2013 - A Year of Changes

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2013-12-31 09:14



Happy New Year to all. 2013 was a year of many changes. These were professional, personal, and on a more macro level. I had recently left my job with Trellon to pursue contract work. We had just finished renovating our kitchen - just in time for a New Year's Eve party that involved a large percentage of guests from the Drupal community. Our little dog, diagnosed with mast cell cancer, wasn't expected to live for much longer (spoiler - he's still kicking it with us). Congress, in the United States, continued to be deadlocked culminating in a partial shutdown of the government, and a populace that was sick and tired of 534 people who simply could not agree on anything. There was a seriously flawed rollout of the healthcare Website, which as a Web Application professional I found fascinating.

I thought that sharing some bits and pieces from my life over the last year might be fun. If you feel interested enough to follow along my geeky and Drupally year, that would be just fine.


I had started working as an independent consultant with several clients late in 2012. The biggest one was 5 Rings Web, where I was consulting as the COO and managing the project management side of the shop for my good friend Lindsay Ogden. 5 Rings is largely a Drupal shop and I started by auditing processes and helping the group of excellent developers and designers organize in a more efficient manner. I was lucky to work with some terrific clients supporting existing Drupal sites but also defining some complex architectures for several companies and helping the team organize around Agile Sprints to bring web products to market. I am very proud of the work I did there when I was more heavily involved in working with them. Some how I managed, while doing operations for both Vintage Digital and 5 Rings to write a blog post on Managing Multiple Drop boxes


In March the community found out that Neil and Marta were leaving the Drupal Association in a restructure of the organization. This came as a shock to many. There were those who had really come to know Neil and respected his hard work on the Drupalcon. He had a pretty rough go of it with Drupalcon Denver in 2012 as he better integrated into the community. I was amongst those who were deeply saddened by the departure. Holly reached out to many in the community, including myself, to reassure us.

May - June

I did some work with the Open Media Foundation to help them with project management process. I worked directly with Erin Yepis there on shifting the organization to engage in ticketing practices using Jira in managing their Drupal projects. This really revolved around helping them think through what aspects of Agile methodologies would be useful. I was delighted to get an positive endorsement from Erin.

Matthew's insight and help with getting my project management processes more efficient has been tremendously impactful. He is professional, he has the knowledge of tools for IT project management that I've been able to implement in my own department. His work in the Drupal community also made his recommendations even more useful for my department. He knows his stuff and is a pleasure to work with! - Erin Yepis


aten design groupJune was a busy month. First off, I celebrated my 13th year cancer free. As many of you know, in 2000 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer had surgery and chemotherapy. It changed me in many positive ways.

I joined the Aten Design Group team as Director of Client services. My title has since been modified to Vice President of Project Management. With one of my colleagues, who had been managing clients and project management, heading off for an extended sabbatical I jumped in head first. This was a time of change for Aten - lots of growth but also a desire to modify project management practices. We've embarked on a journey of change - moving to a more agile approach on all projects utilizing sprints even on fixed bid projects. Aten moved to Jira for ticketing and Harvest for time tracking. I'll be posting a blog post soon on the Aten site on the merits of time tracking and following up with a post on tools. Aten is the fourth company I've helped shift to Jira for ticketing.

Drupalcamp Colorado 2013Drupalcamp Colorado 2013 occurred in 2013. I presented on project management - the slides are here: http://dogstar.org/DrupalcampCO/HerdingCatsDrupalcampCO2013.pdf. While I was not nearly as involved in organizing the Camp in 2013 - my life had been far too complicated - I did agree to project manage the camp for 2014. If you want to help out, we are managing the camp queue on Drupal.org/issues/dcco. The camp was smaller than previous camps we've had and followed a year where we had no camp due to the Drupalcon in 2012.

What is the theme for 2014? We will be focused on Large Scale Drupal with a celebration of diversity in our community.


Election 2014I ran for the Drupal Association board. I was elected as an At Large board member. Since then I've attended two board meetings. I've been very impressed by the thoughtfulness and professionalism of both the board and the staff. This is a terrific group of people and I'm very proud to be working with them. Board meetings are public, so if you want to listen in you should. Any time I'm at public events and you want to approach me, please do. You can also email me or call me if you have concerns. I'm there to serve the Drupal community as your representative. I'm happy to know what's on your mind. I'll be in Amsterdam, Drupalcamp Colorado, and Austin for sure.


aten backpacksAtenCamp 2013 - Aten's company retreat was in October as well. The team had a ton of fun socialising in Breckenridge. The trip was really about strategy and direction for the company. The team worked hard over several days discussing all sorts of things important to the health and growth of Aten Design Group. The backpacks were produced locally by a company called TOPO and Aten had each monogrammed with staff initials. How cool is that? Lydia wrote a great overview of the retreat.

We bought a house in Littleton and moved about 20 miles away from our old home of 13 years. That house is now under contract and (knock on wood) should close on January 3rd 2014. We did this primarily to move our daughter from a school district that is struggling to one that is more successful. We want her going to a high school next year that has lots of opportunities. We had run out of space at the old house as well. The move was a little bittersweet, but we feel necessary.

I attended BADCamp 2013 and presented on project management. I was humbled by the number of folks that turned up given the variety of sessions that were available to attend in that slot. People were standing in the room. Video was broken in my room, so a quickly fired up Screenflow and shot the session. Please forgive the low production quality but - you can go directly to YouTube to watch it in its full HD glory. Aten was a sponsor for the Higher Education summit. I did a short presentation on Drupal: Serving the Broad Needs of Education. I wrote a wrapup of the event as well.


November had the kickoff of planning of Drupalcamp Colorado 2014 in earnest. We've organized our team and we're running through the motions of finding a location. There really are one of two that are in contention. The first is the Wolf Law Center in Boulder. The second is the Auraria Campus in Denver. We've done the camp at both with either location being pretty great.


Aten Expanded Office
The year is wrapping up now. Aten is expanding its office space which means for the last part of the year, I'm where I started at the beginning of the year - working from my home office. It is a different home office, one with plantation shutters on a second floor. The room doesn't double as storage either. I'm excited that the new year will bring expanded digs to the Aten team with four of those really cool glass garage doors that open during warm weather.


I've continued to sit on the Crown Pointe Academy board of directors this past year. While my kiddo no longer attends the school, I felt that I should fulfill the remaining months in my term. The next year should be exciting as the school moves into Charter Renewal.

I'm looking forward to Drupalcon Amsterdam. I love Austin, so having the next Drupalcon there is exciting. There will be open board meetings at both events - so if you are attending, please consider joining us in person. With a great deal of anticipation, I look forward to the next challenges with Aten and my colleagues there.

I look forward to a year of service, both for the Drupal and Crown Pointe Academy charter school communities.

Happy New Year! 2014 should truly rock.

Fireworks Photograph by Julia Folsom under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.
The Aten Design Group logo is owned wholly by Aten Design Group.
Backpack Photo by Lydia Toupin
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