2012 – Reflection and Resolutions

The Story Thus Far

It’s safe to say 2011 was a big year for me.  In 2001, I moved to Montreal, Quebec to be wife my now-wife, Piera.  I got my first real job programming PHP for an online casino company.  After the company went bankrupt, I started my own company with 2 friends.  A credit card processing company called myVirtualCard.  This lasted for a good number of years, but we finally had to shut down.  Meanwhile, in 2007, I’d married Piera.  In 2009, I started work again at Gamma Entertainment handling their credit card processing department.  In 2008, we had our first son, Joseph Michael Robert Lotito.  In 2010, we had our second son, Julian Alfonso Lotito.  We also learned that summer that Joseph might be autistic.  We then spent the next year fighting with the Quebec medical establishment to get whatever helped we could for him (We got no support).  In the sprint of 2011, we’d had enough, and I made up my mind to move back to the US.  After all, we had that option.  In a few short months, I’d interviewed, got hired, found a place, made several flights all over the country, and in August of 2011, moved to Telford, PA to begin work at myYearbook.com.

Back in the U.S.A.

So, here I am, back home at the start of 2012.  If you’d asked me a year ago where I would be, here is not where I’d imagine.  But I’m glad we made the move.  As it turns out, Joseph does have Autism.  Had we waited a bit longer, he would be in much worse shape.  As it is, it will still require intense ABA therapy.  There is also some worry Julian might be autistic as well.  I believe the number was 90+ out of 150 autistic children are boys, and siblings of autistic children are 70% likely to be autistic as well.  Suffice it to say, we are keeping a close eye on him.  Luckily, he seems, if anything, to simply be mildly developmentally delayed.

The treatment we’ve received here in Bucks county in Pennsylvania has been outstanding.  Seeing the difference in care, I could never willingly return my children to Quebec.

2011

So for me, 2011 started with me in the US, on a trip to visit family, and it ended with me living here.  It’s rather humorous when you think about it, and the road it took to get here.  Most of 2011 can be summed up with this: “how did I manage to control this chaos.”  Between work, worrying about my son, finding a job, moving, getting acquainted with that new job, getting the wife and kids accustomed to a new country, and everything that entails: it was exhausting.  I had very little time for myself, it feels.  I put aside most of my hobbies since moving.  No painting, no gaming, no writing, very little exploratory programming (though it’s started getting better).

2011 was about the family.

2012

This year, with the family settled, I need to look at bettering myself.  Joseph is getting the help he needs to, I’m employed at a wonderful company and work with a lot of smart people, and I have immense opportunity to grow as a developer.

Resolutions are a traditional way to start the new year.  The problem is, this year started without me having thought of one.  I just simply forgot.  At my brother’s new years party, my sister-in-law handed me a card, and told me to fill it out with my resolutions.  She’d mail it to me at the end of the year.  This sounded like a great idea, except I had no idea what to write.  I simply hadn’t though of a resolution.

Since then, I’ve been pondering what I want to do.  There are the grand goals, the cliche goals: get in shape, make money, be happy, win the lottery.  I wanted something more concrete.  I want to change my life in small but meaningful ways.  Over the course of the year, I want to focus on one aspect, and carry over the habits I can.  My resolution isn’t to change any one thing.  Rather, my resolution is to better myself.

January – Freedom

I feel like I’ve already wasted half the month in coming up with what I want to do.  So, January is the month I’m giving to myself.  I’m not committing to anything in January.  No pressure.  I’m allowing myself to prepare for the coming months.

February – Hobby

In February, I want to start a hobby that isn’t related to programming or computers.  In fact, it shouldn’t involve computers at all.  This will most likely involve either wood working or miniature painting.  The former is possible with a garage, but I have no equipment.  The later I have everything for, including ample space.  However, the former involves me getting off my butt, which is something I should address at some point.

March – Getting Healthy

I really shouldn’t wait so long, but by March, I want to be on the road to health.  More importantly, this is the month when I want to start really learning more about getting healthy.  Eating right, exercising and enjoying it, and taking care of myself.  I’ve done this before, and by March, I was doing really well.  I can do this.

April – Ludum Dare

I want to write a game.  In my spare time, I’ve been playing with an event driven gaming framework in JavaScript.  It’s been a lot of fun, and come April, I want to take part in Ludum Dare 23.  I’ll probably take a couple days off before and after, and make sure the wife knows what I’m doing.  It will require training and practice before hand, but by April I should be ready to go.  This means, of course, having completed a game or two before hand.

May – Open Source All the Things!

I haven’t contributed to an open source project in a long time.  The goal here would be to contribute some libraries and code I’ve written (will write).  It’s not much, but I need to spend time putting them together and releasing them, or at least finishing them up.  I’d always want to release the JavaScript Game Event Engine I’m working on (for use with Ludum Dare).  May would be set aside for getting that up and released.

June – iOS App

By this time, I will have wanted to release an iOS App.  I have one in the works.  It’s a simple app, but great for learning the system, and something I would use (always a plus).  It’s also an app that isn’t covered well in the app store.  So, by June, I’ll want to have released it.

July – Learn a new language

I’m not really sure which language, but by this time, I’d want to try to learn something new.  I was introduced to Erlang back in August of 2011, and enjoyed it.  Maybe putting some more time into it would be fun.  Regardless, July should involve learning a new language.  The goal will be to write a simple HTTP server, I think.  That’s always fun, and a great way to learn the system, it’s libraries, and has a fairly practical value.

August – Node

If myYearbook holds Node the same time this year as the previous year, we’ll have it in August.  Node is the company developer retreat.  3-days away at some remote location having our own mini-conference.  2011 was fun, despite the storm and lack of power.  Besides of Node, however, I’ll also have time to continue learning that new language.

September – Talk More

I want to push myself to start giving more talks.  I’m already giving a talk this coming friday at a PHP meet up group, but it’s a small affair.  By September, I want to be in a position to give more talks, and really start pushing it.  I have no issue standing in front of people and talking (I actually enjoy it).  My issue has always been self-confidence.  I mean, do people really want to hear me give a talk?  By September, I want to make that a yes.  This will involve blogging more, writing more, contributing more of course.

October – Master Smaller Tools

There are a lot of tools out there in the Unix world, and I simply don’t know them all.  While over the course of the year, I’m sure I’ll learn many new things, I want to allow myself time in October to simply learning these smaller tools.  Maybe coming to better understand writing vim plugins, or getting a better handle on make or bash.  The goal here isn’t to learn anything in particular, but rather focused attention on learning these tools.

November – NANOWRIMO

NANOWRIMO.  Nuff said.

December – Reflection

With the holidays approaching, now is the time for reflection, relaxation, and discovering if I’ve achieved this rather grand list of things I want to accomplish.

Is it doable? Yes.  Can I do it? Sure.  Will I? Who knows?   So much can happen, but having a plan helps out.  I’d like to think that every every month now I have something to look forward to, something to keep me on track.  Many small goals that will, I imagine, improve myself.

I hope I am as resolved as I will need to be.

Goals for 2011

It’s traditional, at least in my culture, to create goals, or resolutions, at the start of a new year. The new year is seen as a restart, a new beginning, and it’s a handy time to start new goals. It’s common.

So, not wanting to break with tradition, I feel I should record my goals for 2011. These are the goals I’ve spent some time thinking about, so I feel they are more meaningful then simply “Eat better, make more money, etc.”

Expand on the DuctMail concept. DuctMail was fun, and I still use it, but it could be so much more. The flaw in DuctMail is a flaw in myself: information management. It’s hard to handle so much information, and most systems that want you to use them for information management require you to learn how they do things. DuctMail doesn’t try to do this. However, it needs more work. I need to set aside time to do this. DuctMail could be turned into a side business, so I need to force myself to make this a side business.

Build 2NaW.com. 2NaW.com, or 2 Nights a Week is built up around a simple idea. I should note that the idea was inspired by reading this posting from HN about LetsPocket.com. Basically, the idea comes from something the poster said in his post: “I coded relentlessly every chance I could (which amounted to a mere 1-2 nights a week).” The idea is simple. Far too often projects get abandoned because people feel they aren’t making progress. However, countless times projects pop up from people who have spent a little extra time each week working on a project. 2NaW.com is going to encourage people to do just this. How? I don’t know. However, I want something that caters to the hacker who has a family, has a life, has little free time, but wants to find a way to get his hacking done. Also, it being a 4 character domain makes it fun. And the name sounds like ‘tuna’.

Outside of building these two sites, I also want to really learn another language. By that, I mean I want to make a second language apart of my toolbox. Far too long I’ve relied on PHP to do most of my grunt work. While I’m not afraid of other languages, anything I had to do was usually done easiest with PHP. The danger here is that most anything I have planned for this year is stuff I can already do in PHP. Which begs the question: what language should I learn? I don’t need to learn a language for my career. However, I think I should spend some time learning Lisp. It’s popular enough to make it useful, yet esoteric enough to make it a little more unique. Ruby is also up there as something I should learn. It’s practical enough that it can have an impact on my career in the future. Still not sure. Must decide soon!

Finally, I must contribute more. Contribute both in terms of blog posts with interesting ideas, as well as to projects. I can blog about my other goals and how they are going. Projects will be through code I release via these two projects. I also must contribute back to the communities I use so much, so I should venture to contribute to HN and Reddit. On the Reddit side, I’ve already started that, so hopefully that will seem some positive results. On the HN side, I’ll have to contribute with information about my above goals.

I have some other goals, but they are of the more personal side, and will not be sharing them with you, dear blog reader. My wife, however, knows what they are. They aren’t bad things, mind you. Merely goals. Not to correct wrongs, but to make our lives better in the long run. We’ve already started this, and maybe I’ll write about them in the future.

We’ll see.