Sum of 2018

This was a very big year, much like 2017 except less scary.

Personal things

Probably the biggest thing: I moved to San Francisco.

Comics

I finally bought myself a drawing tablet for my birthday. My whole life I've been drawing and in 2017 I was hand sketching my comics. This year I made 37 web comics and one comic book.

It is a lot of work to make just one of these comics and I'm still getting used to the tablet. The feedback on the comics has been really positive and that keeps me going.

Open-source

I have done a lot of open-source work. Compared to prior years, 2018 was relatively light. I released Raj this year, and that was substantial.

However, most of my personal work is no longer open. Frankly, this is due to my inability to find reusable abstractions which might benefit others. In order to focus on products, I've sacrificed solving problems generally. When I find good abstractions and tools to open source, I will.

I do not anticipate open-source playing a big role in the work I have planned for 2019. I will be happy to be proven wrong.

Anime

This got a dedicated article.

Travel

Most of the travel this year was for work. My trips to California became clock work. Never in my life did I picture myself having such an intimate understanding of the O'Hare airport. I also had to get used to rental cars. I had many this year and have to say the Ford Escape was the best.

We had a company retreat in Charlotte, North Carolina early in the year. That was a good time and took me through the Philadelphia airport. I hadn't gone through there since I was ten.

It's not a real summer unless I take a road trip so long it takes a mental toll. I drove down to visit friends in North Carolina for the week of July 4th. Then I drove over to Nashville to see my Erie friend at his summer internship. This was over 24 hours of driving in total.

I took my first vacation days ever for a week in late July to visit the Smokey Mountains. Getting there I flew from San Jose to Denver to the McGhee Tyson airport. My group got a nice cabin with a hot tub and being out in nature was great. The area around the Smokey Mountains has a crazy amount of non-nature stuff to do as well.

This year's travel was plagued with misadventures for sure. Most notable:

  • A cancelled flight from O'Hare to Erie made me fly to Buffalo and drive a rental car back to Erie so I wouldn't miss a wedding (my first). They lost my luggage but had it driven back to me by the next morning.
  • A cancelled flight from Philadelphia to Erie because the plane was broken. We had to wait until 3am to get our luggage off of the plane and I spent a night in a comped hotel.

There were some notably good times too:

  • I sat across from Bob Odenkirk at the O'Hare airport.
  • My final flight of the year into SFO was on a way under-booked airliner. Every person in boarding group 5 got their own row of seats. It was the most productive, most relaxing flight I've ever taken.

Comet

My best friend passed away on November 9th. Comet was eleven years old. He went blind in October 2017 and was on a slow decline. When I was remote, I took care of him during the day. As I began travelling for work more and eventually moved to San Francisco, my mom took care of him. After many death scares, she decided to put him down before he became a complete mess.

My biggest regret this year was not being there for him during his last moments. I miss Comet a lot.

Career things

My first project this year was making a dashboard for monitoring airplane security. Still sounds really cool but was a relatively simple project that I completed in two days. It was the first time I used Raj at work.

Shortly after, I switched into Node/web-app consulting for the world's most valuable publicly traded company of 2018. The project (still ongoing) is to unify many internal infrastructure tools from a single control plane. The scope of the project includes configuration, deployments, and abstractions to allow projects to transition to modern tools like Kubernetes. I worked primarily on the back-end of the project which was a mix of Node and Python.

This was my first consulting project where I had to go onsite with a team. I made the trip from Erie, PA to San Jose, CA and back five times from April to August. That meant tons of flying, rental cars, hotels, and an Airbnb. I spent 2 months of the year in California onsite.

In June, I started working on moving into a new job. There were a lot of factors that drove the decision.

First, front-end engineering was getting rote. I released the v1.0 of Raj, which I had been working on for a year. Raj was my front-end magnum opus, distilling how to front-end the right way. As it turns out the right way is boring, every program is exactly the same. I thought front-end was a solved problem, so it was time to move on to something else.

Second, it wasn't clear how to grow in my current job. Pressure to improve was solely driven by me. Day to day I was spending a considerable amount of time helping and mentoring others. That's not a bad thing surely, but I felt I still had a lot more to learn.

Third, the stars aligned. On one onsite trip, I took a day trip to San Francisco to do the tourism. I stepped off the BART and, never one to ride-share, walked the whole day. From the piers to the Golden Gate Bridge and back to the BART is about 14 miles. Walking through the city, very tired and dehydrated, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that made me audibly gasp. It was then I realized I needed to change jobs.

At the beginning of August, I accepted an offer to join Stripe. I got that Stripe t-shirt I saw. It still often hits me how crazy it is I work there.

I applied as a full-stack engineer, confident in front-end but wanting to do more. I moved to San Francisco and started work in September. This was a big change. No more front-end, I do back-end and infrastructure work. No more JavaScript, I write Ruby. No more remote work, I sit right next to everyone on my team. (Okay, still some remote work.)

The last part of this year I spent working on email infrastructure. I had always assumed email had to really complex, and I was right. Security has become a much bigger concern to me than it ever had previously. I am learning a lot for sure and that is what I wanted.

Into 2019

Next year, I need to push myself further. Looking back at my momentum from 2016 to 2018, I really want to keep that up. It is going to take a lot of work just to maintain, so we'll see how it goes. I am optimistic.

Happy New Year!