Belated Year in Review: 2013 (and the start of 2014!)

This has been something I’ve wanted to write for a while, but as per usual haven’t really found the time to get stuck in.

As such, here goes – a review of the highlights from my own 2013. I think it was an amazing year; so much happened, and given I’m a optimist I feel it was all incredible.

The Year of 101

“Year of 101s”

I ended 2012 and started 2013 with a promise that I’d learn and blog about one new thing a month, calling it the Year of 101s. I didn’t call it a new year’s resolution, but it might as well have been called that since it lasted about as long as a resolution tends to!

I don’t want to call this a failure – although many would, no doubt – since it not only fired me up for writing blog posts again, but I did learn a bunch of new things over a few months.

My highlights included:

In January …


… getting really stuck into the basics of node.js with 6 articles and one summary covering

January also finally got me into using Github more, and learning how to write repos to accompany blog posts

In February …


… I had a crack at monkeying around with making an app for my Smart TV, with posts covering

In March …


… I went off-piste. Having planned to cover the Raspberry Pi throughout March, I instead created a load of “Asides” along such subjects as

There were also a few actual posts on the raspberry pi, but only getting so far as setting up, a bit more setting up, and XBMC on the pi, and they were spread across three months!

After that …

basic vagrant up

… I gave up on the whole new thing each month idea, and just tried to get on with learning stuff. Thanks to attending DevOpsDays in March (I think), and after deciding to create and consult a “Life Advisory Board” from a group of friends and previous colleagues I ended up setting myself up as a consultant.

My consulting plan was inspired by DevOpsDays and from reading The Phoenix Project – I wanted to learn enough about some core values to developing a devops mentality within a company that I could become an advisor; helping them with value stream mapping, impact mapping, 5 whys, and other retrospective processes as well as environment automation tooling.

As such, I got stuck into Vagrant and Chef with a short series of Chef for developers posts.

Then came the cloudiness …


… By August I was working on a contract (not related to devops at all, but ya gotta pay the bills, amirite?!) doing some fascinating Azure proofs of concept which I started sharing; the only concept I finished writing up was automated image resizing, but I’ve got two or three more stonking ones in the pipeline!

But, in November …


… I had the extreme honour of being invited to speak at Velocity Conf!!

This was SO exciting! I’d spent MONTHS with my cohort, Dean Hume, working on the presentation, practising it, getting what we felt was a good flow to it. The research process was fascinating to me as I love to learn, and the process of distilling this into a slide or two of easily presented information was very interesting.

We’d make sure to spend a morning a week out of our respective offices, planning the next round of changes over breakfast at Southbank, then practising and practising the whole thing over beers and burgers at Bill’s – these practise sessions always had booze and were always great fun! And also surprisingly extremely productive!

We were even lucky enough to have a practise of our session at the inaugural TECHinsight, which was a massive confidence boost; this was our first public presentation together, and my first one at all, ever! Amazing fun!

Then came the big deal – actually attending VConf. Wearing the speaker lanyard was fantastic, as I got to schmooze with the other speakers; obviously I was completely silent when faced with a table of Steve Souders, John Allspaw, Yaov Weiss, and Andy Davies.

It was all utterly incredible.

So what’s happening in 2014?

As amazing as 2013 was for me, 2014 is going to be equally exciting if not more so. Off the back of VConf, Dean and I are working through the process of getting a proposal accepted for a book we’re pitching to be published via O’Reilly, and I’ll be attending the (enable smug mode) invite only (disable smug mode) conference, edgeconf in March.

I’m in my last week at my current Solution Architect contract at Asos, after which I have a two week hardcore regime of Pluralsight courses to get back into being a developer, as well as several books such as Lean Startup, Viral Loop, and Purple Cow, so that I can join an exciting new venture at a start-up with a few passionate devs and gurus to see if we can make something amazing in a few months (or before we all run out of money)!

I’m also taking up the challenge of being a trainer for a .Net training company; I’ll be running the odd course here and there for the foreseeable future on various subjects, and hopefully even writing some of the material for new courses if possible.

In Summary

Kicking off the 101s in late 2012/ early 2013 got me back into blogging, back into learning, back into developing and sharing.

Attending and presenting at TECHinsight and VelocityConf gave me new passions: collaboratively writing, presenting, and teaching.

Leaving permanent employment and going solo gave me my freedom; I just took 3 weeks off over Xmas to spend time with my oldest daughter. Going to the museums, aquarium, cinema, and just hanging out together have been worth more than any contract day rate could offer me.

Not to mention I have a hundred things I want to blog about, and a hundred more proofs of concept to dig around in. It’s going to be a very busy and very exciting year…