A Look Back at 2014

It's the first week of January, so I am required by Internet law to post a "year in review" for 2014... so here we go.

"Looking Back" photo attribution: Some rights reserved by Alberto OG

This year has been an interesting and good one - and jam-packed. Here's a rundown of some of the major hightlights for me.

Joined The That Conference staff

In 2013, I attended That Conference, a technical conference in the Wisconsin Dells. And I really enjoyed the experience. So much so, that I contacted the organizers and offered to help out for 2014. On Jan 10th, I became a member of the team.

One of the main goals for That Conference 2014 was to rewrite the website, and I ended up taking lead on that project. A lot of commuting hours on the laptop, late nights, team video calls and "what the hell did I get myself into" moments later, I had come up to speed on ASP.NET MVC, Bootstrap, OAuth, Git and GitHub, AngularJS, Twilio and a whole host of other technologies I had little or no experience with.

I also learned a great deal about the business and logistical side of putting together a conference for 1000+ attendees and their families. And doing so with a team of 100% volunteers. During the week on-site, it was exhilarating and exhausting work. And while InRule brought our entire dev team to attend and were Platinum sponsors for the event, I barely saw them as I was running around helping keep this crazy train from coming off the tracks.

I met a ton of great people and am already getting rolling for 2015.

Shameless Plug: Looking for a great technical conference in the Midwest? Come join 1000+ motivated professionals for three days (Aug 10-12, 2015) for 125+ exciting sessions on web, mobile, cloud and everything else, across a variety of languages and platforms. Plus, it's held at a water park (the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells), so bring your family -- there's family track with sessions for them too! That Conference

New Job Title: Director of Development

My role at InRule Technology changed a bit this year, as I became the Director of Development. I documented this in my aptly-name post I Have A New Job Title: Director of Development, so won't go much further here.

Along those lines, however, one thing to note is that InRule saw a lot of growth this year. In particular, we ended the year with 11 new employees that weren't here at the start of the year. And while we did lose a couple people as well, that's a pretty big number for a company of around 40 people! We were also named to Inc. 500|5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies at #3636, and made the list of Chicago's 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For!


For as long as I can remember (going back 20 or so years), I've had a screwed-up nose which has made it difficult to breath through it. I, however, am quite the coward when it comes to medical procedures, so have aggressively avoided doing anything about it. But this year, which much encouragement from my wife, I finally got around to having it fixed and in early summer had a Septoplasty. While it was not a fun experience, I'm glad I did it. Though, I'm still getting used to what it feels like to have air (especially cold, winter air) flow through my sinuses -- something that hasn't really happened for several decades.

First International Vacation

Along with my wife and son, I took my first international vacation this summer -- as well as our first "destination vacation" as a family. We headed south to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and it was great!

Son Back In Public School

My son, who has some substantial learning disadvantages, had not been well served by the public school system for the first few years, so we made the decision to home school him a few years back. This year, however, we found a program within the public school that matches up with his needs (and has staff that supports him) and he has once again started attending public school. He has been making great progress this year! Through 2014, this was for just a partial day, but we're working now to extend that to a full day in in the early part of 2015.

Getting Into Microcontrollers

This year I got a Raspberry Pi (and later an Arduino). I'm loving playing with electronics again! I've been putting together a "GaragePi" project, which I've written about a couple of times now:

The Rise and Fall of My SonarQube Plugins

This one's a bit painful still, but in 2014 I published my SonarQube plugin to support ReSharper. About a month later, the cord was pulled and it died a quick death along with my plugin to support NUnit reports.

This was a fairly hurtful experience for me, as I poured a LOT of time and effort into putting these together and has turned me off from contributing to open source projects for a while. It did, however, allow me to turn my focus on That Conference.

All the other stuff

And, of course, there's been so much more. From my DIY projects at home, surviving the Polar Vortex, finally breaking 1000 on StackOverflow, to becoming the housemate of a cat. In 2014, I posted 16 entries to this blog and had approx 92,300+ pageviews -- and may actually make enough money on cumulative ad views for Google to actually cut me a check this year!

All-in-all, it's been a pretty good year! And 2015 is looking to continue the trend.