My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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It's the new year, and it's time to get back in the swing of things after the hectic holiday season. I had planned on taking the rest of this week off from posting as well, but I'm starting to feel behind on things, so this will let me set down my goals and focus on them in the coming year.

I had actually planned a different post for today, but Dan Vega inspired me with his list of goals so that's why you're reading this instead. Like Dan, I'm going to try to keep mine positive and specific, with an emphasis on SMART objectives.

With no further ado, here are my top professional goals for 2008:
  • Start regular practice sessions: When writing about my experiences with MJWTI, I resolved to practice programming. Therefore, that's on my list and I want to devote between 1-3 hours per week to doing it. However, I also want to:

  • Devote more time to open source software: I already try to spend some time doing this, but I'd like to devote a day to it each week. My original goal was to contribute 1 patch each week, but I didn't think that would be achievable as I plan to switch projects on occasion (for practice, above), and when I do, it is tough to come up to speed, much less provide a patch. So my goal will be to devote 4-6 hours of one day a week to open source, and a patch (however small) every three weeks.

    This also means I'll be getting more practice, so I may confine the practice sessions to 1 hour and make those be the constraint-driven problems I mentioned in the article linked above. I have no goal for the number of accepted patches, just that I offer them to the project.

  • Do something not useful (and something useful) in Erlang: With multi-core processors becoming the norm, concurrent programming is going to get big. Since Erlang was designed with concurrency as a goal, it also has the potential to be big. This is a no-brainer to try and stay ahead of the curve. Obviously whatever useless and useful things I do in Erlang will need to have concurrent aspects to them.

  • Speak at a conference: I don't see this happening until 2009. The first half of this year I will be too busy to practice, much less attend and speak, so I'll plan on using the second half of 2008 as practice towards the ultimate goal of speaking at a conference (or multiple) in 2009.

  • Attend a conference (or multiple): First on my list is a ColdFusion conference, just to meet a lot of you that I exchange thoughts with on a regular basis. Second on my list is to attend a conference focused on a language or platform I don't use or that I am quite new to using. Third would be a Ruby conference. Finally, I'd like to re-attend a No Fluff Just Stuff symposium, since it was so rewarding the first time.

    Realistically, the money situation right now (being a student until May) is too tight to even consider four conferences. Further, in June I'll be getting married, buying a house (or before then), and having a family to take care of, so even going to one conference may be financially irresponsible. Because of that, I'll have to reconsider this as time goes along, or see if I can get someone to pay for me to go. That leads me to my final, and most important goal:

  • Increase my earnings: I have several goals at the company I work for, but aside from those, I'd like to:
    1. Get another regular source of income as a contractor. I'm also willing to take non-regular work, but ideally I'd find a cool project to work on with a regular source of income, and with growth potential. I do have one in mind if it's still available, but I might like to take some more work as the year progresses.
    2. Release a game with a team of friends for Xbox Live Arcade, using the XNA framework I wrote about back in October.
    3. Start implementing some of the things on my Ideas List instead of just continuing to add to it. Some of these might require renting the ideas to companies, so forgive me for not sharing at the moment.
    4. Work on some more programs for MOSSToolkit, a resource for SharePoint tools.
Those are my goals for the coming year as I see it now. What are yours?

Edit: Removed a phrase I later found tacky.

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