Project status update

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 2, 2011, 11:00 PM | comments: 0

Around the time we moved a couple of towns over, I guess it was October, I decided that it was important for me to make some meaningful progress on the various projects that I started and left to float around, stagnant. I have, for the most part, been following through on that, but it also makes me fully realize that my hobbies are sometimes a little too much like work. I mean, literally, what I do in my spare time is what I do at work, and that can make me dull and bored. I wish the coaching gig would not have fallen through, because that would have certainly balanced me out. I'll have to write more, especially that damn screenplay.

But I'm pleased to say that my projects, existing and future, are starting to take real shape. That's exciting. Here's what was already in motion:

  • MouseZoom - It's real, it works and people will see it really soon now. Walt did a new header design for the site that got me kind of energized, and I polished up and we're starting to populate it with content. I'm embarrassed that we first talked about the idea three years ago, but also happy about the "important feature" that could not have existed when we thought of the site. If the site works as expected, and it gets some traction, I may fork the code, come up with a new layout, and do something similar for Universal Orlando. I'm sitting on a pile of photos for that place.
  • POP Forums v9 - I think I set up the project repository while at Mix09, which is almost two years ago. MVC was nearly ready, and it seemed like a great way to build stuff. Since that time, Microsoft shipped two newer versions of MVC, and I really started to tune back into the forum project late last fall. I tied it to MouseZoom, because it always feels more real to use the project in a real site. I'm proud to say that it nearly has feature parity with the old version (running on CoasterBuzz and such), and with a fraction of the code. Rewriting from scratch has been liberating. It needs a great deal of refactoring, I guess to satisfy some concern that as an open source project someone else will look at it, but it's generally working pretty well. I look forward to seeing how it goes once people beat on it a little.
  • Windows Phone apps - BabyStopwatch was just a science project to see if I could write something for the phone I'd eventually have. It's not complicated. But after starting it six months before I had a phone, I shipped it shortly after. The ads on it have generated about a hundred bucks, which isn't bad for a science project! It has been downloaded almost a thousand times. I followed it up with an app for CoasterBuzz, which has had something like 150 downloads, and that's surprising.

So in the last four months, I feel like I've done quite a bit. It's hard to say what the financial reward might be (part of the hobby is in fact making extra money to fund my technology habit), but honestly there's so much satisfaction in delivering stuff.

So what's next in the queue? I have some ideas...

  • Finish POP Forums. Duh, that should be easy enough. There's one innovative (read: influenced by Facebook) feature I want to add to it, then I'll consider it "done" for awhile.
  • Once MouseZoom is stable, I desperately want to work out a federated authentication scheme for my sites. Seriously, one login to rule them all. Two sites wasn't a big deal, but three is. I've got the architecture figured out in my head.
  • Like I said, maybe fork MouseZoom for a UO site. The federated auth thing would have to be done first.
  • Something about Las Vegas. I've had a lot of ideas about some kind of site/app for Vegas enthusiasts, but nothing concrete.
  • CoasterBuzz... vNext? Hard to believe, but the current version will be three-years-old this fall. I can't let it go five plus years, like I did last time. Right now, what I think about is a redesign, but if I want to use the newer forum version, it would have to be a rewrite. A part of me doesn't want to think about it, but if traffic sags at all this summer, that'll be the indication that it's time for a refresh.

I definitely need to engage in some non-programming projects though. I want to compile some blog posts and see if there's a self-help book in that, perhaps shop it around. People react surprisingly strongly to some of the things I write. I want to shoot more photos, and video. I discovered last summer how much I still enjoyed it, and I've got the gear. I wouldn't mind if this was the year I finally got a short together, though I'd still prefer to get a screenplay from someone else.

Overall, I'm feeling accomplished lately in my leisure time pursuits. That's important to me. It makes me more at ease for family time, and more confident at work.


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