Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A year almost without words

The holiday season has made me come to terms that the dry cleaner across the street has closed. For the years that I was in banking I would have a shirt rotation where half of my shirts were stored at the cleaners while the other half waited in my closet. There was some management to make sure that there was enough fancy and conservative shirts were in each rotation, and as the seasons shifted sweaters were added to one or the other.

My current gig doesn't require dressy shirts; the attire is programmer casual instead of business. It was a strange shift to dress more casually to work much harder, because when it is just you and another guy working on a project how you look to each other isn't as important. (Granted we are such nerds that we have a hard time remember who brought in which jacket).

The work itself has been great. After two early iphone projects which I am chalking off as a learning experience (and was compensated as such) we settled into pairwise programming. The two of us stare at the same computer screen as he types and I try to provide counter point. 

What began as playing around with stereo configuration protocols - and most of our work feels closer to playing with legos than worrying about third quarter results - and continued by a general progression of feature creep became an iPhone application that lets you play radio from streams around the world. 

Our initial most popular stream was from Hong Kong, and in the past week I have worked on ones from Greece, Canada, England and Denmark. Half of those I have no idea what they are saying, but to hear that chatter and realize that you are building something that lets someone connect to the voices of their home is a good thing. People don't need to know the traffic a half a world away, but to be reminded that the traffic is still their brings a sense of closeness.

I like to think that right now I am in the nostalgia business.

As for the work between listening to the world It isn't a relationship of equals - he is significantly brighter than I am. But what I have learned is that I am a good Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. It is strange place to find yourself in sidekick status, but I guess I have gotten to that point that is better to team up with the right person and going interesting places than wondering brilliantly, but aimlessly in the dark.

I wonder what my shirt think of this. They spend half their life time in the dark of my closet and the other half in the bright, but chemically smelly world of the dry cleaners. Which do they consider home?

I hit an odometer change this year, a marking that half of the rotation is over. It is a tough marker to pass while realizing that half might now be over.

But the other side of that is that my second half could be brighter than the years that came before it, that this half could be the better rotation. It has started as such.