It’s that time of the year again! What part you ask? It’s time for a end-of-the-year retrospective, a check-in wherein I look back at what I’ve done, how I’m doing with my goals that I set out at the beginning of the year, and most importantly, add a new post to my blog so that it doesn’t look like it’s dead.

Just kidding!

So first, this is a blog post in a pretty long series of personal updates that I started back in 2012 (and probably before that on my old blog). It has always given me the focus I needed to look back without judgement or bias, and organize my thoughts on what I’ve been up to.

Let’s review 2018 goals real quick.

Original goals progress

In summary:

  • Website redesign
  • Hugo blog
  • ng-redux support
  • unity tutorials
  • finish several personal projects
    • D20 Elixir bot
    • Slack proverbs
    • Quick pomodoro
    • Dashboard
    • Newsletter revival
    • app ideas repo

So, errr….I didn’t get any of this done. I spent some time on ng-redux and pushed out a 4.X release but that’s about it. I didn’t get a newsletter together, I didn’t work on Unity. I basically just abandoned all of my goals in various states of disarray.

I do have a newsletter setup but I don’t use it. I keep wanting to use it but given how long this article took to write, it’s obvious I’m unlikely to write in any sort of regular capacity using a newsletter.

I’ve been thinking about a redesign but never did it. In fact, I abandoned the idea of migrating my site away from WordPress. Too much work, not enough pay off. I briefly tried to make GatsbyJS work with Netlify on my antjan.us domain but even that I struggled to keep working.

These days, I rarely ever dive into side projects. You might ask why. Well…

Fulfillment at work

One of the reasons I’ve always gravitated toward side projects has been the work environment. Either work was really stressful and thus I couldn’t enjoy development, or there was a technology I wanted to try but couldn’t, or I’d just plain find my job boring.

One of the biggest changes at my job since January has been hiring several developers. We’re a team of six right now. That’s a big dev team for a small startup. And instead of scrambling to push features out, we’ve become a machine moving ever-forward. We’ve been rewriting the original app I wrote: both back-end and front-end. And we’ve been rewriting it in technology that I’ve enjoyed using: Angular and Elixir.

Angular

I used to write my side projects in Angular or React. And that was fun but a production environment is truly fulfilling. It requires deep thought, organization, future-thinking, and requires a consensus among the team. That has been driving me forward with my front-end development without really pushing me away to learn/use something different.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written some React/Preact here and there but there’s nothing like writing a nice component in Angular that fits into a larger codebase which customers use every single day.

Writing for a production environment also means that this is part of my work and I don’t have to sacrifice my much-lacking free time to use this technology.

Elixir

The back-end work has been great too. For years, I’ve been on the fence about what new language to learn. I’ve been coding a Discord bot in Golang for the past year but that’s been about it. I’ve tried Elixir but failed. Then, one of our developers wanted to rewrite our codebase in it for its various advantages over JavaScript/Node. Our entire team rallied behind the effort and now, all new features go through our Elixir app.

Elixir is a lot of fun and doesn’t take a huge amount of time to learn. It’s the nuances of app development that really get you. The idea of separating apps, the idea that everything is a thread or something, that async stuff happens asynchronously but you don’t know that. Unlike in JS, where you have to manage asynchronicity.

There’s no way I could mount such a huge effort in my spare time to build an app that’d really test my skills and teach me how to use Elixir so this has been a ton of fun for me and has helped our development as well. We didn’t just write in Elixir for the writing in Elixir. We use its benefits to benefit our product.

Team Work

It might seem silly but team work and a positive developer experience can bring about fulfillment as well – even more so than the technology you might use.

We’ve switched to Docker at work and slowly reversed/fixed a lot of mistakes and holes in the workflow I’ve setup years ago. Right now, we have two separate apps that seamlessly interact locally and in production. We have a deployment workflow that smooths over any bumps along the way.

On top of that, we do dev meetings that really scratch the itch when it comes to progress, fixing and analyzing problems, and steering development in a positive direction.

All of this combined with awesome people on the development team.

I should mention that a lot of the “problems” we analyze and try to fix have to do with more than the Elixir/JS we write. We have been tackling project management, team structures, feature planning, and so on. So that satisfies the productivity junkie in me as well.

Things aren’t perfect but they’re definitely really good.

Unexpected progress

Content

The one thing I did that was unexpected was post several blog posts this year. I’ve been out of the blogging game for a while and writing anything was an accomplishment. I blame Dev.to for that, it’s a content/blogging platform for developers.

Scroll back through my feed and even check out my Twitter for some good content as well. I’m really active on there.

Outside of that, my Youtube channel is seeing some love with org-mode related videos and more.

Org-mode

I finally dove into org-mode. I killed off my old .emacs earlier this year and started from scratch. My config is super short and is used to enable some small options and include the bare minimum of packages I need for my daily use.

Over time, I learned Emacs and I learned to use it using its defaults, not via evil-mode, or thorugh spacemacs or other packages. What was great about that is that I’m writing this article via Emacs using absolute defaults. And it’s nice.

My “main” installation with its config works really well and I can always lean on generic emacs articles/youtube videos without having to worry about defaults having been messed with.

I still don’t use Emacs for development; however, Emacs + org-mode has pretty much replaced all of my todo apps, note-taking apps, etc.

Engineering Notebook

As part of migrating to org-mode, I’ve also started a software engineering notebook. I hope I can stick with it because it’s been pretty useful to look up error messages in my own personal notebook where I document solutions for problems I run into.

I hope to one day make it publicly available.

New Goals?

Confession time, I started writing this article months ago but I couldn’t finish it. Now that the year is coming to a close, I decided to update it. Originally, this section was empty with a quick explanation that I’m focusing on personal development goals (development as in personal growth) rather than tech goals.

A few things have changed since then so I figured I’d share:

try to become a development instructor

Between the YouTube videos I’ve been making, the Tweets I’ve been tweeting, and some encouragement from a friend, I found myself wanting to enter the game of teaching development rather than just consuming articles.

I’ve been on this path toward instructor-ship for a while and now it’s become a bigger goal for me.

one side app

I do miss side project development. One of my big issues has been focusing on one project and the idea that when I don’t have time to work on it, dependencies and the code goes to hell quickly.

I’m thinking of building a single app but I have three big ideas, each one with its own merits, each one having to do with a personal goal as well.

So here are the ideas:

  • Skok – a photo management app whose main purpose is to take haphazardly put-together folders of photos and sort them out
  • Omen – my markdown editor that I started a couple of years back. But this time, I’d like to finish it!
  • Chislo – a super simple budgetting/finance app

2018 Personal

Goals Review

So last year, I had a few goals, nothing special; however, I did not get to most of those. My 52 sprint idea did not work out whatsoever.

But here’s the final tally:

  • [X] finish Season 1 of Indigo League review for PUCL
  • [X] vlogging/video creation
  • [X] chore completion
  • [X] back to working out – I’ve been semi-regularly running!
  • [X] productivity prioritization
  • [ ] get finance in order
  • [ ] publish NaNo 2014
  • [ ] publish NaNo 2016

And some unexpected progress:

  • a good deal of gaming I’ve been meaning to get to
  • way more fiction writing than I expected to do
  • NaNo (idk which year) editing – currently on Chapter 6 out of 14

TV Shows and Movies

TV Shows

I watched quite a few fun TV shows but for some reason, I can’t recall most of them so here’s what I do remember watching:

  • Supernatural
  • Rick & Morty
  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Naruto Shippuden
  • Dragon Ball Super
  • Disenchantment
  • Badlands
  • The New Legends of Monkey

Movies

I remember which movies I watched even less than which TV shows. I rewatched a ton of stuff I liked a while back and reaffirmed that I still like those movies:

  • DOOM
  • The Matrix trilogy
  • All of Harry Potter
  • Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (both trilogies)
  • Star Wars: Han Solo story – loved it!
  • Beyond Skyline

Podcasts

Books

Finished:

  • 1Q84
  • Star Wars The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime
  • Insecure In Love

Still reading:

  • Non Violent Communication
  • A House Divided
  • Return Of The King

Music

The past few years, I’ve posted individual songs, and while I can do that this year, I’d like to share the Spotify playlists that I’ve aggregated throughout the year:

Games

Playing/Played A Bunch/Finished:

  • Overwatch
  • Stardew Valley
  • A Bird Story – finished
  • Sonic Forces (Switch)
  • Paladins (on Switch)
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Blockout II
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Torchlight

Somewhat played/barely any progress:

  • Might & Magic VII: For Blood and Honor
  • Hexen
  • Harry Poter And The Philosopher’s Stone
  • Diablo
  • Commander Keen
  • Super Mario Land 2

Personal Goals for 2019

My biggest takeaway from life this year has been the importance of focusing one’s own development and how that solid foundation of “self” can translate outwardly as well.

But here are a few things I’d like to do:

general life management

That includes:

  • finance management
  • chores
  • and other responsibilities

I’ve considered writing an app but it’d be too broad for anyone else to use. My main issue is that to manage my own life, I have to have either a very complicated system in a single app or spread everything out across too many apps.

continue running

Possibly run a 7K (I’ve got a 5K down pretty easy!) but I don’t feel confident that I can hit a 10K just yet. I’m not training in any way and simply run when I have time and feel the need to. Running a 10K would be quite difficult.

NaNoWriMo 2019

I’m not sure what I’ll write but I definitely have the goal to write yet another book. My hope is to make a standalone novel that doesn’t plug into any universe, story, or book I’ve already written.

Edit NaNoWriMo 2014/2016

I’ve been editing this book for a LONG time; however, I made some true progress this year. I’m at least a third way through my final editing pass and after that I’ll be bracing myself for some awkward self-publishing.

The quite wonderful thing about this is that my 2018 NaNoWriMo is a sequel.