That Software Bug

I’ve got that software bug again. I’m not talking about a software defect that drives us all crazy. No, I’m talking about the strong desire to write software. I wrote recently about how I had decided to stop working on software and focus on writing. I did that and have enjoyed it, but almost every day I’ve still been thinking about software. About finishing the app I started last year. About new apps I could write. About new ways to solve problems I’ve come across. And on and on and on. What does it mean?

I’m pretty sure it means that software is in my blood. It’s my thing. To use an over-used phrase: it’s my passion. I’ve spent my whole life (well, almost my whole life) being a nerd, a geek, a techie, call it what you will. I also spent my entire career in software development. I had thought that perhaps it was time to move on and put that part of my life behind me. I was wrong. I don’t seem to be able to let it go. And I’ve realized that I really don’t want to.

The Bug

When I’m thinking about, or working on software, whether it’s an app I want to write, a feature I want to add, a bug I need to fix, I get lost. I mean, I tune everything out and lose all track of the world around me. It’s as if I can feel myself turning on: my heart rate goes up, I can feel my breathing change. I just get excited. There is very little else that has this affect on me.

There are downsides, of course. As I mentioned, I get lost. I can lose hours at a time in what seems like the blink of an eye. I have unrealistic expectations of myself: I want to do it all and do it now. I lack balance, which is perhaps the reason I decided to step away in the first place. But I now know that I can’t.

Back At It

So, I’m going to get back into app development again. To be successful, I think I need to take a step back and look at the reason I’ve flip flopped on this and attempt to fix it.

First of all, I am going to force some balance into my endeavors. I won’t exclude the other things that I also enjoy: my family, writing, reading, and traveling. I may need to adjust a bit in order to fit it all in, but I’m going to really try. Really.

I still plan to write a new Tech Talk article every week, as I have been doing. And I also plan to continue to post here, though perhaps somewhat less frequently. We’ll see.

I will be putting my novel on the back-burner. While this is somewhat of a disappointment, to be honest I haven’t felt the level of excitement about working on it as I’d hoped. When working on the novel, my mind often drifts to software instead. Perhaps now is not the right time for me to be a novelist. Maybe it never will be. I’ll have to see.

The App

To start with, I’m going to finish an app that I began last year. The app is a Shared Travel Journal and I had made a lot of progress on it. I was even testing it with a small set of users. For example, four of us used the app on a trip to Scandinavia last year and it worked well. That gave me great some great testing, new insights and we had a lot of discussions about features and approaches for the app.

The idea for this app came about because my wife and I often travel with family. We all take pictures and try to share them with everyone and keep track of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. Sometimes we’d find ourselves sitting at dinner trying to remember the pub we ate at just two days ago, and couldn’t! Or we’d try to recall specific details about sites we’d visited. It’s amazing how fast the details fade away.

None of us really wanted to use social media for this. We wanted to share amongst ourselves, and maybe with a few specific people, but not the world. We tried several approaches, but nothing was exactly what we wanted. So, this app was born.

What It Does

The app is basically a journal, or diary, of your trips. Each trip can be completely private, or you can add people you’re traveling with that then can also contribute notes and photos. Every member of the trip shares the same trip journal, so they all see the same entries. You can add view-only members if you want others to follow along with you.

While it is about sharing, it is specifically not social media. It’s completely private. It’s your data and you decide who to share with. Only members of the trip that you’ve added have access. There is no account to create and no email address to provide, as the app uses iCloud. There are no ads, there is no data mining, and there are no third parties involved.

The app is meant to be simple and not overloaded with features, but at the same time rich enough to be a great way to keep track of your shared memories.

Here are a couple screen shots of the app:

Want To Help?

Now that I’m getting back to it, I want to add more users to help make the app great. I’m not quite ready for the next round of testing, as I have a few things I need to fix and some features to implement, but I will be soon.

The app is iOS only and works well on both iPhone and iPad. If you’re interested in helping test, let me know through my Contact page or the comments below. I’ll reach out with information about it.

Staying the Course?

I retired a few years ago and I guess I am still finding my way. Don’t get me wrong, I love not having a regular job and do not want to go back to that. But this changing of focus between writing words and writing code is a bit much after having a single focus for so much of my life. I plan to stay the course, at least until my app is finished. I’m excited to be here and I’m glad to share the journey with you.

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