Just When I Thought I Was Out…

Workers Educational Association logo, the letters wea with 9 orange squares
The WEA Logo

Hello all, it’s been a really long time and looking back over the last few posts I’ve hardly written anything all year. Apologies for that. I would say I’m going to change, make a concerted effort to post more, turn over a new leaf and treat you better baby, but you know what? I’d probably be lying, with the best intentions, but still unlikely to come true. I’ve promised to get back on the case so many times now it’s getting embarrassing so I’ll skip that part. If it happens it happens, and I hope it does.

Life has been fairly busy for me this year. First there was teaching work, learning about lesson plans, schemes of work, registers and all the other exciting (not so exciting) stuff involved. I ran 3 courses a week for WEA from January to now. Two in IT skills, one in online radio and podcasting. I enjoyed it and liked helping the students wherever possible, but damn the paperwork is a killer. For every teaching hour I seemed to spend another one or two planning and doing paperwork, and you only get paid for the teaching hours. All my courses have now finished for the time being. I may do more in the future but I’m in no rush. I got some teaching qualifications and that’s always useful to have. Well I say I got them, apparently the certificate is still in the post. During my time teaching with WEA I got more and more involved in the office stuff back at HQ, eventually developing into a new part time job with them. One that involves overhauling and redeveloping their website, looking after social media accounts, community building, producing video and audio, marketing, event organisation and much more. It’s all very cool and I’m enjoying the new role very much so far. I’ve only been doing it a few weeks officially but it means spending 3 days a week at the Cotton Exchange in Liverpool. A pretty nice building to work in and only 15-20mins walk from my flat. I used to work from home most of the time and I’ll still be doing some of that, but a change of scene and gaining a little separation between work and home lives is doing me good.

All of this leads me to the point of this update. I realised as I started digging through the PHP code on the website that I’m becoming a “proper developer” again. I’ve done some Drupal development in recent years and put together some interesting projects, but I never quite felt like a true programmer. Not like I used to be, not like the old days. If we wind back 10 years I was just leaving university having done Java, ASP, PHP, Python, Perl and many other things. I went straight into a job as a .NET developer and sysadmin at a large hospital. In my free time I was geeking out with Linux and other Open Source projects, actually contributing back as much as I could. My geek credentials were more than safe and my technical knowledge was right up there. Through various life changes since those years I’ve done less and less development and always felt a bit like a charlatan when speaking to real hardcore programmers. I wrote some fairly good code in my day but I let my skills get rusty, very rusty.

Now I have to learn MODx and redevelop the WEA North West region website. I may also be developing other in-house systems, mobile apps and doing server deployments. I’m hoping to convince them to let me use Django for some of the new custom systems and build the servers with Postgres instead of MySQL. I’ve already set up Debian 7 on a couple of test machines in the office to show off. Maybe I can convince the boss to let me release any decent new code under a proper license like GPLv3. That’s a battle for down the road though, let’s see if I come up with anything worth releasing first.

I never really dropped programming completely, but it’s been firmly on the back burner for a long time. I hope this new job will let me get back into it properly and regain geek cred. Something I’ve wanted to do for a while but never had time or motivation for. So as Michael Corleone says in The Godfather… “Just when I thought I was out… they pulled me back in!!”

Stay tuned and I’ll try to update you more often on my journey back into developer-land. Wish me luck.

See ya,



  1. Dan, it’s great to hear about all your recent developments and your new post, congrats.
    I wish you all the best in getting back to techie status and I look forward t hearing abut your journeys.

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