Startups everywhere.

Having spent long years complaining that there's no startup scene to speak of here in Portugal, I feel really stupid.

In my defence, these organizations seem to rely mainly on word-of-mouth and newspapers for publicity. The former didn't work for me simply because I can't be bothered to network for networking sake*, and as for the latter… really? Newspapers? Come on.

Well, at least now I found them. There's a pizza night at one of them tomorrow, can't wait to check it out.

* I know, I should probably be more sociable.

Open sourcing AbsenceLetters

Not much to add.

I'm looking for freelance work, and many clients now want to check developers' github before commiting to a gig, there's no reason not to let them see my most recent piece of code.

On that note, maybe I should stop building platforms from scratch and start using open source projects. That way I'd be sure to contribute and maybe network some more. Note to self: stop being a hermit.

Project debrief: AbsenceLetters.com

I spent my free time this past week working on a rather strange project: AbsenceLetters.com, a site that lets you store messages to your loved ones, which get sent in case you vanish. The service determines whether or not you're still around by looking at your twitter feed and, if you go too long without tweeting, it sends you an email asking to manually report in. If this had gotten any traction, facebook, google+ and foursquare feeds would also have been integrated into the system to make it more reliable. SMS notifications would be used in addition to email warnings too.

It's only been two days since the launch, but the analytics panel makes for some grim reading already. Only 100 unique visitors and but a single signup – who didn't actually get around to add any contacts or write any letters. Traffic may still be too low to draw meaningful conclusions, but the writing is on the wall. Like??mistrQ said on Hacker News:

I can appreciate why you think this is a problem that needs to be solved. But I can't help feel a bit wrong about it.
(…)
I think it's one of these things that is a 'good idea', but should never actually be followed through.

??
Well the software works, the domain name is paid for and an idle domain has no impact on my server's performance, so it'll stay up for the time being. But active development has been put on hold indefinitely.

However abysmal in terms of interest and adoption, however, this project was a huge win in terms of motivation. See, I have a chronic problem with shipping. The reasons are besides the point, fact is, I rarely get a project done on time. This was different. This thing was conceived, designed and shipped in less than a week. At the same time, I was doing a freelance gig which was also done a bit earlier than expected.

Looks like this year got off to an excellent start in terms of my ability to get shit done.
Now, to ride the wave…

Leaving nothing unsaid

5am.

Slowly, I woke up. There was an idea in my head. The room was dark, even though the shutters were open. Dawn wouldn't break for another hour. I crept out of bed, out of the warmth of Her presence, and tentatively stepped away. My idea needed to be made manifest quickly, lest it be forgotten. Treading lightly on the cold wooden floor, I made my way to the living room, sat on a couch by the window and picked up the laptop.

As dawn came, the preliminary work was done. It was nothing but a sketch made of computer code, but it was enough. My idea had taken root. As I went back to the bedroom, my thoughts traveled a year into the past. In that same house my grandmother still dwelt. In another city, one of my dearest friends still lived. How could we possibly have known.

Less than a week has passed since that chilly Saturday morning. Work has progressed swiftly. I just uploaded a little website, in fact, and created an account for myself in it. Every once in a while, a program will run on its server and send me an email. I'll click a link in it and nothing will happen. One day, though, I won't click on that link. I don't know when or why. Surely it'll be in the distant future. But it will come. And when it does, another little program will take the letters I've stored in its database and send them one by one.

And hopefully the people I love will find some comfort in them.