2013 Recap

A look back at 2013, another amazing year (purposely keeping work out of it).

Biggest achievement: Running the Melbourne Marathon

In early 2013 I was convinced to sign up for the Melbourne Marathon which give me 4-5 months to train and prepare. Run in October, the Melbourne Marathon finishes inside the MCG and is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest marathon event. After a bunch of research the training plan I set my goal at a finish time of sub-4hours. In July I ran a Half Marathon event to ensure I was on track with my fitness but what I didn’t account for was injury! My knee hurt quite badly after running the Half Marathon event too hastily and I soon learnt I have strained my ITB which was affecting my knee.

Determined to not let this setback get the best of me, I did physio 2-3 times a week, creatively used gym equipment to keep my cardio and strength up, and generally took it easy anywhere else possible. After 6 weeks I was back on the running track. That left about 4 weeks of one long run each Saturday (up to 36-38kms) which meant that I was just ready in time for the big day.

I slept well the night before the big race and felt great. The weather was cool and overcast – perfect conditions. After starting well with a nicely paced group, I hit the 35km mark and fatigue and self doubt started to creep in. Knowing Nikita and my support crew were waiting at the finish line was enough to suck another energy gel and push on through. A heavy downpour began at 38kms and I somehow got a second wind. Coming into the MCG was special moment where I knew I was going to hit the sub-4 hour mark and I could really just enjoy the final moments before crossing the finish line.

I was so great to have Nikita and our friends there at the finish line braving the rain in support. The drinks shared at the pub afterwards tasted amazing. I was so hungry I ate a whole pizza and a chicken parma for lunch. Ah, the spoils.

Official time: 3h 56m 45s

Bring on the next one!

Best place travelled: Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand.

We spent my 2012 birthday, New Years and early Jan 2013 away at Ruakaka Beach. After a year of travel limited to just Australia & New Zealand, it’s still the best place I’ve travelled to this year. It was the first time I had been to that part of New Zealand and it blew me away. Under 2 hours drive from New Zealand is a spot away from New Year’s shenanigans you would find at the Coromandel beaches with just as much charm. The time spent with great friends was very special. Ruakaka Redbacks for life.

Favourite album: Pure Heroine – Lorde

Let’s be honest – she smashed it. Joel Little’s contribution is understated as well. 10 back-to-back tracks of great songwriting, minimal beats and awesome melodies. It’s been fascinating to watch the whole thing blow up from a single track posting on soundcloud.com to top of the charts in multiple countries. Here’s hoping she gets that Grammy.

Favourite song: Retrograde – James Blake

A stand out track from his second studio album Overgrown, Retrograde gets me with it’s mix of falsetto and well placed snare. The production details are incredible (listen with decent headphones for proof) and after learning that the song was written, produced and recorded under supervision of Kanye West and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) it’s not hard to see why.

Most played song (via iTunes)Running for Cover – Ivan & Alyosha

Ivan & Alyosha is a folk-pop/indie/rock-ish band from Seattle and Running for Cover, from their first EP All The Times We Had, is a harmonic bliss overload. While listening it feels as if the song was written without much effort and the live recording below shows how great Ivan & Alyosha really sound.

Best live act: Cold War Kids – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne

After 7 years and 4 studio albums I finally managed to see Cold War Kids live and they did not disappoint. “Miracle Mile” came quite early and set the crowd off nicely with a huge reaction and massive singalong. The rest of the set was quite considered with a solid mix of old and new favorites. “Hang Me Up to Dry” sounded great!

Biggest sporting moment: The 2013 All Blacks perfect season

On Saturday 8th June we went along to Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand to watch the All Blacks kick-off their 2013 season against France. With McCaw on his sabbatical, Kieran assumed the captaincy for a rematch of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final. The All Blacks won 23-13 that night and went on in 2013 to overcome France another three times, Australia three times, and South Africa and Argentina twice. They also beat Japan, England and an incredible overtime win over Ireland sealed 14 wins from 14 tests.

2013 All Blacks: The first side in professional rugby history to record a perfect season.

Most personally improved: Golf: Shooting 12 over par

My personal quest to shoot under 80 in a single round of golf continues. The closest I came in 2012 was a 15-over 83 at a par 68 and in 2013 I’ve managed to lower that to a 12-over 82 on a par 70. With continued focus on “keeping my head down”, not hitting in more than two putts per hole, and playing at least two or three times a month, 2014 could be the year.

Best food discovery: Kick Ass Beef Burger – The Lounge, Swanston Street, Melbourne

Burgers are a big deal. They’re easy to stuff up and hard to nail. Ever since moving to Melbourne, The Lounge has always been a solid spot for a beer and pub meal. 2013 has seen the introduction of new kitchen management and a rebrand to “Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen at The Lounge”. This has added new life to the dining experience at The Lounge and the Kick ass beef burger is a stand out. The simplicity of 200g ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onion plus some sort of cheese, mayo and a sweetened bun comes together for cheap burger heaven that is hard to forget.

Lesson learned: Bureaucratic processes are alive and well

We learnt this year that applying for any sort of residency or Visa takes, as everyone says, forever. We gave ourselves plenty of time (over 6 months) but it still took quite a bit longer than expected. At least approval was given in the end. Patience is a virtue that we need to keep in mind when picking up the next step to become Australian citizens in 2014.

Smartest decision made: Giving ourselves plenty of time to organise the wedding

We made a joint decision to to give ourselves all of 2013 to plan & organise the wedding. This meant setting a marriage date over 20 months from our engagement date which felt like forever! This is the best thing we could have done as it’s allowed us to take our time with the key decisions and we’ve been able to spread out our trips to New Zealand for venue hunting and meeting people about all aspects of the big day. Now we just can’t wait for Feb 22nd, 2014!

Biggest risk taken: Building a website as or wedding invite/info with digital RSVP only. Hopefully those family & friends have moved on from IE6.

Room for improvement: Tennis!

I continued my tennis efforts in 2013 playing in local competitions at the Powlett Reserve tennis club in East Melbourne. I’ve noticed an improvement in my serve and forehand but my backhand shots are really slacking. The goal for 2014 is to improve my placing at the end of each 7 week competition and to finally hit a decent backhand!

Why people are leaving Facebook

Chrys Bader on how Facebook is struggling to keep the attention of future generations. Couldn’t agree with it more:

Now that social networking has become universal, we’ve become increasingly sensitive to what we share on Facebook. Speaking on a stage in front of a mixed audience of family, friends, and acquaintances makes it hard for most of us to be our genuine and authentic selves. As a result, we tend to see people sharing only their proudest moments in an attempt to portray their best selves. We filter too much, and with that, we lose real human connection.

As your Facebook network becomes saturated, it can feel very public. It puts the focus on managing your image, rather than truly bonding with people. Young startups like Snapchat are providing shelter from the institution of Facebook by serving as a place where you can express yourself comfortably. A place where you don’t feel like your every move is being watched.

What teenager wants to hang out in the same place as their parents?

Read the whole piece: The end of the Facebook era

Stable values

Bob Martin reflects on the early values underpinning the agile movement highlighted in the book “Extreme Programming Explained” by Kent Beck.

“I believe the practices persist because they are based on a firm foundation of stable values. Values that Kent Beck described in Chapter 7 on page 29 of his book:

  • Communication
  • Simplicity
  • Feedback
  • Courage.

I could try to argue why these are the right values; but I think they speak for themselves. What software craftsman would reject any one of those values? What software craftsman would not strive to ensure that each one of those values were represented in their work? These values are values of software craftsmanship.”

Read Bob’s full remarks here.

Arbitrary References to Waterfall and Agile

“To be as predictable as possible and to maximize time to ROI, we need to have clear conversations around the characteristics of the teams that are best suited to the problems we are trying to solve.

Understand if your project is convergent or divergent, determine the appropriate amount of planning, assess if your project would benefit from phase based or value based sequencing, and whether functional separate or collaborative teams are the best way to build software.”

Great read.

Foursquare’s Tips

“It lowers the barrier: When everyone else has written two sentences, it’s easier for you to write two sentences, so we get a wider variety of reviews from people,” Crowley says, “as opposed to that super passionate or super angry person that wanted to write three to four paragraphs. I’m glad we made the decision to have shorter snippets of content, which are more easily digestible.” Only two years ago, Foursquare boasted just 7.5 million tips–a number that has since more than quadrupled. The company is now averaging more than a million new tips added per month.”

All available via an API for free. How long until they monetize this data? Momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down:

“…what’s most remarkable is that Foursquare is outpacing Yelp in the review department, despite having a fraction of the public company’s users. Yelp has roughly 108 million users, whereas Foursquare has just 35 million.”

Source: Foursquare’s Tips Growing Faster than Yelp’s Reviews

Dribbble’s community centric prioritisation

“The priority has always been, first and foremost, to feature the work and the designer,” Cederholm explains. “We’ve intentionally kept the UI agnostic (monochrome, Helvetica type, simple glyphs) so that the variety of work being shared takes the spotlight and isn’t overshadowed by Dribbble’s brand.

“Over time, many of the features we’ve added have been a direct reaction to how the community chose to use the site. Rebounds, for instance, were being done by members simply linking their shot in the comments. We noticed that and built a UI around that to support what was going on.”

With an approach like that I can only imagine greater success in the future.

Source: The Next Web - How Dribbble became the most influential online platform for graphic designers