Last night, I was up late doing some administrative work for my sites as well as writing some posts. This was my attempt to procrastinate working on an osCommerce site that I promised someone would be done by the start of October.
One of those posts I made was Drupal related and available via an RSS feed for Planet Drupal to ingest. Unfortunately, I found that TinyMCE (a WYSIWYG editor) had changed my absolute links to relative links in the post. This caused references to links and images back to my site to not display properly for anyone aggregating from the RSS feed I provide. This particular issue with TinyMCE and associated Drupal module is not so much of a bug as it is a configuration issue that can easily be corrected.
As I was troubleshooting the problem I was also monitoring new posts arriving at Planet Drupal. As midnight approached, three additional posts appeared from Planet Drupal. Those posters seen at Drupal late in the evening were from pingVision, Earl Miles, and Bryght. Prior to my post, Greg Knaddison has made a post in the early evening hours. Interestingly, there has not been a single post put on Planet Drupal during the day (relative to CDT). In fact, if updates are made on Planet Drupal during the day, many of those entries take place on the other side of the world and late into the night for them.
I started to wonder how many of us spend the day working on information technology (IT) for someone else and come home to work more on the computer. Often my most productive time on the computer is late in the night once the family is asleep. My contributions to open source communities are very minor compared to those who put out real code so the rest of us can run the great software we do. I wonder how much the others have sacrificed with family, friends, and sleep to spend time with the open source communities. While I have singled out Drupal, so many people from so many open source projects are burning the midnight oil with little in return financially. Why do they do it? Why do you do it? Why don't I do more of it?
During the last year, I've started working on some sites for others to make a little bit of cash. I've worked on those sites using such CMS applications as Drupal, Joomla, SMF, osCommerce, and Wordpress. While I have learned a lot on these projects, I'm increasingly want to do more for open source and less for individuals. More and more, I find myself involved helping others in the various forums of CMS projects. Increasingly, I find myself getting the itch to write that module or plug-in I've been wanting to for so long. Increasingly, I just want to make my mark in the community and not in the check book. Helping someone in the forums has become so much more rewarding than tweaking the CSS for some local business in exchange for a few extra bucks.
For me, there is something very compelling getting to know others involved in IT "away from the office". Even more compelling is to get to know what I'm capable of learning and doing outside the 9 to 5. While I find my day job technically challenging, it is the evening hours after the lights have gone out that I find myself creatively challenged. In fact when it comes to implementing new ideas at work, I find that most of my ideas do not originate from work but from the open source communities. Yet, when I spend my evenings working for the dollar, those original ideas I bring back from my night hours to my day job seem fewer and less rewarding.
So for these reasons, I've decided to slow down on my "side jobs for cash" approach. Once I get done with the osCommerce site I'm working on, I'm done. I can spend my day hours making money...but it's time to play and sleep during my night hours. It's time to leave work for work for the day hours...and just find the real geek and real family man for the night hours. This is my goal.