Looking Back on 2011

January 24, 2012

Looking Back on 2011

(Yes, this post is overdue. Wrote it early in January, then forgot to post.)

Since reading this post by Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby, I’ve been hesitant to blog about upcoming projects, plans, and schemes. According to a study that Derek cites: “Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.” Wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?

Everybody’s self-identity needs a bit of satisfaction, however, and mine is no exception. To get it, I’m not going to talk about what I’m going to do, instead I’m going to talk about what I’ve done. In other words, this post is me giving myself a congratulatory high-five.

Here’s a quick recap of what kept me busy in 2011:

Basho Technologies

2011 marked the beginning of my third year with Basho Technologies. Basho makes Riak, an open-source, distributed document database for companies with lots of critical data.

I spent the first half of the year involved in client work and researching and prototyping how to combine Riak with OLAP engines and geospatial search. Exciting stuff, but unfortunately it didn’t make sense to take this beyond the stage of prototypes.

During the second half of the year, I focused on Secondary Indexing support in Riak. Somewhere in the middle there, we cranked like hell to release Riak version 1.0; a major milestone in any product’s life.

Hacker News Readers of DC

The DC technology scene continues to crystallize. I use the word “crystallize” very specifically here; I think there have always been technologists in DC, but only recently have the structures been in place for us to come together. Hacker News Readers of DC is one of those structures.

In 2011 we:

Tech Conferences

In 2011, I decreased my rate of conference speaking. I had averaged approximately one conference talk per month in 2010, which was enlightening, but grueling.

Here are my 2011 talks:

ErlangDC 2011

I tried my hand at conference organizing in 2011, working with Luc Castera and Ram Singh to organize ErlangDC 2011 in December. This was an epic one-day conference held at the AOL headquarters in Dulles, focused on helping DC-area developers become more familiar and comfortable with Erlang.

Highlights include:


In June of 2011, I switched to Posterous and vowed to start blogging regularly. This led to a flurry of activity for a combined total of 34 posts in June and July alone, and 46 across the entire year.

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn into a habit, and my rate of blogging dropped back down to one or two posts per month. I had been trying to blog daily, but I think twice weekly might be a better goal for me.

Here are some of my favorite posts:

I also did a short stint of mini-podcasts for the Riak MinuteWith channel. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on with the community, so we discontinued the series.


My proudest accomplishment of 2011 isn’t technology related at all. For many years, I’ve skated by on youth and good genes to avoid any kind of fitness regiment. Last year, I decided to change that.

My approach was simple: just step out the door every day with running shoes on. It didn’t matter whether I ran a block or a mile, the goal was just to give myself the opportunity to work out.

This approach worked, I averaged 3 workouts a week since I started in March. 80% of my workouts were running, where I averaged 3 miles. 20% were either gym or kettlebell workouts.

Read last year’s update.

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