20 GOTO 10

Tuesday, I learned that since our NIH grant has run out, Backyard Brains is no longer able to afford to employ me. This news hit me quite hard, since BYB is by far the most interesting and educative open source project that I have worked on (and the first one to offer me a regular paycheck). It’s been an amazing year working with everyone at the company — and my have we grown since I signed on! A year ago I was the only full time employee, and have since managed to hire a production team to build Spikerboxes, ported the stable features of our iOS app to Android, set up a Javascript app to prep for recording neural information in the browser when the Web Media APIs stabilize, and managed to put out fires relating to a myriad of growing pains while our owners were in South America making the world a better place for Chileans hoping to catch the startup-company fever that we North Americans hold so dear.

Earlier this year, Backyard Brains applied for a second phase of funding, so there’s a hope that we’ll be able to afford to hire a developer again to continue to enrich the software assets at the company. However, I personally would have a hard time waiting around until early next year to hope that we will be in a financial position to keep my position as a Software Engineer going. Thus, it’s time for me to look for some other opportunities. I’ll be looking for positions writing software in any project that lets me continue my never-ending adventures in learning wicked-cool new languages, frameworks, business models, and engineering practices.

Until then, what now? Well, like any good develeper with too much time on their hands, I’m going to make stuff!

  • First of all, I plan on staying on with Backyard Brains in a voluntary position assiting with the management of their open-source software (I’m the local git ninja) for as long as they’ll have me or until they can manage to bring someone on in a paid position to handle it. I’m also planning to continue to help with adding features when possible, as I’m passionate about the project, and know every line of that code goes to helping youngsters learn about science.
  • I’ve also had a number of open-source projects on the backburner for a while that have gone under-attended due to how busy the work on BYB software has kept me. I can’t wait to get back to these with all the ideas I’ve been slowly adding to them — my .org file looks really ugly right now.
  • As it happens, I’ve still been serving on the board of directors for our hackerspace All Hands Active here in Ann Arbor, MI. The amount of work that could be put into furthering the hackerspace and helping the community around it could easily be a full-time job itself. You’ll be able to find me there rather often (as if I weren’t there enough already).
  • I think it’s actually obligatory that when a developer doesn’t have a paying position, they restart their personal website (that they were ignoring while persuing other interests) and make posts about things only a small subset of the software community cares about. (check)

For now though, it’s time to prep for teaching programming to youngsters for 2 days straight at our booth at Detroit Maker Faire. If you’re coming, stop by and say ‘print “Hello World”’!