A year gone already

February 10, 2021

The current global situation has definitely distorted all perception of time and it’s hard to believe a year ago today I was starting an exciting new adventure but it very familiar territory.

How it all began

I first joined Aiir back in November 2015. I’d been working for several years at a fantastic Sheffield agency called Evoluted and was ready for a new challenge, wanting to focus myself on a single product/system and really get into the meat of it rather than switching between various clients all the time.

At the end of that November, I said my goodbyes to the fine people at Evoluted and joined Aiir, a company building websites, apps and tools for the radio/audio industry!

While at Aiir, I worked on some great things, helped move the product forward and had a great time while making some amazing new friends. To name a few things I worked on, I was the driving force behind the migration from Memcache to the faster Redis. I reworked the entire music database system that was used by over 200 websites, and the last main thing I was working on was consolidating the frontend codebase, so our infrastructure could run on more scalable Docker containers. After I left, AWS introduce PHP run times to Lambda and Aiir ended up using that, but the roots of that can be traced back to my work.

Moving on

After being with Aiir for just over a year, an opportunity came up that I couldn’t pass up and in February 2017 I left for pastures new. In the interests of keeping my integrity, lets simply say, that position never panned out. I ended up finding something new that sadly lasted just less than two years before that also “didn’t pan out”.

Maybe when a few more years pass I’ll write a post about those experiences but for now I’ll leave it there. So January 2020 kicks off, and I’m in search of a new job.

Back on Aiir

The story of how I came back to Aiir can be read in my previous “2020 round up” post. Suffice to say, since walking into the Beehive lofts in Manchester to meet up with Gav 1 year ago, it’s been the most productive and happiest year of work I’ve had since I left Aiir back in 2017.

In the interim years, Aiir went fully remote and adopted the “Basecamp philosophy” of Remote working. We communicate (for the most part) asynchronously now and only use Slack for casual chit chat and any video calls that do need to take place (these are always advanced planned though!).

I can honestly say that this, is most likely one of the single biggest contributing factors to the increased productivity throughout the last year. No unnecessary calls or interruptions, no pressure to check Slack or constantly watch for that notification and simply check when you are ready to. It means I can keep focussed 100% on the task at hand rather than keeping one eye on notifications all the time!

It does require a big change in how you personally work and does take a degree of self-discipline. But if you can master it, it truly is one of the greatest ways for people in our industry to work.

Showtime!

During the year, the biggest section of work has been building out the API and infrastructure to a new product from Aiir, which is Showhost. Showhost is “The easy way to plan, prepare and present radio shows and podcasts”. The concept and even the initial designs/iteration of the app had been built before I joined, but after some false starts with the previous version, we reimagined the initial concepts and plans into a proper MVP.

With that knowledge in hand laravel new showhost-api was run in my terminal and we were off! It’s been a fun but challenging year working through numerous issues, linking the API with websockets and figuring out the best solution for hosting and deploying the API. We then had a great early Christmas present as we pushed the initial version live and received some great feedback along with our first paying customers!

Evolutions

With the initial release done, we wanted to keep testing the market for Showhost so have moved to more marketing than development now, meaning more time for me to dive back into the flagship product, also called Aiir. Our CMS and collection of apps and tools for radio stations! It’s been great to dive back into this and see the improvements made since I left.

Thankfully, as with everything in this world, there is always room to evolve, which means there is still plenty to do to improve the product and keep it fresh and working great for customers, so here’s to the next year!

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© 2021 Mike Barlow