My First Week

The first week of my Sabbatical is over, and I’m still feeling pretty good. While this was a short week, it was a really busy one, and I think I’m already just a tiny bit wiser for the experience. The two things I learned so far are how amazing it feels to determine your own schedule, and that I need to defend my time even more then before.

A typical day looks something like this:

6:15am - awake, coffee, news, email, yoga / physical therapy exercises
7:00 - focus session, 2hrs learning new tech, 2hrs uninterrupted coding time
11:00 - exercise, generally a run or bike ride
11:45 - shower, dress, meet up with a friend or acquaintance for lunch
1:30 - afternoon focus session at a coffee shop (more planning and writing then coding)
4:00 - home, cooking, email
Evening - writing and planning update for the rest of the week

The big difference now is that I have time to think, time to go deep on my projects/ planning, and I can go that extra mile on what I think is really important. I don’t miss the Microsoft culture of too many projects, too little time, and ship ship ship without making sure we’re really building on our learnings and past investments.

The other thing I’ve learned so far is that no matter what I tell my friends and family many still largely think I’m just unemployed and have tons of free time to do random chores. I’ve really needed to double down into my calendar to make sure that I’m making all the important investments before I commit to helping a buddy move their furniture, or something like that.

Speaking of calendars, one of the things I wasn’t quite prepared for was for Exchange to disappear. That has been my oracle for schedule and contact information for over a decade. I researched a bunch of offerings, including hosted Exchange and Office 365, but I ended up going with Google. In 2 hours I had a new domain name, website, email and calendar branded with my holding company and syncing to all of my (many) devices, all for free. While I do miss Outlook a little, it is pretty awesome to see how Google’s office can be made better through integration with their services. For example, I had a meeting in Redmond on Friday, and Google parsed the location of the meeting and checked their own traffic report to pop up their own alert 25 minutes ahead of the meeting (instead of the 15 min alert I had set) telling me I needed to leave early because of traffic. Awesome.

Progress Report

Baron Blog Engine 1.0 Released - I finished my first Ruby project and posted it to GitHub. It is a really simple blog engine that gave me a good excuse to learn some new technology: Ruby, Heroku, Test Driven-Development and a little bit more about the HTML5 standard. There are a laundry list of additional features I’ll continue to add in my spare time over the next couple months. Eventually, I’d like this to be a replacement for Wordpress amongst developers.

Crowd-Sourced Design Test Tool - I’m about 15% through this project. I expect to have a basic blog and website stood up at this coming week, where I can start posting some background for the project and some of my early test results. I’ve been running a few experiments on Mechanical Turk to better understand the audience, and also a bit of market analysis. I expect to have a MVP available by April 15th (1 month dev time), and then spend the next 30 days evangelizing and refining before starting on my second project, the iOS Calendar App.

I know that things won’t stay at this leisurely pace for ever, but I’m determined to enjoy it while it lasts.

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