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?

Looking for Mentors and Willing to Mentor Others

Lately, I have been thinking about the fact that I seem to be falling behind my peers on what I know and can do in the areas of web accessibility, along with front-end coding (HTML, CSS, and JavasScript (jQuery), programming, business, promoting myself and my events.  It’s finally time to start looking for mentors, along with mentoring a few people in what I know about accessibility, food, wine, etc.

About a year and a half or more ago I started a list of several categories/areas I was looking for mentors for work and in my personal life. To this list I have even  adding people’s names that I have met and think can help me in one way, or another. I’m not going to list those people here, but will list the different categories or areas I’m looking to improve on.

By writing this blog post, I will now have to start contacting people and seeing if they will be willing to help me further my career, along with improving the way I learn, teach others, present, etc. For those that are local it might be going out for food on me or a quick phone call or e-mail once a month or less if needed. For those that are not local or close (100 miles) it might work to do phone calls, Skype, and some other new modern way. I’m even willing to pay for food for them as well, so we can both do this over a good meal, which I find has worked at different conferences and after parties to learn sometimes even more than talks earlier in the day.

Below are the different areas I’m looking for mentors. Some have to do with my current work, and others are there for in the future either for starting my own accessibility company with others or working more on my event registration web application – Hold An Event.

Looking for MENTORS

  • Accessibility – I know a lot of general information, but need to work on the details and other areas I’m not the most knowledgeable in
  • JavaScript/jQuery – need to catch-up, since most places use these so much, and I have not had to do much of this type of work at my current job
  • PHP and other programming languages – need to learn more languages, so I know how to recommend changes to improve peoples or companies accessibility
  • Building web applications – help me improve Hold An Event with lessons learned
  • Running conferences – need to find ways to improve Accessibility Camp DC, BarCamp DC, along with monthly meet-up
  • Presenting and teaching – Need to improve both my style and knowledge for my talks, along with the quality of my slides/materials
  • Learn to design – to be able to improve my websites and web applications so they are simple yet appealing to others
  • Usability/UX – need to be able to build websites and applications that are usable and have a great user experience for people
  • Content Strategy – need to improve the wording and style of my writings (even this previous sentence needs work)
  • Business from an information technology standpoint – how to start thinking about getting Hold An Event into a stable form so people can start working with it, along with thinking about its future
  • Business from how to run a business – for ways to run my web applications Hold An Event once it’s closer to being rolled out to the general public
  • Marketing/Social Media – how to better publicize myself, my business, and my web application
  • Health and Fitness – if I’m going to do mentoring and be mentored I need to have more energy, which means exercising, along with better eating and sleeping habits
  • Food and Wine – always need to learn more about how to prepare food, where to go eat and find nice wines

The fun part is some of the people I have in mind as mentors fit a few of these categories which are really cool. Others on the list I’m not sure how I’m going to get in touch with them to ask for help, let alone if they can or want to mentor me.

The next step is to figure out how I’m going to ask people for help, let alone to mentor me once in a while or long term, since so many are overbooked like the rest of us with work, families, traveling, speaking, etc.

Willing to MENTOR Others

I’m also willing to help and/or mentor those that can use some of my knowledge about accessibility, food, wine, etc. So please get in touch with me if you want me to help you or maybe you only need a little bit of my time to run a few ideas by me or just to get my opinion or recommendations on how best to do something. If I can’t help you  on what you’re asking about I’m likely to be able to point you to  someone who can.

Final thoughts

So if you have any ideas on people you think that can mentor me in any of these areas or want me to mentor/help you leave a comment or get in touch with me from my website or twitter.


Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish

I follow the great chef Jamie Oliver on twitter (@Jamie_Oliver) and knew he had been award the 2010 TED Prize. He mentioned on his twitter account about it and then linked to his speech after wards. I opened the link in my browser and figured I would back to them.

Last night I could not sleep because I had a few things on my mind. So I noticed that my good friend Justin Thorp(@thorpus) had written on his food blog (Justin Loves Food) an article about Jamie’s prize. It was entitled “Seriously, Watch Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk About Food Education!”.  I read this post and watched Jamie’s TED prize video and the following is the comment I left on his blog.

My Response to Jamie’s TED Prize Talk

The following is my response to reading Justin’s blog post and then watching Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish. I felt so passionately about it I created my own blog post so more people will be able to see it an hopefully help with the problem.

I have been following Jamie Oliver for a few years on his different cooking show and have been a big fan of his style of cooking. I even watched Jamie’s series on how to improve the British school lunch system.

It took a bit of time to get the parents, students, and even the lunch ladies to start realizing that real food was better for the students. Once the students started eating better they paid more attention in classes and improved their grades and all they did was improving their eating habits at school and at home.

While at TEDxMidAtlantic this last fall (2009) there was a great talk by Tony Geraci, who is a “Fresh Food Advocate” for the city of Baltimore. You really need to watch Tony talk passionately about getting kids foods that are good for them. I strongly recommend that you watch his video from TEDxMidAtlantic – http://tedxmidatlantic.com/live/#TonyGeraci

So impressed with Jamie’s idea that I’m up at 3:25 AM after watching his TED wish that I’m writing this comment to make sure I get this out to you and your followers.

I know I have a way to go myself to improving my food habits and health. By starting to do more home cooking myself and bringing my lunch to work that will help me out in the long run. Doing so will improve my health without a lot of extra effort and if I add some exercise it will make it even easier.

P.S. I even listed to Tony’s whole talk while writing this comment. Please take the time to watch both of these powerful videos.

Start with Yourself

Please watch both Jamie’s TED talk and Tony’s TEDxMidAtlantic talk, along with read all the linked articles.

Finally, please start with yourself and spend more time cooking real food as Tony says. This will make you fell better and set a good example for others and even your children if you have any.

I plan on improving my eating habits and if you see me straying please remind me of that fact.

What do you think you can do to help improve this countries obesity problem?