I wanted to write a 2008 post for a couple of reasons: 1) for “historical” reasons to look back on later, and 2) to let new (and old) people who actually read this blog know a little bit more about me.  So without further ado….

2008 Milestones

  • Space Shuttle Launch at Kennedy Space Center – Saw a live launch of something that actually left Earth.  It’s been a life-long dream and was well worth it.
  • Two new puppies – Kirby and Bella, our little 2-3lb Yorkie-poos.  Bella is sitting at my feet even while writing this.  Very loyal, but tiny.
  • Laura’s ankle-fusion surgery – after years of pain from bone-on-bone rubbing in her feet and ankle, we decided to have the surgery this summer.  Months of no weight-bearing and still in recovery, but should lead to many more options for us this next summer.

Favorite New Gadget – Remote Car Starter

  • Probably the least “hi-tech” of any new technology, but this winter it has really been awesome.   A “must-have” gadget, to me, is one you really didn’t know much about, then you got it, used it, and now can’t figure out what you would do without it.  This definitely fits here.
  • Runner Up – iPod Touch – also a birthday present, and probably the gadget with the most potential.  I’m going to learn a bit about how to program software for the iPhone and Touch next week, and really like the device (far beyond music and videos).
  • Runner Up – Craftsman Snowblower – an early Christmas present saved us from 50+ inches of snow in December, and made it easy enough to help others on our street and help move cars that were stuck in the snow.
  • Runner Up – Wii / Wii-Fit – Really an amazing achievement from both a technical and programming standpoint – you really have to see it or try it to understand.
  • Runner Up – HP Tablet PC – small (12”) portable machine that’s been with me to work, robotics, quizzing, church and really anywhere I’ve needed something.  Looking at the possibility of getting “netbooks” for the kids this year.

Favorite New Technology – Silverlight 2.0

  • I have to pick Silverlight because I’ve been programming in it non-stop for the last 7-8 months.  In short, Silverlight is an environment for programming really interactive applications that can be contained in web pages (much like Flash or Java Applets).  The advantages of Silverlight are technical and would require another post, but I really believe that it will make a big impact on how web and mobile applications are written going forward.
  • Runner Up – ASP.NET MVC – better way to write web applications.
  • Runner Up – Twitter/Facebook – got to meet and interact with several hundred new and long-time friends on an informal basis and keep track of all that is going on with them.  Great way to keep track of people so you can really catch up quickly when you see each other face-to-face.
  • Runner Up – iPhone apps and web apps – I really want to be able to program for people that are “not at their computer” and iPhone and Touch applications may be a very important way of doing so.

Best Movie – WALL-E

  • So I don’t get out much to watch movies – five or less all year (see more on DVD, but not that many more).  I really liked WALL-E for a number of reasons.  A robot “star” (love robot stuff), amazingly limited dialog (movie “says” so much just through “body language”, context and situations.  And the movie actually had some pretty “deep” things to say about relationships, personal responsibility, consumerism, and appropriate use of technology.

Best New Activity – Family Swim Night at the YMCA

  • We’ve been going swimming as a family on Friday nights and Sunday afternoon since Laura started her rehab after surgery.  This has been great as a family activity and for getting some good activity during the winter months.  The YMCA had a promotion where we could start up again at no charge (we’d been members a while ago), so it was a deal we couldn’t pass up.
  • Runner Up – Bots on the Rock -  We wanted to get an informal group going who liked creating, inventing, programming and playing with LEGO robots, so we started a group with some friends to do just that.  We’ve been going for a year now and have even more plans going forward.  Fun and learning all in one.

Most Interesting Book – The Shack

  • Unfortunately I read for pleasure lately even less that I see movies, but I did squeeze in a couple books this year (and have a booklist already started for 2009 to remedy this issue). The Shack was a book that I missed in the “first pass” and heard a lot of people talking about at church, work and on Twitter/Facebook. And when I say people talking is was really a lot more like debating or dialoguing about the book and everyone seemed to have an opinion or idea about it.  So much so that folks wanted to get together and discuss it.  So I picked it up and read it and had a similar response.  In short it is a fictional account of a man who has had some significant loss and tragedy in his life, who through a series of events has an experience, dream, vision, or something where he ends up having a dialog with characters who represent God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Sound strange?  It is.  Worth reading and discussing? It was.
  • Runner Up – The AppealI do like John Grisham, and my mom and grandma both recommended reading it.  It is another book that evokes an emotional response – mostly anger that this is really probably the way things happen in “real life”.
  • Sad note on the book front, we lost Michael Crichton this year – one of my favorite authors growing up.  I’ve read his books like: Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Sphere, Jurassic Park, Disclosure, State of Fear and at least 5 more less popular titles.  He had a great imagination and perspective on technology and issues surrounding technology, and great suspense and action.  He will be missed.

Biggest Bummer – Michigan Economy

  • The down economy seems to have impacted every part of our lives.  From friends losing their jobs, to houses losing value and not selling, to retirement plans dissolving, travel plans changing, and just a general gloomy feeling.  We’ve all adapted and changed and perhaps grown closer because of it.  But a positive change in 2009 would be very helpful.
  • Runner Up – Seeming demise of the Grand Rapids / West Michigan User Group – This is related to the economy as well as many programming jobs have gone away, and many companies don’t have discretionary money to donate to such causes.  So individuals stop attending and can’t support the group and companies stop supporting the group.  Even the leadership of the group is impacted.  Hopefully the new year and new jobs will encourage people to get interested and involved again.  I’ve seen these things go in cycles and soon the should be a void that the group can fill again.
  • Runner Up – Car died – enough said.
  • Runner Up – Detroit Lions – too much has already been said.

I am sure I missed something major or noteworthy in 2008 that failed my mental recall attempt this morning, so I’ll update this post as needed.  E-mail me (bruce@abernethy.com) if you think of something.  Blog comments are “unworking” – yes a blog software update is high on the list for 2009.