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2016 in Review

2016 in Review

Not quite 2 years ago (around march 2015) I read an article on lifehacker about keeping a list of your accomplishments. I can't find the original article any more, but here's one from this year. The premise is simple enough. Once a week sit down and focus on what you actually managed to get done. Around the same time my wife had a conference in New Orleans and I picked up a nice leather bound journal that I've been using ever since. Sometimes I'm a day or two late. Sometimes it's a struggle to remember what I've done, but I've always been able to write down at least a couple things. In a year that's had many downsides, it's also helped me focus on the positives in my personal life. I've been using this technique, along with the "don't break the chain" productivity techniques to stay motivated and it actually works (255 days teaching myself Italian now!). 

Next year I want to take this a little further and backed a journal on kickstarter for this purpose. Part of that is looking at more macro levels on top of just the weekly. With monthly review and yearly. With 2016 coming to an end I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back on 2016 and see what I've managed to get done.  

Rose & Poppie released its first application to the Apple app store in early November of 2016, but it wasn't until the first week of January that there was enough sales to actually get a payout from Apple. That was a great way to start out 2016. Let that be a lesson to all you potential app developers out there. The vast majority of applications do not make a ton of money. Right now the sales from the Rose & Poppie applications are not enough to even offset the cost of the apple and google developer registration fees. 

I'm a long time comic collector/reader/nerd. I'm also incredibly busy, and for a long time I was buying comics and not actually reading them. I got all of these comics ordered and scanned into a database and have been working through them, slowly. One of my "chains" is to read at least one comic every day, and this year I've managed to finish 517 and I'm nearly worked up though the end of 2013 now! (On the plus side I started out around October of 2011). An easy first line in my accomplishments journals is to note how many comics I've read, so I've always got at least one line to get me off and going when I pull the journal down on Mondays. 

I got my start in computers in security, so it's always been a bit of a personal embarrassment that I didn't use 2FA for anything. This February I finally ordered my yubikey and setup google authenticator and a couple apps to get 2FA setup for (hopefully) all the services I use that support it. I've only forgotten my yubikey twice on trips and been slightly inconvenienced, but I feel so much better having that extra layer of security in place. 

Also in February I ordered a new battery for my kindle DX and got it up and running again. The DX was my first kindle, as I read a lot technical books in pdf the large screen was the only effective way to read these books at the time. I still love my DX and wish amazon would release an upgrade with the new screen technology and wifi, though I realize that's a pipe dream.

This was also the first time I did my own taxes in about 4 years. My wife and I had been going to an H&R Block agent in Traverse City, so we always had to schedule it around the time when we'd come down to visit with family, but last year she said that if she didn't retire she wouldn't be working out of the same office any more. I took the chance to get back to doing it myself (and saving something like $200 in the process...) Starting the business was a big X factor, I hadn't ever done taxes while having to deal with a business before, but I knew the basics, and it turned out to be relatively easy. I'll be doing taxes for 2016 as well, but if the business really takes off like I'm hoping 2017 might go to a CPA. 

My wife and I both love to travel, and while 2016 was a light year we still managed to get a couple trips in. March was a particularly busy time for me. I went to C2E2 for the first time (will be going next year too!) and meet up with my wife in O'Hare to head directly out to Seattle for a conference that she presents at every year. It was my first trip to Seattle and I loved it. We stayed at the Sheraton downtown which was just a couple blocks from Pike Place Market that I think I went to every day. We also had some amazing food - I'm already looking forward to our next trip back (whenever that may be).

In April I started seriously learning Italian. If you have read the about me post you'll know what a big deal this has been for me. It's been something I've wanted to do most of my life, and while nothings really been stopping me, taking that first step is always harder. Now over 250 days later I haven't missed a single day spending at least a couple minutes working on my Italian. I've completed the entire duolingo tree and I'm more than halfway through my memrise lessons. I even started reading some short stories (specially written for beginners) in Italian and it's been wonderful. 

In May my Oculus arrived and I got my first taste of VR since the Virtual Boy I follow a lot of tech blogs and vlogs, tested being among of one my favorites which has lot of good VR coverage, so it wasn't like I didn't know what to expect, but the first time putting the headset on was still magical. I've since recently gotten the touch controllers and played through a few games. One of key reasons I went with the Rift over the Vive (aside from being first to market) was actually because of my love of flying. I had backed a project on kickstarter that would allow Microsoft Flight Simulator X (aka FSX) to work in VR and it was everything I was hoping for. It actually makes practicing pattern work with the flight sim plausible. It's still not a perfect world, and I've got some ideas based on an article in PC Pilot magazine to combine a few more pieces of technology and I think it will be really amazing what VR can bring to flight training. 

This year was actually a big year for my wife and I. After an entire lifetime spent as a student my wife started her career in education accepting an adjunct position with Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. Along with that change came the purchase of our first home together. We live in a very small village (population less than 2k) and were able to get a lot of house for not a lot of money. The house was dual zoned commercial and residential, so out of the gate I already had things setup for this business to work out of. It was an incredibly stressful and tight time line (we had to find, finance along with everything that goes along with that, and move out of our rental all within 5 weeks) but we managed to pull it off and couldn't be happier with out new home. 

In June the search for a job/home really got going. We took a trip down to Peoria for an interview there and I was surprised by how much I really liked the city. In the end it wasn't were we ended up, but was a fun trip (for me, anyway). We then went back up to Traverse City to spend a little time with relatives and my wife flew out to Arkansas for another interview, plus a Skype interview from the house with a university in New York. In the end though it was settled on KBOCC and we had to move to find a house and do everything that involves and completely move by August 1st. We pulled it off, just barely. My mom took some time off work and came up and was a massive help during the move process. 

Barely moved in, we had our first visitors to the house. In August my in-laws came up for a visit, and by pure coincidence my aunt and uncle were camping one city over so they got the nickel tour too. Boxes started getting unpacked and things started taking shape. Our anniversary is also in August, so we took the weekend to drive over to Marquette for a little getaway. 

September was spent further getting the house in order, including a trip down to Iron Mountain to order a wood stove. The previous owners liked their wood stove so much they took it with them, so we had the spot and chimney for one, but no actual stove. It was also spent getting all the legal stuff taken care of to move the business from Hancock to L'Anse. 

In October I got rid of the national bank accounts for the business and switched to a local bank and got a small business loan to help this whole thing grow. It also saw the first update to the Novel Word Count app on iOS and the initial release (and first android app) in the google app market, a big month for the business. It was also in October that I completed the entire Italian tree on Duolingo a big personal milestone. 

November was another big month for the business. I purchased a theme for the website and started working on getting content in and building it out. I also started a design contest for the logo you now see. It was also a big month personally. I got really into making homemade pasta using both an extruder machine as well as the traditional rolled and cut type (though I use attachments for our KitchenAid Mixer, not a hand cracked machine). November was also my time preparing a thanksgiving dinner, so I did a couple dry runs with my wife, so by the time Thanksgiving actually arrived I think she may have been sick of turkey. I used a lot of techniques and recipes from Serious Eats/The Food Lab all to great success, I must say. 

That brings us right up to now. In December I settled on the logo from the design contest and took ownership of the design files. I look forward to getting some print materials produced in 2017 and possibly getting a sign made for the building (we'll see how well we do!). I'm really looking forward into moving into what will be a new direction/field for my business. At the same time it will be a bit of a return for me, something from my childhood. I don't want to say any more than that at this point though. Watch this space! 

There was plenty to (rightly) be upset about in 2016, but if you choose to look for the good I'm confident everyone can find something. Here's to looking for more of those accomplishments in 2017!