Don’t always be materially productive

This is something I ran into for a long period of my life. I recently started a friendship with someone and they expressed that they suffer the similar condition, so I wanted to share my experiences and how I got past it.

It comes down to work and not being able to spend time creating something, or writing something from scratch.

Whenever you have extra time, you’re always thinking about the other things you could be doing. Learning something new to further your career, working on some extra work to try to make more money, and so on.

I used to be really stuck in this loop. I had ideas for stories I wanted to write, or games I wanted to develop, but I couldn’t do it. Whenever I would maybe have the time to work on it, my brain would always be whispering, “You should be doing this other thing, or you should be learning this other thing. Writing stories is a waste of time. Developing games is just a waste of time.”

This is related, although it doesn’t seem like it. One time, my wife bought a canvas for me to paint. I’ve never painted on a canvas in my life up until this point. I decided to paint a science-y kind of picture, just a star field. I did this and it took about two hours, and I was happy with the results. I realized several months after that that during the creation of it, I had none of those whispers of self doubt in my head.

There is fundamentally no difference between painting a picture, or writing a story, or developing a game. I am a software developer, and the way I create is writing software. So, creating a game and working on that game is a form of art. Art doesn’t necessarily have to have a financial end, that’s not the point of art.

Once I realized this, I found out that I was able to work on small side projects that would in all likelihood not make any money. Whenever the whispers would start to happen in my mind, “You should be working on something that makes money”, etc, I could just remind myself that I am a human. It is important for me to make art.

If you have similar whispers, I encourage you to remember.. You are a human! Art is important, and your medium can be whatever you want it to be.

Start of the personal mini-vacation

In preparation for the newest addition to our family being born mid-February (yay!), Tara and I determined we needed a short vacation to recoup before our little girl is born. And by short vacation, we’re talking totally away from everything. I am currently on my mini vacation right now! (Taras is next week.)

I used Airbnb and found this place to stay. I came here right after work Friday night, and I won’t be headed home until Sunday evening. I miss my family like crazy. It’s the first time I’ve ever been away from them. Like for real. Last time Tara and I didn’t sleep in the same place was the couple days before our wedding. That also means I’ve never been away from little A either. It’s hard, but I think it’s a good thing for everyones sanity overall.

Funny thing, so I have all this time now, right? I totally can’t think of what to work on! I am at Fertile Grounds in Berkeley right now.

What are the things I could work on?

  • Nickelpinch actual code
  • Nickelpinch video
  • Spacefruit (codename for space game)
  • Other game (?)
  • Contract work

UPDATE: I’m glad I typed this out. Thinking about it, definitely going to tackle contract work. There is a job I’d really like to finish, for the customer and so it is off my mental stack. And billing money that covers my stay will feel awesome.

Enrolled in CS253 on Udacity

I enrolled in CS253 on Udacity.com. I can’t get to the course content yet, because apparently their site it slammed?

Anyway, I’m interested in what the course offers:

Description: Web applications have the power to provide useful services to millions of people worldwide. In this class, you will learn how to build your own blog application starting from the basics of how the web works and how to set up a web application and process user input, to how to use databases, manage user accounts, interact with other web services, and make your application scale to support large numbers of users.

WEEK 1: How the Web Works

Introduction to HTTP and Web Applications

WEEK 2: How to Have Users

Getting and processing user input

WEEK 3: How to Manage State

Databases and persistent data

WEEK 4: Whom to Trust

User authentication and access control

WEEK 5: How to Connect

Web applications as services, using APIs

WEEK 6: How to Serve Millions

Scaling, caching, optimizations

WEEK 7: Changing the World

Building a successful web application, project

A lot of this I know, though I’m mostly self-taught. I try to find standards compliant places to learn from, but I always fear there is a better way out there to do certain things; this should help with that.

Week 6 looks the most interesting, as I don’t have experience with scaling. I have lots of things I implement to handle scaling, but haven’t gotten the traffic to really put them to the test.

I’ll keep posting about my experience.