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The Grind

I love programming.  I have been coding since I was 8 years old.  I even went to school for it and got a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from a respectable university.  What did I do with all that coding knowledge and experience?  Well, I threw it away and started a career in Networking.

I started my career as a programmer but a need in the department for a Network Engineer arose and it forced me to transition to being a Cisco Network Engineer or lose my job.  Stability and money was big for me at the time so I decided to be a Network Engineer.  From that day on, I’ve hated my job. 

Over time, I grew to be good at Networking and maybe even came to like it a bit.  I can safely say that Networking is my best skill.  Unfortunately, it’s not what I love to do.  I still love programming but the reality is that I can make more money with my network skills than with my coding skills. 

I tried keeping my skills up.  I took an Enterprise Java programming course but I really didn’t want to be coding webpages.  During this time, the advent of Shockwave and Adobe Flash dawned on humanity and heralded the age of interactive websites.  I saw the potential with this type of media.  Not only can you make interactive websites but you can make games with these systems.  Unfortunately, I have such a low opinion on Flash because I found it to be infinitely slower than a JAVA Applet.  I never learned Flash and eventually decided to focus my skills on JAVA.

A friend of mine introduced me to Processing and finally I realized that I can make games with this elegant yet simple API.  I love Processing.  It makes sense.  Why re-make the JAVA language everytime you code?  Just organize your reusable code into libraries and simplify your process.

The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County – Interactive Art Project

With Processing, I created numerous miniature interactive graphical programs;  Anywhere from User Interface experiments, algorithmic art, to data visualization.  I got caught up with coding art-based programs and eventually got good at it.  Some of my work was even selected for publications and exhibits.  Heck, I even got interviewed twice by magazines.  A hotel in Scotland made my artwork one of its murals.  This gave me an endless source of joy and satisfaction because I loved doing it and I’m getting paid for it.  Unfortunately, what I made from these projects was not enough to compare to what I draw from my current job as a Cisco Certified Network Practitioner.

In 2007, I got an iPhone and in 2008 Steve Jobs decided to release upon the mortals of this plane the API to create iPhone apps.  This got me really excited!  I wanted to get into this because that means there is  potential for exposure for my art-based apps.  Unfortunately, I found that you had to learn Objective C to code for Apple.  I hate C/C++.  I didn’t do too well with them in my University courses.  Because of this fear, I didn’t jump on the app coding wagon immediately.

It was only when I started seeing the stories about the AppStore millionaires did I decide to finally hunker down and re-learn C/C++.  I want to be a millionaire and I think the App Store is the best way for me to go.

My first program was a decent interactive app called Tempvus.  It was decent and it was my first.  It did well as a FREE app and is doing decent as a PAID app.  It’s still my best seller.  I originally wanted to call it Tempus but someone beat me to that name so I re-christened it as Tempvus.  My second App was an app called Grow Your Own.  This gave me my second wave of success.  It reached the Top 20 Free Apps and stayed there for a while with about 8000+ downloads a day.  I wasn’t getting any money but it’s good publicity for my art endeavors.  This app is now a paid app and it gets anywhere from zero to four downloads a day.

Other apps followed, all of which wasn’t successful as the first two.  It’s not deterring me because I love the process of coding.  I come home from work everynight and spend time with the family(they come first).  Once 8:30 PM come, I fire up the laptop and launch Xcode and start coding. 

I breakup my coding sessions into small and achievable goals.  For example, on day one of a project, my goal would be to setup the xCode framework.  On day two, I would get the splash screen on.  On day 34, I would add GameCenter capabilities, etc.  This way I do not go to bed feeling I didn’t accomplish anything.  The downside to this technique is that it really takes me a long time to finish a project.  Gary Gravity!  took me about 3 or 4 months to write.  That’s too long for a simple app like that. 

A side-effect of the prolonged development time is that I do get burned-out when I’m coding.  My mind starts wandering and yearning for other projects.  That’s where I’m at right now.  The Maze game is progressing  well but right now I want to work on other things.   I just need a break from that project.  For now, I’m going to use this break to code a really fast and simple art app.  Let’s see how this goes.  Hopefully it will be done within a month.

Where am I going with this?  Well, I’m hoping that one of my future apps will be a modest hit or make me a small fortune.  Enough money to make me quit my job and do this fulltime.  Right now, it is just not feasible.  What I make from Apps really doesn’t compare with how I do as a network engineer.  Considering I’m literally just squeezing in 20 minutes of coding time a day, I think I might do ok as a full-time coder.   I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.  One of these days you would be holding one of my apps on your iPhone.  When that day comes, feel  free to say hi.

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