// The Comment #6: The Side Project

The Comment is a weekly digest of the stuff that grabbed my attention or occupied some part my mind during the past week. Normally, it’ll be one thing that’s really been on my mind, followed by a handful of things that I found interesting. The Comment will be published each Monday at 10:30AM EST. 

Thanks for reading.

## The Side Project

I’ve been in the software industry, as a professional since my first internship at Bayer CropScience in 2003 (thanks Inroads!). I wrote test cases and did some automated testing for the next 3 summers. My side project was a Java Swing (remember that) GPA calculator and college. My next side project, somewhere between college graduation and Sony Ericsson was a Windows Mobile app, Speeed Reader. Speeed Reader was a Google Reader app for Windows Mobile, and also my first mobile app. A few mobile app side projects and few layoffs later, I started as an Android developer for a healthcare and conference app agency in Durham. After a 3 year stint in the digital marketing automation space, some part-time mobile contract work…and another side project, PremoFM: a podcast app for Android, I found myself back in mobile in a bigger way. Fast forward to today and I work on RadioPublic’s Android app.  Most of my significant learning and career progressions, started out as little ideas and curiosities that became side projects. Side projects allow you to exercise your creativity, while doing some learning that you would not normally get in a work setting. Finally, side projects can grow into significant things like job opportunities or even provide you the ability to work for yourself.

Side projects are great ways to get some practical hands on experience. When I graduated, it definitely wasn’t my intention to become a mobile app developer. I started out just learning some C# because as an NC State student, access to Visual Studio and the .NET technologies were free! I had a Windows Mobile device and the ability to tinker around, so I thought to myself, “why not?” I started out with the goal of gaining more general programming experience and soon found myself building real things like Speeed Reader, a Google Reader client for Windows Mobile. Over the next few years, I built things for mobile, web, and on the server. I learned new things like, building an API with Node, building MVC webapps with PHP, and SQL. Experience with all of these technologies not only made me a more well rounded engineer with a ton of different perspective’s but also critical to building the skills that enable quick and productive learning.

The wrap things up, if you see a thing you want to eventually do, don’t feel the need to wait for permission. Just do it. This applies to plenty of things, besides building software. The barrier to entry to a lot of opportunities is the friction it takes to do a Google search.

// Motivation

James Clear dropping a few words about motivation for your Monday morning:

If you only work when you feel motivated, then you’ll never be consistent enough to become a pro. But if you build small routines and patterns that help you overcome the daily battles, then you’ll continue the slow march towards greatness even when it gets tough.

// Dear Bitcoin, it wasn’t supposed to be this way

Bitcoin’s inexplicable volatility and price surge has gone mainstream and it has made a lot of people rich. Weirdly enough, Bitcoin is more popular in the mainstream as an investment vehicle instead of the decentralized digital currency it was originally intended to be (it still is). Adrienne Jeffries writing at The Outline:

On Thursday, the price of Bitcoin fluctuated by thousands of dollars in a 24-hour period. The Coinbase app — which lets you buy and sell cryptocurrencies, and is the number two free app in the App Store as of this writing — started freezing and throwing errors, which the company said was due to high traffic. At one point, I tested the app by trying to sell some of my (very small) amount of Bitcoin, and the app simply buckled. “Bitcoin sales are temporarily disabled,” it said in an error message.

This is not how Bitcoin was supposed to work.

// In rotation: The Gerrymandering Project at FiveThirtyEight Politics

Galen Druke kicks off his 6 part audio documentary diving into gerrymandering and it’s effects on politics in the US. Definitely worthy of a listen if you are even remotely into politics.

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