I'm trying to convince myself that it's all good and that I'm a good programmer but it's hard when it seems like just about everything that I do isn't working.
Yesterday I met with the woman who helped give birth to my niece a few months ago. We're working it out so part of the cost of the at-home water birth is taken out in trade for upgrading her two websites to concrete 5. She has two businesses, both have websites. One of them is a full website with content and navigation and everything that you would expect in a normal website, the other one was just a single page with a picture and a title. I was supposed to make them both concrete 5 and then add a blog and gallery. Simple enough.
I still managed to get it wrong. As we were going through the training on the website she pointed out that it was the single page website that needed to have the blog and the gallery. I put it on the site that actually had content and layout. I'm not even sure how well I'm going to be able to create a website for her out of the single page website, I am not really a graphic designer so I don't really have the skills to bring something to life completely out of thin air.
I told her it would probably be several weeks before I could even get back to it with everything else that's going on. There's still a lot more work that I think needs to be done for the Occupy site and a ton of bug fixes and other things where the existing concrete 5 tools aren't good enough for Grease Rag so I have to build new tools. The comments I think are the next one on GR. There isn't a good tool for bulk approving of comments. I already had to rewrite the advanced comment block to even really get good comments so it's just more work that I didn't finish completely or good enough on that site, kind of like the import not fixing internal links. Then I have to figure out how to clear the cache on publish of new blog posts because the site was displaying outdated information on publish. So many things on that site that I see as wrong and horrible. Low tried to convince me that it's awesome and she loves it but all I can see is what's broken.
I guess that's typical of me. It infects all aspects of my life. I can only see the things that aren't working in any situation. I'm never happy with what is, I'm always trying to 'fix' something. It's why I'm never happy, it's why nobody is ever going to want to be with me.
After the training I went to Icarus which was good. It had been a month since I'd gone which wasn't good. Turns out it wasn't just me, pretty much everyone there was either there for the first time or hadn't been there in 3 weeks or more. We didn't really come up with a theme from check ins so we went to the notebook and came up with a topic from earlier suggested topics. The one we went with was "Life Dreams and the Obstacles to Achieving Them." I actually felt like I had something to talk about this time and opened up more than I usually do which is good. I was even pretty honest about how shitty my outlook has been in my check in, for some reason I don't always share what's really going on with me completely. I guess it has to do with everyone else having problems that are much more related to chemical issues and my issues are all based on social issues. Feelings of self worth and lack of meaningful relationships. It doesn't seem important compared to what other people are sharing so I push it down and don't really get the help that I probably could from the group.
Of course for life dreams I talked about bikelove.org because that's really the only dream that I have. Everything else that I have for a dream for the future kind of hinges around that happening and working. There still isn't anything else that I really want to do, that I really have any desire to do. The obstacle to it is the fact that it's so dangerous to me, so easy to just get completely focused in it and lose site of everything else, an it's not something that I can really do in any kind of a half-assed way. Everything else I think needs to change in the world starts out with people first switching over to bicycles, I see them as a gateway drug to a lot of other social change. It changes how you see your world, how you interact with your city and it's other inhabitants. It changes what you think of as priorities. It makes you healthier. I think if we could just start converting every city over to cycling cities we'd see a lot of other positive change all around the rest of the country.
There was one other person who also had a life dream of being a computer programmer but it turned out that it actually made them give up on having life dreams at all. They went to school for it and then got a job out of school. The problem was that they couldn't handle sitting at a desk all day, they were far too manic when around other people like that. So they would dance in their chair while they were working and be rocking out at the keyboard, then would suddenly just jump up and run out of the building for no real reason. I remember doing similar things when I was working in the print shops and unmedicated. It was an issue but never enough that I lost a job over it, or where I thought that I should find some other career that involved not doing things on the computer. I thought it was interesting how we could have two such different reactions to similar stimuli.
I tried out my new note taking application for the meeting too. Nobody really had anything that they wanted to record so all we kept was the meeting topic and suggested future topics. I think it will take a bit to get people used to using it. Of course with the way I'm feeling about all my projects right now I'm sure that the thing will end up being useless and quickly abandoned. Hopefully that's proved wrong by time, there's no way for me to know right now. Trying to keep that in mind.
Still, I can't just give up. This is what I chose to do, now I have to finish it. So I'm still working on stuff like the Occupy website. Thankfully things on that one seemed to flow together quite quickly. I used Meld diff viewer to do directory comparisons on the packages directory and merged in all of the bug fixes from Grease Rag into Occupy without much difficulty. I honestly don't know how I used to write code without version control and difference highlighting in my IDE. It's so useful to see what's changed since the last revert or to use tools like diff to merge changes from two different versions of the code.
Occupy is getting closer, I think pretty much all of the code is done so today's project is to make how-to videos on doing the basics of the site. Registering, logging in, associating your account with facebook and twitter. That will be one video. Another will be on posting blog posts. Probably one on using the forums too. I'm not sure what else is really needed. I already wrote the first blog post over there, talking about what the site is and how I want for it to function. Again, I feel like it's a great dream but the reality will never happen. Just because it's something that I'm working on and I'm doing it all by myself without any help from other people. So that means that there will be things lacking in the design and function and that could mean that people don't want to use the platform. Or maybe people just won't be politically motivated and they won't use the site because of that. That's always a possibility too.
The other organizers from Occupy all gave really positive feedback but that's without having actually tried to use it for doing anything so I'm not really taking it as reliable feedback yet. The proof is in once it's being used by lots of people, does it work then?
So that's where I'm at today. Feeling like I shouldn't be taking on projects that are full websites from start to finish. I just turned one down that someone contacted me about. They needed just a pretty simple website but they also needed the design. I can't really do design. Originally I wanted to go to school for design, I thought I was mostly going to be a graphic artist. But along the way what I ended up learning was the development side of it not the design side of it. I've been thinking a lot lately about my limitations as a programmer and how to improve. I've been thinking of going back to school but I'm really not sure how I can swing that. I'm also not sure if I want to go to school for the design side of things or for the code side of things or maybe for both.
The design side of things makes sense if I want to start going after a larger market, taking on projects that are a full website. That would also mean a lot more interaction with the end client than what I have now, so it might not really be a good idea for me. I'm not really the best when it comes to client interaction, I'm far too much of a pessimist and I say things that make people doubt my abilities. As always I'm seeing what my limitations are and so my first instinct is to say what can't be done rather than to just say it's fine and then figure it out after. Even if I'm not sure if it can be done or not I'm going to say that and be honest which isn't always the best move in business.
The code end of things could help me out a lot though. I'm decent as a programmer but there are a lot of aspects of object oriented coding that I don't totally get that I could probably use some instruction on. It would also be nice to learn something more powerful than PHP too, though I don't know how valid that idea is. A whole lot of websites run on PHP, it can be a really solid platform. I've heard that PHP is used on most of the larger porn sites so that's saying something, these are huge sites that have to serve tons and tons of data really quickly and they use PHP and not Java or Ruby or something else. So maybe PHP is good enough.
I think it would be good enough for running bikelove.org because I really want to use concrete 5 for it. I think it's the right platform for the type of website I want to build, with thousands of small sites based on the same code running on subdomains. It's pretty much designed exactly for that. There's a lot that it doesn't have that will need to be written but the overall platform is really solid for doing just this. The user interface is simple and makes sense to almost anyone that would be updating the platform. It's extensible and open source. It's just the best thing to use.
But even as a fairly skilled concrete 5 developer I know that it's a bigger project than what I can build alone. I'm going to need other developers working with me, I'm going to need to hire graphic designers and project managers and build a lot of infrastructure just for the project. That part of it I really don't know how to do either. So maybe in going back to school what I should be studying is more business administration and project management. If I can ever get to the point I can go back to school for anything.
I guess that's the biggest obstacle I have to doing bikelove. It's myself, I'm not a good enough anything to pull off what I need to do in order to make it work. It's a great idea but as long as it's just my idea it will never work.
Anyway, I should probably eat something and then get started on making how to videos for the Occupy NDP site.