2017 Year in Review

December 31, 2017

Another year has come and gone and a lot has been accomplished. Here's quick highlights of what I got into in 2017.


  • Led my team through upgrading VCU's primary content management system (CMS) to the newest version of TerminalFour. This was an incredible undertaking that took nearly 10 months of planning and four days of execution. In 2018 we'll continue the second phase of the project which includes additional organization and optimizations of the university's CMS.
  • Wrote a new transfer process based on "rsync" for publishing websites from the CMS.
  • Transitioned the majority of our web servers to serve our websites exclusively with HTTPS. This was a challenge due to the sheer quantity of websites (with edge cases) and legacy organization/administration.
  • Launched the latest version of the VCU Homepage. Although I wasn't directly involved in the design, I'm incredibly proud of the backend publishing workflow and extensive test suite I wrote in python¬†to ensure the website has been compiled correctly from the CMS. The fact that the Homepage has finally adopted our CMS shows how far my team has come to stabilize and develop it's features. I also served in a key hybrid project management/communications role between the marketing department and the technical teams.
  • Developed a few new micro web apps including troubleshoot.ts.vcu.edu, redirect.vcu.edu, status.ts.vcu.edu and catalog.ts.vcu.edu.
  • Led a major communication and training effort to improve VCU's accessibility of online content.
  • Nominated by a number of colleagues for the Division of Administration Leadership award.


  • Started exclusively using VIM as my editor of choice (except at the moment I'm trying out VS Code).
  • Despite the haters, I transitioned this blog back over to WordPress and wrote a new custom theme. I'll continue to develop and add features to it as needed.
  • Transitioned my personal server from a $10/month Digital Ocean droplet to a $2.50/month instance on vultr.com.


  • Finally graduated with my Master of Science in Information Systems!
  • Completed two half marathons and the challenging SportsBackers Half Marathon Training Team. Speaking of running, according to my Apple Watch I ran 500 miles this year! My best month was October when I ran 76.31 miles.
  • I started taking guitar lessons at the Music Tree School. So far I've really enjoyed flexing some creativity and using a different side of my brain.
  • Traveled to the west coast for the first time and saw the Pacific ocean.
  • Finished hanging the crown moulding in our downstairs extra bedroom.
  • Finally put in new sidewalks leading to our front and back doors. Now folks don't have to walk through our front lawn anymore.
  • My wife and I finished our third year of serving as counselors in our church youth group.¬†
  • Bought a Nintendo Switch and made some time to finish Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario Odyssey. I'm still stuck on one champion in Zelda: Breath of the Wild!

Postscript on 2017

Although this post may seem a bit like a #humblebrag, seeing everything I accomplished in 2017 listed like this is incredibly satisfying. I'm planning on starting two New Year's resolutions/intentions in 2018 that I hope will allow me to continue my pursuit of generally being an awesome human being – more on those later.

Wishing everyone a great start to 2018. -sy