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The case for continued learning, and getting side projects out the door

It doesn't feel great to admit this, but for me the day after Christmas is one of the most refreshing days of the year. The holidays tend to be a time of stress and anxiety, filled with challenging travel plans, rough weather, and saccharine holiday music. It's a day spent at home, tidying up the house and taking down decorations, and catching up on podcasts.

It's a deep, refreshing breath of oxygen.

That day after -- it's a welcome relief. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, but I do feel like I may be in the minority of people who talk about it. So if this resonates with you, you're not alone.

Caption: Side projects: the perfect tool for continued learning, and a photo of a small stone house in a dense urban envioronment

This year's exhale was especially welcome. A few weeks back, after sharing that I had gotten laid off from my job at Stripe, I told you that I would be sharing my next career move after the new year. Well, friends, we're here, and... I'm almost ready to spill the beans. What I can say is that my next job is something entirely new - I'm headed back into the startup world, and will be building a new company and a new product with an insanely talented team.

I'm excited to share more about that soon, but for now, let's talk about the new year.

In the coming weeks, I'm expecting to release version 0 of Speechwriter.ai, a generative AI product which uses GPT-3 to write speeches and other documents. It's built with an array of tools that I hadn't used before, including Next.js, Tailwind CSS, Supabase, and TypeScript. I'm also using GPT-3 for the first time, and I'm excited to see what it can do. I'm excited to share it with you, and I'm excited to see what you think of it. If you happen to be speaking at a wedding sometime soon and you'd like to test it out, drop me a line and I'll send you a coupon code for a free speech.

A screenshot from the newly redesigned Speechwriter.ai homepage
A screenshot from the newly redesigned Speechwriter.ai homepage

I'm also really interested in hearing what you're thinking about, and what you're working on. If you're diving into a new project or learning this year, reply to this email with what you're working on. I'd love to hear about it, and to help share it with the world when you're ready.

Happy New Year - let's get building!

The things holding prime real estate in my brain this week

  • 🧮 Knolling is a the practice of organizing physical things in your workspace at 90 degree angles. It's both visually appealing, and a helpful way to make sure everything is in its right place. It was created by Andrew Kromelow, a janitor working at Frank Gehry's furniture company in the 1980s, where it was used to keep tools organized in their workshop. It's since found footing in the photography world - the #knolling tag on insta is full of beautiful examples.

  • 🐘 Have you moved to Mastodon yet? I have, and you should too. Find me at @irreverentmike@hachyderm.io. If you're worried about rebuilding your network from twitter, there are tools like Fedifinder which can help you find your friends who have already moved. I've also found Mastodon to be super helpful for SEO -- I've seen a surprisingly high engagement rate in links I've shared, and a distinct uptick in traffic to my site since I started sharing my work there.

  • 📚 I recently re-listened to Tony Fadell's book Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making, and even on a second listen I really enjoyed it. Fadell is the co-founder of Nest, and the inventor of the iPod. He's a fascinating guy, and his book is a great read for anyone who's interested in building things. It's been surprisingly prescient lately - I particularly enjoyed hearing his perspective on wny Southwest Airlines was so successful in their early days, and how they've struggled to adapt to the modern world.

ABC - always be learning

This week I also thought I'd share some of the resources I've been using while I'm learning new things. I'm a big believer in the idea that you should always be learning, and that you should always be building -- and we damn well ought to be sharing the things that help us out. Here's a few of my favorites recently:

  • 📼 James Q. Quick's YouTube Channel has been hitting all the marks for me lately. He shares tutorials and examples on bleeding edge JavaScript frameworks and libraries, and does a great job of making it accessible to folks who might not be super experienced

  • 👾 Another recommendation from YouTube, creator CodeBullet has been making in-depth, animated tech videos for quite a while. While they're not step-by-step tutorials, his videos are super engaging and very funny, and they do a great job of breaking down the basics of some seriously complex topics. Check out his recent 2-part series on Teaching AI to walk in 3D space

  • 🎙️ Conduit is a podcast from Kathy Campbell and Jay Miller, which explores "the connection between what we should be doing and what ultimately gets done" - I often feel like my ambitions outrun the time I have to get things done, and Conduit does a great job of exploring why that's okay... and why it's probably a good thing in some cases.

Alright fam, that's it for this week - I'm off to smash my hands into my keyboard and hope something good comes out. Don't forget to send me what you're working on, and in the mean time, be excellent to each other 🤜🏼🤛🏻

Thanks for reading Tiny Improvements. If you found this helpful, I'd love it if you shared this with a friend. It helps me out a great deal.

Until next time - be excellent to each other!

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    The case for continued learning, and getting side projects out the door

    The end of 2022 brought about a ton of change for me, and a major shift in my career. I'm excited to talk a little about what's next, and to show off a side project I'm readying for release soon.

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    © 2019-2023 Mike Bifulco

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