Noah (angelbob) wrote,

2010 Summary: Computer Programming Edition

While I'm noodling about 2010 in review...

I've worked for On-Site for all of 2010. Given my gypsy-ish tendencies with jobs, that's nice. They continue to like me, and modulo the usual ups and downs, I continue to like them. I wanted to go work in Rails professionally until I was sure I was good at it (check), learn some areas of web development I was weaker at (check) and work somewhere stable while we were having small children (check). On-Site has a good scorecard with me.

First, stuff that sounds traditionally professional: I've made it to professional conferences for the first time in my career -- jQuery, MongoDB and Ruby conferences in 2010. I imagine some of that will happen in 2011 too. Gave that JRuby talk at LinkedIn. Updated my professional presence, as expressed by web sites, better (LinkedIn, portfolio, GitHub). Continued to blog well, though not better than last year.

My profession is unusual in that spare time projects often count more than work projects. They're certainly much easier to show off since I have copies of all the code, and can often share it. 2010 was also an amazing year for that. I won't go through it all in detail since my portfolio tells the story as well as anybody is likely to care to hear (if not, call me -- I can tell it in way more detail than you want, I promise! ;-) ).

Also, programmer-types? Make a portfolio. Even if what you're doing isn't web programming. Seriously. If you have doubts, call or email me for stories about why. Or better yet, just try it. The results are amazing, and not just for job hunting.

Both at work and not, I've gotten a lot better at working on stuff that usually intimidates or bores me. Not perfect, but better. I've been doing nontrivial sysadmin work, and basic visual and interaction design, and SEO, and server metrics, and hooking my site up to email providers, and more copywriting and blogging. I've been working more on learning tools better (git, for instance). Lots of not-exactly-programming areas where I traditionally fall down. By the time I've sucked all the life out of it, WantMyJob will have taught me a really scary amount of stuff, starting with Ruby on Rails in 2007. I have fully rewritten it at least twice. It will likely never make me a penny, directly. May all programmers have a project so blessed.

Big new stuff for 2011? Hard to say just yet. WantMyJob is moving into a slower mode, with more reworking. My strategies for it are limited, and the revenue from it will be staying zero for a long time, which means I need to rework it to be more open and inviting to people I can't pay to be there (i.e. no advertising). RailsGame still attracts more interest, even moribund, than anything else I've ever done. Maybe it deserves a serious revamp? It can use it, and I can definitely see how to make it much, much better.

2011 also looks likely to be the year I get serious about some more professional engineering practices. My industry doesn't do much of that, but I can personally even if other folks don't. Vagrant, Chef and a lot of elbow grease may finally make more of my dreams of virtualization for development come true. WantMyJob finally got me doing more reasonable integration testing, though still not nearly enough.

I've been noodling for awhile about where to go next, programming-wise, and I'm finally pretty sure that the answer is to put together some less-glamorous projects that involve trading money for value. WantMyJob was an attempt in that direction, and next I need an even simpler one, which may yet teach me even more. Patrick MacKenzie is my role model here. But I need to actually, like, do that. I just don't know *what*. Oy.

But I think that's the path that will lead me where I want to go with the most certainty, possibly in combination with some level of consulting. I need to do more work for me, not in the artistic sense but the professional sense. It's like always having roommates - you never really know your worst habits until you live alone and have nobody to blame anything on. I am 100% certain that professionally, I have bad habits to break. I need to work by and for myself, end-to-end, until I really truly know what they are.

But that means I need to figure out something I can provide that people want to buy. I'd rather build a web product of some kind. I may have to do consulting to make that happen. In either case, the pace won't be what I'd like, because kids are demanding.

But on the plus side, if any of this takes off at all, it'll give me a nice pathway to much greater independence. I think I'll be much happier that way.

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