Christmas gift labels
I’ve done enough of a retrospective to call this project done.
- It turned out really well. My family liked the cards and stories, and they were curious and asked me questions about the project.
- I was able to reduce the scope of the work several times, which was one part of project management I wanted to practice.
- I found a new way to make the work fun: Listening to fitting soundscapes, especially paired with music. In this case it was usually Victorian Christmas music with the sound of a cabin with a fireplace and howling wind.
- For its relative importance, I spent way too long on it, 10-11 hours per week for a total of 75 hours.
- I should have iterated on the walking skeleton rather than dividing the work so much into task-related phases. That is, create a very simple but working prototype and then gradually add to it till I run out of time.
- I need to pick a medium rather than trying to tackle more than one, in this case text, audio, and images. The gift labels each year will always have some degree of visual presentation, but I need to pick extremely simple ones if the main point isn’t visual. The project could’ve been 20-30 hours shorter with a simpler design.
- I didn’t know how to organize my files, so they were more confusing and time-consuming to work with.
- I didn’t feel I had time to manage the project properly according to the book I was working from, and my adaptation of the process was kind of disorganized. Next I’m going to try adapting the methods of agile software development.
January was supposed to be Month of Tidying, but it really didn’t work out that way. I couldn’t get motivated, and I spent my time on other projects instead. But I want to keep my flow of projects moving, so instead of putting everything else off month after month till I can motivate myself to spend all my time on housekeeping, I’m going to give the tidying project background status. I’ll just try to do a little each day, or whenever I can get to it. Marie Kondo says not to do it that way, but tidying is apparently not giving me enough joy to focus on it now.
January has actually been Month of the Semantic Web. This falls under my conceptual modeling project. And Protégé, the software I’m learning for making Semantic Web models (called ontologies), covers a lot of the features I was imagining for a modeling tool I was thinking of creating. So instead of writing one from scratch, I can focus on the features I’d like to add in the form of plugins.
February will be Month of Software Development. My goals at this point are to summarize the software development reading I’ve been doing and maybe finish version 1 of my coding project generator. I might run out of time and need to put off the generator.
Conveniently, at work we’re starting to look at how we can adopt some of these development practices. So my personal and work projects will be aligned for a while.
To help us kick off the work project we’ll be using to test these methods, I’m reading another book in my software development list, User Story Mapping. It also turns out to apply to my conceptual modeling project, and it has a lot of overlap with the insights I was gaining last year about shaping a model through free-form internal and interpersonal dialogue.
I finished the last book of the the Mortal Engines Quartet, A Darkling Plain. Things that stood out to me about this series, which I loved:
- It’s a richly developed steampunk world without overly reveling in the genre. The world is a backdrop for the characters.
- The story balances action and character-oriented reflection. It’s a very human series. Even the not-quite-humans have personalities and issues to resolve.
- It’s really one long story, so don’t worry if the first book leaves you a little confused. The later books will pick up the threads.
- It spends a lot of time exploring questions of violence and competition on both individual and societal levels. Also questions of family and identity.
After that I had a little audiobook crisis where I didn’t know what to listen to next. I settled on one of my old Audible purchases, Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. I discovered him long ago when he was a popular adventure game creator. Then he became a popular video game critic, and now I guess he’s a popular novelist. He has the type of cynical wit I’m used to from other British authors like Terry Pratchett and Charles Stross. I guess I’d consider the book light satire. It wasn’t as much a biting commentary on society as it was a parody of various kinds of people combined with an earnest point about life.