Jef Claes

On software and life

19 Jan 2014

new YearPassed(2013);

I normally write this up at the end of the year, but circumstances made me push back this post for a few weeks. I use this annual post to look back at the year passed, and to look ahead to the year to come. I gave up on making resolutions in 2011. This year, I’m going to be naively ambitious again going into 2014.

Compared to previous years, I feel more confident that I have a pretty good idea of what I want next. Just before the holidays, my fiancée and I spent the weekend out of town where we took a whole evening to modelstorm 2013 and the future. We used green and red post-its to list all positive and negative memories of 2013. We then categorized those, and defined concrete actions to avoid repeating negative experiences, and to increase the number of positive ones in 2014. Next to this technique, we used a timeline to plan some key milestones a few years ahead of time.

My career

September 2013 marked the two year anniversary working for Euricom. It also marked the second year at my first client. There, I spent last year deeply immersed working on what has been coined by upper management as the most important project of 2014. Having invested much, and despite having a bunch of ingredients for failure, I’m relieved the project went out the door yesterday. I look back at the project with mixed feelings; there were several periods of intense learning and going fast, but way too much time and energy was wasted fighting the system. After spending more than five years in the bowels of the beast, I don’t feel as if the enterprise is a healthy place for me to live in, let alone a place capable of cultivating good software.

I’m going to try really hard to avoid these breeds of working environments for a while. Unfortunately, they make up a good portion of Euricom’s customer base. This led me to resign at Euricom last month. Four weeks from now, I will start at a much smaller gig where I hope to find more autonomy, skin in the game and entrepreneurship. I’m also extremely curious to discover and learn about the insides of the domain.


I published a bit less compared to previous years, but I found a sustainable pace for writing: one post a week. Like I said earlier, traffic has stagnated, but the number of subscriptions and the average time spent reading has increased. 

The topics I write about have drifted away from mostly technical ones to Domain Driven Design, modeling, personal experiences, conferences and book notes.


Although I only spoke twice myself, I got to meet up with inspiring people more than once; the IDDD Tour, DDD Exchange, CQRSBeers, BuildStuff and most importantly the birth of the Belgian DDD Community

Meeting up with likeminded souls, exchanging ideas, war stories and hopes, sharing food and beer is something that has been a source of true bliss. There are too many people to thank, but I’d like to name a few in particular: Mathias, Alberto, Christophe, Bart, Stijn, Yves, Tom, Marco and Thomas

Next month, I’m attending FOSDEM and I’ll be talking at DDDBE. I also already bought tickets for buildstuff later this year.


I got spoiled this year; I got to visit six different countries, spending more than five weeks abroad:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Lithuania
  5. USA
  6. Luxembourg

We’re still indecisive about whether we should visit Asia or something closer this summer. Anyone that can recommend locations in Asia?


I killed one side project at the start of this year, and documented it here. I spent a big part of this year working on another project. While I’m not sure if we will get that ever of the ground, I learned a few lessons though. Contact your potential customers before you build a close to finished product. If you’re going to work on something in the weekends, don’t make it feel like work.


The fiancée and I have built a habit of regularly doing long hikes - once every month. This is something we’re going to keep up, maybe even put it in the center of one of our holidays.  

I ran 705km this year, which is 270km less than last year. After running three competitions early on in the year, I lost my hunger, and started slacking. To keep the momentum going and to have something to work towards, I should probably enroll in a competition every few months. I already subscribed for the Antwerp Urban Trail run and the Antwerp 10 miles this year. Anyone else subscribing? I haven’t found a partner yet.

I also didn’t cancel my gym subscription this year. I have put together a satisfying routine that mostly consists of lifting heavy things avoiding modern equipment. It’s been fairly successful, bulking up 9kg the last six months. 

2014 side missions

  • Avoid Windows at home.
  • Learn a new (programming) language.
  • Build something just for me.
  • Spend less time in front of my machine. 
  • Read more. Watch more conference videos. 
  • Do nothing. It heals the soul.
  • Plan the weekend. 
  • More dinner parties.
  • Plan the wedding.
  • Take more guitar lessons.

Thanks for everything, I’m very grateful.