Happy New Year!

Happy (slightly late) New Year! I’m finally getting back into things after taking a little more than a week to spend with family and relax, followed by an awesome retreat with the Table Project team as well as the rest of the staff of other organizations that are part of our parent company. It was a good time to unplug and re-focus. As we do every year, Carrie and I had took time at the end of the year to evaluate our goals and set new goals for the new year. I’ve also spent time over the last week thinking through a few more detailed professional goals for myself this year, and I thought I’d take a minute to share them.

  1. Read less technology news - I have always spent a large amount of time keeping up with what is happening in my field. I read Hacker News regularly, and on a less regular basis I keep up with about 30 or so technology blogs that are relevant to the web. Historically, I think this has been a good practice to get an idea of what other developers find useful, and also to benefit from their collective wisdom. However, I think I need to take a step back.

    It feels like there has been a huge increase in negativity lately. I love it when developers and other technology folks share their wisdom in a constructive and helpful manner, but it becomes a huge distraction when we waste so much energy attacking other perspectives over minute differences (e.g. CoffeeScript vs. Javascript, SCSS vs. SASS). Generally, there are many roughly equivalent tools to complete the job, and it doesn’t matter which one you are using so long as you are productive, responsible, and enjoy what you are doing.

    I don’t plan to unplug from tech news altogether, but I will not consume it more than every couple of days. There is still much to learn, but I’d rather spend less time in the drama, and more time creating cool things.

  2. Support awesome open source projects - I benefit from so much awesome open source software on a daily basis. Much of it is created from out of the generosity of others with their time and talents. Unfortunately, I have been able to cut out enough time to contribute to existing open source projects. However, I’d like to make this the year that I start giving back. I’m not sure what form this will take yet, but I do have a few things in mind. I’d love to contribute patches for bugs, even if they aren’t directly affecting me. I’d also love to take the time to seek out and thank individuals who spend so much time working on awesome projects.

  3. Add new tools to my arsenal - While the previous point may be a little vague for a New Year’s resolution, I do have a few very specific targets for learning this year.

    First, I’m working my way though Seven Languages in Seven Weeks. My goal is not necessarily to develop a strong command of every language in the book, but I would like to develop a better understanding of some new coding paradigms, and become familiar some lass mainstream languages that could be useful in specific applications.

    Next, I plan to spend a lot more time in node.js this year, both professionally, and on my own time. I really like Javascript, and I think it has huge potential as a sever side language in the future.

    Finally, I plan to develop my understanding of non-relational data stores. I’m particularly interested in mongoDB and Redis. I think I have about enough knowledge to be dangerous with these tools at this point! However, I need to take the time learn the last little bit (particularly around backups and long term scaling) before I can confidently use them in a live application. I’ll definitely be exploring this topic more in a future blog post.

  4. Release More Code - With the exception of my marginally successful Library Detector browser extension, I have never been a huge generator of open source software. This is rather hypocritical given my previously stated appreciation of open source software. Over the past years I have written quite a bit of code that could be useful to others if I can take a bit of time to polish the documentation and clean up the APIs a bit. My goal is to actually make this happen over the next year!

Well that pretty much sums it up. I hope everyone has a safe year with lots of productivity and growth!