Pragmatic Investment Plan - 2013 / 2014

I changed jobs midway through 2013 and quite quickly discovered that I’d been a little too buried in my role and not been keeping up other parts of my technical interests. As a first step I decided to put a very basic Pragmatic Investment Plan in place. Mostly as a simple way to ensure I actually started to get involved in non-work things again.

Firstly I set myself the task of recording which books I actually read. I only counted books I actually finished and ended up reading nearly 90 books in the last year. Totalling over 22000 pages. In 2014 I’m going to set myself a minimum goal of 15000 pages to ensure I actually make the time to both finish books, and read non-technical material.

In terms of technical reading I wanted to ensure I read an average of one a month so I set myself a goal of 12 books. I managed to finish 15 in the end so I’m happy with that. In the last six months I’ve also tech reviewed 4 books, all of which are due out in 2014. I’ve not done a proper tech review of a book for years and it made a nice change of pace.

I decided to try and add some content to my websites. And failed. Over the year I managed to publish a measly 29 blog posts to, less than one a week on average. This year I’m hoping to make at least 52. As for Puppet Cookbook there’s been a set of issues with the hosting and site generation that I’ve not had the time or energy to resolve so it’s been sitting idle. Something I really need to fix in 2014 as parts of the sample code are not puppet-lint compliant, which annoys me. I did manage to get a mention in Ansible Weekly from one post so I’m slightly happier than I should be considering my output.

I think that having nothing to talk about for nearly months at a time is a sign that I’m approaching some tasks wrongly - especially considering I’m now working for a company that is a lot more open about discussing our code, techniques and projects. I didn’t even mention a number of tools that I’ve published that might be useful to other people. At the very least a monthly release announcement would have kept better track of what I’ve been working on and where it lives.

In terms of getting out and about I had a very mixed bag last year. My attendance at user group events was very poor. A London Devops and the CloudCamp London SDN special were it for the year. I only managed to get to the latter as Greg Ferro was speaking and as a big fan of the Packet Pushers podcast the opportunity was too good to miss. My conference attendance was much better -

I was very fortunate to make it to both Devops Days in Mountain View and Velocity SF. I had a chance to meet a lot of the people I’d only spoken to online and meet some of my new co-workers, as well as catch up with old friends. The travel was a pain but it worked out to be well worth it. I was impressed by a number of the Netflix team I had a chance to speak with and finally got to see Andrew Shafer host the ignites.

Due to health issues I missed both Puppetcamps in London, for which I felt very slack, and donated my monitorarma EU ticket to the Centos Project. I also had to cancel a number of other conference visits. In 2014 I need to be a lot pickier about my travel so I’m resigned to missing a lot of great content. My first conferences of the year will be FOSDEM and Config Management Camp as I’ve been to Belgium enough times to feel safe(ish) with the travel.

I set myself the goal of getting at least two of my internal tools cleaned up and pushed to github. I managed to get a lot more code than this public but large parts of it were either very beta tools or small examples. I’ve started to deprecate a lot of my own code and adopt the functionally closest open source project instead to cut down my maintenance costs. I’ve sent a number of patches upstream and I assume I’ll continue if not increase this in 2014.

I also had the lack of certifications on my CV pointed out to me a couple of times this year. I don’t have a strong academic background (understatement warning!) and it was mentioned that I could balance this with some relevant certs. I’m not a keen test taker so I only managed to bag a couple of basic ones, the very intro level VCA-DCV and the newish CompTIA Cloud+. I’m unsure of the best direction to take with this in the future - maybe another RedHat specialisation would complement my role - so for now I’ll just say I’d like another one or two as CV fodder.

In general I’ll probably start the year with the similar basic categories in my 2014 PiP and refine them in to more focused monthly / quarterly batches as I discover what 2014 has planned for me. I don’t feel comfortable trying to plan for a whole 12 months ahead but if I leave just the section headings I’ll end up bouncing around too much. I’ve had some interesting chats with Paul Nasrat about this and while our approaches are quite different it’s been great to have someone to talk this over with.

Well, that’s my basic review of my 2013. I hope you all have a wonderful 2014 and thank ye kindly for visiting my site. Dean Wilson.