Me: 2013 retrospective

Note: This is an old post in a blog with a lot of posts. The world has changed, technologies have changed, and I've changed. It's likely this is out of date and not representative. Let me know if you think this is something that needs updating.

I had a pretty intense 2013, but overall I think it was a good year. I say that with full knowledge that I had 2013 goals, but I have no idea where I wrote them down. Oh, well.

First off, I started or helped start a lot of new projects this year:

  • dennis: lint .po files for strings that will set production on fire and translates .po files to aid development (awesome)

  • ernest: sprint coordination system (awesome)

  • douglas: my complete overhaul of Pyblosxom (in development)

  • tedmund: console based slide presentation system

  • james: cli for deployment with chief

  • eugene: comms system for Artemis simulation

  • victor: system for sussing out version information for dependencies (failed project)

  • fredrik: Flask template (obsolete)

  • harold: rough feedback/support system (prototype)

  • captain shove: the mighty new deployment system we'll switch to in 2014

  • hy: dialect of Lisp that runs in Python vm

Fredrik is obsolete. Victor was a failed project. Captain Shove and Hy are doing well and other than helping to start them off, I haven't touched either in some time. I work on Dennis, Douglas and Ernest regularly. I'm thinking about Harold, but probably won't do anything with it for a while.

I also spent a ton of time working on existing projects:

I'm probably missing a bunch there. It's hard to keep track of what one did on other peoples' projects.

I got a lot accomplished at work this year:

  • I joined the sec-champs group and now help manage and coordinate security releases for Django and other software we use on our websites. (Security)

  • I performed an audit on playdoh-lib and helped coordinate a bunch of updates including to Django 1.5. (Security)

  • I helped work on Captain Shove which is a new deployment system to replace Chief. (IT)

  • I worked on l10n issues, created dennis and rewrote the deployment scripts for Input and SUMO to eliminate production problems related to errors in translated strings. (L10N)

  • I worked on community building as a mentor for SUMO and Input projects (more Input than SUMO) helping guide new contributors towards their first contributions. I should be doing a lot more on this front. One thing I did with Miro, Pyblosxom and other projects I've worked on is to keep track of people who have contributed to help keep them around. That sounds goofy, but it helps build lasting communities. (Community building)

  • I helped fix some quality problems with the Kitsune and Fjord test suites and I'm working with Bob from QA on updating the Input tests. (QA)

  • Implemented a more flexible filter/query system in Elasticutils and maintained it for the year. (Maintainer)

  • Did a ton of work on SUMO and Input.

Challenges I worked on this year:

  • I keep getting dinged in performace reviews for being acerbic (that's probably the nicest word for it). I recognize that it sucks to work with acerbic people and regardless of how busy or stressed out they are.

    I finally started working on it in earnest probably around August. I hope I'm more pleasant to work with. We'll see what people think.

  • Everyone above me in the Mozilla org chart left.

    At the beginning of 2013, it was something like me -> James -> Mike -> Todd -> Gary.

    Now it's me -> Ricky -> Wil -> Rick -> Harvey -> Jay.

    I'm still working on SUMO and Input, but the Webdev group went away and the SUMO engineering team got shifted between groups. I'm feeling ok about it, but wonder if all that shifting makes it difficult for me to be noticed.

  • I'm working on too many things and thus many things are starving for attention. That's a simple sentence for a very complex situation which involves all sorts of thought-provoking questions like, "why?" and "why is it important for all things to be worked on?"

    I stopped maintaining Pyblosxom. I stepped down from my work on MediaGoblin. I'm being more careful about what I commit to and try to commit to things that I feel that I'm the best fit for. I'm working on reducing context-switch time so I'll work on certain projects for longer periods of time, then put them down for longer periods of time. I'm trying to ask for help more often and spread the workload around and I'm trying to make helping me easier.

  • I need to spend more time on pyvideo.

    This is an important project. It just keeps getting back-burnered and when I have time to work on it, urgent things come up which need to get fixed immediately.

    For example, ditched a bunch of Python conference accounts. We scrambled to download those videos and now we're hosting them. That took a ton of time.

    Regardless, I started several code overhauls that I need to finish. That's blocking everything else and that sucks. I really need to get that done.

  • I have a new roommate and having two roommates is chaotic at best. I don't even know what to do to alleviate this short of just get through the day one day at a time.

  • I need to take better care of myself.

    This is a hard one. It's easy to push off me-focused things when there's so many things that need doing. I haven't a good answer here, yet, but maybe being more aware of it is helpful.

  • I got shingles. That sucked.

In 2014, I want to:

  • Continue to get better at front-end development.

  • Spend time working on pyvideo, richard, dennis and ernest and get them to better places.

  • Figure out what to do with Elasticutils: Overhaul it to make it suck less? Pass it off to someone else to maintain? Figure out a list of 5 things to fix now and let it continue to be mediocre?

  • Overhaul my blog. Douglas is coming along nicely. After I finish getting that working, I'll re-theme it. This is lower priority than the other things here, but it'd be nice to finally do this year.

  • Work on empowering and enabling other people to do things rather than blocking them. This one is hard and tricky especially where my free time is unpredictable on account of roommates and obligations I have no control over.

It's been a busy year and there are things I should be doing better, but generally speaking, I think I did pretty ok.

Want to comment? Send an email to willkg at bluesock dot org. Include the url for the blog entry in your comment so I have some context as to what you're talking about.