2013 Year in Review

2013 has been a fantastic year. In 2012, I decided that I would focus more on life than my career. This year has been a larger experiment along those lines. I have done a lot of good work on programming, but I have also taken a lot of time to spend for myself.

January

I quit my job a few weeks into the new year. Ending my employment at Urban Airship after 2 years.

This was to train for the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail is a wilderness trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada, across the western United States.

February-March

This was mostly spent buying lots of backpacking gear, and going on a crazy number of hikes. I was trying to average 10 miles walking a day, with 20-30 pounds on my back twice a week. These training hikes were to prepare my body for doing this everyday for 5 months.

During this time we also conceived the first ever Write the Docs Conference. Planning this event also took up a good amount of my time during these couple months.

April

Write the Docs happened on April 8-9, and was fantastic. We gathered over 200 people in Portland to talk docs. We got almost uniformly positive reviews, and it was a really great moment in time for me.

April 15

April 14 is when I flew to San Diego to start my hike on the PCT. April 15 was the official start to my hike.

April-June

Hike, hike hike. See some of the most beautiful places in the United States. Meet amazing people, and do something incredibly difficult and rewarding.

These were the best 2 months of my life.

June 16

Come off the trail with a stress fracture in my left foot. Ending my hike over Kearsage Pass in the High Sierra.

June-August

This was a pretty depressing time. I had to re-enter normal society. This was surprisingly difficult, made harder by the fact that I had to wear a boot on my foot for 6 weeks. After walking for over 2 months everyday, the lack of exercise was really tough mentally. Also not finishing the PCT was really hard, because I had never thought about quitting.

September

I attended XOXO Festival. This is where things really started to turn around.

I decided to focus on improving documentation full time for the foreseeable future, asking for help with this on Gittip. I immediately had a good number of people helping to support me, and it heavily validated and inspired my work going forward.

On the exercise front, I did a good amount of biking. This was to limit the exposure my foot had to re-injury. The main event was a bike ride from Portland-Eugene over 3 days.

October

Participated in the Google Summer of Code Book Sprint. This involved spending a week in Mountain View, helping write a book for an open source project.

This really helped me get a better feel for writing with other people, and the general editorial process.

November

We did a November Blog Post Month with a twist. Instead of the deadline being to publish a post, we submitted them to our group for editing. The main value of this was to get better content, not more. It also allowed us to become better editors, and I now find it much easier to edit my own work.

I also started doing a bunch of hiking again, as I would be leaving Portland at the end of the month for a while. It was great to get back into nature, and rekindle my love of hiking after being off for almost 6 months.

I got to visit Vancouver, which was the last major west coast city I haven’t visited. I really saved the best for last. I quite enjoyed Vancouver. It brings the best parts of all my other favorite west coast cities, and combines them into one place. I can’t wait to go back, and maybe spend a month or two living there.

December

I spend the entire month visiting friends and family on the east coast. It’s a luxury that I have time, and I am glad that I spend so much of it with family. It’s often easy to get caught up in life and not remember those who matter the most to you. Spending time with family is something that I will never regret.

We announced Write the Docs again next year, including a European version. I have also started submitting conference talks to a couple places. I haven’t spoken much in the past few years, and I think I am ready and excited to start again.

I also firmed up my plans to travel to Thailand in January for a couple months.

Conclusion

2013 was a fantastic year for me. It really pushed me to grow as a person, pushing boundaries and exploring the world. I will be continuing these trends in 2014, with a new focus and enthusiasm for my work as well.

Focusing on documentation professionally has given me clarity of purpose. I feel like there is a lot I can accomplish in this realm in 2014, and that it will hopefully be the turning point in creating some kind of documentation community.



Hey there. I'm Eric and I do consulting and provide other services around software documentation. Feel free to email me if you want to chat.