Josh

I'm a developer in Melbourne, Australia, and co-founder of Hello Code.

Published Wed 10 January 2018

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2017 personal review

Following on from the last two, here's a review of a recent year in which I existed. There's not a lot of progress here to reflect on, but hey, it was 2017, a year that will go down history books as being universally pretty terrible.

Things I'm proud of from this year

  • Belle is on board. Despite some big growth in income in early 2017, we still couldn't quite afford to pay Belle a full-time wage. She was very ready to quit her other commitments and start getting paid though, which is fair enough, so we moved to a smaller place in the sticks to cut down on rent, our biggest cost. I'm proud that this finally happened, the two of us just doing our thing and paying ourselves, many years after we started Hello Code and launched Exist. The moral of this story is that, if you work really hard for years, one of you earning a pittance and the other not earning anything at all, outliving a bunch of competitors and slowly growing your revenue, eventually you can be successful. Truly inspiring.
  • We launched custom tags for Exist. For many reasons I wasn't happy with my approach to building manual tracking into Exist, the big feature I'd been working on, but this simpler approach I came up with was more feasible. We launched it on the web platform and mobile clients mid-year, putting off the yearly survey for months so we could launch it first, and thankfully it turned out to be well-received.
  • We got a lot of media attention from Merlin Mann across a few of his podcasts. This brought a big bump in sign-ups and helped us grow. I can't take credit for this one specifically, but I guess we made it possible by making something worth talking about.
  • I started writing a language that compiles to Go. I called it Braid again, because apparently that's the one good name I have, and I made decent progress by the end of the year. There's a brief summary of the year on my dev blog.
  • I wrote two blog posts during the year, one about the physical keyboard on my phone, and one about my feelings on work and capitalism. I've continued to refine and better understand my anti-capitalism ideas, and writing that post was a help, even if I was just collecting other people's words.
  • I set up a few beta testers with their own roadmaps on Changemap, finally getting it into the hands of others. None of them have done a lot with it yet, but hey, progress.
  • I voted yes in our ridiculous, money-wasting, bigotry-enabling, not-even-a-real-plebiscite national postal survey on marriage equality. Thankfully the final result was resoundingly postive, and it is now legal for two adults of any gender to marry in Australia.
  • I spent more time being open about my values and doing my tiny part to raise awareness about everything happening, particularly in tech but also in the wider world, that is Just Not On. I still don't feel qualified enough to write about any of this (except that anti-work/capitalism roundup) but I spent a lot of time impotently retweeting articles against cryptocurrencies, the treatment of women in tech, fascists, pervasive surveillance, Uber and the "gig economy", Trump, DRM, tech monopolies, our government's treatment of asylum seekers (but really, most things they do), and a bunch of other things that made me angry. Mission accomplished. Also, as I am a white male, I didn't have a single person argue with me or threaten to dox me.
  • We grew Larder's paid user base and income somewhat. It still didn't receive a lot of marketing love, but we went from about 6 paid users to 41 during 2017. That's a huge increase if you look at it as a percentage, which I encourage you to do.

Goals from last year

Build our Hello Code income to the point where it can support Belle as well. This one will continue to be on the list until it happens. Maybe this is the year.

It was the year.

Plan some international travel. I doubt we'll actually be able to go anywhere this year, with my current meagre funds, but perhaps by the end of the year we'll have a trip and a budget planned for 2018.

Ahaha no.

More social interaction and/or more events. Even attending something like a talk or going to a meetup counts

😑😑😑 I did go to one talk about writing programming languages but it was not social and also I didn't learn anything. No stars.

Create and finish something unrelated to work. This could be code (I have a game idea I'd like to try out), but also making some music or drawing or painting something would be good.

I failed at making more music this year. I did start a new programming language, but it's not finished. It may not ever be.

Recommit to some kind of fasting/diet. I know this works when I do it properly, so I just need to find a way to stick to it.

This worked well during the cooler months but the few kilos of progress I made were quickly wiped out as it began to get hot again. I am bad at this 🤷‍

I'd like to organise or create something tangible that goes against the unceasing cycle of "working for a living" — in my case, making things and attempting to sell them to people. I resent having to sell things, and I don't want people to have to buy my things. Overcoming this could be as simple as making something open source, or purely to give away, or it could involve some more complicated arrangement.

Braid is going to be open-source, which sort of counts, but mostly I failed at even thinking of a good way to do this, let alone following through.

I did not feel very creative this year.

Things to do in 2018

  • Make more money so we don't have to live here any more please I've had enough
  • Continue to argue for the end of capitalism
  • Create more, in any medium, I'm not fussy
  • Lose more weight and work being marginally more active into my schedule

Media of 2017

In an effort to feel less bad about how much stuff I consume I'm going to keep this list shorter this year.

Music

Books

I continued re-reading Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea cycle this year and they were all fantastic and a great comfort to me.

The Brothers K was my only other five-star book, which I read aloud with Belle. Aside from all the baseball, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Film

I really liked Toni Erdmann, After the Storm, Victoria, and I, Daniel Blake.

Games

Here are some (mostly indie) games that were moving experiences: Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Rakuen, Far from Noise, The Lion's Song, What Remains of Edith Finch, Night in The Woods, OneShot, The Turing Test, Tacoma, Subsurface Circular.

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