Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some of My Achievements and Failures in 2011


  • Railscamp. Organising Railscamp took up quite a bit of time at the beginning of this year but it was worth it. Even better is that there are now lots of people in NZ wanting to help organise future ones. Including the one in Canterbury next month.
  • Speaking. I spoke at various events covering everything from clouds and python to rails and node.js. It's been interesting making it to such different and I'm looking forward to further broadening what I attend and speak at in the coming year.
  • Broadened my end to end business skills. By happenstance I took a couple of decently-sized projects right through from business development to final delivery. It's a lot of work but a really interesting experience to be able to manage client expectations through the entire process rather than building up a more piecemeal client relationship. Not a particularly scalable approach, but I enjoyed doing it and think I learned a lot about some of the areas of project leadership that I hadn't touched so much previously.
  • Read some books that have been on my list for a while. 71 books in total with some great reads like Poor Economics and Bargaining for Advantage as well as some of the more serious books that took a long time to get through like Godel, Escher, Bach, and the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. My rato of non-fiction to fiction was a lot higher this year, mostly as I did a few big dives into topics that have plenty of easy to read books in them like negotiation practices or the broader coding styles books. 
  • Helped out and collected equity in various different startups. Involved myself in a number of various startups that are now in various states. In the end I came away with interests in four of them of which two are showing some level of growth. There was much learning to be had from this involvement and if any of them actually succeed it'll pay off well as well. Regardless, I'm happy for the experience and look forward to applying it to some other upcoming projects.
  • Completed the stanford AI Class online course in the advanced track. Didn't put as much time into this as it deserved but I completed it and it reminded me how cool a lot of the more hardcore CS stuff is.
  • Decent load of writing for Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo went pretty well this year as I started using dragon dictate to avoid the dangers of typing 50000 words in a month again. Not sure what I'll do with what I've written but will definitely spend the time to tidy it up.
  • Improvisation - Ended up doing an improvisation course towards the end of the year and it turned out to be one of the highlights. I'll blog on it specifically sometime soon.
  • Watched lots of really good films. I watched over 40 films from the IMDB top 250 films list as well as spending a lot of time at film festivals. I'm really enjoying watching good films, especially when the list forces me to watch things I otherwise might not. Many of the old films on the list are marvelous and there are some genres I hadn't watched that turned out to be excellent when viewing the best of them. Of particular surprise to me was how much I enjoyed most of the westerns on the list.
  • Switched to dvorak. Switching to dvorak took slightly longer than I thought it would but it's going to pay off over time.


  • Blogging. I didn't blog as much as I said I would. I hope to do better this year.
  • RSI. I haven't dealt with the pain in my wrist as well as I should have, doing a slightly better job of things now though.
  • Startups that didn't fly. Some of the startups I was involved in didn't go as well as they should have. To some degree this is expected with startups, but I'd still like them to be more sucessful. I'm starting to lean towards being more process oriented with them from the get go. The biggest issue I've seen cropping up in the ones that fail is expectation management and people thinking the path to product should be much shorter than it actually turns out to be. I either need to get better at holding these ones together or at identifying that issues are present and stopping investing time sooner. 
  • Failed to Travel anywhere new. I made it to Aussie a couple of times at least, but that's not very exciting.