I have spent the best part of the past 12 months learning how to code – programming fundamentals, Objective-C, iOS SDK, and Ruby on Rails. It’s been quite a slow process going through tutorials late at night while searching for the ‘killer app idea’ to work on.
It started as a result of failed attempts with outsourcing a simple iPhone app that never got completed. I had spent basically one year working with three different developers and still couldn’t get the app finished. Maybe that is a reflection on me more than anything else, but I thought I could have spent that time learning to code and do it myself with less frustration. Well, now I have been learning how to code, it probably wouldn’t have taken any less time based on the progress I have made with my education. But at least I would have control over the final result – both good and bad. Unfortunately, I am a detailed orientated person and typically get too caught up in the details (like spending hours just trying to move a CSS box by 2 pixels). And time is something I don’t have a lot of especially when working full-time and raising two young kids.
So to actually get something out in the market in my lifetime, I have decided to focus on my strengths. And my strength is more on the design side of things. I have a background in industrial design and my current job involves doing detailed design (wireframes & Axure prototypes) for the company’s web application. Even though I’m not a visual design specialist, it is more in line with my current experience and skills than programming is. I still have a strong interest in programming, but will learn it more out of interest and to improve my professional knowledge, than trying to become a proficient programmer.
Although I have decided to focus on front-end design, the months I have spent learning development has given me a better appreciation for what developers do and a greater understanding of how applications are developed. So the time wasn’t wasted and will be a good base for my development education in the future.
So I’ve decided that it’s better to get something out there in the market earlier that people can provide feedback on, rather than trying to do it all yourself and struggle to get it out.
For the last number of months I have been learning how to code – specifically Objective-C and iOS programming.
Initially I bought a highly regarded book on Objective-C (Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide) but found myself out of my depth as I was a complete newbie to programming. And then I discovered the Lynda.com online tutorials which were a godsend. I’m not usually big on video learning and have never really used them before, but I can understand now why it is so powerful. Concepts that take paragraphs or pages to explain can be demonstrated in a few seconds in video.
So I thought I should start with the fundamentals and did the fundamentals of programming course first. Then I got into the Objective-C videos. Christmas came and we moved house in January which meant all the learning was put on the backburner for a little while. Once I got over the move, I finally finished the Objective-C videos which meant I could actually start the iOS development videos which was all I wanted to do in the first place. It was also a bit slow going when watching videos late at night and trying not to fall asleep especially since it’s quite a passive activity.
I finished the Lynda.com iOS programming videos last week. But during the time I spent learning how to program iOS app, I discovered that the app I wanted to develop may now be obsolete. So it’s back to drawing board to think of another idea to work on. I originally wanted to learn mobile development as I know that is where a lot of new tech is headed. But I got a good reminder recently from CD Baby creator, Derek Sivers, that the important thing is to experiment faster and try different things to see what resonates with people.
I was just learning a technology (iOS development) rather than than trying to solve a problem or finding a need. It’ll be a shame if my next idea needs me to ‘pivot’ away from iOS, but it’d more of shame if I spent the next X number of months building something no one wants or needs. Instead of learning for learning sake, it’s time to create something and see if it makes a difference in people’s lives. If not, try something different until I find something that does.
I admit it.
This is not my first attempt at writing a blog. It’s not even my second or third. I’ve actually lost count of all the different domain names I bought for blogs that I was initially excited about writing. Some made it to the fourth or fifth post and were forgotten about until my domain name reminder notice came. Others never got out of the gate.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a great idea for a blog addressing a particular niche so you can gain readership and authority in that area. But after the initial excitement wears off and you realise that you weren’t really that interest in it, you can pretty much say goodbye to that embryo.
So how is this blog different. I’m not sure yet, but I’m trying to write about stuff that interests me and things that happen in my life. And who knows, maybe some other people may find it interesting or can relate to what I’m talking about.
And since it’s my life, I’ll be talking about my work, interests and experiences especially in the areas of design, business and technology. And I might mention every now and then those little things called kids that I have as well.
Hope you enjoy this journey as much I do.