Happy 2018: A stereotypical new years post
Why do I blog? Where am I going with this site?

15 January 2018

This is my first post of 2018. Happy new year everybody! I’ve been seeing several other blogs taking a moment to reflect on the previous year and discuss their plans for the next. I know it’s a few weeks in already, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to do the same.

To summarize where I’m going with this post, I’m going to answer two questions:

  1. Why have I been writing this blog? In other words, what am I getting out of it?
  2. What new exciting things are coming in 2018?

Why am I writing on this site?

This is a question that I’ve been asked in person before. Why write a blog? It sounds like a lot of work. In fact, this is a question I asked other people before I pushed myself to start writing more regularly.

As a side note, thank you to Rebecca Franks for convincing me to just do it.

Here are some of my personal reasons.

Pushing myself to a deeper understanding

Teaching a topic to somebody else is an excellent way to uncover your own assumptions, and areas that perhaps you do not understand as well as you might like to.

I find that writing in the mindset of teaching gives me some of that same benefit. As I write, I also end up doing more research on the topic than I would have done otherwise.

Documenting what I’ve done for my own sake

Sometimes, I need to solve a problem that’s very similar to something I’ve done before, but I can’t remember how I did it before. If I’ve written a blog post on it, then I have a web page that I can refer to that tells me exactly how I solved it before.

Written communication practice

At work, it’s an important and unfortunately undervalued skill to be able to write clearly. This surfaces in all of the fringe parts of software development, such as writing emails to stakeholders, or writing documentation to help others to work on your project.

It’s important, and so it’s a good idea to practise to improve. This is my practice.

Motivation to write those small scripts and utils

I enjoy tinkering and writing small scripts to automate things in my day to day life. I also enjoy learning new technologies and approaches to problems, or trying out new things. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find time. Ironically, setting myself up to write about something regularly makes it easier for me to schedule in actually doing the thing I want to write about as well.

Hope it will be useful to someone

The final motivation is the hope that somebody out there will be trying to solve the same problem that I was, will find my site, and it will help. In my own work, I find this comes up often, that I’m researching approaches and I’ll read blog articles about other people’s solutions.

I write aiming to be useful, and the other points fall into place naturally.

What’s coming up for me in the new year?

These are my things that I’m planning. If you have other ideas of things you’d like to see from this site in 2018, send a comment to the email address down below.

Speaking at DevConf

This year, I’m going to be speaking at DevConf in Johannesburg. My talk is all about my Rusty Microphone application, and how I compiled it to run on my website with WebAssembly.

If you’re interested in attending, use the voucher code “friends in high places” when you checkout for a discount.

More of the same

I feel I have good reasons for keeping writing here, and so I will. Expect more of the same in 2018.

More small utils

Some of the posts that have given me the most joy (and the most practical benefit) are those where I find a recurring task and write a small script to solve the problem. Things like my Git hook to insert the branch name into my commit message, my DIY file syncing job, and my backup script, as examples.

Behind the scenes, I’ve also written scripts to do things like format my bank statements in a way that imports more easily into GnuCash, and a script that uploads my Emacs org-mode agenda to an online calendar so I can see it on my phone. I’d like to code up more of these small utilities, and write about them more.

That’s all for now

The next post will be back to the normal type of posts. Less meta, more about an actual thing. Let’s jump in and make 2018 amazing!