2014 Year in Review and 2015 Goals

By many measures, 2014 was a horrible year for the world. Dave Barry wrote a fairly amusing (and somewhat depressing) year in review article for the Washington Post. And Charlie Booker wrote a similar article, from a UK perspective, for the Guardian. Bill Gates has a fairly upbeat take on 2014 though. All three of those articles are worth reading, if you want to get some perspective on the past year.

Personally, I think I had a pretty good year, though things were pretty static, and I didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked on some fronts. But I did a really good job with my weight loss goals, and with some other stuff.

I wrote a relatively short year in review post last year. This year’s post is going to be pretty long. I’ve had a lot of this stuff banging around in my head for the last few weeks, and I really want to get it down in writing, partly so I have it to refer back to in a year, and partly just so I can organize my thoughts and move forward.

Weight & Health
I started a diet in September 2013, at 230 pounds. I got down to 200 lbs as of January 1, 2014. I hit 165 about a month ago, and have been hovering around there, +/- 3 lbs, since then. So I think I’ve done a generally good job on this front.

For 2015, I’m not sure if I want to just maintain at 165 or set a new goal for 160. I don’t see much point in trying to go any lower than 160. I should probably switch gears in 2015 and try to work a bit harder on fitness. Through most of 2014, until it got cold, I was going out for walks almost every day. I think that really helped get the pounds off. I definitely want to pick up on that, when the weather gets warmer. Until then, I’m not sure what I want to do. But I know I should be doing something. My neck and shoulders have been bothering me a bit recently, so maybe I need to do something about that before I try to do anything new on the exercise front. I tried using my exercise bike a bit in 2014, but I’ve found that my back starts bothering me after about five minutes on the bike. So I probably need to figure that out before I can get any further with the exercise.

Education / Programming
I made an attempt to get through Algorithms I and II on Coursera in 2013. I got most of the way through part one, and never started part two. In 2014, I took another shot at part one, but gave up when I got sick not long after the course started. I never got back to it. I’m still interested in doing something with Coursera and/or EdX in 2015, but I don’t have any particular plans.

On a couple of other fronts, I did manage to learn a bit about WordPress and F# in 2014. I read two books on WordPress, one general and one on plugin development, and I successfully moved my blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress install. So that was an accomplishment. I didn’t actually do any meaningful WordPress development, though, aside from tweaking a few things in my template, and working through some of the examples in the plugin dev book.

On F#, I started reading a few books on the subject, but didn’t finish any of them. I learned enough to solve a few Project Euler problems with F#, but not enough to do anything really useful with the language.

Speaking of Project Euler, I had solved through to problem 25 at the end of 2013, and I’ve now solved through to # 65, so that’s 40 problems solved in 2014. I used C# for all of the problems I solved, and reworked a handful of them with F#. For 2015, I’d like to continue working on Euler problems, using a combination of C# and F#.

I’m not sure if I want to try to learn any new languages in 2015. I think I want to concentrate on C# and F# for now. It might be nice to learn Swift, and get back to doing some Mac and/or iOS development, but I don’t have any particular plans to do so. If possible, I’d like to get back to doing some web development using some of the new stuff around ASP.NET that I really didn’t get a chance to play with in 2014.

I started my job at SHI in January 2013, so I’m now just about to hit the two-year mark. Things were pretty static with SHI in 2014. I worked almost exclusively on Dynamics AX projects, using X++. I did a smattering of C# work, but only to support stuff I was doing in X++. The one big thing that changed, early in 2014, was a reorganization, so I’m now under a different boss than I was in 2013. But the new boss was already my project manager, so there wasn’t really much of a change there.

During my year-end review for 2013, there was some talk about the possibility that I might be getting involved in a SharePoint project, but nothing ever came of that. I did read an introductory SharePoint development book, but I never got as far as even setting up a local environment to play around with. If I learned anything about SharePoint, it was mostly that it’s a mess, and trying to learn it, in a general way, on your own, probably isn’t a great idea. If the SharePoint project resurfaces in 2015, I’ll definitely jump back in, but I’m not going to mess around with SharePoint any more without some specific direction.

I haven’t had my 2014 review yet, so I’m not sure what will come out of that. The boss has talked, in general, about some upcoming changes, but hasn’t gotten into specifics. I’m cautiously optimistic about things at SHI, but we’ll see what comes out of my review, and what kind of changes occur this year.
One specific thing she did mention was that we’ll have a training budget this year, so that might be good. She didn’t mention how much the budget was, or what it might be spent on, so I’m not getting my hopes up about going to any tech conferences on the company dime, but hopefully it’s not just a $500 budget that gets spent some CBT software or something like that.

Consulting and/or Volunteering
I haven’t done any consulting work at all in 2014. I’m OK with that, though it would have been nice to have done at least one independent project.

I signed up for Catchafire in 2014, in the hope of finding a good volunteer programming project to work on. But I never did find anything there that I thought would be a good match for my skills and my interests. I’ll keep an eye on it in 2015, but maybe I should look around for other opportunities.

I also applied for volunteer positions at a few museums in NYC, including the Met, The Morgan, and the Museum of Natural History. The only one I heard back from was the Morgan, but they needed someone who was available on weekdays, so that was out. I’ll keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities in 2015, but I’m not hopeful that I’ll find anything interesting that would actually fit into my schedule.

According to Goodreads, I finished 30 books in 2014, but most of them were comics. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) I read The Strain trilogy at the beginning of the year, then spent the rest of the year slowly working my way through Kate Elliot’s Spirit Gate. So I can’t really say I read any fiction over the past year that wasn’t just escapist fantasy. (Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that!) For non-fiction, I read through two books on WordPress, started (but didn’t finish) a couple of F# books, and recently started David Allen’s Making It All Work. I’ll likely finish the David Allen book this month.

I don’t have any specific reading goals for 2015, though I’d like to read more non-fiction, and I definitely have a lot of comics I’d like to read, when I can find the time. But I’m not setting any real goals.

I moved this blog to WordPress in May, and I’ve been pretty happy about that. I think it worked out well, and I learned a lot about WordPress in the process.

I wrote a little over 100 posts in 2014, including a few that were actually useful enough to attract a few page views, so that’s good. I only had 33 posts in 2013. (I’m still not making any money on AdSense though. I might just remove ads entirely this year, since they don’t seem to be doing me any good.)

I think I want to keep going with WordPress, and I’m happy enough with 1&1 that I think I’ll stick with them as a host. I might mess with the template a bit in 2015, but I don’t think I need to.

I didn’t really do any travel in 2014, aside from several trips into NYC, and one trip to Georgia for a funeral. Most of the trips into NYC were day trips, but I did go to WordCamp NYC over the summer, and stayed in the city for that. I made several visits to the Met and MoMA over the past year, so I’m pretty happy about that. The trip to Georgia was not a happy one; my brother’s best friend passed away.

I didn’t make it to even a single comics convention in 2014, so I’d like to try and get to either San Diego or NYCC this year. Or maybe I should consider WonderCon in Anaheim. I know the chance of getting SDCC tickets is low, but I’ll give it a shot, when they go on sale. And I’m sure I can get NYCC tickets, if I don’t wait until the last minute like I did last year.

I recently swapped out the hard drives in my ThinkPad and MacBook with SSDs. I re-installed Windows 8.1 on the ThinkPad several months ago, and wiped & reinstalled OS X on the MacBook as part of the SSD switch. So both of those machines are clean, speedy, and up to date. I think I’ll keep both of them through 2015.

I am currently in the middle of doing a clean install of Windows 8 on my desktop machine. I’m hoping that works out, but I have some doubts. I don’t really want to have to replace that machine this year, but I might have to. I’ll think about that some more once I’ve got it all set up.

I got a new iPhone 5s in October 2013, so I’m going to stick with that through most of 2015. I might replace it at the end of the year, or I might wait until 2016. And I only just recently picked up an iPad Air, so I shouldn’t need to replace that until 2016, I hope.

Apartment and Car
I think I’m going to renew the lease on my current apartment again this year. I keep thinking about moving, but I can never quite talk myself into it. I’ll need to review my thinking on that this month, since I’ll need to make a decision on the lease in February. I do have a lot of stuff that I want to get cleaned up and/or fixed in the apartment this year, assuming I stay in it. Some of that will require some action from the landlord, which I’m not optimistic about, but I’ll make an effort, and see how far I can get.

And I’m hoping to keep my car through 2015. It’s got about 65,0000 miles on it and it’s running well. I just need to keep up with maintenance on it, and I think I’ll be fine.

Personal Organization
I made a number of changes in my systems for personal organization in 2014, and I’m pretty happy with the direction I’m going in on that. I got all of my passwords moved from KeePass to 1Password. And I consolidated all of my personal notes into Evernote, and canceled my old Backpack account. I’ve been making a concerted effort to reapply myself to following the general principles of GTD, and have managed to get a lot of random stuff done in the last few months.

Well, that was a pretty long post. Probably longer than it needed to be, but I feel like I’ve worked some stuff out and cleared some stuff out of my head. Happy New Year!

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