Specific focuses and vague goals for 2017

Hello from 2017! I’m sticking with the title from last year because I like the idea of focuses rather than trying to define specific objectives when the year has barely started.

Reading.

My love of reading books has officially returned, and I’m now always on the lookout for things to explore. I set a goal of 26 books in my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge, an average of one every two weeks. It’d be great if I beat that!

I’m starting off the year in the middle of Neuromancer, so that should be done soon. I have a handful of non-fiction books that I’m excited about. After reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent Aurora from last year, I want to go through the Mars Trilogy.

A couple days ago I poked at Moby Dick, which I’ve never made it through, so that could be an interesting one for the year. I was already surprised by some of the material in the opening pages—”GRAND CONTESTED ELECTION FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES”.

Joyce is still interesting, and if I feel like going crazy I’ll probably try Finnegans Wake again. There’s also Dubliners, which should be more approachable.

And other random things. The bookshelves at home are full of things that haven’t been read. 📚

Writing.

This will always be a focus. I preach sharing your work to everyone I talk to at WSU, but I don’t necessarily practice it so well myself. I’d like to spend more time stopping to explain some of the stuff I’ve done so that I remember and so that others may find it useful. This will also be important as part of our work at WSU to help ensure long term health of the community we’re building.

Learning.

I’m going to focus on learning computer science a bit more. I pick up plenty of things here and there during the development process every day, but it would be fun to go back and explore some of the history and some of the basics from the beginning.

The two books that I’m starting with are Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and Foundations of Computer Science (C Edition). We’ll see where those take me, I’m already loving the beginning of SICP.

I also like the idea of being more familiar with cryptography. I got Bruce Shneier’s Applied Cryptography a while ago, but never really started past the first few pages. It should be fun to get past the first few chapters.

Aside: I’ll toss in a recommendation here for The Code Book, which is very approachable and an excellent introduction to the history of cryptography.

Speaking.

I’m not sure speaking will be a focus in 2017, but this is where one of my more specific goals exists. I’d like to find a new topic I’m passionate about and develop a talk around it. Once I have that, then I’ll be focused on speaking again.

Open Source

I should probably cover this as a separate blog post.

In general, open source will be a focus for me in 2017. I still believe open source is one of the most important things we have and it is worth the time we give it.

Most of my open source time is spent contributing to WordPress. I don’t expect this will change much, though I want to make sure I’m spending enough time thinking about and working on other things as well.

I had some inspiring conversations last year, as well as the opportunity to visit the open source lab at Oregon State University. It’d be great to turn some of those conversations into action. At the very least, it’d be great to continue having those conversations.

That’s a super vague way of saying “I don’t really know what I’m going to do, but open source is great everyone, let’s do more of it!” 😎

Washington State University

4 years in July! Whoa.

We’re still doing good work. I want to make sure that we make progress early this year on a couple things:

  • Have the best solution for monitoring web accessibility on all university sites.
  • Syndicate content throughout the university.
  • Give everyone a place to share their work with open registration for students, faculty, and staff. Free websites!

I’d feel a little weird making it through 4 years without at least having 2 of those 3 in a very good place. I think we’re close enough to say that.

Beyond those specific goals, my focus should be on documenting and sharing our work.

Activity.

I decided that focusing on “exercise” wasn’t really any fun. I want to focus on being active in 2017.

We got snowshoes a few days ago and I’m super excited about that. I’d like to spend almost every weekend between now and the end of snow season exploring snowshoeing possibilities.

Once spring comes, and maybe even before then, I’d like to spend many weekends hiking, camping, exploring, and just getting the hell away from the computer.

With activity will come exercise, just because.

Saying Yes.

I want to make sure I say yes to the right opportunities. This probably requires saying yes to a few of the wrong opportunities along the way. But I think I have a bad habit of avoiding some fun things just because it’s easier. If I do have that habit, then I want to be conscious of saying “yes” this year just to see what happens.

This might be freelance opportunities, career opportunities, travel opportunities, whatever. On December 31, there should be more “yes” than “no”.

And all of the other stuff that gets focused on.

Because why limit it to a list you thought of on January 1… Happy 2017, see y’all around!

Previously, 2016 and 2015.

 

Specific focuses and vague goals for 2016

It’s funny how I’ve been looking forward more to writing this post than I was to writing my reflections on 2015. I guess it’s good to get some of that out of the way first to help focus more on what’s next.

I’ve adjusted last year’s self-reflection projection title a bit to better apply specificity and vagueness.

As 2016 progresses, I hope to revisit this post as a guide for what I thought I would enjoy doing as the year went on.

Reading.

I’m successfully falling in love with reading again. And now that I’m back on track I think I can get a bit more focused. I set a goal of 15 books in my 2016 Goodreads reading challenge. Here’s how I want that to break down.

2/3 should be fiction. 1/3 should be non-fiction.

I’d like to continue my Orwell streak. I rounded things out pretty well with some of his lesser known novels last year. Now it’s time to revisit my favorites, specifically Homage to Catalonia and 1984, and finally get to (finish?) The Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London. Three of those count as non-fiction. Sweet!

I’m slightly more fascinated with James Joyce after finishing Ulysses. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man should be part of 2016.

I’d like to finish the original Foundation trilogy and I have Second Foundation waiting for me on the Kindle. The first took a bit and the second was better. If the story continues to be interesting I may find myself reading even more Asimov.

I’ll mention Hemingway because I finally read A Moveable Feast last year and want to dig in, but he’s a backup for the time being.

William Hertling’s Singularity series has been a ton of fun and I still need to finish the 4th, The Turing Exception. I’d like to explore more fiction along these lines if you have any suggestions!

As for non-fiction, I have a very specific list to start with:

I’m forcing myself to stop recommending myself books now. Time to read!

Learning.

In a similar vein, I’m starting to focus more on learning and how I can establish patterns for learning in my day to day life. Rather than attempting to adapt on the fly, I’d want to start being proactive.

In 2016…

A passable amount of German. We’re planning on being in Vienna for about a month in June around WordCamp Europe. I’d like to be prepared for some limited conversation. The time we spent in France and Spain in 2011 helped me realize how much I stumble in situations where English is not an option. While a large number of people in Vienna speak English, I’d rather attempt German more often than not.

JavaScript. Deeply. 😜

But seriously. I can sit down and hack at JavaScript. I can build things that rely on JavaScript. But I can’t give you a comparison of frameworks or really tell you why React seems like overkill and something like Ember might be better. And I’d like to.

One of my goals for WSU in 2016 is to establish a more friendly front-end development workflow for WordPress themes involving templates and a local environment requiring HTML, not PHP. The only way this really happens is if I start to know what I’m doing. 😉

And JavaScript, for now, is the future. There is a lot of fun to be had and I’d like to start digging in.

One of the things I’m going to try to introduce to my daily workflow is spaced repetition through Anki. I’m expecting this to help mostly with memorizing frequent German words, though it would be interesting if I can apply it the right way to JavaScript as well.

Writing.

Still a goal! It feels good to be 650 words into something, I should do it more often. I have so much to share that fades away once I do something else instead. I should start sharing instead of doing something else.

Speaking.

I was surprised to look back and see that I spoke 4 times last year. I remember feeling burnt out half-way through the year and not wanting to apply or speak at all.

My talk at WordCamp Vancouver was invigorating, mostly because I didn’t have time to prepare as a fill-in and I made some modifications to a talk I had already given.

Until then I had focused a lot on never giving the same talk twice. I used the process of creating the talk as a way to dive deeply into the subject and learn something about it.

But it’s fun to talk about something you’re the expert on! And I want to focus more on that in 2016. I’ll probably submit the same talk to a few camps, and be less worried about missing out. And when I do give the talk the 3rd or 4th time, those kinks will be gone and we’ll all have a better time.

I have a few weeks left to apply for WordCamp Europe. I’ll cross my fingers for that, LoopConf 2, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and US. I’d love to hit Denver or Chicago, but we’ll see. Budgets!

WordPress

Make multisite better? 😘

But really. Some big stuff should be figured out this year.

WP_Site, WP_Site_Query, and WP_Network_Query to start.

In the process I’d like to become less afraid at taking a scythe to stuff that’s been there since the beginning and replacing it with some definition of expectations.

I want to adapt our configuration at WSU to use WP Multi Network instead so that we aren’t reinventing the wheel. Doing so should help make better decisions around the future of multi-network in WordPress core.

Oh, and I’d like to introduce a new site switcher.

Washington State University

It’s going to be 3 years in July! Big things are going to happen in these first 6 months. To start, we’ll have a new WordPress developer joining the team at some point in the next couple months!

This means I’ll have time to focus more on connecting big picture stuff:

  1. Content syndication throughout the University.
  2. Give everyone a place to share their work with open registration for students, faculty, and staff. Free websites!
  3. A better search experience for the University built on Elasticsearch.

In the process, I’d like to do a much better job for our team of defining how we work with the web at WSU. Now that we have a new WordPress developer coming on board, it will be especially helpful to have documentation to match.

I’d also like to do a much better job of talking about the work that we’re doing. Things like being HTTPS forward and embracing HTTP/2.0 immediately are pretty cool. Professors and labs that are inspired to share their work with WordPress are awesome.

These should be written about in better ways.

And other wonderful experiences.

Have a great 2016!

 

 

Vague focuses and specific goals for 2015

When 2015 is finishing up, I hope to look back and be happy that I’ve done some of these while skipping others to do things even cooler.

In no particular order.

  • Read more books. I grew up reading books obsessively and I’ve lost that somewhat over the years. I still read constantly, but the draw of article after article on the Internet doesn’t allow for long periods of focus. If I read 25 books this year, fantastic.
  • Get rid of at least 10 physical books that I read this year while switching to ebooks for everything else. We reduced a ton in 2010, but the piles start to add up.
  • Any physical books purchased or received in 2015 should be read immediately and passed on to a willing reader. Exceptions made for reference and study material.
  • Read a handful of academic papers. I spend so much time thinking about the future of open access publishing, I should be a user.

The theme to 2015 seems to be about reading… 🙂

  • Write more. An average of one thoughtful post a week wouldn’t be horrible. Sharing more off the cuff thoughts here rather than Twitter would be wonderful.
  • Talk about my work more.
  • Get smarter about personal encryption.
  • Continue reducing. Seriously, get rid of those 2 laptops and the “netbook”.
  • Make measurable progress on the one product idea. Starting at 0.
  • At least 100 hours of freelance work.
  • Visit one new country, Glacier National Park, and the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego.
  • Make big strides in WordPress core for multisite.
  • A configurable VVV.
  • Get good at Backbone.
  • Ask for more advice and spend more time thinking about it.