Zhenyi Tan And a Dinosaur

I’m Back

Err, umm, hello. 😬

Long time no see, it’s been a while since I last wrote anything. Sorry for my absence — I took some time off to deal with a burnout.

What happened

So long story short, I stupidly tried to create a custom video player that looks like the Safari video player, but with features like chapters support, showing thumbnail images when you mouse over the progress bar, and other customization options. It turned out to be too difficult for me. But due to sunk cost fallacy, I continued my attempts.

Since I can’t promote my apps on Twitter now (more on that later), I wanted the video player update to be a big, newsworthy one. The problem was, the more time and effort I put into it, the longer I neglected to update my existing apps, and the more their quality deteriorated. Then I felt more pressured, like “I really have to deliver this thing now.” Then I began to lose self-confidence.

Eventually, I found myself with no motivation left for my work. Although my brain knew what needed to be done, my body just couldn’t follow through. It’s like a self-fulfilling impostor syndrome, and now I am the impostor.

Other stuff

Then I started worrying about the business-y part of my business.

Twitter (and sometimes Reddit) used to be my go-to place for announcing my apps and talking to users. It was a valuable platform for small-time indie developers like me. But then Twitter changed their owner, Reddit enshittified their platform, Mastodon is niche, Bluesky is invite-only, and Threads… just doesn’t seem like the right fit. I’m left wondering: Where do I go from here?

I also thought about the potential unsustainability of my business model. My apps are paid upfront, and I’ve tried to keep their prices (I think) reasonably affordable. And I don’t charge anything for updates. However, this means I’ll have to rely on a steady influx of new users to sustain my business. I mean, I won’t switch Vinegar to a subscription model, but I just feel concerned about whether I can maintain this approach?

Then I listened to Under the Radar #234, where Marco Arment said:

I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had for other content-blocking methods and ways to make the web more tolerable. I hate the modern web. But if I made an app that was like made the web more tolerable, it would feel like janitorial work to me. Now every day I have a new pile of crap that the web has given me that I have to figure out how to deal with. And that’s just like a negative life for me. I don’t want that.

This really made me think: most of my apps fall into the “make the crappy web tolerable” category, and sometimes, it does feel like janitorial work. Do I want that?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.

Now what

I still haven’t recovered from the burnout. But I shipped an update to History Book a while ago, so yay me? I’ll now focus on shipping some inconsequential updates to Vinegar next and slowly ease my way back. I hope I made it.