That indiscriminate virus

Perhaps it’s a cathartic self-indulgence, but amongst this highlights reel I feel a niggling personal obligation to share the story of my run-in with Covid-19. 

What started with a mild head cold evolved into headaches, high fevers and decreasing oximeter readings. Home isolation is a mental beast where you realise you are your own under-qualified carer. 

On 30th June, we realised I was deteriorating, tight chested, covered in a weird rash and most alarmingly short of breath with SAT levels in the low 80s. I needed to go to hospital. On THE day the city announced they were reaching capacity. I waved goodbye to my wife and 2 boys from the back of an ambulance. A memory I’d like us all to erase.

I was fortunately assigned a bed at the Christian Barnard Memorial hospital. There I was told I had COVID pneumonia. The delta variant the likely cause. “You’re young, you’re strong, you’re a bit of an anomaly Mark”.

I was prodded and jabbed, x-rayed, had vile after vile of blood taken, given plenty of intravenous antibiotics, steroids and vitamin cocktails. And repeatedly injected with blood thinners into my stomach region…

Covid wards are humbling places. You meet people of all backgrounds at their most absolute vulnerable – gasping for air. You see and hear things that are tricky to forget. You stumble to the toilet attached to a tank of oxygen. You wake every few hours to have your SAT levels checked and to turn over again to relieve pressure on your lungs. You anxiously wait to see what the virus has in store for you next. 

But… you also get to witness the (somewhat mythical) heroic doctors, nurses, physios and hospital staff selflessly, fearlessly, tirelessly fighting this indiscriminate virus. Providing care and calm to an overwhelming amount of patients.

6 long days after being admitted I was told I’d made it through the danger zone and should continue my recovery at home. Hospitals breed superbugs that make for evil secondary infections.

I was nervous to leave my good acquaintance – the nasal cannulas. I was sad to say goodbye to my covid comrades. But I was very ready to get back to my family. Who’d of course had their own torrid experience. My wife caring for our 2 boys, operating off much uncertainty and plenty of quarantine anxiety. Miraculously both her and the boys seem to have avoided it.

I exited the hospital via the same emergency doors I’d arrived through. Sitting in a wheelchair on the side of the road, 6kgs lighter, breathing in the cold, beautiful winter air. Kind of a surreal moment.

I’ve now been home for 10 days and am adjusting to being a rather frail 39 year old. My lungs are re-building, but inflamed. Recovery is cautiously slow and not short of horror stories people feel they should share with you. I’ll have another x-ray in August to discover the extent of my battle scars and hear when I can get back to a more normal, active routine.

For now I’m enjoying my gentle walks, treasuring my family, and so thankful that I’m an anomaly that can tell my own tale and more purposely shape it’s future.

Stay safe. Get vaccinated.

Categorized as General

Why did blogs die off?

I read this essay a couple weeks ago and it really resonated with my relationship with blogging. It’s also a beautifully constructed, engaging page design worth checking out.

“The web today is built for apps—and I think we need to take it back.“

Robin Rendle

Robin Rendle succinctly describes the death of blogs, the rise of newsletters, and the forgotten powers of ancient, dusty technologies like RSS readers.

Who still follows RSS feeds? Scrap that. Who still comments on blogs?

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Productivity hacks

Two new apps that have helped my desktop productivity this month:

@CleanShot_app – the best screen capturing tool out there!

@soulver – notepad meet calculator. A smart way to explore scenarios + experiments with numbers.

Originally posted on Twitter

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These critters are evolving MUCH faster than us during this pandemic. FACT.

He got TV + Minecraft banned today (bad behaviour).

So… he calls a school friend on @MicrosoftTeams and gets him to record his TV. Which is playing @Minecraft videos on @YouTube.


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5 years later…

Hovering over the "publish" button.

5 years ago today, at around this very time, we sat eating Reuben sandwiches for breakfast in a fancy restaurant in Nolita, New York. Hashing out a new commercial agreement with fancy execs of one of the world’s largest online payment systems.

A few hours later, a neighbourhood across, we were in Matt’s apartment with the Automattic team. Laptops on laps, clicking the “publish” button on the news that WooCommerce was being acquired by Automattic.

It was a surreal, life-altering day that will forever be laser-etched in my memory bank.

5 years later I’m in a very different season of life, working with very different businesses. But I still proudly fly the Woo flag – high fiving the small wins and celebrating the big milestones.

Poetically, today WooCommerce is launching – WooCommerce Payments. Built upon a very mature partnership with another leading payments company – Stripe. Deeply integrated for all kinds of benefit to store owners.

A partnership so impressive that “you’ll end up paying the same fees when you use WooCommerce Payments or a custom Stripe integration.”

WooCommerce featuring on Techcrunch again today – 5 years later.

Moral of the story: Significance takes time to negotiate and is built on many short term successes.

How far WooCommerce has come. Well done to the Automattic team! Onwards and upwards 🚀

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Lockdown essential services

Yebo Fresh always felt like it was going to play a significant, socially impactful role providing for the underserved township markets of South Africa.

Last year, no one could have predicted the coronavirus, or South Africa’s crippling lockdown, but Yebo Fresh’s vision has been magnified and its scale fast-tracked to help get grocery deliveries to desperate families.

Super proud of the work this team are doing. I visited them last week at the warehouse to try document a moment in their journey. See the photos on the Yebo Fresh blog.

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Over and out

A hearty congratulations to the Over team on a very newsworthy acquisition. Immensely proud to be a friend of the co-founders Matt Winn and Aaron Marshall and filled with gratitude to have journeyed with them as an angel investor.

An inspiring story of American friends, and a supportive family, that fell in love with Cape Town and took a huge leap of faith building a global business from here.

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The Crossing

All the warm fuzzy feelings 🇿🇦
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Five point zero

Today we officially welcome Bebo – WordPress 5.0.

Having used this software since version 1.5, way back in 2005, it’s monumental to think how it has matured, and how it has impacted my life in so many ways. 

To experience a new publishing interface today, after a WordPress auto-update completed last night, and to see the download counter closing in on 2 million downloads in less than 24 hours demonstrates significant scale, creativity, complexity and code innovation. 

A massive round of applause to Matt Mullenweg for championing this evolution, and all of those open source contributors who have shaped such a noteworthy gift to the internet. 

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