Skip to main content

The Lure of the Dead Project


Dead projects can be a constant lure. When you put down a body of code work and call it either defunct or completed, its hard to avoid the feeling there is something more to do. Whether its work you’ve decided was complete, but later come back to in your mind with ideas of new features and improvements, or work you’ve walked away from intentionally or through neglect and feel a guilt to return to that you cannot shake, old projects have a way of pulling your attention back to them. This constant pull can be terrible for concentration and painful for motivation on new work when you feel this desire to sink your time into something you’ve already gotten away from. Maybe you stopped working on that project because there were simply more interesting things to do with your time, or it was moving in a direction that wasn’t as interesting for you. Maybe you just have too many projects going at once and needed to do the responsible thing as an adult and recognize when you and too much on your plate.

There are many reasons you might walk away from a project, and some times its healthy and helpful to identify that reason and be really clear with yourself when a project is truly finished, or just finished for you. It can be helpful to put an explicit “DONE” label on something, even if there are definitions by which it isn’t done, because you need to make yourself stick to those decisions about moving on to other projects.

I’ve tried to do better at this.

I’ve begun a series of posts where I do public post-mortem on my own projects, even if they are ones I hadn’t previously publicized. The goal here is two gold. First, I think its useful inside my own mind to really put together my thoughts at the end of a project and even long after and document what I learned from and through the project. But, secondly, that public announcement of not working on a project might be more valuable than the public declaration you make when you begin a project. I proclaim “I’m done with this. if you see me picking this up again, question my motives and question what I’m neglected to pick this back up."

Some times it just as simple as deleting a project from your machine, even if you keep a back up or a Github page for it. Make it harder to return to. If you really want to close that chapter in your life, maybe take the repository down if it isn’t maintained or if it never had other users anyway. In the most strict response to the urge to return you might find yourself deleting all traces of a project you once held dear.

A lot of these projects are done to scratch some personal itch, so get invested in an existing solution that scratches that same itch, even if it doesn’t quite get it. learn to appreciate tools for being just good enough. Get invested enough that you would be seriously determining to your workflow if you tried to leave that solution for your own half baked versions.

Fight the lure of the dead project, because you let it die for a reason.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Respect and Code Reviews

Code Reviews in a development team only function best, or possible at all, when everyone approaches them with respect. That’s something I’ve usually taken for granted because I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing developers who shine not just in their technical skills but in their interpersonal skills on a team. That isn’t always the case, so I’m going to put into words something that often exists just in assumptions.
You have to respect your code. This is first only because the nature and intent of code reviews are to safeguard the quality of your code, so even having code reviews demonstrates a baseline of respect for that code. But, maybe not everyone on the team has the same level of respect or entered a team with existing review traditions that they aren’t acquainted with.
There can be culture shock when you enter a team that’s really heavy on code reviews, but also if you enter a team or interact with a colleague who doesn’t share that level of respect for the process or…

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…

How To Care If BSD, MIT, or GPL Licenses Are Used

The two recent posts about some individuals' choice of GPL versus others' preference for BSD and MIT style licensing has caused a lot of debate and response. I've seen everything as an interesting combination of very important topics being taken far too seriously and far too personally. All involved need to take a few steps back.

For the uninitiated and as a clarifier for the initiated, we're dealing with (basically) three categories of licensing when someone releases software (and/or its code):
Closed Source. Easiest to explain, because you just get nothing.GPL. If you get the software, you get the source code, you get to change it, and anything you combine it with must be under the same terms.MIT and BSD. If you get the software, you might get the source code, you get to change it, and you have no obligations about anything else you combine it with.The situation gets stickier when we look at those combinations and the transitions between them.

Use GPL code with Closed S…