Good Bye, 2011. You will be missed.

I usually don’t do these “looking back” posts at the end of year. But this year deserves to be an exception. I’ll be the first one to admit that my memory is very short but I don’t have to think really hard to come up with the highlights of my personal and professional life in 2011.

In fact, there are only 6 things that would qualify as highlights.

Here we go.

1. Became a Father

My son Vishruth Girish was born on Dec 8th 2011 at 8:28 PM. He weighed 7 lbs 4 oz. 19″ tall. I spent about 20 minutes trying to come up with words to explain how I felt when he was born. But I can’t. I’ll tell you this though. I’m 30 yrs old. And I don’t remember crying like that… like, ever in my life. I remember not letting go of my wife’s hand that I’d been holding all along while she was in labor. She was also crying (duh!) and telling me over and over again to hold him (apparently, I was being incoherent and wasn’t even listening when the doc was trying to hand him over to me).

Anyway, I don’t want to go on and on about how great being a father is (you won’t believe it, unless you are one too) and how awesome my son is (he really is). But this tweet does the job.

2. Founded the UXD initiative at work

I code for a living. So technically speaking, I’m just a developer. But I know a thing or two about building beautiful software (and consequently, great UX) because of the people I used to work with before I started working at my current company. They were some very talented folks who taught me that software is not just about writing awesome code. A well-built app is useless if the users struggle to, well, use it.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any Visual Designers or Information Architects or UX engineers here. So I took it upon myself to start a series of workshops hosted during lunch breaks, during which I can talk to our Business Analysts, Developers, Project Managers etc. about some fundamental principles of building meaningful, functional, aesthetically-pleasing & easy-to-use software.

I even managed to get a sub-domain registered (uxd.absg.com) and set up a website (the luckiest part was getting permission to NOT use SharePoint to host it).  They even paid for the logo that Jared Christensen built for us.

In addition to the talks that I did once every 2 weeks, we’ve also had a couple of star speakers come and speak to show their support. Thank you, Mark Kraemer & Stephen Anderson.

Just to reiterate, I’m NOT a UX/UI guy. I’m just a developer that wanted to work on building applications that didn’t suck ass.

3. Started speaking at conferences & user groups

I wanted to try this whole “speaking thing” just to see if it was something that would interest me. I started off by giving a couple of talks at user groups locally before I got an opportunity to speak at Dallas Techfest. And later, at Tulsa Techfest. I must admit I had fun. Based on the audience turn out and feedback the organizers gave me, I didn’t suck too bad.

Based on my experience so far, I think I might continue doing that in 2012 if I get the opportunities (time permitting, of course, now that I’m a father and all).

4. Got on Twitter

I finally admitted defeat and got on Twitter because I saw first hand how a coworker and good friend, Michael Perry was using it to get help from Telerik when we both were working at the Dallas GiveCamp weekend in January (more on that in a bit). We were using Sitefinity CMS, which was terrible (throwing SQL errors to the UI via JavaScript alerts). Google wasn’t of much help since that specific version was released just the day before and obviously, it was half baked. I was amazed how quickly people responded to his questions.

And that’s when I realized that I could no longer ignore Twitter because no matter how stupid the concept of micro-blogging sounds and how much noise it generates, it obviously has its benefits. So 131 followers & 1188 tweets later, I can safely say that it helps me keep in touch with my friends and also make new friends. And thanks to some companies like Samsung and ATT that are active on this platform, I even got some issues resolved just by tweeting about them.

5. Gave back to the community

It was Michael Perry that introduced me to the Dallas GiveCamp project and I’m thankful to him for helping me find a great way to give back to the community. I attended both the sessions this year, spending almost entire weekends there to build websites for charities. In January, we built a site for Legal Hospice and in October, we did the same for Dallas Challenge.

6. India won the Cricket World Cup (ODI)

I was at my friend’s house staying up all night to watch the finals (India Vs Sri Lanka). I must admit though that sometimes I secretly feel that beating Australia in quarterfinals and Pakistan in semifinals may have tasted sweeter than winning the cup.

The last time India had won the world cup was in 1983. I was 2 yrs old then. I won’t say I never thought I’d see this day in my life time because India is (and has been) a pretty strong team over the last decade. I mean, we’d already won the inaugural world cup for Twenty20 in 2007. So I knew it was only a matter of time before we did it in the ODI version as well.

Anyways, as an Indian cricket fan, this was the best day of my life.

As you can see, this was a great year for me personally and I hope 2012 will be just as good if not better.

Bubbye, 2011. I’ll miss you.

Welcome, 2012. Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous new year, folks.