The tikis are watching...

The tikis are watching...

Hey, so, remember there was that thing, that new thing, that new thing I was working on, and I didn’t feel ready to talk about it yet? I’m talking about it now.

My big project is this: I’m taking my existing site for tiki mug collectors, Ooga-Mooga, and making it better. It’s getting re-written from the ground up. Still not ready to blab about it completely, as I think it’s best to wait to talk about new ventures until they’re done and real and you can poke them with a stick. But OH CARP it’s already so much fun, and it’s time to get the Ooga-Mooga users excited about what’s coming (and help them brace for the changes).

I’m going to be honest with you, it’s nerve-wracking making this announcement. I’m on pins and needles. I hope folks are able to set aside the very natural (and very understandable) BUT I DON’T LIKE CHANGE reaction. So far, the response has been warm and good and supportive.

Read my announcement in a post on the embarrassingly stale Ooga-Mooga blog: Ooga-Mooga is Ooverdue for an Ooverhaul.
(Seriously—there’s a “Ooga-Mooga on MySpace” link in the sidebar. Ow, my 2005 is showing.)

Pier 9, home of Lab Zero, photo from noehill.com

I’ve not been able to say much about my work for ages now, because all of my work has been under pretty tight non-disclosure agreements. Most of you probably know that I work on Pier 9 on San Francisco’s waterfront, at Lab Zero, and not much more. Lab Zero is a group of consultants: product designers, graphic designers, scrum masters, content shapers, user experience folks, and most of all, software developers. We’re a sort of strike team of professionals who can drop into a company and make a product or project happen. It’s a smart move for lots of different kinds of companies, a sort of turbo-charged ramp to the future, a just-add-water team that can make a concept reality (where “water” = “money”). Much faster than trying to hire a whole new team of people, much safer than distracting an existing team of employees with an untested concept. And dammit, we’re good.

It’s a lot of fun… we have great and diverse clients, and the folks who work here are some of the most intelligent, talented, interesting, well-rounded people I’ve ever worked with. (No small feat; I never thought any place could top working at the Institute for Systems Biology.) I’m proud to say that Lab Zero does good work, and I’m lucky to get to be a part of it.

For the past year, my own work slate has been dominated by one Megaproject with one Megaclient. It’s been fascinating, and has had lots of new and intense challenges, but it’s also been a lot of very focused-in-one-area work and long hours. My strength is as a generalist, and I needed to stretch my legs a little. So a few weeks ago, I made arrangements with Lab Zero to shift off of the Megaproject for a while. When discussing what my next step should be with Lab Zero’s CEO, he said he’d understand if I want to step away for a bit and “have a life”. My instant reaction was to point at the Pier and say “This is my life, I don’t want to be anywhere else.” He high-fived me.

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

Consulting work can be rather feast-or-famine, and thankfully it’s been much more of the former than the latter for a while now. I’ve found myself smack dab in the middle of a unique opportunity: I have enough savings in the bank to support myself while I work on my own project for a while. It’s the sort of thing I’ve daydreamed about for years and years. Right this moment, I’m not only able to make it happen, but do it from Pier 9, surrounded by the best danged coworkers I could imagine, with Lab Zero work as a safety net should my bank account start creaking. So for now, and for a squishy amount of the future, I’ve hired myself. I’m making a New Thing. It feels so good. And getting to do it from Pier 9 is… god, just pinch me.

Rich has continued to do what he always does: believe in me, stand by me and root for me. That guy. He’s incredible.

So, I still can’t talk about what I’m working on. I’m under my own NDA now. But hopefully some time in the next few months I’ll have a New Thing I Made to share with you. I can’t wait. In the meantime, the clock is ticking, and I’m a coding, designing, planning, creating fool. And I have a big dopey grin on my face.