I don’t blog as much as I used to, for reasons which are somewhat relevant to this post - rather you can usually find fragments of my consciousness floating around the Twittersphere instead, since its enforced brevity requires considerably less of my time to populate. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe that if you’re going to write a blog post about something, you should probably make sure it’s written in a half-decent way, and that’s fairly time consuming, particularly when you’re ever so slightly anal about language as I am. Nevertheless, the receding silhouette of 2010 is a worthy enough subject to invest a bit of time in, so here I am, verging once again on being dangerously verbose. I guess the post should have started with a warning banner or something - but if you’re a repeat visitor, you know the score.
So, 2010. I started this year with three significant and intersecting goals: to significantly simplify my working life, to reduce my stress levels, and to spend more time in the company of my own creativity by working on my own projects. The reason was this: by the end of 2009 several factors had led me to a situation where I had my fingers in too many pies, too many balls in the air, too many - well, you get the picture. The thing with being a consultant / contractor is that work comes in with a very uncertain frequency; projects have a tendency to ‘bunch up’, and because of the inevitable lean periods in between you don’t really want to say ‘no’ to anything. The economic situation since late 2008 also led to projects being noticeably more cost-sensitive, meaning more juggling required to fill out a coherent schedule than it had been before that. All this could get quite stressful, and with a back problem to nurse and an open source project to run on top, things weren’t that much fun at times. So my resolution for 2010 was to stop just trying to make the status quo work, and instead to do things my way - to ditch smaller pieces of work, to only get involved in larger projects that I found personally interesting, and to spend the rest of the time investing in my own projects instead. Fundamentally it was about taking control back.
At that time I didn’t plan to retire from OGRE, but in hindsight I think subconsciously I’d made the decision already, I just hadn’t admitted it to myself yet. I’m extremely proud of what I managed to accomplish with OGRE with the help of countless contributors, and was sad to put that role aside after 10 years, but in many ways it had become a rod for my own back. Not only was it a hugely time consuming, 24/7 job to look after, but there was an inherent assumption, from others and from myself, that projects I chose to work on would naturally be associated with OGRE in some way. That was quite a pair of blinkers to have on, even if I didn’t know I was wearing them. If success with a product or in a subject area has a downside, it’s probably that it can become a gravity well which resists you exploring other areas of interest. So while I’m sad to have retired from OGRE and look back on my time on the project with a great deal of fondness and pride, I can’t deny that I don’t regret casting off and returning to the open seas, even if the security of the harbour was comforting. Ok, I’m done with the sailing metaphors now. 😉
One unexplored continent (damn!) which was calling me siren-like (ok, I really am done now) was native Mac development. I bought my first Mac in 2007, initially only to support OGRE on it (before masterfalcon came along with his superlative Apple-fu), but I’ve since been converted to a fully card-carrying Mac nutcase. So, I decided to finally go all-in and learn Objective-C and Cocoa, and make my own Mac-only tool, which of course turned out to be SourceTree. I’m very pleased with it, and if anything my predilection for the Mac platform has increased significantly during this time - I’ve barely used Windows in the last 8 months, and now when I do I find it quite unpleasant. I also went from hating Obj-C (as a C++ user) to really liking it in the space of a few months, and I’m quite happy to include it on my resume now.
The other thing I find, now that I’m juggling fewer balls and am less narrowly focussed, is that my creativity has ramped up considerably. My ‘Project Ideas’ file has swelled significantly during 2010, and I hope to have chance to pick off some of the juiciest of them later in 2011.
So, I guess the important thing in a retrospective is to decide whether I achieved my goals in 2010. Given that my back is much better now, I’m less stressed, more creative and I have a new product out, I guess the answer is yes. Not everything went to plan of course - SourceTree launched later than I’d intended (isn’t it ever thus?) and still has quite a way to go to recoup its investment, my only Mac died a month into me starting Mac-only development (but on the plus side that gave me an excuse to buy a new one, and Apple ended up repairing the other one free even out of warranty), and I’m still not completely recovered health-wise, but all in all, even if it’s not a double rainbow, it’s gotta be at least a rainbow and a half. 😉
My best wishes to everyone for the New Year celebrations, and I hope we’ll all have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011.