By John Sonmez September 21, 2015

Back From Europe And Updates

Well, my three-and-a-half-month trip around Europe is finally over.

I’m actually sitting here at my desk, writing this blog post from my lovely 4k monitor, on a real keyboard with a mouse.

The switch to my 13” Macbook Pro worked out great for the trip, but it is nice to have a comfortable chair and a little more screen real estate.

(As I side note, I think an even more optimal setup for me might be to have a 5k resolution iMac at home and a Chromebook or even one of the new MacBooks for travel since so much of my work takes place in the web browser these days.)

Anyway, I thought I’d do a sort of “state of the union” post for Simple Programmer and talk a little bit about my trip and what may be in store for the future of SP.

The long trip…

aI left for my European trip on May 30th of this year, and finally returned back to Tampa, Florida on September 14th.

With me, I took my wife, my 4-year-old daughter, and three backpacks.

That’s it.

We traveled from Paris to Berlin, Ireland, Bruges, Amsterdam, London, Iceland’s Reykjavik, and finally to New York City, before heading home.

bIt was an incredible journey, but by the time we got back home I was ready to get back into the regular swing of things.

During the trip, I dedicated Fridays to my work days.

I did small tasks like answering emails on other days, but Fridays were the days when I got a majority of the work done that’s needed to run Simple Programmer.

This trip ended up being a good test of some new processes and automations I’ve been putting in place to help Simple Programmer run more smoothly and, even to some degree, without me. (More on that later.)

I had some YouTube videos pre-recorded before leaving on the trip, but I also recorded a whole bunch of videos along the way.

If you want to check out my videos from the trip, I’ve put together a playlist you can check out here.

I even managed to keep up my running and weightlifting routines by visiting many gyms around Europe. I was pretty worried I’d drop the ball there, but I made it a priority to keep on track.

cI learned a lot from the trip—not only about the world, history, and different people and cultures, but about myself.

One interesting observation is that the trip was not actually a vacation. There were some relaxing parts, but it was pretty exhausting living out of a backpack for over three months and constantly being on the move.

I had a great time, but by the end of the trip I started to feel like I needed a vacation from my vacation.

The good news is: I’m ready to get back to my normal routine and back to work before I travel again.

(Oh, by the way. I actually got a chance to enjoy a fiction book while I was traveling. If you haven't read “The Martian” yet, I highly recommend it. I also completed Steven Pressfield's “Gates of Fire.” Another awesome book that I give 5 stars easily.)

Meetups

One thing I thought would be awesome to do while I was traveling around is to have meetups in many of the countries I was visiting.

I didn’t end up having a meetup at every location, but I was able to organize meetups for most of the places I visited.

I even had two Simple Programmers show up for my Iceland meetup—how cool is that?

Here are a few pics from each of the meetups:

Eating at an Italian restaurant in Berlin. Berlin turned out to be one of my favorite cities.

Eating at an Italian restaurant in Berlin. Berlin turned out to be one of my favorite cities.

 

At a pub in Dublin. Ireland was one of the places that surprised me the most. It turned out to be nothing like what I had expected.

At a pub in Dublin. Ireland was one of the places that surprised me the most. It turned out to be nothing like what I had expected.

 

Indian restaurant in Amsterdam. I really liked all the bikes in this city.

Indian restaurant in Amsterdam. I really liked all the bikes in this city.

 

Outside a very crowded pub in London. Such an incredible city. I loved how efficient the public transport was. “Mind the gap.”

Outside a very crowded pub in London. Such an incredible city. I loved how efficient the public transport was. “Mind the gap.”

 

At a restaurant in downtown Reykjavik. Iceland is perhaps the most unique and amazing landscape I’ve ever seen. Also expensive as hell.

At a restaurant in downtown Reykjavik. Iceland is perhaps the most unique and amazing landscape I’ve ever seen. Also expensive as hell.

 

Thanks to all of you who came out to meet me—especially on such short notice.

It was so awesome to meet Simple Programmer readers from all over the world… Okay, well, all over Europe.

Some Simple Programmer updates

Now that I’m back, I have a lot planned for Simple Programmer.

This blog and community has grown by a tremendous amount in the past few years and I want to keep providing as much value as possible to the software development community.

Before I left for my trip, I realized that I could not do that on my own.

I’ve not only hired some staff to help out with the day-to-day operations of running Simple Programmer, but—as I’m sure you have seen—I’ve started inviting other writers in the community to write for the blog.

One worry with expanding out is always that of losing control and dropping the quality of what is being produced.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the talented writers who have been contributing articles.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the new authors and perspectives that have contributed their own unique voice, yet still stayed within the spirit of this blog.

I’ll be ramping that up even more of the next few months, so if you are interested in writing for Simple Programmer, let my editorial team know here.

Forums and community

One of my big focuses moving forward is to create more of a community around Simple Programmer.

Part of this was inspired by the meetups as I was traveling.

I realized that in just about every major city, there were Simple Programmer readers who had never meet each other.

I have also been hearing from many graduates of my blogging course who would like to have a way to meet each other, and have a place where they can interact and share ideas.

I also think Simple Programmer need a new revenue source in order to grow further and reach more developers.

So, in the next few months, I’ll be working on putting together a premium community experience were Simple Programmer members will be able to help each other out, share their experiences, meet like-minded developers, and even get some individual help from me.

I want to create an empowering and supportive community where software developers who are serious about improving their careers, marketing themselves, and reaching their goals can get together and thrive.

New products

I’m also planning on releasing some new products and resources, especially around the topics of soft skills and entrepreneurship.

I’ve been getting many requests for more in-depth content related to building a brand, growing a blog, developing people skills, and managing your career, and I want to start addressing some of those topics.

I’ve also been surprised by the number of you who have requested more content related to building a business and becoming an entrepreneur.

This is a topic that I haven’t talked all that much about, because I assumed most programmers reading this blog would be interested in advancing their careers rather than building their own businesses, but I am more than happy to oblige.

I love talking about entrepreneurship and business.

I’ve also had some requests for more in-depth technical content.

Most of my technical content so far has been released through Pluralsight, but I may start published some courses here as well. I’ll have to think a bit on this one, but it is something I’m considering.

Charting the course

Having just got back a week ago, I still haven’t had time to sit down and plan the course ahead.

I’m thinking of taking a few days as a retreat to really focus on charting the course forward for Simple Programmer.

There are so many potential areas to work on and so many projects to take on, but the key is deciding which ones are most important and what actions will be most effective.

In the next few weeks, I’ll have a better idea of where things are going, but for now I can tell you that I am excited to get back into the swing of things and see just how far we can go.

Thanks to all of you who have supported this blog, watched my YouTube videos, bought my products and read my book.

I look forward to serving you as best I can in the future.

 

A special thank you to Zephyr, who sponsored this post. Zephyr is a huge thought-leader in the agile development and software testing space and has been a long-time partner of Simple Programmer. If you are looking for a test management solution, I highly recommend them.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."