Sharpening the Saw*

I have been laying low on my blog and in social media for a few weeks. I typically go into a little bit of a “hibernation” during December as the days get continually shorter heading for the solstice. Around the holidays, I am most interested in spending time with my family.

Around this time last year, I posted my goals for 2011. Goals don’t mean much unless you go back and assess how well you did in accomplishing them. From last year, with notes:

  • Enjoy life with my familyI was pretty successful here, although there’s never enough in this area.
  • Sharpen my Python skillsI feel like I’ve made progress but still have a long way to go. In addition to a couple of posts, I was also able to use Python in some project work.
  • Get better with JavascriptI experimented with a number of mapping libraries and also increased my daily exposure in my project work. I still don’t consider myself expert but I’m probably much farther along than I am with Python.
  • Build at least one useful application with a NoSQL back-endThis simply did not happen.
  • Build at least one application that runs on a cloud infrastructure (maybe in conjunction with the previous three items)I was able to tackle this somewhat in my project work. It helps that I was able to do less Federal Government work this year.
  • Get better with many of the cloud-based geospatial tools and deepen my proficiency with Arc2Earth, WeoGeo and GeoIQ offerings in this areaI was able to do a good bit with all three this past year including integrating Arc2Earth into some customer workflows, working on WeoGeo Tools for ArcGIS and doing some project work with the GeoIQ platform. My hope is to continue this trend.
  • Educate my customers (especially the Federal ones) and colleagues on all of theseI was very active in this area all year. Many of the tools mentioned above represent a significant departure for some of my Federal customers so getting to the point of actual implementation is a longer road but I am encouraged by the desire on their part to consider them.
  • Grow my companyIn the midst of the nuclear winter that was 2011, we held our own and established relationships with new customers. I’ll call that a victory but I’m not necessarily satisfied with it.
  • Engage more with my professional community (locally and beyond)WhereCampDC, FOSS4G, Esri Dev Meetups, FedUC. I feel like I was pretty successful in meeting this goal.
  • Stay on top of the latest research on management of type 1 diabetes and the search for a cureMy family and I attended the Children With Diabetes Friends for Life conference in Orlando this year. This is always a good refresh for us and I learned about a lot of groundbreaking work. In particular, I recommend checking out the work the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami is doing with stem cells. The advancements are breathtaking and have implications far beyond diabetes.
  • Maintain enough control over my schedule to be able to accomplish all of these thingsI am not convinced I was terribly successful in this regard.

I consider that something of a mixed bag in terms of success. Other opportunities presented themselves over the course of the year that I had not foreseen but turned out to be very positive, such as the work I was able to do with the Arkansas GIO office and exposure to a great new platform in CartoDB. On other fronts, cuts in Federal spending had impacts on long-running projects that required a lot of attention.

For 2012, my “list” of goals is comprised of one item but is actually much more ambitious. That goal is:

More closely align what I do with what I care about.

I reserve the right not to define “what I care about” but this statement means that tools, technologies, projects and other things that don’t align well will be aggressively and deliberately left behind. It sounds more easily said than done and may very well be but I feel like it’s a direction in which I need to go.

So, Happy New Year and thank you for your indulgence. *