Code Thoughts

Side projects

Over the years I’ve worked on hundreds of side projects that have never seen the light of day. There’s a number of reasons for this; sure some are abandoned, but others are just prototypes, others find their ideas repurposed for client work. Others are on the later-base.

They’re always fun to work on, give you a different perspective and ultimately make you better at your craft.

I’m hoping to follow more of my own advice and get a few more of them shipped.

First one I’m going to look at is an iOS client for HobbyScribe. It has a modest user base and a modest set of features, but should provide a couple of useful and re-usable elements for more apps I’ve got lying around.

Don’t want to make it some sort of app a month challenge, but I would like to get a couple more out there if only to try things out.

Bear with me.


Why I don’t hate Jar Jar Binks any more

I remember going to the cinema to see Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. I don’t remember leaving the cinema hating George Lucas, Star Wars or Jar Jar. When the next two movies in the prequel trilogy were released, I diligently went to the cinema and watched them, enjoying them both.

Over the next few years though, society conditioned me to hate the prequels. Jar Jar was villified as the death of the much loved Star Wars franchise of old. People who loved Star Wars suddenly seemed *mean*. My own viewpoint was skewed – I’d rip on Phantom Menace just like everybody else at every oppurtunity.

The new trilogy has re-ignited the meanness. Only now, with the rise in social media it is more widespread, constant and even personal.

Why the hell am I ranting about Star Wars?

I’m not really. It’s not just Star Wars. There’s elitism and judgement everywhere. Have an opinion either-way on Brexit? You’re an idiot. Write your code using PHP? You’ll never be a real programmer. You’ve enjoyed Lord of the Rings without reading the books? Crikey.

I’ve got to a point in my life where I’m quite happy with my own opinion, and realise it doesn’t really matter what other people think. I’m still very opinionated, but I’m trying my best to not get dragged in to pointless arguments and letting people get on with what they like doing whilst I do whatever I like doing/watching/listening to. It is hard at times though.

People who spend all their time hating on Jar Jar and The Last Jedi obviously have too much spare time and ought to grow-up.

That said – still not a fan of Rogue One.


Number 9

2019 is a year of anniversaries. It’s 50 years since man landed on the moon. Primark is 50 years old. Gilwell Park celebrates its centenary. 50 years have gone by since The Beatles stepped out on the roof and played their final public performance. Friends; the sitcom about a group of mid-twenties in New York is now 25 years old.

Whilst most of these are somewhat important to me – none of them are quite as important as this one: Genius Division – the small agency I run with James and Craig – turned 9 years old today.

Although I didn’t join Genius Division until just before their 2nd birthday, I’d been collaborating with them on projects for a while and shared an office with them when I first went freelance in 2011. James mentions that they convinced me to quit my job at any opportunity – even in his best man’s speech at my wedding!

I was humbled when they asked me to become Technical Director in 2012 – it began an exciting new chapter of my life, and has remained pretty much the one constant throughout my early twenties, meeting my wife, becoming a homeowner, and having our first child.

Being part of Genius Division has allowed me to hone my skills and forced/allowed me to learn some new ones. Luckily we’ve had more ups than downs, and have always accepted the next challenge graciously – sometimes with cautious optimism, sometimes with a little reckless abandon.

We’ve never become complacent. We’ve evolved from tongue in cheek “Geniuses” – I still remember chuckling when James told me about the domain he’d bought – into a highly trusted, safe pair of hands for brands, businesses, charities and agencies alike.

We’ve always had quite a unique set of skills for a few lads from ‘tarn – we do everything in house; no outsourcing. We can design an engaging brand. Build you a SaaS solution. Make a website that works for your business. Launch a mobile app. Consult on technical issues, servers and cloud infrastructure for your organisation. It’s not always easy, but we’re problem solvers.

Happy 9th Birthday Genius Division. You won’t believe what happens next.


Ship it

How many times have you had an idea, worked on it for hours/days/months/years and never gotten the bloody thing finished?

I have loads of ideas. They might all be garbage, but you won’t really know until you release it to the world, or ship it. That’s when you get feedback. Nasty, dreaded feedback – but, you’ll also get helpful, constructive feedback and most importantly validation of your idea.

This’ll let you make tweaks, improvements, and in rare cases drop your idea completely. There’s no point spending those hours/days/months/years doing something no-one wants. Unless you want it I suppose.

Spend that time on the next idea. And don’t forget to ship it!

This topic has been covered by a lot of smarter people than me, but that sums up my feelings on it. I’ve been 50/50 about launching a personal blog for a long time, but never did it as I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. Consider it shipped.