2014 = FOCUS

No, New Year’s resolutions for this guy, but this year’s theme will be “FOCUS”. Themes is an idea, which was taken from Jared Goralnick’s blog posts from a few years ago:

Instead of doing New Year’s resolutions, which I haven’t done in decades I’m going to spend an extra five hours a week minim, hopefully at least ten hours, a week on a given subject for a month or more depending on the amount of knowledge gathering needed for a given subject. More time will be spent each week if my schedule happens to allow for more, but at least five hours a week, which will make over 250 extra hours of training over the course of the year. The week will start on Monday and ending Sunday night, which allows me the opportunity to either catch-up on the weekends of add more hours for that week.

Plan for Spending My Time

I will spend the first two to three hours per month writing down more details of what and how I’m going to spend my time learning that month. The months focus maybe to spend the next five or ten hours reading blog posts, books, etc. on a given subject before diving in to learn and work on a given subject. Or it might be to spend an hours reading a book, blog post or whatever and then another hour or to doing something like coding or painting.

Will also need to spend and extra hour or two towards the end of each month contacting people that are smart and know more about a given subject for recommendations on what to read and anything else I will need to stay focused on the next month’s subject. This time spent asking questions, for help, or recommendations will not be part of the hours each week/month focusing on a given subject.

I want to spend at least four full weeks on the subject. If the month starts or ends somewhere in the middle of the week, I will need to decide if I have learned enough or if I should spend and extra day or so continuing to learn or move on to the next subject/area of focus.

Topics of FOCUS

A lot of the topics I’m going to be focusing on for one month will hopefully help prepare me for the next month and be able to be improved upon and use this whole time. By the time, I get into the months of August and September (PHP), October and November (mySQL), and finally December these focus areas are going to get me closer to finishing my web based event registration application Hold An Event or at least build something a little less complicated, so I have some kind of finished project by the end of 2014.

Below are the months and what subject I plan on focusing on during a given amount of time. Some subjects span a few months because I have determined that to learn anything useful I will need to focus on them for a longer amount of time. Under each month/topic of focus is a list of things I can think of now that I want to focus on with more to be added at the beginning of each month or as I delve deeper into a subject.

January – Improve My Writing

  • Start with doing a bunch of reading on how to improve my writing and grammar.
  • Create outlines for some writing examples.
  • Next will be outlines of blog posts, slide presentations, etc.
  • Write short blog posts or stories to get more practice in .
  • Write Hold An Event content from the perspective of first time user/visitor to website/application.

February – Creativity, Inspiration, and Passion

  • Read about how to be more creativity, inspired, and passionate.
  • On the weekend or weekday night take a trip to the National Gallery or Art.
  • Take a bus road trip to NYC to visit MoMA or one of the other museums.
  • Spend time painting.
  • Watch YouTube videos to learn how to play the guitar.
  • Take a guitar lesson or two.
  • Do some sketching on iPad using Paper from 53 of new “I Gotta Eat Here” web application.

March – Learn Git, along with Github

  • Learn Git.
  • Learn Github.
  • Practice starting with:
    • Improving my website content.
    • Update blog posts for grammar and spelling issues.
    • HTML code, JavaScript, CSS, etc:
      • Improve or remove obsolete code.
      • Delete commented out code.
      • Make pages responsive.
  • Add META data to web pages.
  • Continue to improve my writing by re-writing website content for:
  • Accessibility improvements need to be made in the process of learning Git.

April – Learn More about Accessibility

  • Some subjects include ARIA, JAWS, Dragon Naturally Speaking, VoiceOver, etc.
  • Use accessibility information gained at CSUN to start working on being a better developer.
  • Focus on improving my knowledge about ARIA/accessibility issues the better I will be at building websites, web applications, and making JavaScript/jQuery items more accessible.

May – Better Health

Originally had this January as everyone does to start the year out on the right foot and decided, since that usually doesn’t work, why not try it later on. This allows me to focus on other subjects during the colder months and start with health once ti gets warmer, since I tend to like to walk as my exercise.

  • Starting with food (better choices, smaller portions, etc.).
  • Exercise more by walking after work and on weekends.
  • Work on having more energy to be able to stay up late to work on Hold An Event later on down the road and still feel rested.
  • Create easy ways to cook and prepare healthy meals.
  • Decide how many days during given a week I should cook/prepare my own meals.
  • Decide how to have me to bring my own healthy food to work for lunch, which saves me money.

June and July – Javascript/jQuery

  • Find best book(s), video tutorials, or blog posts to learn JavaScript.
  • Learn JavaScript and to start with the basics, maybe with Jeremy Keith’s book (DOM Scripting), if it’s still a good resource, which will make understanding and fixing jQuery issues easier.
  • Learn jQuery, since most websites now a days use it to perform their JavaScript functionality.
  • Create accessible examples, along with ARIA, error messages, etc. examples for others to use.

August and September – PHP

  • Learn the best way to optimize code.
  • Create ways to read different parts of the database by changing parms.
  • Create API to use to create, read, update, and delete records.

October and November – mySQL

  • Create databases.
  • Write new records.
  • Update/delete record (not really deleted, but mark as done using date so I will know when record was deleted).
  • Find the best way to optimize database to get information as quickly as possible.

December – Security

  • Stop denial of service.
  • Look into protecting data, but mostly user information.
  • Figure out how to add SSL to website, along with cost per year, etc.

In Conclusion

After each month, I will write a blog post to continue to improve my writing, along with explaining what books, blog posts, videos, etc. I read or watched to help me focus on that months subject. Will also rate myself on how I thought I did with a given subject and if I truly learned anything, long with to tell everyone how many hours I managed to focus on that months subject for.

So this year I plan to “FOCUS” on monthly topics and hope to be better and more knowledgeable person by the end of 2014.

What are you planning to accomplish in 2014?

Project 52 Plans

I’m still working on my plan of how to complete Project 52, but I first want to thank Anton Peck for coming up with the idea to get himself and others to blog at least once a week for a year. Anton at first thought that maybe 25 or at most 50 of his friends would participate and ended up with over 700 last time I checked the list.

When Anton first came up with the idea on his blog I was all for participating, because I didn’t do a whole lot of blogging last. Instead I attended a few web conferences, ran a few (Accessibility Camp DC and BarCamp DC) with help from others, along with starting a monthly accessibility meet-up here in Washington, DC.

Donate to Charity

In the comments of Anton’s blog post about Project 52 I even talked about why not try and do some good out of all this by donating $10 to charity for ever week I miss blogging, creating code examples, making a “How To” videos of either accessibility related items or whatever. So each quarter I will donate $10 per week of missed blogging to a local charity like Martha’s Table or to Kiva.

Blog Post Ideas

Some of the things I plan on blogging abut this year are listed below:

  • Accessibility related issues and best practices
  • SXSWi – spring-break for geeks in Austin, Texas
  • Access U – accessibility conference in Austin, Texas, put on by Knowility
  • Accessibility Camp DC
  • BarCamp DC
  • Accessibility DC monthly meet-up
  • Food and wine
  • An Event Apart DC – great web standards conference put on by Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer
  • creating my web application (more to following in a future post)
  • lessons learned from things I have done or from others (friends and experts)
  • book reviews – mostly technology
  • spending more time with friends
  • more writing

So those are some of my ideas for blog posts and plans for the next 50 weeks. Might have to write a few accessibility best practices or code examples posts in advance for times like when I’m at SXSWI for a week and won’t have much time to blog. I already have six or eight subjects with titles and a short outline started from ideas from last year, now to just do the writing and coding required.

Are you planning on doing more blogging this year or just more reading and other work?

Please tell me what you are doing or suggestions for me to do in the comments.

Wish me luck.

Semi Productive Columbus Day Weekend

This weekend was both fun and semi productive.

Friday night I did a little cheese shopping with my local cheese monger over at Rick’s Wine and Gourmet. I had stopped to pick up few cheeses for friends stopping over at my place before going to the Mount Vernon wine festival Saturday evening. I asked for some more mild cheese, since this crowd does not like the stinky and flavorful ones. I got a Gouda, truffle cheese, and another mild cheese I can not think of the name of. I also asked for some of the more stinky cheeses for a tasting I am doing for eight other friends in about ten days. My cheese monger gave me two different cheeses that had expired about a week or more ago since they could not sell it in the store. I then picked up an Epoisse for the next tasting.

I went to bed around midnight and woke up at like 5 AM for some reason and could not get back to sleep. I went to A. Litteri’s to get some fine Italian meets and then to the farmers market at Arlington Courthouse. I picked up some apples, bread, chocolate chip cookies, and a few other items.

Once I got home I showered and changed to go to the Del Ray “Arts on the Avenue”. I did not pay attention to the weather enough since when I got dressed I put on a black t-shirt with black shorts. It was really sunny and warm without a cloud in the sky. I managed to get through the whole art festival including a small snack in about two hours. Not bad considering it’s a three plus mile walk around trip and I stop a few times to visit with friends.

Once home, I got ready for my friends to come over around 5 PM, so we could leave for Mount Vernon around 5:30 PM. Some friends never made it until 5:45 PM. The rest of us ate cheese, Italian meats, and bread while we waited. After about 30 – 45 minutes myself and one of the other persons in the group had had enough of the Virginia wines. The others in the group wanted to stay until the end to get their moneys worth. I was ready to give them their $20 back to be able to go home and drink some wine at the house. We left once the wine festival had closed. I had a good time during the evening talking about wine with one of the people and we all had another bottle of wine once we got back to my place.

Sunday was mostly coffee shop to meet friends and then back for football, a short nap, dinner, and TV.

Monday morning on my day off I woke up like 30 minutes before I normally do for work and could not get back to sleep. Went to the coffee shop to see who would be there and not many people I know showed up, at least before I left. Once I got back I checked e-mail, Twitter, and then it was off to the National Gallery of Art to see the “Edward Hopper” exhibit. After spending over an hour in the Edward Hopper exhibit I spent about 45 minutes at the J.M.W. Turner exhibit. After looking at most of the pieces in that show I noticed that two-thirds to three quarters of the works came out of the Tate museum in London. I hope they left few back home for others to see.

I next got back on the metro to head up to the convention center stop so I could go by the nclud office to make sure I knew where it was for Saturday nights party. From there I walked to Chinatown for a late lunch at like 3:30 PM. After getting home I started watching a little TV and ended up with about a 45 minutes nap instead.

Once I was awake enough I went to Best Buy and Office Depot to look for a monitor for my laptop. I liked the 24″ Westinghouse that was on sale at Best Buy. I tried to see how the 32″ View-sonic looked at Office Depot but no one at the store seem to know how to get the DVD player to show a movie on the screen. All I got was a blue screen with the message that there was “No Signal!”. I guess I will have to wait until at least Wednesday night to get one, since I have wine class Tuesday night.

I then stopped at Borders bookstore and looked at few magazines. On the way home I stopped to get dinner to go. Once home ate dinner and watched the Travel Channel and then the end of the Bills vs. Cowboys game. I thought Buffalo was actually going to win the game, which would have been even better since TO missed the two point conversion. In the end it was ok.

I have to get in more practice of writing general blog posts before I start doing more technical ones. I also need to work on writing short posts.

Time for bed.