Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Today Russia and a few other countries celebrate Christmas, so I’d like to take this chance to wish Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone still in the holiday mood.

I usually take the time around these days to review the year gone and to make a wishlist for the upcoming one.  But the year gone was mostly spent at work, which I summed up in the post “One year at Qobo” back in August.  Since then nothing much changed – it’s just been work, work, work.  And most of the out-of-work stuff was personal enough for me not to share it online.

So that’s about it.  My three wishes for the 2016 are:

  • I wish for everyone I know (and don’t know) to stay healthy.  Being sick, getting injured and being kicked out of life aren’t fun things to experience or watch.
  • I wish the momentum that we were building up at work starts picking up.  We’ve done plenty to get this thing rolling, and it feels like it’s about to. It would be awesome if it does this year!
  • I wish to travel a bit more.  I’ve done plenty of travels in 2014, visiting 4 countries in summer, but I haven’t been off the island since.  It’d be nice to go to a conference or something.

That’s about it.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2016! Cheers!

Happy New Year!

The year 2014 is rollin’ in already.  It’s still a few hours away from where I am, so this is a good time to take a few minutes and reflect on what 2013 was like.  I’m not gonna do a lengthy post, like the last year, so here is a quick summary of what it was for me and what happened (with links to archive for more details).

  • January.  Mostly spent at work, launching the huge project, tying up loose ends and dotting all the i’s.
  • February.  More work, with a little break to watch all the coverage of Chelyabinsk meteorite.
  • March.  That month was busy with a few highlights.  Cyprus banking system collapse was the biggest news around, which coincided with my trip to Amsterdam for the RT training.  The announcement of the Google Reader decommissioning sent me on a quest for the alternative.  Earlier the same month I’ve attended TEDxNicosia, which was awesome.
  • April. This is traditionally the month I celebrate my birthday.  This year I became 35.  Also, there was a one million views milestone for my blog, according to WordPress.com stats.  Work-wise, there was the largest git merge ever.  I’ve also discovered something that I will enjoy tonight.
  • May.  I finally got fed up with both Gnome 3 and KDE 4 and switched both my work and home desktop environments to MATE.  This was the best decision ever – I’ve never had a desktop in my way since, yet.
  • June. Played Quake 3 after a really long break.  Then more work.
  • July. Another business trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.  A new team member at work and a new area to learn a lot about – Quality Assurance (QA).  Pretty much reading and reviewing software all month.  Work extends even to my personal projects with HashBackup and Amazon S3.  The highlight of the month though was the workshop I attended for work.  Eye-opening!
  • August.  In terms of this blog’s archives, there were plenty posts into my Music category.
  • September. I’ve been given a new title at work – Director of Web Development, for pretty much the same work I’ve been doing so far under Team Leader and Senior Developer.
  • October.  This was a month to learn new things, which are out of my daily scope.  At first, I attended the First Aid training, which got me prepared for emergency situations and accidents.  And second, I’ve became a trained Fire Marshal.  Also, flew back to Tel Aviv, Israel for another business trip.  And learned to cook sushi at home – the first try was horrible, but the second one was way better.  Oh, and there was yet another workshop even from work, for which I stayed in Aphrodite’s Hills for a couple of days.
  • November.  I’m on the cover of Forbes.  Just kidding.  Started taking some of the annual leaves I had accumulated at work.  Relaxing, resting, not doing too much.
  • December.   More resting and relaxing, slowing down for the holiday season and Christmas magic.

And if that list is not enough, here are a few more overall bullet points:

  • Place of the year: Alio Olio, Limassol.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours in there, enjoying the company of many cool people, drinking probably a truck-full load of beer and enjoying some food.
  • TV show of the year: Homeland.  The best TV show I’ve ever seen.  Period.
  • Movie of the year: In the loop.  Even though it was released back in 2009, this was the year when I watched it.  Made me laugh out loud a few times, and it’s a smart comedy – something that I haven’t seen in a long while.
  • Drink of the year: Beer.  Obvious, of course, but I thought I’d throw it in anyway.
  • Dish of the year: kebab in Tel Aviv.  Those things are awesomeness out of this world.

There you go.  These are the highlights of my 2013.  There were more, of course, with friends, family, projects that are still in progress or didn’t make it, jokes, videos, music, gaming, fooling around, and so forth.

Here is to an even richer 2014!  Happy New Year and best wishes to you and your family.  Have a great one!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

The old fat man dressed in red, with a long white beard just visited my home.  He said that I was mostly good this year, and left a whole bag of presents.  He only had a few moments to spare, so we served him with a ginger beer and a few cookies.  (Apparently, he is lactose intolerant and doesn’t particularly like the taste of milk.) He then rushed away, promising to visit us again on the New Year’s Eve in about a week.  He also left a message for me to pass on to all of you.  Here it goes:

Merry Christmas everyone!  Best wishes to you and your loved ones!

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas

Here we are again.  The end of the year is here, all presents bought and wrapped, waiting for the midnight, kitchen full of smells and sounds, occasional looks at the clock, phone calls, chats, and messages with friends and family.

So, how was this year?  How does it compare to the previous few?  Looking at my archives for the last year and the year before that, I have to say that this year wasn’t as fast flying through or as hectic as before.

I spent the first quarter of the year mostly working at our ImpreStyle startup and consulting Easy Forex.  That was the time of learning a lot of new things, both technical and business.   Such an arrangement also provided plenty of opportunities to meet new people, especially, in the case of Easy Forex, people of different cultures, the ones that I don’t know much about.

Roughly by May, it so happened that we had to take a break from ImpreStyle.  So I joined Easy Forex as a full time employee, filling the shoes of both a web developer and a team lead.  A new team, a new department, and a very challenging project all occupied my attention for the rest of the year.  Again, learning new things and re-thinking old ways.

The result of all that work is being launched over these days – Easy Forex’s website rebuilt on a WordPress platform.   It wasn’t as easy as it might sound.  The team had a lot of constraints, shooting at a moving target.  The site itself is a monster, with multiple cultures, multiple languages, static and dynamic content, consuming and providing a variety of APIs, deployed over a very complex architecture with Akamai CDN, load balancers, clusters, and so on.  On top of that, the specification of the project required an identical implementation to the previous CMS, which meant that a lot WordPress native concepts had to be worked around.  The end result, even though still a bit messy, is a rather elegant solution based on WordPress with both public and custom plugins, advanced multi-branch git setup, over 20 KB phing build script, and more.  And even if it doesn’t look the part (yet), I am quite proud of what has been achieved by the team.

Looking back at my previous end of the year posts, travelling seems to be an important part of my life, with not too much of it happening in the last few years.  Well, at least this year I had an opportunity to travel to Israel.   The next is also looking bright with a few possibilities marked down in the calendar, but not yet fully confirmed.

But enough about technology and work.  What about friends and family?  Well, it was a rich year in family affairs.  The highlight of the year is my brother’s marriage, with a few relatives flying over from Russia and spending a few days with us here, in Limassol.  That also gave an a chance to spend some time with my dad, who I haven’t seen in six years or so.

In summer, my wife and son flew to Siberia to catch up with some family affairs over there, and, in September, we were entertaining one of my sister-in-law’s family in Cyprus again.  It was nice.

As mentioned before, with my work changes back and forth, I had plenty of opportunities to meet new people.  I am glad to say that a few of my new work acquaintances became personal friends.  Also, sadly, it seemed that I’ve parted ways with a couple of people.  Maybe it will change, maybe it will not.  That’s not entirely in my hands at this stage.

Judging by the sounds and smells from the kitchen, I should be wrapping up.  Overall, I think it was a good year.  It was, as always, different from what I was expecting, but it still brought me more joy, happiness, and new experiences that sadness and sorrow.  Hopefully, the next one will be as good or better.

With that, I wish you all a very Happy New 2013, and a Merry Christmas.  I hope your wishes will continue to come through, that you’ll be full of health, joy, will, and strength to explore life and to find new things.  All the best to you and your loved ones!  Have a good one.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2012 Year!

Here we are, in the last hours of the 2011.  Those of us who celebrate the New Year holiday are either taking a quick nap, getting ready for the night of partying or getting ready to receive guests, cooking in the kitchens, calling relatives, cleaning the house, and starting to have a quick drink.

I am among those who are cooking in the kitchens and taking a quick drink.  Taking a quick break from all the preparations, it’s a good time to relax and reflect on the year that is almost gone, as well as pave the road for the coming year.

If I was to use a single word to describe 2011, I’d definitely stick with ‘quick’.  It seems that only a few weeks ago we celebrated the New Year, and here we are again, a year later.  It is, for sure, one of the quickest years I had so far.  Things just flew by me so fast that I barely noticed any time at all.

It wasn’t as chaotic as 2010, but it did bring a lot of new and interesting moments.  I spent most of 2011 working for FXCC.  Even when it just seems like yet another Forex company in my resume, it is not exactly so.  New team, new concepts, new technologies, new ways of doing things.  The experience I had this year was definitely enriching and empowering.  One example to give was my new and extended experience with Microsoft Windows.  And even though I haven’t changed my personal preferences from Linux, I’ve definitely learned a lot and saw many things in a new light.

One of the items on my wish list from last year was an Android phone.  I’ve been following the platform for a few years and finally I got myself an Android device early in 2011.  I also was considering an Amazon Kindle, but that wish changed a bit.  Instead I now desire a tablet.  And even though I still don’t have one yet, there is one in the mail.  Yes, that’s right, I’m awaiting a delivery of a tablet device.

One of the biggest adventures I’ve ever had happened this year too, and I didn’t even have to travel for that.  I’m talking about ImpreStyle – a start-up and a project that I am doing together with my very close family.  We started back in May and recently we reached yet another milestone (more on that later).  There were a lot of slow downs, problems and misunderstandings, but we managed to pull through, solve it all, and push it together.  We have an excellent team now, where each one brings to the table something that others can’t.  And we have some really good signs for this project for the upcoming year.  I’m sure that each member of the team learned plenty of new, but I’ll speak of myself here.  It’s been a while since I wanted to get into mobile technologies, and finally I did.  I’ve learned a lot about how this industry and market operate.  I’ve learned a lot about web promotion.  I’ve learned a lot about online marketing – now from a more practical perspective.  I’ve learned more about finance, accounting, management, and other areas of running a business.  In some more, than I ever wanted to know.  Yet, I’m sure I will learn more next year.

Something else that I experienced today and enjoyed a great deal was my first TED conference.  TEDxNicosia event was awesome on its own. But for me personally the timing was excellent as well.  It came just when I needed it and provided the inspiration that I needed.

While I’m writing this post, and thinking back and forward, I’m enjoying a glass of a real port wine.  I got a bottle directly from Portugal thanks to Michael.  This is yet another first time for me.  I’ve tried the Russian idea of port wine quite a few times but it has nothing in common really.  The real stuff is awesome – definitely something to experience again!

Now, for the New Year.  My biggest hopes and plans are all around the ImpreStyle project.  I think that that will be the year when it grows up, defines itself better, and gets a much needed infusion of resources.  We’ll see.  Regardless, I think I will get even more into the mobile stuff – smartphones and tablets in particular.

I also think that working on the same project brings the family closer together.  That’s what was happening this year, and I hope the trend will continue.

As with any year, I am always looking forward for some travelling.  I haven’t been out of the country in either 2010 or 2011, so I hope this year will provide me with an opportunity or two to go and visit foreign lands.

That’s about it really.  Instead of having many different wishes and expectations, I am concentrating more on those which are the most important to me.  How about you? What are you expecting from 2012?  How did 2011 treat you?  How does it compare to your expectations from it a year ago?  Let me know in the comments.

Once again, Merry Christmas and  a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.  Enjoy the holidays season and family time.  I hope Santa Clause brings you everything you wished for and a little more on top of that.  Have fun, eat, drink, and I’ll see in 2012. Tada!