Making new stuff, one hour at a time

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 11:05 PM | comments: 0

One of the biggest challenges I've had since Simon was born is finding time to dive into my various code projects. These things serve two roles in my life, because they're my hobby as well as my side business (and by extension, a means of professional development). In the middle part of 2010, after Simon was born, I actually found quite a bit of time since he wasn't mobile. This year, it has been a lot harder because I want to spend time with him as he runs around, and frankly I think he needs the interaction.

In the last few weeks, I've made it a point to try and squeeze in an hour here, an hour there, and work on stuff. I got really deep into my science project, a possible future site/project, but got a little burned out on it because I'm not as passionate about it. I took a break from it, and started working on the forum app, blasting through the backlog of issues and new features. In terms of new stuff, the only really visible thing is the button that might tell you, "Hey, there are newer posts you haven't read," when you reply, but the big work was the extensibility feature.

Before I could ever get around to using the newer version in a new version of CoasterBuzz, I had to make it so you could alter the output of a topic, for things like the "Day in Pictures" forum, or the news, or trip reports. Tonight, I wrapped up that work, which means I'm free to start thinking about vNext of the site.

It has been more than three years since the last revision, but there have been so many new features along the way. Track record rating, the CB100, the WP7 app, automated Twitter publishing, secure login, photo submission resizing... and most of that is in the last year and a half. The last nine months have been really stagnant in terms of work on the site. Plus, I can see page views dropping, even while visitor counts go up, and that implies people are getting bored with it. It's getting stale.

I have some ideas in my head about what to do with it next. The challenge going forward is to continue to devote time to it, even if it is a little at a time. There are so many new technologies at my disposal that I simply didn't have three years ago, and it's pretty exciting. Obviously my work experiences have greatly lifted my skills since then, too. I'm happy to find a lot of that passion coming back, to build something interesting that I want to use.


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