2015 in review

While I haven't written any year-in-review posts here for the last years, I always find them
interesting to read. I caught myself looking back on the year these last days, and I'd like to write
my thoughts down. So this review is mostly intended for myself, but if it's interesting for you
that's fine for me too. :-)

Work

On January 1st 2015 I started to work (again) at ikusei. It's a web agency in
Berlin. I took a break from working there from 2013 to 2015 and now I am back. I am working together
there with my (now) wife (see below) and it's the second best decision I made last year. Lots of
people told us to be careful and that it wouldn't work out. I am glad to say they are wrong. We felt
perfectly equipped and "trained" to work together because we've been together for almost 9 years now
and because of raising our daughter. If you can manage to do these things well together without
getting on your nerves and even enjoying the every day than working together is like a sunny day in
the park.

That said, we are really effective and efficient working together and it shows in the results.

We finished a lot of projects throughout the year, here are some that I am really proud of:

gigme.ch -- gigme is a Swiss site for Swiss small businesses. They can offer
their services online and gigme deals with all the administrative burdens. It makes hiring small
businesses quite easy.
It's a Rails 4.2 site with quite a lot of complicated processes. I learned a ton about state
machines and modeling a process. I actually made some decisions during development about how to
implement processes that turned out to be good and some that turned out to be sub-optimal. But
looking at the big picture, this was a project really well done.

Another project I'd like to mention is
anzeigenpreise.tagesspiegel.de. It's complete solution for
publishers to manage, display and sell their advertisement options/products. While originally
intended to be an ember.js application, it eventually was developed as a Rails 4.2 app with server
side rendered Rails views and some React.js components.

Blog

The blog lived on in 2015, for the fourth year at 5minutenpause.com.
I'd love to have the overall number of visitors, but my analytics software
(Piwik) can't give me a total number. It always complains about too much data.
But that's clearly nonsense.
edit: I found a way to manually add my numbers. The total page view number for 2015 is 44.414.
That's a nice number.
Compare that to 2014: 38.647 page views and 2013: 5.966 page views.

The best performing article was How to: HTML5 video that works on every
browser
- 17.181 page
views.
Here are the runner ups:

Multiple file upload with jQuery, Rails 4 and
Paperclip
- 9.866 page views
Submit remote forms with jQuery in
Rails
- 5.020 page views
Watch a folder for new files and convert them with bash
script
- 3.373 page views
Comprehensive guide to background processing with ActiveJob, DelayedJob and Rails
4.2
- 2.514
page views
and the website itself (5minutenpause.com/) with 1.397 page views.

I've only written 11 articles this year. That's down from 13 last year and from 19 in 2013. The
really surprising thing to me is that all the articles I listed up there are from 2014, 2013 or even 2012.
This makes it clear, that I really should get back into a writing habit and deliver more content.
And more content breads better content by its nature. The readers clearly show the interest in well
researched and written articles.

One of the reasons that the absolute number of posts went down is that in 2013 and 2014 I mostly
wrote while commuting to work. In 2015 I rode my bike to work and that makes even drafting articles
rather hard. :) Another reason is this blog's software Octopress. I run a customized version of
Octopress that's fairly old and hard to update. I don't use the very latest version and the
publishing process requires a terminal, SSH access to my server and Ruby. These things are difficult
to come by when not at my laptop. I devised processes to fill that need and they work, but it's
definitely not real fun to use. And I have enough (side) projects to put my energy into, so I don't
need blog software that needs that much attention and care. This means that I am right now
considering my alternatives for this blog. Lots of people swich to Wordpress right now, but I have a
deep dislike for PHP inside me. I don't really know what else I could use though. If you have any
opinions on this, please let me know. I'll keep looking. Perhaps there are some simple JavaScript
blogging systems out there.

Another thing to consider is that the best performing article was a very frontendish topic. I don't
do frontend development as much these days. It's more full-stackish... I still work on frontend
development (and it will be more in 2016) but it's mostly JavaScript topics. Very little of my time
goes into solving HTML and CSS problems. But we'll see what the next year brings. I am definitely
looking into JS development more heavily and I am really enjoying it.

Newsletter

I have to admit it and apologize to my readers and myself: I wrote too few emails in 2015. My
newsletter engagements started in June 2014 with 3 subscribers. I finished 2014 with 54 subscribers.
In 2015 my list grew to 154 subscribers for the general newsletter and 110 subscribers for the RWD
email course. The course dates back to 2014 but people still find it useful because of the basics
that I teach there.

Open rates

The open rates for my general newsletter is 42.7% with a click rate of 3.4%.
The open rate for my email course is 48.9% with a click rate of 3.6%.
While I consider the click rates to be about average I find the open rates to be really nice. I
often read about open rates at around 20-30%. So my numbers are nice. I believe these will be lower,
the higher the number of subscribers though.

Personal

I married the woman of my dreams in October. Best decision this year. Overall the year was good. Our
daughter is growing like crazy, we had some nice vacations and enjoyed life.

Fitness & Cycling

I started biking to work regularly in April 2015. The distance is about 15km (~9.3mi) one direction.
I reached almost 4000km in 2015 (3945km ~ 2451,309mi ). The most active month was July with 816km (~507mi).
Riding the bike to work really got me into shape and I broke more and more of my records during my
trips. I am looking forward to spring of 2016 and breaking those records again. Perhaps I'll finally
give in and buy a racing bike. Right now I ride my city trekking bike and it's great. I am curious
what records I could set with a real racing bike though.
My top speed last year was 47.2km/h (29,32872mi/h). I still have to break 50km/h. (Of course on
plain streets, not downhill. That's boring.)
You can follow me on Strava here

I started doing Freeletics in August and it showed. Sadly I broke my rhythm as winter came and took
a 14 week break. I recently got back into it and will continue.
You can follow me on Freeletics here

Goals for 2016

Work

I want to speak (more) at conferences and user groups. I held a lightening talk in 2015 at the
Ruby user group in Berlin. I am already scheduled for a lightening talk at the Atlassian User Group
in Berlin on January 14th 2016. I want to try for at least 2-3 talks at the Berlin Ruby user group.
My talk proposal for Eurucamp 2015 sadly wasn't chosen. I will try that again. Probably also for
Full-Stack-Fest in Barcelona in September.
Other work-related goals aren't clear yet.

Blog

I want to achieve two things:

  • A total page view count of 100.000 for the year (Might be too high).
  • The most read article should be from 2016.

Newsletter subscribers

I want to reach for 300 subscribers. That's still very little and very doable.

Newsletter emails

I want to write at least 24 emails to my subscribers. That's an email every two weeks.

Fitness & Cycling

  • Break 50km/h on streets
  • Ride 4.500km overall
  • Continually do Freeletics throughout the year

What I neglected to mention is my side business I started in 2015. It's called
Oportunus (the site's in German only yet). It's an opinionated SaaS software for
telemarketing. I want to grow this in 2016.

That's all for 2015. Thanks for reading and have a great 2016.