2017 Projects

Been a while since I posted anything here, so I figure I’d give another status update and think out loud (feel free to email me with advice too).

It’s now been one year since I started full time at Packback, and two and a half years since I joined the company as an intern. Lately, I’ve been kept busy with all the awesome things we’re working on, helping to make sure the upcoming Spring 2017 semester on Packback Questions will be great, and even better than the success we’ve had this past semester. Lots of exciting challenges have come up with team members coming and going, new processes, implementing big features, and more. It’s been taking up around 75% of my time, and I love it. Will be staying here after I graduate so I can get the full startup growth story, and be a part of it. I could go on and on, but maybe you should just come check us out.

Besides that, I’ve been taking classes part-time at Illinois Institute of Technology and have 3 more classes before I get my bachelor’s degree in May. Just wrapped up finals and am quite pleased with grades, although this past semester was the hardest this year. Here’s what classes I’ve taken this year and what I’m taking next (titles straight from my degree plan):

Now besides that, I’ve been working on a couple side projects on-and-off. I’ve realized this past year that trying to do more than one project along with school and work isn’t very feasible, and the quality of work I put out for the project is low. To solve this, I am trying to determine which is my #1 project to focus on for this spring semester, and maybe all of 2017.

My options:

 CrimeIsDown.com

This is a combination of a website and a few other mediums (mostly Twitter) dedicated to reporting on breaking news in Chicago, focusing on “crime and mayhem” the city experiences. It’s the project I am currently most passionate about and have invested the most resources into. The goal is to be able to give residents information on where the sirens they hear daily are going to, and what our first responders have to deal with. It’s gotten me quite a bit of recognition, but I am not particularly interested in day-to-day reporting - but rather only focusing on major incidents and giving people tools to find out information on their own outside of those times.

 Clarify (Pop)

Clarify is the startup idea I had which turned into a project, with the main product being created called Pop. Pop is an instant course search tool which only works at my school IIT right now and is pretty basic in terms of functionality. However, it gets quite a bit of usage every semester and is solving a big pain point for students. I do like the edtech space, and the project originally started as something to solve my own problem, so at times it is something I want to invest resources into - the impact could be quite big. The main problem now is getting motivated enough outside of registration time to work on it.

 eric.how

I purchased this domain name about two months ago and have been thinking of a few ideas for it. Right now my plan would be to use this as an opportunity to document lots of the learnings I’ve had building products and working on side projects, as well as all the different software how-to knowledge I’ve gained. The goal would be to be able to just share a blog post link with someone whenever they ask me common questions such as “what do you recommend to get started with webdev?” or “how do I fix this bug?” I’d like to distribute my knowledge to as many people as possible and help them succeed. However, this is a brand new project and may require a lot of writing time.

 YSFHQ

I’ve been working on YSFHQ.com, a flight simulator community, on-and-off for almost six years now, and the community is still there. YSFlight itself is still being developed, albeit at a quite slow pace, so the community is struggling to find sustainable ways to keep people engaged. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of technical debt over the years, so need to pay that down. Furthermore I would like to invest time in creating new leaderboards to help spark involvement in the game. However, there’s been a lot of culture issues lately and the reward probably can’t justify the time investment, so I may have just outgrown the project.

 None of the above!

Perhaps none of the projects best fit where I want to hone my skills next, or none of them are fun, or none of them have a very large impact. Choosing this would mean I don’t focus on any of the above and continue exploring my options to see what interests me the most. I’m graduating in May, so I could use it as a chance to see what my other passions are besides what I mentioned above.

 
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