At the moment, like a fair few of you I'd imagine, I spend at least 40 hours working on projects that use a specific set of technologies. Sometimes I'm doing maintenance, and have those technologies enforced, and sometimes I'm doing new builds.. but have the skillset of the team enforced due to maintenance reasons (quite rightly).
I have no idea how to get to grips with them though! Take for instance the Chromium Embedded Framework; I've always been a fan of the UI of the GitHub app, and also been impressed by both Evernote and Spotify. When I found out how those UIs were produced I naturally tried thinking of a project that I could toy about with and produce over a weekend. (Which, with minimal OS interaction (perhaps simple file manipulations), should be ample) But I can't think of a single thing to develop.
At work I've been tasked with retraining on Ruby on Rails; not wanting to go in blind - I decided to hammer a few books and try a few techniques. Now aside from the usual Lynda.com examples, and the very good "Agile Web Development with Rails" project from the book... I can't think of a single thing to develop.
Ordinarily I'd consider contributing to some FOSS software, and with frameworks I use regularly I do actually have a few ideas and I belong to the relevant mailing lists - i.e The Apache Cordova mailing list, and have signed the appropriate paperwork where required. (i.e For Apache Licensed projects)
Sometimes it's good to have an idea and run with it from scratch though, especially if you're new to the technology. So how do my fellow programmers manage doing that, and more importantly, how do you get ideas that allow you to use that specific framework/technology? It's hard to shoehorn ideas in to specific technologies at times.
I fear this is half the battle and the other half is how to keep such a project when work commitments can eat in to your personal time, and as it is, downtime is quite a valuable commodity!