Four Years of Blogging

Monday will be the fourth anniversary of my first post on this blog. If you have been around for a while this post is going to be very similar to the one from last year.

Positives

Most of my positive points are the same as last year, but here they are again in case you are new this year.

  • Driver for learning new things
  • Opportunity to use new/different technology outside of my normal work
  • Helping others learn new concepts
  • Helping others overcome problems
  • Comments from readers letting me know posts were helpful
  • No big hosting issues this year (thank you NodeHost!)

Challenges

Suprise some of the challenges are the same too. The big new one this year is negative responses/comments to some of my posts which has actually been much worse for me to come to terms with than the rest of the challenges I have faced.

  • Negative responses/comments (See this post an example)
  • Learning new things on a deadline
  • Self-applied pressure to meet my goal of a post a week (increasing my stress level)
  • Not focusing on stats, shares, comment, etc.
  • Picking the right things to learn
  • Time requirements taking away from other projects I would like to do

Top posts of the year

I had two repeats this year and the rest are new to the top 5. It is a bit surprising that a post with Angular 2 in the title is still making the top 5.

Resources

ASP.NET Weekly is a weekly digest of all the best ASP.NET related news and blog post run by Jerrie Pelser.

ASP.NET Community Standup is straight from the team at Microsoft who is responsible for ASP.NET Core. These videos are a great way to get the scoop on what is in the works.

NodeHost is my hosting provider. They provide super simple and cheap hosting. If you are looking for a place to host your own blog check them out. Combine them with Cloudflare and Let’s Encrypt and you are all set if you are going to WordPress route.

See my Books, Podcasts and Other Resources post for a more complete list.

The next year

This coming year is going to be a good one with the continued previews and eventual release of .NET Core 3 and related ASP.NET Core 3, Entity Framework Core 3, and support for Winforms/WPF.

I am also open to topic suggestions. Use the comments on this post or drop me an email and I will see what I can do.

Welcome to 2019

Last year I did a Welcome to 2018 post due to a technical issue with my blog. This year I wanted to do the same type of post unprompted by technical issues. So to welcome 2019 let us do a little review of 2018 of the things that provided me value.

Newsletters

ASP.NET Weekly
Dev Tips Weekly
Shawn Wildermuth

Podcasts

I use these podcast to make sure I have a good pulse on the industry even and go deeper when a topic really sounds like something I want to dig into. My commute would be wasted time without these podcasts.

Software Related

.NET Rocks!
Complete Developer Podcast
Developer on Fire
Hanselminutes
Software Engineering Daily

Fun

Freakonomics
Radiolab

Other

Gary Vee
RunAsRadio

Books Read in 2018

Like last year I pulled heavily from  John Sonmez’s book reviews playlist as well as some read suggestions from last year. You will notice there are more fiction books this year. I’m playing with my learn something vs entertainment ratio to see if I can help with my stress level. Without further ado here is the list.

Blogging

From Zero to Thousands of Target Blog Subscribers in 60 Days

Personal Development

The 5 Second Rule
Algorithms to Live By
Antifragile
As a Man Thinketh
Be Obsessed Or Be Average
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
The Compound Effect
The New Kingmakers
The Power of Now
Presence
Principles
Psycho-Cybernetics
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
Slipstream Time Hacking
So Good They Can’t Ignore You
Stop Being Lazy
The Subtle Are of Not Giving a F*ck
Unshakeable
Wait, What?
Willpower Doesn’t Work
Your One Word

Business

Crushing It!
The E-Myth Revisited
Zero to One

Fun

The Fellowship of the Ring
Fight Club
The Hobbit
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy
What If?

Health

The Plant Paradox

Software/Career

Clean Architecture
Curious Moon
Modern API Design with ASP.NET Core 2
Writing High-Performance .NET Code

Top Picks

The Compound Effect is my number one pick from this year’s books. It really brings home the fact that the little thing you do can have huge effects on your life. It was also through this that I found Darren Daily which is basically free daily mentoring by Darren Hardy the book’s author. Check it out it is how I start every weekday.

Willpower Doesn’t Work did an awesome job of explaining willpower vs our environments. Our environments are where we need to make changes to truly set ourselves up for success.

Principles by Ray Dailo round out my top 3 for the year. This book is a great look into how Ray runs his life and how he ran his business. I have never seen someone as successful as Ray lay everything our as he did it this book.

Negative Responses

After 3.5 years I finally had a post that resulted in a negative reaction from a fair number of people. The morning after the .NET Parameterized Queries Issues with SQL Server Temp Tables post went live I woke up with 4 comments waiting for approval. Before I read them this was exciting. I thought that I had hit on an issue that a lot of people had faced. I was wrong.

The Negative

Three of the four comments were about that specific person’s view of best practices and how my post was a poor example and something that any seasoned developer would ever dare use.

I replied to all the comments and tried to clarify the points of misunderstanding. The post was based on a real issue we faced and something that was not at all clear on why. The post was meant to be simple in order to show the point and I did my best to communicate these points to the commenters. To say the least this was a hard day for me.

The post now has something like 33 comments, which is way more than any of my other posts. I think that for the most part, the commenters are more clear on what I was going for. The straight up negativity around the post in question is something I hope to avoid for the most part.

The Positive

On the plus side on the day in question, I hit a new record for single-day views on my blog. The previous record was from 3 years ago when I had a post featured on the ASP.NET homepage.

While less visible on my blog I also got a lot of support from people letting me know that they understood my point and through it was clear. The post has also appeared in a blog and newsletter that I highly respect. I really appreciate everyone who took the time to reach out and remind me that this type of thing will happen and to stay positive.

Future Strategies

If something like this happens again I will do my best to keep it in perspective. I want honest feedback on my posts. I welcome people posting issues and us working through them. It results in better information for my readers which at the end of the day is why I spend so much time doing this blog every week.

I think it is human nature for negative comments to stand out. It will be important for me to temper that initial negative reaction with the positive side of things.

Back from Disney World

Today is my first day back from being at Disney World for a week with my family. We had a wonderful time. It was awesome to see our 6-year-old light up seeing all the sights and ride for the first time.

This trip was also the first full week of vacation I have had in years. There was a lot going on at work and I found it really hard to unplug. I can’t tell you how many times I checked my email and Teams while waiting in line for one thing or another. I’m sure this amounted to less than 1% of the time I was off, but I feel like even that level of work is more than enough to lose some of the mental recoveries that vacation should provide.

Future Strategies

I think the biggest thing I could do in the future is different timing. This trip ended up being during a client go live which greatly added to the feeling that I needed to stay connected in case something went wrong.

Second, I need to take more time to ensure I’m not the single point of knowledge on any subject. The one thing I did end up having to do was because I forgot to convey some information on how our QA team was running a service.

Third, I just need to take more time off. As I said above this is the first time in years that I have taken a full week off. This has been due to family medical issues and it has gotten me in the habit of saving all the time off I can to cover times I need to be out to help out the family. Now that things have calmed down I am going to have to adjust to being able to have time off and disconnecting.

Wrapping Up

I’m still in the process of getting back into the swing of things and this topic was on my mind. I would love to hear how you all deal with this issue.

Three Years of Blogging

This Thursday will be the third anniversary of my first post to this blog. This post is going to be similar to the post I did last year in the form of a retrospective.

Positives

Most of my positive points are the same as last year. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as these are the reasons I spend my free time working on the blog.

  • Driver for learning new things
  • Opportunity to use new/different technology outside of my normal work
  • Helping others learn new concepts
  • Helping others overcome problems
  • Made my first contributions to open source
  • Comments from readers letting me know posts were helpful
  • No big hosting issues this year (thank you NodeHost!)

Challenges

Again most of the challenges are in line with what they were last year. I guess I should take that as a red flag and focus on solving some of my challenges instead of living with them.

  • Learning new things on a deadline
  • Self-applied pressure to meet my goal of a post a week (increasing my stress level)
  • Not focusing on stats, shares, comment, etc.
  • Picking the right things to learn
  • Time requirements taking away from other projects I would like to do

Top posts of the year

I was a little surprised at the makeup of this list. I expected to have more than a single repeat from last year’s list.

I did a series of posts looking at Identity Server 4 this year that didn’t make the above list individual, but as a total, the series was huge for me last year. If you are interested you can check out all the posts here.

Resources

There are a couple of resources that I want to point out.

ASP.NET Weekly is a weekly digest of all the best ASP.NET related news and blog post run by Jerrie Pelser. Jerrie does a lot of good work in addition to ASP.NET Weekly including a blog and a book.

ASP.NET Community Standup is straight from the team at Microsoft who is responsible for ASP.NET Core. These videos are a great way to get the scoop on what is in the works. Also, note that if you have watched in the past this show has moved from Scott Hanselman’s YouTube channel to .NET Foundation’s channel so update your subscriptions.

John Sonmez’s free blogging course is what finally pushed me over the edge to start blogging. It is a great resource to help get you moving.

NodeHost is my hosting provider. They provide super simple and cheap hosting. If you are looking for a place to host your own blog check them out. Combine them with Cloudflare and Let’s Encrypt and you are all set if you are going to WordPress route.

The next year

As usual, I am looking forward to seeing where ASP.NET Core goes next. Things like SignalR Core, HttpClientFactory, Entity Framework Core improvements are going to be great to explore.

Outside of ASP.NET Core, I am looking at putting out a very basic Xamiran app. Based how that goes you may see a few posts related to Xamiran in the next year.

If there is a topic you would like to see covered leave me a comment and I will add it to my list of things to look at.

Hitting a wall

I have had a very frustrating week. I got sick, failure on two different blog posts, basically no progress on any project. I hit walls on everything I attempted.

Everyone has bad weeks and if you look back I am sure you will find I have made a couple of posts along these same lines. I don’t post this type stuff to complain, but instead to be clear that this isn’t easy and at times is a struggle. I share this so that it can be an encouragement when you hit your own walls. Everyone faces struggles. Pick your hero and I can promise that they struggle.

We tend to see only the positives from the lives of other people which makes what we are going through feel worse and unfair. Comparing the full depth of yourself to the public face of others is an easy way to head down a very negative path. A path I have struggled with at times.

If you struggle with some of the same things I recommend that you check out the content of John Sonmez and Gary Vaynerchuk. Both of them have helped me push through some of the walls I have hit. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon has also been helpful for staying positive.

Whatever wall you are hitting keep working and push through. You can do this.

First talk retrospective

I made it through my first lightning talk at the May meeting of the Nashville .NET user group. If you want some background you can check out this post on my preparation for the talk.

This post is going to be mostly for me to look back on in the future in case I decided to attempt another talk, but I am sure if someone is a new speaking it could be a useful as well.

Retro

Overall the talk went OK. There was no huge epic failure, but it far from a good talk. I was extremely nervous which lead to me be locked to the podium and flying through the talk way faster than I should have. I am pretty soft spoken and didn’t project as much as I really needed to. As a result of that is my points weren’t as clear as I would have liked.

David Neal was right that the audience does want you to succeed. There were a couple of questions at the end of my talk which made me feel that my point wasn’t totally lost. I got feedback for some of the audience members and other speakers which I included in the previous paragraph. All the feedback was presented to me in a kind manner which I greatly appreciated.

The future

In the future, if I try speaking again I have a lot of things I can improve on. I know that sounds negative, but I am looking at it as an opportunity to grow. I now know that I will need more time during the prepping stage to practice out loud and in front of people.

I love technology and sharing what I learn with others. That is one of the reasons I write this blog every week. Speaking may or may not be part of the future way I get to share with other, but I am happy to now know it is something I can do. It would require a ton of work, but it is no longer something I can’t ever see myself doing.

Preparing for my first talk

I will be doing an intro lightning talk on JavaScriptServices at the May meeting of the Nashville .NET user group. The meeting will be over by the time this post comes out, but I wanted to share my outlook on it before hand.

Background

This will be the first time I have done any sort of talk since the required speeches I did in grammar and high school. In college, all the required speaking was attached to some sort of group work in which I was happy to do some extra legwork if another group member was willing to do the presentation.

Based on what I have written so far I am sure you have picked up on the fact that speaking is terrifying to me. Although I have forced myself into more social situations in the last few years it has done nothing to alleviate my fear of speaking to a group of people.

Motivation

Trying speaking is something that has been in the back of my mind for a few years. Speaking is an area I have always shied away from, but over the last few years listening to people like Scott Hanselman, Cory House, Jeremy Clark and David Neal among others and their take on speaking/giving back to the community planted a seed that speaking is something I need to try at least once.

David Neal’s talk on Public Speaking without Barfing on Your Shoes was especially encouraging to me. Here is a recording of the talk from the last Nodevember.

Preparation

I decided on JavaScriptServices because it has provided a great amount of value to personally and I want more people to be aware of it. With the topic in hand, I moved on to making an outline of what I want to cover. Since this talk should max out at 10 minutes my initial outline ended up needing to be scaled back.

The next thing I did was to create a checklist of all the thing I need to do before the talk. The following is an example of where it stands at the moment.

  • Flesh out the outline
  • Add important items for each point in the outline
  • Create and test demo
  • Test demo offline
  • Create a couple of slides
  • Practice out loud

Of the above having to practice out loud is the one I dread the most. I am not sure what it is about hearing one’s own voice, but it is always disconcerting.

 Wrapping up

I am still in the prepping stages and ever day that the talk gets closer the more nervous I get. There is also a level of excitement to see if this could be something I enjoy. It would be fun to have a new way to share my enjoyment and lessons learned outside of this blog.

I will post an update here or a full new post after the talk with how I felt it went. I will also hopefully have the feedback of a few others as well.

Two Years of Blogging

Wednesday will mark two years for this blog. This post is going to be a bit of a retrospective on my blogging journey so far.

Positives

A number of positive things have come out of maintaining this blog some of them I expected other were surprises.

  • Driver for learning new things
  • Opportunity to use new/different technology outside of my normal work
  • Helping people learn a new concept or get past a sticking point
  • New connections with people outside of my normal circles
  • Improvements to my written communication skills
  • Improvements in picking up new technology

Challenges

In addition to the above, the following is a list of things that challenged me. Some of them have helped me grow and others continue to give me problems.

  • Learning new things on a deadline
  • Self-applied pressure to meet my goal of a post a week
  • Not focusing on stats, shares, comment, etc.
  • Picking the right things to learn
  • Losing focus

Hosting challenges

I hit quite a few issues with my host this year. The biggest being multiple multi-day downtimes, high site load times, and difficult to implement SSL support.

In an attempt to address the second two problems I started using Cloudflare which worked well, but the lack of SSL support from my host cause some quirky issues.

All this led to me switching to NodeHost last month. That is a referral link that will give you a $5 credit when you sign up. NodeHost does all their hosting on SSDs and has built-in support for Let’s Encrypt which took care of my SSL problems. Getting a site setup initially was harder that on my old host, but it was totally worth the switch and ended up costing less.

Even with the hosting change I still recommend using Cloudflare. By using Cloudflare my host is having to handle around 50% few requests thanks to Cloudflare’s caching.

Top post of the year

It is interesting to look back and see which post have done the best over time. It is surprising to me that my first post is still in the top 5 post for the last year. One of my top posts was featured on ASP.NET community spotlight which always pushes way more traffic.

The next year

From where it stands now I see more than enough things in the ASP.NET Core/Aurelia/Angular areas to learn and they will continue to be my focus over the next year. I am especially excited that ASP.NET Core tooling to be complete and for Visual Studio 2017 to be released this year. I am also really looking forward to the .NET Standard 2 support to be released. With those two items taken care of, I will feel completely comfortable recommending ASP.NET Core it a much wider range of scenarios.

As always I am open to topic suggestions for topics and happy to answer questions. Thank you for the support of the last couple of years.

Conference Retro

The last few weeks have been extremely busy for me. I had the pleasure of attending both Code on the Beach and Music City Code over the last couple of weekends.

Code on the Beach

My employer was very kind and sent my whole team to Jacksonville, FL for this event. One of the neat thing about this event is that is fairly small number of attendees. There were less than 300 or so people present. The speakers were awesome with surprising number of them who speak on a national level. Just to name a few I got to see Scott Hunter, Jon Galloway, Jeff Fritz, Kathleen Dollard, Stacey Mulcahy and David Neal.

I have not been to a ton of conferences, but Code on the Beach had the best schedule I have seen by far. There were four sessions to choose from in each time slot and the number of time slots didn’t exceed six. For me this was great as it didn’t overload me with choices. There was also couple hour break in the middle of the day for lunch and a little beach time. The break really help give my brain a rest and made it easier to stay engaged for the afternoon sessions.

If you can work it out I highly recommend getting your whole team out of town for a conference. I feel like the team getting to spend time with each other outside of our normal environments was a huge benefit. The team building aspects this trip were well worth the cost.

Music City Code

This year was Music City Code’s (MCC) second year and it takes place in my home area of Nashville, TN. The event has expanded a lot since last year going from a single day event to three days and from 250 attendees to 500. Since this event is only in its second year I was expecting to see mostly speakers from the areas around Nashville, but the speaker pool was much more diverse than I was expecting. Some of the people I got to see speak include Christina AldanHeather Wilde, David Neal, Jeremy ClarkJoel Tosi, Paul Jones, and Scott Drake.

MCC had a schedule more like I was used to with a lot of choices per time slot. The downside of that of course is that a lot of times I wanted to be in multiple places at once. One of the really neat things about this conference is during lunch they have a band playing and want attendees to get on stage and play or sing with the band.

This was something I choose to attend myself and only one other person from my company was there. Since I was not there with a team I met more people than I would have otherwise. I know above I recommend going to a conference with your teams, but I am also going to recommend going to a conference without your team in order to get to know people you wouldn’t be interacting with if you were surrounded by your teammates.

Positives

Conferences have tons of positives. Leaning about new technology is a lot of peoples top reason for attending and it is a great benefit, but not the top one in my option. For me the best part is the interactions with my teammates and people from the broader community. Not only does the interactions with people open the door to new friendships, but it also means getting to hear about the gritty parts of actual implementations of different technology. That is not to say that speakers only tell you about the good parts, but talks have time restrictions and don’t leave enough time to cover all the potholes a particular technology has.

Exhaustion

As great as both conferences were I am happy to have a weekend back with my family. Two weekends away from them was hard. I am not used to travelling which that added to my exhaustion. I have more empathy for how much of a challenge it is for people who are required to travel a lot.

Thank You

I am going to end this post with an open thank you to conference organizers, speakers, volunteers and attendees. Without every ones time and effort great events like Code on the Beach and Music City Code would not happen.