It’s 8:52pm. I’m in the shed with just a desk lamp and the bulbs from my DAC and headphone pre-amp adding light to that emitted by my Mac’s enormous screen.

I’m listening to Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” through my comfortable cans and hearing it as I’ve never heard before. Eberhard Weber’s warm, lyrical fretless provides the brown satin sheets for Bush’s haunting voice.

My keyboard is responsive and having learned the lessons of 33 years of abuse, I’m using a wrist rest to keep my RSI below the threshold of incapacitating pain.

Vapour from my electronic cigarette clouds the glow from the lamp, making my desk look like the circa 1970 refugee that it is, like some aged cop show; like The Sweeney in fact.

I’m debugging a default constructor in my C++. I have been focussed today, without anxiety. Just determined, accepting, relaxed. Even if there was noise outside, I wouldn’t hear it. I have none of the tension I used to have, in anticipation of yet another London assault on the peace I’d build, minute by minute, precariously, like some greased house of rice paper cards.

This is the focus I prepared for all my life. There is nothing like it. There is no thing without it.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I will be working. There will be progress. There will be creation. There will be peace. May peace be upon you.

Living the Dream

I love rising at 5am.

I used to rise late and spend the rest of the day chasing all the things I knew I had to do and never quite doing the things that mattered. Rising at 5 gives you clarity. Almost nobody is awake. Almost nobody is on social media. You have as close to a clean slate as you’re ever going to get. You can shape your day, and your life is shaped by shaped days.

I used to enjoy working late at night, but the downside is that before long, you feel tired and that fatigue seeps silently into your work.

A few hours after I woke and after I had got my highest value activities out of the way, I went out for a ride on my single speed Cannondale Bad Boy, a matt black bike that I hadn’t ridden for years out of fear that in London, like the seven bicycles I had owned before, it would be stolen. I don’t live in London anymore, and I’m still getting used to the idea that not only are you unlikely to have your bike stolen, you’re also unlikely to get crushed under the wheels of a lorry.

I got to snatch a few breaks with my family too. A few weeks ago, this would have been a highly improbable pleasure. It doesn’t take much time to keep engaged with your family, but it does take frequency. Like establishing flow in coding, or writing, or public speaking, quality increases with frequency.

I’ve started to set up a Synology, set up SSH access to bitbucket for my repos, made my code better, had a TV programme from the early 1970s on in the background, vaped at my desk, had an ice cold shower in the middle of the day (this helps with mood and alertness, the former has been established in studies, the latter is obvious, especially when it’s cold out!), had some accounting training, spoken to an old friend about business in Japan for developers, done some research and study and much more. This list would have been unthinkable within an office environment.

I miss my team and my colleagues from PlayStation, but I did what I did because of all of the above. There is enormous responsibility in such freedom, and I take that all very seriously — but not that seriously; fear is a potent anaesthetic.

I love getting up early and I love seizing the day and filling it with creativity and joy. I’m blessed to have this opportunity and I hope that from this wellspring will come good things, insha’Allah

Ludum Dare 34

I’m taking part in Ludum Dare 34. I have started late. I need to respect family and social commitments. So the scope will have to be minimal.

The themes of this jam are Growing and Two Button Controls. I can pick either or both. I choose Growing.

First job is to brainstorm on paper.

My tool of choice for this jam is C++ with the Cinder Library, because this is what I am most familiar with. This is no time to experiment with new or unfamiliar tools. This limits my scope as my baseline is so low, but that’s fine. My platform is Mac OS X.

My approach for this jam:

  • Keep the scope incredibly small
  • Make it fun
  • Exercise
  • Protect focus (I will post updates on my blog from time to time over the next 48 hours, but not so much Twitter)
  • Use the tools that you know, this isn’t the time to experiment with your toolchain
  • It’s better to finish, ship and learn than to try to make something fun and end up with nothing

Thanks to everyone for the good luck messages. Let’s do this!