Updates on my personal stuff
At my job, I spent a lot of time combining our CRM system and a content management system, and along the way my disdain for enterprise class software increased. I am convinced that you can make a system generically usable or extendable, but not both, and this project proved that point. My quest for a perfect CMS still continues, but this project is locked in with a CMS that I am very unhappy with. It is now "upgrade proof," thanks to a lot of the modifications that had to be made. I am also faced with the challenge of upgrading a CRM that was highly modified. Wish me luck! Other than this, my job was mostly a matter of keeping the lights on and putting out consistent fires.
The TechRepublic Live event was great, as always. Every year, I get something entirely different out of it. This year, it really opened my eyes to a lot of the trends going on in the industry. There were a lot of things that I had seen happening, but I thought they had little support from vendors or IT workers, but when you sit down with a combination of thought leaders and those in the trenches, and they are in agreement on something, you know you have to listen. I highly encourage everyone to attend next year's event.
My personal IT systems
My personal IT systems have been nice and reliable. The big change I made was to virtualize a FreeBSD server I had onto a Hyper-V system, which reduced the number of physical servers I maintain to one. I have a feeling that in the next year or so, I am going to replace my current pair of desktop systems (one for personal work and pleasure, the other for my job) into one physical machine and run the work system as a VM. It makes no sense to have two desktops running when one will suffice. The big determinants will be Windows 8 and tablet hardware availability and docking station choices. I can see myself using a Windows 8 tablet for personal use, docked but mobile-ready, and having my development work running as a Windows 7 VM to be accessed from the tablet when ready. I am sure that I will be spearheading a new paradigm of work in the near future.
My freelance work has shifted entirely to using the OutSystems Agile Platform. It's just too easy for me to do a good job in a rapid fashion with it.
The Rat Catcher project is kind of stuck on hold, because my time has been taken up by a big project, but that's fine with me. It will be there when I'm ready, and I know it is a good project. I need to have the time to devote to marketing and improving it when it is ready to roll out anyway. The Agile Platform has been a superb system to hang my hat on, but it has been hard to juggle the time I want to spend with my family and the time I need to spend working.
Speaking of family, over the summer my wife gave birth to our daughter, Marlowe Kensington James. Of course, the naming had to have an inside joke in there, and this one is Kensington. No, we did not name her after a peripherals manufacturer or Elizabeth Hurley's character in Austin Powers; we named her after my wife. You see, my wife's name is Chelsea, and she was named after the Chelsea district of London; Kensington is the district next to Chelsea. Marlowe has been a joy, and Jarrett (our son, who is now four!) has been the model of a good big brother. If she's crying, he will do all sorts of antics to cheer her up; if we need a hand, he is always quick to lend it. For his part, he's doing well in his K4 school, and learning quite a lot!
I opened the year feeling great with my powerlifting, putting in a good effort in a meet in January. By the middle of the summer, I was laid low with pain in my back so severe that getting out of a car would often have me near tears. And this is coming from someone who has invested a lot of energy and money into getting all of the best ergonomic equipment and learning to lift weights correctly. So what happened?
Well interestingly enough, I wasn't injured. To make a long story short, I tried rest; I tried over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and ice; I went to massage therapists and chiropractors, and none of it worked. What did work was learning about active stretching techniques using resistance bands from a real expert. While the stretching process itself is painful, the results are well worth it. I have been back to almost-normal for some time.
If you suffer from pains that will not go away, no matter what you do (and I know a lot of IT workers who are!), I highly recommend this technique. Check out the Jump Stretch folks, and see if they can recommend someone in your area who can help you.
Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.