Archive for the 'Year in Review' Category

2016 in Review

This has been a hell of a year.  On a personal level, a lot went right for me.  I went to Italy, London and Amsterdam for my honeymoon.  I started a new job teaching at Dev Bootcamp, which I love.  I started a partnership with my longtime friend Fred Metterhausen (over at Map Developers) which represents my first real foray into entrepreneurship.  On a larger scale, societally and culturally, things were a lot worse.  We lost a lot of cultural icons this year.  And of course, a fascist game show host rode a wave of bigotry into the White House.  So it hasn’t been all sunshine and stardust.

I don’t have a lot to talk about this year.  The systems I’ve put in place over the last couple of years have been working fairly well, though I’ve had a hard time getting my inboxes empty (going on a long honeymoon and coming back to a new job really threw my routines off).

This year, despite the double whammy of honeymoon-career change that my routine is still recovering from, I was able to get a couple of projects off the ground.  The first was a small Halloween site that came out of a jokey conversation with my coworkers at a team lunch.  It asks the hard holiday question “do you like candy corn?”  In some ways it’s an extension of my past experiments with static sites using CSS tricks.  The source is on GitHub, if you want to take a peek.

The second is a partially unfinished experiment with Twitter bots.  I was playing around with the API for the Digital Public Library of America’s image collection and some ideas around magic and technology.  It currently searches for an image using the query “magic” and posts a random one at midnight.  It’s @MagicPictureBot on Twitter and you can peep the source if you’re interested.

The last project I was able to work on was one that is truly meaningful to me.  Message from 2016 is the brainchild of my good friend Matt Baker and was a collaboration between Matt, my wife Deana and myself (as well as a handful of students). It was a response to Trump’s election. There was a palpable sense of anger and loss in our communities and we wanted to help people capture that energy in a productive way by giving them a chance to write a letter to their future selves.  Please, if you have a few quiet moments to reflect on how his election made you feel, it would mean a lot to me if you went there and wrote yourself a letter.

New repos: 2
Commits: 111 (includes commits in DBC’s private GitHub repos)
Repos contributed to: 1

Articles: 3 (down from 13 last year)
Total word count: 1188 words, 4.75 pages* (down significantly from last year’s ~5700 words, 22.776 pages)
Views: 279 (down from last year’s 769)
*250 words is roughly one page, hand written
**As of 12/30/16

I did quite a bit less writing here than I did last year.  A lot of my routines that helped make last year more productive last year were disrupted by leaving town and coming back to a new job.  I’ve recovered slowly, but am picking up steam.  I have several draft articles that I’ve been slowly working on and a couple more in the germination stage, so I’m hopeful and excited about what’s coming next year.


2015 in Review

2015!  What a year.  In May my long time girlfriend and roommate Deana and I got married. It was… It was amazing. So many of our friends and family were able to join us to celebrate and we were just blown away by the love. Thank you to everyone that helped make that day the kickass event that it was.  There were also some fairly low parts, some losses and scary trips to the hospital for close family members.  A mixed year, in many ways, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.  I made moderate progress on almost all of my goals from last year and I’m feeling pretty upbeat about 2016 too.

Not a whole lot has changed here since last year.  I’m still using Beeminder, IFTTT, Zapier and Trello to automate goal tracking.  It’s working fairly well for me.  I’ve spent a bit of time looking into Huginn, which I think would be an excellent addition but I haven’t found the killer use yet that has made me feel I need to set it up immediately.  I’ve also had a server migration pending for a while now that has put any additions like that on hold.

I’m going to include my GitHub stats here for continuity’s sake, but the truth is that my focus this year has been on projects that don’t (or at least didn’t) yield blog posts or need repositories.  As I said in the opening, I got married in May. Understandably that distracted me a tad from other projects, including this blog and especially crypto pals (which never really recovered).

New repos: 1
Commits: 6
Repos contributed to: 1
Pull Requests accepted: 0

Articles: 13 (up from 8 last year)
Total word count: 5694 words, 22.776 pages* (up quite a bit from last year’s ~2300 words/~9 pages)
Views: 769 (up from last year’s 602)
*250 words is roughly one page, hand written

I accomplished both of the goals I set for myself in last year’s review.  Writing (somewhat) monthly book reviews helped me break the blog post per month barrier.  Not a big accomplishment but it makes it seem a bit more lively around here and is a milestone nonetheless.  They don’t seem super popular but I think they’ve been good for both my reading and writing habits so I’m planning to keep them around for 2016.  I also wanted to do more writing that stood on its own.  In November I wrote about my depression publicly for the first time in Algorithms Without Empathy, my first essay on this site. I was very nervous about it but I got really great feedback and started some really good conversations here, on Facebook and in person. I’m really happy I hit the publish button and I hope to produce more essays like that this year.

Other than the essay and the reviews, not a whole lot happened on this blog.  It’s been mostly personal project documentation and this year my main project was getting married.  As awesome as that was (and it was really awesome), I didn’t get a whole lot of blog material out of it.

2014 in review

2014 wasn’t the banner year I was quite hoping for but it wasn’t 2013 so at least it had that going for it. There were some very moderate successes that I’m really pleased with as well as some goals I never made it to.

If I had to give 2013 a name I’d call it the year of systems improvement except that’s a boring name and nothing should ever be named that. I’m happy with the Evernote, Trello, Beeminder combo I’ve been using (especially considering the new tool I added to the mix, see below). Having that system in place has really helped me continue to be productive and healthy while Deana has been in school. Achievable goals combined with regular prioritization may be the single sentence summary of GTD, but when my energy is low it’s really important to be able to say “I need to do these things today and then it’s okay to quit.”

I added a new tool this year that has really streamlined my use of Trello and Beeminder.  Zapier is a service in the same vein as IFTTT. You choose one service as a trigger and another to be triggered, allowing you to automate new things. For me that means when I move an item to “Done” in Trello I no longer need to enter it into Beeminder by hand. Cutting out that second step has made me a much better user of Trello. Since Beeminder is the record keeper that matters, moving items to done in Trello was often an afterthought. Now I can focus more on the things I need to do and trust that the record keeping is happening automatically.  I really like the idea of IFTT and Zapier, but it wasn’t until Zapier got their Beeminder integration that I found a real use for them.

That wasn’t the only automation I added this year.  I wrote some code to make recurring tasks on Trello easier.  It’s definitely helpful but due to some issues with my server I haven’t actually used it as much as I hoped to.

Articles:  8 (up 14% from last year’s 7)
Total word count: 1641, 6.5 pages* (down 29% from last year’s 2298, 9.1 pages*)
Average words per article:  205.1 words / 0.8 pages* (down 38% from last year’s 328.3, 1.3 pages*)
Views:  601** (up 32% from last year’s 454 )
*250 words is roughly one page, hand written
**As of 12/30/14

I’m writing more than I did last year though you wouldn’t know it from looking at these stats.  A lot of that writing is taking place elsewhere.  Here thought it’s been more posts but shorter ones.  Both of those are true in part because I’ve been using very short posts to announce the Crypto Learn-A-Longs I’ve been doing with Matt (more on that below).  Since most of what I do here is document projects there’s a lot more that goes into a blog post than just writing.  One of my goals for next year is to do more writing that stands on its own.  And who knows, maybe I’ll break that article per month barrier too.

Views are up again.  I attribute that to two things. First, the learn-a-longs.  October was far and a way my best month.  It’s also the month I published both learn-a-long articles.  Since those are event announcements I felt less self conscious about sharing them around deliberately and I also had Matt distributing the link.  Second, I took on a variety of projects this year that I think brought in some new visitors.  Both ExtinctionCSS and NaNoGenMo brought new followers and they’re both about subjects I haven’t really written about before.

I had a pretty good year on GitHub.

New repos: 4 (and one fork)
Commits: 57
Repos contributed to: 3
Pull Requests accepted: 1

Three of the new repos are responsible for the majority of those commits (ExtinctionCSS, Scheduling Trello, NaNoGenMo).  I’m really happy with my performance in NaNoGenMo. I put a lot of thought into the planning and structure phase and it payed off. I started small and doable, knowing my time would be limited, and built from there.  This was my first foray into generative art and I had an absolute blast.  I’ve got a lot of ideas that came from this so hopefully you’ll be seeing more of this next year.

One project you haven’t seen me writing about has come to a close in December.  I’m moving on from Coyote.  I had a good two years there — I learned a lot, especially about product development and leading a team.  Shout out to my team, Growth Junkies.  Thanks for everything!  I’ll be joining Nielsen Marketing Analytics as a Senior Developer where I’ll be doing a lot more front end development as well as learning some sweet machine learning algos.  To growth in 2015!

Year in Review 2013

Too much happened in 2013 and too recently for me to try and review everything that happened, so I’ll stick to the things most relevant to this blog.  Namely my projects and this blog itself.

First, some blog stats:
Articles:  7 (up 140% from last year’s 5)
Total word count:  2298, 9.1 pages* (up 127% from last year’s 1803, 7.2 pages*)
Average words per article:  328.3 words / 1.3 pages* (down 9% from last year’s 360.6, 1.4 pages*)
Views:  454 (up 142% from last year’s 318)
*250 words is roughly one page, hand written

I’m happy that I wrote more than last year, though the decrease in article length isn’t super exciting.  Articles and pageviews are both up 140% which is kind of interesting.  I imagine there’s a point at which writing more doesn’t directly translate into more pageviews, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to break the article per month barrier before that becomes true.

In 2013 I branched out a bit and started working on some new platforms.  I wrote my first ever Firefox plugin, I wrote a quick and dirty ‘Hello World’ style app for my new Pebble watch, and got my feet wet with some home automation.

I’ve started using two new tools this year that have really helped me be more productive and organized.  I started using Beeminder in September and have found it to be a fantastic addition to my toolbox.  It’s data focused goal tracking powered by science and a team that is serious about eating their own dog food.  It’s currently helping me stay in shape, write more, and be more productive all around.  They also have an excellent data policy (you own it and can leave whenever you want to).  I also recently migrated my to do lists to Trello.  I think it’s an improvement, but I haven’t been using it long enough to tell.  I also want to give a shout out to 750words.  My one month trial just expired and I haven’t decided whether to pull the trigger on paying for it, but the trial has inspired me write more which I am very happy about.

I’m going to end this year in review on a personal note.  In November I proposed to my beautiful girlfriend Deana.  She said yes.  Don’t be surprised if you see some wedding related projects over the next year or so.



May 2018
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