It’s coming to the end of 2009 (only 3 days away really!) and as such there are a lot of people reflecting on how good or bad 2009 has been for them. Personally I wasn’t intending on doing so until a couple of days ago when I met up with an old friend who said at some point: “I hope 2010 turns out better than this year, as it’s been really s…t for me!” and then he went on to give me a few details about why he thought that was.
That made me in turn think back about 2009 — and I came to realise that it was in fact a bloody good year for me, despite what others might think!
For those of you who didn’t know, I parted with my previous employer a few days before Christmas 2008 — and at the time I think everyone thought that this would be a fatal blow to me. (Truth being told, there have been a few moments when I thought similarly!) The future was to prove us all wrong it seems!
To start with, in 2009 I probably caught up with all the sleep I missed in the last 4-5 years (That alone I’m sure will cause nothing but jealousy from some of you That however wasn’t the highlight of the year — I merely threw it in to just give you an idea of how much spare time I had on my hands all of a sudden — which brings me to the next point. Due to the fact that I wasn’t tied into spending hours in an office, a whole world of other opportunities has opened up to me!
In 2009 alone I went and saw my family (who live in Romania) 3 times. my sister gave birth and I went on to see her shortly after, then I went to her baby’s Christening in Bucharest and then I went again — cause I could! On top of that I went to Bucharest once more (recently) to attend a friend of mine’s wedding as well. These 4 trips alone I would have not been able to make in the previous year — not because of the cost involved but the time would have not allowed me. On top of that I did a few trips around UK and I’m not even going to mention here the numerous “short” visits to the likes of Reading, Essex, Kent, Surrey and so on — where I went to see friends that I didn’t get a chance to see in the last few years, or purely just for a day out! I’m purely refering to places that took more than 2 hours to get to — Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and the likes. And there have been quite a few of those (look at some of the postings on my blog or on Twitter to get an idea). Again, in the previous year, when I had a “normal” life, I would have been glad to just step a bit further than Barking or Hammersmith and think I’m outside London And it doesn’t end here — oh no! I went to Prague (twice!), France and was just about to head off to Las Vegas this winter but a few personal circumstances dictated that I reschedule that — so while that trip is still on, it looks like I’m gonna head that way in 2010 — which come to think about it, it’s only good as it gives me plenty of time to practice my BlackJack techniques! That made room for my parents coming to visit me this Christmas and actually having 2 full weeks to spend with them while here is something that I was not accustomed to in previous years! On top of that, I helped my sister with relocating to London from Bucharest, together with her husband and little daughter (who’s just turned 1 yr old recently) and in doing so I got to spend a lot of time with them and the little one; once again, if the year was 2008 this would have been totally impossible!
In 2009 I studied for my Sun Certified Web Componend Developer exams (SCWCD as they call it) and while I didn’t get in the end to book a date yet for the test this was purely because I felt that after going through 2 prep books for this I need to try my hand at practicing some of the things involved in the exam a bit more. I am quite confident that 2010 will see me passing this test! And this, once again, is something that I couldn’t do the previous years!
In 2009 I got stuck into a few more web technologies and libraries — LAMP, PHP, JQuery, Scriptaculous to mention just a few — and it felt so good having the time to sit down and study and use these technologies and libraries properly rather than just glance over them, which is what I would have done a year ago due to lack of time. In fact I got some contract work which involved some of these and gave me a sense of achievement to be able to put all of these together nicely and deliver a fully working solution.
2009 was also the year that saw me “rising” as a contributor to developer.com — on a few interesting (I’d like to think!) subjects; and I thoroughly enjoyed taking the time to carry out my research and write the articles and the supporting code for it. (Come to think about it, it was in fact developer.com who approached me and that alone gave me a boost of confidence as it was a sort of recognition of my knowledge.) Chances are if 2009 didn’t happen I would have not been so active on a few technical forums and sites and therefore they would have not noticed me!
I got more and more involved in rugby in 2009 — in more than one way! First of all, I got more time to dedicate to my team, the Phantoms, I turned up to a lot more training sessions to start with. I played more for them (hell, I got time to actually get involved in 2 of their touch rugby tournaments over summer!). I got involved more in promoting the team off the pitch — online and in random rugby conversation picked up with strangers in pubs when watching the Lions tour. While doing so I found myself interacting with some great rugby names — Austin Healey, Kyran Bracken and Will Carling to mention a few. (In fact, Will was asked to become a “patron” of the Phantoms at some point but luckily for him he decided to decline politely I still talk to Will on Twitter (and I’m sure he still think I’m a weirdo but having the chance to “speak” with him online on a few occasions has been one of the good things that 2009 brought my way. I got involved also with a few local online and printed publications (and even a radio station!) which assisted us in promoting Phantoms and the game of rugby around East London. In the end, I actually became the main sponsor for my team for the 2009/2010 season which has been in fact a great honour for me — considering that I’ve only got involved with rugby in 2007!
2009 was the year I finally decided to pursue 2 of my business ideas and this is how 3B Software Ltd was born! While these are still work in progress, 2009 gave me the chance to start working on these 2 projects inside the newly formed company. (In fact, I guess I should have started by saying that 2009 first of all gave me the time necessary to set up a company and all the extra admin required — bank account, accountant, lawyer etc. etc. etc) The way it’s looking Q1 of 2010 should see the first project going live! Even more, in one of these projects I managed to drag an old friend from Bucharest (and his company) — which meant I had to go back to Bucharest (again!) and spend time with his team to go through the project requirements. (Some more time spent outside UK!)
Having started 3B Software in 2009, I took some time to go to through some training with ELSBC about how to run a company — and got to learn a lot about Ltd companies, about book keeping, about tax, about VAT, about employment law, about contracts, invoicing, budgeting and a whole lot of other things that a Ltd company involves. I got to say, the guys in ELSBC have been a great help and the numerous meetings I had with them opened my eyes so much about how to make things run smoother in a company and how to plan a business better. I’m still talking to them in fact and I’m looking forward to getting the same level of professional help they gave me so far with 3B Software. Should it not be for the year 2009, I wouldn’t have a clue still about expensing, tax deduction and VAT — not to mention that I would still not have started my projects, or my company for that matter!
Part of the 2009 saw me taking on some contracts through 3B Software, and broadening my web knowledge once more — as well as getting involved in the admin side of things — invoicing, taxing, book keeping and so on. Also, with my sister stepping in the business as well, we finally managed to get off the ground her out set of websites, under the artforclick.com umbrella — which she now manages herself entirely, having taken the time to sit down with her and go through all the aspects of maintaining and managing this. (As a side note, we also managed to sit down and in between the both of us put together a little blog for her little daughter, Ilinca: www.Ilinca.net — and this has been growing every day with more and more pictures of the little one!)
If that wasn’t enough, 3B Software obviously needed some web presence, so 2009 saw me getting involved in things like VPS, Linux administration, web security, mail setup, DNS and so on until I got my hosting all sorted (for all the 3 websites for 3B Software!).
2009 also saw me meeting (and talking to) some amazing people — from enterpreneurs to people who had a business idea or people who helped developing a business, and leaving the contacts made aside, it was inspirational to just meet these guys. Having had the time to get involved with the British Library Business & IP Centre helped a lot as well in doing so, something that I can only attribute to the fact that 2009 happened!
Ironically, 2009 saw me being the sponsor of not just my Phantoms, but also being a “sponsor” for some of my friends who were in fact in full time employment! I’m not revealing this just to boast about how much money I had in 2009 (truth being told every single one of them was being paid a good small fortune!), but it just made me realise that 2009 gave me a chance to work on my finances and budgeting — and that had the knock-on effect of seeing me spending my money more wisely than before (and obviously that meant I had more money in my bank account than the friends mentioned, even though they did get paid much much more than I was!).
One would have thought by the things I’ve written so far that 2009 saw me spending most of my time studying and working — and how far from the reality that is! I probably went to more parties this year than previously and I had more fun in doing so; whereas before I would probably spend my evenings in one of the pubs around Smithfield Market feeling depressed and ingurgitating alcohool to keep depressions and disillusions at bay, trying to convince myself that I was having fun in doing so, 2009 saw me going to parties where I got absolutely smashed because I was in fact having fun (rather than TRYING TO HAVE FUN!). I’ve been to parties where people talked about rugby, fashion, holidays, ice skating, football, cricket and the list can go on for quite a while, without involving the usual theme of 2008 and before: work! Ironically for my situation in 2009 I found myself spending actually more money and time on parties than before (if you look at the blog entries regarding the last party I went to dressed as a pirate you probably figure out that to hire the suite and accessories costed a few good bob!) — and I didn’t find myself feeling that I’ve overspent in doing so (a regular thing for me with parties before 2009).
An important aspect of 2009 has been the fact that I found out who my friends really are! Big big thanks to all of you from Vibrant who kept in touch — and an ever bigger thanks to those of you who didn’t, I now know who was spending time with me purely because we were colleagues and who in fact enjoyed my company! Normally it takes time to discern in between the 2 categories — I didn’t need that though it seems: I had “year 2009″!
Something else that I think is worth mentioning here: 2009 saw me competing in the Tiger Woods Golf Tournament for Nintendo Wii and actually finishing the Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 game (thank God PES 2010 is here!
I’m gonna wrap up here and put an end to this post — as I’ve been writing this for the last 20 minutes and on average 2009 hasn’t seen me spending too much time in front of a computer screen I’ll just say this: if the recession in 2009 saw me doing all these things in one single year, well, I can only hope that with the end of the recession near, 2010 will see me having twice as much fun because I’ll leave everybody else moan about it — for me 2009 has been one of the best years so far!