Turned 26 today… ruminations on me and tech

When I first discovered web design, HTML didn’t fascinate me nearly as much as JavaScript did. It was a language I could play with, and do some pretty neat things with. I managed to come up with several extensions to what JS would allow: a Basket to carry values and objects between windows and documents, a BigDecimal library for calculations with as many digits as you damn well please, even most recently a little assert() function. I’ve written articles on JavaScript several times, and even a big 1100 page book specifically on JavaScript. I’m still the author of probably the only article on the web focusing on JavaScript strict warnings, and I was once the moderator of a forum on JavaScript — a job I walked away from because it just got too big about the same old stuff.
Aside from the assert() function, I haven’t really written anything new in JavaScript in a very long time.
Oh, I’ve been focusing on Mozilla-based technologies more and more — on stuff that isn’t supposed to run in a web page. On XUL and XBL. On specific components within Mozilla that happen to be useful to whatever subject I’m thinking about or developing. But largely I feel my efforts have hit dead ends.
When it comes to JavaScript, I’ve really lost my drive to innovate. With that loss of drive has really come a loss of interest in almost anything that is directly about JavaScript in the traditional forms. I stopped participating entirely in the Javascript help forums I used to moderate. Maybe I’ll drop in on an IRC channel on FreeNode (I think it’s FreeNode), #javascript, and lend a hand there, but that’s about it.
Or maybe it’s not the drive to innovate so much as it is the drive to learn and to teach. I’ve got so much to learn about the guts of Mozilla, particularly C++ (which I’m slowly gaining the ability to read and write), that JS, a language I used to love and now just use, that making new tools in JS, writing new articles to show people about JS, has pretty much lost all appeal to me.
It’s useful of course when I’m designing a website and the customer wants an effect a certain way. Beyond that… there’s Mozilla’s user interface. Other than that… damned if I know what I’m going to do with the JavaScript knowledge I’ve gathered.
I’ve been thinking for months about designing a gridded textbox set, where JS does the tabbing from one field to another for you automatically, for data entry. Why haven’t I done it? I can’t convince myself that anyone would find it useful.
I’ve been working on a MathML editor in XUL. Recently I had to scrap one approach I was using that relied heavily (too heavily, as it turned out) on XBL. I’m reorganizing, but I promised Daniel Glazman that I’d have something ready by early December for his Nvu project. That has not happened.
And of course there’s DOM Inspector. Once again, I respect Christopher Aillon a hell of a lot; I just wish there were more of him, and that he didn’t have such a massive load himself to deal with. 🙂
Okay, I admit, I’m going through some self-doubt caused partially by too many projects I want to help out in, too little time to work on them, and no money to really support me while I do it. I’m on a vacation now; you’d think it would clear my head. It’s only making me restless.
Even fixing simple XUL bugs in Mozilla — and there are a couple where code I have personally come up with is available and easy to modify to fix these bugs — isn’t appealing to me right now.
There’s other stuff that I’m working on that doesn’t involve technology so much (read: amateur fiction), which is at a roadblock as well, so that outlet is closed too.
But to sum it all up: I haven’t got the foggiest idea what the hell I’m supposed to do when I’m on, or when I’m not on, a break.
Am I burned out? Again?