2017: Year in Review

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What a year, what a year! So much was packed into 2017 that for the first time I felt like a recap post actually makes sense, if only so I can keep it all straight.

Speaking & Writing

  • My first national conference talk: This year I was selected to speak at .NET Fringe, one of my favorite conferences of all time. It was a privilege and a thrill.
  • More talks: I gave 5 other talks to various groups on subjects including Akka.NET, ElasticSearch, and an introduction to OSS. Also, did a fun presentation with my talented colleague Dan Davis called “The Dev-inci Code”, to help our Excella BAs & devs better understand each other.
  • Blog posts on Jekyll, .NET Fringe, The S3 Outage, ICAgile, and avoiding primitive obsession in configuration. I’d like to write more, but with the rest of this year, I’ll forgive myself.

Work Stuff

  • Successful launch of a gigantic legacy modernization: Over the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to be the technical lead on the best team for a really challenging project. This project was a big bang modernization effort (not our choice) that replaced a mainframe system responsible for managing more than $7 billion in pension funds. In August, all 2.5 million lines of code went live, with no major issues! We’ve since done 6 or 7 releases with no major issues as well. By far one of the biggest accomplishments of my career, and we couldn’t have done it without a phenomenal team.
  • I became a .NET Xpert! Excella has a great program to reward employees that continuously commit to making an impact beyond our client sites. The gist is that every 6 months I do a certain amount (or more) of activities against a “points system”, such as writing, speaking, OSS work, etc. Because of that, I am now afforded 20% time – 1 day per week that is now my own to contribute more widely to Excella and beyond. It’s a great honor to be a part of their services leadership.
  • TechLadies happy hour: I’m a big fan of Allison Esposito and the work she’s doing with Tech Ladies. It’s crucially important to get more women into this field – we desperately need their talent & diversity of thought. I worked with Excella to host a Tech Ladies happy hour earlier in the year, and we ended up with over 100 attendees! I also got to meet Cynthia Bell McGillis who’s a fantastic liaison for Tech Ladies in the DC area.
  • Creating & launching xluh.co: as part of my aforementioned Xpert time, I got fed up one day with URL shorteners costing an arm & a leg to get your own domain and analytics. So I built http://xluh.co using .NET Core. The source code is at http://xluh.co/repo if you’re interested.
  • Co-Authoring a course on Agile Testing & Automation: Along with my excellent colleague Noura Saad, I created & taught a course on agile testing and automation, designed for those in traditional testing roles who may only be familiar with testing from a waterfall or traditional test plan perspective. The course provides attendees with two ICAgile certifications (ICP-TST/ICP-ATA). Authoring the course and getting certified was a great learning experience and I’m looking forward to improving upon it for our two upcoming courses.

I also:

  • Co-taught several Agile Engineering courses (where students can earn their CSD certification after passing an assessment)
  • Created a screencast walk-through for one of our Agile Engineering course assessments for those who have trouble with it.
  • Built a quick Twilio forwarding app because our conference phones stink at saving numbers (blog post on this in the future)
  • Introduced & used structured logging with great success on our client project, saving a ton of time and adding visibility to some really gnarly integration points.
  • Started (and finished) a “Dear Agile” blog series experiment, fielding questions for our Agile experts to answer.
  • Took some Neo4j training that I think is going to bear fruit in the coming year. Graph databases have so much potential.

Personal Stuff

I try not to be too personal on this blog as it’s mostly tech, but there are some things I just had to mention. I’ll keep it brief. :)

  • I got engaged! In March, I took a trip to Key West with the love of my life and asked her to marry me. She said yes. It was awesome.
  • I got married! Because we’re crazy people, we decided “why wait to plan this wedding? Let’s just do it!” And so, on November 3rd, Amanda and I got hitched. It was hands down the best day of my life, and everything that I wanted it to be.
  • Politics: Politics was a dumpster fire in 2017. So much has happened to the U.S. in the last 12 months that genuinely worries me about the future and tests my optimism on a daily basis. In 2018 I want to work to help more people through these times, particularly those who aren’t afforded my many varied privileges.

Blog Stats

  • I had 86,410 page views on the blog this year as of the time of this writing. That’s a great feeling!
  • 8 of the top 10 blog posts are specific “how to” articles, which tells me they probably had good SEO, and that if I need a quick how-to, probably lots of other people do as well.
  • All of my top 10 blog posts were written over 1.5 years ago. Working on some fresh content is probably a good idea.

What’s Next?

This is one of my favorite questions of all time. Normally I’d list a ton of things in this section, but that leads me to my first point:

  • A Focus on Focus. I have a big gigantic list of stuff I want to do. I want to limit my work in progress and focus on finishing so that I’m more impactful and forced to consciously think about priorities more often.
  • I’ve got some talks coming up in 2018.
  • …and plenty more fun things in the works!

Bring it on, 2018!

I’m looking forward to the year to come – challenges and joys alike.

Anything here catch your eye? Looking forward to something yourself? Drop it in the comments!

Wishing you all the best in the coming year.


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