Nikon D700 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm — 1/1250 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
works out well.... sometimes
from last autumn's outing that produced “Thatched Roofs and Colored Canopies at the Himukai Shrine, Kyoto Japan”
This is a long post. The executive summary is:
Lightroom plugin development consumed me to the point of breakdown, and something needs to change: I'm going to revert back to treating it like the hobby it is, doing what I find pleasure in (developing my plugins), but avoiding what brings me stress (being subjugated to my mail and comment queues).
So, the end result is that my plugin development will continue, but if you send me a note about the plugins, I probably won't respond. Sorry.
The verb “to scale” in computer science refers to a solution's ability to handle dramatically increasing demands. Filtering spam by personally inspecting each message, for example, works fine if you get only a few each day, but reaches its limits when you get hundreds a day, and becomes totally unworkable if you got thousands. Personal inspection just doesn't scale to those kinds of numbers, which is why in real life we need a totally different approach, such as automatic filtering as a first line of defense.
When I first started writing my plugins for Adobe Lightroom and giving them away, I was thrilled to get a response back, whether a “thanks!” or a bug report or a feature request. Engineers like to build things that people use, and though it was just a hobby, the gratification I got from the response was real. But after several years and more than a dozen plugins, the constant flow of feedback from users became fairly overwhelming, and after some fretting about what to do, I decided to move to a “donationware” model that kept my plugins free for everyone to use if they wanted, but also allowed people to easily express “thanks” through gifts. The extra “thanks” would keep me encouraged though the more dreary aspects of this hobby.
Unfortunately, it didn't work because it didn't address the real problem.
As my plugins got more popular (and more plentiful; I'm up to 20+ plugins now), so did the feedback of all kinds. The problem is that my original idea — that I write and maintain these plugins, and handle all feedback — just doesn't scale to the number of folks using them. All the thanks and gratification in the world doesn't put more hours in the day, and I eventually found this summer that merely doing an initial triage on my daily plugin-related email — reading them and responding to the low-hanging fruit — consumed 100% of my hobby time.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/100 sec, f/13, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
but show their rough nature when viewed up close
The vast majority of messages I got were about problems at best tangential to me (e.g. people having general problems with their systems or Lightroom that happen to affect them while trying to use a plugin, or problems at a photo-hosting site that they run into while using a plugin), which repeated over and over and over all day, every day, and on the best day, my hobby time was completely saturated by email and blog comments that benefit only a relative few. Early in the summer I made a plugin FAQ and linked to it from everywhere, but it made no apparent dent in the flow of messages, and all summer, I got no new development done. I'm a geeky engineer and I like new development, and so the pleasure was now completely lost, replaced by an ever-increasing stress that grew with the number of messages awaiting my response.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/4000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
( just a pretty picture from the same outing as the others )
The stress and pressure was taking a toll on my life that came to a head after the added strain of a 21-hour trip back to Kyoto and the ensuing jetlag. My body just gave out, and I got sudden intense pains in both arms that made it impossible to use a computer.
The prospect of never being able to use a computer again is a fairly big deal to someone like me, especially since the photography I enjoy so much is now all digital. I gave up the computer for a while and consulted a bunch of doctors, and it seems that it's just stress-induced muscle cramping that can be healed, and thankfully not something irreversible like carpel-tunnel. I've settled on a particular sports-massage therapist whose treatments are both expensive and painful, but he clearly knows what he's doing and the prognosis looks good.
But it was a real wake-up call... all this stress and pain for a hobby! Something's got to change.
(The photos on this page are from the same outing that also produced last year's “Gate of Disrepair” post, which somehow seems fitting.)
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/3200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
For some, this would be the time to turn it into a business, moving to a sales model, hiring developers and customer-service reps, etc. But I never wanted to make this a business... I love Lightroom and photography and software development, and this is my hobby, which is why I've always been adamant about not selling anything, not having customers.
So my plan is this: once my arms are fully healed, I'm going to return to what I find pleasure in (blogging and plugin development) and more or less ignore what I don't find pleasure in (dealing with plugin feedback). This is either remarkably selfish or long overdue, depending on your point of view. I certainly don't want to leave people in a lurch, so I plan to be attentive to bugs, but I will no longer take the weight of the world on my shoulders and feel the need to respond to every request for assistance.
I'm going to flush the hundreds of pending blog comments and emails, and will feel free to repeat that process from time to time.
I'm going to return to the pleasurable roots of plugin development. Taking this approach benefits me, of course, but it should actually allow me to get more stuff done (fix more bugs, add more features, and release more plugins) thereby benefiting many. But if I don't respond to your message, this is why. Sorry.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/1250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Autumn cherry blossoms, as seen in “Cherry Blossoms Amid the Fall Foliage”