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.

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.

Community

This is a departure from the types of post I normally do so please bear with me.

Early in my career I followed some bad advice that steered me away from the great development community that Nashville has to offer. Following that advice is the thing I regret most in my career. That advice is what lead me down the path of the dark matter developer that I mention in the about page for this site.

I spent a lot of years working very hard at my job with my only interaction with other developers being my co-workers. It was comfortable and the easy thing to do. I did not realize how much I was limiting myself. Limiting my growth as a developer, but more so limiting my personal development.

Thankfully this is not where the story ends. A lot of life happened and I ended up being exposed to a group of people who loved being involved with the Nashville development community. They were excited by what they do and involved at levels I had never seen. It was a breath of fresh air and a turning point for me. I am a shy and introverted person but exposure to the community helped me to start getting passed my shyness.

To start I began attending the local .Net User Group. For me this user group was a great place to start. I could listen to the speaker and slip out after the talk was over without too much interaction with others. Over time interactions got easier and I met a ton of great people. User groups are a great for learning new things, but I have come to realize that the connections made with other people are by far the most valuable benefit. I have even expanded to some social only events like the Geek Social.

If you are not involved with the community in your area I encourage you to start. Get to know your fellow developers. They are the greatest resource to be found.

If you need more convincing check out this content from Scott Hanselman and Rob Conery.