2015 – A Year in Review

In what I hope to be a continuing pattern, here is my follow-up to my 2014 – A Year in Review post from last year, written around the same time. This isn’t a professional post, tutorial, or announcement – this is a reflection on 2015, what I’ve been up to, what I’m doing, and what I hope to come.

Warning: As mentioned last year, this won’t include any tips, tricks, or marketing hacks. This is the “diary” of a 26 year old man who hates to share his thoughts, so this is your last chance to bail. I hear that new Space War or whatever movie is out, you could see that.


This year, I’ve got a lot to cover, so I’ll break it into a few segments. Luckily, I’ll include a Table of Contents so you don’t have to read it all, but every time you skip a section a kitten goes without dinner.

kittens

Read it for the kittens.

On the recent blog silence

Back in November, there was a bit of a flare up with one of my older posts recommending themes for WooCommerce, which was an ultimate attempt to get me ‘in trouble’ at work. While nothing truly came from the third party’s attempt, it certainly put a damper on my desire to blog anything, even legitimate tips and especially opinion pieces.

I don’t know when this self-imposed hiatus will end, but as of right now, the fuel tank is empty on motivation. While they failed in having me retract my claims and look for another job, they succeeded in killing the writing kick I’d been on… Maybe this post will spark it back up, but only time will tell. 🙂

History of the Year (2015)

The Time of Uncertainty

If the ending of last year’s blog post indicated anything, it was that I had no idea what would happen next week, or even next day. This kind of tension and anxiety carried throughout the first quarter of the year, as each day I’d get up not sure what to expect. Talk about mental wear.

Regardless, I was a little productive outside of work – I finished shooting the horror film I’d been working on, and while it’s waiting for final edits, that was a big achievement. Otherwise, not much news.

Transitions

Spring was interesting. If you’re not in the WordPress world, then you might not have caught the WooMattic notice or even heard about it – still, it was kind of a big deal.

For those of you not familiar with WordPress, think of it like this – Microsoft sells the operating system, Windows. A lot of users install and browse with Firefox, their web browser. Microsoft buys Firefox. (P.S. – they didn’t, but it’s a semi-apt comparison.)

This changed my employer from WooThemes to Automattic – playing in the big leagues.

Not that big leagues, but that would be cool too.

Not that big league, but that would be cool too.

Smoother Sailing

Things stabilized for a bit. I went on a few trips to speak, and summer was, as usual, too short and a bit crazy. I went to Disney, in which the best part (aside from family) was probably escorting Belle – she’s a princess, you guys! Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of that, but I’m looking. Until then, here’s one from Star Tours:

The Original Trilogy was still better than Episode VII. Don't make me hit you by saying otherwise.

The Original Trilogy was still better than Episode VII. Don’t make me hit you by saying otherwise.

I also got to party speak at WordCamp Vegas – now that’s a fun place. If anyone reading this lives there, I’m crashing on your couch soon. We’ll make it big, like Nick Papagiorgio.

vegas

Even the non-casino parts were cool.

Piss Off, Winter

Doesn’t Winter suck? Shorter days, it’s cold (or in Ohio this year, just so freaking wet it’s like living in a swamp), and in general it just puts a damper on everything.

People talk about seasonal depression – definitely a real thing. If someone could move me out to a beach and employ me as a daquiri taste-tester/bikini contest judge, I’d appreciate it. I’ll send a resume.

See, I'm one hell of a lounger. It runs in the family.

See, I’m one hell of a lounger. It runs in the family.

All the Projects and Where they Stand

If you’ve known me for more than a couple months, you’ll know that I’m a planner, a dreamer, and a “futurist” – explanation of that term will come in another post based off of an extremely thorough personality test (a professional one, not a horoscope one). Long story short, I have an addiction for starting new projects and a shortage of time – if I had a DeLorean or a Time-Turner, I’d be one successful dude. Cloning would work too, unless it turned all Multiplicity.

In 2015, I had to do something very hard for me – I had to consciously abandon passion projects that would either never come to fruition, or that would be too time-consuming to complete. I’ve always had a “finish what you start” and “giving up is failure” mentality, but reality just doesn’t work the way we need it to… As my mother once told me a phrase that stuck (even though I can hardly remember to bring something from the grocery without writing it down), “c’est la vie” – a French phrase that translates roughly to “Such is life”… Life is hard, and it doesn’t go according to a plan, but we have to accept it for what it is.

Completed & Ongoing Projects

These are projects I intend on continuing in some capacity. This could mean they’re in production, post-production, finished but not released, early planning, etc.

Completed

  • The Stranger – a 48 Hour Film Festival Short – This spring, I did my first 48 Hour Film Festival project for Cincinnati. It was actually the most fun movie or short I’d shot since Sangre y Queso. It’s been revised since the submission with the final scene added and the opening cleaned up (with some additional audio work pending), but it will absolutely enter the festival circuit ASAP.
  • Various WordCamp Presentations – While I certainly plan on repeating it in 2016, I attended and spoke at a huge number of WordCamps across the country – from Vegas to Philadelphia and it seemed like everywhere in between. The number might not be as big as some of the all-stars, but it was fun and an overall great experience.

Ongoing

  • SureShot Cincy – In November, 2015, I was certified as an NRA Instructor in the Pistol discipline. This allows me to teach courses that serve as pre-requisites for concealed carry licenses, but more importantly (to me), it allows me to introduce people to the shooting sports in a safe, friendly, and experienced environment. Speaking of which, if you’re in the Greater Cincinnati Area and are over 21, keep an eye on that site – it should go live in early January. 🙂
  • Horror Short Film Compilation – This was started last August, filmed in February, and then got stuck in post-production hell. A separate update post will probably go up on this to discuss why it’s still unreleased, but the short version is I have a real job and a life, along with zero motivation to finish when some cast and crew have been so nasty. They can wait until I’m ready – it’s done when it’s done.
  • VIAI LLC (Stasis Mode!) – My first LLC, a company that encompassed web, video, and marketing to serve as a one-stop shop for small businesses, had to be abandoned due to a company merge and Conflict of Interest policy that Patrick Rauland (@bftrick on Twitter) summarized here: http://speakinginbytes.com/2015/11/woomattic/. In short, while WooThemes allowed for outside activities and revenue, Automattic does not. C’est la vie.
    • VIAI LLC will still be the place where I release projects and will continue in a very limited capacity for existing clients (by passing the torch), so your sites won’t go down – I’m just the hands-off owner that gets the tax work but not the revenue. Yay!
  • WordCamp Presentations – As mentioned above, this will continue but with an entirely different topic. While formerly I focused on WooCommerce use scenarios, I’m going to take a more abstract approach on general business online. Less tech based, with more experience.

Shelved Projects

  • Sci-Fi Short Film – Although it’s still in very early stages, I’d been toying with a sci-fi script and plot. I’m cutting myself off immediately so it doesn’t escalate into a full-blown second job as movies tend to do, but this will see the light of day… Some day, anyway.
  • Game System Development – While I’ve got a game system mostly completed, it needs to wait until I have a method to convey it and the time to test and develop it.
  • Photography/Videography – Yep, it’s a sad day when I put this one down. The fact of the matter is that a photo shoot takes immense planning, and a video shoot even more. That’s not to say I won’t do anything like that – the 48 Hour Film Project is a definite candidate, but I’m going to stop seeking out projects and let the dust settle.

Abandoned Projects

  • Runners & Corps – This one didn’t quite get off the ground, but it was a passion project focused on the greatest card game in the world, Android: Netrunner LCG. With a buddy, we actually had a few podcasts in the can and ready to go, but real life hits hard. While he’s alive and everything, he’s moving to Japan for work (a good thing!), so maybe it will continue if we figure out something remote.
  • Propmaking – Since I was 15, I’d been making professional-grade props. I had to put it on hold in college and haven’t picked it up since – while I made an effort in 2015, I simply don’t have the resources to continue at this time. When the day comes I find myself with a bit of extra cash in my pocket and I can buy a good 3D printer (and lathe, and a workspace), I’ll brush the dust off of this and have a blast. Taking donations, though. 😉
  • Unity Development / C# & C++ – Tied to the game system development, Unity is the method to build out the game system. However, that’s a whole new dragon to tackle I can’t even fathom spending time on.
  • 3D Design – Sort of tied in with propmaking, I’d spent some time working with CAD programs to either build parts OR for 3D models of characters in games via animation and posing programs. I’d love to return to it, but I’m afraid it won’t be for a while.

General Thoughts, Reflections, & Lessons

2015 has been kind of a rollercoaster ride, though it may just be that every year is like that in some way or another. It’s probably marked the beginning of my quarter-life crisis (meaning I can’t buy a sports car, but maybe a sweet truck or something) – a harsh realization that time flies and age creeps up on you, but that isn’t the hardest pill to swallow.

There’s been an important lesson in 2015: not everything can be achieved, and some dreams just won’t come true. So, this winter, a lot of those dreams are being put to pasture.

I try not to think of this as a downer, though it kind of is. Instead, it makes a fresh start at 2016 – a cleaner slate than I’ve allowed myself to have before. Instead of beginning new projects, this year my goal is to sustain and complete the ones I have. This year, I’ll cut myself a bit of slack, but ultimately, this year, I’ll reconnect with the world.

Having been overloaded for as far as my mind can go back, I’ve grown isolated – in 2016, I’m going to grow back into the fun Danny. The “quarter-life crisis” has really reinforced the ‘time flies’ saying – it seems like yesterday that I graduated, but that was four years ago. I’ll take a new approach – I need to spend more time figuring out who I am instead of what I can do. I need to focus on meeting new people, not meeting new software, and I need to focus on unwinding, not pushing a mental breakdown.

While I don’t know how this approach will go or where it will lead me, maybe I don’t have to know… Maybe the not-knowing is what life is really all about.

See you all in 2016.


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