2019 in Review
2019 came and went! For me, it was a year that contained many transitions: graduating from university, moving back to Seattle, and starting my first full time job.
I love reading year-in-review posts; it's fun to get a quick recap of what everyone's been working on and see all the cool stuff that people have created, learned, and read. However, this year was a bit of a hard one to summarize. Everything felt so up-in-the-air until quite recently, so I haven't had a ton of mental space to reflect.
That being said, here's what I was up to in 2019.
By The Numbers
- 👨💻 Started 1 new job
- 🗺 4 countries visited (+ 6 states)
- 📝 14 blog posts (including this one)
- 📚 52 books read
- 🏃 815 miles ran
- 🐦 692 tweets
- 💻 952 Github contributions
- ☑️ 7,018 tasks in Todoist
- 👣 4,831,939 steps (according to my Apple Watch)
The year started with me finishing my last semester in college. I didn't have many requirements to complete, so I had a rather laid back course load.
I took a Virtual Reality course for fun. I didn't get a ton of intellectual value out of it, but the final assignment involved creating a VR game in Unity, which gave me an excuse to learn 3D modeling in Blender. (The results were… mixed, but it was a fun skill to develop.)
I also took an “Introduction to Ethics” course that I really enjoyed. This gave me the opportunity to read some philosophical texts that I'd been meaning to dig into (especially Mill and Kant's theories of ethics) and forced me to do some long-form writing, which was intellectually rewarding.
Other than that, I learned Haskell in my Programming Languages course, got to flex my Python/Numpy muscles in an “Audio Computing Lab” course, and survived the 2019 polar vortex (a fitting send off to my time in Illinois).
I graduated in May, packed up my apartment, and moved back to the Seattle area. I can't say that I'll miss UIUC's weather (although I have developed an affinity for snow), but I will miss the university environment and the great group of students and professors that I got to know during my time there.
My biggest project this year was Messy, an iOS game that I wrote about here. This was one of my more successful projects that I've ever shipped because it: 1) got completed to a level of polish that I was proud of, 2) involved learning an entirely new language and tool set, and 3) actually made me a (little) bit of money.
I also had a lot of fun in the Spring working on generative doodles. This project was mostly recreational, but I did learn about graphics libraries and some applied math along the way.
It was a quieter year project-wise than I've had in the past, but I have some ideas that I'm excited to work on in 2020. In particular, I'm wanting to get more into the physical hardware side of #plottertwitter. I'm in the process of building a DIY pen plotter, and I'm considering splurging on a vintage HP plotter or (more likely) an Axidraw.
Since writing code is my day job now, I suspect I'll be more drawn to projects that are a bit less “coding for coding's sake” and either involve: 1) making something with my hands or 2) solving a “real world” problem that I have.
Most of my travel this year was in the summer, which I wrote about here. In all, I visited Rocky Mountain National Park, Boston, NYC, Florida, the Bay Area, Ireland, London, and Slovakia.
I did more solo traveling this year than I'd ever done before. On the one hand, solo traveling affords you a huge amount of freedom – the feeling of waking up in a new city and having the entire day to explore it however you wish is both exciting and daunting. On the other hand, there are certain activities – for example, eating at a “fine dining” restaurant – that are a bit awkward to do alone.
I also took a language course in Slovakia for a month. That was an adventure in its own right… I'd always wanted to reconnect culturally with the Slovak half of my family, and this was an amazing opportunity to do so. Teraz rozumiem trochu slovensky!
Anyways, I'm hoping/planning for more group travel in 2020. No idea where I'll go yet, but that's part of the excitement.
In late August, I started full time at Google, working on GCP‘s cloud console. It's been an exciting few months ramping up on a new team. All of my (internship) work experience until this year had a fixed end date, so it's felt fulfilling to see projects through to their end and into their maintenance/usage phase.
My team also was one of the first to move into the new Google buildings in South Lake Union. Very fancy.
My day-to-day has been mostly writing Go, but I've also had a chance to write some Typescript and Python. I ended up writing a lot of Go this year, and it's philosophy has clicked nicely in my head (I wrote more about that here).
I just crossed the 3-month mark at Google, so I've now been working here for longer than any other place I've worked thus far. It's uncharted territory in a positive way, and I'm eagerly learning a lot.
How about those goals?
At the beginning of 2019, I had a couple focus areas: WebAssembly, Rust/Go, and React (especially React Hooks).
I basically didn't touch WebAssembly or React this year. Instead, I learned Swift and native development. WebAssembly continues to excites me, but it still feels 12+ months off from being something that I actively develop with.
Unfortunately, the same is true with Rust (for me). I really like the idea of
Rust: I like its zero-cost abstractions, its type system, and the community
built around it. But… the ergonomics still aren't quite there for me yet. I
feel like I have to install an unreasonable number of dependencies for simple
projects, I'm slightly concerned about the story for
async (although I've seen
positive movement on that recently), and I still get random breakages in crates
and when upgrading
rustc that don't inspire confidence in long-term stability.
There's nothing in particular that I can point to as the reason for why I haven't adopted Rust more fully, but… there's a je ne sais quoi of immaturity that still gives me pause. Crossing my fingers for continued Rust growth in 2020. 🤞
Looking towards 2020
2020 is likely to be a much more stable year for me, now that I'm settled back in Seattle. I'm looking forward to improving as a developer and as a person, reading good books, enjoying time with friends/family, and making it through the Pacific Northwestern winter grayness.
Here's to a new year and a new decade! 🥳