Highlight Reel for 2015

I just finished reading my post about 2014. If I were to compare my plans for 2015 to the result of the year-long sprint, I’d have to say that it appears that we are either way off track, or that the requirements have changed quite a bit.

2015 has been great, with all sorts of chaos thrown throughout. In this post I’ll share with you the highlights and the lessons learned from those events.

Real Life Changes

Not long after my 2014 post, I was laid off from my position as a Systems Analyst and found out that my partner and I were finally going to have a baby. In short, my life changed dramatically throughout the year. Different income levels, new responsibilities, and just a different outlook on life.

When I wrote that original post, I was sure that having six months to finish off all my projects was going to be plenty. But, as I mentioned before, requirements change with priorities, and with the lay off, combined with the pressure of potentially not having employment to support my larger family, resulted in plenty of non-productive days and a shift in task priority.

Lesson 1: Personal Time is a Limited

It sounds lame, but it’s true.

As you continue to grow as a person, you tend to take on new responsibilities, and those take up more of your personal time. Whether its a new job, or a kid, or a new house or investment. Personal time to commit to one or more of these projects is limited, so make sure that when you have the time, you’re ready to jump on it.

ZVGQ Soft Launch

In March I thought I had done enough to get an early release of ZVGQ, the five (now six) year long project out the door. I launched it, announced it, and started getting things moving on the site. And then it became too much to maintain, development came to a halt, and I realized the soft launch was a bust.

I wouldn’t say I had failed on the task execution, but rather the planning side. I underestimated what it takes to build and maintain a software project, which lead the launch to fail.

Lesson 2: Maintenance Plans are Important

You’d think I would have known this being a software analyst for years in both the public and private sectors. I know that I’ve created maintenance plans for many projects before we even started writing a single line of code.

It turns out that for my own software, I tend to think like a client. I’m exempt from the rules, because it’ll cost too much or whatever reason. That is where things went wrong. I cut corners to make get system live, but I didn’t consider what it was going to take to maintain AND build the software in parallel. It was doable for a while, but when the real life changes started to crop up in the middle of the year, it just became too much and it slipped.

I could go on about this, but I’ll save it for another time.

New Job and Western Devs

At the end of the lay off period, my employer found a new position for me as an Application Developer, which translates to roughly an Intermediate Software Developer that focuses primarily on Java-based systems.

Just as this was coming together, the Western Devs were starting to get organized and asking who would be interested in contributing to a community driven site filled with content from any of us willing to contribute.

Being a part of the Western Devs community and getting back into code trenches has made me realize something:

Lesson 3: Learning New Stuff Makes it Interesting

After 70 JUnit test written, 25 blog posts, and a handful of podcasts, I’ve relearned that the reason I love programming so much is because I’m forever going to be learning. Whether it’s design principles, new methodologies, or new tools and technologies, all of it is learning and that makes it interesting to me.

With respect to my side projects, it’s important that I work on things that I want to build. To keep things interesting, I need to be learning something new continually. That way I keep myself interested in the project and don’t just jump to the next one because it has something cool to learn.

The Point

No point other than to take a moment to self-reflect and produce a concrete representation of that self-reflection. Next post will be about what I plan to do with what I’ve taken away from 2015 and Looking-Forward-into-2016 “how I will take that forward into 2016”.

A sort of conclusion, of sorts.

Thanks for playing. ~ DW


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