2018: A Look Back

Photo by Steven VanDesande Jr

2018 was a very busy, but very satisfying year. We bought a new house, bought a new car, went to Italy, shipped a huge app and had a lot of good times. There were a lot more successes and failures that I just never wrote about. Maybe I’ll write about them sometime, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

2018 goals, how’d I do?

Before I looked back at my 2018 goals, I thought I did a really good job toward my goals. Turns out, not so much. I’ve only accomplished one of my goals successfully. Ouch. I really thought I did a better job.

Run a 5k (or two)

Nope. Didn’t happen. I walked a lot this year, but didn’t do a lot of running. It’s still on my wishlist. I just need to commit and make the time to do it.

Read 20 books

That happened. In 2018, I finished 64 books. There were a bunch of comic books in there, but I still totally count them.

My Kindle Paperwhite helped out enormously with this. It makes reading in bed, when I can’t sleep, so much easier. I also take it with me whenever I travel anywhere and read.

I’ve also continued my (almost) daily habit of walking 1-3 times a day. During these walks, I will always listen to either an audiobook or podcast. Lately, I’ve been leaning more towards books, but that’ll swing back to podcasts at some point.

These two things (Kindle Paperwhite and walking with audiobooks) have helped me reach this goal.

More blog posts

I’d like to say that I did this, but I don’t think I can count it as completed. I did write more blog posts in 2018 than in 2017, but not enough. I was hoping to write a blog post every two weeks. This definitely did not happen. I wrote in spurts. But I also had long lulls of inactivity.

Present something (again)

Nope. I presented things at work to a small group of developers. But nothing to the community at large. I was hoping to present something to our local CocoaHeads chapter.

Frankly. I forgot that this was a goal of mine. I suck.

So… now what?

I’m not sure it makes sense to try making goals for an entire year. I think in 2019, I’m going to try things on a monthly basis.

Trying to make goals for the entire year end up with two issues. 1: I end up forgetting my goals. 2: I can’t adjust when I’m going way off the rails.

Hey, who knows. Maybe monthly goals will work out. Or maybe I’ll do as good a job with them as I did with my 2018 goals. I guess we’ll find out.

Christmas Movies

Around the holidays, our family has a list of movies that we like to watch. It’s a tradition that we’ve tried to keep for a few years now. It’s not always easy, but it’s one of the things we can all usually agree on.

Some of our favorite movies are:

This year I’ve added A Christmas Story to the list to watch. I used to watch this movie all of the time growing up. I found it hard to imagine that no one else has even seen the movie. I hope to fix that problem this year.

This year, we haven’t started watching any. I feel like we’re really behind. The kids have been so busy that it makes it hard to sit down and do things as a family. I hope we’re OK. We still have about two weeks left to watch everything.

My favorites on this list are either National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Die Hard. I love these movies. Elf is another good one. But Christmas Vacation makes me laugh so hard. Die Hard is just a good movie to watch from time to time.

I’m looking forward to seeing these movies this year.

New House

It’s been a crazy Summer.

Not only did I spend a significant amount of time this Summer preparing to ship an app, but we also bought a new house. Things got even crazier because we closed on the new house on the exact same day we shipped the app.

Our new house is less than two miles from the old house. We’ve been looking for a new house for roughly three years. We were only interested in houses within the same township we’ve lived in for over 10 years now. We’ve looked at a few dozen houses in the area and weren’t thrilled with any of them. This house came up in the ideal neighborhood and we decided to move quickly on it. The funny thing is that we actually looked at this house a year ago, but moved a little too slow and the old owners rented it out.

What we did was buy the new house and then move a lot of stuff from the old house to the new house before listing. We bought the house on a Wednesday and had our open house the next Sunday. Our old house sold within days of listing, which was very nice. We then had about a month to move everything else out and into the new house.

I’m still not sure owning two houses at the same time was a blessing or not. It meant that we could slowly move most of our belongings over ourselves. It also meant that we had stuff scattered between two houses and weren’t usually sure where things were. There was one Saturday where I went between the houses four times in a 30 minute time frame to find my son’s full soccer uniform. We were kind of a mess for a week or two.

We are all moved into the new house now. We still have plenty of things in boxes, but we’ll be moving them to where they need to be over the next few weeks/months. The old house has been sold and has new owners now.

There was a lot of things happening all at once and it lead to a very stressful end of Summer. There was even more news, but that’ll be in a future post - very soon. I hope that things can start to calm down a little now.

DC Universe

DC Universe is a new product that my company (Warner Bros. Digital Labs) recently shipped.

It’s a project that a lot of us in the company have been working on for almost two years now. We’ve had other projects to work on during that time, but during the last few months, this has taken center stage during our days, nights and weekends.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on the comic book reader for both iOS and tvOS. I’ve worked on other parts of the app(s), but my “baby” was the comic book reader(s). They aren’t perfect and I could probably tell you everything that’s wrong with them. But I’m proud of how they turned out. The iOS/tvOS comic book reader(s) were both written (mostly) by me and from scratch. It was nice to see something like that come to fruition.

We had a very rough Summer getting it ready for consumers and finally released it on September 12th. There was a bit of time where I wasn’t sure if we would ship the app. But we all pulled through and shipped an amazing app.

The DC Universe app was featured on day one. Since then, we’ve had an App Store Story featured about the app. That was a really good feeling. It was also a first for me and any project I’ve worked on before. We’ve had a few apps featured, but never had an app store story about them.

We recently released an update that featured some original content (Titans) that was developed explicitly for the app. It’s something that we’ve been talking about for a long time and it’s finally out for others to enjoy too.

I know the entire team was proud of what we have built. I’m not sure what’s coming next for the app and service, but it will be fun to watch.

Notes Apps: Bear vs Agenda

Both Bear and Agenda are note taking apps for macOS and iOS. Both are great note taking apps that support my favorite markup syntax called Markdown.

I’ve been a Bear user for over a year now. I use it on a daily basis. I’ve even included it in a post about My Development Toolbox. I really do use it almost every day and I really love the app. I’m happy to pay the yearly subscription fee for it.

Recently (roughly two months ago), a new note taking app was released for macOS and iOS call Agenda. It looked promising. It also has a few features that Bear does not have. Agenda allows you to link notes to both calendar events (and days) and to people. These custom features are great for taking notes during a meeting. You can have notes and action items from a meeting (or day) linked directly in your note taking app.

Agenda is a really well done app. However, there is one feature that is missing from the app that is currently a dealbreaker. Inline images. I often attach screenshots or other images to my notes all the time. Agenda doesn’t currently support this. But it’s something that they are currently working on.

There are also something about the user interface in Agenda that I’m not completely sold on. If you have a bunch of notes, they can be difficult to hide (or declutter). If I want to only focus on a given note at a time, Agenda’s interface makes that tough. Bear has this nice sidebar with a list of notes, which I can select one and focus on it completely.

For now, I am going to continue to use Bear as my main note taking app. I am a subscriber to both Bear and Agenda. As Agenda continues to evolve, I will revisit from time to time to see how they are growing.