The new year – 5774. Just in time.

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me and my family.

This last year (5773), was filled with some amazing moments… and some terribly difficult ones.  With so many big events and changes on the horizon for the Lunduke clan, this turned out to be the perfect time for a little soul searching.  To think back on the previous year — the highs and lows, the victories and mistakes — to try to learn from them to make this new year (5774) a more excellent one.

This year we went down to a beach on Lake Washington for Tashlikh

Tashlikh is a pretty simple idea really — symbolically “casting off” your sins (aka “things you did that hurt other people that you are, hopefully, trying to make amends for”) by pulling bread crumbs out of your pocket and tossing them into a body of water.  It’s not a tradition all Jews practice — but it’s a nice tradition that encourages a bit of introspection.  Plus it makes for a fun afternoon.

The number of ducks that came out to greet us was pretty awesome.  An army of ducks, waiting patiently for their bread.  It seemed to be generally accepted that either the ducks simply knew it was Rosh Hashanah and were waiting for the yearly bread buffet to begin… or they were observant Jew-Ducks and they were there to mark the occasion with us.

AfterTashlikh2013-2The event was half “cast off your sins” and half “let’s feed the ducks a lot of stale bread”.  Either way the ducks weren’t objecting.

That’s a picture of my daughter, Josie, sucking on a honey straw after having exhausted daddies bread supply.  Which, I’ll be honest, consisted mostly of a flour tortilla — because we forgot to bring bread with us when we left the house… and there was a tortilla in the car already.

“Why was there a tortilla in the car?”

That’s, really, the wrong question.  A better question would be “Why isn’t there always a spare tortilla in every car?”.  A tortilla is a bit like a towel in that way.  Douglas Adams taught me the value of a towel.  Mexican restaurants taught me the value of a tortilla.  The two are linked in my mind.  I have no idea why.

Luckily there was a lot of old, stale bread to share among the families there.  By the end the ducks were content and, dare I say, bored of eating — and the kids were happy to have helped them get there.

Was a good day.  And a good start to a new year.

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Some sad, strange times.

Holy moly.  What a freaking weird week it’s been.  Hell.  The last 3+ weeks have just been… surreal.

Not just weird.  Hard.  Been a hard few weeks.

Side note: This is not a teaser for something.  Nor a lead-up to an announcement.  Nor an opinion piece about this or that.  It’s just been a really damned weird few weeks.  And I feel like expressing some of it for the simple sake of having it be expressed.  And, I realized, I don’t talk often about my personal life.  To be honest, I’m pretty sure very few of you are terribly interested.  But I’m thinking I’m going to write a bit more about that anyway.  Don’t feel any obligation to respond in any way.  Sometimes words simply need to be said.

We lost the man that was going to become my brother-in-law to a motorcycle accident a few weeks back.  Chris Wiebe. A truly great dude.  Hell.  This was a guy I deemed to be good enough for my sister.  That’s saying something.  Chris was sweet.  Kind.  Smart.  Humble.  And goofy as all heck.  Damned lovable.

Chris was the second brother-in-law that I’ve lost due to motorcycle accidents.  A few years back, my wife’s brother, Joe (another amazing young man that I was proud to call my brother), was lost riding his bike just a few blocks from my home.  Both were good, alert riders.

Both in their 20′s.  Just… too tragic to do justice in words (at least for me).  Both losses were difficult for me, to be sure.  But so much more difficult for my sister.  And my wife.  To see the heartache that they’ve had to endure… it’s too much.  But they pull through.  The women in my life are truly amazing.  Strong, powerful women.

I suppose there isn’t much else to say on any of that.  Needless to say I’m not the biggest fan of motorcycles at this point.  I have a few family members that cling to their motorcycles determinedly.  At some point they’re all probably going to get a stern talking to from me.  Which I don’t really think will effect any change… but I’ll probably do it anyway.  Perhaps just to make myself feel a bit better having expressed my concern.

I was going to write about a few other topics as well — about some various other (rather odd and rather surprising) events in my families life over the last few weeks… but I think I’ll just stop there.  Following the previous four paragraphs up with any other topic feels… cheap and out of place.  For now I’ll just leave it right where it is and talk about other topics another time.

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Procrastinating and Online Storage

I’ve been using DropBox for 207 Thousand years (give or take).  Over that time I have accumulated 17 jiggabytes of data.  And I am paying for it.

And, even worse, those jiggabytes are being copied to every single machine I own.

It’s a mess.  I’ve attempted to clean that bastard (that’s the short technical term for “that bastard of a backup drive that I can’t find a damned thing on”) about a dozen times [for those keeping track at home, that is the first number I have used that has any vague resemblance to reality whatsoever].  And, with each subsequent (failed) attempt to clean up and organize things, El Bastardo became simply more and more terrible.

It was a monster that I had created.  That this perversion of file structures existed within our world… this was my fault.

About this point I should probably mention that I had 18 kajilion other online drive/backup type accounts.  Ranging from Google Drive to a simple FTP site that I sometimes worked from.

You see, as each system became more unmanageable, I simply decided to try out a new service.  And the cycle continued.

Tonight I decided to clean it all up.  Consolidate it down to one single folder structured, backed up by on system.  Would even free up a bunch of cpu cycles by getting rid of all those unnecessary backup apps.

Instead I decided to write this.  Because this is easier.

This makes me wonder…

If I pared down all of my various files… down to the bare minimum that I felt was 100% necessary…  How big would it be?

Could I get it down to, say, 500mb?  Hell… could I get it down to 50mb?

Back in the 80′s I had a 286 with a big, hulking 50 mb mfm hard drive.  Could I pare my files down to fit on there?  In the 80′s (and a good way in to the ’90′s) I sure could.  Right now I’m having a hell of a time getting my Drop Box down to less than 127 gigs.  Getting to 126 is going to be painful.

I could really go for a no bake chocolate cookie right now…

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New Design. Because… New Design.

You may have noticed that this fancy, little website-o-mine looks different today.

A lot different.

In fact it looks almost nothing like any of the previous designs that I’ve ever had for any website that I have ever been involved in.  Within the design of this site there are no images.  Not one.  Not even like a little tiny gif hiding in the corner.

I call this new design “Gray.  With words.”.  And I think I dig it.

Loads fast.  Easy to read.  Easy for me to update when needed.  And, most of all, it puts the focus right where it should be: On the words that I create by haphazardly banging on this keyboard.

There are a few tweaks I still need to make — you’ll notice that images aren’t styled correctly on most of the posts, for example.  But all of the old content is still here in the same locations.  For the most part.

It’ll do for the moment.  I’ll fiddle with it as I go.  There’s only so much CSS a man can handle in one day.

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Open Source, she is a fickle mistress.

I’m not really big on defeat.  It’s not something I dig.

So when I think something is a good idea… I tend to just continue hammering away until it becomes a reality.  Case in point:

BryanStep 1) Bryan wishes  Jos Whedon would make an Avengers movie.

Step 2) Bryan wishes for it really hard.

Steps 3 through 7,394) ?

Step 7,395) Bryan watches an Avengers movie made by Jos Whedon.

No matter how unlikely it is, if I am convinced it is a good idea that could make the world a bit more awesome, my soul demands that it must happen.  [Not trying to take anything away from Mr. Whedon's hard work here, all I did was get the ball rolling with the first two, obviously critical, steps.]

This applies to me believing in the fundamental awesomeness of Open Source (and, for those who feel persnickety about the wording, “Free Software”).

Which is why I Open Sourced such a huge amount of my applications and games under the GPL license.  And, as you can probably surmise, that changes the business strategy a teensy bit.

I opted to go for the “Open Source funded by donations” route.  Because I believed in its viability.  Still do, really.

Just not now.  [Maybe in the future.  Maybe in the near future.  Perhaps a bit farther out.  I, honestly, have no clue.]

Donations started out fairly strong.  Not off the charts… but steady enough to suggest a bit of predictability.  Which, for anyone looking to earn an income from an endeavor (aka “a job”), predictability in paychecks are a good thing.

Then, within a smattering of weeks, things dropped off.  Donations fell to a point where it would be hard to pay a part-time intern with the monthly totals.

Which leaves me with three options:

  1. Close up all of the software and begin selling it again (which is a proven way to support this specific software).
  2. Leave the software Open, keep working on it full time, and hope magical unicorns fly out of my posterior and begin conjuring money with their Rumpus-Unicorn-Magic ™.
  3. Leave the software Open… but stop working on it full time.  Thus free up time to focus on endeavors that provide better revenue.

Option 1 sounds like defeat.  See top of this post for more information on my thoughts about defeat.

Option 2 sounds awesome.  But unicorn-based.  Never go into a situation where you are reliant on unicorns.  This would be about as dumb as messing with a Sicilian when death is on the line.

So Option 3 it is!

Luckily, for me, I’ve got my writing to fall back on and give my focus to.  [For those of you who read that sentence and thought "REEEEALLY?!  YOU?!" -- and then proceeded to look over the current post for grammatical and spelling errors... all I have to say is this: Crazy, right?  People pay me for these words.  It's a nutty world we live in.]

Here’s how this is going to work:

  • Source code remains available for Illumination, App-Make-inator, etc..
  • Donations are still accepted on the Download Page. 
  • Those donations fund the development in the following month.  (ie. Donations in January fund the development that occurs in February.)
  • Only a few donations = Only a little development.
  • Lots of donations = Lots of development.

Simple, right?  This lets development continue, in a focused way… just (probably) a fair bit slower than before.

With all this in mind, I have removed the donation goal progress bar from the site.  It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

And if I, say, release a new game in the future (which has been known to happen)… will it be Open Source?

Honestly that really depends on how things are going.  If the funds are there to support it?  For sure.  Otherwise any new piece of software will likely be released as closed source in the old-school Shareware style.

As an aside, I just want to say this:

I am extremely proud of the community we have here.  Many of you put your money where your mouths were… and that resulted in some excellent Open Source software.  All of you deserve to pat yourself on the back.

I am also a fair bit humbled (about as humbled as I get, anyway).  You donated your hard-earned money based, in part, on your belief that what we were doing was worth while — and that me working on these projects was worth while.

For that, I thank you.  Quite sincerely.

Okay.  That out of the way, time for me to prep the next issue of Road-Sign Hank and the Aliens.  That comic book has sat idle for far, far too long.

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