Some things I've been thinking about lately...

If you were ever a regular reader of my blog, and lately you’ve been wondering to yourself (or out loud for that matter) what ever happened to my blog, well today you are in luck…because I’m finally getting around to posting again, and I’ll do my best to catch you up quickly on a handful of things that have been keeping me busy as well as a handful of things that I’m planning on doing to continue to keep me busy throughout the summer!

So first let me recap a little bit…the last time I posted with any sort of frequency I was rambling on about getting focus and finishing up a few small projects, namely fubnub, toptenify, and momentum…

1. I did in fact finish out a new version of fubnub that includes a new API, a new design, and is now 100% perl based in both the front end and back end…however, I still haven’t released it to the general public (ie. I haven’t replaced the public facing www.fubnub.com with the new site yet. Mostly just because I haven’t done enough testing on the new stuff myself yet to feel comfortable with releasing it, but also a little just because I’m not sure it’s really to the final state I want to release it in (once the API is out and avaiable, I’ll have a harder time making drastic changes to it if I want/need)

2. toptenify, that drop-dead simple top ten list site that I estimated would take me a day or two to throw together…well I still haven’t done too much with it…I got the basic structure set up, and I pinged Jason (the guy with the idea in the first place) to play with the tiny bit I had put together…he found a number of holes and bugs (even in the limited dev. stage I have things in)…but he also was able to get a better feel for the workflow and so he sent me some updated details on how to fix all that stuff up…and I haven’t had a chance to go back and make any more happen with it just yet.

3. Probably most disappointing of all three of my ‘focus’ projects right now has been momentum…for the most part we still haven’t gotten beyond the basic proof of concept stage…and in the last week or two a couple of other companies have hit the press with 'real time content’ search…I think our core idea is still a bit different than what either of those companies are doing so far, but a large part of our system’s 'wow’ factor was based on the same concepts they cashed in on already (so there goes our initial 'wow’ factor)…it’s not a project killing thing, but it can be a bit draining for a bit because we now know that it will be much harder to get attention when we are finally ready with something to show the world…

So anyway, with all the lack of progress on this stuff and no posts, you might be wondering just what the heck I actually am spending all my time on then? Well the good news is lots-o-stuff as usual!

1. I’m 98% done with version one of an API for reviews.com (the day job)…and while it’s nothing ground breaking, it has been a fairly large project for me the past few weeks/months and I’m excited to be getting it out the door soon and letting other people start to kick the tires a bit…but even more exciting about it is that if it works out as I hope/plan, it’s the first step in rewriting the front-facing reviews.com site as well…

2. I finally got started on writing a new (and I think much cleaner) version of the primary system I work on for R.R. Bowker…I’ve been involved in various roles with Bowker for a little over a year now (first as a consultant, then a full time employee, and now back to a consultant for the past 6+ months)…and throughout that time I’ve really only been working on one main system. Worse, it’s only got about 10-20 features so far…none of which are rocket-science…but because it has to play nicely with historical systems, get things approved through a series of political debates, and is all duct-taped together through a highly abstracted, non-open, obscure CMS…it seems to take forever for anything to actually get done and working (especially working correctly)! So, finally getting to clean up at least one big part of the system is a bit freeing to my developer side…

3. I pitched Apress on writing a new book about Amazon’s SimpleDB web service…and they approved the pitch…since I’m always over-committed (and know this about myself), I immediately pulled fellow NY developer guru Tyler Frieling into the project with me…we are still behind, but so far we have submitted three chapters and I have another two almost ready for submission as well…my hope/plan is to be done with the initial chapter versions by mid July, but we’ve got a lot of writing to do to meet that actual deadline. Related to the project I also grabbed the domain simpledb.info, got my friend Pat to do a sleek design for me, and threw up a version of the blog code I use to run perlquiz.com (another blog I haven’t posted to in months! *sigh*)…the plan is to blog on a regular basis about simpleDB once we get a little bit more of the book complete (and of course promote the book via the blog when it’s finally in print)…we’ll see how it goes.

4. I’ve been bouncing around pulling Draftwizard.com and Supermug.com off the edge of the dead-cliff with the help of a few friends…but so far most of my efforts to get people really involved in either have faded just as quickly as they have come up…but that hasn’t stopped me from doing what I can on each project anyway. Most recently I’ve been really pushing myself to throw in a few hours here and there to rebuilding supermug.com as a clean and simple league management system (built from the ground up this time, using only my experience and knowledge and no code from it’s previous iterations)…I plan to run at least one or two leagues through the system this year, and beyond that we’ll see how much it feels worth promoting/pushing…

Beyond all of that stuff, I’ve also been meeting with a lot of new people and hearing about a lot of new ideas (keeping myself open to the possibility of founding a new start-up with a team - if I can find the right team, or the right set of ideas to get behind)…so far not too concrete has come from any of these meetings, but I have been meeting some really great people, learning about some really interesting ideas, and making a lot more business contacts than I have in my previous 8+ years in NY (amazing how easy it is to hide inside your code with your head down as a developer…but also amazing how easy it is to get out there and make some actual contact and start making things actually happen for once)…

Anyway - that’s the whirlwind tour of my past few months of work-related ramblings (don’t forget on top of all this I try to spend as much time as possible with the wife and kids doing fun family stuff – the oldest just started soccer a couple weeks ago and the youngest is going to music classes now so weekends are also always jam filled with fun family events and activities)…

If I find the time and energy in the next few days I’ll try to throw together some rambling thoughts on where I want to go next with a handful of my pet projects (ie. I’ll try to break down my thinking on supermug, draftwizard, statsfeed, herobrawl, simpledb, perlquiz, halfbite, jivegass, and the slew of other little personal projects I hack on in my spare minutes here and there)…

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).