Being a Dad in Sweden

Baby-handI’ve not written anything here for more than a month and I’d like to make a short off-topic post to explain why. In the end of May our third kid arrived to the family. He’s a healthy little boy, but even though he’s still small, he’s wreaked havoc to my ability to plan my time. Just as it is supposed to be. But that means blogging hasn’t been on the priority list.

I’m living in Sweden, where the possibilities to spend time with the kids (even as a dad) is totally awesome. It’s easy to take things for granted and it’s not until I discuss how to balance family life and work with people from other countries that I fully remember just how awesome it is here.

The biggest thing is the parental leave. For every child the parents gets 480 paid days to stay at home and care for the child. Counting only work days, that is nearly two full years of paid leave.

The thing that usually surprises non-Swedes the most is that those paid days are not tied to the mother, but to both parents. Actually 60 days are non-transferable, meaning that if the dad doesn’t use them, they are void. Personally I’ve been staying at home with my two older kids for about half a year each and I plan to do the same with the baby, once my wife get back to work. Oh, that’s standard in Sweden too – Mothers are usually working.

When she returns to work, it’s my turn to stay at home on state pay. But, there is actually a limit on how much the state pays for during parental leave. The maximum pay is about €100/day (before tax) and salaries in the IT sector are often much higher than that. But as I’m working at a generous company they actually fill in on top of the public payment, so I get 90% of my salary for spending 6 months with my son. That’s awesome (did I mention we’re hiring?).

Once I get back to work, my son will go to daycare. Children in Sweden usually start daycare from somewhere between age 1.5-2 years. Daycare is heavily subsidized. We pay about €120/month per child for daycare. That’s roughly 10% of the real cost. On the other hand I can confirm that the rumors are true: We do have high tax levels in Sweden, but in my opinion we’re also getting a lot back.

For now this means that I’m taking a long summer off and spend the time with my family. There will probably be blogging done, but not as frequently as when I’m working.

Three Years of Passion for Coding

In November 2011, I decided to try blogging and created the Passion for Coding blog. Three years and 186 published posts later, my blog has grown into a resource for programmers from all over the world. I would like to thank you all for reading, commenting and sharing my posts. Without readers, blogging would be extremely boring.

When I first started the blog three years ago I had to be careful to filter out my own page views from the web server analytics, to not get confusing numbers. In fact, I could see from the web server statistics on what days I had written new posts, solely on the extra hits using the admin interface produced on the web server. That is no longer the case. I’ve so far had visits from 210 countries/territories, which is basically the entire world except a few countries in central Africa and the one exception in Asia: North Korea.

During this year I’ve gradually narrowed the focus on the blog to become more technical and less about the soft sides of software development. I’ve reduced the number of articles on methodology and focused on programming instead. At first I was a bit worried that I might loose quite a few of my readers. I probably did, but I’ve gained even more so I think it was the right decision. It is also in line with a general career decision I made, to focus more on the technical expertise and less on the soft sides. I want to focus more on coding and architecture and that means that I have to focus less on project management.

Writing A WordPress Theme with Bootstrap 3

I took the redesign of Passion for Coding as an opportunity to learn Twitter Bootstrap and also to learn som PHP by writing a WordPress theme.

Bootstrap is Awesome

Working with Bootstrap is totally awesome. For the first time when doing web page layout I didn’t have divs jumping around all over the place with a minor change in one place wreaking havoc to the entire layout.

I had no intentions to create any graphically exciting design. Actually I was quite happy with the clean simple layout I had before – until I opened it on a tablet or even worse on smartphone. So what I wanted was a simple, clean layout that set focus on the content and works fine for reading on all kinds of devices.

Redesign of Passion for Coding

Welcome to the redesigned Passion for Coding!

While the design probably looks familiar, there are some changes. The old theme was a child theme to the WordPress standard twenty eleven theme. This new theme however is a brand new theme I’ve written specifically for Passion for Coding. It uses Bootstrap 3 and is fully responsive. I do quite a bit of my own reading of blogs when riding the train to the office, having only a small phone screen to read on so I know how important it can be to provide a good mobile experience and now I (finally) do that myself.

I’ve also decided to go back to Google Adsense for advertising trying their responsive ads. I know that ads are never popular, but if I create the content and pay for the hosting, then I think it’s fair that there are some ads.

I decided to write the theme myself starting with nothing, in order to learn Bootstrap, PHP and WordPress. It has sometimes been challenging, but it’s always very valuable to dig into a new language or platform to learn and I’ve definitely learnt a lot. I will share some details in a separate post later.

For now, I hope that the new design offers a better reading experience. If you experience any problems with the site, please leave a comment or drop me a mail/tweet to let me know.

Two Years of Passion

It’s now two years since I started the Passion for Coding blog. I’d like to share a few thoughts about blogging and also say a big THANK YOU to everyone reading and commenting and sharing my posts. It is strange to know that my writing now reaches to almost every country in the world – to far more places than I have ever been or will ever be able to visit myself.

I would also like to thank DZone for accepting me as one of their Most Valuable Bloggers – without you I would never had got the same number of visits.

Code or Methodology Posts or Both?

Since the start of the blog I’ve published 140 posts about a variety of topics involving software development. There have been a number of posts with code samples (all code is now available in a GitHub repo). There have both been a number of instructional posts about how something specific works, but also a number of utility classes that are ready to use. I do put pride in having test run all the code I publish on the site. I do know that it works (at least until I forget to HTML escape something containing generics and all < and > go missing, spoiling the code).

I’ve also written a number of posts on software development methodology, with a clear focus on scrum. Personally I do like to mix the different kinds of writing. I hope that you enjoy reading the mix too – but I’m very interested on what you think about the mix. Would you prefer more code? Or more scrum thoughts?

Software Development is a Job – Coding is a Passion

I'm Anders Abel, an independent systems architect and developer in Stockholm, Sweden.

profile for Anders Abel at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Code for most posts is available on my GitHub account.

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