Where Am I?

Once again after getting fired up to write a slew of blog posts, I’ve disappeared off the face of the earth. Where did I go?

Well, it’s been an exciting year-or-so. Semester 2 of 2012 was very busy, and myself and various teams finished off various assignments for university. The large team software project (for which we were using agent-oriented programming and the Prometheus design methodology) went very well, and we won the award for best large team project at our expo night (out of three teams, but still).

Then I got to have a short break over Summer, but somehow snuck into being accepted for an internship with Google, and since Sydney was full, I got upgraded to the Googleplex in Mountain View! This is now without a doubt the highlight of my resume, and it was an enormously educational experience, especially since it was also my first ‘real’ overseas trip (that is, excluding New Zealand). I was working on upgrading an existing internal web application, which was definitely relevant to my interests, but unfortunately I can’t show anything off.

One of the most valuable things I learnt from working at Google is that I don’t want to work at Google. Yet. Without a doubt, it lives up to all the amazing stories you’ve heard and it’s perhaps as close to corporate paradise as a software developer will find, but I’m not at a point in my career that I want a corporate paradise. Despite all the free food and events and amazing people, I spent most of my time sitting at a desk writing code for other people. I learnt that I want to write code for myself; that I want to work on projects that are of total personal interest to me, and I want to direct their development.

Basically, I want to run a startup. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I’ve been watching Steve Blank’s How to Build a Startup course on Udacity, and it feels right. It feels like the kind of thing I want to do, and sits outside my comfort zone in the right way. I’m at a stage of my life that is ideal for taking this kind of risk: I have no job commitments, no family dependents, enough money to survive on, and most importantly, a project at uni with a good team that is starting to get off the ground, and the project owner is very keen to spin it off for commercialisation. I think it has real potential, so I’ll be working full-time next semester to build out the foundations a little more funded by a convenient government grant. It will be at least a year before it’s ready for sale, but I’m cautiously optimistic, and it deserves at least six months (of paid work!) to give it a go.

On top of that, I’m planning on reviving Buffex from its slumber on the side. This has come about for two reasons: I’ve been playing with Google’s Dart language and I’m liking it a lot; and a friend found the holy grail of open financial data sets on Quandl. That gives me everything I need, and it’s already coming along quite nicely. My goal is to launch an MVP for that in about 3 months of part-time work, though I haven’t done any scheduling yet, and that’s probably infeasibly aggressive. But I’ll definitely try to keep a record of the development lifecycle, as this is as likely as ever to be my first real self-driven product to come to market (with a business plan, anyway).

So I should be back on the air, but I won’t make any silly promises. I’m blogging because I know it’s a good habit to express one’s life story somewhere, even if nobody reads it. If nothing else, I’ll be back to read it in 50 years. Hopefully I didn’t let you down, future-me!

Hello Again, World!

Done! Exams are done! University is done! It’s all over! I’m FREE!

Now I can finally get to work. There’s so much to do! I suspect I’ll be a little bit giddy around here for a week or so, since I’ve been looking forward to fixing this place up for some time now. So welcome everyone, and if it looks like a bit of a ghost town, look again in a week. Below is a list of the things I’ve got planned for the next few months:

  • Write some more posts about things!
  • Fix outstanding pim2smsbr bugs (especially the character conversion errors/warnings)
  • Move piemaster.net from WordPress to Drupal, and go nuts with customisation
  • Particularly get a support forum integrated with the site. WordPress kinda sucks at this. The default Drupal forum is a bit ugly, but Drupal is a programmer’s framework. It gets the job done right.
  • Clean up all the site content
  • Release the new version of Forgbook that my team and I developed as a university project (then extend it to the moon)
  • Write up some more detailed information about the other projects I have lined up
  • Actually start on some of those projects!
  • Revisit Jario and clean it up a bit (related to one such unannounced project)
  • Just mess around and experiment with things!

My future is currently undecided. Whatever I choose to do I have a few months off now to play around with proper, focused software development, and after that I will either find my way back to uni to take a Masters of Software Engineering, or take a bit of a break and keep exploring the wonderful world of software.

I kind of want to build a startup out of one of these ideas, just for the experience. I don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight, or even a thousandaire over a year, but developers live to have their work seen and used by others, and for that to happen that work has to be a tight, focused application that solves a problem and solves it well. I know I can do that given enough time, and I can only imagine what the journey will bring with it.

First however I will get out of bed and have a shower, then diagnose which part of my PC exploded (literally) a couple of weeks ago. Thank you all for your support, whether or not it was deliberate, but even just having people view the site definitely keeps me going. There’s so much to do, and I’m going to make it happen. I hope you can get some value out of what is to come. Cheers, and Happy World Toilet Day!

Back In The Saddle

With semester one of university now completed (after my final exam yesterday), I am once again free to kick on with development of the good ship Piemaster and all that sail in her. There’s so very much work to do and I’ve been looking forward to it for quite some time now, having played around with a few new technologies during semester.

One of the primary objectives I hope to complete is to start posting more regularly about interesting new things as I come across them, and retrospectives of my experiences as I have them. I will try even harder now to make time for these, despite having said that repeatedly before.

I’ve also started working on a new game (a simple Asteroids clone at first, then something more sophisticated) taking advantage of a beautiful new framework I discovered, which I will write more about later. I’m putting development of my productivity-type applications on hold for the holidays and diving headlong into game development, for a few reasons: it was (indirectly) the topic of a subject at uni last semester; it’s much easier to get feedback from myself and others; it can more easily be defined as “finished”; and I just really enjoy creating games, whether in my head, on paper or with a computer. There should be plenty to write about along the way.

So that’s enough for now, and I’ll expand on a few of these points in the near future. Welcome back, and I hope to be able to provide a few things of real value within the next 3 weeks.

Welcome To The New Piemaster

Hi! I’m Oliver Lade. You may remember me from such sites as http://piemaster.net/, my dump of Uni work, or a certain other site that no one that knows me seems to know about, despite it being by far the largest. It is the first of those, my old personal home page (more personal in that it was practice coding a web site from the ground up rather than the content on it), which is of most interest, since that is the site that is being shifted over here. “Here” refers to a new account with NearlyFreeSpeech.net, an eminently reasonable hosting provider that charges for usage, making it especially cheap for a small site such as this, so a big thanks to them.

As fun as the old Piemastery was, I simply don’t have the time to keep extending the primitive functionality, and I needed a site I could use easily. Why did I need such a thing? The reason is one I can’t discuss in detail right now because of the reason itself. Also because I don’t entirely know myself what that reason is. Ultimately, I plan to use this site for hosting various bits and pieces that I develop, but I also intend to make good use of the blogging strength of WordPress to get a few varieties of idea out of my head. I don’t expect anyone to read them, but I’m happy to be talking to myself, because then it just becomes a journal which is helpful enough in and of itself.

Some people may read some thoughts if I point hard enough, but at the very least, this will become my new staging ground for web development. The first item you will see is (a link to) (a properly-hosted) Forgbook (alpha) (working title), but more things great (hopefully) and small (definitely) will follow in its wake. Hopefully I can centralise the development coverage of these programs and applications with some project blogging, as well as clear my mind with some more personal content. How reality unfolds may well be a different story.

For now, it is the time for the sleeping. I’ll be back with more when there is more to be back with. There’s a lot of work to do around here, and I am honestly looking forward to all of it. See you when I see you.