Looking Back: 2012 Project Report Card

About a year ago, I posted a look at my planned projects for 2012. Now, a year later, it’s time to review my progress (or lack thereof) and measure myself on how well I did (or didn’t) do on those projects.

First, let’s review the original project list:

  1. Learn to script in Perl.
  2. Learn to speak German.
  3. Become more familiar with Xen (and Open vSwitch and OpenStack).
  4. Pursue CCNP.

In my late June mid-year project update, I dropped the Perl scripting project simply because I had no practical applications driving the use of Perl. So, with that in mind, how did I do?

  1. Learn to speak German: Although I won’t say that I’ve actually learned to speak German, I have made some progress here. It’s not nearly the progress that I wanted to make, though—I wanted to be much farther along than I am. Grade: D

  2. Become more familiar with Xen, OVS, OpenStack: In retrospect, this project was overly broad, and therefore has mixed results. I ended up ditching Xen in favor of KVM, and made decent progress on that front. My work with Open vSwitch (OVS) was pretty good, probably the best out of the group. I still have quite a way to go with OpenStack, but I feel that time spent with KVM, OVS, and Libvirt helped build solid fundamentals for future progress. Grade: B

  3. Pursue CCNP: As I mentioned in the mid-year update, my goal was never to actually achieve CCNP this year, but simply to make progress. Regardless, my progress was abysmal. Grade: F

  4. Learn to work with Puppet: Not on my original project list, this is something that I nevertheless spent a fair amount of time pursuing. I’m not an expert (not anywhere close), but I feel like I did make reasonable progress. Grade: C

In summary: not very good!

So, what can I learn from these results?

  • First, the synergy of the projects really does make a difference. As readers noted in the comments on my original 2012 projects list, my choice of projects wasn’t synergistic, and this hampered efforts. Key takeaway: listen more closely to the advice of others!
  • Projects need to be more tightly defined. The “learn Xen, OVS, OpenStack” project was simply too broad, and encompassed too many different components. As a result, progress was mixed.
  • There are still some fundamental building blocks that I personally need to shore up. For example, my work with KVM, OVS, Libvirt, and Puppet exposed some gaps in my base Linux knowledge, and this is reflected in my progress.

In a (near-)future post, I’ll incorporate the progress on my 2012 projects and the key takeaways into my list of 2013 projects. Until then, I welcome any feedback or thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. Abdullah Abdullah’s avatar

    Dear Scott,

    I wish you luck and I see that most of us are in the same circle that you’re in, too much new topics to pursue and to be more accurate too much exciting stuff going around and we want to be a part of it even in bits :/…sadly we get a bit carried away from that which we’ve set as an objective.

    From my part, my model this year is to discipline to commit to one thing and finish it as planned..hopefully %).

    Again much thanks for sharing your valuable thoughts and best of luck in whatever you pursue.

    (Abdullah)^2

  2. Mike Shea’s avatar

    Don Regan, the former White House Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan, related a kickoff meeting for the new year during his first term. In it, everyone brought thick binders full of goals, except the President. He had one sheet of paper with three hand written goals on it.

    At the end of the year, guess who got done everything, while everyone else got done nothing?

    For myself, I find that setting long term goals (projects) are easier to accomplish if I:

    1 – Have 2 max for a calendar year – long term projects are heavy lifting when trying to fit them into our day to day existence and family life

    2 – Define them in terms of outcomes – what would the benefit be, what new skill at what level will I have, how would I feel, how would my family feel, etc etc.

    3 – Define specific things I have to do to get there – dedicate an hour 5 days a week to German, get my family involved and speak German for 5 minutes at dinner, daily.

    4 – Understand the Pro’s and Con’s of doing them (this is an awesome filter, every goal has pros and cons.)

    Most people don’t do new things, and life is a bore for them.

  3. slowe’s avatar

    Abdullah, thanks for the well-wishes—and good luck in your 2013 endeavours as well!

    Mike, good to hear from you. I hope things are well for you at NetApp. A couple of thoughts come to mind from your comment. First (and my comment is partially tongue-in-cheek), I’m not sure that your story about the President accomplishing everything is a useful one; after all, everyone is motivated to help him be successful for their own job security! :-) That being said, I do like suggestions #2 and #3, which sound like great additions. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!