I don’t usually write about personal stuff. Almost no one reads my blog and those that do are probably interested in the Linkage program or are curious about… the Linkage program. I also suspect that I get a few reads of programming posts now and then (I actually use Google Analytics and know exactly what gets viewed). Today, I’m feeling a bit off and think that maybe writing about it will be helpful.

I write software for a living. For many years, I moved from one technology area to another while working for startup companies of which I was one of about two or three “employees.” I worked on digital video and MP3 audio before either of those things was mainstream (hence my not being a billionaire) and then I worked in biotech. The biotech thing lasted 18 years and I was the senior developer writing software that ran high speed hardware-assisted data comparison algorithms. It was used for comparing genetic data, DNA and Proteins, to databases of existing DNA and proteins. I was almost important for a moment.

Now I write apps. I no longer get paid for being clever and writing complicated difficult-to-design software; I get paid because I can write software in every modern language on every modern mobile platform (including Widows running on tablets). For some strange reason, I feel rather replaceable. Of course, my boss would have to hire an Android Java programmer, an iOS Swift programmer, a Windows C# programmer, and a JavaScript/HTML/CSS/Java web programmer to replace me. But it still feels rather pedestrian working on a mobile app.

Right now my dilemma is that I was asked to add an icon and text to our home page news feed. There had been mention of other formats but the specs were wishy-washy at best and it was hard to tell what comments and suggestions were specifications and what was just a comment or idea for the future. I get it that the boss was probably feeling things out and is as unsure about how things should look as I am. But it feels as if all I’m doing to day is moving icons around in a news item to see what looks best.

So here’s a bit of a request for anyone who is asking a programmer to do some graphics work (which is fie since I have art training from an earlier career): If you want an icon, say how big it should be. I was lucky enough to have this told to me. If you want text next to the icon, like for a news source, give the programmer an idea of the maximum length of this text and let them know if it should fit on a line or wrap as long as necessary. Oh, and then if it wraps, make sure to describe how to handle this because the home page news items are currently a fixed height and something needs to be hidden for all that text to appear. And then make sure to include info about the where to place this stuff in relationship to not just the title of the sample you copied from some other app, but also where in relationship to the subtitle and date info that is in your own app that isn’t in other peoples apps.

My boss is great. This is all just a list of issues that are coming up that are making this a drag of a project. Want a bigger drag? Deal with this on a tablets as well as a phone where just enlarging the news item image isn’t going to work well and some alternate format is needed for the whole thing. More? How about Android and iOS? And in a few weeks, Windows and web!

Ah, and I just got word. “Do what you think is best” is the message I received a moment ago. Now for a totally different challenge!