So Now Your Hobby’s a Job and Other Random Thoughts

Back in the day, the web used to be my hobby. Programming started as a hobby very late in life as well. Now it pays the rent. I wont pretend and say it was purely for fun. I thought it would be not only cool to bring my web ideas to life as well as get paid to do it or even score a hit. Now that I’m fully in the heart of it, it kinda makes you think. What happens when your hobby becomes a job?

It’s really weird that I sit in an office with other people clacking away at a computer, getting toked up on gobs of coffee, while a bunch of other dudes get paid to do the same. It’s weird that the thing paying our rent isn’t much more than a popular web site. The program powering it is nothing more than a collection of words that follow a certain logical structure that can be translated into pictures and machine instructions that users can interact with and keep them coming back. I often think it’s awesome that I can do almost the exact same thing I was doing at home on my own time getting paid.

The benefit of working is that there’s a lot more at stake. When I came up against a difficult problem before, I’d lie down and think about it. Nine times out of ten I’d fall into a nap and just clack away on my own sweet time. Now, I don’t have that luxury so I just keep typing, keep experimenting, keep banging my head against the wall until I come up with a solution or get bloodied up enough to think that I have at least made some progress.

There’s a lot of opportunity for growth their but it comes at a price. I have to take better care of myself, be more aware. I suppose that’s a post for another day or maybe like an hour later. It’s definitely changed the way I look at the game. To tell you the truth I don’t see all that much excitement in the web. I think the world agrees.

Microsoft making a bid for Yahoo! just drives home how much of a solid and ultimately dead industry traditional IT is. Apple as a company is starting to scare me. They’re much more dangerous than Microsoft ever was in their prime because Microsoft was ultimately tied to the crappy products they wrote, just look at Vista. Their code base is so full of holes that there’s no way to keep the momentum save a good solid rewrite and you know what a disaster that is going to be. It took OS X a good decade before it became what it is in terms of solidity and performance but look at the mess Apple is cleaning up after Leopard (10.5.2 will finally be the release that should have been if there are no further issues).

Apple scares me because they have all the technology in place to do all the things like IBM, Sony, Microsoft, and even Yahoo at one point tried to do and fail. They’ve got the whole spectrum of consumer experience under control with everything from music, movies, to computers. They’ve got it all wrapped up in one nice package that’ll lock you in to their world and here’s the scary part, we’re all thankful for it (at least those of us that buy their stuff). It’s only a matter of time before they get over ambitious and get bashed. Jobs is not a changed man, he’s just older and still plotting his next move. He’s still the same control freak with a little more new age sprinkle and a brush with death.

It’s the only company that can really deliver a total experience that can wow the consumer while giving advanced users access to some amazing technology (at least when Apple engineers aren’t busy screwing things up with various “hot fixes” to keep prying paws out). All the other software companies were busy leveraging closed source or building third-rate software products in house that fail to deliver on any level. I hate to admit it but playing with apple products like the iPod Touch is like holding the future in my hands right now. They just kill the competition. I can watch a movie on my MacBook, grab my iPod Touch and pick up exactly where I left the movie without fiddling with a thing.

Maybe it’s paranoia but I can guarantee you that I’ll be spending more and more time at the terminal, playing with the UNIX back end for my own personal growth and as insurance for some other day. I really wish Microsoft would just give up the ghost so some kind of UNIX collective can build an operating system to at least compete with Apple at a viable level. I guess I can dream.

Categories: web