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Forget Inertia – A new era.

There is by far enough written words about the freedom and positives of leaving ones established job, for better or for worse I think it is the right way forward for me, now. I have had a long list of things to post about, technology thoughts and projects completed; now thankfully I have the control of my time enough that I can post about them.

2010 Has been a good year for travel, from the sandy cocktail beach’s and fast paced mountain biking through lychee groves of Thailand across to the lake of Pokhara and the remote Bandipur in Nepal; sidestepping riots in both countries and a ridiculous ash cloud, through grace or luck. From central park and the Guggenheim to the Robert Moses beach and Long Island, New York was epic; and now in 48 hours or so on to Agadir, Marakesh, Casablanca and Fez, Morocco, its been a good year for travel.

While at home I have also picked up climbing, something I wish I had done more of while in Thailand. The Castle near Finsbury park is a fantastic location, especially when visited with a few good friends. I need to do more of that. I also look forward to a time when I have a piano in a house of mine so I can truely take that forward and carry on learning 😀

Through work and exploration this year I have absorbed C#, something I am quite happy with as it bridges the gap in my skillset between open-source and MSFT, between web programming and local app development. In my opinion it is also a good year for Microsoft, despite their mediocre year on NASDAQ; they are releasing much more rounded products and seem to be beginning to see the benefits of what I see as a change in strategy. Either way C# has lead me to refine my rapid application development and brought the brute modern processing power directly into use, I would thoroughly suggest it to supplement your language base if you are leant heavily towards php/LAMP (while I would only use it over php for few of my future web projects.) RAD in C# let me experiment with an arbitrage betting program and write a quick Reddit wallpaper grabber (yes I know it needs fixing); as well as a bunch of other stuff like a Filezilla bulk user import, an SQL->php hardcoded rewrite of a huge site that meant 300% quicker loads, a remote image processing app, tons of little sharepoint integration bits, a full sharepoint 2010 site migration routine and also a true 3rd gen website asset management tool, which I will perhaps post more about.

Near U has had a fairly good year and I have added a few more sites to the portfolio (I still need to diversify though) – mostly bolstering and fulfilling old ideas for domains that have been stagnating, I hope to shift this up a gear to bring it all back into line now I have the freedom to do so; the cold financial climate does seem to have slowed people buying cars, specifically though on-line auctions this past quarter but I have high hopes for the new year. Part of managing this portfolio of now more than 200 sites has been writing up a proper asset management tool geared towards websites (mostly affiliate) as assets of value, csharp has allowed me to write this multi threaded, flexible, detail rich program in a ridiculous short stint of evening programming, perhaps it may even make its way as a sell-able tool, this however is to be seen.

In the last few months I have also been running with Sharepoint 2010 (another example of microsoft getting themselves together) – which although on its preface is limited or “nothing new” in fact has quite sufficient enough depth to hold weight as an intranet solution. I doubt you will find better workflow, versioning, integration and scope in a web-based solution (even if it is £120k for enterprise for 1000+ users) – developers should not be scared of it. To supplement a sharepoint installation I would also advise the familiarisation of developers with WCF, microsofts best answer to web services moving forward.

There has been a few good books recently which have also left a resounding impression, The Road Less Travelled (by M. Scott Peck) left me thinking more about the sub concious and revealed new angles on understanding people will that I will forever remember. In Nepal I left my copy of The Art of Happiness on a bus, but luckily found another copy in a bookshop in Pokhara; it is a fantastic book that taught me more than anything to see things more clearly and seek contentment truthfully. The Richest Man in Babylon was suggested to me by a friend who is investing in silver, which seems sensible – what a fantastic little book! some basic rules on managing money are told through a Babylonian narrative which is fun and quick to read. If reading like this was more present in our schools we would all be wealthier, at least everyone except producers of instant gratification goods. I also subscribed to Harpers this year, after finding it in Bangkok airport with hours to kill. It has significantly inspired me to proceed with writing my novel, it is always a great read and the harpers index is good:

Percentage of U.S. car owners who keep maps in their glove compartments: 50, Sunglasses: 23, Gloves: 0

Estimated value of Chinese household income that goes unreported: $1,400,000,000,000; Portion of China’s GDP this represents: 1/3

Number of poisonous dead mice the USDA airdropped into Guam this year to eradicate an invasive snake species: 316

Number of times between January and June that google turned over user information to government investigators: 4,287

Might have already posted about this before but Evernote has served me well all year, allowing me to dump my ideas, wacky thoughts or notes into a single searchable repository, wherever I am. I also started backing up to the cloud (cant wait to write new software that takes advantage of the amazon storage cloud) via JungleDisk, which seems to be pretty spot on for me, and backing up iphone contacts to Google contacts was also a helpful find. If you guys are not yet using Chromium (NOT Chrome), that’s another no-brainer. Install it, you’ll see what I mean (sorry Mozilla, you were trumped on speed.) Spotify has continued to be epic, even if the lack of nichey remix’s and the removal of some epic songs is irritating. Finally I have to say that Microsoft dropping their Express versions of visual studio 2010 and SQL Server is both useful, and strategically a good idea. Their IDE is pretty ridiculously good, and providing free (although slightly limited – SQL max db of 5gb for example) versions will bring in the hordes, and if they develop anything decent, chances are they will shell out for licences legitimately.

Best music find of recent months: Emancipator

Looking forwards I now cant wait to finish my novel, write a bunch of new useful softwares and in 2011 start another business, perhaps a software house selling software as a service? I have a pretty devilishly good idea that will leverage the amazon clouds scalability. Perhaps. Either way I fly to Morocco in 48 hours and I haven’t even thought about it yet. Better go.

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