Reflections on 2004

Posted on January 3, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Reflections

its been a big year, with work flat-out right up until the end. we had 4 new deals come in the last week of 2004 – this is very strange for us – usually the year gets quiet around mid decemberthe end effect was a very busy week, with christmas, then packing to head over to switzerland

i’m in zurich for 6 weeks, and have only now had time to reflect on the year

i have to say i’m not a fan of the whole christmas letter thing – you know, where you write out all of the events of the year and then send it to everyone on your christmas card list. the question is ‘why would they care what you’ve been up to?’ if they really cared, then chances are they would have kept up with you during the year. anyway, we get a few of those every year, but i never read them

so, why would i then go and blog about my year? well put simply, it is because this is for me to read again later. i don’t realistically think anyone out there could give a stuff about what i’ve done this year, so if you have stumbled upon this, then let me warn you – boring recounting of the year and self-analysis ahead…

dad had cancer
the big event that sticks in my mind was my dad being diagnosed with cancer around late june – it was very quick, took everyone by surprise and saw him in hospital within a week for immediate operating. the surgery went well, and they believe they got it all out – he was very lucky. i rushed up for a brief visit once he came out of hospital and it was good to just sit with him
michele and i are really lucky that both our parents are still alive. in fact i’ve had a charmed life – to date i don’t think i’ve lost anyone very close to me – so this event was a time to stop and reflect. dad and i discussed death, wills, future plans should anything happen (he wasn’t out of the woods at that time) and his basic attitudes to life. i really like my dad – i’m so thankful i’ve still got him

dimebag darrell
heavy metal lost a great on december 7. diamond darrell (yeah i know he preferred dimebag) was murdered at the start of a gig. this caused me much distress. pantera were a huge musical influence on me when i was at uni – back then i did a lot of heavy metal drumming, and vinnie paul was a machine – the power he and his brother put out was nothing short of revolutionary. all the speeches have been given for this great guy – i can’t pretend to add anything – i’m just sad

ozfox
this would definately be the highlight of the year for me
i met rick strahl in september at dev con. he is one of my all time developer heros. but having him speak at ozfox was the icing on the cake. he’s such a smart, cool guy. everything he does is great. all his talks were superb (you can tell i’m pretty impressed with this bloke…) and to top it off he gives us a great wrap on his blog.
doug hennig was there too – he truly is the presentation guru – so well prepared, such finesse in the execution of every presentation, so knowledgeable. and then ofcourse ken levy. who’s he i hear you ask? yeah, i hadn’t heard of him either … you can imagine how excited i was to have this line up for the conference. the problem is where do i go from here? how can i possibly top this in terms of speaker line up? there’s only one solution – get them all back next time…
and here’s the great thing about the fox community – they are so generous. realistically who am i? i’m a no-one in the community, and yet the greats agreed to travel down under (poor doug had over 40 hours travel time) to give us their time and expertise. we were very blessed. a great privilege for australian developers. i thank all 8 speakers whole heartedly – i was stunned by everyone’s support and generousity.

vfp9
released a few weeks back, this is a big thing for our company and the community. heaps of exciting features – this really is a cool product. but i’m not a vfp marketing resource (and i don’t have the time to be if i wanted) so i’ll leave the hypeing of it to others – just let me say that i am very impressed and pleased with the product, we already have our vfp9 upgrade of all clients planned for mid-february 2005 – this is the quickest upgrade we’ve planned, which says a lot about our confidence in the product

teched
i went to my first Microsoft TechEd in August – what a great conference – heaps of exciting presentations on the latest technology

devcon las vegas
my first vfp devcon – met many luminaries in the vfp community – very exciting
did i metion that i met rick strahl? you can see my earlier blogs for more details
las vegas was a blast – i saw the Cirque show ‘O’ – i was almost in tears (but i didn’t tell anyone at the time – guys aren’t allowed to shed a tear). why would i respond this way? hmmm interesting. i think it is because i’ve never seen such a show, with such amazing feats by people.
i think my body (brain) didn’t know how to respond, and the closest it could get was to come out in tears. i think i understand the expression ‘tears of joy’ now. perhaps that is why new parents cry when they first hold their new born baby.i won’t dwell on this, but in our sanitsied, information overloaded world, i find i am having fewer and fewer emotional moments these days.

jemma
what a joy it has been to meet and spend time with jemma – my wife’s sister’s daughter – that means she’s a niece. what a cutie
we are spending 6 weeks with her (part of the reason we’re in zurich) at the moment. i’m actually working for much of the time, but jemma is proving very hard to stay away from. jemma is 9 months old as i write this.

vfp user group
i’ve been looking after the Sydney VFP User group this year
a good bunch of people – it’s been great getting to know the community better
andrew coates helped me into the role and i thank him for his very generous support this year

tsunami
call it bad timimg, but i read michael crichton’s ‘state of fear’ on the plane trip over. that was two days after the tsunami hit indonesia and elsewhere. if you want to know how to deliberately create a tsunami, and a reason for why a group might do this, then read this book. it is chilling
anyway, i’m not gonna dwell on the disaster. i was way depressed looking at the devastation – it is everywhere on the tv here. but one thing has struck me, and that is the speed with which everyone got involved to send relief. now, don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, but hey, there are millions dying in africa every year, but you don’t see many people giving two cents to that. why i wonder – well media exposure is a big thing ofcourse, i guess that’s why hardly anyone gave a thing to china when they lost 250,000 to an earthquake in 1976 – in fact did you know that china has lost over half a billion people to earthquakes in the last 70 years?
but perhaps it is more sinister. with africa it is ‘convenient’ to think we can’t do anything about it – you know, those country’s regimes won’t allow foreign aid in etc – but ofcourse we know deep down that is crap – if the western world really cared about improving those impoverished nations we’d work out a way – hey one country worked out a way to invade another country with no justification…
so i’m thinking the reason we are giving so ‘generously’ to indonesia, sri lanka, india, thailand etc is because we know we don’t have any excuse not to – our guilt compels us. don’t give me that good will to all men line – i know myself too well and i know the rest of the world too well – at the end of the day all we care about is ourself. perhaps you are different, but you’ll be the exception.
did you that more than half of australia’s foreign aid giving is with conditions? yep, it was part (section 3.1) of a government report titled ‘Advancing Australia’s Interests’ – we choose who to give to based on the benefit we will receive in return. http://www.liberal.org.au/documents/1998_election/foreign/foreign_affairs.html

faith
i’ve really struggled with my christian faith this past year. do i doubt my beliefs? no. my problem is one of priorities. just like if i neglected my marriage, or programming skills or karate training, it would soon lose relevance.
last year i worked really hard professionally, to the detriment of my church life. i stopped reading my bible and praying regularly and i’ve definately seen the negative impacts. simple things like i swear alot more now. i don’t think of others first. i’m more worried about what people think of me than what god thinks of me. my focus is skewed. i see this as a real step backwards. you’ve heard the expression garbage in, garbage out. i feel that i’ve filled my mind with a lot of non-important stuff lately. we only have 24 hours a day, time to be a little more vigilant in what i feed my mind

managing people
my role has changed substantially in the last two years
i’m the classic case of a technical person who is pretty capable, being promoted into a people managing role
do i like this change in focus (ie from code to people)? the truthful answer is yes. am i good at it? well, let’s just say i’m getting better. the reason our company is doing so well is because i have a great team in place. more and more i’m saying to my team – you do it, i’m just here to help sort out any problems – consider me the facilitator. i used to think i had to be the smart one with all the answers, but no, i just have to be the one who lets people do what they are good at (coming up with the smart answers)

distraction overload
i used to think being able to multi-task well was a useful skill. i’m starting to review that. in my job i get a lot of distractions and i think i am pretty good at handling them. but, i’m starting to question if i actually get anything done – at the end of day what have i actually done? well, i’ve handled countless distractions really well.
this year i’m going to try to get things done. you know like even just a single hour of productive work each day, every day, would be an improvement. let’s get rid of the distractions, and get some work done
at work we are trialling a quiet time every morning for the programmers. basically until lunch time each day we aim to have as few distractions as possible – no phone calls, emails, meetings, work colleagues interrupting us, blog readers, etc
am i naive? will this all fall down after a few days? we’ll see. i think the idea is good, perhaps the implementation will need some fine tuning…

xbox
i have much to thank andrew coates for, and providing the xbox room at ozfox was one. after the conference i got an xbox (as i said i have many things to thank andrew for) and have thoroughly enjoyed it. i’m almost through Halo (yes, just the first one) and loving it.i was initially guilty about ‘wasting time on games’ but managed to get over that. michele has been playing with me on some of the missions, which i really like. there is something really cool about seeing my wife shooting the hell out of those bad guys.

uni
my wife finished the year with straight HDs (again – this means she has got an HD in every single uni subject so far)
two years ago she wound up her company and went back to uni full time. after 15 years in finance and marketing she felt her soul was almost gone. she’s now studying psychology. and, she’s really cool about it – no beginner diagnosing of all my issues – yikes she’d have her work cut out for her there…

health
i’m thankful for another year of good health. it is now over two years since i have been sick from a flu or cold or disease etc. i put this down to healthy eating and healthy thinking – 2 years ago i made a decision not to get sick again. i believe healthy thinking is half the battle – how many people do you know that start to come down with something, decide they are going to get sick, and then whatdya know, they get sick… usually goes like ‘oh no i can feel the flu coming on, i must have picked it up from bob, he was out with it for 3 weeks, bugger, i can feel it at the back of my throat, yep, i’m definately coming down with something, yep, i can feel it in my nose now…’ and on it goes until they’ve had the 3 weeks out of action they were expecting. not me. as soon as i feel something coming on, i rest – i’ll even leave straight away from work if i know it is trying to take hold. no medicines, potions or anti-biotics, just rest and plenty of water. i’ll make sure i get 10 hours sleep that night and come into work late if need be. i haven’t had a sick day in over 2 years, and i think i’ve only needed to leave early twice. this is a big change from 3 years ago when it seemed i was getting sick all the time – i’d even say i was looking sickly most of the time. the big change came after speaking to my boss – he hasn’t had a sick day in over 7 years. he just said he decided not to get sick again. i agree and am thankful for the improvement i’ve experienced.
and when your thinking is about staying healthy, you naturally tend to eat better. your body almost sub-conciously navigates you towards better food for it to build up on.

resolutions
none from me. i’m just going to focus on my ‘real’ goals every day. put god first. put michele first. put family first. put others first. put everything else second.

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