don't


that one


Mario: I don't have that one.

Alan: It's highly recommended.

Cause again, I read



when it was, when he first released it And

And I, I,

found it again the other day.

I was

tidying up some file


and I'm like, oh yeah,
I forgot about that.

And, and it's funny how

certain things seem to have, I
have actually learnt it as in

things which he's mentioned.

I'm like, I do that


It just, in terms of there, there was

one of

the, I think it was very early on, simple
thing about just using as opposed to using

texts to as headers and things as

in like, you know, title project,
and then I think using the

colors, weight, and,

And colorize weight and layout to

to almost like state what this is.

And there is a

relation to the


I've been trained to do that a lot


and, and I didn't realize that

I was

doing it, but it, was just reading


You know, I just scanned
through the file when

I found it.

I'm like, ah, I I, apparently

I learned something there.

Mario: you internalized

Alan: apparently.


That just really stuck with

me that like, oh yeah,
I'm labeling everything.

Why am I labeling

gala the fields when it's obvious when you

weight things and you lay things
out properly that you don't need





I that apparently stuck with me.

So I feel as though there's a whole

lot more that I

should review in there and

learn again.

So it's, it's again, I like the

style of that,

just in terms of the,

Kind of like the,

not cookbook, but a

reference thing.

You, you

th there's, there's just
things to learn, not like,

It's not a Woody you know,
like novel, it's say.

Read these things, internalize

them, be a better


That, that, that resonates with me.

I like that style.

And if I was to write
another, yeah, exactly.

I supposed to write another book

again which I've set up

set twice.

I'd never do.

And I ended up doing

but I really like to


something in that style.

That is, is something That

you can refer to

and, you know,

spend five

minutes looking through it and go, oh



I got something

from it.

you know, and, and

it's, it's not you don't have
to sit down and work through it.

It's just like something that you can
pick up at any page and learn something.

I like that that style.

Mario: Yeah.

Color is and design as a whole

is a whole other world.

And, I've been trying to get better on
that and little by little, you know,

every project anything that I work on, I
try to learn something new and apply it

and, improve in that side of things, but


Alan: to that also, do

you use like Figma or a design
tool to S to sketch, to, to

design your layout before

implementing it?

Or do you just use it designing code,

Mario: Sometimes I use Figma.

And sometimes I don't and
I've been trying to use it.

even if I don't use it.

even if I don't do a lot in it.

I at least start and kind of
get an idea of what I want to


And then I just jumped right
into The browser and just design

in the browser, especially with
tailwind is a lot easier, you know?

Alan: Yeah.


Mario: So, if I'm working on a project
for a client or, you know, or something

like that or for work, I usually
do go more in depth using Figma.

but for my own stuff, I usually just
start, you know, I just start with

something And once I, I know I get
an idea then I, just jump right?

into code.

There's been times that I've spent
more time on Figma, just designing a

small feature, like subset of a page,
you know, like, a row of, items with

buttons and I just want to see how
they line up and, what spacing to

use and what little icons to use as
labels kind of thing, instead of words,

just using icons and you know, that.

kind of stuff.

but yeah, I, I go back and forth between
Figma and just, designing in the browser.

Alan: right.

I, I guess the my reason for
asking is because I don't

use Figma at all and,
and I don't, And, I'm not

comfortable familiar enough with it.

I tried using it a few days ago,
a few weeks ago and realized

that I

couldn't get it to do anything.

And I'm like, okay, do I

invest time to learn Like a

prototyping tool or I

literally just, you

know, right in tailwind now it's
like, well, I know I need a box

here and it's this

wide and

this things are going
to go at this corner.


I just write


with that with tailwind and from a sketch.

So I'll just sketch on,
paper and then go, okay.


know kind of how this is going to work.

and then visually I'll go,


That needs to be wider.

This needs to be, so I only.

do go direct

from a paper high level, weekly line

script sketch to,

To code.

And, and I'm wondering if I'm missing out

on something it's like, do I you
know, spend a few days becoming

good with Figma?

You know, what will that


me w in the end, hopefully be faster
and getting to the better design


And then I'm just implementing
the final design as

opposed to fiddling, which is what I do
currently is like, I'll get it working.

And then I'll spend, you know, far

too much time fiddling with
it to make it look right.

So I'm just curious as to

whether I should invest the time in.

Mario: I think it would
be a good idea for you to

invest some time to learn the tool a
little bit it can be useful, I guess it

really depends on the feature or what it
is that you're designing sometimes the

color and, the icons and all that, helps a
lot to do it in a design tool like Figma.

and it saves you time, but, in
other situations, it, kind of slows

you down a lot because depending
on what it is that you're working

Alan: I

mean, I, I sorry.

I was just gonna say the end In

previous company.


We, we, I would design effectively
done by a designer in, in design and

then going

from that, and it's like,
okay, I know exactly what


need to implement.

And then sometimes it's like, but
I can't implement that based on

the system we have currently, you know,

it's like, well


that's not gonna fit.

and then

you end up with this back and forth.

So I'm just, I think maybe Figma


that better maybe than in design.

Whereas I think in design.

is a


just graphical tool.


not too familiar

with the difference.

So I don't know.

Mario: Hm.

do you mean like interactivity or

Alan: I guess, I

guess my lack of understanding of
Figma was when I started using it.

My assumption

was that I could design it and
it gives me HTML and apparently I

was way off.

Mario: Yeah, I know it doesn't work

Alan: Because I see people do all these
Figma designs and I've seen things shed,

and then I'm like, oh, interesting.

And then

it's like, hold on.

This is just a picture.

Oh yeah.

It's just a picture.

Which it was a a completely
incorrect assumption on my part.

Mario: It doesn't do that.

It's just a design tool, but you do,
it does have features or it does have

a feature where you can, create some
interactivity so that if you hand this off

to a client, for example, you want them to
get a feel for how the website navigates.

It can navigate from one page to, another.

Alan: a prototype kind of tool.

Right, right.

Mario: a prototype.


You can have links that are.

Live, you know, sort of
speak and navigate the site.

So it gives you a,

good, kind of a good sense of

what navigation is going to be like.

that you can do, but it
won't do code for you.


Alan: I discovered this quickly,

Mario: yeah, yeah,

Alan: yeah, I guess it's it was
just a poor assumption on my part.

And then I, my question was, yeah, like,
well, where does this fit into my process?

Because at the moment it doesn't
fit into my process at all.

So it's, so it's like, do I change
my process and learn to use that

as a, okay.

Do this before I start coding.

And you know, I'm, I'm always
keen to improve my process and

techniques, so it's like, okay.

Do I say was probably, probably not
a bad waste of an afternoon, right.

Mario: Yeah, yeah.

And Figma.

has a YouTube channel
with a ton of videos.


I'll see if I can, I probably have a
bookmark somewhere and you can go in

there and learn real quick the basics.

They have a ton of videos on

Alan: Cool

Mario: Yeah, I think it

would be good

for you to become familiar with it I find
it that it's more useful when you have

to show a design to someone like a client

Alan: Working with a client or something?


Mario: Yeah.

then you definitely can take
advantage of it and show a

client what a design will look

Alan: Before you go And, spend more
time actually building it and fiddling.

Mario: Yeah, but with, with
our own projects sometimes.

doesn't work to spend all that time,

just in design when you
can, once you, get an idea.

and that's why I was saying the way I use
that as I start and I kind of get an idea.

And once I, I kinda like what I see on
Figma, I just leave it and jump on onto

coding and designing in the browser.

It's rare that I spend too much
time in Figma for my own stuff.

I also use

paper and pencil quite a

Alan: going to say there
is a there's an interesting


I don't know if it still exists,
but when the very first iPhone

came out, Oh, not very first,
but when you could start writing

applications for it,
there was a, a prototyping



you took a photo of a sketch and you

could effectively assign hot zones and

say, okay, if you push
this thing, transitioned

to another sketch.

And so effectively created a prototype

based on sketches on your

PLP prototype on paper.

I think it was called problem probably
still exists or something like it.


so the one of the first iPhone
apps I designed, I did that.

And that was interesting because it

was such a designing for
such a different format

was, was a big deal at

that point in time.


You know, responsive sites
just didn't really exist.

And trying to design for like.

pixels when you used to
1024 was was a hold on VR.

I don't even know how

I'm supposed to put things on the

screen, this small whereas now it's,

you know, the opposite, right?

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: yeah, It it, that,
that was, that was fun.

I remember doing that, but

yeah, especially again, if
I'm, if you designed it,

for different break
points, then being able to,

to do that visually and try
different things without,

Having to fight with

CSS is probably probably worth doing

Mario: Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Let's see, where were We I was
telling you about the website and so I

Alan: was, we got distracted by

Mario: Yeah.

Oh, yes, that's right colors.

I kept it simple still because I, again,

I just want something that works, good
enough for now that is aesthetically

pleasing, but maybe later on, once I
have revenue coming in, I can hire a

designer and create something really
nice, but for now, simple is good enough.

let's see what

Alan: going to have to
start getting clients soon.

I'm going to keep harassing you about this

each call.

It's going to have start selling it.

Mario: Yeah.


I'm trying to get there.

and, trying to get there.

I did onboard one more podcaster.

yeah, got some good
feedback already from them.

And I'm trying to get back to the product
side of things to work on some of,



Alan: so close to the product, man.

It's so close.

Mario: I know, but You

know, this all of a sudden, for
example, today, it was supposed

to it's it was supposed to start
recording automatically and,

it did it for you.


so now I'm like.

I'm thinking what's going on.

I need to

go back And take a look at that

Alan: It's these little books.

I found one little thing

on one edge case on, on dot plan last
night, and it's driving me up the wall.

Cause I'm too busy to

go and, look at it, but

it's like, I know if you push that

button and it doesn't
appear very often, but

it's going to break.

It's really bugging me that it's like,
nobody's probably gonna hit that button.

You know anytime soon, but
it's really bugging me now.

Like that

century alert is just

there in

my email at the top.

And I'm like, ah, I don't know why

that's not working.

I have to go deeper

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: I need that, that stack overflow, AI

code gen, to go and fix it for me.


Mario: Oh yeah.


I saw that.

Alan: That's got implications.

I'm not sure what's, what's
going to come with that.

But that's a, that's a whole bunch
of ethical and technical worms

there kind of was, they just opened.



Mario: yeah.

Alan: don't even want to
think about that, right?

Mario: it looks very
impressive and it looks like

Alan: great demo.


Mario: It's a great demo.

and I'm sure a ton of work went into it.

AI powered and all that, but I don't
know, it just makes me, I'm very skeptical

when it comes to tools like that.

Anything automated, at least judging by
things that have come in the past, like,

Alan: getting syntax, highlights in
working sometimes, you know, it screws up

all the time and I'm like, you know, if

syntax highlighting can't work, is it
going to write my code correctly for me?

Mario: Yeah.

Yeah, And, you know, remember tools
like Dreamweaver and you know, all these

tools that generate code for you and you
end up with a mess or you end up with

stuff that you still have to rewrite or
remove, or, you know, it's like, I dunno,

I don't, I don't have much faith in
these kinds of systems, even though now.

Alan: I think,

there's going to be, it's
super interesting to see and to

as a, like a

taste of potential
futures, but yeah, my, my

more immediate reaction
is like the, the ethics or

the you know, this has been trained on

open source code.

Suddenly this whole clean room codes

thing is blurry.

You know what happens?

That there's a potential
for like, Back doors to

get learned.

You know, we already

know that this

is a real problem in the world already.

And yeah.

I'm, I'm,

less skeptical that
it's not going to work.

I think in


cases it will probably
work too well, maybe.

I'm worried

about the implications of it with relating
to software development as a profession

and in terms of security and

people taking shortcuts when probably
they shouldn't, because we already

know people do that if it's an option.


Mario: Yeah.

Alan: and that goes any

chance of yeah.

Code testing is like

in terms of

like interviewing, if people are doing

like oh yeah, write this code.

I'll just get the AI to write it for me.

See if we can get to that.

That'd be an

interesting bot.


See how many jobs a, an AI bot
could get based on code interviews.

Mario: Yeah,


Alan: get copy AI to actually

answer the interview questions and this
thing to, to write the code for me and

see if I can get a job somewhere based on.


Mario: yeah, yeah.

That would be interesting.

let's see, what else?

I think that's all I have, on my
end of things, part of the website

also, I'll going back to the
website is I created a change log

so that I can record, things that.

change from version to version and

Alan: Oh, nice.

That looks good.


you just, you said you're using Statamic.

Mario: Yes.

For the marketing

Alan: Nice.


Cool, cool.



I I know I

need to do some kind of
change, like things as well,

especially since

we experimented with

this at my previous place
and I forget the name of the,

did we use a service?

I think we started using, the
service, then we brought it

in-house because it's like, we
don't need, like, this is like

a list of things.

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: and we had it in the UI as like

a notification bell thing.

Which, which, worked well, as

well, just because you know, if
you're adding a feature or changing

some part of the UI, you
want to draw attention to it.

Without being too yeah, if it's out
there on some of the sites somewhere,

it's probably never going to get

looked at for.

So yeah, some way of showing it in the

UI is probably where I want to go

as well.

I haven't, haven't gone down there yet.

I'm still, I was looking at 'em

cause onboarding is still a,
I say a, work in progress.

It's, it's, it's more of
a, a massive overthinking


progress, I guess.

And that was

watching a funder site SaaS,

something I can't remember the
name of it, but it basically does,

Like reviews of onboarding
for other sites.


it's, it's super interesting to go
through And you know, basically calls

out patterns that they're using or


you know, just how are they.

People both in terms of signup and the

instruction process.

And that's

like, I think I've, I

think I've

done too much and I just need to build it.


Platoon was recently got to the point
where I questioning every single thing I

do now, because it's like, I've

looked at too many examples and, too many

different ways of doing
it that I'm like, I

have no

idea what's



It was just so again, I probably
just need to do version one and


iterate based on, you know, how that
feels to me just cause there's, there's

no standard way.


so everybody does it differently and

everybody is some have pros and cons and

trying to come up with a hybrid of all of



just the, I

don't have time for,

so I'm just going to do

something and, yeah,

Mario: sure.

Alan: it's hard though, again,

especially with something like dot plan,
that is one of the things that makes

the onboarding different or difficult is

I'm not just telling you

how to use the product, I'm telling

you what you should be
doing in the product.

And that's the

point which I keep sticking on is

I think I talked about it last time,
as well as that, you know, I don't

feel confident enough in telling

someone what they should
be doing with their day.

But I also want

to present this in a way that makes them
feel that there is a system to follow.



That's the bit, which is, is
just difficult to, to write.

so but again, I think I should probably
just commit to what I've half done and

And then see how that goes.

Cause it's better than

what I had on what I have at the

moment, which is nothing, which
is reselling them an email

saying, this is what we

probably should do.

Mario: Yeah.


I think that's a good idea to just
commit to something and just stick to it.

People will find ways to use the product.

I mean, it's already happening where
people are using it in different ways.

And you can probably address that
with your either documentation or

knowledge base, and screencasts where
you could potentially show different

ways to use the product, you know,
like, you know, different, quick

demos and, you know, you could use
it like this, you use it like that.

But Yeah.

sticking to.

Alan: What are you using
for your knowledge base?

By the way?


Mario: It's part of Outseta.

Alan: Oh, okay.

Of course.





Mario: Yeah.

It's part of Outseta.

And so I haven't done much
there yet, but that's the plan.

Alan: because we've been
again, my wife has been,

working on Japanese,

like instructions effectively,
and I'm like, okay, I want to

take this out as we've just been
doing them on separate pages within

What's the website thing
using the London page

thing I'm using.

And and it's great

because she can just go and
create a web page and build


I'm like okay, is now there's
enough content there that it


sense to bring it into like a, a knowledge

base based on


So I'm going to shop around and
see what options I have there that

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: something that I w actually this

I've got, don't

try and make us another side
project is I'd love a directory.

Indie alternatives.


Because I know that there's
going to be somebody with a,

you know, a side project

that, that is a, you know,

$10 a month

knowledge base that I
would love to support.

And I'm like, you

try and search for knowledge based

software on Google and in our,

even in

alternative to, or whatever the,

you know, they've review sites are.

And there's just so many that,
and they're so flooded by the big


that if someone was like,

this is an Indy,

like this gets a, an official

indie approval stamp

of approval, then I'd be like,
yeah, it may not be the most

featureful or complex, but it's, I
would like to support the creators.



you'd like an Indy directory in the
alternatives or something like that.

Mario: Yeah, that would be great.

I wonder if indie
hackers has anything like

Alan: I

Mario: Cause that was that's, you know,
it seems like that would be something, I,

mean, people do have.

Their projects on indie hackers.

Cause you can create a
profile for your project.

And so I wonder if that's

Alan: Yeah.


I'll go and poke around on any hackers.

There's probably a good place to start.

But yeah, don't make, it's just resist.

Don't make it, don't make it Alex.

Mario: Yeah.

You can't focus on, on that right now.

Stay the course stay the course.

Alan: I was so

bad at

like, I

mean, as

a side thing on




It's, it's amazing to me, just how

You know, I, I think I said before
that, like, you know, ideas working on

something begets more ideas

and, you know, you th when you start,

you know,

you, if you're starting

a project, you're like, I
don't know what to build.

As soon as you start building

something, they it's like a virus.

And it just spreads all of these
potential things you could build.


Because you hit so

many ideas and roadblocks,

or like challenges, and you're
like, oh man, this should


And I wish I had had that And

the list of

potential projects just explodes.

And it's amazing

to me,

the, the same thing happens

with like, just opportunities
and context as well.


You know, if you

somebody is looking at going
freelancing or something, it's

like, but I don't know who to

you know, I don't have any
clients or any contacts

or anything.

By just suddenly announcing and
talking to people about what you're

doing, like a side project or

something like this.

It's amazing how many

people have just reached

out to me about other work as


And it's like, nah, I'm that,
that the whole point is I'm

not doing this, but it's a,

it's, it's really it.

I can, I know this, but I'd kind

of forgotten it by just being

in a, in a, in the zone in

terms of working for other people.

I kind of to come back to this and also


come back to this like
eight or nine years later,

just how much

more there is as well.

You know, like when I

was more public about what I was building,


know, eight to nine
years ago, there was so


like, you know, requests,
requests for coffee.

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: You

know, brain picking as, as a service.


whereas now it's, it's, it's insane.

There's just so much work as so
many more people wanting to build

things that it's, it's
crazy, you know, that


moment you say you're building something,
everyone's like, Ooh, we should talk.

And I'm like, no, I'm building my


So it's, if there is anybody that's



on the fence of, you know, not knowing
what to, what to build are being


about, you know, finding


and things.


just like

it's things

Mario: Oh

Alan: the moment you

start them

Mario: yeah.

That reminds me you had this other idea.

You had this other idea with

Alan: Yeah, yeah.


I did fall.

I that's,

that's progressing slower


just because of time.

But yeah, I

kind of.

I demo to it, to some
people the other week.

And they were all like, oh
my God, where do I buy this?

And I'm like,

okay, I really need to finish that up.

It's a really easy sell, which is kind of

Surprising, right?



It's so yeah, I

kind of, I should get, get on that
and and get it out because it's

working, it just needs wrapping up

into a

like, you know, product page.

And now as I've got

paddle access, that's a

very good point.

Now, as I'm a puddle

approval a person, then I could sell it.


Mario: Did they have
to approve the product

Alan: Probably.


Yeah, because actually that's
a good point because this has

no, it doesn't have physical
thinkers, just QR code.



I can, yeah, I should check on


because if I'm sure if it's,
it's no big deal because it

meets the

same list of requirements as
the as dot plans, so, huh.



cause that was one of my things is
like to set up billing is always

like a little, but I guess once

I've done it for one thing it's easy to do

for another.

Mario: Yeah,

Just watch out for

getting derailed,

Alan: yeah, I know this

Mario: on that instead of
your main, main project.

Alan: Cool.

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: All right.

Mario: Yeah.

Alan: Me.

I'm just trying to my I'm
having computer problems.

So I'm on battery at the moment
and it's just down to 5%.

So I'm just going to see if I don't

Mario: Oh yeah, no worries.

Alan: Let me just find a what's
the easiest way to do this.

Maybe if I put this in, hold on.


Maybe that will work.

So yeah, I can't run my, I can't.

Oh, hold on.

It's going to pause for a
minute while it does something.

Mario: All right.

Alan: I don't know what it's doing.

Everything's just hung so I can
hear you, but I can't see anything.

Mario: There you go.


Alan: I back.

Mario: I can see you and I can hear

Alan: I've got black screens at
the moment, so, oh, here we go.

You're over there.

Mario: Ah,

Alan: So yeah, my 16 inch MacBook pro I
don't know whether it's the heat or what,

but I can't run the internal monitor and
the external monitor at the same time.


Mario: Oh, wow.

Ah, I see.

Can you hear me?

9: Remote Work Reflections
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