It's a new ballgame!


So I wanted to do a quick update as the year is flying by and things have changed drastically since my previous posts. I have a new job! But before I tell you about that, let me backtrack a bit, so this blog makes some sort of chronological sense.

Last year around this time, I got laid off from Nokia (along with 10,000 of my fellow coworkers). My plan was to take some time and work for myself and see if there was a project that I could get off the ground as a new startup or at least something that could generate some decent money to live on. I had some savings and severance, and a full winter ahead to hunker down and crank out something interesting, so it seemed like a good plan. I played with several ideas before deciding to focus on something I was really enthusiastic about: Developing an intelligent news aggregator. This was months before Google decided to shut down Reader! So in hindsight, it was actually a great plan. If only I had gotten what I had wanted developed and ready to go by March, I would have been totally set to take advantage of the rush of people looking for an alternative news reader when it happened. But I wasn't ready. In fact, I was pretty far from ready. I had lots and lots of prototypes in various languages - PHP, Python, Node, Go - but nothing that was anywhere near where I needed it to be.

After an initial burst of energy, I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be able to catch up. I had missed the big opportunity when Google's announcement was made (my post on that day shows in nice detail the extent of my total freakout), and there was no way I was going to win a race against the hoards of younger, better developers (not to mention funded startups and giant corporations) who were cranking out dozens of pretty decent news reader alternatives. And even if I did launch something, I'm pretty sure there'd be no way to actually make a living at it given the price pressure from all the options. So I decided to pack it in.

And with that, my third and final attempt, I think I'm pretty much done at trying to a solo entrepreneur. I tried to do a learning startup in 1999 called Avedia (the corporation paperwork of which still haunts me to this day), again in 2005 with Mowser and now again in 2013, but didn't even get anything launched. I spent months doing development, spent real money on a logo and other stuff. I was there - but at the end pulled the plug before it even got started. It was the right decision for various reasons, the least of which being that I was almost broke. :-)

With that decision made - a couple months ago I revved up my resume, cleaned up all my online profiles and started networking like crazy to try to find a job. It took a bit longer than I hoped, but what I ended up finding was better than I could have imagined, honestly. A couple weeks ago I started working at Amazon's Lab126 as the Technical Evangelist for their new HTML5 Platform. Lab126 is the division here in California that makes the Kindle tablets (both the e-ink readers and the Fire Android tablets). They've been working on an internal build of the Chromium browser and have opened it up to third party developers, enabling them to publish apps written using open web technologies (HTML5, Javascript, CSS3). It's such a fantastic gig that could not possibly be more suited to my personality and skill-set: I love tablets, the web, HTML5/JS development, pontificating on tech, think Amazon is great and own several Kindles (for myself and my son), and had actually bought Kindle Fire tablets as gifts for my family. I believe in the tech and the company and will be able to help out right away - it's a perfect fit. Seriously, I got ridiculously lucky.

Like I wrote in my title, it's a whole new ballgame, and I am psyched about it. Really, it's not just another job for me, it represents a whole new way of thinking. It'll be interesting to see what happens now that there's not this lingering thought in the back of my mind that I should really be doing my own thing instead of working at a "day job". I tried my own thing - three times - and it didn't work. I'm taking the hint. I'm going to focus on one thing and see what happens. (Well, I'm also considering writing a book... but besides that, focus!) So, look for me to start posting on the Amazon's dev site soon, and to be a presence at conferences and other shindigs around the Valley. I can't wait to get to started actually - I'm going to be writing up demo apps, doing blog posts, giving presentations, providing feedback back to the internal devs and more. Basically the stuff I already think is fun, but now it's my job. (Did I mention how lucky I got?). I'm pretty excited.

Oh, and the new stuff Amazon is working on? It absolutely rocks. (I'd tell you more, but then I'd have to kill all of you, and then I'd go to jail or get fired - or both - and that would suck. So you'll have to wait... sorry!)



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