Everyone who builds blogging software should have a blog. Everyone who builds podcasting software should probably have a podcast, too. (And sometimes, like for Marco Arment, even a few podcasts.)
So I was happy to see Supertop start a podcast recently to talk about the Castro 2 launch and other thoughts on being a 2-person indie shop. Episode 3 features Brent Simmons:
Pádraig and Oisín are joined by Brent Simmons to discuss indie app development in the wake of Vesper shutting down.
One subject I’m glad they touched on is the special challenge for a company that needs to support multiple salaries, but isn’t big enough yet to actually have significant revenue like a large company. Last week, Daniel and I talked about the balance of loving being independent but also knowing that one day you want to expand to support a small team. It’s not easy.
Brent Simmons, still an Omni employee, has decided to part ways with his Q Branch founders to focus on a new project. The whole essay is an important read, but especially this part:
“I turned 47 a little while ago, and I’ve had some reasons to reflect on the shortness of life, and I realized how very important it is for me to work on the software that I think about every day. I kept putting it off, but every day that I put it off hurt more than the previous day. I realized that I couldn’t continue — I have to do the work that I need to do.”
I think many of us can relate to this. I don’t personally have a single piece of software in mind that has been nagging at me, but I have had a sense for a couple years that everything I work on needs to be something that matters to me. Having a theme across projects has also been a great way to judge what to spend time on.
Brent Simmons has another expanded résumé of sorts, following his post about working at NewsGator. I love this write-up because it mirrors a lot of the work I was doing, so it brings back a lot of memories. I was actively using Frontier for client work and crazy side projects; one of my co-workers for a time was Mason Hale, who built an early CGI framework for Frontier; and I loosely worked with Dave Winer to help run the frontier-talk mailing list and hack on a potential WebSTAR plug-in for Frontier. (Though I was still a pretty poor C programmer back then. Someone else ended up shipping it.)
Back when the job description “webmaster” still meant something, I worked for the WebEdge conference which brought together the best web developers for the Mac OS. WebEdge hosted the first meeting of the Macintosh Internet Developer Association (MIDAS), led in part by Dave Winer. And I was always playing with the tools that came out of Userland, from Manilla to Radio Userland. I used Radio to run this blog until 2004.
Some of the developers from that time have faded away, moved on to other projects away from the public spotlight. But not Brent. He just shipped Vesper 2.0 and it’s some of his best work.
Two great blog posts yesterday from Brent Simmons that I think are related, though I read one early in the day and the other catching up on RSS feeds late at night. First, on quitting his job to work full-time on Vesper:
“A year ago I was a designer for an enterprise app I didn’t care about — or even like in the least tiny bit — and which you’ve never seen or heard of. That’s no way to live.”
It reminds me, of course, of the famous Steve Jobs quote:
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
And then, Brent says about Twitter:
“The 140-character stream is where things not worth saying, and not worth reading, thrive. It’s where things actually worth saying get over-simplified and then get lost, if they get said at all.”
In other words, do something you care about, write something lasting. The older I get, the more both of these resonate with me. And even though I haven’t posted to Twitter in over a year, I think I needed to read that post to focus back on this blog, where my writing should live.