As a developer, I frequently find myself at an impasse.
Today, I was working on some final bugs for a client. I wasn’t the first nerd to tackle this codebase and it really shows in the complexity of the hacks and weirdness that are involved in even getting minor things fixed.
Noticing that I was staring, motionless for about 5 minutes at my laptop, I did what any sensible developer should do in that situation.
I got up, and did the dishes.
There are so many great things about doing the dishes:
- Manual labor allows the parts of your body that remain dormant while sitting at a desk to get moving.
- There’s something nice about warm water, I’m unclear if it’s related to circulation or something else, but it makes me feel better in general.
- Stepping way from a problem that is plaguing you frequently allows your subconscious to work on the problem when you are away.
- If none of the other items are useful to you, at least at the end you have clean dishes, which is awesome.
Luckily, my beloved coworking joint has no shortage of dishes to wash most of the time. Sadly, I don’t work from home much any more so my family doesn’t receive the benefit of mid-day breaks.
My mom really liked Rod Stewart. There are maybe two songs of his I can put up with. This is one of them.
I miss my mom.
You know what’s cool? Building iPhone and iPad apps.
You can build something not many people know how to build. Plus your friends and family can see it on their phones. It’s like being an astronaut or a mad scientist, but better because you can wear flip flops to work.
You know what’s lame? Learning how to build an iPhone app is lame.
You have to install Xcode (which seems like it’s always being updated). Xcode is slow and annoying to use. Then you have to figure out it’s interface before really learning any Objective-C. That’s lame too.
My buddies at Code School are wizards. They made a way so that you could type real honest-to-god code into your web browser window like it was a tweet or a Facebook comment, hit a button and run it on a Mac somewhere in a dark cave. It’s amazing.
If you are one of the people who want to build iPhone apps but don’t know where to get started, try their course. The first level is free, and it’s cheap if you want to keep it rolling. You don’t even have to make an account at first, just jump in and try it out.
Here’s some sweet Behind The Scenes video:
Disclaimer: I know and love the people who make Code School and wish them success and happiness. It would have been smart for me to ask for an affiliate code or some other way to make money on this endorsement, but I am not that smart. You’ll just be sending money to them, which is a good thing.
Yesterday they cut my hours at the gig I’ve been contracting for (more than full-time) for the past (nearly) two years. Effectively that means I’m sort of unemployed right now, and I wanted to document a few things.
Fight for the Future
When I got an email from Tiffiniy about her new project I didn’t immediately realize she was one of the founders behind Downhill Battle. It took me about 24 hours to convince them and we were building Free Bieber almost the next day. We didn’t name ourselves for another few weeks if I remember correctly. We landed on Fight for the Future.
FFTF’s website says, “a nonprofit working to expand the internet’s power for good” but they explained it to me sort of like the EFF’s younger, more aggressive, sister.
I worked, a lot, for our campaigns up until Monday and at this point we’ve never lost a fight.
A few things I wanted to make sure to remember:
Don’t work like a founder if you aren’t one - FFTF doesn’t owe me anything, and it was my pleasure to work with them—but I worked like an insane person to make things happen there. Beyond the collective good we accomplished as an organization and the friends I made along the way, I have very little to take away from that. I need to learn how to be a good employee and team mate without pouring myself into something that isn’t mine.
Ask why, a lot more - Every single time we built something the very first priority was to build it as quickly as possible. Had I been aware of this in the moment, I would have pushed back more on that demand so that we could collectively be more proud of our work and accomplish more. Sure, we helped organize the largest online protest in history but it didn’t need to come at the expense of having to explain away our shortcuts every time a technical friend asks about them.
Speaking of shortcuts, don’t get involved in an organization based solely around emailing people - So much of email deliverability is out of your hand, and we had our share of problems attempting to get the message out to people, but there’s a reason people hate email and organizations sending it are part of that problem. For me, the more bulk email I get the less happy I am. I don’t want to participate in that cycle— especially when there are so many other cool and interesting ways to connect with human beings.
Your colleagues can and should be more important than your work - One thing I feel like I did well and hope to continue to do well is to treat my colleagues with respect and familiarity. Even working remotely, I spent more time with the people working with me on FFTF projects than with many of my family members, and I tried my best to treat them like that. Judging by the love and support they’ve showed me so far I was successful.
I’m looking for work, hoping to have something lined up shortly.
I do the sort of things that are detailed here. Development, a little design, making websites and stuff like that. I’ll even edit video or audio for you.
Contract stuff and full-time gigs are interesting right now, not sure what exactly I’ll be doing in the short-term so hit me up. The best fit would be on a small team where I can have a big impact and a seat at the table to help make decisions about the (project, product, work), but I’m open to hearing from just about anyone.
In case this sounded like an attack or like it was born in frustration, I wanted to clearly and publicly thank Tiffiniy Cheng and Holmes Wilson. The work I did with them and the other people we collaborated with was hard and interesting and fun and if I could do it all over again I’d sign up just as quickly.
“…arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors”
From the Wikipedia article on patronage.
I’m not sure that all artists should be able to make a full-time living from their art, but I also don’t want my favorite artists to need to invest significant portions of their free time and energies into figuring out the business side of (music, movies, etc) if they don’t want to.
One of my favorite songwriters is David Bazan. If there was some way to support his work in an ongoing fashion it would be a very easy decision for me (and I’m sure for many of his fans). This would mean that David could spend less of his time thinking about business and more doing his ‘real work’.
I also sort of hate that he has taken the stance to keep his music off streaming services like Rdio and Spotify. I get that it’s a business decision for him, and a decision about the value of music (the return artists get from these services is laughable for the broad majority of musicians) but I love Rdio and use it every day—primarily because keeping a huge collection of music on the on my MacBook Air isn’t really an option.
What if you could ‘subscribe’ to an artist, pay some monthly amount that they determine, in order to support their work?
There could be various incentives, and maybe even variable pricing for different levels, but I’m mostly thinking about something simple. Say $10 a month and you get access to a short video call once a month about what the artist has been up to.
Of course, you wouldn’t be paying for the call, but supporting someone who’s work you enjoy and getting to further participate by having inside knowledge of their work.
At $10 / person / month, you’d need maybe 800-820 people to make a $100k income. It seems like patronage like this could subsidize existing revenue streams (merch, shows, licensing?). Maybe for some artists it would be able to provide the entirety of their income and for others it would just be a small chunk, but in most cases it seems like it would provide them more opportunity to focus on the work people enjoy rather than figuring out how to turn their art into dollars and cents.
This sounds nice to me, although I’m just a patron, not the artist in question.
It’s important to note that some of the beauty in art is struggle. For Bazan in particular some of my favorite songs relate to his work making money from his art (and I’m sure this friction is inspiration for many other artists).
I also realize that some artists might feel uncomfortable being paid for nothing, which is totally legitamate. I also know that not everyone has a large enough fan base for this sort of patronage to provide any significant income.
How to make it work?
Right, so someone could build something to make this easy. If you kept 1% of the transactions you could make enough money to make it a full-time gig, on to a company or whatever you wanted to do with it.
The primary responsibilities would be tax and accounting related, the actual transactional nature of the application would be relatively easy using something like Stripe.
You could also build in communication tools to make it easy for the artists to include their patrons in their work. There are lot’s of fun and interesting problems to solve there.
Seems like you’d need to get a couple established artists to kick things off, maybe sign the first 5 artists up without the 1% ‘fees’ or whatever. It’s likely you’d also have to talk them into it, then when you have some bands signed up for a while it would prove itself.
Why not just donate $20 to Bazan every month?
This is a legitimate question. I think part of why I don’t do this is because then it just feels like I’m tipping him, it doesn’t feel like I’m participating in his work. I’d much rather be involved as a sort of silent partner than just throw cash his way.
Building something like this might also make it easier for artists to separate the need for money to fund their work from the actual work they produce. That album you’ve listened to thousands of times over the years is worth so much more than the $20 you paid on iTunes.
Entrepreneurship is really about execution, so here’s an app idea I had today.
I need an phone application that can give me a better view into new cities. I frequently know where I am (or at least my phone does) and I frequently know where I want to go (either an address or the name of a place) but I also frequently want something before I arrive at the new place.
Yesterday, I wanted to buy a pie on the way home. This morning I wanted a bagel on the way to work.
Typically, you would search near either your starting location or your destination to try and find something on your way. The problem with this is that you have to do the pattern matching to figure out if the (bagel or pie) is on your way.
We should use computers for this. Your preferred mapping application already knows the path you are planning on taking, it knows where the bagels and pies are (and Yelp knows if they are open), so why can’t it tell you the (bagel or pie) that is closest to your path.
I’ve got other projects that haven’t let me finish building my last app, so this is for grabs. Please build it soon, I’m hungry right now.
We’ve mostly decided on a church. It’s named The Groves but this isn’t about them.
One of the larger churches in Portland is Solid Rock (Who sometimes call themselves “a jesus church” which seems like a weird thing to do. One name is probably plenty). They seem nice, have dope music, but are a little too patriarchal for us.
When we visited i accidentally left Melissa’s scarf (she was picking up the kid, so grabbing our stuff was my job). It was a relatively nice scarf that her grandmother purchased for her on a trip to the UK.
Melissa called and emailed SR for weeks attempting to get a response. She couldn’t get anyone to confirm or deny the existence of a scarf in their lost and found, much less help here get it back. Their only recommendation was to return and ask at the desk.
So, last night, I was headed back to Solid Rock. I enjoyed the service I went to earlier, and wanted a chance to her the lead pastor teach (he was away the week we visited). Conor and Melissa were having a relatively lazy Sunday evening so it was my job to hit up the lost and found and get back her scarf also.
When I got there I headed to the well-marked informatino desk, got a scarf from the person behind the counter, and headed to the adjacent room to get some coffee. The place was hopping, so getting coffee and attempting to go sit down took some time and the band had already started as I was walking upstairs to the secondary seating.
Before I got up there I heard a gruff voice call out, “Excuse me sir-can I get you to check your bag?”. It was one of the security dudes, presumably following their typical security protocol.
After confirming he wanted me to check my relatively large Chrome messenger bag (containing the scarf, my camera and a whole lot of air) I made a snap judgement to bail. I was already a little annoyed at the whole process, and the idea of surrendering my belongings to this church that had been so unhelpful before seemed like a bad idea.
I’m sure they have their reasons for asking people to check bags, and I understand it must be complicated to satisfy requests about lost and found items when you are operating out of multiple locations, and I’m sure Solid Rock are doing good in the community, but all of this reminded me how important every interaction you have with other humans can be. I hope I can remember the frustration I felt last night in the future.
There is this song called Constant Headache by a band named Joyce Manor. It is a perfect thing.
Somedays a perfect thing would make me want to make more things, some days a perfect thing scares me into not wanting to make things because I know it will never measure up.
I wonder if I can shift the balance to the former.