Knocking the Dust Off This Thing

Wow, has it really been that long since I posted anything to my own site? I guess I need to knock the dust off this thing and get going again. Despite this site going dark around October last year, I've been quite busy and have a lot going on. Let me see if I can catch you all up.

What happened in October

I knew I had been slacking at writing and posting here, but I only recently noticed that it was in early October that I last posted. Seeing the month hits me a bit hard actually now that I notice it. In October of last year, my mom was admitted to the hospital for complications with COPD. She did return home in late October, but in late November, the day after Thanksgiving actually, she passed away.

I had made peace with the fact that her death was coming awhile ago. My mom had been really sick for a few years. But still, even with it not being unexpected, loosing a parent hits you pretty squarely in the face. Needless to say, the end of last year and first of this year were up-ended as I dealt with my mom's passing. I'm generally okay emotionally about it all now, though sadness does hit me every now and then when I least expect it. There is still a lot of stuff to do with my mom's passing -- cleaning out her house, arrangements with her estate, and on and on it goes. I expect to be working at these sorts of things for the next serveral months.

Playing Games as Therapy

Consequently, I started playing a lot of games in my free time. I hesitate to write that actually. There's still a lot of misconceptions about online games, even among my fellow geeks. So I worry that comes off as "oh, he checked out of reality and did nothing but game." That's actually not what I mean.

I've been a gamer forever, and a bit of an MMO enthusiast, even if I never could find one MMO that perfectly suited me. I've often felt games were becoming something like my generation's way to get out and play golf with work friends, or a way to unwind that still engages the mind in usueful ways. You really should read Reality is Broken from Jane McGonigal if these ideas interest you. She says it much better than I can. But, more to the point, it's not as if spending time in game worlds is anything new to me. I've done this for awhile, and have always been an MMO/virtual world enthusiast.

The difference in the past, though, is that I always mixed this personal interest with proffessional interests -- finding ways to make work more gameful, teasing out where the web and gaming intersect, always looking for some connection there, etc. I had been playing DC Universe Online for a few months before my mom died, and once she past, I thought, what the heck, I'll just play only to play and forget about how this stuff connects with any technical interest I have.

My day to day work at Canonical has remained unaffected, but I, at least until very recently, abandoned all personal project hacking. I just played games in the evening and didn't worry about trying to be productive with every waking moment of my life. It's been quite theraputic and rewarding for its own sake.

Everything Comes Full Circle

It's odd how these things come back around, though. Now that I've had some time away from personal hacking, I'm starting to again see the value of doing something for its own sake, not for how it might intersect with my career. Feels a bit like when I first got into open source development. Just building stuff because I enjoy doing it and enjoy being able to do it for others.

Now I feel recharged to take on some personal projects again, and have been doing so since early February. Some of it is not coding at all. I'm doing stuff in games I never thought I would do. Like managing my own DCUO league, Exobyte Titans. I'm also coding, too, working on a personal web project related to DCUO, buidling a website that will be an LFG Tool for DCUO, since the game is so completly lacking in a decent LFG tool.

I'm also using the LFG tool site as a chance to experiement more with things like JuJu and deploying personal projects to the cloud. I'll write more about that as I get closer to deploying this new site.

Work As A Constant

Through everything happening recently, my regular, daily work at Canonical has been a constant for me. Something to count on, somthing familar. There's a lot of cool stuff going on around Ubuntu and the cloud, and it's an exciting time to be working at Canonical. The Launchpad team is near some of the action, with some new projects our squads are working on.

I'll be celebrating 3 years at Canonical in April. It's been the best three years I've spent at any company. I sincerely mean that. Canonical suits me well, I believe in the mission of supporting the world's best free software platform, and I feel like I'm doing good work in turn for Canonical. I feel like I have a lot of good to do still and look forward to what the next 3 years bring.

Since it's been 3 years, I've gotten my laptop refresh, so I'm in the process of setting up a new System 76 laptop. It's a beast of a machine that will will make for some comfortable hacking, as well as be able to play about any game on the planet. (And for the curious, no, I don't use Windows to play games. I run games via wine, and oddly enough, I'm one of those guys who likes getting the game to run on Ubuntu natively, despite the pain sometimes.)

In fact, it's the new laptop that has led me to write this blog post. I'm upgrading the new machine to Precise as I type. I better get back to that machine now, to finish the upgrade and get back to work.

Posted by deryck on March 8, 2012


Dave Fenwick on March 19, 2012 at 1:23 p.m.

Funny thing, Derek. I did the same thing after somewhat burning out on code generation about 5 years ago. Recently I stopped playing games again and instead of destroying myself writing code I went back to school. It's been really refreshing.

I will say, though, that it was sure fun hacking around with Samba for the years we did it. I found it to be the most instructive "class" I've ever taken in my life.

Keep on posting. Someone's out here reading. :)

deryck on March 19, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.

Hi, Dave. Thanks for reading! :)

And yeah, I learned everything I know from other Samba devs. Was a great time indeed.

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