Year in Review: 2014

A reflection on my accomplishments and failures in 2014. Of course, I touch on what I'd like to change and how I'd like to improve in 2015.

Many people use the new year as a time to make resolutions or set goals. Before doing that, I like to review the goals I had set for the previous year, see how well I did (or didn't do), and use that insight to help set the next round of goals. One reason for creating a blog is for personal accountability, so that starts with making at least some of my accomplishments and failures public. It may seem odd for my first blog entry to be a "year in review" since the blog hasn't been around for a year, but I've been around all year and this process would take place with or without the blog. However, there's a good reason for making this my first entry and I'll address that below. My personal goals for 2014 mostly focused on developing better habits for reading and fitness as well as a few other items.


Happy new year!

I love to read, but I have a tendency to read too many articles and too few books. More than once, I've even gotten distracted after starting a book, which led to rereading a lot of material or, worse, never finishing it. With such a long list of books that I want to read, I decided I should put more emphasis on it. Part of that required reducing the number of blogs that I subscribe to, which was painful to do but a tremendous help. I set a goal of reading one book per month in 2014 and ended up reading 11 1/2 books. That's a bit shy of 12, but I'm still quite satisfied with the result. I believe I've established a consistent reading habit that I'll carry forward for a long time. In fact, I'm keeping this goal the same for 2015.

I'm not in "bad shape," but I would like to get into better shape and, most importantly, develop a regular exercise habit while I'm still young. This is a goal I've struggled with for far too long. Since I wrangle with the exercise habit, it's important for me to do some sort of exercise every day (at least every other day) or I quickly fall out of the habit. That's what happened again this year. After doing very well at the end of last year and the first half of this year, I went a week without exercising on vacation and simply didn't pick it up again. Later in the year, I sliced my thumb and was unable to grip or put pressure on it for quite a while. Although it appears to be healed, it's just not the same and I'm a little concerned about the impact it will have on any heavy lifting in the future. I may have to stay away from weights and stick with the elliptical at least for the beginning of next year.

I decided later in the year to spend some time learning Spanish. I started with the Memrise app for Android and completed the Learn Basic Spanish course. Memrise enables you to review previously learned words and phrases over increasing periods of time in order to solidify the memorization process, which is extremely helpful. Afterward, I started reading Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach. Of all the beginning Spanish lessons I've seen including high school and college courses, none have taken the same approach as Madrigal yet hers seems like the obvious way for an English speaker to learn Spanish. Unfortunately, this is my "unfinished book of 2014." I'm still happy with the progress I made in this area, though. In 2015, I'd like to improve my Spanish reading and "real world" conversation skills. I'll likely try watching Spanish channels on TV and/or reading some books written in Spanish.

On the tech side, the one constant is change. Over at AT&T, we successfully launched the mobile-friendly version of the Troubleshoot & Resolve site for Mobility (allowing users to troubleshoot cellular devices) and followed it up with a fully responsive design that enabled us to retire the old desktop version of the site. At home, I finally got around to several long overdue projects: added off-site storage to my backup routine, migrated Crystal's laptop to PC-BSD (only the youngster's laptop still runs Windows), and set up a 3-way contact sync between Thunderbird, Android, and KDE. Last but certainly not least, I built this site! The real accomplishment there isn't the site itself but the underlying framework/libraries I created to support it. I intend to release much of that code under an open source license over the course of the next year.

Overall, 2014 was a great year for me. I achieved most of my major goals and look forward to building on them in 2015. Having set a goal of releasing this site in 2014 is the reason I'm starting with a "year in review" and that makes it seem like an appropriate place to begin. I have some great ideas for future posts, so hopefully the blog doesn't sit idle in 2015. ;-) Happy new year!

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