A 2006 Retrospect
You know those, year-in-review posts? Yeah, this is one of those. I thought it only proper while I'm still catching up with the fact that today is actually the final day of the year (and the first day of the new year for a lot of timezones out there). On this end, Tuesday will be a day of work, as the past 9 (as you may have noticed) lacked anything substantial. ;) But enough of that, let me get this list started:
Looking Back at 2006
South by Southwest 2006 This was like my coming out party... no, not in that way. My first conference since I was an active part of the Future Business Leaders of America, South by Southwest introduced me to not only the biggest names in the game but to some of the greatest moments a person can have with people whom they only knew through IM a few days prior. The first Avalonstar Bowling Extravaganza, which started out as a fun challenge between myself and Faruk Ates turned into one of the best events of the conference (and one of my greatest trials as an event coordinator). The Web Awards granted Avalonstar recognition that I could never give it. But the conference in general gave me a lot more than just that, it gave me a lot of friends, a lot of opportunities and a new view of myself - one that I actually liked.
WebVisions 2006 & Webmaster Jam Session With many thanks to both Nick Finck and J. Cornelius respectively, these conferences allowed me to come out in a different way, by speaking. The last time I had spoken at a conference was back in 2001 about inspiration in design, but these to conferences dusted off my speaking voice and put it to the test. At WebVisions in Portland, I was able to work with 3 of my internet favorites - Keith Robinson, Mike Davidson and Dan Cederholm and spend some more time with those I had met a few months prior at SXSW - Greek Cuisina guys, that's all I have to say. Webmaster Jam Session was a whole different animal, as I got to speak on my own about Photoshop in my most nervous day of the year. To this day, that conference rates an A+ in "treatment of speakers". I'm sure a lot of my peers would agree with me that "going out of their way" was an understatement in Dallas.
Nyxsis What started out as an urge to play a game from my past and share that with Jen, turned into a job unlike any other I've ever had. All Nyxsis really started out as was a statement that Jen and I could run a better Ragnarok private server than most of those currently available. If you had told me that I would someday embark on a project like this about 2 years ago, I would have laughed. Not only did it attract more than 400 people in the first 3 months, it also tested my abilities in Linux and integrating completely different pieces of software into one coherent site. Believe me, I'm still learning.
Dan Rubin and Live From the 101 A big theme of the past year were things that started out small and grew into something unimaginable. Live From the 101 fits into that mold. I would have never thought that the podcast would have ever made it out of my car, let alone score a co-host in Dan Rubin. But then there's Dan, who has proven to be a truly awesome friend since I met him in Austin. When I could face nobody else, I could face Dan and spill my guts. Dan and I have worked on countless things, including this podcast and are planning a lot more. Can we just merge Revyver and Webgraph already? :P
Minnesota After 3 years of being together, Jen and I finally got a chance to go on our first trip and I took her to the Minnesota Zoo for her 20th birthday. Now, it wasn't a perfect trip, mainly due to my laziness. But it did teach me a lot. The zoo itself was a great experience for both of us, giving us the opportunity to stand inches from tigers (which happen to be Jen's favorite animal). I do have my regrets, for not taking her to the Ice Festival in Saint Paul before we left, but hopefully someday I can make that up to her.
Getting Axed, Twice Why would getting axed be a memory? Well, more like a learning experience and checking places off my list of "where I don't really belong". While both Facebook and Automattic were awesome places to work, neither really found a place for me. In both instances, I guess that'd be a good thing. I did meet a lot of great people in both places. I was able to see the transformation of a company from a startup to a conglomerate (no matter how much they deny it), and I also gained bragging rights... I mean, come on. ;D
Finally a Freelancer There have been a lot of swift kicks in the ass this year, including the two by my former employers. Yet, they both gave me an opportunity, an opportunity to start on my own. Thus, Revyver was born. Being a freelancer or a one-man-design-shop, whatever you might call it, is going to be the biggest test of my career and it'll truly test if I have enough room in my life for risk and the potential of nothing returning. I can say that there's a lot in store for this little company, well, I hope at least.
Avalonstar and The Aries Project My little baby. How could I be less than proud after its performance this year? More than a quarter-million people saw what I had to offer through this site in the last year, whether it was a rant or a new project. This was Avalonstar's year to shine, and I have even more to attribute to it. The Aries Project tested what I could do with the blogging model, and hopefully this next version will do the same. Even though Avalonstar has had no less than it's share of growing pains, we're both better for it (and yes, I am talking as if Avalonstar is a person, its only been alive for what, a quarter of my life).
A Year of Opportunity I come up blank when I think of the opportunities that were given to me in 2006, mainly because my brain overloads while trying to think of all of them. Books, articles, jobs, the list goes on. Not to say that I've taken advantage or followed through on every one that's passed me. Actually, I'm probably in the losing percentage when it comes to following through on things, but the ones I did follow through with did prove to be very rewarding. I only hope the future holds the same, not only for myself, but for Avalonstar, Jen and all of my friends out there.
Jen We both grew a lot this year, to say the very least. Three years ago, Jen left her home to come live with me in Providence while I was still going to college, and it's been a learning experience for both of us. While many couples would grow apart after such a time, we've done the exact opposite. We've seen countless sides of each other and I've learned how much Jen plays a part in my daily life. No matter how much my family or my friends seem to discredit Jen's influence on my life, I still believe that everything I've talked about above and everything that I've done can be attributed in part - to her. She's seen many sides of me, all the way from the happiness at SXSW to the crushing defeat at the hands of Facebook. We've rubbed off on each other quite a bit, as Jen is ready to start her own store and I'm falling ever deeper into the world of J-Pop (not a bad thing by far). Jen and I have gotten to the point where people can't think of one of us without the other, and I prefer it that way. There are still a lot of things in the past year which I wish I could have done better, but Jen's just that great of a person to still love me even after all of that.
What I'm Looking Forward To
I was thinking of doing a list for this part too, but then it'd probably get 1) a bit too trivial and 2) a bit too long. I'm looking forward to a lot of things this year ranging from getting these new Avalonstar shirts out, to South by Southwest 2007, and even getting my hands on a Wii and PS3. What I do know is that it's going to be a year of hard work for me as I seriously try to make Revyver my livelihood. I'm quite scared to say the least, but then I'd be tarnishing the major written on my diploma. Other than that, I really don't know what else this year has to bring, but I'm sure you'll all be here to see it in one form or another. Heck, I might even finish Avalonstar in time for entry into some awards competition. Depends on that thing called, "motiviation" eh? Anyway, I'm writing this as I'm getting ready to run out and see what kind of fireworks San Francisco has to offer, so farewell to you 2006, you've been one hell of a year but I'm ready to see what 2007 has to offer. ;)