2018 -- Have Fun, But Make It Count

Collin - 01-01-2018

2017 was kind of a rough year for TechPress, but a good one. My other business did a lot better, but it’s still my dream to make TechPress successful. I have come to the conclusion that the work I currently do is just not as valuable as it was, even 3 years ago when I started this. With that said, these is still hope. I don't plan to just be submissive and take it lying down!

I had to look myself in the mirror and be realistic with myself this year. I realized that people don’t want to spend money on a website when they can have a free Facebook page. Everyone goes to Facebook, so it’s almost like a digital mall for people to shop on or find services and entertainment. Facebook is taking over everything, it seems. Outside of FB, if people want to sell items, they can easily make an Etsy or Big Cartel account. If they really want to go extreme, they can just make a website themselves with something like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. I will even admit that the themes that theses website builders tout are pretty good looking. They are made by professional designers, and they do what they need to do. I could use this as an opportunity to explain why going custom with someone like me is better than the above options, but I won’t put you through that. Instead, I will explain what I plan to do with 2018 to set me aside from these tools.

I don’t really expect to make gobs of money with TechPress in 2018. Instead, I plan to look for things that people want that I can reasonably offer. 

I want to know enough Swift and Java programming to make a simple notification apps. This shouldn’t be too unreasonable. I am not saying I want to learn Swift and Java in their entireties, just the things I need to know to do what I want to do. I have plans to get fairly deep into streaming video, in which I have lofty goals that I probably shouldn’t talk about in this post. I’d like to get into Raspberry Pi and more Internet Of Things technology. The types of things I want to get into are not something the average consumer can just DIY. 

I am currently learning some Laravel, TypeScript, VueJS, C#, .Net, and some other languages and frameworks. I am thinking of maybe offering consultations to big companies who need a developer for a short period, but don’t really want to hire someone full time.

At one point, business was so slow for me in 2017 that I took drastic action and tried to offer my services for free to a few very select businesses. This was extremely discouraging for me. I researched my five favorite businesses in San Antonio that did not own a website, and drove down there to explain what I could do for their business, for no charge. I basically wanted to offer the first business to jump on the opportunity to have a free website of $2,000 value. None of them were interested in the least. In fact, they wanted me out of their faces as soon as physically possibly. They treated me like an annoying salesman. I felt crushed. Actually, “crushed” is an understatement. I basically dropped web development and focused on other things for a month and didn’t even want to think about it. It literally stole the fun out of programming for me, but only briefly.

When you measure your success in something by how much money you make or how popular you become, it can suck the fun right out of it. So, this year, I plan to lower my expectations a lot with the success of TechPress, and just focus on having fun again. Learning is a great deal of fun. Programming in general is amazingly fun, and I believe everyone should do it, even if it’s just playing around with something. Tons of tools are free, and everyone has access to a computer. It’s so good for the brain. It’s like crack for the brain when you start getting the hang of it. 

So, even though Ruby programming lost its recently popularity rather quickly, I want to get back into it again. Ruby on Rails was a giant buzzword for a while. I made a small app with it, and even made a blog using Sinatra, which is another Ruby framework for the web. But one thing I miss about Ruby is the sheer joy I felt when messing with it. It’s so simple and elegant. It’s so pure in its object oriented nature. I miss reading about Yukihiro Matsumoto, following him on Twitter, and receiving his Ruby updates at Christmas time. So, this year, i want to program more in Ruby again, just for the fun of it. It’s not going to come back into popularity as far as I can tell, so it would be strictly for kicks.

Looking back on 2017, I guess it wasn’t all that bad. Now that I think of it, there was a lot of fun had! There were plenty of times I was not focused on making money with programming, and learned a lot. I soaked up quite a bit of information. I learned a lot more about JavaScript, including using objects. I followed a few tutorials and made a couple of browser-based games. I learned about HTTP and web sockets. I learned how to use several NPM packages like Bower, Gulp and Grunt. I learned a lot of useful things you can do with PHP’s Composer and quite a bit about Object Oriented Programming with PHP.

I made two if the three apps I dreamed of making ever since I first started learning web development. The third one is so big and crazy, it may take me all of 2018 to complete. It was definitely discouraging, having dreamed up my reservation system app, taking 3-4 months to make it, and then nobody showing interest in it. I think I spammed every singe independently owned motel, hotel, cabin and cottage owner in a 200 mile radius. But this year, I plan to make it even better. I don’t even care if nobody wants it. At this point, it’s all about proving to myself that I can do it. I proved to myself in 2017 that I can actually take on the load of what big web companies can, all on my own. 

In 2017, I started truly feeling comfortable with writing my own apps, with my own knowledge. I no longer had to Google every little thing. I started writing my own big, thousand-line scripts. I ventured past the tutorials and books, and into the PHP documentation. I learned how to read documentation in general. It actually was a bad ass year. I guess it took writing this blog post to really make that realization.

Along with all of those accomplishments, TechPress.net got a full overhaul. I think it looks great, which I know is subjective. It was my first time to use the Bulma CSS framework, and I gained a new love for Bulma. It’s supposed to be simple. It loads fast, and is easy to read. Of course, there is always a ton of room for improvement. I’ll add to it when I think of more to add. Why overdo something?

I am looking forward to 2018. I mean, a change in year number doesn’t really necessarily mean much, but as humans, we seem to think it does. So, for what it’s worth, i will say, “Bring it on, 2018! Let’s do this.”

I hope you all have a great new year. Learn all you can. Make yourself more valuable. Get stronger physically and mentally. Make 2018 next-level! May 2018 bring you health, wealth and above all else, happiness.