Tech Talks Prep

I have been very fortunate to have two tech talks accepted for the beginning of this year: Snow*Mobile 2014 and CocoaConf Chicago.

Snow*Mobile was the first programming conference I ever attended. I was able to attend by being a student volunteer. My job was to hand out the name badges to the attendees. Having that job made a huge difference to me because I got to meet everyone who came and since I was working with the conference I had some built-in recognition from the conference goers.

The talk I am doing for Snow*Mobile is about sound design and user experience in mobile applications. The talk I am doing for CocoaConf is on AV Foundation audio.

If someone told me that I would be speaking at the next Snow*Mobile after I attended the first one I would have laughed at them. I didn’t think it was possible that I would be able to be a conference speaker at this point in my career.

I know that I am being given this opportunity by the Remsiks and the Kleins. At CocoaConf especially they tend to only invite experts and people who have written books.

I am putting a great deal of pressure on myself to not let down people who are giving me opportunities.

Snow*Mobile is a month from now and CocoaConf is two weeks after that.

I am juggling a lot of things right now. I have been at my job for a month and I love my job. However, due to the nature of the beast, I do not have a lot of free time or mental energy to take on new tasks.

I decided to dedicate this whole weekend to getting some portion of these talks done. I do not intent to leave them until the last minute. I want to give myself some time where I can change course if something I am doing is not working.

So far this weekend I have completely rethought both of my talks. I realized that the UX talk was misguided because I was thinking of it from the perspective of film. I realized all of my examples were from things that are vastly different than what I as a user am looking for in an app.

I feel better about this talk now that I have a better grasp on what I would like to say that would be useful to people attending the conference.

I had a similar revelation with my CocoaConf talk. I started getting overwhelmed by the amount of information I felt I needed to present. While I was doing research I found a focal point for my talk. I know that I can speak reasonably about the amount of information I am going to present and I will be able to give a solid, yet entertaining talk on my topic.

I am also lucky in that I have access to people who know more than I do who are willing to help me and answer my questions.

I think at this point I have maxed out the number of things I can effectively manage without dropping anything. I am gambling somewhat because I am counting on nothing disastrous happening to me in the next month and a half. This is one reason I am trying to knock these things out now on the off chance that something unforeseen happens.

My Goals for 2014

I am at a little bit of a crossroads with my blog. When I began this blog last year I wanted to use it to catalog my journey from being a student to being a professional developer. I thought it might help me get a job or provide visibility or something. My goal for 2013 was to learn enough programming to get a job, preferably in iOS development.

I accomplished that goal.

I have been now struggling to figure out where my blog fits into my current situation. I was planning to write about some of the struggles of having a first job, but after speaking to several people I have realized that this is a terrible idea. I love my job. I believe in my company and I am super happy to be here but I don’t think it is wise to write about that experience.

So what do I do? Do I just stop writing my blog? I can’t really talk about personal experiences because the vast majority of my personal interactions are with coworkers and that violates the rule I set up above.

After doing some soul searching and thinking about this a lot, I have decided that I am going to continue this blog in the spirit that I created it.

One thing that has gotten me down recently is this idea that I accomplished what I set out to do. It’s great that I reached that goal, but I also feel a little empty, like now what do I do? I know I have challenges to meet at my job, but it just doesn’t feel the same as when I had this journey I was on to get from where I was to where I want to be.

I think if I don’t keep pushing myself I will get complacent and let my skills atrophy. I want to keep giving myself goals to reach. I want to keep finding new things to learn to push myself to do more than I could last week, last month, last year.

So here is how I intend to proceed with my blog:

Each year I will come up with goals I want to reach. Some of these goals might be long-term, taking five years to reach. Others will be short-term, to be reached by the end of the year.

I will spend time writing about my progress with these goals. I can at least come here once a month to say, “I had too many deadlines and I was too busy to get anything done. Boo. I need to manage my time better.”

Apparently more people read my blog than I think actually read it, so I figure if I don’t keep working on my goals someone on will give me crap about it.

Short-Term Goals for 2014:

  • Get familiar with GPUImage to the point that I can do a project.
  • Finish at least one of the audio programming/math books I got for Christmas.
  • Buy a MIDI wind controller and record at least one song utilizing a sound I designed.
  • Start a good podcast that isn’t just two white guys talking about Apple.

Long-Term Goals

  • Become a master audio programmer.
  • Write a complete synthesizer app.
  • Fully understand the math associated with audio synthesis.
  • Write a programming book.
  • Speak at a conference in another country.
  • Speak at 10 conferences in a year.

Both the short and long term goals will probably get larger over time.

So, challenge for 2014 is to figure out how to manage my time to allow me to get these things done. I am counting on people to hassle me about my goals if I don’t update very often.

I picked the name Red Queen Coder because she had to run as fast as she could just to stay in one place. I finally ran fast enough to get to the place I want to stay. That doesn’t mean that I can take a break and stop running.

Ready? Set? GO!