May 7 marked one year since I started my current job here at Praeses, back home in Louisiana. It’s been a pretty good year, and I’ve come away with some valuable experiences.
Apart from some playing around (and I realize now that that’s what it was) with ASP.NET at Data-Tronics, my first real-world experience with the platform came when I started here. At my previous job, all web work was done with classic ASP, and I was anxious to start using a more modern technology. I still have nightmares about the awful spaghetti-code reporting system that I worked on when I started at DTC. When I got to Praeses, I discovered that ASP.NET had its own set of anti-patterns and pitfalls; no technology is a panacea (no matter what the Rails guys try to tell you). That said, I do definitely enjoy developing on this platform more. WebForms may be full of cruft, but writing in C# beats the pants off of writing in VBScript any day.
I also got my first three Microsoft certifications during my first year here. I wasn’t sure what to think about the prospect of getting these certs before I started, but now my opinion is pretty well formed. Like a BS in computer science, certifications prove that you can take tests, mostly. You may learn a thing or two during the process, but most of your learning is really going to take place on the job and through personal study. At the end of the day, it’s mostly just a line on your resume, but a line that may open up opportunities for you, and so one that may be worth pursuing. I had a very interesting discussion with our CEO via email when he asked me if I thought that studying for the exam I had just passed had made me a better developer. That entire story is probably worth a post of its own, but suffice it to say that I’ve done my best to influence the way our company thinks about developer education.
A couple months after my arrival in Louisiana, I decided to take advantage of an interesting opportunity. I had just started attending the Fort Smith DNUG when I left, and I had greatly enjoyed the additional learning and networking opportunities it provided. However, there was no .NET user group closer to Shreveport than Dallas, so I decided to start one. It has been an interesting experience, but one which I in no way regret undertaking. I think the Shreveport .NET community needs this resouce, whether I was the one who got the ball rolling or not, but I’m glad that it was me. It’s been a great way to improve my organizational skills, and I think it will serve me well in the future.
In addition to all the professional stuff that I accomplished this year, my personal life has also been quite busy. We sold a house, bought a house, and lived through staying at my in-laws for 5 months. Our baby went from a cooing, screaming infant to a walking, talking, singing, dancing little person. My wife Rachel became a tutor with a substantial client-base, and I became much more adept at taking care of Molly by myself in the evening, at least for a couple of hours at a time. We found a good chruch home in River Valley Church, and a pastor that we can really look up to as a spiritual guide and mentor in Lowell Kenyan.
All in all, it’s been a pretty good year. We still miss our friends from Fort Smith (Josh and Jen, our LTD friends, all my buddies from work), but Bossier City is really starting to feel like home again. And it’s good to be home.
P.S. – Yeah, I know, I forgot to post yesterday. Two days into it and I already goofed. Not exactly the picture of good follow-through, am I? Well, it was the spirit of the exercise, anyway, so I’ll just extend the timeline by one day.