As mentioned on Facebook, 2013's passing was pretty unremarkable for me. Having discovered that "Moonshiners" was airing new episodes again, I let a few pile up and I spent yesterday evening working through about 4 of them before I started to doze off. That was my sign to head to bed around 10pm. So, no crazy parties or anything like that...

2013 was a decent year for me. Over the past 12 months, I was able to knock out a number of things I'd been planning to do for a few years, including major overhauls to Fresh Comics, launching the Pnakotic Atlas, turning in some good work at the office, going through John Carpenter's horror films, and finding time to read 100 books within 12 (actually 11) months. It was a busy year and I don't have any regrets that I can recall.

The major thing that was missing for me in 2013 was an overarching sense or purpose or destination. The phrase that best describes how I spent the year was sharpening my ax from the Abe Lincoln quote:

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax."

I didn't know to what ultimate end to direct my energies, so I took on exercises that would make me more effective so that when the opportunity emerged, I would be optimally equipped to seize it. Over the year, I amassed useful infrastructure and honed my technique. While my major 2014 project has yet to emerge, I'll be keeping an eye open for it. Some projects that might become something bigger this year:

  1. Fresh Comics: A year ago, the app included new issue releases and a shop locator. This made the app useful to weekly comic collectors, a market of maybe a couple hundred users. This year, I extended the app to include support for conventions and my 2014 project will be pitching the app to folks running shows in a bid to become the de facto app for comic conventions around the world. This expands the potential audience for the app from a couple hundred people to tens of millions of pop culture convention attendees.

  2. Pnakotic Atlas: By design, The Pnakotic Atlas pays no bills (all of the proceeds go directly to the artists), but the framework on which it's built is intended to support similar apps for other authors' fictional universes. I'll continue to push the Atlas as an exemplar of this style of app, but 2014's focus will be pushing the framework and seeing if I can sign up more authors to create similar apps. My dream scenario is getting Jim Butcher (from "The Dresden Files") on boards to create an illustrated interactive map of Harry Dresden's Chicago.

  3. Northwestern University: I'm quite pleased with the trajectory of the work I'm doing during my day job (it's challenging, innovative, and meaningful), but 2014 is the year where I need to complete a transition from being just a craftsman who can get things done effectively on my own to being an effective manager that can direct and mentor folks working for me. I've resisted this transition for some time, but 2014 effectively demonstrated my limits to get big projects done.

In addition to existing efforts, I'm already looking into a couple of new projects. The first project is related to #3 above and that's developing a couple of college-level courses for training mobile software developers. Ideally, I'll be able to put together a course or two in Android development and start teaching as part of a local university's program for working professionals. (NU's School of Continuing Studies is my first candidate). If I can get the Android course off the ground, I'd love to follow up with the development of similar courses in iOS/iPhone and Windows Phone development.

Another new effort that I'd like to undertake is getting involved again with one of Chicago's artistic communities. In the past, I had a great time working with The House Theatre of Chicago, and I'd like to get something like that going again. My recent sponsorship of WildClaw Theatre's "The Shadows Over Innsmouth" has been a lot of fun and I think that there's a lot of opportunity here to do something interesting.

Finally, 2014 is the year where I need to start taking better care of myself physically. While banging out new apps is great for creating opportunities for blasting through television shows (2013's binges: "Rome", "The Borgias", "The Walking Dead"), it's not so hot for staying in shape. I've been making an increased effort in logging more calories and steps in my FitBit, and I plan to continue that throughout the year. While my earlier efforts to resume running faltered when I started to get busy once more (the iOS refresh of Fresh Comics interrupted the running), the 2014 plan is to be a bit more persistent and vigilant. In place of my 2013 goal of reading 100 books, my 2014 goal will be to see if I can get my 5k time below 25 minutes.

I don't know if the items above count as proper resolutions, but these are the directions I'm aimed for the next twelve months. I hope your 2014 is a productive and enjoyable one.

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