Freelancing Gods 2015


About Pat

Introductions and Opinions

One happy Victorian

Photo taken by the terribly talented Tim Lucas.

I earn my keep as a freelance web developer - primarily using Ruby and Rails (but more on that below). This blog isn't named after my working situation - I bought this domain well before I began freelancing. It's named after the idea of gods (in the literal sense - ie: deities) freelancing between their roles (smiting people, burning bushes, seeking sacrifices, that sort of thing). It's not meant to reflect my opinion of my self or my skills.

I'm based in Melbourne, Australia - it's where I've grown up, and I've not lived anywhere else. Well, not to the point of redirecting mail or getting a landline installed. However, I've been giving the location independent lifestyle a good go over the last two years, and have spent more time out of Australia than in it over that time. All up, this has included five months in the USA, four months in Cambodia, and two each in the UK and Berlin - all the time, working as I went (although I'm in no rush to explain all that to immigration officials).

Melbourne's still the the best city of all that I've visited, but Berlin's a close second.


One of the things I'm most proud of doing over the last few years is being a part of the team that runs the informal unconference event we call Trampoline. Trampoline is a day for sharing what you find amazing. We don't organise speakers beforehand - those who turn up on the day offer topics that they're willing to share. Anything is fair game - we've had sessions on education, technology, health, music, entrepreneurship, dance, juggling, meditation.

Through this event and others in Melbourne, a fantastic community is forming, made up of inspiring, intelligent and energetic people - which in turn feeds back into Trampoline and helps make each new event even better.

As an added bonus, I get to work with some amazing people (who are also dear friends) to make it all happen: Melina Chan, Steve Hopkins, and Aida Lee.


The language I prefer to code with is Ruby. Usually that's through the Rails framework, but occasionally I'll use pure Ruby for some scripts or command line tools. RSpec and Cucumber are my testing frameworks of choice.

One area I have a particular speciality with is the search engine Sphinx - I've written both a pure Ruby API - Riddle - and a Rails/Merb plugin - Thinking Sphinx. I also wrote the Peepcode PDF on using Sphinx with Rails.

While I'm not a designer, I'm also capable with HTML, Javascript and CSS. The web is my preferred platform, purely because it's so flexible and accessible.

In past lives I've worked with C#, ASP.NET, Visual Basic and Microsoft SQL Server. You can't pay me enough to use those technologies again. Seriously.

And besides, it's not the money that matters, it's the challenges, culture and people of the organisations. If I can't knock on the door of the company directors and tell them what I think - with no fear of a backlash - then I won't stick around. Same if the company has no interest in my external projects, or if I'm expected to be at the office every day, from 9am to 6pm, without fail.

Ruby Community

The Ruby community here in Australia is awesome - full of passionate, friendly people. If you get the chance (and you're not already a regular), come along to a meeting or two. Or, even better: come along to a Rails Camp. There's now been over a dozen happen all around the world, and they've all been fantastic. More are on the way.

Ben Askins is owed many accolades for making it happen, but they really are community-run events - there are at least half a dozen names behind each one that are deserving of kudos.

Discworld Community

As well as all the coding and related events, I've dabbled in running fan conventions - in particular, the Australian Discworld Conventions: Nullus Anxietas (in February 2007) and the sequel, Nullus Anxietas 2 (Feb/March 2009). Both have been fantastic successes, though the first was particularly special: we brought together over 300 people from around Australia, as well as the author responsible for the series, Terry Pratchett.

World View

In case you haven't picked up from my posts, I'm an idealist at heart. I love big, dangerous, world-changing ideas. I'm also well aware that technology isn't the answer - it's just a tool (but an extremely helpful one). Communication is what's going to help us make things better.


Do you know what colophon means? Me neither - but I looked it up.

"An inscription placed usually at the end of a book, giving facts about its publication."

So, if you're interested in how this blog's run: I wrote it all, using Rails. The design was by the talented Anthony Kolber - once he did the hard work, I translated it to HTML and CSS. Currently hosted on Slicehost - not that it really had any problems running on Textdrive before that. And yes, I'm now using Sphinx and Thinking Sphinx for the blog's search.

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