Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 – The Year in Review

It’s the end of the year, and although I skipped 2007, it is my habit to take a look back here on matters personal and professional. To whit:

I blogged a lot less this year. There are a number of reasons for that. The main one is that I’m just not as interested in blogging as once I was. I think that comes with the increasing “inward focus” my career has taken. I just find that more and more, what matters to me is what matters to me, not what matters to everyone else. That’s not a judgement or a boast, just an observation. It’s quite liberating: for example, I can go look at weird languages (see below) and not worry about it too much. :)

If you really can’t get enough Craig, you can always try me in appetizer size over on my Twitter stream. I seem better able to post a few dozen characters than a few paragraphs these days.

Career-wise, 2008 continued the shift I started in 2007 away from lots of small projects towards one big one. If I remember right, by the end of 2006 I’d worked on about seven different open source and proprietary projects, at a max of something like five simultaneously. That was too much, and I was feeling burned out. These days, pretty much all my professional time goes to a contract at Microsoft, where I’m working on the next version of Visual Studio. That has been very interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s related to the work I’ve done on the MSDN REST Web Service.

Of course, the most significant event of 2008 had nothing to do with web services: it was the birth of our second child, daughter Susan. She was a cranky newborn, but has since turned into a charming and active baby. Needless to say, having two kids has really changed my life. I’m still coming to terms with giving up my free time – a painful process for me.

Not that I have no free time, of course. If I had none, I wouldn’t have been able to train for and run a marathon. But maybe I shouldn’t have talked so much smack in that post – Engberg whupped me good, and now I have to run another one. I think maybe this time I’ll make qualifying for Boston my stretch goal. Along the way, I’d also like to run a sub-20:00 5K. That’s much more my type of thing – I’m a fast runner, not an endurance runner.

This year saw my fascination with Lisp continue and even deepen, as is obvious from a variety of posts here. My latest interest on the parentheses front is Clojure. I made one (sort-of) provocative post about it, promised to say more, and never did. Well, given how not into blogging I am lately, I’m not sure whether I ever will live up to that promise. So go check it out for yourself: it really is an awesome language. Stu’s book is a good way to get started.

Here at the cusp of the new year, I don’t really know what 2009 will hold for me. I have a pretty good idea that the Microsoft work will continue for a while, but of course as an independent there’s always an increased level of uncertainty. But I like to think that it’s a rare problem that doesn’t yield an opportunity, so I’m optimistic.

On the family front, obviously we’re looking forward to watching both kids continue to grow and flourish. 2009 will be Ellen’s last full year of preschool, and of course Susan will likely start walking, talking, and doing all sorts of things. We hope to take family trips to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Alaska, too.

On the professional front, I really want to spend more time working with Clojure. I’ve got some ideas for some real apps I can write, since that is, after all, the only true way to learn a language or platform. Plus it gives me a chance to run Ubuntu regularly, which I’ve been enjoying as a departure from the ordinary. (Clojure runs on Windows just fine, BTW.)

In the personal realm there are the running goals I mentioned earlier. I also hope to continue to fly Falcon, and maybe even DCS: Black Shark, which looks really sweet. If I somehow magically find extra time, and the basement finally gets finished, maybe I’ll even start playing bass and/or drums again.

Wishing you all the best in the new year.