This time last year I did my first ever "Year in Review" post, it was a rather long post.
2020 Year in Review
This year I intend to mostly cover the same areas, but keep the post much shorter and succinct. I'm also rolling in a review of my 2021 goals, and setting my 2022 goals, but again, keeping it short.
This year I completed my 7th year working with Delicious Brains as a senior software developer, continuing to work on their WP Offload Media plugin for WordPress.
WP Offload Media
2021 was quite a momentous year for Delicious Brains, the most obvious event being the acquisition of the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin.
A WordPress Announcement of Epic Proportions
I'm still thoroughly enjoying working on WP Offload Media, and with my team mate Erik. We've been working on some rather large changes to the plugin this year, which I can't talk about yet, but hopefully soon.
We also had Kevin join us near the end of the year as our product manager, replacing Iain who now steers the ACF plugin. While sad to lose my friend Iain, I'm looking forward to working with Kevin this coming year.
There's been a bunch of new hires this past year, so many I'm starting to lose track of who does what! I can say though that each one seems to be both talented and a nice person, keeping Delicious Brains a lovely place of work.
There's been a couple of big changes to my side projects this last year.
At first it may look like Snippet Pixie didn't get much attention this year as there were only 3 bug fix release, 1.5.1 - 1.5.3.
Snippet Pixie releases
However, those releases were reasonably important and stabilized the app considerably. I also spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to package Snippet Pixie as a Flatpak so that it could be included in elementary OS 6's new App Center. However, due to some policies in the Flatpak project that cripple accessibility toolkit usage, I ran up against a brick wall.
Because there was therefore no way of getting Snippet Pixie included in the App Center, it kind of freed me up to tackle a much needed rewrite to improve the app's architecture, along with using a technology I want to learn. As a consequence I'm currently in the middle of a full rewrite of Snippet Pixie using the Go programming language, and recording most of my development sessions along the way too.
Snippet Pixie: Next - YouTube playlist
There's a good way to go before it becomes something usable, but the rewrite is going well, I think, and I'm certainly enjoying it.
WP Cron Pixie saw no updates this past year, it didn't need any. Although I guess I should probably have updated the readme a couple of times so people know it still works fine with the latest version of WordPress. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
WP Cron Pixie
In contrast, WP Table Pixie saw a large change, it's no longer for sale as a premium upgrade to a Lite version. All previously premium functionality has been rolled in the free version found in the wp.org repository.
WP Table Pixie Premium discontinued
In 2021 my podcast pivoted to a "live" coding style YouTube vlog.
Once I got over the initial fear of publishing warts-and-all development videos, it's become an integral part of my working day to record for an hour or so before I have a hard-stop to attend a daily stand-up with Erik.
Always Developing - YouTube playlist
This format has really helped me to get stuck into learning Go, and to achieve steady progress with what I'm developing. Initially that was GoalMonitor (the secret project I mentioned last year), but then the Snippet Pixie rewrite.
As just mentioned, I did start on developing GoalMonitor as part of my Always Developing recording sessions, but eventually decided it wasn't something I was passionate enough about to continue with. I'll touch on this again in my review of Goal 1 below.
COVID-19 played a big part in my family's life in 2021, just like for most of the World. Mostly it just hampered doing "normal" things somewhat, with various periods where restrictions meant we couldn't travel or meet up with loved ones.
A highlight of the year for sure was being able to go to Yorkshire for a week's holiday with my wife and daughter when national travel restrictions were relaxed. Made even more special by spotting my Mum and Dad sitting outside the cottage next to ours as I parked the car! I hadn't seen my parents for over a year, and my wonderful wife had secretly organised for them to have a holiday that overlapped with ours. And even though we had to socially distance, it was a wonderful surprise.
Otherwise, as you'll see in my goals review below, I really let things slip with my health, partly due to problems with my back, but truthfully, probably also due to a lack of motivation in these "unprecedented times".
One thing I can say for sure, having some serious lower back pain and COVID at the same time is not recommended. The coughing and sneezing from COVID wrenched my back a bunch of times, it hurt, a lot.
Not long before getting COVID at the beginning of December I'd had a couple of weeks of treatments with a Chiropractor. That naturally had to stop as soon as my daughter got COVID, just in case she passed it on to me, which she dutifully did. I should be fine to return to the Chiropractor in a few days, hopefully the next few sessions will put things right.
This time last year I set 5 goals for 2021.
Let's briefly chronicle how badly I failed to achieve those goals.
My plan was to work on GoalMonitor and release v1.0 before November. That did not happen.
By mid June I found myself losing my passion for GoalMonitor, and stopped working on it as part of Always Developing.
In late September when I started work on a rewrite of Snippet Pixie I wrote a post that mentioned this.
Snippet Pixie: Next - Always Developing #60
I didn't release any other new software products either. Therefore this goal is a clear fail.
Naturally, if you don't release a product then no one can pay for it. So it does not come as a surprise that my goal of earning at least $10 monthly recurring revenue from the new product didn't happen either.
I published 13 new posts to my main blog in 2021! Well, OK, a couple were very short test posts, more worthy of my microblog.
However, seeing as I also posted 10 times to my microblog, and feel like they contribute to the goal's purpose of getting me to post more stuff, I think I'll count this goal as achieved! 🎉
In April I finally summoned enough courage to start publishing video recordings of almost daily development sessions.
AlwaysDeveloping.show is now on YouTube
My last session released in 2021 was #104, which was actually the 106th video released as there were a couple of ".1" follow-up recordings too.
I think it's fair to say that I smashed this goal! 🎉
After a reasonably strong start, this goal went off the rails 3 weeks into January when I found the Yoga was hurting my wrists and back. After a month of doing other exercises, I tried again, but soon found my back simply wasn't up to it and the yoga re-awoke some back issues I've had since I was a teenager doing way too many sports.
I've not seriously returned to consistently doing any yoga since the end of February, and therefore never got anywhere near 156 sessions in 2021.
3 misses, 2 hits.
It's good to have achieved 2 of my goals, but concerning that I failed on 3.
To be honest I didn't have much hope that I'd build and release a new product in 2021, let alone make any revenue. I simply didn't feel like I had a great idea for a product, wasn't sure on how it should be designed, and just lost faith in it.
The most concerning failure is goal #5, as that tied into health and fitness, and I really let that slip in 2021. Which brings us neatly to my goals for 2022.
This year I have a single goal.
As of this morning I weigh 189.8 lb, which is approximately 13.5 stone, or 86 Kg. That's the heaviest I've been in quite some time.
By the end of the year I want to weigh 168 lb, which is 12 stone, or 76.2 Kg.
This means I need to lose just over 0.4 lb per week, which is an easily attainable goal.
I really hope to achieve this weight by 01/07/2022, which should be easily doable at a healthy rate of approx 0.85 lb per week.
I then intend to maintain that weight for the rest of the year, hopefully the rest of my life!
I'm keeping the goal's target date as the end of the year though.
168 lb is bang in the middle of the healthy weight range for my height of approx 6' 1", or 185 cm. I know from experience that when I'm at that weight I feel much fitter, and look an OK weight. If I go under that weight then I "look like a bobble head", as my wife puts it. 😀
When I'm at that weight I tend to not have any issues with my back either, everything kinda feels right.
Although I'm measuring weight for my goal, clearly that's not a great indicator of health and fitness, it's just one component. So while weight is an easily measurable value, I do intend to improve my health in other ways that as yet I'm not sure how I want to measure, if I can measure, or if I want to.
I need to improve 3 key areas, flexibility, strength, stamina.
This can only be achieved through physical activities, and I have tentative plans on what they will be, but I think I'll leave talking about them for another day.
"2021 Year in Review" was published on January 1, 2022.