Ok, I’m going to write one of those self-indulgent “what am I going to do with the next year?” posts. If you don’t like the sound of that then I won’t be offended.
I’m working full-time for a publishing project management company based in Stroud, which is where I’ve been since I graduated in 2007. It was never my plan to stay there forever, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do instead. Then I discovered programming, and found that not only did I really enjoy it, but I was actually quite good at it. I agreed with my employer that I would work until the end of 2011, and from that point on I would become a professional software developer/web developer/programmer/whatever.
So, here I am at the beginning of 2011, and I’ve got exactly a year to establish myself as someone who knows what they’re doing and people will pay to code stuff. I don’t currently know whether I want to be freelance or employed - I’ll see how it goes. There are certain things I want to achieve this year, and I’m hoping putting them in writing will help focus my mind.
I’ve been trying to read Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs for over a year, but other things have always come up to get in the way. This year I’d really like to finish it. I don’t have a computer science background, and I don’t want to be at a disadvantage to those who do, so this is my first step towards that goal. It won’t make me a computer scientist, but it will help me to understand things at a deeper level.
Get a decent online portfolio
I’d like to create a solid portfolio to show to potential clients/employers. That includes websites/apps/games, screenshots and downloads of desktop applications, and a lot of decent (and forked) Github projects.
I started this blog a year ago. My first post with any significant views was in August, and since then I’ve had a fairly steady trickle of visitors with the odd spike when Reddit likes my posts. I want to get into a regular posting schedule, so that’s another aim. I’d really like to get to the stage where I have some posts saved up ready for future posting, but we’ll see.
Get some more freelance work
I was really lucky to pick up a bit of freelance work through Twitter towards the end of 2010 which slots well into my free time, pays well, and working on what could turn out to be a fairly significant project (the NDA means I can’t go further :S). I’d like some more of that for a range of clients so I have some security for 2012. As my spare time is the only time I have for learning new things and doing freelance work, I need to find a sensible balance between the two.
Do something good in node.js
Learn a functional language
At the moment I’m thinking Haskell, but I’d like to give Erlang a go as well. I want to do both, and more, but I’m very aware that a year is actually quite a short time, and I need to focus. So I’ll pick one and learn it, and see where that takes me.
I think a good Stack Overflow reputation is a useful string to the bow. At one point I wanted to be on the front page of Stack Overflow users, but the amount of rep needed per day just to stand still at that level is ridiculous. I’m currently on the 16th page, and I think I’d like to get to somewhere in the top 10 pages. I think any higher than that just takes too much time to maintain (and I’ve got other things I need to spend my time on - see above).
Nick Morgan, not just Skilldrick
I’ve been known online as Skilldrick for over a decade. For a long time I didn’t want to make it easy for people to associate my online identity with my real-life identity - the web was a lot more anonymous back then. Now I’d like potential employers to be able to find me online by my name, not my handle. Unfortunately there isn’t any mention of me on Google for pages and pages. So I’d like to get my real name out there a bit more.