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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How having a plan can work

People like to know what they can expect from you. That statement is so generic I feel comfortable putting that out there without figuring it should get me into a lot of arguments, but on the web am fascinated by how often I'm looking at something wondering--what in the whatever is this person trying to do?

I've felt the instinct though--throw something up on the web and see what will happen!

People kind of seem to react to that like they do to throw up in other areas.

I like having a plan, any kind of plan. And got an example.

Years ago back in 2003, found myself feeling a bit glum. I'd figured out my own way to count prime numbers, contacted the two leading mathematicians in that area and got the equivalent of a shrug. One straight out said he didn't find it to be of any interest.

Looking for a pick me up, I concentrated on this little program I'd written to help me study for the Java Certification exam. Yes, I passed barely, but was so long ago it's not that important to the story as I'm talking about over a decade ago.

So I'm like, hey, why don't I expand this test program? But how to share? And talked about it a bit with some other software developers as at that time was a professional, and one of them suggested open source, and I'm like what's open source? And he mentioned SourceForge as a way for me to distribute and I'd never heard of it, but checked it out, and figured it would do. But I needed a name for this program.

Original was called Class Info, and was just a bit of a wrapper on Java Reflections which outputted text. And like I said, I'd just written it to help me study for the Java Certification exam, but now I needed something for production. Pondering a name, I'm like, what's the most generic name I can come up with that has LOTS of competition?

Why? Because it was like a test. I wanted a VERY generic name to see if it could beat the competition, and checked a bit and "class viewer" fit the bill. Even back then before Google was the behemoth it is today I could see that was a very competitive name as it was SO generic, with lots of class viewers around, and it was close enough to what the thing did, so that's what I called it.

Wrote the GUI which is handled by ClassViewer.java, which then called ClassInfo.java which became the helper program managing the data, though it still can operate independently, I think.

Wasn't sure! So I went and checked! And yes it can! It's been a long time since I thought about these things.

So that was the plan.

Needed SOMETHING to help me feel better and not like a total loser when those mathematicians didn't react like I wanted with my prime counting discovery, so deliberately took what was handy, and angled things to give a real test.

Over a decade later it's my least important global thing yet one of my most important checkable things. I use it a lot as a reality check for me and others.

Of all my accomplishments that draw global attention it's the most minor, but it's also one of the easiest for people to check me on things, like looking at things like downloads. And the thing about downloads is that every single one matters. Like with visits you're thinking it could have been an accident, especially if you just see one. But downloads indicate a lot more, even if you just have one. At least someone wants the thing.

Getting from glum to something useful to people around the globe--and picky people too as Java software developers have high requirements--is the best kind of win-win I think.

I felt better and had something concrete which others could find useful. So I took my glum, and turned it into, wish I knew something applicable that rhymed, but maybe better to just say, a nice little concrete application that could be helpful to some people.

It takes a plan. And in this case the plan succeeded.

You should have a plan.

Does it have to be some grand, massive thing? No. It can be something as simple as, I'd like to have a little something to make me feel better.

And having other people along can be just great! But they need to know what to expect.

I talk more about letting people know what to expect on Google+ with a post. which is in a collection I call Some of my social media musings to which I will also try to link. Collections are a way on Google+ to group postings along a theme, which can help you let people know what to expect..

Going to try those linkings to see how well that works.

And yes, you are free to just throw up something on the web, but with a plan, and giving people some expectations then I strongly suggest to you that you're more likely to get something you want happening.

Turns out direction is kind of important with things. Kind of hard to get someplace if you don't head off in a direction, and know when you've arrived. And if you want people helping you along the way? They will probably like to know where you're going, first.


James Harris
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