2014 - A Year in Review
2014 was destined to be a spectacular year. When I wrote my thoughts down last January, I thought the Broncos would win the Super Bowl and my VW Bus restoration project would be finished by summer. To focus on finishing the bus project, I didn't submit any talks to conferences. Instead of traveling to exotic locations, we opted to visit a bunch in our own backyard instead.I should've known it'd be an interesting year when the Broncos flopped in the Super Bowl.
For this Year in Review post, I'll use the format I've used the last couple of years.
I had three different clients throughout the year, all in the health care industry. I continued working on a project
Muir Health where we developed a hybrid mobile app. I wrote about what I learned in
Documenting your Spring API with Swagger
and Developing an iOS Native App with Ionic.
Since I wrote the article about Swagger's Spring MVC
it has become much easier to integrate; now it only requires an
In April, I started consulting with a small company in Alabama. I helped them modernize their tech stack and implemented a number of web services with Apache Camel. I wrote about this in a four-part series in September and October.
- Developing Services with Apache Camel - Part I: The Inspiration
- Developing Services with Apache Camel - Part II: Creating and Testing Routes
- Developing Services with Apache Camel - Part III: Integrating Spring 4 and Spring Boot
- Developing Services with Apache Camel - Part IV: Load Testing and Monitoring
I continued leveraging Spring Boot in my client projects and wrote about Building a REST API with JAXB, Spring Boot and Spring Data at the end of that engagement.
In November, I had time off between clients. I visited my parents and their awesome retirement home in Montana. I also took some time to refactor AppFuse to be a bit leaner and meaner. I signed up with a new health care client in December. It's been an enjoyable experience so far, especially since I'm only working 20 hours per week this quarter.
I'm currently booked with clients through the end of March, but hoping to find one with a challenging project in April.
To optimize cash flow towards the bus project, I didn't submit any talks to conferences in 2014. However, I did talk about Comparing JVM Web Frameworks at the Denver Open Source Users Group and vJUG in February. I also spoke at local user groups (DeRailed and HTML5 Users) about The Art of AngularJS in the first part of the year. In the fall, I participated in panels on unit testing at Denver Startup Week and building a personal brand at AirConf.
I hope to attend and speak at more conferences in 2015. To help facilitate this, I've published a list of talks I'd like to present.
2014 was the inaugural year for Devoxx4Kids Denver. In April, I announced our first meetup. It was an Introduction to Server-Side Minecraft Programming, taught by Denver's own Scott Davis. It was a wild success and the kids had a great time hacking.
I didn't plan any events during the summer, but we held a couple workshops in the fall: one on littleBits and a second on Greenfoot. The kids had a lot of fun with littleBits thanks to Juan Sanchez of Tack Mobile.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the Greenfoot workshop with Steve Pousty, but I heard it was awesome. Thanks again to Dan Allen for assisting with this class.
I haven't scheduled any Devoxx4Kids Denver meetups for 2015 yet. If you're interested in speaking, please let me know!
AppFuse: I didn't have many posts about AppFuse in 2014, but I did work on it from time to time. Upgrading its dependencies was a good way to stay up-to-date with open source frameworks, in addition to lots of reading. InfoQ covered the AppFuse 3.0 release and I continue to write for them.
In December, I removed 10,000 lines of XML from the project without affecting any functionality. In the past month, I've added support for generating CRUD for all its web frameworks (including AppFuse Light's). This includes Spring + FreeMarker, Stripes and Wicket. GWT support is still in progress. I hope to do a release soon; there's only 10 issues left as of this writing.
Roller: I didn't contribute any code to Apache Roller in 2014, but I upgraded this site to the latest release, upgraded to Java 8 + Tomcat 7, and integrated Wufoo Forms. I hope to make some scalability improvements to how I've deployed Roller in the near future.
I started off the year with a trip of a lifetime: Heli Skiing in British Columbia with CMH Gothics. An excerpt from my blog post:
Everyday was awesome, but Wednesday was incredible. It snowed 10 cm on Tuesday night, which turned into knee-deep powder and face shots. The hoots and hollers from everyone floating down forced my face into a sorta perma-grin. For many of us, it was the best skiing day of our entire lives. The video below tries to capture how much fun we had throughout the week, but ultimately fails. It's one of those things you have to experience to really appreciate. I ended up skiing around 80,000 vertical feet in four days.
After returning from British Columbia, Trish and I skied Breckenridge and Copper before taking the kids to Aspen for three feet of powder on Super Bowl weekend.
We skied all over Colorado in February and March. We even did some winter camping in the Syncro for Valentine's Day. It snowed a lot that night.
I wrote about all our skiing adventures in Farewell to the 2013-2014 Ski Season.
On April 10th, I reminisced that 10 years ago today, I bought a VW Bus. In that post, I explained some body-work quality issues the current restoration shop found. Nevertheless, I still thought it would be done in just a few more months.
We journeyed to Florida with Abbie and Jack for Spring Break. We relished in a super-fun family vacation where we golfed, swam and even spent a day frolicking with their Mom and fiancé (now husband), Dave. We're pretty proud that we're all still a family even though Julie and I are divorced. I wrote about our vacation in Spring Break in Florida: Golf, Beaches and Boats!
The hospitality from Trish's parents was like no other. I especially enjoyed a fishing trip with her Dad Joe in the Everglades. I love these people!
Our winter activities in the Syncro were incredible. Trish sold her Nissan Xterra (the one with the sick bass) in December. Yes, that's right - we only had one vehicle during ski season last year. The fact that it worked so well is amazing. In May, we kicked it up a knotch and drove it to Moab for Syncro Solstice. My parents went with us and we experienced fabulous weather and met a bunch of super-cool Vanagon owners.
We made record time from Moab back to Denver (5 hours). The next day is when things started to go downhill. I washed the engine for the VWs on the Green show. On that Monday, the engine started "lurching" where it seemed like it wasn't getting gas (it turned out to be caused by a lack of air). We drove the lurcher for several weeks, journeying to Campout for the Cause and a exhilarating raft trip down the Yampa River.
We had the lurching examined in mid-June by Rocky Mountain Westy; we also had them install some bumpers (for a better trailer hitch) and refreshed the tires.
The ol' van looked pretty good when our Dads arrived in Denver for some whitewater on the Arkansas.
In July, we skipped the annual road trip to The Cabin in favor of a romantic road trip to see old friends in Santa Fe. The Syncro's engine seized on that trip and I experienced my favorite breakdown ever. The engine froze at a gas station near our Ski Shack and I was able to walk home. Luckily, Trish's Dad had recently (over Father's Day weekend) gifted his Nissan Maxima to us. After a train ride to fetch our other car, our road trip continued and we celebrated our first anniversary at The Broadmoor.
After we returned from Santa Fe, I turned 40 years old. We rocked out a Journey concert to celebrate and Trish surprised me with a birthday visit from my kick-ass sister. The following evening, a bunch of friends took me on a Craft Brewery Tour in a school/prison bus. Both nights were epic.
At the end of July, Trish had one of her favorite photos featured on the cover of Whisky Magazine.
In August, we flew to Boston to celebrate Trish's Dad's 75th birthday. My parents joined us, we visited my Dad's family in New York and took the kids to the Big Apple. They loved the Statue of Liberty.
Abbie started middle school (6th grade) in mid-August and Jack started 4th grade. They looked great on their first day of school.
We were pumped about our new engine in the Syncro when we left Denver for Rafting the Green River through Desolation Canyon. We celebrated Jack's 10th birthday on that trip and had a very memorable expedition with some really cool people.
Trish's photo from our last night on the river makes me want do it all again.
In October, I started considering health over wealth when we embarked on a 21-day Sugar Detox. I'm proud to say that, as a result, I'm off blood pressure medication and continue to lose weight and feel better. We're cooking at home more than ever, exercising daily and I've lost almost 20 pounds in the process.
Medallion, the horse that Trish and Abbie were leasing (and almost ready to buy) got sick with colic on Friday, October 10. I remembered the day without looking at a calendar because Trish called me to tell me about his illness. She was out of town on a business trip and was absolutely distraught. She told me about the situation and asked me to visit Medallion while he endured extreme pain. I worked out of my van at the stables that day, checking on him every couple hours. They had to put him down that evening. Abbie took it pretty well when I told her a couple hours later, but there were heaps of tears later that night.
Our little girl turned 12 a few weeks later. The kids put on some dark costumes for Halloween.
A week later, I visited my parents in Montana. We played cribbage, ate scrumptious meals and trounced around the woods looking for bucks. I marveled at the beauty of my parents' retirement home.
I neglected to blog or tweet about my self-caused Syncro accidents in Q4 of 2014. Long story short: it's been getting body work done for quite some time (two accidents!) and I look forward to getting it back in tip-top-shape next week. Thank goodness for USAA insurance.
The biggest event of the year happened just before Christmas: THE BUS IS PAINTED!! HOLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT BATMAN!
It's hard to believe that 2015 could possibly top 2014. I started the year heli-skiing and ended it with a painted bus. However, the bus isn't done yet. Last year, I wrote:
My goal for 2014 is singular: finish The Bus.
I continue that mission this year. I've negotiated a deal with ReinCARnation to have it done by April 1st. Yes, it seems strange that April Fools is the finished bus delivery date. However, I'm confident they'll make it happen. This could be the year I've dreamed about since I was in high school. It was in 1991 that I first fantasized about putting a 911 engine in a VW Bus.
This year, I hope to be cruise around Colorado in two running VW Busses. From there, I plan to surround myself with the laughter of our children, the enthusiasm of our border collies and the warmness of Trish's love. It's gonna be a really great year!
Love that everyone gets along so nicely...very fortunate for Abbie and Jack!!!
And a thank you for that wonderful adventure of skiing down the mountain. It was a very exciting ride for me.
Your parent's cabin is amazing!
And love your closing comments. I am so happy for all of you.
Posted by Stephanie Christoph on February 02, 2015 at 07:13 AM MST #
Hey Matt. Thanks for this interesting review.
Good luck for finishing your VW Bus project this year!
Do you know this one by the way: http://youtu.be/yEC7jTF47EM
Posted by Marcus Olk on February 03, 2015 at 05:24 PM MST #