I wasn’t going to write a year review this year. I normally do. However, I normally stop blogging shortly after declaring I’m going to blog more in the New Year. So it seems a little pointless.
However, having written a post a few days ago about Google Places, I feel more positive about keeping up the regular posting this year. Following in the footsteps of Brian Gardner, I’m also feeling more honest and open.
So here goes. Six things I did for the first time in 2013.
Took four months off work
I may be feeling upbeat now but this time last year was a different story. After some business deals went sour at the end of 2012 and I worked through Christmas and New Years Eve, I was diagnosed with depressions and struggled to get out of bed before April.
By April, I decided the tablets weren’t going to work and I needed to make myself better. I stopped taking tablets (against the advice of my Doctor and close friends), went sailing in Norfolk for a week and came back ready to take positive steps.
Those four months were probably the darkest and most painful I’ve ever lived through. It must have been even worse for my wife who was an amazing support despite me being a horrible person to be around.
I wanted to talk about it publicly because depression isn’t something that only effects weird people. It’s a horrible, unpredictable disease that can destroy even the most upbeat person. We should be open to talking about uncomfortable issues and aware of what other people might be going through.
Thank you to everyone who understood my situation, didn’t patronise me, was there for me and supported me through this difficult time.
Rebooted my company
When I came back from time out I decided it was finally time to sort my company out properly. Crome Creations is now a Limited company rather than the neglected cover name for my sideline projects. We’ve worked with many existing clients, taken on a number of interesting new clients, launched a new brand, With & How Design and have prepared our Managed Church Website product ready for growth in 2014.
2013 also saw us working with more clients overseas including our first client based in India, despite HMRC making it nearly impossible to get a residency certificate to satisfy the double taxation convention.
Ran my own VPS
After working on a number of projects previously with VPS and Dedicated servers, 2013 was the first time I took the plunge and ran my own VPS.
I’ve been running a couple of Droplets with Digital Ocean [aff link] since the middle of the year and forced myself to finally learn some more server related skills. I’ve made pretty good friends with the terminal now and expect to do more in the command line in 2014.
If anyone is looking to get started using a VPS, I can strongly recommend Digital Ocean [aff link], they have excellent tutorials, a really easy to use control panel and are really cheap starting at just $5 per month.
Worked with the NHS Leadership Academy
In May I was excited to receive a call from Jason Brewster with an opportunity to work with the NHS Leadership Academy on their national awards system. It was great to work with Jason again having not worked with him since 2010.
Alongside their awards programme, I’ve been privilege to work on some of their eLearning platforms. I got back up to speed with Moodle and integrated it with a WordPress authentication system including working with BuddyPress.
It’s been really great working on large scale enterprise websites again and working on a project that has such great aims and objectives. I’m excited to continue working with the NHS Leadership Academy in the new year.
Started reader training
Yes I can read already! But if I wasn’t busy enough with work and a greatly increased travel schedule, in September I started training to be a reader in the Church of England.
Training consists of one night a week along with some weekend and day sessions and will last for three years. I also have to write assignments again!
I’m doing the West of England Ministerial Training Course (WEMTC) and so far have enjoyed the first module on theological reflection and learning cycles. I’m hoping to write some posts about my course as I progress with it.
Used a finger print scanner on my mobile
It seems every five minutes there’s a new technology in the web world and keeping up is a full time job. However, one piece of technology really made me take notice in 2013. I upgraded to an iPhone 5S this year and with it replaced my passcode with a finger print.
Once I got used to not automatically punching a number in every time I looked at my phone, I found it a really great user experience and am hopeful it will be rolled out to other devices in the Apple line up.
Another place logins have changed for me is my use of Clef. I’ve started using this to login to some (not all) WordPress sites and found it a lot friendlier than remembering passwords or copying passwords out of 1Password.
The main issue I’ve found with this service is how it behaves with the new WordPress Heartbeat API but I think this will be improved in time. The project is gathering momentum now with Watlz providing Clef support for Facebook, Twitter and Github logins amongst a growing list.
To sum up
2013 was a challenging year in many respects but looking back life has changed for the better. Going into 2014 I’m too busy but very excited about all the projects I’m working on.
This year I hope to simplify my schedule a little, make enough time for family and focus on giving back something to those who support me, my community and the wider world. Here’s to 2014. Have a good one.