I still think I can meet my goal of having an "easy to prototype and build with" 2D engine (with sample game) by around August/September, but I'll have to use a different strategy than naively relying on pure enthusiasm. Given the change in my timetable I'm going to have to switch to a more sensible plan earlier than I hoped for (darn shame; the silly plans are always more fun [grin]). With the reduction in available hours I think it's best to try to devote an hour before heading off to the office to doing targeted work towards building the engine. This seems to work well for a lot of people, and ties in really nicely to the end of daylight savings here next week. If I like I can devote any extra "hobby time" after work that I find that I have on all the fun stuff such as concept art and music without having a guilt trip that I'm not really making that much useful progress.
I'll post another journal entry when I've progressed a bit further than unexciting things such as background reading and top-level architecture stuff. Hopefully I'll also have shaken this feeling that my head is full of cotton wool.
One quick question though: I'll probably need to get a laptop of some kind in the near future, to act as a mobile work computer while I'm away from my desktop (so for word processing, presentations, programming etc.). I've been thinking about getting an iBook with a 12" screen, since they seem reasonably priced for an Apple (especially if I can get an educational discout) and could also give me a taste of cross-platform Mac OS development. However I'm pretty unexperienced with both Macs and laptops, so I was wondering if any of you have done the same thing or could offer me any advice about whether this is a good or bad computer to buy.