Chris GarrettChris Garrett


I'm Chris Garrett, a founder and creative technologist working at the intersection of design and engineering.

I’ve been involved in a construction SME for a couple of years now, and I’ve been consistently shocked by the administrative burden that HMRC impose on general contractors like us. Regulation like reverse VAT and CIS ultimately shift liability for our subcontractors taxation onto us, while the industry remains woefully under-educated in the consequences of not complying.

To save hours of paperwork a week, I developed a small app for managing our subcontractor “Accounts Payable”. It collects all the necessary information about the subbies trading style, makes it effortless for them to submit invoices in a standardised format, calculates CIS deductions and reversed VAT, and gives a real-time view of our liabilities.

Screenshot of invoice in Hammertime

We’re getting requests from every subcontractor to make the tool available to them for use in their own business, so from September I’m going to be focussing on spinning this out as a commercial SaaS and growing it from there. It feels like we’re very close to Produt-Market-Fit already… “Build something people want”.

I’ve been caught up in a lot of chat about async vs sync for development teams lately. I’m clearly not the only one.

I skew heavily towards eradicating scheduled/recurring calls, but I’ve noticed a tendency to interpret that as being “anti-conversation”. This really isn’t the case - face-to-face, or voice-to-voice, conversation is by far the fastest way to traverse an intellectual space. Notion docs, slack threads, etc all create friction to reaching a conclusion.

Scheduled calls and meetings, to me, represent dogma. But for complex topics, purposeful, ad hoc conversations with a defined goal can’t be beaten.

People talk about stand-ups and and other rituals as a means of socialising and bonding - but I, personally, bond far better over a pairing session than a “what I did / what I’m doing” round-robin.

  • Bobby told me about Good Job yesterday, a really nice, low dependency worker implementation for Rails. Will be using.
  • I’ve been thinking about teams as springs: you can put a certain amount of pressure on them and they’ll keep springing back, but if you keep pushing and keep sustaining that pressure, you’ll reach a point where there’s no spring left. Then you don’t have a spring anymore.
  • On the teams note, I’ve been watching Last Chance U. Coming from a sporting background, I find it super interesting that tech teams are rarely run like sports teams, or kitchens for that matter. Why is there no brigade for delivering apps?
  • I made a very small investment in Twine last year; their AI offering is really taking off at the moment, and it’s getting very exciting. Being able to source bespoke, diverse training data at scale is going to become incredibly valuable.

Anyone who has worked with engineers knows that impl. time is not a pure function of complexity, but is greatly affected by their interest in the work.

This tweet by Lea Verou really resonated with me. I’ve experienced this in myself and other developers I’ve collaborated with. IMHO, a “10× engineer” isn’t born purely of talent, but of a combination of domain understanding and vested interest in the problem space.

  • I’ve been spending some evenings getting re-acquainted with Rails; being reminded that ActiveRecord is a super power, and remains the quickest way to get a form validated and persisting to a database. It’s nice to be back to building features, instead of configuring build tools.
  • ViewComponents are a new one for me, but they’re ace and will be a pre-requisite for any new projects.
  • I didn’t have ChatGPT last time I was learning a new language or framework - it’s a game changer for quickly acclimatising and understanding.
  • I’ve been using TS-Pattern in anger; it’s one of those “wish I had this sooner” libraries.
  • It’s been a week, and my fitness goals for this month have slipped severely. I’m digging out a new pond this weekend though, which should turn that around.
  • I’ve been focussing heavily on “the clinch” with my boxing coach and think I might be getting the urge to learn BJJ with some focus.

  • For the first time in my adult life, I took a bonafide job role at the beginning of this year. I’ve subsequently learned how much I value entrepreneurship and building for myself, and so will be returning back to the world of venture building in September.
  • This comment on HN really resonated with me, because it captures a lot of lived experience. Domain understanding and clarity of vision are what drives productivity, not coding prowess.
  • I’m very bullish on Bun, and it’s awesome to see that is too. Bun is the closest thing to a native TS runtime, and I think it could be the runtime of the next truely RAD stack.
  • On that note, I ran rails new for the first time in five years. The React & Node ecosystems of late have left me craving an environment based on consistency and consensus.

  • I’ve finally had a chance to dabble with Bun, and I think it might be the nicest way to work with Typescript. No config, no boilerplate - just run it. If you’re just building for the Bun runtime, you don’t even need to Transpile…
  • This tweet highlighted an issue I’ve come up with a few times; Next.js middleware is ineffective in standalone builds. This made me realise how much I miss the power of before_action in Rails. Middleware seems like the logical equivalent, but it’s just not there yet.
  • Lucia is an auth library I can finally get behind; it’s primitive but ergonomic and malleable - very easy to work with.
  • On that note, I noticed support for Astro. shadcn/ui also shipped Astro support this week - is Astro becoming a serious option for app development?
  • I’ve been watching Season 2 of the Bear; it’s one of my favourite shows. The kitchen seems true to life, and certainly tracks with the depictions in Kitchen Confidential. I think there’s a huge amount that startup/tech teams can learn from functional kitchens.

July Goals

Per week:

2× posts here 3× HIIT/weights workouts 1+ climbing session 1+ (kick)boxing session < 2 glasses of wine

Per day:

100 pushups 100 v-situps 15k+ steps (weighted vest) < 50g carbs


Go live with Myrtal alpha


Giving the blogging thing another go. Super simple stack - but hopefully that means I’ll keep it updated:

I’ll definitely refine the design over time, but let’s see how well I do at keeping this thing up-to-date for now…