Five

Five is how many blog posts I wrote for all of 2015.  

I started this blog in March of 2011 which means it is coming up on it’s five year anniversary.  Here is the breakdown of blog posts per year over the past five years of daddyjake.com:

  • 2011 – 4
  • 2012 – 72
  • 2013 – 37
  • 2014 – 15
  • 2015 – 5

Anyone who has followed me over the years (which is probably no one), would know that I have been blogging on and off since 2001 and that I still (obviously) struggle to blog on a regular basis, save from a couple of good runs over the past 15 years.

Last year was not a good year for me and my family and because of that, I had no inspiration for blogging, photography or sewing because I was in survival mode.  While I did write a few posts last year, including some of what I endured, I have tried very hard to keep posts on this blog of a positive nature.

Now that I am slowly but surely crawling out of survival mode, I have been missing my Sunday morning blogging and have really been wanting to get out with my dSLR that has been collecting dust.  This winter has been so dark and ugly that I have not gone out because I am a photographer who prefers natural light and still haven’t taken the time to figure out how to properly use the settings on my dSLR.  

I seem to oscillate between programming and blogging.  I either get very focused on programming on my projects or I don’t touch them at all.  For the past two months, I have been nose to the grindstone with my programming.  I was supposed to be out this morning blogging and yet again, slid back into programming for the first 1.5 hours I was out.  I need to see if I can code something up that anytime that happens, my keyboard zaps me or something of that nature.

While I am not entirely sure that I *lost* my passion for programming, I certainly lost *any* desire to ever work a corporate job again.  I started my first post post secondary education job in April of 2000.  I questioned my whole career if I enjoyed my work knowing I went home from work and worked for several hours more on my own projects.  Somehow, it wasn’t until some time in the past year that I realized that I had always worked in a technology department (IT, IMIT, IS) and never for a technology company that’s sole purpose is doing development.

I have been feverishly trying to get back up to speed with some programming languages that I am not as familiar with while also brushing up on advanced programming theory.  I have also been working on re-building my portfolio (something I haven’t done since graduating college) with the intention of getting back to doing web development.  I have had stacks of books out from the library and have probably read a few thousand pages in the past month or two.

The problem I seem to be struggling with is of course, what I preach to a lot of people:  work/life balance.  I love to blog, I love to sew and I love to take photographs.  (And of course, I love to program.)  I have been (again) in the process of cleaning up and re-arranging the house to help facilitate this.  

Time to sit down and get back to setting goals for blog posts and photographs posted to my Flickr account.  The sun is shining behind me for what feels like the first time in weeks!

My word for 2016 is: Recovery.  Recovery of my career, my finances and my health.

What is yours?

Programmer Rising

This past March, I started programming again for the first time since March of 2012.  That’s three years of not doing much coding as a PHP web developer after having done it for upwards of 15 hours a day and now over 15 years since I graduated from college.  I was the second graduate to walk the stage in receiving my two-year diploma from the then new ITAS Program in 2000 at what is now known as VIU.  I had been reminiscing lately about the first website I ever made at Geocities back in 1997.  That’s creeping up on 20 years since I published my first website.  Where has the time gone!?  And my how technology has changed since then!

I haven’t blogged much (lately, yes, I know – life happened) let alone about technology in several years.  There are only two tech-related posts on this blog, both on subscribing to a website.  While I haven’t had much motivation to blog about business and technology since starting daddyjake.com, I have also struggled with where to publish these types of posts.

Five years ago, I somewhat left my career as a web geek in favour of learning something new (and less stressful).  I knew at the time that I would never work in IT department again.  I was miserable almost my entire tech career when I was at work.  But, I questioned why if I hated my career so much, would I go home and work on my own web projects for several hours more?  Getting back into programming as of late has helped remind me of why I love doing it so much.  

When I was in college, one of our instructors gave us instructions on how to install and configure a mail server.  Needless to say, things did not go as exactly written in the instructions and a few of my classmates tore into my instructor because how dare he give us instructions that didn’t work!  Then I heard that token tech phrase for the first time in my career: “but it worked on my machine!”  I just shook my head.  Not at my instructor, but at my classmates.

As a technologist, you spend countless, lost hours in a project troubleshooting, debugging, researching and fixing things.  My estimation would be that 70-80% of the time spent on a project is spent solely on making things work and/or finding a workaround to a roadblock you encounter.  This can be frustrating as hell when you have deadlines.  Or in my case, working for managers who don’t understand that it’s part of the process of working on a project that involves technology.

Delving back into my projects after not looking at some of them for upwards of five years has been an interesting ride.  I have written and re-written a lot of code as I have evolved as a developer and learned new ways of doing things and as the technologies themselves have evolved.  Code I once thought was great, I now scratch my head at.

With such a lag having just happened with my projects and needing to free up some of my own time, I decided to take a look at frameworks again (framework: pre-built building blocks rather than me making those building blocks myself.  I am using Laravel 5 for those who are wondering).  This is far from the first time I have looked at frameworks but also the first time in closer to ten years that I have actually given them a chance.  The reason they might actually stay this time:  I need to think and work like a business owner and not like a programmer.  In other words, as a business owner, I can’t spend all my time coding because I have way too much non-coding work to get done!

laravel5

With my programmer hat on, I have been back in that space of banging my head as I come across bumps, hills and mountains in my project(s).  I curse, bang my keyboard, go for walks, write it out on paper doing whatever I can until that issue is in my rear view mirror.  Then I move on to the next feature and deal with the issues that come along with it.

Stressful?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Absolutely.  Exhilarating?  Exactly the point!

The process of coming up with an idea, losing your shit trying to get it implemented, losing (quite literally at times) days trying to get one piece to work and realize it’s because you didn’t put a comma where needed and then all of a sudden, it’s working.  THAT is what I love about programming!  I love watching as a website just comes to life as you feed it data much like watering a flower and watching it come to life.

The amount of work I have to do is more than a little daunting.  I am very grateful for coffee, time to work on my projects and best of all, being able to look up from my desk and watch the hawks and eagles flying around!