Joseph Hallenbeck
February 07, 2015

2014 In Review

Filed under: Journal part of Annual Reviews

It is that time of year again, time for my retrospective. A look back on last year’s goals and a reflection on what I would like out of this year. It may be a month late for New Year’s resolutions, but I do get to them eventually.

One thing that I started up last year was a much more rigorous interpretation of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I used a similar process towards breaking down and getting to tasks in the past, but this last year was one where I focused much more on continuously revising my goals, recording what I got done, and asking myself what I needed to do next. Some time, I will get a series of essays put together to discuss my process.

Professional Achievements

2014 closed out with my last day at 44 Interactive, and I hope a permanent move away from the marketing side of web development and into the more fulfilling realm of application development as a Software Engineer with my new employer, Research Square out of Durham, NC. I am still remote, having moved from Ashton, ID up to Jackson, WY – a town much more my style and now working out of Spark, a nice co-working spot that has encouraged me to once more shed my outer humbug.

While working at 44 Interactive, I developed a bespoke shopping cart that saw itself launched on Dakota Golf and Warriors Never Giveup. This project implemented the entire workflow that user’s expect of a shopping cart: adding products, customizing product details, checkout, payment collection and processing through Authorize.Net or PayPal, and shipping.

A few fun features I developed was a reworking of the underlying models of our CMS to use the Eloquent ORM, integration with Composer and Bower for pulling in libraries, building out a re-occurring events module for calculating things like “occurs on every last Thursday of the month” or “repeat every Monday.” One showcase item is the HTML5 Canvas powered course tour on Dakota Golf whose administrative tools allow for drawing arbitrary polygons and detecting when a mouse enters a polygon.

In the brochure realm, I launched McDoctors, SDN Communications, Dakotastour, Wings of Thunder, Howeinc, and All-About-U Adoptions.

With my change of employers, I am hanging up my System Admin hat, which was a fun one to wear for a time. No more debugging package conflicts, no more reading PCI reports, or writing new rules for mod_sec. I do delight in the fact that I consolidated servers costs by 50% during my tenure and brought up time to 99.9%.

Continuous Development

I am committed to continuous professional development in my field. I do this via reading and writing blogs, reading technical manuals, as well as investigating topics in computer science that might only be orthogonal to my day-to-day life.

In the last year, I read Miracle Man Month and Code Complete. After a short affair in learning LateX last spring, I turned to devour every article and online book I could find on the Rust language and began following the language mailing list as well as subscribing to frameworks like Piston. I wanted to really make some open source contributions, but never quite found a niche where I could step in and help out.

After some consideration, I released the DropFramework and my TimeKeeper application onto Github. The first, I do not take seriously as anything more than a learning project and the latter is a really helpful tool that I use every day.

Oh, and those projects I promised last year? I started on a lot of them, then lost interest. Instead, I started Rusty Centipede – a Centipede clone using Rust.

Rainbow over Island Park, Viewed from Bishop

Personal Projects

What about outside of work?

I had some great outings this last year. Helped out at the Ashton Dog Derby, snowshoed to Warm River Cabin in Caribou-Targhee National Forest, visited Gallatin National Forest, backpacked the Escalante area of Utah, hiked the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, backpacked the tallest of them: Juniper Hill, attended a field class on native plants, stayed at Bishop Mt. Cabin, canoed Big Springs, caved the Civil Defense Caves, camped at Granite Hot Springs and Grassy Lake. Not to mention all the day hikes up Crystal Butte, Cache Creek, Teton Pass, and the Gros Vertre since we got out into the Teton National Forest area.

Oh and all these links to my blog posts. Last year, I set a goal of 12 articles and right now, I count 15!

Tried my hands at roleplaying via Skype. Just never got the hang of it, and fell out of doing it after a couple of months. Never did get up the courage to show up at Friday Night Magic and Jackson, unfortunately does not seem to have much of a gaming culture going on.

Took way too long of a break from playing any kinds of games. According to Steam I didn’t play a single game from December of 2013 until November of 2014, almost an entire year. My burst of gaming lately is an attempt to make up for that with games like Bastion, Trine 2 and fun times on Terraria with friends.

Had good times with some friends. Keegan dropped by almost unannounced from Death Valley. Clint came out and stayed with us for a month in June. I got out to the Black Hills and Sioux Falls to hang out with friends on multiple occasions and even made a trip out to San Diego, Portland and Rhinelander to hit all the major family holidays.

At home, Jess finally talked me into a gym membership and I’m starting to shed all the stress pounds that I’ve put on since the cave days. And, I’m making a good dent in my student loans while feeling much more financially stable. No more big rental houses that eat up each week’s paycheck.

My to-read bookshelf is considerably emptier. I caught up on my backlog of National Geographic, read Mishima’s Death in Midsummer, Kawabata’s Snow Country and Thousand cranes, Mobile Suit Gundam Origin volumes 1 through 6, A Dance with Dragons, Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, Westward, Traveler and Exalted. I started a larger stack of books that I never finished though. In film and television, I watched Kill-la-Kill, Galaxy Express 999, Battleship Potemkin, Dexter, Monogatari, Mushi-shi, Ping Pong, Her, Under the Skin, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit, Mardy, and Terror in Requiem.

I started to study French and have, at this point, some what of a grasp of the written language. I never got around to working on the Weird Tale, NaNoWriMo, or Architectural Drawing. I am quite far behind on processing my photographs.

2015 In Resolution

If there were any regrets that I have this last this last year it would be that the later half of the year was entirely eaten up by progressing my career – job hunting, working on side projects to develop my skill set, and reading, reading, reading up on sound development practices. I started 2014 on a good role with healthy exercise, outdoor activities, calm reading at the lake shore. I am looking forward to spending this year easing into my new job and finding time to delight in my non-programing hobbies.

More Reading, More Anime, More Games

I had a good list of shows and books that I read last year but it’s nowhere near when I was in college and could put away a novel a fortnight, an Anime a month, and get four or five good games in each season. So above all else this year, I want to spend some time clearing out my “to read” pile, getting more books off my Amazon wish list, and more Anime’s off my “Plan to Watch” list on MyAnimeList.

More Hiking, More Caving, More Camping

Camping died out in August for me. Just too much going on, but this year I want to see a return to the South West, I want to spend weeks out at camp and come in to the coworking office. I have a laundry list of hikes, camping trips, canoing trips, and a handful of local caves that I must out to this Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Keep Studying French

Last year, I took up French out of frustration that the Manga for Galaxy Express 999 has languished in Viz’s control. This year: Keep working on it.


Catch up on my backlog of photos from 2013 and 2014. Really get out into the back country of Tetons with a D80 or a new DSLR and tripod. Get a gallery showing somewhere calm, like Ashton.


Aim for another 12 solid articles.


I used to Journal a lot. An hour a day. I cut back on it as my career progressed. Ran out of time. This last year, I started a 5-year journal. Six lines a day every day. It’s a great way to get back into journaling.

NaNoWriMo & The Weird Tale

November is in the clear this year, nothing to get in the way for churning out a quick novel. Also, there is little excuse for my draft of “The Weird Tale” to still be sitting on my desk. Time to get it done.

Campaign Setting & Roleplaying

There has been several requests for me to update “The Rinn,” my Celtic, otherwordly campaign setting and then to run a new game using either the D6 or new D&D rulesets.

Figure Drawing

Jess got me a membership with the Art Association of Jackson. Now, I can get back to working on my figure drawing and dreaming of that graphic novel I will never get around to writing.

The Renaissance Man Project

This is an odd project that I came up with – to research what modern to contemporary writers and philosophers have written about the concept of the “Competent Man”, the “Renaissance Man,” or the “Polymath” and then compose (1) a series of essays considering these thoughts, (2) whether it is possible to be a modern Renaissance man and what criteria would encompass this feat, and (3) what is laking in my own self development to be a well-rounded, competent individual.

Ghostify My Blog

Okay, I can’t help it, I do have some technical projects to work on – get this blog off WordPress and on to Ghost. Export all my articles, build in discourse, and finally get this theme to be 100% responsive bootstrap.

Rusty Centipede

I started making a Centipede clone last year using Rust. My goals right now are to keep on top of PHP, Rust, Javascript, and Python as my four languages of choice. PHP and Python for work. And Javascript and Rust for making fun little arcade games in my spare time.

"2014 In Review" by Joseph Hallenbeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.