Letters with Chris V, June 2023 [#2]
Chris’s Second Letter
Good morning Jarrod,
Thanks a lot for the reply. Getting such emails (or letters) and glimpses into another person’s life is fun. And one motivation for me to participate is to expand my writing horizon and push my edges. Another factor is that I’m not writing in my mother’s [tongue], so blogging is a way to keep my English skills.
Yes, the new job. At the moment, it is part nervous and part sad. Leaving the current place was hard. I was there for a long time (nearly ten years of my life). And it was only my second employer in my adult life. My old job was in a project-based “agency” where we tailor-made software. It was a startup that some of my friends founded ten years ago, and I was their first employee. That was a fantastic experience being in a company so early on. Initially, it was Rails coding and iOS, but I have been working mostly on React Projects lately. And now, with my new employer, I am going back to iOS but in the AR space. This time around, I’m employee number three ;-) And the best feature of the new place: 100% remote work.
I’m not much into computer games. When I game something, it is real time strategy (I love the old Age of Empires). Modern games I consume as movies — I love story-based games so that I can watch somebody play them on Youtube. I played a bit of Alto’s Adventure when my wife was playing it (she’s the gamer in our family). But I get nervous within a split second and can’t play it for too long. I think that is also the reason I like the more story-based ones. But then again, I want to go into world-building mode and code a game myself. I spent quite some of my younger years trying to code an MMORPG.
My morning writing habits came not from nothing. I spent some time changing my mornings around. Especially stop directly starting with work the moment I fall out of bed in the morning. And the bigger factor is that I can gamify the experience as well. So when I can get a streak going, I have high motivation to keep it going. Not sure whether this is a good trait to have. But knowing about it and being able to exploit it myself knowingly is undoubtedly helpful.
Unfortunately, I need to be careful that I do it knowingly and not unknowingly, as this can lead to a lot of stress. Something I was able to learn over the past three years about myself. What also helped was that I don’t write for a specific word count. Morning pages should be 750 words by the official definition. But for me is that I write something. So I also have some which are only 20 words, which is fine.
I’ve read your post about the 70$ app and enjoyed it a lot. It was interesting on multiple levels to me. As a consumer of apps, I’m not fond of subscriptions. Although, as a software developer, I love subscriptions, and it is the only way for a serious iOS business to work. And then the thoughts behind giving a higher price point to catch the subscription-averse app users like me with a very high price point so they don’t need to pay a subscription is interesting. Product pricing is an interesting topic – and not only for software products. I’m mostly thinking about it in terms of educational books.
I don’t have it often that the words just flow for a blog post. But I know the feeling from my morning pages. And when I’m writing fiction. This week I wrote six short story pieces in three days. I plan to finish the editing soon to publish them on my homepage to have some actual long-form posts again. But right now, I also have the words flowing out of me while writing this response.
WWDC was a blast, or better, the Keynote was. I also did not manage to get up to speed before it happened. But in the end, it was alright. While watching the keynote, I was surprised at how the reality distortion field got me again this year. The Vision Pro was certainly the highlight of the show. But I don’t expect to own one anytime soon. I would love to have one. But I don’t want to spend 3.5k on such a product right now. Perhaps with generation five when it is below 1k? But it being an Apple product, I wonder if the price will dip so low soon. It must get below the 1k boundary as quickly as possible for mass market adoption.
The most surprising announcement was the rack-mounted Mac Pro and that you don’t need to pay 500$ surcharge for the drawer rails — I think they missed an opportunity here:-D.
I’m not sure what I will regularly use off smaller the day-to-day changes, as my computer is way too old for the new operating system. I will need to discover them when I get my new work Mac later this year. I will certainly not use the improvements in the notes app as I’m all in on Obsidian.
Looking forward to your answer and wish you a successful week,
Here we are 12 days since you sent your letter and I’m so sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you! The last couple of weeks has flown by, not the least of which because I spent some time out in the woods, away from tech and cell service, guiding a client on a multi-day hike. Oh, and my wife and I bought a house in that time. But we’ll get to that. 😉
I was surprised to learn that English isn’t your first language — your prose is great! Where did you grow up, and what language did you first learn? Do you know any other second languages, in addition to English? I took a couple of semesters of Spanish while in college, but all but the basics have left me since then. If I were to go after another language, I think I would choose to learn American Sign Language. My family has a history with sign language (my Grandma used to teach it in her work with students with speech challenges), and my nephew uses it now to communicate a lot of the time.
I saw someone speculate that the hand-tracking and spatial nature of Vision Pro could be a boon for teaching and learning sign language, and I have to agree. It makes me even more excited about that product. Maybe you’ll be building things in that same vein in your new work on AR projects for iOS? I have a feeling that expertise in the AR field is going to be very valuable over the next few years.
But I can totally see how moving on from your previous employer would be an emotional process. So much history there with friends and seeing it grow from the very beginning. But it also sounds like you’ll get to experience a lot of that all over again with this new venture. It must be so invigorating to be one of the first employees. You’ll get to influence so much of the direction for the foundation of what you’re building together. I’ve been thinking about that concept a bit lately regarding the products I use and the communities I’m a part of. For example, I love using Micro.blog for my social networking fix because it’s small enough that I can have real conversations with the folks building it — and sometimes my opinions actually help drive changes in the products. Similarly with Shoutouts.lol and Tinylytics by Vincent Ritter. Using, or building, something from the beginning is a pretty cool privilege.
You are so right about streaks affecting the motivation to write. On the weeks that I have time and plentiful topics, I wonder how I ever get out of the habit of writing. But as soon as I break the streak — like this past week or so — it takes a lot of effort to start typing again. I guess, like anything, getting in a true habit of setting regular time aside for it and sticking to that commitment would make all the difference. It’s the same for me with fitness. When I’ve got it in my schedule and routine, it’s easy. But irregular weeks can really throw me off. I like your idea of just writing something. I should give that a try. There — I’ve added it to my Challenge! list. I’ll write about making a habit of writing. Very meta.
How did you get into writing fiction? I haven’t had to do that since high school and while I love reading fiction, I don’t know that I’d be particularly good at writing it. Do you have a particular genre or style that you like best?
Thanks for the praise on that app subscription article! I can see how it would be dissonant to be on both sides of the developer and consumer coin. I’m fascinated by behavioral psychology and the intersection of price and purchase is a huge part of that field. Haha, speaking of pricing things, yeah, the Vision Pro is way up there. I’m going to do all I can to get my hands on one next year sometime. Saving up tips, maybe doing some DoorDashing. It helps that my wife was also intrigued by the idea of such a thing — which doesn’t always happen with new tech gadgets! I’m enthralled by the idea of getting in at the beginning of this new “spatial computing”.
Ah, you’re an Obsidian guy! I tried it out, but haven’t ever gotten into the idea of backlinking. It’s cool and I’m glad it works for other people, but I’m good with my writing flow using Drafts and 1Writer. For now.
I suppose I should expand on the house-buying thing before signing off here. To make a long story short, we’re in the process of buying a house that we lost out on about a month ago. The long story is that we’ve been looking for a year (though more seriously for the last three or four months), and found a house in a great location that met many, if not all, our wants and needs and was within our budget. We put in an offer, then we upped the offer, and everything looked promising. Then at the last minute, someone matched our offer but in all cash. So the seller went with the cash offer. We were super disappointed and took a few weeks off searching. After we started touring other houses again, we found one that was super nice and checked all our boxes. The only problems were that it was a stretch for our budget and we just didn’t feel like it felt like “us”. We decided to put in a low offer anyway, just to see what happened. But the day we were working on our offer, our realtor called to say that the house we’d previously wanted was back on the market because the other buyers walked away. After some soul-searching, we decided to put another offer on the old one…and it was accepted the next day! Thus began the whirlwind of mortgages, contracts, inspections, and everything else. But we can see the end of the tunnel and it comes with a house!
We’re pretty excited.
I hope that the first few weeks in your new job have brought a lot of excitement, too. I can’t wait to hear back.