I'm Tony Wolski. This is what I'm doing now. Recent posts are below, or browse all articles. Subscribe via RSS. Feel free to get in contact.

    Choose freedom over loyalty

    Avoid loyalty cards. Avoid frequent flyer programs. Avoid any type of loyalty scheme, store cards or points systems. Why? Because they lock you in and take away your ability to choose the best option in the current situation.

    An example. This morning I had a couple of hours to burn before I met with a friend. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and my walk into town was an absolute joy. My plan was to while away the time reading a book, and I really wanted to do so in a coffee shop where the sun was blazing in. Instead I chose to go to a coffee shop where I had accumulated enough stamps on their loyalty card to get a free coffee. It was a nice, and I enjoyed my coffee, but it wasn’t where I really wanted to be. It wasn’t in the warmth of the sun.

    My ability to choose the best option in the moment was affected by my loyalty to a particular chain, and the lure of a free coffee. Of course, it wasn’t a free coffee. I had to buy nine before that to qualify for it.

    Another example. I recently bought a flight home to Australia. I’ve flown with Singapore Airlines on my previous two trips and so, against my better judgement, I signed up for their frequent flyer program. While I was shopping for this most recent flight, another airline was consistently coming out cheaper. But because I wanted to accrue miles I chose Singapore.

    Loyalty (lock-in) strikes again.

    The lesson here is to keep your options open. Choose freedom over loyalty. The benefits you gain, the money you save, when you’re free to choose what you really want will far outweigh any reward you get from any corporate devised loyalty scheme.

    This reminds me of Choose Opportunity, not Loyalty, rule 4 in Derek Sivers’ How to Thrive in an Unknowable World:

    Have no loyalty to location, corporation, or your past public statements.

    Be an absolute opportunist, doing whatever is best for the future in the current situation, unbound by the past.

    Have loyalty for only your most important human relationships.

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    Fresh starts

    I love fresh starts. Blank pages, new notebooks. The start of a new football season. The start of a new week, month… a new year. Fresh starts mean opportunity and possibility, optimism and clarity. They give you the chance to try something new, or go again with renewed vigour, taking with you the lessons you learned previously.

    Fresh starts give you energy. Which is why you should build more of them into your, more often.

    I used to love getting new notebooks at the start of a new school year. Each one gave me the chance to get things just right. Neat writing, straight lines, maybe even a new handwriting style. All the mistakes I made in previous notebooks were history. My mind would be full ideals and positivity about how well I would to do in the year ahead.

    And I was always most motivated at the start of a football season. As difficult as preseasons were, finals aside, those were some of the most enjoyable months of the football year.

    Starting afresh gives us hope and opens us up to the possibilities of what could be. It lets you reflect on the mistakes you made in the past, and allows you to design solutions so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

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    Monzo webhooks to Google spreadsheets

    For years I’ve used Google spreadsheets to track my finances. I’ve tried using services like Money Dashboard in the past, but although they are simple to use, there is always a feature I want that is missing. I prefer to have control of my data so I can add functionality as and when I need it. So despite the setup and maintenance overhead, a spreadsheet is still the way to go in my opinion.

    I used to export bank and credit card transactions in csv format and import them manually. Doing so was a laborious and time consuming task which I hated, but writing scripts to automate it seemed like overkill, especially when authentication to Google and numerous banks was involved. Not to mention differences in export format between banks.

    Soon after I consolidated my accounts to Monzo I realised they had an API, including webhooks. Transaction webhooks! I pondered how easy it would be to push my transaction data to Google spreadsheets in real time, eliminating the manual and time consuming process of exporting/importing them myself. I thought if transactions fed directly into my sheet automatically, all I would need to do is categorise them. Simple. I knew it was possible to create web applications GSheets with Apps Script, so all the ingredients were there.

    After reading some documentation and hacking about for an hour or so I’d proven it was entirely possible. Now, when a transaction occurs in my Monzo account it appears in the finance spreadsheet within milliseconds. This post explains how I got it working.

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    DevOps

    As a ‘DevOps’ engineer I often get asked “What is DevOps?” Honestly, I struggle to answer. I usually come out with some spiel about automation and automating myself out of job. Which of course is next to impossible, which is why I don’t mind saying it.

    But really, what is DevOps?

    DevOps is a term that rose from the car crash that was Development and Operations working in silos. Colleagues batting for the same team, working towards the same goals, but at the same time, enemies, convinced of, and cursing, each other’s incompetence.

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    January 2020 Reflection

    Each month I go back over the notes in my bullet journal and pull out anything of significance: notes, quotes, patterns, lessons, achievements, things that have gone well and those that haven’t. I take what I learn and feed into the next month. It’s a ritual of continuous improvement, a cadence of accountability, that has served me well. In 2020 I’m experimenting with publishing my reflection notes. Here’s what happened in January.

    Patterns

    There’s a distinct lack of direction/clarity in my life at the moment. January was the eighth month of my sabbatical, and as I start to look toward entering paid work again I’m coming up empty. Some days are better than others, but I often wonder whether taking a year out was such a great idea after all. Hopefully my thought patterns on those days won’t be prove to be right.

    My monthly finance process takes too long. Each month I finish categorising my transactions, adding investment returns, doing my business bookkeeping, and trying to make sense of it all. The last couple of times I’ve done this it has taken 3-4 hours, which is 2-3 hours than I’d like. This needs to be streamlined.

    Not enough planning. I guess this ties in with a lack of clarity, but I find I’m leaving the decision of what to do at any given time until it’s time start. By then it’s too late, and my lizard brain is more likely to opt for something easy and unproductive. To get more out of each day — e.g. more reading, writing and coding — I need to get better at planning my days, weeks and months.

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