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Saturday, November 12, 2011

A new computer

I'm writing this from my brand-new Acer netbook. It's a cute little machine, very light, long battery life, and so far seems to run Eclipse well enough for me to do some simple ZooKeeper work and other light Java development. It's also, hopefully, a symbol of a new chapter in my life.

A few months ago, I was reading The Creative Habit. I've been in search of my own creativity for a while now. You could say my career as a programmer meets the mythical 10,000 hours rule; after putting in several years of intense schooling followed by several years of focused work as a software developer, I finally started to consider myself an expert at writing general-purpose code. It's great to feel confident that you can code almost anything pretty well, but at some point I started wondering when this expertise would turn into truly creative output. I went into computer science for the cliched-but-true reason that it's a skill that can be applied into almost any sort of industry, and hoped it would allow me to build a fulfilling and lucrative career wherever I decided to go. And it has, except, where is my cool side-project? Beyond the creativity needed to architect solutions for work, I haven't found my groove.

So I started reading, and exploring, and trying to break out of my work-focused rut. In The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharpe recommends having the tool of creativity for your trade with you at all times. For a writer that might be a notebook and pencil, for a musician a tape recorder. But what is it for a creative developer? A poll of friends brought us to the conclusion that it might just be a small laptop and Python. A friend put it eloquently:
I'm picking "python" because it seems that the writer's pencil or the artist's sketchpad are more for making rough sketches than finished products, and python is one of my preferred languages for quickly hacking up prototypes.
Now here I am, I've finally taken the plunge, bought the little laptop, even started the blog to chronicle the process. 3, 2, 1, GO!

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