Steph wrote a while back that she was sad to see summer going. For me, especially the way this summer has gone, I can’t agree. Yes, I’ll definitely miss the Saints games. I’ll miss the nice days, but for me, this is the time of year when I’m looking ahead. I’m getting closer to finishing up the software I’ve been working on all summer long. I may actually even get to take a real vacation in a month or two. Plus, with the advent of cooler evenings, I’m actually able to open the windows at home and avoid the noise of the air-conditioner and fans once in a while. And I’ve got a hope that with cooler weather, a break in the work (at least temporarily), and no Saints games taking up my my evenings, I’ll find more time to get out and ride my trike.
And it’s been this way since I started my business. I’ve always tried to take on less work over the summers, but every year but one I’ve been working on a project that was originally supposed to be done in May, and ended up finishing around September. It’s a chronic problem in the software field, but being an outsider on these projects, I wonder why companies don’t bite off smaller chunks so they can let their employees take some time off during the summer when the ankle-biters are home from school, and families want to take vacations.
And just for completeness’ sake, I should note that the one summer I had off, I was working on a project that was running late, and when hit with completely unreasonable demands on my time in May, I left the project, rather than ruin my summer (there was more to it than that, but the short version is accurate enough for the web). I’d have a perfect record if I hadn’t just walked away that one time.
But there seems to be some weird (and fairly neurotic, when you look at the results) optimism in the software business. Everything’s going to go completely smoothly, all the developers will stay healthy, nobody will quit or get burned out, and all the external pieces that the software depends on will be on time, too. What’s that saying?
Insanity is when you continue to do the same thing and expect the results to change. Well, that describes most of the companies I’ve worked for to a tee. Most of them are even willing to admit that it’s a problem, but they don’t seem to ever want to take any steps to change how they do things, so it’s not really a surprise when next year’s release is late, too.
And so, here it is, coming up on autumn again, and I find myself thinking about trying to develop some retail software of my own. I’ve got a couple ideas that I think are pretty good and that I think I could probably complete, but I don’t have the knowledge of how to market and distribute the software in order to make a decent profit on it. Or maybe I do–I haven’t tried it, so I guess I can’t say for sure, but I think I’m missing enough pieces that I’d stand a high chance of failure. But maybe I’ve got it wrong. I hear that this internet thing makes software distribution easier. I do know a number of other folks who are managing to make a living selling retail software, and I bet at least one of them would be willing to help out. Maybe this is the year where I try something different so I can maybe break the cycle of insanity I find myself in about this time every year. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to prove to myself that the software business doesn’t have to be as messed up as it seems to be.
But first I’ve got to finish what I’m working on and get past summer.