2020 In Review

2020 was trying for many and for me, that was no different. That said 2020 was a year of change, moving on from the old and in the end success. I have outlined my year of success below

The first 6 months of 2020 was hard. I was wrapping up and moving on from a major project for a company I helped build from nothing to turning over 6 million dollars plus a year. I managed the complete online presence for this company, minus a few things in the end, and had become a partner as well. Even though I had put my life into this it was time to move on and let others take over. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, this project was also cut short and the phase I was working on was not completed, a lot of good work there gone to waste. One of the strange things that came about from this was if I had remained on I would have probably had budgets cut back to almost 0 and asked to help out, so the timing was somewhat perfect. I am not saying COVID-19 is a good thing, just that it is strange how things happen sometimes.

Overall this was a positive experience for me and made me stronger, taught me a lot about how the world works, and that I can help build a company & rank it at number 1. I'll leave it at that and concentrate on the future and my other achievements.

Studying Japanese

I wrote 5 sentences in Japanese every day. I started to do this back in May 2019. I have it marked as kids day here in Japan which is 5/5, but 2020 was the first year I did this every day and this is one habit I will continue. I do it first while drinking coffee and reading. My Japanese even though still very elementary is getting better by the day, word retention and basic conversation are the benefits from this. I wish I had started this simple habit sooner.

100 Days of Code

I finished #100DaysofCode round 1, racking up 145 days in total because I can't count. I started my first round of #100DaysofCode in 2019. I decided not to count work and since I had a few server issues and other things to get done I had to take a few breaks. I did code on those break days, however.

I started #100DaysofCode round 2, currently at day #70. I start this in November but failed after 10 days, so I got the mindset right and started again. My goal is to code 100 days in a row and by the end be producing something every day in that hour, something outside of my business but something that adds to my business.

New Technology

I started to learn Vue.js. I had played around with frameworks over the years, Angular 2 and React, but never really had the use for them. In the end, Vue.js seemed nice so have committed to it. I put a basic site live and I am using it to build small things for #100DaysofCode and writing about it. You can check my Vue.js articles here.

Start Again

I decided to relearn everything in web development or a least learn it deeper and also concentrate on Front-end development and UX/UI design.

This is something that I had been doing with #100DaysofCode, but I am now making it more the thing. As you work in web development and other related fields you are always producing, building, and successfully pushing stuff to production but you may not actually fully understand it. This is okay and in reality, being able to problem solve is the main job of a developer; solve the problem and move on.

Over the years you gain a deeper understanding, can understand jargon faster, pick up new concepts faster, and then things really start to click. I really now think that I am climbing up and my impostor syndrome is nothing more than something telling me I am breaking new ground.

Git and Git Flow

I started using Git Flow in my workflow. Even though I don't really mark the time I got into web development until around 2010, I had been building sites earlier than that part-time while teaching at language institutes, technical colleges, and eikaiwa (English conversation schools) in Sapporo City while doing my fair share riding the best powder snow in the world. If you ever come to Japan and encounter ground-staff at the airport, blame me if their English is bad.

That joke aside and the reason I mention it is because this was the time before Git and even though I was aware of other source control I didn't use it. I built basic HTML-v1-HTML-v1.1-HTML-v1.2 websites, you'll know the story. I started to take an interest in Git at some stage and used it to track and log separate installs for production websites and this worked. I used Git to work on my own project a bit more but a lot of the time didn't bother. Last few years I have finally started to use Git, not in all projects but I have now implemented Git Flow in some of my development workflow.

Social Media

I started using social media again1. This was really a 2019 thing but I took a break again in 2020. Unsure if this is a win, but I know I need to use it to meet people so being able to safely use social media without feeling like I need to prove myself to people or that people are attacking me is a good start. I should mention I have used Instagram since 2010 as I liked it because I could share photos and like photos. I have just started on Instagram again after been a little slack due to the changes in usage, I am fully embracing it again, starting now.

Back-end

I documented my whole back-end process, creating a LAMP stack on Ubuntu, setting up virtual hosts with and without SSL, and installing Drupal with composer and updating. I collated years of notes to make the process faster, now I can get a LAMP stack up with Drupal 9 lightning fast. For me this is enough to know, I have managed servers as part of my job but now I will stick with what I know or APIs and JAMstack and put my energy into producing top-notch front-end user experiences.

Change

I changed the direction of my business. I had been a contract worker in a partnership. Last year I decided to take a step back and work out where I wanted to go. Having full-stack capabilities is great but I will not offer them as a service. I am wanting to get back to being creative but in the tech field somewhere, doing exactly what I am unsure. In the meantime, I can help small businesses build online presences as I have a wealth of experience and helped many people in doing this.

Side Project

I finished my side project mountain house. I bought this house 12 year ago. I had lived in it, then share-homed on Airbnb, then moved out and rented the whole house; rent money always being put back in. The house is now done, there are a few small things that need to be done so that guests can have a great stay and so the management in winter isn't such a problem. Winters are harsh here, having to deal with frozen pipes and massive build-up of snow on the roofs is a job in itself or if managed properly through good design it is not really an issue.

New direction New Site

I built this site, may not seem a lot now but it is a new direction for me and the thought processes and ideas that have come about while getting this far will come to fruition this year. Like any project, best to just get online and improve it slowly and continuously. Agile, Kanban, and continuous development and improvement is something I have a lot of experience in from building and manageing sites and online presences over the years.

Stack Overflow

I started to contribute to Stack Overflow. I started to see if I could help people on Stack Overflow. This year I hope to contribute more over there. Just a small start but it is easier for me to answer questions there.

Goodbye 2020

Well that's about it for 2020, goodbye. For me, it was a good year, while starting out working for others and ending up a freed person was a great feeling. Here is to 2021.

I will follow up shortly on my goals for this year but I don't think they will be too wild. I think I have always pressured myself too much and in doing so I have been unrealistic. I think a big achievement every week will be the goal, but planned far enough ahead so that these things are part of a bigger purpose. Thanks for reading and if you are interested in fronted-end development be sure to sign up to my newsletter.

1I had been doing a small bit of Facebook advertising (and Google Ad(word)s) quite successfully for various companies. I don't really consider this social media though.

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