The year is nearly up, and it’s been a good one. 30+ posts on the blog, job changes, 4 new Pluralsight courses, twice-monthly InfoQ.com contributions, graduation with a Masters Degree in Engineering, and speaking engagements around the world (Amsterdam, Gothenburg, New Orleans, San Francisco, London, and Chicago). Here’s a quick recap of my favorite blogs posts (from here, or other places that I write), and some of the best books that I read this year.
While this was one of my quieter years on the blog, I probably wrote more than ever before thanks to the variety of places that I publish things. Here were some of my favorites:
- Using ASP.NET SignalR to Publish Incremental Responses from Scatter-Gather BizTalk Workflow. One of my favorite demos of the year. In this post, walk through a way to send incremental feedback from a long-running workflow. I mashed up ASP.NET SignalR with BizTalk Server to trickle back results as soon as the workflow receives them.
- 5 Things That I’ve Learned About Working Remotely. It’s been nearly 18 months of being a remote employee of Tier 3 (now CenturyLink), and this post captured some of my thoughts during the adjustment period.
- Creating a “Flat File” Shared Database with Amazon S3 and Node.js. I finally collected a bunch of thoughts about “cloud integration patterns” into a Pluralsight course this year, and this demo was a highlight for me. In it, I showed how an Object Storage repository can be used as a “database” for shared HTML content. And yes, it was cool that AWS CTO Werner Vogels liked it too …
Werner Vogels (@Werner) May 12, 2013
- I wrote a series of posts about where to host Node.js and .NET applications. This was the first time a post of mine reached the Hacker News front page, and it was fun to see the avalanche of visitors that followed.
- Connecting Force.com to on Premises Resources, Part 2. The Salesforce.com team asked me to write a bunch of articles targeted at .NET developers, and this was one that I enjoyed. It was a two-part series of posts about using the Windows Azure Service Bus to access on-premises services from a Force.com application.
- Look Beyond the Sticker Price: What It REALLY Costs to Run a Cloud App. This post was on the Tier 3 company blog, and looked at all the facets to consider when pricing out a cloud scenario. I spent a lot of time focusing on that this year, and will continue digging into this in 2014.
- Five Best Practices for Accelerating Your Enterprise Cloud Strategy. Enjoyed researching and sharing this post for those trying to get started on a cloud journey.
I read a few dozen books this year, and these were the ones that stood out for being informative, interesting, and inspirational.
- The New Kingmakers. Excellent analysis of the critical role that developers play in the success (or failure) of organizations. Read my book review here.
- James Madison and the Making of America. Fascinating read about one of the key architects of the U.S. Constitution and one of the most influential Americans in history.
- The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work. Enjoyable book from Scott Berkun who joined WordPress.com after a career with more “traditional” companies. Great insights into working with distributed teams, and valuable tips for anyone looking to build a high performing organization.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow. The goal of the book is to “improve the ability to identify and understand errors of judgment and choice” and the author provides some eye-opening examples and tools for making better decisions.
- The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. Wonderful book – that is being turned into a movie – about a special WWII unit that hunted down all the artwork stolen by Nazis. Good story of dedication to a mission despite incredible obstacles.
- The Power of Communication: skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Efficiently. The author describes communication as an “act of will directed toward a living entity that reacts” and spends the rest of this useful book describing the correct approach towards effective communication
- The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All. I like true stories that I can learn from, and this book has great examples of successful – and unsuccessful – attempts at leadership. Good lessons about communication, planning, collaboration, and more.
- Everything is Obvious: * Once You Know the Answer. Thought-provoking read about common sense being “a grab bag of logically inconsistent, often contradictory beliefs.” and how we rarely seem to learn the real lessons from history. I read a lot of books this year about decision making, and this may have been the best.
- The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention. Can a book about trains be interesting? It sure can when it’s about the history of invention, and how the development of the steam engine is one of the things that “transformed all of humanity.”
- The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. Must-read book that uses a novelized story to describe the true spirit of DevOps. If you’ve ever worked in a challenging IT environment and hoped for a better way, this book shows the path towards improvement.
- Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball. My obligatory “baseball” book of the year. It’s an honest autobiography by R.A. Dickey who had a long road to the Major Leagues, and is now one of the most successful pitchers in the game.
- Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenthood. Hilarious, wildly inappropriate set of short parenting stories from one of my favorite writers.
Once again, thanks to all of you for continuing to read my work and inspiring me to keep it up!