Well, if I thought 2012 was the fastest disappearing year on record, that record was smashed into the ground by 2013. What a year! And because I didn’t manage to write this on time to publish elsewhere, I can do a more personal reflection of the year here on my very own blog.
Apparently, reading over last year’s article, I had goals for 2013:
Get more involved in schools/mentoring.
Yeah… That didn’t happen. I don’t think I even made a single Meet a Mentor event this year, which is an excellent, really lightweight way of mentoring in London, and I’m sorry I was unable to participate.
Contribute to a major release of the MongoDB Java Driver.
Well, I contributed… but it’s still not ready for release yet.
Give a keynote at an international conference.
Nope, didn’t manage this either! But I did keynote at the LJC Open Conference again.
…and more of the same from this year: presentations, user groups, blogging, workshops.
Well, this I did manage. More on that later.
I foresee a lot of travel in my future.
There was even more than I imagined. And a big bit of travel that I did not anticipate.
|Post-Christmas New York|
|You won’t believe it was sunny the previous day|
London: I was lucky to be part of the programme committee for QCon London, so for the first time I got to see what goes into organising these conferences. It’s not easy! You can have as many opinions as you want, but you need to work really hard to find great speakers and great content. I was especially surprised when I actually attended how poorly we’d done in attracting diversity in our presenters, even though Aino, Dan and I are particularly passionate about this topic.
New York: again. Another catch up with the team, and to meet our newest member, Justin.
Dublin: Worked from our EMEA headquarters on commercial support, which was an interesting experience. Also presented at a local user group - I like these mixed technology groups, you get to hear some different experiences.
Shanghai: Absolutely amazing experience, my first time in Asia. Loved it.
Moved to Seville. Had holiday, did some actual code. I swear I code better in the sunshine.
What a month!
Oslo: JavaZone. Unveiled the new version of my talk, higher level and fluffier: “Design is a Process, not a Document”.
I managed to survive Oslo with only my phone, since my trusty D80 camera finally gave up, but at Heathrow was “forced” to upgrade to the D7000 - since I took almost no pictures of Oslo, it’s clear I need a “real” camera. Honest.
This trip to New York was a bit of a disaster on the personal front, losing my phone, having things stolen from the hotel room, being put on two broken planes at JFK before finally having to go back to Manhattan overnight so that we could fly the next day. But these are all first world problems, solvable with time or money (or both), and you just move on to the next thing.
San Francisco: My third outing to JavaOne. As always, it’s all about the people you meet out there.
…and I still haven’t been home yet.
Aarhus: Finally made it to GOTO Aarhus, it’s the first year I’ve been invited and not had a clash with JavaOne. The sneaky beggars made me track host of the Careers track to ensure my attendance. I never blogged about Aarhus because I got further and further behind on the blogging (instead of having loads of opportunity on the plane, like you’d think I would have, the more travel I did the more likely it was I would fall asleep in front of a movie instead). I gave two talks here, both different to anything I’d done all year, because what you need when you’re on a plane and in hotels for a whole month is to decide, for your last conference in the tour, to do something completely different (Note To Self: Do not do this again). The first was Career Advice for Programmers, a talk I was disappointed with because I have so much to share and 50 minutes was not enough. Probably more suitable for those starting their careers than senior developers. The second was Top Ten IntelliJ Tips (with special guest star Dan North), which also didn’t go as well as I’d liked, because live coding is fraught with danger, but if people pick up just one tip from it, I’ve done my job.
Aarhus was a great conference that I simply didn’t appreciate as I spent most of the time asleep or preparing both talks. Four cities back to back is simply too much, especially if the Atlantic separates some of them.
I was eventually allowed home for a week, then it was…
|This is all I saw of Berlin|
Berlin: At this point the travelling was less entertaining than it used to be, and, once again, I was re-writing the talk as I needed to present something much more MongoDB-specific (apparently I’m an evangelist for some NoSQL database - who knew?), so I saw nothing of the city at all, which is the thing I regret the most. However well or badly this new talk went, Berlin was a great opportunity to meet some really awesome speakers - smaller conferences (I think it was about 300 people) are much better for mingling.
London: Back on (more or less) home turf for JAX London. When I signed up for this, I didn’t know I was going to be living in Spain, so I thought it would be painless to give a presentation and the updated workshop from QCon London. Yeah… I panicked a LOT about JAX (I apologise to the organisers for passing on my panic without giving them enough notice for them to be able to help me), in particular the half day workshop I gave, as I didn’t feel that went well at QCon. And it scared the crap out of me to find out 30 people had signed up and more wanted to come. But after putting a lot of work in to the preparation, and taking into account the lessons I learnt at QCon, this tutorial went really well, and I’m ready to give it at conferences next year. Also, I think tutorials are the right place to talk in depth about MongoDB and to teach people about what it is and how it works, and presentations are a better platform for more general things that apply to a wider audience.
I have almost no photos from this trip to London (apart from a couple of Colin pretending he wasn’t going to drink at the LJC Community Night) - looks like I didn’t bother to bring my camera, since one of the few I have is via the iPad. This is what you look like when you visit eight different cities in less than two months:
More Actual Code, a Virtual JUG presentation, and then…
New Zealand: How exciting, an Actual Holiday. Because I get to travel all the time, and often get to see the cities I visit, I haven’t taken any real time off since February. As we were going to be in Australia anyway, we got a chance to see New Zealand - a country I’ve always wanted to visit, ever since my uncle lived there when I was a child.
Australia: I’ve already given a very detailed round-up of YOW. If I say it was my favourite conference of the year, people will remind me that I’ve said that of more than one conference. But it was an amazing way to round off an incredible year.
So, there you have it. 2013 was a year in which I travelled all over the globe, visiting two continents for the first time as well as jetting around Europe and the States. It’s a year where I started to learn a new language (Groovy) and continued to make very limited progress learning another (Spanish). It’s a year in which I struggled to find the balance between all the parts of my job and my personal life, not always getting it right, but learning a lot in the process. Sure, reading the travel bits make me feel like I spent a lot of it fairly stressed, but it’s also a year where I found a lot of happiness.
So, 2014, I have plans for you:
- Travel less. At the end of 2013 my batteries were extremely empty, the back-to-back travel has a much larger impact than simply the time it takes out of the schedule to get somewhere. This resolution is not just about not getting on a plane, I want to focus a bit closer to home - Madrid and Barcelona, I hope you guys don’t mind presentations in English - including investing in local communities in Seville. But for those who aren’t here in Spain, I have plans to compensate for this lack of physical interaction with people like…
- More remote presentations. The vJUG presentation went much much better than I expected, and it took a lot less time out of my schedule. It was also a lot of fun. I also want to do more webinars, screencasts, and so on. On a related note…
- More writing. Yeah, I probably said this last year. But I’ve got a backlog of things for the blog, plus a number of other magazine articles I’d like to do. I’ve got loads of things I want to write up for our official documentation too. And this isn’t just pictures and stories, but code-heavy stuff as well, like…
- Workshops and tutorials. These are a better platform for learning about MongoDB at conferences (better than an hour-long talk anyway), and with a bit of effort should translate into something that can be done by anyone, anywhere. We already have a free education course for Java & MongoDB, but I want to offer even more examples of how to code against our driver and the other libraries people might be using. And not all these libraries are in Java-the-language, for example…
- Do More Groovy. I’ve really surprised myself, because I’m a die-hard, too-old-to-learn-new-tricks Java person, and I’m falling for Groovy - I love that the syntax is Java-ish but slick and descriptive. I want to continue with the Spock stuff in the driver, but I have ideas for a load of other Groovy things I could do in the Java/JVM/MongoDB world.