Remember 2012

My 2012 had a rather defining moment. It was the point when we decided to come to America for eight months. Our options were to stay in Canterbury, move to Sussex or come to America. We chose the latter and it should be no surprise that this decision sits at the top of this list but here is my full top 5 of things I enjoyed in 2012.
 
5. British American Football
 
There were problems with the finals weekend in 2011, but no such issues this year, as we took over Don Valley stadium and streamed live online. The crowds in the stands may have been small compared to the size of the stadium but it was a great (but wet) event with over 6000 people watching from home via GridironTV. 

It rounded off what was a pretty special season. The London Blitz retained the title but had stiff competition all year from their cross town rivals London Warriors who topped them twice in the regular season. I am proud to be involved with the league and hope that the future remains bright and we can continue to build on our following.
 
4. Brugges
 
In early July Beth and I took the Eurostar to Brugges for a fantastic long weekend. It is a wonderful medieval city and even though it may be constantly overrun by tourists is more than a little magical. We stayed in a fantastic hotel right on the canal and would happily go back again.
 
3. Leaving BBQ weekend
 
 
Before coming over to America we invited all of our friends to Canterbury for karting and a BBQ. The karting was a great start to the day with a close race between Craig, Ceri and I. Craig led for a good portion of the race before I eventually managed to sneak past. The two of us pulled away and I was able to take victory. In the evening more friends arrived and we ate good food until late. It was a nice send off.
 
2. Denver Broncos
 
My love of the Broncos strengthened this season as I was given the chance to go to their eight regular season home games in 2012. I saw them lose just once on home soil and had a great time at each game. It helped that in the off season they signed one of the best quarterbacks to have ever played the game in Peyton Manning and that they lost just three times on their way to number one seed in the AFC for the upcoming playoffs.
 
1. Coming to America
I have been given a great opportunity. While Beth studies I have been able to find out what life in America is like. This is something that was not possible on previous two week visits. I am still enjoying my stay and while there are things that I miss about the UK there are almost equal numbers of things I like about Colorado. I have also been able to expand the number of states that I have visited with a trip to Wisconsin to see Beth’s Aunt, Uncle and Grandma. This trip also took us into Chicago for a trip up the Willis Tower, the Chicago Aquarium and of course pizza (which was amazing). We are sure to have a lot of fun in our remaining four months and look forward to all that time may bring.
 
It has been a great year and here is to an even better 2013 as we continue to enjoy America and then return to England looking for new jobs and a place to call our home.
 

As usual my other lists will be coming soon with film later this week and games next week… sport will turn up at some point too.

Forever learning

In my past job, I was the sole IT person in the company and so it gave me ample opportunities to learn new things. A large number of these, however, were unrelated to my ideal path as a web developer and so that learning at times stagnated for periods of up to six months. Being on my own also meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to share and develop these findings with anyone else, this perhaps lessened my ability to expand that learning beyond the basics. I am definitely glad of the skills I picked up with various types of hardware and software including network storage, indesign and filemaker. All these things potentially have uses in the future but I was unable to maintain pace with developments in websites.

When the opportunity came for us to take a year out while my wife completed her masters in America I decided it was a good chance to catch up. In my little basement in Denver I have been setting myself the task of filling in these knowledge gaps that have developed over time. A lot of this will come from learning by doing and a lot of it from reading.

The key areas I am looking to improve in are as follows:

  1. Web Design: My websites are never the prettiest. I understand that and want to fill in the gaps so that they can look better. I will be doing this through reading, trial and error and by trying out some online code schools like codecademy, codeschool and treehouse.
  2. Leadership and Management: I have been running a small business for three years but have no real management training. My goal is to work through Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman along with as many other business books as I can. I will read relevant biographies and case studies of businesses and people in my sector. I will then put these lessons into action with my small company.
  3. Mathematics: I always enjoyed maths in school but I was also aware of the growing holes in my knowledge as I worked through the curriculum. For example, until a month ago, I could never do long division or long multiplication. I feel that filling in these gaps and expanding my knowledge will help me down the road with my programming. I will use Khan Academy to work through these gaps.
  4. Computer Science: I did an A Level in IT but a lot of the syllabus was poor and outdated. It also didn’t dwell deeply on how a computer does what it does and I want to learn that. I have enrolled in a couple of edx classes to help me along this learning path.

I have created a new category on my blog so that you can track my progress, I will be putting reviews and brief notes of the books that I read, links that I find helpful and other information that should allow it to be shown what I am learning along the way. My aim is to come back from America knowing more and with a renewed hunger to never stop learning.