Happy New Year, dear reader.
2014 was a fairly good year for me. I wrote a lot of code, read a lot of books, and published a lot of blog posts.
Things I got paid to do
2014 was a reaffirmation of career goals alongside the opportunities to work with several very different clients. In addition to working on cool stuff, I was promoted to Software Engineer 2. During the tail end of the year, I had the chance to work from home part of the week, which was a great experience. A sampling of my professional works this year:
- I wrapped up my time writing Qt/C++ for a touch-screen automated-guidance system embedded in heavy machinery. I spent the first two months of the year playing Tech Lead for a small team of misfits leaving the project during an organizational restructure. I had the opportunity to work directly with a project architect to redesign features and guide my fellow developers through the implementation.
- I worked on Health2Wealth, a ruby application created by some work friends to track Fitbit data and allow an administrator to award monetary rewards for reaching goals.
- I pitched, designed, and implemented a product called Ollert, a Trello analysis tool written in ruby. Built during a 48-hour SEP Startup Weekend, I led a team of 6 to bring the project to fruition. SEP has fully embraced the product and I continue to work on improving it when not on project work. We currently get about 300 sessions a month, and I frequently get emails from users thanking me, reporting bugs, or submitting feature requests.
- I worked on a rewrite of a huge WebForms e-commerce site. We created a hybrid site running some pages in the WebForms engine and all of our new pages in fresh MVC. We worked with a high-fidelity prototype created by an outside company, which proved at times invaluable and at other times a thorn in our sides. We worked directly with members of the client on-site, who were able to provide us with great insights into the legacy system and helped us work out unclear requirements.
- In December, I had some fun working on a solo proof-of-concept with a new client. This client is planning to do a rewrite of a large application in 2015 and wanted to do some investigation into rules engines, particularly those using Java. I worked through a few libraries and landed on JBoss Drools, an open-source rules engine with an integrated frontend called KIE Workbench. It’s been a while since I wrote any Java code, and I’d certainly never deployed any Java web applications. After two weeks of work, I was able to launch a web application using Spring MVC and integrate a KIE Workbench instance running on the same Azure virtual machine. The application is able to pick up rule changes from the Workbench automatically, without recompilation or redeployment.
Of my own volition
I had a lot of fun coding ideas this year, most of them lost to the raptures of time. A few items of note:
- BYO Game of Life (http://byo-game-of-life.herokuapp.com)
- 3rd Day Organics
- We finally finished version 1.0 of 3DO, a custom e-commerce website for a co-worker’s spouse’s cooperative food program. We built the whole application from scratch; in hindsight, we should have set something up using spree or another commerce framework.
- Fortune Cookie API (http://fortunecookieapi.com)
- A fairly silly API written using NodeJS to get data associated with fortune cookies: fortunes, lessons in Chinese, and lottery numbers. I implemented a simple application to access the data at http://demo.fortunecookieapi.com.
- mongoose-simple-random (https://www.npmjs.com/package/mongoose-simple-random)
- My foray into NodeJS packages - this is a plugin which adds
findOneRandommethods to any mongoose schema. Used extensively in the Fortune Cookie API.
- My foray into NodeJS packages - this is a plugin which adds
- Ollert (https://ollertapp.com)
- I know I listed it under a paid project, but I was putting over 8 hours a week into Ollert between the time it was originally built and the time I was paid to work on it. It’s my big pet project, and I’m proud of the things that it and I have accomplished. Trello has noted our accomplishments, validating all the hard work and long hours I’d sunk into it.
Book It - Where’s my free pizza?
I think that I read 11 books this year. See my books section for a quick check of which books you should be reading. Some of my favorites:
- Rework and Remote by Jason Fried
- Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
- The XX Factor by Alison Wolf
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath
This blog o' mine
In reality, I put quite a bit of work into this blog.
I published 24 blog posts in 2013; I published 37 in 2014 (including this one).
I had 1700 sessions and 2420 pageviews in 2013. I did almost that well in a single month at the end of 2014. I had 10,194 sessions and 12,997 pageviews in 2014 (as of 10:46AM EST 12/31/2014).
In February, I set up a custom domain at “larry-price.com”. Since then, I moved from Github Pages to OpenShift and added SSL.
I integrated Google AdSense this summer. Full disclosure: I’ve “earned” $3.78 in the past 6 months. From my perspective, these ads are simply an experiment to see how I could potentially monetize this blog. Another experiment was posting Amazon Associate links with my write-up posts; I’ve gotten 4 clicks and 0 buys.
In an attempt to keep people on the site “longer”, I added a Related Posts section above the Comments - it makes the blog take forever to generate and has had negligible results. It turns out users are more likely to click the related tags than the related posts. I intend to remove the Related Posts section soon (it may not be there when you read this).
As I enter the new year, I want to be able to look back next year at a set of naïve goals and wonder why I ever thought they were practical. So here they are:
- Contribute meaningful code to several open source projects not created by me
- Read at least 1 book per month
- Attend more meetups
- As a note, I am in fact starting a meetup for Google Go in Indianapolis starting on January 6, 2015. This goal may actually be attainable!
- >3000 sessions/month on this blog (currently ~1400)
- Become pro at using chopsticks
- I’m already pretty good, but by the end of 2015 I will be eating pizza with chopsticks
- More effectively conceal emotions when working with peers and clients
- Use this energy and passion to put the situation in my control instead
- Work remotely more and better
- Obtain more technical leadership roles on projects
- Not entirely in my control, I know, but I’m hoping that 2015 is a year where I’m able to demonstrate both my technical skills and proclivity to command
Thanks for reading. Have you thought about doing one of these yourself? You really should! There’s lots of help out there if you need it - you can even reach out to me, if you like.
As always, may your compile times be short and your error messages meaningful.