Partially inspired by Ray Camden's similar post (a fun read, by the way), I thought I would take a look at how 2014 shaped up for me.
This year I continued my trend of writing at least one blog post every month, so my streak since starting this blog in April 2007 remains unbroken. The most popular post that I wrote this year (as determined by total hits) was Creating Cordova (PhoneGap) Android Prod/Dist Builds on the CLI... However Heavily Customizing a Bootstrap Typeahead remains my most popular post of all time... despite that version of Bootstrap being outdated and the new version not including a Typeahead control. I'm pretty consistently getting between 300 and 500 hits a day between all of my various content, and a surprising amount of comments on older posts. The long tail on these things is crazy.
While not a prolific reader, I do like to read and can occasionally get sucked into a book and do little else for a day or two. I set a goal of 12 books for the year, and it looks like I'm going to finish the year out having read 15. My favorite book of the year has got to go to Sugar Alpha: The Life and Times of Señor Huevos Grandes, which is sort of a cross between some early-to-mid skydiving history (the fun parts), and an action/thriller movie about drug smuggling. In fact, I hear that it may become a movie in the next few years. If you hear anything about it, definitely go see it!
A close second place would be The Martian, a ridiculously good hard science fiction story about an astronaut that gets stranded on Mars and has to get very resourceful to save his own life.
I Wrote a Book!
Sort of on a whim, in December I wrote a book: REST Web APIs: The Book. Inspired in part by Amy Hoy's book Just F#*!ing Ship, which she wrote and shipped in 24 hours, I decided to try my hand at shipping a book in just over two weeks time. I knew I didn't have 24 consecutive hours to work on it, so I broke it up over two weeks, working about 3-4 hours per night, most nights. That works out to about 42 hours instead of 24, but still quite the accomplishment, I think.
The point was this: You really don't need to get hung up on all of the little details. You can self-publish and skip anything that doesn't absolutely need to be there. My book still doesn't have a table of contents or an index. It's just a rudimentary cover image and a collection of chapters, available as PDF, ePub, and Mobi (kindle). It was proofread by volunteers and does still have a few errors that slipped through (to buyers: expect an update soon!). I shipped a true Minimum Viable Product, and I can improve on it over time as needed.
Anyway, I wrote a book. I'm (self-) published now! That's cool. If you're interested, I released a sample chapter, too.
Conferences/Presentations and Career
Oh, I forgot about the Node Philly event at Philly Tech Week, where I gave a brief presentation on integrating things in your life by building custom IFTTT-like implementations with Node.js and hosting them for free on Heroku.
I also participated as a vendor at the CASE District II conference in February, where Steve and I started selling our warez in earnest. I hinted at this at the beginning of the year, and we are well on our way. We have our first paying client for our product suite; and development is going really, really well. We're on the path to a product based business, and I couldn't be happier.
I was invited to apply for a job at Netflix by someone that I really respect; and while I ultimately passed on it (for now!) I was honored to have been thought of and humbled by the thought. I'm fully invested in making AlumnIQ into a successful business, and even if I was looking for a new job (and I'm not!), convincing my wife to move across the country would be about as difficult as convincing fish to come live on land.
Favorite Movies and Music
I've been using last.fm to track my listening habits since I first heard of it in December of 2007. I haven't always listened via methods that could be tracked (e.g. early iPods, etc), but when tracking was possible, I was doing it. My most played artist/song for the year came as just a little bit of a surprise to me, because I feel like I haven't listened to them in a while thanks to the holiday music season and associated family gatherings.
Indeed, because during family gatherings or just a day at home with my family we tend to shuffle-play a huge Spotify Christmas-themed playlist I created, that stuff dominated my stats for the year. But because it's not "active" listening I'm not going to include it in my "favorites" determination. So with that in mind, my most-played artist/song of the year:
I don't put much effort into rating movies on IMDB, but I do tend to rate what I watch on Netflix in hopes that it will generate good suggestions. Unfortunately Netflix doesn't seem to show my ratings (there appears to be a page for it but it's empty, so I'm guessing it's buggy at the moment)... So I'll just wing it. Memorable movies from this year include Guardians of the Galaxy, How to Train Your Dragon 2 (I have kids, after all), Edge of Tomorrow, and Gone Girl. I suspect Interstellar would easily top this list if I had been able to see it yet, but I haven't. So I think my favorite movie of the year has to go to Gone Girl just for the shear mind-f§¢k of it. I didn't even want to sleep next to my own wife after watching that movie.
Other Memorable Stuff
If you've been reading this blog, you probably know that I've switched to a standing desk in my home office. It's been great at doing exactly what I hoped it would: Working out muscles that were otherwise going mostly unused. My lower back, calves, and thighs are all getting much more work during a workday. I haven't been terrific at sticking with the standing desk —there were many days toward the end of the year that I sat on the couch instead— but I really do like it and I will be back at it again in the new year.
Also this year I decided to become a licensed skydiver and take it up as a regular hobby. That has been a great success! I went out for my first day of training in late April, and in early August I received my A license, which allows me to jump at any USPA-member dropzone in the country. I've since bought my own set of equipment so I don't need to rent it for every jump, which is very nice. As I write this on the afternoon of the 30th I have 41 jumps to my name, but when I post it on the morning of the 31st I'll be on my way to the dropzone, hopefully to add a few more to that total, if the wind cooperates! (Hooray for holiday vacation!)
Here's some video from my most recent jump. I'm in the blue helmet and black sunglasses, facing the camera as the video starts:
This year I participated in my first color run, which was pretty cool. Running with a 5 year old, though, is predictably fairly slow going, especially when that 5 year old falls down within the first kilometer and scrapes his hands and knees pretty badly. He did finish, but he was kind of shaken up by it! Here I am with my mom and my oldest, whose school was holding the color run as a fundraiser:
I was terrible at keeping in shape this year. I'm up more than 13 pounds from the beginning of the year, and I haven't even weighed myself since the traditional holiday gorging began. I didn't run anywhere near as much as I wanted this year, nor did I do as much yoga as I should have. Definitely need to work harder on that in 2015.
And finally, one of my brothers got married this year, in Niagara Falls. I had never been to the falls before, so it was double cool to get to go there and to see my brother get married. Triple cool: First time my kids were out of the country! (First time they stayed in a hotel, too...)
It's funny how the days can seem to drag on, but the weeks fly by, and the months more so.
Published 2014-12-31 @ 10:00 in Meta