Five things for 2012

2011, a look back

2011 was the end of a 5 year contract of an 560 m2 office space producing a revenue of almost 100.000 euro per year and costing me around 15.000 to 30.000 a year. After paying all my dues, that was a book I happily closed.

From one long term Freelancing contract from May 2010 until June 2011 at Reed Elsevier, I rolled into another for Ohra in September 2011. This crossed out my sabbatical / several plans I had for that second half of 2011, including:

  1. HotForestGreen – Finishing the framework for Real Time Systems based on earlier developments for the Roomware Socket Server
  2. Writing a book/dissertation on Design Patterns – (Almost, that is) Using the experience and acknowledging my need to really get into a deep understanding of Design Patterns, starting with the 23 as documented by the Gang of Four
  3. Giving some workshops on Design Patterns – Once the dissertation would be done: to test the quality of my work and see if I had succeeded on getting things right, clear and simple.
  4. Android, ARM powered boards and Interactive spaces – Using Android machines, low cost mini-computers running an ARM-CPU and several solutions like the IOIO board, Pololu Wixels. Arduino, XBee and simple electronics to build Interactive Spaces
  5. Research related to Interactive Screens – Including resistive Touch, Capacitive Touch and Surface Acoustic Wave. How usable are they in real life? Can you build touch-solutions which are low-cost, rugged and good enough quality to build into – for instance – tables at a cafe?

But with the crisis still overshadowing reality, I decided to say “yes” to that other gig: Ohra.

So: in August I started looking for options to have a temporal residence in the city of Arnhem, where the main office is and in the evening hours I continued and started prototyping on the hardware that is needed and used for Touch screens.

One of them being a “23 inch Android Touch screen” I hacked together in an evening based on a proof of concept made by someone else. While that Proof of Concept ran on a x86 processor, I decided to see if I could hack an existing Resistive Touch tablet to run on a big screen. The post made Hackaday and received over 3000 page views in the first days after that.

As my first contract with Ohra was until half of December, we planned a holiday for 3 weeks at the Canary Islands from half of December until the first week in Januari. And I planned to write my book / dissertation on Design Patterns in that period, or finish the HotForestGreen framework for first release.

In October I was approached for an interview on HotForestGreen by Postscapes. See this post-that-was-the-interview here. It also appeared on Postscapes. In November I was approached by an agent for a publishing house comparable to O’Reilly (but not O’Reilly, to be clear), to maybe write a book on Android and the Android ADK / Android Open Accessory Development kit.

In December and the first week of Janauri I wrote around 250 pages on Design Patters, Software Development and Refactoring: around 80% of the “dissertation” as I intended it to be.

2012, three pivotal personal projects

  1.  The Design Patterns and Refactoring eBook – If there is one place to plant my professional flag as a coder, it is this book. Apart from the self-study, the intent of this book is to offer a simple, practical and clear explanation of Design Patterns. If I succeed, the book will not only be valuable for me, but also for others in my field.
  2. HotForestGreen – HotForestGreen (see here) is the “internet of things” framework intended to make development of Real Time Systems really stupid simple.
  3. Android, ARM-devices, Touch screens: Interactive Spaces – All related and all related to the HotForestGreen framework. Writing code is nice, but being on the front of a new development that is going to be as big as the rise of Internet is even nicer. I intend – and have intended for the past 3 years – to be one of the new and relevant voices on this new thing: to break it open. To allow others to thrive and build businesses around it. To offer the tools and the experience. To give power to the people.

2012, five things to do (professionally)

Unfortunately the unstable financial period we called “crisis” in 2008, is expected to continue until 2013. Meaning that it will be still hard to get new gigs and that the payment per hour will be about 70% of the price levels in 2007 / 2008.

  1. Earning more money – The main goal is to continue repair the damages of the period 2006-2011. The goal is 8 months of full-time contracts and gigs. And so a lot of nice projects will have to wait even more for completion.
  2. Teaching Design Patterns and Refactoring – The goal with the book and the underlying experience is to give some courses. One place to do that is at one or more places where you enroll for one week and get a full-time crash-course into one subject. Design Patterns and Refactoring in my case.
  3. Finishing HotForestGreen – To me and what I intend to do in the future, HotForestGreen – my framework for Real Time Systems, including Interactive Spaces – is one of the most important parts going at this moment.
  4. Finding the right people to build the groundwork for the Interactive Spaces movement – Which includes cool people, nice people, cool and nice people, inspiration, brainstorms, inspiring brainwaves with cool and nice people, cool projects, working together, building commercial applications and commercial solutions, earning money, writing blog posts, prototyping, doing more prototyping, writing a lot more blog posts (and/or chapters for a book) earning more money and spreading the knowledge, tools and experience to the people at large
  5. Establishing a new basis for “home” – My life is becoming that of a traveling artist. I live in Italy, Arnhem, Amsterdam and wherever I have my laptop. “Home” has become a dynamic entity. This also means that whatever was taken for granted, is no longer that: including the spontaneous meeting with friends and taking part of new things and workshops, simply because I can. One possible part is to buy a house as a kind of solid anchor. Another is to re-invent myself as a professional. Where many commercial gigs at this point fix me to one place which is not always my first choice, the new thing is to make the places of my choice the places where I work, will work, will work together and earn my money and travel and work and live with the one I love. So that “home” will include places like New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, the Canary Islands, Los Angeles, Tokyo and wherever we want to be.

Some final notes

While one part of me likes to be part of the things happening at big events related to the web and other things, another part does not. “To get to meet Robert Scoble” (or any other famous person on the web) and “to do another Google” is simply a thing that is nice for others.

First: My thing is to create. I have ideas about how things can be different. And I like to make those things happen. Second: I lose my interest once things are done. There is no challenge for me in maintenance. Third is: I like to be with people and work with people who operate in that same field. The ones who invent. The ones that make it happen. Not to gain some short term fame, but because they love to build, to create, to change things that are there.

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2 comments

  1. Cool list 🙂

    Really looking forward to see and try HotForestGreen, I’m also experimenting with Android / IOIO / smart spaces / ambient displays / touch surfaces in my free time lately and would be great to have a nice framework to build on!

    I’ll be watching your blog, but if you need some alpha testing I’d be chuffed to help out, so do get in touch!

    1. Hi Daniel,
      Thanks for the offer. I hope to pick up coding the framework in May again.
      The base code has been written in C# and was to be ported to Java. Now, over 6 months later, I do not agree anymore with some decisions made. Including using C# for the code base.
      I am thinking of putting the C# code base online in the next month and provide the basic Server as is. Then to pick up new insights and old solutions and re-build the thing in Java, to run on Android.

      The main reason to focus on Android/Java is the increasing number of below 100 euro / dollar devices out there. Also the low power consumption (less than 5 Watt) is a big plus. Run a Java Socket Server on one or more and you are good to go!

      I will ping you when I have the main Client/Server Java code-base ready. It might be fun to do maybe some pair-programming at some time as well.

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