Saturday, 27 December 2014

'Tis the Season...

... to be jolly, and grateful, and hopeful.

On the personal front...

...this year has been very positive, the only clouds on the horizon being some health issues. If I had to choose the most important points of 2014, I'd go with these:
  • The level of complicity and understanding between me and my wife has increased tremendously. I believe we achieved this by undergoing a similar change, which takes us right to the next point...
  • We both began going at life with a more relaxed attitude. It's a daily exercise to keep from slipping, but it's quite worth it. Obviously, it occasionally slips, but not only have we gotten better at identifying these slips, both on ourselves and on each other, we are also quicker to defuse these situations, often by sharing a good laugh at ourselves.
The kids are working their way through college, on what are the first steps of their own journey, their own adventure. It's time they take full control of the pen and start writing their story; that's their part. Our part is hoping everything they've taken in through the years will serve them well in getting their bearings as they set out. More than hopeful, we're confident it will.
I'm a somewhat spiritual guy, although I don't often stop to think about it. However, looking at 2014, I feel blessed; I already knew I'd found someone more understanding of my failings than I ever deserved, but this year took it to a new height. If I have so much to write about in the following point is because I was fortunate enough to find someone as understanding as my wife.
If you don't care much for mildly technical stuff, you can jump straight to the end of the post.

On the professional front...

...this has been a year where I continued a trend that began in mid-2013, namely, generalization.
When it all began in 2011, I had picked up C#. Then, because I felt I wasn't learning anything other than the language, I've added C++. Actually, my plan was adding C++, but I ended up switching to C++, and C# was left behind. The learning experience was a lot more intense, not just about the language, but also about the whole system - processor, OS, environment, external libs, debugging, assembly, and a whole lot of etc.

Then, I've accidentally set out on a task for which I found little help on the web. So, for much of what I was doing, I was on my own. While I did manage to get a working result (which is still a top-hitter on and, I wasn't totally happy with it, and I suspected I'd have been even less happy if my knowledge about what I was doing wasn't so lacking. So, I've stepped back and went back to basics. And I've quickly learned that, indeed, the potential for "improvement" (i.e., correction) in what I'd done was much bigger than I had anticipated.
Then, as I began taking on more technical tasks at work, the generalization began - certificates, network, DNS, managing Linux, setting up environments according to specific constraints, managing web servers, managing Weblogic server, picking up new languages (e.g., Ruby), revisiting familiar languages (e.g., Java).
At the same time, I've taken the learning experience provided by C++ deeper - assembly debugging, system traces, building gcc from source and installing it without touching the system gcc, doing the same with perl. And I've also began getting my feet wet with Javascript (bootstrap and query.js) and Android development.
And before I noticed, I had not only changed my course, but I was quite satisfied with that change. This is where I see myself going, becoming a generalist. I love solving problems, and you need a widespread knowledge to do it; you don't always find the cause of a problem at the same level, and I don't like getting stuck for lack of knowledge. I also don't like getting stuck for lack of system access, but that's the way things are when you work in a large-ish corporation.
So, here are my New Years resolutions, a.k.a., goals for 2015:
  • Redesign my libssh2 + asio components, incorporating what I've learned in the meantime. And hoping that two years from now I may look at what I've done, say "What I was thinking??!!", and repeat this goal again, as I keep learning more.
  • Pick up a functional language, probably Haskell or Erlang. It's about time I get my feet wet on functional programming. I love what I've learned about generic programming in C++ (actually, what I'm still learning), but it's time to add something more to the mix.
  • Continue my exposure to Javascript and Android.
  • Deepen my knowledge of systems/network administration.
  • Increase my knowledge of low-level tracing/debugging. It's time to begin some serious experiments with loading up core dumps and getting my bearings, and getting more mileage out of stuff like Windows Performance Analyzer.
Too ambitious, you say? Yes, I know. I won't manage to do all of this? Probably not. Which is a good thing, otherwise 2016 would be a very boring year.

At the end of the day...

...our family wishes you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2015, filled with love, joy, and peace.

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