Monday, December 31, 2012

Busy Year

I couldn't let 2012 come to an end without a single blog post here. I have almost a dozen draft posts from this year sitting around with about a paragraph done, so maybe some of those will make it onto this blog. But this has been a busy, hectic year.

The biggest thing for me this year has been building Thinkamingo - our new educational app development company. We grew the company from zero to a viable business in 2012. In the process, I've learned iOS development and a whole lot about app marketing. In the past year I've shipped 12 iOS apps (though our 5 sports card apps share a lot of code), 2 Android apps, and 1 Windows Phone app. Not every app has been a success but some have far exceeded my expectations. Our apps have appeared on high profile blogs and even on Boing Boing and NPR - both thanks to Make's Mark Frauenfelder. Not a bad first year. We look forward to really growing the business in 2013 and someday being able to share more of our numbers and growth story.

Another big thing in 2012 has been mentoring and coaching my daughter's FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team, Team Brick Buddies. They're a small team made up of mostly middle school students competing against a lot of high school teams. They did very well in the rookie season, making it to the state championship.  They are now mid-way through their second season and already planning for the state championship. They're also building up quite a trophy shelf by winning one tournament last season and winning a judged award at every single event they've been to. To cap it off, they won "most popular exhibit" at the TBTF coolTech 2012. They've also competed in MoonBots for two seasons and we've had a great time getting to know the Orlando area Google Lunar XPrize competitor, Omega Envoy. It's been a lot of work (and driving) but it pays off when I listen to what people say after meeting the kids and hearing them present what they're doing. In 2013 I'm expecting to return to FIRST LEGO League as our son and his friends should finally be old enough to compete. 

2012 has also seen a lot of Cub Scout activities. Though I've had to decline so many opportunities to volunteer (in scouts and other places) to work on our business, we've been busy camping, working on achievements and belt loops, and trying to win at Pinewood Derby.

This fall, I took a train trip to Williamsburg / Jamestown with my mom and my son. I haven't ever really travelled by train except for a few quick trips from Princeton to Manhattan. Train travel is ... different. It was nice having plenty of space, weird not going through security at all, frustrating to sit motionless for hours, and ultimately exhausting to spend 22+ hours on the train each way. The particular train didn't have wifi (some do) and we lost cell coverage quite a bit. It did have electricity and I packed plenty of movies, ebooks, and music for the trip. Williamsburg and Jamestown were good to see and a reminder that one of our goals is to get travelling while the kids are old enough and young enough to appreciate the things we visit. We have to get busy though.

Tampa had its first Mini Maker Faire in 2012 and there are at least two local makerspace efforts in the works. I would love to see at least one get started. I did get two Raspberry Pi boards and a STM32 board to play with some electronics but haven't done much yet.

On the gadget front, I also picked up a Nexus 7 tablet. I've had an Android phone before and the kids have Kindle Fires so I wasn't new to Android, but the Nexus 7 is a real game-changer. Much faster than the old phones I had, big enough to really read on, small enough to carry almost everywhere, cheap enough to not worry too much about breaking, etc. It's become the device I use the most (other than my laptop) even being wifi-only.

I've done almost nothing on most of my hobbies in 2012. I barely touched amateur radio. I don't think I took any serious non-snapshot photos or did any artwork outside of some Thinkamingo projects. I did play quite a bit of Team Fortress 2, which has finally replaced Quake III Arena / GTA as the video game I use to blow off stress. In 2013 it would be great to replace that with actually getting back on the bike and putting in some real miles.

So that's a short version of my 2012. Hopefully I'll post again before 12 months pass.