Year in Review

Well it’s been a crazy roller coaster year for me. So this post is going to be the typical recap of what’s gone on with my life and my blog over the past year. I’m really happy with where I’m at both professionally and personally, and 2008 has been an interesting year for me.

Last semester and Graduation

It’s kind of surreal to think that at the beginning of this year, I was still a senior at the University of Mary Washington, living in Virginia with some of my best friends in an awesome house. My final semester senior year was a lot of fun, I took very little in the way of course work. I was employed by CACI, which is a defense contractor at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren. I was doing Java, Javascript, and a little Perl code for a Navy portal at the base. It was a really fun job socially, but the technology (other than Javascript libraries) was pretty dull.

At school I was finishing up my senior/honors project using Django. This turned out to have probably been the most important decision of my college career (hindsight being 20/20). I went to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research to present the ideas from my senior project. This was a really neat place, and I was exposed to a lot of interesting things other people were doing.

We had a really crazy Primary Election season, which included Bill Clinton talking at my school, which I saw. Obama also later spoke at UMW (His famous in the rain speech), which i would have died to see.

I applied for a couple different jobs all over the country after I graduated. I had phone interviews with Yelp, a Wiki startup, and a couple other places. I interviewed and was offered a job by Zope which randomly is based in the town I went to college in. I also applied at The World Company, the birthplace of Django in the middle of the country, Kansas. I got offered the Jobs at Zope and the World Company, so I had to choose which to pick. As I’ve talked about before, I chose Kansas, and it has all been a blur since. I graduated from UMW.

The epic journeys

I accepted the job right before graduation at the end of April, subsequently quitting my old job at CACI. I arranged to start in Lawrence on July 1, giving me all of May and June to enjoy summer. I had some decent savings and decided to move to Lawrence with no money, and to travel a bunch before I went.

Over those 2 months I took a bunch of different trips. I went to Boston for a week, going to Barcamp Boston, which was the first conference I’d ever been to. I met some amazing people and got really excited about the culture that surrounds the profession that I had chosen. I also just got to tour around MIT and Harvard, met some great people through friends, and just had a great experience.

I also went down to North Carolina, and to the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks are one of my favorite places on earth, and totally recommend them to anyone. They have some of the best waves on the East Coast, and a completely relaxed and beautiful beach atmosphere. I really hit the beach hard because I was moving to KANSAS!

I went to Maryland to a friends late graduation party, and to visit family that I don’t see very often, even less often now that I live in Kansas. I also went all around Virginia, to Nelson County to visit my friend Josh’s house. Charlottesville to see some music and visit friends. Virginia Beach (Home) a little bit to go surfing and visit friends and family. Berryville (where I grew up) to visit old friends and the rest of my family.

So at the end of June, I move out of my house, and leave for Kansas. Great first half of the year.

Lawrence Chronicles

I was in love with Lawrence on the first day. It’s a great town and I love it to death. I moved into a Co-op for July-August so that I could find a place to lease and have an instant social network. The people I lived with were amazing, and it turns out that one of my co-workers had lived there while she was in college! Cool.

The job at the World Company turned out to be amazing, working with lots of brilliant people. On my second week on the job, DjangoCon was announced. It’s really neat feeling like you fell right in the middle of something amazing going on. I had a hunch from afar, but it turned out to be more true than I could imagine.

My birthday was on July 9, and right around my Birthday I was added to Django’s Community Aggregator. This was the first time that my blog had ever gotten more than 20 hits a day (and all those 10+ were when I sent my resumes around). I started getting people reading the things I was writing, and actually appreciating what I was saying. It’s really neat to have a way to talk to people, and have them be excited and listen to what you say.

At the end of july, I released my first open source project, testmaker. This was met with a great response from the community. This is where I really started to appreciate and understand the value of the open source community. I got great feedback, inspiration from comments, and a great dialogue around the project. It is tiny compared to some of the things that people do, but I was floored with the response.

Djangocon was in September and was more amazing than I could have anticipated. I gave an incredibly nervous lightning talk (having broken my demo 5 mins before I went on, and fixed it). I learned so much, got to meet some amazing people, and had lots of fun. I see now that I didn’t do a writeup post, which is sad.

November was post-a-day month that was a lot of work but very rewarding. I did it with a lot of other people in the community and I think it was a great effort and it worked out really well.

December was really laid back. I started a couple more projects which are going to be getting some love in the new year. I went to Jamaica on vacation, and went back to Virginia to visit friends and family for 2 weeks.


A lot of things have happened this year, and I’m grateful for where I am and what I’m doing. It’s been an amazing ride, and I can only guess as to how 2009 will be. I’m sure it will be another great year, and things are only looking up. I want to thank everyone for reading my blog, and I want to wish everyone a happy new year full of blessings and insights.

Happy new year!!

Hey there! I'm Eric and I work on communities in the world of software documentation. Feel free to email me if you have comments on this post!