Adam Fortuna

Adam Fortuna is a developer, crossfitter, foodie who lives in Orlando, FL. He blogs about programming at evaleverything.com and tweets often.

This is my annual recap of what’s happened in my life over the last year. It was a packed year — even without world changing events. Instead things were consistently active, busy and varied.

The biggest themes for my year were: Code School, travel, audiobooks, learning Angular and using a todo list (off and on) to organize my time. I also noticed that since I like to try to do new things, giving them a try in an easier (and perhaps cheaper) way is beneficial — that way I can fail fast if it’s not a fit.

So What’s this All About?

For the last few years, I’ve tried to take a little time to look back at the previous year and made some goals for the next year (with limited success). Either way, it’s interesting to both look back, and to add focus for the coming year. It’s too easy for me to get blinders on to everything else in life and miss some of the bigger picture type of self evaluation that is worthwhile.

Travel

The first 6 months of the year — or really the 3 month stretch from April to June — was crazy. Japan, New York, Jacksonville, Chicago. These trips were awesome, but had the unfortunate side effect of knocking me off any exercise schedule I tried to get on. Even still, this year had some seriously amazing trips I won’t soon forget.

I already want to go back to Japan.

  • Fulfilled a lifelong goal and went to Japan for 2 weeks with Marilyn.
  • Went to Empire.js in New York with some of the Code School team.
  • Amelia Island (by Jacksonville) for JSConf, which was probably my favorite dev conference ever. Also gave my first every conference talk there.
  • Chicago with Marilyn for the Wish I Was Here KickStarter launch and finally seeing the city.
  • St. Petersburg for Crab Fest!
  • St. Pete Beach for the Code School Retreat
  • Currently planning a two week trip to Rome and Amsterdam for January.

Events and Entertainment

We didn’t end up going to many concerts this year, instead sticking to movies and a growing number of TV shows. I heard the term “Golden Age of Television” quite a few times this past year.

The code for my books page (Angular + Rails) is on GitHub.

  • Saw a load of movies, my favorites for the year being: Intersteller, Edge of Tomorrow and The Wind Rises.
  • Missed Megacon for my first time in 18 years. :( Heard it was crazy this year though.
  • Lots of audiobooks — 42 total for the year. Top author was Brendon Sanderson. Favorite books were Ready Player One, Creativity Inc, The Way of Kings and Redshirts.
  • The TV Shows I looked forward to most this year were Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Fargo and True Detective.
  • Went to BarCampOrlando and gave my JSConf talk there.
  • Saw Weezer’s Blue Album performed live at Hard Rock.
  • Saw a couple basketball games and the new arena here in Orlando.
  • Did not play many video games this year. Mario Kart Wii U was at the top of the list, with Destiny and Elder Scrolls Online in the running.
  • Listened to Belle and Sebastian perform at House of Blues from a comfy balcony seat.
  • Saw a number of shows at Orlando Fringe including Escape from Baldwin Park, Sharknami: The Musical and Something’s Weird in Weeki Wachi.

Fitness

Continued doing CrossFit this year. Went often during the first few months, then less after traveling upset my schedule. For a while I was going 4x a week, but lately it’s been closer to 2. In the new year I plan to get back on a consistent 3x schedule.

CrossFit Kings Point

  • Went to an Olympic Lifting class at the gym for a few months, which helped my form on cleans (175), snatches (125), deadlifts (300) and front squats (225) a ton.
  • Continued CrossFit usually around 3 times a week, nearly always at 8am. Moved to going to Kings Point West most the time, which gives me an extra 30 minutes to my days.
  • Participated in the CrossFit Open and did much better than last year. I hadn’t run all the numbers, but I think I was in the ~30th percentile (up from ~10th). I didn’t do the last workout because I was in Japan though.
  • Continued doing yoga at work on Wednesdays. Great way to relax and prevent injury.
  • Did Murph in 50:10 for Memorial Day. Really wanted to get under 50 minutes. Maybe next year!
  • Participated in a local competition within our gym and got 4th place in the “non-rx” category. I’m always amazed I can go head to head with people that are so strong, but luckily I get an advantage in the bodyweight exercise department.

Work

Work mantra: “Will this make people happy?”

Officially switched from working at Envy Labs to Code School — even if that’s what I’d been doing already. My main focus has been on building an amazing, happy team that works well together and creates amazing things.

Warming Up With Emberjs

  • Released the 2nd half of the Warming up with Ember.js course. The creator of the framework even said it was awesome! At JSConf, I heard Ember core team members recommending it, which was pretty damn awesome. :)
  • Helped release a ton of Code School courses over the last year.
  • Created a number of internal tools – Abecedary (for running client-side code), Tutor (for running server side code), Projector (central store for videos), Guidance v2 (Pretty Charts with D3), Riddler (Challenge builder for courses).
  • Wrote the content for “Blasting Off with Bootstrap” and even presented in the videos! The course is coming out at the beginning of January.
  • Spent a lot of the year trying to build up an amazing team that works well with other teams. Got lucky in having some amazing people come on board to an already great team.
  • Was inspired a lot by Creativity Inc to change my mindset for managing from “Get courses out” to “Make the team happier”. I like how it has helped shape my decisions and make me personally happier as well.

Personal

Fuji XT-1

In a year with a lot of new things at work, travel and fitness, there was a lot more focus on those specific areas, leaving this general “personal” category relatively bare. Of all the categories, this one had the last personal growth over the past year.

  • Stopped going to Piano lessons. It’s still one of those things I’d love to learn, but man, it’s going to be an investment of time I’m not willing to make at the moment.
  • Started learning photography and picked up a Fuji XT-1. Amazing camera with physical dials for most functionality.
  • Didn’t do too much personal programming this year, instead focusing on Code School stuff. One goal for next year will be having more personal projects to drive learning and creativity.
  • Revamped my books page to use Angular. Slowly adding some D3 to it as well.
  • Spent lots of time researching for the various places we traveled this year.
  • I’d been using Things for a while off and on, but started using it, as well as calendars in general, much much more this year.
  • Started making more interesting cocktails at home, with my favorite spirits being Chartreuse, Gin and Mezcal.
  • Did a clean reformat of my Mac for the first time in 7 years.

Great Meals

I tend to remember amazing meals far longer than I probably should. Here’s a few that stand out. We gave Cask and Larder a few shots this year but wasn’t impressed by any of them unfortunately. Luckily Ravenous Pig is always solid.

  • Breakfast and dinner in the room at our Ryokan in Hakone, Japan.
  • Early morning Sushi at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.
  • Ramen at a number of amazing places in Tokyo including Ippudo and somewhere in Harajuku.
  • Pastrami and Corned Beef at Carnegie Deli.
  • Amazing Ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar.
  • Possibly the best meal of my life at Momofuku Ko.
  • Ravenous Pig for some amazing Trout and Venison.
  • Stone Crab Festival in St. Pete with Nate and so many friends.
  • Food and Wine Festival with the Code School gang.

Next Year

I wouldn’t say these are resolutions exactly — I’m not planning on changing behavior on a dime on January first. Instead these are more goals to work towards in the new year that might change as my interests and focus change:

Get back on my old schedule of going to the gym 3x a week and eating a little better. I got out of this habit this year due to a lot of changes in my schedule, but I want to make sure I stick to it.

Keep learning about photography. I’m still completely new to it, with a lot to learn, but it’s been fun so far.

Continue keeping track of what I’m working on using Things. This has been very helpful for pushing me to get a little more done. It doesn’t feel like it adds stress to my life, but instead relieves it by helping to prioritize things much better.

Well, that’s about it. 2014 has been a fun year.

The Audiobook Habit

There are so many (good) podcasts out there it’s easy to get swept away by them. About 2 years ago I was subscribing to over 30 of them, many of them news that overlapped with each other. Around this time, I decided to take a break from podcasts and binge listen to all 5 Game of Thrones books. For reference, that’s over 200 hours of content.

After about 2 month of audiobooks, I switched back to podcasts and found I was able to unsubscribe from nearly everything and wonder why I listened to many of them in the first place. After that, what I listened to changed dramatically — focusing on storytelling, education and entertainment rather than news.

Stopping this deluge of information in podcast form was similar to when I stopped reading RSS feeds (thanks Google Reader for going away!). It was information I didn’t know I didn’t need.

Habit Forming

I have a tendency to take things to the extreme. Why do something if you’re not going to go all the way? Marilyn knows that whenever we’re watching a TV show, we’re not going to just watch one episode, we’re going to watch the entire series from episode 1, in order.

This same tendency that can cause a lot of wasted time when listening to podcasts, actually helps out for marathoning audiobooks. From when I wake up in the morning and roll out of bed, if I’m not talking to someone, programming, reading or watching TV, I’m probably listening to an audiobook. People around the office have no doubt seen me walking around with earbuds in. This resulted in 45 books in 2013 and 39 books (so far) in 2014.

Podcasts

We started a Cereal and Serial listening club at work for the Serial Podcast.

I have missed out on some amazing podcasts in that time, and there are a few I’ll still make sure to listen to. Freakanomics, RadioLab and Serial (for example) are all amazing, as well as too many others. Rather than tuning in each week for most of these (ie, all but Serial), I’ll let them pile up then binge listen to 3-6 months of backlog in a few days. For other podcasts, I’ll only pickout the episodes I like where they’re touching on topics of interest, rather than listening to every episode regardless.

Seems obvious enough to do this, but when you’re the habit of watching every episode of a TV show, skipping an episode of a podcast seems like you’re not getting the full picture.

Positive Implications

What did this change have on my life? It wasn’t immediately apparent, but a few things stand out. By tuning out tech gadget podcasts, I noticed my consumerist tendencies declined. By stopping some of the financial podcasts, I worried about investments less which resulted in less shifting money around and ultimately a more successful Bogleheads style strategy. By not tuning in on specific days each week for news, I had a less structured listening schedule where I wasn’t immediately listening to whatever was available, and instead choosing what to listen to.

Creativity Inc

Creativity Inc, 2014

Listening around the house has helped me stay on track while getting things done. My entire garage was reorganized during a listen of Foundation. Unstuff your Life kickstarted a house cleanup that still proud of. Creativity Inc began an amazing conversation at Code School that resulted in some effective changes to the way we work. Quiet: The Power of Introverts was a interesting look at what gives me energy and helps drive me (and is a book I wish I had been able to read in middle school).

Development

The drive for additional data on what I was reading led to the creation of an Ember.js Application for managing them, as well as a Code School course on what I learned building it. Lately, my obsession has been AngularJS, and I have learned a huge amount re-implementing it in the new framework. The next step is some crazy data visualizations using D3, which I’m exited to have some data available to experiment with. If anyone wants to hack on it with me, the code is public on GitHub at adamfortuna/scribe.

The inspiration for the books app was inspired by a few fellow programmers who have done the same. Derek Sivers tracks what he’s read, and tends to read business and personal improvement books. Pamela Fox, a fellow programmer in the education space, also tracks her books (we share a distaste for Neuromancer). Any other programmers out there do the same?

Recommendations

Hyperion

Hyperion, 1989

If you’re looking for recommendations, the easiest thing is to checkout which books I’ve rated as 5-star on Goodreads using the handy books page. 3 Books I recommend to everyone (although completely different in nature) are Ready Player One, Hyperion and The Stormlight Archive Series (the last being the Fantasy equivalent of Game of Thrones — minus the sex).

On a side note, many thanks to Adam Rensel for the continued amazing book recommendations! If anyone else has suggestions, I’m all ears. Lately I’ve been eying the NPR Top 100 Scienve Fiction and Fantasy list as a good reference point, as well as this amazing visualization of which ones to focus on. The books page also shows what I’m reading on the right, by tapping into GoodReads “currently reading” indicator.

Back in high school, I got kind of into anime. My friends and I were the ones hanging out in anime IRC channels, and trekking across the state to conferences to meet with others of our kind. Although my love for anime isn’t what it once was, and I get winded playing 9 foot songs on Dance Dance Revolution, that started a fascination with Japan that has stuck with me. It lead to me taking Japanese language classes in college, getting really into Kurosawa and Miyazaki movies and wanting to someday travel there.

A Last Gift

I’d talked about traveling to japan with my mom during this time. Some of the places we’d go and the sites we’d see. When she passed away 2 months after I graduated college, I put a lot on hold. Rather than traveling or developing websites in my spare time, I was cleaning out and fixing up the house I grew up in. This meant driving from Orlando to St. Petersburg (90 minutes) on weekends for almost a year. It was without a doubt the most stressful time of my life so far.

On the weekend before my birthday, when the house was almost ready to sell, I was spending my weekend clearing out my moms room. In her closet, within a suitcase, I spotted a bank envelope. Written on it were the words “Adam to Japan fund”. I scratched my head and opened the envelope. Inside was $1,000 in cash, with a ledger on the side denoting deposits to it over the last year of her life. The thought behind this hit me hard, and I still tear up remembering it.

That was my moms last birthday gift to me.

The Trip

Fast forward almost 8 years later. Marilyn and I have been together since before finding that special envelope, and had also put off this trip in favor of various other amazing trips. Towards the end of last year we decided this was the year and finally made it a reality.

The tl;dr of the trip is that it was amazing. We spent 4 nights in a hotel across from Nijo Castle in Kyoto, experienced mineral baths and amazing meals for 2 nights at a ryokan in Hakone and finished our trip by exploring Tokyo for 7 full days.

During our time in Kyoto, we took a food and sake tour with a local, who grew up in the midwest. We explored ancient shrines like Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizu-dera temple. Fed the sacred deer in Nara and explored the amazing temples of Japans first capital. We saw a Maiko (Geisha) performance in Gion, the historic home of the culture. We explored the ancient castles used by the Shogun. At only an hour away, making the side trip to Osaka resulted in some amazing okonomiyaki and culture shock.

In Hakone, we shed our shoes and enjoyed pampering and 12 course kiseki meals at a hundred year old ryokan. We took a ropeway tour of the mountainside and ate eggs boiled in Owakudani, a natural hot spring, before taking a ship across Lake Ashinoko.

With so much to do in Tokyo, there was no shortage of nightlife, food, shopping or culture to fill a week. We loved the feel of Hakajuku, littered with crepe stands, cafes, boutiques and second hand stores. Were were wowed by the sheer amount of people and lights in Shibuya. Walked through the blooming sakuras in Ueno park. Watched gamers and otaku wander the 6 floor arcades and model stores in Akihabara. Fullfilled a lifelong dream and visited the Ghibli museum. Woke up early and had sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market. Had drinks at the Park Hyatt — famous for its role in Lost in Translation. Finished the trip with a very odd show — The Robot Dinner Show.

What to Expect

We did a lot of research before our trip, and it paid off. Going to Japan without some preparation will mean missing out on a lot of opportunities to make your trip better. Here are a few of the things we encountered that either came as a shock to us, or that seriously help out if you know about them ahead of time.

  • Bathrooms don’t usually have soap or towels. Most locals carry a small cloth to dry their hands.

  • Public trash cans don’t exist in Japan. If you have trash, you’ll probably need to carry it around until you get back to your hotel room.

  • There are many, many vending machines in Japan providing cold and hot drinks, instant ramen, beer, cigarettes and more. Next to each you’ll see a recycling bin. This is because it’s common for someone to buy and consume a drink right there. We didn’t see people drinking on the go. Either you bring it home or you drink it there. (If you’re a tourist it’s OK to do this though, no one’s going to be mad.)

  • People follow the law. Beer and cigarette vending machines don’t require an ID to purchase, but yet there isn’t an epidemic of kids buying them. The same machines in the US would either be policed or constantly empty. Same goes for simple things like waiting for the crosswalk to signal before crossing at 2am in a rural area.

  • Get a Japan Rail Pass to travel between cities using the Shinkansen (bullet train). You can also use it on the Yamonote line in Tokyo. You’ll need to reserve and have this delivered outside of Japan though. They give you a voucher, which you show at a JR office to get a full pass. There are JR passes in major airports, allowing you to grab it when you arrive. Make sure the station will be open when your flight gets in.

  • When it comes to trains, getting around between cities is easy using the JR Pass. You can show up at a station and make a seat reservation for the next available train. Since they leave every 30 minutes, you won’t be waiting long. You can also walk onto an “unreserved seat” car without a reservation.

  • For travel within cities, you’ll probably be using multiple companies subway lines. In Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo this applies. If you use the Google Maps, it’ll route you through this, but you’ll need to learn how to use the ticketing systems at each. All have an English option for the subway, but don’t have one for buying bus passes. We stuck entirely to subway and taxis for our visit.

  • Assume no one will speak English. It was always a nice surprise when people could help us, but don’t assume. It’s worth learning a few phrases like ‘sumimasen’ (excuse me) and ‘Eigo ga wakarimasu ka?’ (Do you understand English?) will help immensely.

  • The level of service everywhere was amazing. Restaurants, taxis, trains, hotels and anyone we talked to in the streets were very nice and no one was rude. Even with the communications barrier, people gave you their time with a smile.

  • Lots of articles on Japan mention you’ll be taking off your shoes often. Don’t listen to them. We took our shoes off a total of 3 times in 2 weeks (not including at the ryokan). Wear comfy shoes though. You’ll probably be walking a lot more than usual.

  • Get a mobile cellular device with wifi. We rented a pocket wifi from Pocket Wifi for about $80 which served as wifi for both of us and provided unlimited bandwidth. They delivered it to the post office at Narita Airport (outside Tokyo) and we picked it up right after we arrived. There were also some vendors in the airport selling these. Make sure the post office is open when you arrive though.

  • You won’t find any fancy breakfast places outside of ryokans. If you want breakfast, try a 7-11, a Dennys or a 24-hour noodle shop.

  • Some things you’ll want to reserve before you leave. These include a Japan Rail Pass, a pocket wifi, Ghibli museum tickets and imperial palace tours.

  • You’ll be going up more than you expect. Although most consumer shops and restaurants are at street level, on multiple occasions we had to take an elevator just to get to the entrance of a business. This was true for stores, restaurants and bars. These shops can be easily missed without exploring.

  • It rains a lot in Japan. Tokyo gets more rain than Orlando, Portland or Seattle (almost as much as Portland plus Seattle). You can buy umbrellas for $5 every few blocks in the city, and you’ll see piles of cheap, broken umbrellas in the touristy areas after a storm. These aren’t torrential downpours, but they are enough to drench you.

  • Almost every meal we had was between $30 and $70 total. Ramen meals came out on the $30 side for 2 people, while more fancy Japanese style meals with sake or beer were more like $70. Our entire food spend for 2 weeks was less than the cost of a night at Jiro.

  • Malls aren’t like malls here. They’re more like our department stores, with small, distinct stores very close to each other that all open/close at once.

The Days

What follows is a breakdown of the trip, day by day, with more pictures than I’ve ever included in a post. If you’re curious about Japan, or want to see some amazing sites, read on!

Seeking Mentors

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon an interesting blog post about How to Be a Mentor that included a variety of great advice on the subject. It occurred to me how many tips I could take and also how many mentors I’ve sought out in just the past year or two.

Fitness

One of the major advantages to something like CrossFit is the personalized coaching. Getting a training session with an extremely experienced trainer 3-5 times a week isn’t something that seems unusual. More days than not I start the day with a challenge from Mike, Josh or Jason.

Olympic Lifting

Recently I started attending an Olympic Lifting class at the gym, with a focus on a few select movements — clean, jerk, front squat and snatch. The coach for it, Mike Koenig has been an amazing trainer over the last 2 years I’ve been working with him, and I’m excited to see how the added emphasis on these lifts helps my progress.

Yoga

Another unlikely addition to my fitness regime over the past year has been adding in a dash of yoga. Every Wednesday at Envy Labs, we push the ping pong table aside and do a yoga session. Courtney Singleton has been an amazing instructor at easing me into the yoga world, in a non-sweaty introductory way that has helped my flexibility, and surely my performance in other fitness aspects as well.

After I strained my ankle a little over a year ago, yoga was one form of exercise that felt best for it. By Wednesday I’m somewhat sore from working out, so having yoga mid week has helped as a recovery tool.

Running

Around the office, it’s been Aimee Simone who has continually helped bring people together for runs – often around downtown Orlando. The path around Lake Eola is a beautiful run, and this time of year it’s something to take advantage of. Aimee also spearheaded the Yoga initiative which is always accepting new members.

Piano

Growing up, I remember going to my flute lessons in my karate gi. I didn’t play flute for too long, maybe 2 or 3 years, but left always wanting to play piano. My dad was always an inspiration to me in the area of music. Throughout my early years, the house was filled with piano or guitar strings, which I came to love waking up to.

Last year I decided to take the plunge and buy an electric piano and find myself a teacher. I’d put this off for quite a while mostly because I know it’s not something that’ll happen overnight. For the last year I’ve been attending classes with Al at Winter Garden Music near my house. Al’s the kind of guy who you’d give any piece of music to and he’ll play through it verbatim on the first run through. With his help and encouragement, I’m slowly improving, but I have a long ways to go.

Programming

When it comes to programming, there’s something you can learn from everyone you meet, so it’s impossible to list out any kind of complete list of mentors. My coworkers at Envy Labs push me to learn, teach and grow, especially Eric Allam, Carlos Souza and Gregg Pollack.

Not all mentors are as hands on as the in person list above. Some mentors are idea creators and code writers who you interact with through the product of their work. Ever since stumbling on Inventing on Principle and Learnable Programming, I’ve been following (stalking?) Bret Victor. I’m reasonably sure it’s normal to have Google Alerts setup for whenever his name is mentioned.

Working at Code School and always trying to push the envelope when it comes to how we teach, just seeing these kinds of inspirational ideas helps immensely. Following the specific approaches Bret mentions isn’t the important takeaway, but attempting to understand a concept from a students perspective and giving the tools for them to feel powerful when learning is an important goal to strive for.

I’m still working my way through his lengthly list of Links 2013, but I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

Seeking Mentors

One interest I mentioned in my 2013 Year In Review post was my desire to dive deeper into the JavaScript world. Part is this is reading through more JavaScript code by other people. If you’re reading this and come across any interesting JavaScript code or blog posts the year, feel free send them my way. If for no other reason than it’s more material to cover on the 5 Minutes of JavaScript podcast Carlos and I have been releasing every Thursday.

Seeking out mentors doesn’t happen overnight. Finding programming mentors may be difficult outside of the workplace, but most people I talk are more than willing to guide people – just no one asks. If you respect someone and want advice, don’t be shy to ask them.

This is my annual recap of what’s happened in my life over the last year. I’ve come to realize every 5th or 6th year is extremely active, while the other years seem to be less so. This year was not one of those 5/6 years, but instead more about personal growth and finding balance in my life. The biggest parts of my life this year were: Marilyn, Code School, CrossFit, audiobooks, learning Ember.js, and learning Piano.

Travel

I didn’t travel all that much this year. The biggest trips were Rails Conf and WWDC – both week long conferences attended with coworkers.

  • Rails Conf in Portland, OR
  • Was extremely lucky to attend WWDC in San Francisco
  • Sanibel with Marilyn for her birthday weekend
  • Went to Miami for Distant Worlds, a Final Fantasy Concert

Events and Entertainment

The most random event this year was Distant Worlds. Marilyn and I were discussing “What musical acts would you absolutely love to see that you haven’t?” and I mentioned Nobuo Uematsu, the composer behind the Final Fantasy games. After looking to see if he had a tour coming up, there was one in Miami 2 months out. Considering he’s only performed in the US 10 times in 10+ years, we really lucked out!

If you like movies, I’d encourage you to create a Letterboxd account and friend me!

  • Saw a load of movies, my favorites for the year being: Somm, Gravity and Stoker
  • Went to the Florida Film Festival Premiere, followed by seeing a number of awesome movies
  • Attended Megacon for the 15th straight year
  • Lots of audiobooks — 45 total for the year. My favorites were Hyperion, Maphead, His Dark Materials and Bossypants. Many more were amazing.
  • The TV Shows I looked forward to most this year were Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Homeland and Breaking Bad
  • Went to BarCampOrlando and presented on “R Programming for Ruby and Rails Developers”
  • The Postal Service concert viewed from the balcony at Hard Rock
  • A hilarious Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine concert at House of Blues
  • Saw Kevin Smith live at the Plaza Theater
  • Distant Worlds Concert
  • Only played a few video games, including more Skyrim, Final Fantasy VI, Bioshock and Final Fantasy XII

Body

2011 was about having fun and keeping interested (when it comes to CrossFit). This year was more about testing my limits and seeing how I could improve. Towards the end of the year I did start to plateau when it comes to working out. I suspect it was due to an awful diet and lack of sleep.

  • Worked out usually around 3 or 4 times a week, nearly always at 8am
  • Stopped by CrossFit Portland with Casey when in town for Rails Conf
  • Participated in the CrossFit Open with a few other people to see how I matched up. My best performance was in the 20% percentile, but most were in the 4%
  • Continued doing yoga at work on Wednesdays. Great way to relax and prevent injury
  • Did Murph in 51:17 for Memorial Day. Confident I can do better next time!
  • Ran in a Warrior Dash outside of Orlando with a few friends. Muddy and cold, but a load of fun
  • Running around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando after work occasionally when not too hot out

The FitBit is awesome, but it doesn’t understand how much I hate wall balls.

  • Got a FitBit for Christmas, with the hope of monitoring my sleep patterns and general fitness. When I keep track of things, they generally get better.

Work

Worked at Envy Labs entirely on Code School all year long. My main focus has been on putting out awesome courses and trying to improve education through technology.

Work mantra: always ask “What Would Bret Victor Do?”

  • Changed job titles to “Technical Director at Code School”, whatever that means.
  • Helped released a ton of Code School courses over the last year. A total of 17 went out in 2013
  • Helped write and worked on Try jQuery, a free way to learn jQuery in the browser (and linked to from the jQuery site). Followed up by writing jQuery: The Return Flight
  • Helped write the Ruby/JavaScript side of Code Schools Core iOS 7 course, which lead to a few blog posts about it
  • Wrote and helped implement Warming up with Emberjs, a course to learn Ember.js from scratch. Basing the implemention on everything we’d learned about teaching programming in the browser.

Great Meals

I tend to remember amazing meals far longer than I probably should. Here’s a few that stand out.

Having coffee at Victoria & Alberts is a magical experience.

  • Went to Victoria & Alberts restaurant with Marilyn for our Anniversary
  • Had a great birthday dinner with Cask and Larder with Marilyn, my Dad and Paige
  • The Chefs Table of Edgewater for mothers day with Marilyns family
  • Went to Cask & Larder for an Envy Labs lunch
  • The Chefs Table of Edgewater dinner with Alli and Jeff
  • Had Marilyns Birthday dinner at Pharmacy with tons of friends
  • Stone Crab Festival in St. Pete with Nate and so many friends
  • Food and Wine Festival with the Envy Labs gang

Personal

Seriously, the little girl in the Piano lesson after mine is soo much better than me.

  • Bought an electric piano and started taking lessons every week. Still not very good, but making progress
  • Cleaned out and organized the garage and attic to where we actually know where things are
  • Launched a programming blog called eval everything, where I’ve been writing about anything technical topics that are interesting
  • Updated this blog from it’s previous setup!

Next Year

Looks like I’m in the 45% of people who make New Years resolutions.

Continue learning piano. For me this means doing more practice at home as well as keeping up with lessons.

Get into Angular.js development, which we’re using for a new Code School project. Kind of have to do this one for work anyways, but I’ve been wanting to do it too.

Get more into JavaScript testing frameworks out there. I’ve let my JavaScript go untested for far too long.

Invite friends over more, typically to play games or anything really. Too many times this year we said “we need to have a game night”. If you ever want to have a game night, just let me know!

Keep track of things more. Kind of an obvious one, but “What gets measured gets improved” has always been true for me. I’m already doing these — some all the time, some intermittently.

  • My Todo list in Things
  • Workouts and fitness goals in Evernote
  • Piano practice in Evernote
  • Audiobooks in my book log
  • Sleep in FitBit
  • Expenses in Google Docs
  • Weight via Withings
  • Monthly goals in Evernote

Confident that 2014 will be an amazing year!