As 2008 drew to a close, there were signs that worsening economic conditions were, in fact, a recession. And as 2009 began, that recession took on historic proportions, taking a back seat only to the Great Depression of the early 20th century. Today, fully 10 percent of Americans are unemployed. And if you are reading this on a work PC or are otherwise gainfully employed, then congratulations. You may have just made it.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. From a revenue perspective, 2009 was my own worst year ever. Most of my earnings come from web royalties, and in case it wasn't obvious, there wasn't a lot of advertising happening during most of the year. It's still a bit early, but I believe my ad revenues will be about 50 percent of what they were the year before. That's terrible, but it could be worse: In January through May, they were tracking at about 30 percent of the year before. Ouch.
At least I still have a job. And it's a good job. I still get to work at home, as I have for several years now. And it's one that lets me travel (albeit less than before) and experiment with new technology (again, more prudently than in the past).
Some of that technology is decidedly low rent. In keeping with industry trends, I've purchased four netbooks this year, one for each member of my family. For the kids, netbooks are just about right, but I can't use it as my sole notebook--not even close--and the jury is still out on my wife. (So far so good.) It's pretty clear, however, that netbooks don't make any sense at all in a managed environment as they're just too cheaply made. (What I'd love to see is a netbook-class ThinkPad. Lenovo?)
My server test environment has also gone the frugal route, nicely mirroring industry trends. That is, it's virtualized now. Instead of having a number of loud, expensive, and decidedly nongreen physical servers, I have a single server loaded up with RAM and a Hyper-V-based virtualized Active Directory (AD) environment. (Believe it or not, I once even had some rack-mounted servers down in the basement.) One machine. I smile just thinking about it.
To be pragmatic about all this, I certainly have a better understanding of Microsoft's "do more with less" business marketing. It's one thing to discuss it and write about it, but it's another thing entirely to live it. Suffice to say, the message has been driven home. I get it.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to 2010, with the hope that it won't be as much of a downer as 2009. I'm just enough of a positive thinker to believe it's possible. And just enough of a realist to know that anything is possible.
What about you? How was your 2009? Do you have a horror story or have you seen a sign that the worst is over? Drop me a note at [email protected]. At the very least we can commiserate together.