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Sunday, July 10th, 2022, 7:24 am

Entering Phase Two of Life

It is no secret that I turned 40 just several months ago. I said it openly several times. I’m not ashamed of it. I think I’ve accomplished a lot over the past 20 years (the first 20 were mostly spent growing up and developing educationally).

Back in the old days, well before exceedingly toxic political discourse, wars/conflicts, a serious pandemic and high inflation (or dare we say hyperinflation; it’s almost 20% per annum in Estonia! Even a large economy like The Netherlands saw 12% inflation!) I thought to myself, “when can I retire?”

The decision not to have kids goes a long, long way back. Seeing the direction the world has taken, it was the right decision (for me anyway).

Over the past few years I thought about part timing, as I’ve worked full time for nearly a decade already (maybe a full decade this summer) and I’ve been at the same employer for 11.5 years (milestone coming soon, some time this summer, August 12 being the exact date if I recall correctly).

I still wish to more extensively focus on freedom-fighting activism in the digital realm. It’s a lot more important, not from a “legacy” point of view; it’s just a lot more satisfying and personally rewarding than working for clients. It’s a community effort rather than a corporate objective.

This post isn’t a “Why I Left Sirius” post (or “Leaving the Job To Do Techrights Full Time”); I still need a job, I need to save money, and my wife does too. I’m not resigning. But I might have more free time.

The decisions aren’t only mine. It’s personal. Some I cannot talk about.

But we both made a decision earlier this year; whatever the outcome, we need to focus on our sites, notably Tux Machines (just turned 18) and Techrights (turning 16 this year). Those sites are important for many reasons, to a lot of people. These people want to emancipate themselves from proprietary shackles, not working for proprietary software companies (or with proprietary tools) all day long.

At the same time, professional life has changed somewhat. Back when I joined this company we used OpenLDAP (broadly used, not underused), Jabber (self-hosted) etc. But a lot of our Free software-centric workforce left (yes, brain drain), so now there’s Gulag (Google disservices/spyware), AWS (NSA tandemocracy), Slack (Saleforce ‘surveillance capitalism’), LastPass (outsourcing passwords to untrustworthy parties) and some other proprietary junk. The name of the company is still the same, we generally support Free software, but the tooling isn’t compatible with the mission (like deploying Moodle on Microsoft/Azure, which is proprietary ‘surveillanceware’; Moodle is good, but putting it on Microsoft servers can lead to misuse of pupils’ data). If one wants to spread Free software to loan sharks, surveillance and military outfits (or even criminals like Bill Gates), then fine… good luck with that.

That Bill Gates did this under an NDA (that I did not sign) is strange enough, especially considering the timing. Many mysterious things happened around that time, including corporate bullying. Being an NDA, it’s shrouded in secrecy, leaving one always guessing, at best… about all sorts of hypothetical possibilities… not a suitable working condition for a company that’s open or transparent.

If things worsen in terms of pay, in terms of skills (we think we can see where this is going) we’re advancing not real computer skills but dependence (people can do more than just pick up the phone).

When I joined in early 2011 we had some high-profile people on board, even Debian Developers (back when becoming a DD meant something, nowadays an increasingly political decision and vetting deficiencies give room for state actors). That’s no longer the case.

Meanwhile, my workload associated with personal projects has increased to the point where I can hardly travel (too many activities require physical access inside the home). We still need to renovate the sites (upgrading things in the process), I want to sleep better, I need to become more active in and around IRC, and I wish to produce more articles and videos. I used to aim for a dozen a day, but when working full time it’s just too difficult to maintain that as a daily pace (as opposed to occasional “bursts” or “marathons”).

When I started writing in the non-personal sites, third-party sites, and this site (and in various other sites) I was still a student. Then, I was partly employed. Over the past decade it has been full time work, so a lot of potential (e.g. to write) was not fulfilled. I left social control media almost 5 months ago, freeing up a lot of time. The next stage might be reducing the number of hours per week that I work. Maybe a long overdue change. Maybe not even that… the decision is not purely mine.

Personal autonomy and freedom are connected to self-determination in digital realm, more so over time. Many decisions were made without consulting the staff, the technical people, choosing trends and brands over substance and fake (perceived, shallow) security over real security. I spoke openly and candidly about it. It’s the moral thing to do.

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