My financial independence journey has taken anything but a straight path. Some endeavours have worked out and some have failed miserably. Some situations I’ve had some control over and with others I’ve been powerless. Every financial loss has been painful but everytime I’ve come away with more experience and I’ve altered my approach to avoid making the same mistake again. Here’s a rough timeline of my most pertinent losses and what I learned.
The house I was selling is finally gone and whilst it’s nice to have some cash the topic of inflation is getting a lot of attention in the current media cycle so it could be argued that I’ve actually lost an asset whilst gaining a liability. Wealth preservation There are no guarantees when it comes to investing and speculating but it is a certainty that cash sitting in a bank will steadily lose it’s purchasing power over time.
A lot has changed since I last reflected on my professional situation. It’s now been over a year since I last did any client work and my time since then has been spent tinkering with personal projects, religiously going to the gym and reading. Financially independently My singular goal since 2008 had been to escape the rat race and have complete freedom in how I spend my time. Previous efforts at working less and having a better work-life balance ended in anxiety as I’d watch my cash balance steadily decrease and the usual concern of being able to get a new contract after time off would rear it’s head.
During the summer I built a web application to visualise the Bitcoin futures curve which proved very useful in informing my trading decisions. As useful as it was however, each time I viewed it I had to wait for the application to first boot on Heroku and then to perform a sequence of API calls to Deribit before the chart could finally be rendered in the browser. Impatience as the mother of invention I’d no other major projects that needed attention so building a more responsive native application seemed like a reasonable task to take on.
This post was mentioned on Hacker News recently and it reminded me of all the conversations I’ve had over the years with other developers, complaining about paying over the odds for Apple hardware and thinking it would make sense to switch to a Linux laptop and and an Android phone but never actually doing it. Interrupted plans At the start of 2020 my 2016 MacBook Air and iPhone were starting to show their age.
For the last couple of years my cryptocurrency trading has focused on doing a carry trade between the Bitcoin spot and derivatives markets. This has involved buying spot Bitcoin and selling short a corresponding quantity of perpetual swap contracts and/or futures contracts. The mathematics of this trade are described in this in-depth article . To trade futures I’ve been using Deribit as they now offer contracts that settle up to a year in the future which I’ve found useful for longer term planning, especially when I’m borrowing against my spot holdings to increase the size of my position.
For the past 12 years up until today stevenwilkin.com has been a Sinatra app. The purpose of the site was to help me learn Ruby which paid off handsomely and I went on to use Sinatra in many client projects so all in all it served me well. Time moved on however and the content fell out of date, the design increasingly became an embarrassment and I’d disabled the contact form as I rarely received anything other than spam through it.
When I started blogging in 2006 the usual approach was to install WordPress on an Apache web server running PHP and MySQL. Shared web hosting accounts were widely available and more than adequate then but I was in the early stages of my professional life so instead I had a salvaged PC running 24/7 in my living room. I ran Slackware on it and kept a domain name pointed at it via dynamic DNS.
During recent periods of restrictions due to the pandemic gyms have been closed and many people have resorted to doing body-weight exercises at home to maintain fitness and boost immune systems. My own personal routine has focused on burpees with secondary movements such as push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks and mountain climbers. During the longest stretches of restrictions I was also able to do some resistance work using reusable shopping bags filled with large containers of water.
I’ve previously written some thoughts on service oriented architectures and since then I’ve wanted to explore beyond the currently accepted standard of sending and receiving JSON data over web APIs. Protocol Buffers With JSON there’s an overhead of transmitting plain-text over the wire coupled with parsing that text in your application once received. For many cases this is probably acceptable but for a large-scale distributed system this can represent a not insignificant cost in terms of bandwidth and computing resources.