Huan Truong

Notes from a developer


/ Do you believe in yourself?

I'm really glad Crankshaft has taken shape. Today I drove with the software running on my dash for my weekly McDonald's dose with a new sensation of finally having a semi-useful product that some people in this world actually use.

Forecast: Sunny

If you don't know, I have always been a maker, but my project were much smaller (that to a later post). I stopped doing that a couple of years ago to focus on my grad school, but then I honestly felt a little bit lonely. So I tried a lot of different things to drag myself out of the hole I dug myself in during 2016-2017. None of them worked well. I tried to sell stuff on eBay for fun and profit for a while – and got bored with it. In 2018, one of my attempts was to write a lot of different stuff. Some of the efforts took off and one of them was Crankshaft. It feels good to wake up one day and realizing I'm not a bored human anymore. Something clicked.

Now there are a couple of things I learned during the kindling of this project:

  • It really gave me a dopamine boost in me believing in myself. I now wake up every day, hoping I have more than 24 hours to work on the things I have to do and the things I don't have to do, but love to do.
  • People are incredibly kind in general. I am now also less shy about promoting the idea of Crankshaft to people.
  • Having a "sweet spot." Dustin, I, and many others have been working on the project for years. I still remember driving to St. Louis at least once a month to work with him and go to events to promote our little project. I think we did incredibly cool stuff, but it didn't take off as well as we wished. We still have fun with, and I committed to working on it because it is cool and technically challenging, but it's hard to get people excited. EzPi4ME was another project that I think is useful and has a lot of technical merits, but it won't be as popular. Crankshaft is a popular project, despite it not being extremely technically challenging. Crankshaft is basically a whole bunch of bash scripts. I don't have a problem with it being just that either. It's the sweet spot of being a little bit technical, but not too technical. It's also possible due to me standing on the shoulders of the giant who is f1xpl. It also is my belief in free software married with practicality - something that actually looks nice and works well. Free software doesn't have to suck.
  • I realized I spent as much time talking about it and communicating with people, helping users, and writing docs/wiki as much as I use to code and test the features. Past projects have almost always been just code. This is something different. I love it more than just coding in the dark.
  • It's still me doing the technical stuff. If I want some feature, I have to code it myself. I have to figure out the bugs that annoy me. I have to be competent to make all those things happen. I think it will probably remain that way, and I'm perfectly happy with being the 200% developer.
  • Being genuine and straightforward helps a lot in kindling a great community. I guess I'm a goofy Vietnamese dude who stutters every 3 words, so I can't sell my project like a salesman.

There are some shortcomings too:

  • My nicknames are associated with my real names, so I cannot remain anonymous anymore.
  • I wish I didn't miss the Pi Jam in Raleigh just today. I was not thinking about it. I was busy developing software, you know?
  • I really need to brush up my chops on making videos: I like my videos to be goofy and fun, but now it's just goofy.
  • I really like to have someone as a duo at least in helping me developing and managing this project. I know, it's "mah baby" kinda idea, but I know too well that I'm just a nerd who has no idea managing a project and make it do the impossible. Years ago, at 18 when I had my first project, I had a 16 year old girl who emailed me to jump in and offered help with communicating with people and organizing the project. She turned out to be a great leader (Just two years later she got into a top management/business college in the UK). I think there are people who are born to lead and attract others. Although I wish I had that ability, but now I'm content that that person is not me.

But really, what I have learned and the level of optimism I got through this project is incredible. I wish to keep my head up and continue making progress maintaining this project and earning people's trust. Overall, I feel like I want to keep going every day and contributing my small part to make the world a more pleasant place to be in.

And all is well.

Plug: I'm looking for a job soon. Please let me know if you know someone is looking for a hacker. Thanks!