Past Year Review (2022)

The end of the year has arrived, and it’s time to look back and sum up all the good and bad things that have happened in the year. It’s a great exercise to review each achievement and to focus on how to get better.

Every year is an unknown, overall I’d say I managed to stay “positive” and push through despite a few sad events.
In my previous resolution, I’ve outlined my 2022 to be something like this:
  • Move my role more toward Platform
  • Start practicing Mindfulness
  • Keep doing exercises more consistently

Platform Engineer

In the last few years I tried to focus on Cloud and DevOps, this year I fully switched to a Platform Engineer role, and I really like it. At the beginning of the year, I left Radical to join Treatwell and it’s been almost one year of great learning and professional growth.
I’ve, also, started another pet project: building a server rack (link to the blog series). It was super cool to build from scratch and manage to assemble it step by step. I ended up with a Proxmox machine with a small Kubernetes cluster, a Pi-Hole, a KVM, a UPC, a firewall (with VPN), and a NAS.
I simplified my own production environment which was over-engineered, switched from Kubernetes to Docker Swarm, and started to do experiments in my local Kubernetes cluster to stay up-to-date.

Learning

I wanted to read several books, I managed to read still a few, but also got myself a yearly subscription to one of those 15-minute book summary services (opted for Headway). I think the only value is to know which book to buy and to read them from cover to cover. Unfortunately, except for a bunch of quotes and highlights, no concepts whatsoever have stuck in my brain after reading the summaries.
These are the books I’ve read this year:
  1. Idioms (reference)
I’ve also joined a company-internal Book Club, focused on the book Staff Engineer, with other fellow Engineer Managers.

Mindfulness Self-Care

I didn’t practice mindfulness as planned to do, alternatively, I did fallback on other activities:
  • Rubik’s Cube, now I can solve in 2/3min. It allows me to have a real break and isolate my brain from my surroundings.
    • I started with having breaks of the same length as 1 Rubik’s Cube (trying to do something like a Pomodoro approach).
    • In the beginning, it took me ~7 minutes (started with Milan Struyf’s great tutorial), and now I’m down to 2/3 minutes, so I could solve it twice as faster as the initial starting time.
  • Cup Stacking, I used to do challenges with some colleagues during breaks a few years ago, I brushed the dust off my cups and started again, I’m still a little rusty and can do a 3-6-3 stack in ~6 seconds. It’s another activity to unplug my brain and improve my coordination 🙂
  • Ukulele, I learned the basics for fingerpicking and still working to get my strumming right (Yousician is helping me a lot).
    • I wanted to pick an (easy) instrument and start learning it. In the past I gave a try to bongos and djembe, they are great fun but they are a little too loud to be played in the house.
  • Laughter, I started watching some stand-up comedy (eg Dry Bar) during my COVID isolation a few months ago, and I’d say it’s great to have a good hard laugh. Good for the mood, but also for the health.
  • Breathing exercises, to reduce stress and manage to have more regular breathing and numerous health benefits.

Note: If you’re looking for some ideas for yourself, I suggest having a quick look at this list, there are quite a lot of varied activities (which I might pick up next year as well).

Being Fit

I’ve got too much relaxed and I didn’t have the same discipline I had the previous year. I got a couple of elastic bands and started to use those instead (here’s a good set of exercises from Chris Heira). I also brushed the dust off of my pull-up bar, and managed to do 1 set of 20 “assisted” pull-ups/chin-ups. I also bought a speed skipping rope, to improve my cardio (I had to follow a tutorial to do it right and not awkwardly like when I was a kid).
I bought a book about Calisthenics and going to follow an easy daily schedule to get back on track.

Mentoring

I kept doing sessions throughout the year, and also got a couple of new mentees as well.
As promised in 2020, I’ve got my own (weekly) newsletter, and have been able to keep it going for 2 years. Each week I propose some curated content mostly related to the DevOps world (but also some content on programming, security, and leadership).
If you ever need some help with your projects you could book me for a quick call 😉

Next Year?

For 2023 I’m not going to set any particular goals, as I’m starting to appreciate a little bit of loose scheduling/planning to allow some unplanned new activities.
For now, I just want to pick 2 running themes for the year, so most activities will be around these topics:
  • Calisthenics
  • Mentoring/Training

I’ve already started kicking off 2023 with a nice round of password updates on critical services (do you use a password manager, right?!), an inbox cleanup, and a global backup offsite onto my NAS.

PS: A little spoiler: I’ll be moving my role toward management (again?!). Am I in a pendulum? Maybe so.