Highlights of 2014

2014 is now over and it’s been a great year. Last year my wife and I moved to Austin, TX which was a fantastic move. We’ve really enjoyed living here. The city and people here are wonderful and there’s never a shortage of things to do. While this year didn’t see as drastic a change as moving, there were some notable happenings.

Travelled to Hawaii

For our five year anniversary, my wife and I travelled to Hawaii. It was the most relaxing vacation I’d ever been on by a long shot. We stayed in Maui for a few days and then flew over to the Big Island for another few days. There’s breathtaking beauty everywhere you look.

With Hawaii crossed off the list I only have five or so states left before I will have visited all 50. Looking forward to my travels to see the rest.

Dipped a Toe Into Management

This year I was charged with leading a team at my company. Before this I had only informally lead small teams and projects. But this was my first chance to really be put in charge of a team. My team consists of around 20 developers, testers, analysts and a few others.

I knew that this position would be different than being focused on programming but it was far more different than I realized. The skill set is totally different, my daily schedule is completely different, I only code a few hours a week. That said, I haven’t minded these changes. I get to work with a lot of great people much more so than I previously had.

Also, it’s nice to be in a position where I can affect change in the company. As a programmer I only had so much influence but it’s a good feeling to draw on my experience and actually cause change to happened.

Learned Scrum

Because of my role change at work, I’ve had to learn a lot more about Scrum. I’m functionally the Scrum Master for my team.

Before I had understood conceptually what agile meant but this year I feel I really learned it. Previous jobs have very much operated in a waterfall process or no process at all so I hadn’t really had any experience with agile.

I certainly appreciate why so many companies have moved to it. It’s nice to have a process that everyone can agree on and follow. That said, Scrum isn’t a panacea, but it does seems to be effective.

Stayed Organized

I’ve always been interested in efficiency, productivity hacks, task management software, and the like. There’s something fun about it. Mostly I think I just like playing with the tools.

But I wasn’t that busy. This year that changed. I got much more busy at work and really with life in general.

Because of that I’ve had to stay organized just to remember everything. That means I’ve been using Omnifocus to keep track of tasks, Google Calendar for meetings and appointments, Evernote for notes and files, as well as other tools. I’ve tried hard to keep my email inbox empty, keep files organized and in general just tried to stay on top of things.

I wouldn’t say I’m more productive than I was last year but I certainly have had to stay far more organized just to keep track of everything.

Angular Woes

Oh Angular, how I love thee. It simplifies a lot for developers and it’s focus on testability is great. It’s a pleasure to use.

But it is starting to show some warts.

I’ve now developed a handful of Angular of apps, one of which is truly massive (I don’t use that word lightly). My experience is proving that creating large, complex, and performant apps in Angular can be very challenging. The problem is that the very things in Angular that make things easy are a black box for developers. I suppose it’s a case of leaky abstractions.

It seems to me that for a large application written in Angular you absolutely must have devs with Angular experience. Otherwise what I’ve found is that Angular makes it so easy to start building things without knowing what is under the hood that you can write very slow code that goes unnoticed until it’s put it together with many other devs’ slow code.

No framework is perfect. They all have their issues. And Angular’s seems to be this. I’m really looking forward to Angular v2. Hopefully they can improve performance as well as eliminate some of the other cruft that has built up over the years.

Fountain Pens as a Hobby

I’m not sure where the idea to buy my first fountain pen came from but it came nevertheless. I bought a Pilot Metropolitan earlier this year and fell in love with the way it writes. I’ve since purchased a few more and tried many different inks.

I think the tinkerer in me is what loves them. There are an endless combination of pens, inks, nibs and paper that you can try together for wildly different combinations. It’s a lot of fun. I’d recommend everyone try a fountain pen at least once. It’s quite a bit different than your typical modern day pen.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a few highlights of the last year. It’s been a terrific year and I’m looking forward to finding out what 2015 has in store!

Hope you all have a wonderful 2015!