Farewell

Eleven years ago this August, after spending about three months hacking my way through AppKit and Cocoa, I somehow managed to release my first Mac OS X software product – VirtualHostX. I didn’t do any marketing for it. All I did was post its logo and a short description on the home page of my blog. You could buy (via PayPal) a license for all of seven dollars. And, amazingly, someone did buy a license on that very first day. To them, I’m eternally grateful.

My original goal with writing and selling this little Mac app was to earn $3,000 over the course of its lifetime so we could afford to refinish the hardwood floors in the fixer-upper my wife and I had recently purchased.

Boy was I wrong.

Over the next eleven years I kept growing VirtualHostX and its two sibling products (Hostbuddy and Hobo) and slowly tried different prices until I settled on $49. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that as of this past week, I’ve earned just over $300,000 in total.

Not only did our house get new floors, but the money also paid for a patio, a new fence, a new roof, financed our move home from San Francisco to Nashville, and even allowed me to take a two year sabbatical where I worked only on my own apps.

But times have changed. Sales over the last eighteen months have tanked. So much so, that March’s total sales volume was around $200. (At it’s high point, I was earning roughly $5,0000 per month.) Now, an extra couple hundred bucks a month is nothing to shake a stick at. But add to it the the customer support costs, the infrastructure costs, and the general anxiety and depression I feel trying to maintain a failing business, it’s just not worth it any longer.

So, I’ve decided to retire VirtualHostX, Hostbuddy, and Hobo. Up until this point, my longest running project had been the six years I spent running a Stephen King website before selling it to his publishing company. VirtualHostX has been around for nearly double that amount of time. It’s my baby – and I’m sad to see it go.

But the time is right. The web has moved on and so have I. I already feel a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders just knowing I can focus on fresh ideas and not always worry about tech support and bug fixes for my legacy apps.

While this is a farewell to my apps, it is not a farewell for me. I plan to continue building apps for both macOS and iOS – I even have a few ideas ready to go. And so to my 30,000 customers over these past eleven years, thank-you so much for supporting me and my little business. I had a blast. And I hope you got something out of it, too.

Moving Projects Forward

One of my favorite benefits of following a GTD workflow is that it eliminates a lot of the decision making for you. When it’s time to get work done, just fire up your task manager of choice, switch to your list of available next actions, and pick one. Having defined, physical next actions for each of your projects is the key to moving them forward. But sometimes you can get stuck and lose momentum. You may forget why a project is important.

I’ve found that this can happen for long running projects or for projects that aren’t clearly defined with next actions. For the latter, the solution is simple. Move your focus all the way down your hierarchy of tasks and come up with the very next physical thing you can do to move the project ahead. No matter how small that action might be, it will count as forward progress if you do it. And that might just be enough to get you going again.

But for projects and tasks that have been on your mind for seemingly ever, or for those that you just don’t remember why you signed up for them in the first place, it can be helpful to go in the opposite direction.

Take a look at the task you’re procrastinating on and move up a level to its parent. Do you remember why you added that to your list? If it’s a project, are you still committed to doing it? If you’re not sure, go up another level. Is it clear why that is important to you?

You can repeat this process all the way up to your areas of focus. Is it your career? Your side business? Your family? Whichever area you land on, it should be an important tent-pole in your life. You should be able to make the connection between why it is important to you and how that one small action can move you closer to your goal. And, hopefully, that’ll be the motivation you need to get un-stuck and moving forward again.

So my kid just swallowed a marble. Guess I’ll be straining poo for the next two days.

February 10, 2018

First day at the new gig. Feels good to be out of the suburbs and walking around a proper city again.

February 5, 2018

Happy Indie Developer Day! If you know a solo dev or small company making apps you love, give them a high-five today.

February 1, 2018

Absolutely love this. David Byrne covering Bowie’s “Heroes” with a crowd full of strangers singing backup vocals.

January 31, 2018

Just picked up two @Sonos Ones (with Alexa built-in) for the price of one HomePod. All because they sent me an email. Mailing lists work!

January 27, 2018

My Great Android Experiment: Part 0

Being a longtime macOS user, when the iPhone arrived on store shelves, I never looked back. The mental model of iOS fit me better than any platform I’d ever used. And given my experience developing Mac software, bringing that knowledge to iOS apps was as simple as learning a new framework.

So I’ve been iOS-only since 2007. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used an Android device. Sure, we have a couple Amazon Fire tablets for the kids laying around, but those are just toys as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never owned or spent any in-depth time with Google’s offering. But, yet, here I sit, holding my new Pixel 2 in hand and wondering what to do next.

I’m not switching to Android. I’m too invested in the Apple ecosystem to consider that. But I am curious what the top-of-the-line Android experience offers. Particularly, because I want to learn to develop for Android. I feel like I’ve topped-out as far as I can go career wise without knowing the other side of the fence. I could just open up the latest Android book and start learning, but before I do that I want to immerse myself in the OS and learn the Android way of doing things.

As long as I can stay motivated, I plan on documenting my thoughts about switching on this blog in a series of posts.