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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

Between work, life and umm... more work, I haven't really had much time for blogging *lately.

(*for varying definitions of lately, the most accepted being "several months.")

It hasn't helped that 99% of the random crap I usually spew onto this blog could apparently be summarized in 140 characters or less. Looking back, I guess Twitter damn near killed this blog. That and being **extremely sick over the last few weeks didn't help much either.

(**Diabetes sucks, whether you ignore it or not. I've tried both and seems like the end results are about the same either way... you're screwed. I've spent the last few weeks dealing with complications from Diabetes, and it's something I recommend avoiding if at all possible. Take it seriously kids.)

So it's ironic that Twitter was responsible for imparting a piece of wisdom unto me that just might breathe some life into this old blog. I saw a tweet from my good friend Alan Stevens that said, essentially, "blog to reflect, tweet to connect." As I recall, he was quoting (or retweeting) someone else, though I don't remember who so Alan gets the credit for now.

Blog to reflect...

It's all too easy to take the path of least resistance by just dumping a couple sentences on Twitter instead of thinking out a fully realized blog post. During this time, I relinquished my crown of "wordiest bastard on geekswithblogs" to D'Arcy Lussier who now has a substantial, but not insurmountable lead on me in terms of post count.  (Strictly a measure of quantity over quality, but I digress...)

I started this year halfway through a 6 month slog in South Dakota. Braving road conditions that would make the Ice Road Truckers wet their pants and cry like little girls, I bent the elements to my will on a weekly basis and came out the other end, victorious.

It was around this same time period that I was elected to the INETA Board of Directors. The board has seen some changes and challenges since then and I think we're really coming together as a team.

Finishing that gig dovetailed into a couple weeks of collaborating with Casper the friendly consultant on a prototype using the Unified Communications API. What a steaming pile of crap that was... compunded by the fact that the "expert" I was supposed to be working with was 5 timezones away and NEVER available to answer questions.

I did a lot of speaking gigs in a fairly short time period... including my first trip to Hawaii, a user group in Nashville, my 2nd trip to Portland Code Camp and Codestock (one of my favorite events each year!!) in Knoxville, TN

This was followed by a month of coding and mentoring with a brand new client who ended up becoming a great friend (and zombie killin' buddy!!) This gig was a huge success and gave me the push over the top I needed to get promoted to Principal Consultant with Magenic.

Next up, I spent 5 weeks in Seattle, WA. Decent gig, although the weather and my allergies didn't really get along all that well. Shame really, as I've always liked that part of the country... but 5 weeks convinced me that I might not want to live there permanently. Oh well... at least I got some quality hang out time with my NW friends that I usually only see once a year.  I also got to meet the elusive CookieCups, who is even cooler in person than on the internet (and that's saying a lot.)

In between that and my next gig, I spent more time doing events... some user groups, a couple of code camps (including Richmond and Twin Cities) and my 3rd trip to HDC in Omaha. HDC is a GREAT conference, lots of awesome speakers and a fun time. Definitely not one to miss. The Richmond Code Camp was my first time with that bunch, though I knew most of them already. It also gave me an opportunity to reconnect with one of my best friends from high school who I hadn't hung out with in nearly 20 years.

The next gig should have been the easiest job I ever had, doing some simple updates to a VB.NET 1.1 Web Forms app (stuff like... add a button here, a dropdown there, maybe a textbox...) Unfortunately, there were some "complications" that made things rather "interesting." Stuff like not having access to the network, and therefore the database, meaning I couldn't actually run any of the apps I was working on. Not having access to source control (and not even having the entire solution) meant I couldn't actually BUILD the app I was working on either. So my day typically went like this: 

  1. study the app, stepping through by hand... using pen & paper to "debug" the code.
  2. figure out where to put my code
  3. write my code (relying on intellisense for error checking)
  4. cut and paste my code into notepad and save it to a thumbdrive (no network access meant no shared drive or email)
  5. take the thumbdrive to another developer
  6. explain to the other developer where to put the code
  7. wait for the other developer to insert, build and deploy the code.
  8. verify it works
  9. move to next task.

As you can imagine, this made EVERY individual task take about 10 times as long as it should. I spent about a week there before moving on to my next assignment.

Around this time, I took a brief detour to hang out with my buddy Rod Paddock and his family at their new digs in Austin, TX. Rod was cool enough to haul me around and show me the local scene, including the local game store and the Alamo Cinema Drafthouse (some place I've always wanted to go, and the home of Harry Knowle's Butt-Numb-A-Thon.) We caught the Inglorious Basterds premiere (with the man QT!!) and 5 more movies, going from 8pm until nearly 11am the next morning. I had a blast but wow I was completely exhausted. Inglorious Basterds was good, but the hit of the night for me was seeing Ip Man... one of my new favorite movies.

My most recent gig this year was interesting for a whole different set of reasons. The work wasn't bad... pretty standard ASP.NET MVC stuff, without anything especially fancy. Mostly data collection and wizard style forms. What made this gig interesting was the complete lack of direction on the part of the project sponsors. It was so bad, so very bad. We all make jokes or read about projects with scope creep, lack of clear requirements, and an obvious lack of understanding of the software development process, but this one was unbelievable. We powered through it, and got it done, but wow... I have a newfound appreciation for the value of a strong PM.

So, with the exception of the last couple weeks, including Thanksgiving, that's pretty much my year to date. I've spent the last couple weeks pretty much bedridden, due to the previously mentioned sickness.

Posted on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 9:20 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: I'm not dead yet...

# re: I'm not dead yet...
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Hope you are feeling better - sucks to hear about the diabetes keeping you down. I had seen Alan's tweet you mentioned as well and agreed with it... I like twitter to hear real-time news, catch some interesting tidbits....but for understanding someone and gaining any kind of perspective, well thats why I like blogs and reading them.....Twitter too will be gone in a year or so replaced by some other latest evolution of some real-time social media experiment probably involving GPS and always-on live video feeds because people will find typing is just too damn cumbersome.........anyway, get healthy and have a good December - hope to run into you again some time
Left by Brad Osterloo on Dec 02, 2009 10:17 PM

# re: I'm not dead yet...
Requesting Gravatar...
Wow - I can't imagine trying to code without being able to run the code. That reminds me of my Computer Science classes back in college. Props for getting through that without killing somebody. Or at least I assume you didn't kill anybody...

Left by Rich on Dec 03, 2009 1:00 PM

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