A look back at 2015

Wow! What an amazing year 2015 has been and with 2015 about to end I thought it would be good to look back at what happened in this amazing year.151218181153-2015-year-in-review-biggest-stories-wrap-up-orig-00025316-large-169

January

I started the year with a declaration that 2015 would be my year of code. Well I have had a few breaks from programming but I have learnt loads this year. I have flitted a bit concentrating on different areas of programming but I think that has broadened my knowledge. I consider myself to be a programmer now, which I didn’t at the start of 2015.

February

74cc28416b646ae6f87d5a502fbd03b7A first for 2015 was appearing on a podcast. The Trekmate podcast Ten Forward were the lucky ones that got to experience my first attempt at talking to the world. This continued throughout the year with appearances on Upper Pylon 2, The Battle Bridge and even the Sci-Fi Waffle podcast.

It was a sad time for Trekkies at the end of February when Leonard Nimoy passed away.

March

In March I talked about my recent efforts with Azure Traffic Manager to help prevent downtime. I also spent a lot of time improving databases which led me to consider ways to deploy it better.

Also in March I attended an IT networking event called ITBoss. Free food and drinks and a discussion with fellow IT Managers.

April

April was a bit of a mixed bag. I celebrated my second wedding anniversary but I also said goodbye to my car due to financial reasons.

I played about with a Raspberry Pi, mostly with the camera. I really must make some time to play with it more.

May

CGHJLlbWEAAbl14In May I went to a C# User Group called Leeds Sharp, was great fun and I really need to make more time and go back in 2016. It did result in one of my most popular blog posts.

Usually developers don’t enjoy finding bugs in their software but I had great fun when I realised I had a Stack Overflow in one of my databases, it was easy to fix once I worked out what was going on.

In May the UK went to the polls as we had another General Election.

June

In June I celebrated my 50th Blog Post. Amazing to think I had already written 50 Blog posts, even more now!

Leeds Sharp had a coding challenge, to solve Sodoku puzzle programatically. Didn’t get it finished but made a good stab at it.

July

In July it was SysAdmin Day and I celebrated with my staff the amazing work we do keeping everything working.

Microsoft launched Windows 10 in July, the latest operating system is being offered for free for a year.

Augustjames4

In August everything changed as my son James was born. I took time out from blogging and work during this time to spend with James.

Before James was born I stepped down from my involvement with the technical team at St Michael le Belfrey.

September

In september it was back to work, where I started planning how to add internet connections to reduce the chance of outages.

October

In October I took James to a dads group. This was the first time Dad spent time with James without Mummy and it was awesome.

I also celebrated my first birthday after becoming a father, was great to have a card from James. James also got the chance to spend time with my family in Nottingham.20151206_105450

November

In November the countdown to Christmas began with James appearing in his first Nativity as Jesus and dressed up as an Elf at a Christingle service.

Exciting Star Trek news was announced this month, a new TV series is to be aired in January 2017. No other details yet but very exciting.

December

December is all about Christmas and we had a great Christmas time as a family.

Sadly York was hit by Floods just after Christmas, luckily my family was not affected but many others have been. Hopefully by the time you read this the cleanup will be well underway.

Before Christmas I spent my time counting down the days with the Advent of Code

What will 2016 bring?

I don’t know. There will be lots more time with James as he continues to learn and develop. I will continue to learn and develop my coding skills. Watch this space as I keep blogging about it.

Christmas 2015 with the Fosters

20151206_105450Four months ago James David Martin Foster was born. And he is even more awesome now than when he was born.

As I write this James only has a few sleeps (as James sleeps multiple times in a day I can’t put an exact number) until his first Christmas. James is pretty much unaware of what is going on as he is still too young but that doesn’t stop his parents enjoying the season.

He has lots of Christmas themed clothes which we have been enjoying taking pictures of him wearing. He makes a great looking elf I think.

James at ChristingleWe took James to his first Christingle service at St Michael le Belfrey at the start of December. A Christingle service is where you stick a candle and cocktail sticks into an orange. James loved it, he already loves looking at lights so loved looking into the light from the candle.

12309579_10153809916077792_2703731936729335666_oAnother Christmas activity we did this year as a family was to appear in a nativity. St Michael le Belfrey every Christmas hold a cafe to tell people the good news about Christmas and they have a nativity outside which includes donkeys. Don’t we make a great holy family. (Excuse the coffee cups but it was cold.)

Me and James’s mummy have gone a bit crazy with buying him presents, we have both got him lots of things to open on Christmas morning (or more likely mummy/daddy will do the opening)

James also has three Christmas days to look forward to, with different sides of the family each no doubt with him as the centre of attention.

Exciting times. Happy Christmas everyone, make yours as special as ours.

James goes on an adventure with Daddy

This weekend I took James on an adventure. As he is only 8 weeks old it was a fairly low key adventure but hopefully he enjoyed himself.

Dads & Little'uns adventureSt Michael le Belfrey have been organizing an event for Dads once a month and this month I wanted to give it a go. I have been looking forward to going for a while.

Looking after a baby is woman’s work. Now I am not being sexist but men are just not equipped. We can’t feed them, we don’t form the same emotional bonds and I suspect I am sleeping through the worst of his crying.

That said I still want to help and be involved in looking after my son. But my natural inclination is to let mummy do most things and help where needed. Going to this dads event was my first chance to do things without mummy being around.

James ready for adventureSo after James had his first feed and his bag had been filled with bottles of milk, nappies, change of clothes and all the other essential accessories for looking after a baby, I left the house with him strapped to my chest.

The event was very low key. Once I got there I unloaded James from my chest and was left to spend time with him with the occasional chat from other dads, offers of coffee and sausage sandwiches from the organizers.

James loves staring at the ceiling and the Storehouse had lots of bright lights for him to stare at. He also got to say hello to one of the other babies he has met before at church and the mums group my wife goes to. But it was not all smooth sailing, James didn’t like me sitting down, so I had to stand up holding him close to keep him calm. If I tried to sit down and offer him his bottle he would get grumpy.

I think it is great that there are events like this for parents. A lot of events are targeted at mothers which is as it should be as they have the majority of work to do, but dads need the odd event to support them as well. Hopefully me and James will be back for more adventures like this.

One of the things I am looking forward to as James gets older is taking him to places and spending time 1 to 1 with him like I did with my father. I don’t know what his interests will be but whatever it is I want to be there to encourage him.

Baby Magic and Becoming a Father

I am pleased to announce the birth of James David Martin Foster weighing 9 lb 12 on 19th August 2015.

James moments after birth, with mother and father

Mother and Baby (and Father) are doing well.

I am not a baby person, I hate children and I run a mile from other people’s babies.

But James performed some magic on me and now I will do anything for him. If you have had children you probably know what I am talking about and if you haven’t you are probably like me 24 hours before James arrived.

During the pregnancy I had been living in denial that I would become a father, despite the wife speaking about nothing else and our home filing with baby equipment. It was only minutes before I first saw my son that I changed.

Due to James’s large size, the birth wasn’t easy. After about an hour of pushing the midwife called in a team of doctors and nurses to help and I think it was at this point that it started to hit me. I am not an emotional man, if anything I tend to repress my feelings but I completely and utterly failed to do that on this occasion. By the time the baby had been placed on my wife’s chest tears of joy were streaming down my face and this continued for some time. jameshandMoments after birth James had a tight grip on my finger. His tiny hands were like miniature versions of my own hands.

I have been asked what it felt like holding James in my arms for the first time, this happened on the following day. I am not sure if I can put it into words, but a few adjectives come to mind, amazing, great, fantastic, humbling. James depends on me (and his mother) for everything and his existence has put a new spin on everything I do. I want to be there for him, help him learn stuff, provide for him and love him.

I have been working very hard recently, spending my free time writing this blog, learning stuff and doing other work. The reasons for this hard work are now clear, I work so I can provide for James and so I can spend my free time with him.

Before James arrived I had it in my head that his mother would do the majority of the caring for him. This is not going to happen now that I have met James. I want to cuddle him, change his nappies, dress him, hold his hand, take him to school, watch TV with him, stroke his head when he is ill, tell him about my life experiences, introduce him to wine, tell him about girls, help him move home, etc.

I am not saying being a parent is going to be easy. I am pretty clueless about what is in store for us, but already I am worrying if he is OK, trying to calm him down when he is upset and being woken in the early hours.

Anyway only time will tell if I continue being this positive about fatherhood, but so far I am loving it. Normal blog posts will hopefully resume over the next few weeks (or when I have time).

Due Dates

HTML for Babies Due DatesAs I write this I have less than 2 days until the due date for the birth of my first child.

Its a very exciting time, but it is also infuriating waiting for it to arrive. Even in the 21st century science can not predict with any accuracy when a baby is going to arrive and we just have to wait for mother nature to do its thing.

I feel like I am stuck in limbo at the moment I have lots of work to do, lots of development changes to do on the databases, but I also know that at a moments notice I need to drop what I am doing and try and be a father.

Due dates for babies is based on average pregnancies lasting 40 weeks, but there is no such thing as an average pregnancy. But to keep this blog post on topic I somehow need to compare due dates for pregnancy with software development.

In software development we often get asked for estimates on when a particular development task will be finished. Estimates in software development are very difficult to make accurate as there are so many variables that you do not know the answer to until you start getting stuck into doing the work. One technique is to try and split the work down into small steps and estimate how long each small step will take and then add them all together. But even this technique still has a large margin of error.

What would it be like if when management asked we gave an estimate similar to what pregnant women receive? Instead of a deadline when all work has to be finished by, you have a date when there is a 50% chance of the work being finished.

I think management would have a difficult time dealing with this amount of uncertainty, I certainly am waiting for this baby to arrive.