ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Ode and a [slow] farewell to Twitter

11/26/2012 7:48:45 PM

“Facebook is for people you went to high school with, Twitter is for people you wish you went to high school with”

-- Someone on Twitter

It wouldn’t be a huge exaggeration to say that my current occupation (and success, if you will) is 50% thanks to Twitter. I’ve joined Twitter in 2008 considering it (as it was advertised at the time) a micro-blogging platform. I enjoyed blogging but sometimes things I wanted to spill to the ether were too short to warrant a blog post. And that’s were Twitter was supposed to come in. Little did I know that it will become the most important communication platform, news source and marketing channel in my life.


In late 2009 I’ve noticed an interesting competition announced by someone on Twitter. It was called MIX10k and the objective was to create a Silverlight (some other technologies were allowed too) app with less than 10kb of source code. So I’ve created this 3D Tic-Tac-Toe game, submitted and campaigned for it on Twitter. I didn’t win the Grand Prize, but won a Community Prize. Thank you, Twitter!

And the prize was [partially] paid trip to MIX10 conference in Las Vegas. That was my first major conference and actually the first trip to US. Moreover that was the conference were Windows Phone 7 development story was unveiled. And Windows Phone development was what I wanted to do next. Unfortunately I got some bad news at the conference, but nevertheless met a ton of cool people who were and still are active in the Windows Phone community on Twitter and elsewhere.

So my initial life plan for 2010 failed, but I’ve stayed active in the #WPDEV community.


I was hanging on Twitter with my Windows Phone developer friends (among other interesting people) all the time and was curious to see their successes once Windows Phone platform launched. What I saw was some happiness, but mostly disappointment in the way indie developers (especially game developers) struggled to get any visibility in the Store (called Marketplace back then) and as a result not getting any meaningful income from their ad supported apps.

Seeing this I had an idea that developers could help each other by promoting each others apps utilizing the ad space that doesn’t bring them any meaningful income anyway. That’s how AdDuplex was born. And it’s my primary occupation for more than a year now. Thank you, Twitter!

The End Is Near

I’ve met a ton of awesome people on Twitter. I went and/or got invited to a ton of awesome events via Twitter. I’ve met a ton of awesome people in real life via Twitter. Most of these encounters were made possible thanks to different usage patterns that 3rd party Twitter apps provided us. Currently I’m using Metrotwit on the desktop as my primary Twitter client. It allows me to see a bunch of different activities at a time and constantly occupies a whole monitor. I don’t read twitter as a newspaper or an RSS feed. I glance at it from time to time and engage in conversations if something catches my eye. I see my timeline, mentions, DMs and a couple of search columns all at the same time and get a lot of value out of it.

Unfortunately Twitter thinks I’m using it wrong. They are enforcing their vision on 3rd party developers and basically just kicking them out of the platform in an effort to improve monetization. That’s their right and totally understandable. It just doesn’t play well with the way I’ve used and want to continue to use Twitter.

My copy of Metrotwit still works pretty much as I want it to. But for how long? How enthusiastic do Twitter client developers feel this days? I know for a fact that their morale is pretty low. Twitter clients are going away and with them goes away the Twitter I used to love.

I was very skeptical when I heard about initiative. I thought it was an utopia. I still do. But with recent developments around Tweetro and after watching This Week in Startups with Dalton Cardwell I feel it’s time to look for alternatives. And as of today seems the closest thing to it. No matter how utopic paid social network may sound.

So, I pulled the plug and registered on You can follow me @ailon. You can still follow me @ailon on Twitter too. I’m definitely more present on Twitter than on for the time being, but for how long?

Thank you, Twitter! I’ve loved you. I still like you. And I still want to be friends with you. I just don’t love you anymore. I’m like that spouse that stays only because there’s no strong enough reason to move out just yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

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Service Work Kills Products

8/23/2011 4:01:43 PM

Photo by Nicholas Morant

I really enjoy reading stories about people breaking out of the machine and becoming indie developers. In Windows Phone world a role model indie developer is Elbert Perez. He has developed more than 10 high quality Windows Phone games and was able to quit his day job to pursue independent game development fulltime. He is really open about his professional indie-dev life and regularly posts updates about his experience in his blog at

In his latest update Elbert writes (emphasis mine):

I have taken extra side projects to help keep the coffers full, which somewhat slowed down the cadence of which I release my games. My strategy for making games has not changed, but I have become more open minded about taking on work for other people as long as it has something to do with WP7 or games.

And he concludes with

I’ve been really busy with other projects, but I am still working on my games…

That really resonates with me.

I’ve always wanted to be a product(s) “company”. I’ve worked on several products over the years, but I never had a runway (as in cash) to support a year of product development without reasonable return. So I supported my “dream” by doing contract work.

Except providing services pays (relatively) instantly and risk-free. And it’s a hard drug. The one that you don’t even enjoy, but have to inject to avoid withdrawal pains. Combining “working for yourself” with working on a product is much harder than working for a man and working on a product in your off-the-clock time. You don’t have any off-the-clock time when you work for yourself.

I’ve had a product which at the time it was launched (2003) was definitely contending for No.1 spot in it’s category. One problem – it didn’t make enough money to fully support me. And I had no extra money to keep me afloat while I was improving, marketing and otherwise working on it. So I fooled myself that I can work on client projects to fund the development.

Fast forward 5 years and my product, which only got attention now and then, was no longer at the top of the list. It is still successfully used in projects and products but I’ve totally missed a perfect chance at establishing it as a market leader. And the money I made working on these side projects is just money paid in exchange for labor. Bitch work. Even if well paid. No longevity.

So I decided to get rid of all the “service” work and concentrate all of my attention on the “product” work. Unless you have a deep rainy day fund you can’t just do this overnight. So I’ve been launching various smaller sites and products here and there and was able to accumulate Ramen-level stream of repeating income to support my endeavors. I did it on my own for a couple of years, but if you want some guidance on how to achieve this, just read The 4-Hour Workweek book.

So now I’m fully invested in my current product and, even it fails, it won’t be because I neglected it to get some shrimp into my ramen. And that’s how I know it will succeed.

I guess the moral is – if you have a good and promising thing going you shouldn’t waste your time chasing some extra cash. A few extra dollars won’t affect your well-being in the future, but a successful product will. There’s a Lithuanian proverb “Nemesk kelio dėl takelio”. This could be literally translated as “don’t get off the road for a trail”. I bet there’s some English equivalent, but you get the point.

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