2016 was a busy year for me, especially from a personal perspective. Looking back here are some of the things that went on during 2016 as well as things I’m looking forward to in 2017.
2016 was filled with many events both personal and work related. The biggest event of all was the birth of our son Samuel. I am very grateful that my employer Microsoft changed their already generous infant care leave policy from 1 month of paid time off to now 3 months. That is almost unheard of in any industry or organization. During that time off (two separate chunks) I got to spend lots of quality time with my family taking outings to the zoo, making meals together (my most cherished memory), reading books, and many other bonding activities. After seeing how quickly Clara is growing up I know this time for both our kids is going to go fast so I’m extremely thankful to have had this extra time with them.
Aside from my paternity leave I also got back to speaking at conferences including SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities, Dog Food Conference, SharePoint Saturday Detroit, and SPTechCon Austin as well as a new local user group Central Ohio Azure User Group. Many of the topics I covered in these presentations go outside SharePoint into Azure, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow. I’m a fan of the numerous possibilities for integrating all of these products / services together to provide solutions for my customers (and myself on some side projects.) Now that PowerApps and Microsoft Flow are generally available (GA) I’m looking forward to diving into those two in more depth in 2017.
One other major project throughout 2016 was moving my blog to a new hosting provider. As it turns out I ended up moving twice, first from GeeksWithBlogs.net to self-hosted WordPress on Azure and then again from self-hosted WordPress to the official hosted WordPress. It was quite a learning experience exporting data, cleaning up the exports, configuring themes, and all of the other work to get WordPress to a point I was satisfied with. As I am not familiar enough with the hosting of WordPress and was getting many 500 errors after I “tweaked” the databases I thought it best to migrate to the official hosted platform. So far it has been working well but I am still in the process of cleaning up a few items (mostly CSS or styling) that didn’t migrate 100%. If you find any issues please contact me or leave a comment.
One a separate note, last year I started using Trello for tracking weekly progress on personal productivity items. After a few months trying that out I read a few articles that turned me off of that practice. Eventually it ended up that I was searching for things to put on my weekly lists and the process became just that: a process. I still keep track of yearly accomplishments for annual review at work.
Similar to years past I read a number of books and listened to a number of podcasts. You can read about 2015 book and podcast recommendations here. Here are some additional ones from 2016.
- Star Wars: Aftermath – Chuck Wendig
- Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt – Chuck Wendig
- Star Wars: Tarkin – James Luceno
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Cory Doctorow
- Influx – Daniel Suarez
I read quite a few Star Wars books at the end of 2016. I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars but I saw our local library had a number of books in the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series. I decided to read one and got hooked. I find it very interesting to explore the “new” expanded universe for Star Wars especially backstory on characters, motivations for various factions, and more.
I haven’t had a real gaming PC in quite a few years but this past year I have gotten into PC gaming a little bit again. One of the highlights was an indie game called Stardew Valley. For anyone familiar with farming RPGs (yes it is a niche but one that I was heavily into years ago) like Harvest Moon or Rune Factory this is a love letter to that style of game. I’ve already invested a few dozens hours into this game and have not even finished year 2. I like the way farming, mining, fishing, foraging, social interactions, and more are all interconnected yet you are free to go at your own leisurely pace.
2016 was a great year, especially welcoming our son Samuel into our family. I’m thankful for the extra time off work to spend with my family and looking forward to 2017. As always if you have any recommendations on books, podcasts, tech, or other interesting things feel free to share.