RandomThink.net

Brian's place to dump random thoughts on life and code

Conditions for Success

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Earlier today, my friend Andrew tweeted the following:

Don’t create success. Create the conditions for success.

— Andrew Hedges (@segdeha) July 31, 2011

Doing some quick Googling, I’m sure it’s not exactly the most original quote
ever, but it’s one that really resonated with me. It made me think about what
I’m working on doing with my next Ignite NM talk, which I titled “Doing
what you love: Making a hobby into a career”.

I owe a good deal to Andrew and a bit to dumb luck, but in a way, I’m doing
what I am these days not because I went and made my own way, so much as I made
myself ready for when the opportunities presented themselves.

In my case, I wanted to work on JavaScript full-time. I could have gone and
become a contractor or consultant or something, but instead, I polished my
skills. I worked on improving. I read and studied. I spent free time
experimenting. I created the conditions for success such that when the
opportunity presented itself, I was ready for it, and I couldn’t be happier.

Are you doing what you love? If you aren’t, why not?

Moving Into Octopress

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So, some months ago, I set up a new blog on GitHub because I wanted to play around with Jekyll, and I spent some time making it look half decent. It wasn’t bad (okay, yes it was) and it worked and then I got lazy and haven’t done much with it.

Then a few days ago, Rebecca Murphey wrote up a post about her recent shift to Octopress, which is basically a nice framework for Jekyll. It sets up some nice themes and uses Sass to make it super easy to customize the really beautiful layout.

I hopped into the #octopress channel on freenode, asked a question or two, got immediate responses, and basically I was able to move my _posts directory from before into the Octopress setup. It’s built to deploy to GitHub Pages as well, meaning it was ridiculously easy to get the “new” site up.

Of course, I wrote all of two blog posts before, but Octopress has a few niceties to make blogging a bit smoother. It’s very easy to pull in code snippets for display, including from gists. I wonder how hard it’d be to make a jsFiddle plugin…

Don’t Let jQuery DOMinate Your Thinking

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For the past few years, I’ve been working on a side project at the University of New Mexico. There’s not a public-facing aspect to it that’s worth highlighting, but the administrative side is a very heavy JavaScript application, and it didn’t start that way.

There are several pages to the application, each of which is dedicated to a major piece of functionality. As our registered user base has grown, the amount of information that needs to be managed has grown quite a bit, and some of my earlier pages were really starting to slow down.

Proof of Concept: ScoreSettler

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When I’m playing Settlers of Catan with friends, it always seems like either 6 or 8 is really hot, and dominates the rolls. I realize that they’re common rolls, and that 7 is theoretically the most common roll, but it never quite seems that way, that either 6 or 8 is dominant. It also seems like 5 or 9 is way more frequent than its statistical pairing, and I’ve wanted an easy way to track these stats in the past.

What a Crazy Year

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I remember when I used to feel a little shame in missing a post for one month. Then a few months. Now? We’re looking at nearly a year — and it’s been kind of a crazy year. It’s not over yet, but I find myself in a reflective mood tonight, so, hey.

In 2009, I spent some time playing with some HTML5 APIs, as evidenced by the drum kit and my little canvas demos and such. I’d spent more and more of my free time researching and studying JavaScript more and more. A lot of my little canvas demos had pushed me into looking into optimizations and ways to stop memory leaks.

I still wouldn’t call myself an optimization master, but I’d definitely picked up a number of best practices along the way, which led me to giving a couple of small talks:

Both talks were volunteer affairs – I wasn’t explicitly asked to talk, I just like to talk about things that excite me. However, the Webuquerque talk led me in an interesting direction.

Long story short, I took a chance, put myself out there, and earned a spot on the SitePen team. I’ve always been fortunate to work for good companies, but I have to say, working for SitePen has been an absolute dream come true. I get to work in JavaScript in some capacity every single day. I’ve gotten to build some really awesome things, to learn leaps and bounds in an immensely short period, and I work with some of the most amazing minds in JS today. It couldn’t be better, and I look forward to being a SitePenner for years to come.

Incidentally, if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be working in JS every day and loving it, I’d have laughed at you, hard.

This year hasn’t been perfect, by any means. However, it’s definitely been a life-changing one. I really feel like I’m no longer just working a job, but really developing a career. I’ve had some amazing highs and amazing lows in 2010, and even though there’s still a month left to it, I know this year is going to go down in my books as one of the most amazing on record.

So, there’s that. I could say (again) that I’m going to try to post more (again), and I really do hope that’s the case. This blog’s definitely been more personal than technical in the past, but I suspect it’ll move more towards tech stuff at this point, with a rather heavy JS slant.

It’s not that I’m against personal sharing, and I’ll definitely be doing so, but it’s a different world and I’m a different person, and frankly, I suspect it’d be kinda boring if I told you all that I ate lunch at Dion’s again.

Oh, also, I’m down ~30 pounds this year too, which is nice, though I’m definitely kind of hitting up against a wall — but I can’t complain. I mean, 30 pounds is awesome.