(This post has been a bit of an effort to get out, and I’m not 100% happy with it - so you’ve been warned.)
I’m a big believer that creative people need to exercise their creative muscle, that you need to regularly do things that scratch the creative itch within.
Ok, I realise programming isn’t socially recognised as art, but can you honestly tell me that anything involving creativity isn’t?
If you’re a programmer and don’t think what you do is creative, chances are you’re not very good at it (if you disagree, feel free to stop reading).
Anyway (woo, getting a bit off track there)… my problem has been one of ambition, not because I have no big ideas - rather, I have a spreadsheet full of them, a list of fairly big, cool ideas that I’d love to get started. Choosing is hard.
Recently, one of my colleagues took a week off work to pursue a software project. This kind of blew me away, it’s never occurred to me to take time off for things I want to do other than holidays. Mind blowing stuff.
Having cobbled together my project notes into one location, I decided to try setting aside at least three one hour blocks per week to work on a project - to see how far I could get.
First cab off the ranks was das player, a project I had been pondering for a few months about, out of frustration with my current SoundCloud player of choice.
The idea is pretty simple, provide the same functionality as Songbird with the SoundCloud app - as well as allowing search of other providers, extended search functionality (eg: “monsters revenge genre:dubstep”, allow interaction with your profiles (save to favourites) and an enqueue playlist.
The results were immediate. Within the first night I had a basic commandline player, and after a further two sessions the same week - had a working basic desktop streaming media player. Two weeks later it reached functional parity and became my streaming player of choice at work and home.
… and that’s about where it sits now. After smashing it so hard for a little while, I decided to cool the jets and wait for inspiration/frustration to drive me to do more work - instead of trying to push it and not enjoy it.
Fast forward about a month later and I’m somewhat chastised to see the announce of Tomahawk Player on Slashdot. It’s a fully realised incarnation of what I’ve been working on and has support for many more providers than what I’ve bothered to implement so far.
It felt like a bit of a kick in the nuts at first, seeing such a warm reception to something so similar to what I was working towards - but I can walk away knowing that at the very least, the idea was a good one.
That and, to be honest - it doesn’t work that well for me. The idea is a good one, but the user experience is terrible. I’m going to stick to das player, hell - I may even get around to giving it a better name.
So since then I’ve started plugging away at another awesome project, which I think is even cooler (and more awesomely revolutionary), but haven’t been making great inroads yet - so will see how things go.
I’ve also been playing with the website layout and changes to the server that runs this website to start serving all services and content via IPv6… Oh, and I made butter - but that’s for another post.