Where's walkah been?

It was brought to my attention some time ago that this space has been rather shamefully quiet. I have also spent a lot of time facing the "so, what are you up to?" question lately. In a "two birds, one stone" manner, I'm gonna try to get into writing a bit more as well as provide a bit of an update.

So, what do you do?

This has long been one of my most dreaded "light social" questions. Ironically, I found myself tossing it out at a recent event, perhaps in some passive aggressive sort of revenge. It's always been difficult to explain what I do, particularly in in non-technical company. For many years "I work on Drupal" was an answer that got the most amusing blank stares. Of course, these days that tends to be less baffling to people, so naturally I've stepped out and been doing lots of non-Drupal things.

For those playing along at home, StatusNet Inc. and I parted ways last November. I actually consciously did not post about it publicly because this blog was starting to feel a little more than a broadcast space for my shuffling between companies. While I don't have an official involvement these days, it looks like I will be doing some Summer of Code mentoring and am still very interested in the Federated Social Web and the protocol, OStatus that we developed.

No longer having a full-time job means that, yes, I am doing freelance work (hire me!). It has also meant that I'm getting back involved in the Drupal community again a bit more. Some folks noticed that I've been to the past two DrupalCon's (after taking a few off) and have been working with a few Drupal-based clients.

The thing that I'm probably enjoying most these days is the freedom from focusing or specializing. For the past few months, I've been working with the Mozilla Foundation on the platform that runs the Drumbeat website (implemented using Django). I've followed and tinkered with Django for a long time and it feels great to have a "real" excuse to spend more time with it!

While a lack of real "focus" (at least amongst open source projects or even programming languages) has really appealed to my inner tinkerer, it's made answering "what are you up to" a far more involved conversation; some days it's consulting, some it's teaching/training, and some days I just hack on code. I also fully expect the answer to change and evolve over the course of this year and moving forward.

More writing!

Doing more (and different) things also means I'm learning a lot these days, and I feel compelled to share, because that's the way I am. However, writing has always been challenging for me. I work really well verbally (preferrably face to face, though I've done alright talking to a camera). I have always wanted to be a prolific writer, though. For the past few months, I've been trying to practice more. I started with a paper journal, but after losing one and finding that my handwriting no longer keeps up with my brain well, I decided to try writing on my computer. Ultimately, though, I found it hard to establish a good routine and stick with it.

A few months ago, though, I gave 750words.com a try and I love it. After a few false starts, I now have a daily 750 word routine that I'm finding helps get me writing (and thinking) for the day. I highly recommend the service (and the practice of writing regularly). The practice has already translated into an article for the Linux Journal and will hopefully result in more!

At the very least, I'm hoping to make better use of this space. Welcome back, me.

James Walker

James Walker (a.k.a. walkah) is an independent developer and hacker. He is a long time Drupal developer, but these days spends more time in Python, Ruby and Javascript.

You can follow him on twitter or github.

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