Another year come and gone. For me, 2022 had the feeling of being the first real “post-pandemic” year (despite the fact that I caught COVID in July). There clearly was a vibe shift this year, as the pandemic became less of a headline story, the war in Ukraine caused downstream political and economic effects, and the US tech sector softened.
I started the year working on a team at Google Cloud building out new services for configuration automation. We went through a couple team composition changes, culminating in me being the TL for my team. It was fun to take on that role, but I felt like after a sufficient amount of change in the scope of that team/product, the challenges I was solving weren’t really of the type that interested me.
I really wasn’t expecting to change jobs this year, but in a “one thing led to another” story, I moved to Databricks mid year. It’s been a great experience. I’ve been quite impressed with the engineering culture here, and the talent of the folks I get to work with.
Technically, the biggest shift has been moving from writing primarily Go to primarily Scala. The difference in language philosophy is pretty big: Go is famously simple, and Scala is (perhaps infamously) much more complex. I’ve enjoyed working in Scala quite a bit, though. It’s bend towards functional programming intrigued me. Writing Scala feels like writing in this weird amalgam of Python, Java, and Typescript. It definitely has its warts, but after years of feeling slightly somewhat constrained by Go, Scala was a welcome change.
Also, just as a general feeling, working at a smaller company that has much more “low hanging fruit” for improvements has been rewarding. The types of career opportunities are different (not necessarily better/worse), and it’s been fun to learn new system architectures & processes, and work within a new set of organizational constraints & incentives.
Favorite Media of 2021
🎧 Music: I was in a music discovery phase for much of 2022. You can scroll through my 2022 playlist in it’s entirety, but here were some albums/tracks that stood out:
- Perihelion (Sungazer)
- Blue Rev (Alvvay)
- Saintmotelevision (Saint Motel)
- Fuzzybrain (Dayglow)
- How To Be A Human Being (Glass Animals)
- The Slow Rush (Tame Impala)
📚 Books: I wrote a separate post of my favorite books of the year.
🎧 Podcasts: I continued keeping a relatively slim feed of podcasts this year:
- Clearer Thinking - Effective Altruism and Rationality
- Lesswrong Curated - Rationality, AI, Epistemics
- Odd Lots - Economics. Typically focussed on macroeconomics, supply chain, and unconventional finance stories
- The Compound and Friends - Economics. Typically focussed on the stock/bond markets, trading, and economic trends
I spent less time on (coding) side projects this year than I have in any year in recent memory. The further I get in my career, the less enthusiasm I seem to have for outside-of-work projects. And that’s a shame!
Most of my hobby time was spent on more outdoorsy activities: I went backpacking and snowshoeing for the first time, did a bunch of hiking, started climbing/bouldering, and generally leaned into all the Pacific Northwesterner stereotypes.
I also got more solidly back into playing piano this year. What made that habit stick? It wasn’t an uptick in motivation, or a concerted expenditure of willpower – I just moved my piano into my living room, so it’s right next to my work desk. Putting it in my field of vision, and making it super accessible, made me much more likely to sit down and actually practice.
Writing is one of those skills that really benefits from continuous, periodic practice. I feel quite out of practice now, which bugs me. I actually did quite a bit of writing this year, but much of it was either quite informal or for writing design docs – neither of which is really the voice I like to write with on this blog. I published fewer posts this year, partially due to reprioritizing how I spend my time, and partially due to “falling off the bandwagon” in the middle of the year.
Unfortunately, writing also doesn’t feel like a super high priority, so I’m not sure that I’ll do more of it in 2023. 😕 So it goes!
For 2023, I have a few goals (well, really aspirations):
- Take some time to slow down and begin forming longer term (3-5 year) plans
- Run a marathon! (I ran a half-marathon last year, and have enjoyed the social component of distance running)
- Shift more energy into satisfying my technical curiosity. I’ve been becoming more interested in AI recently, so I’d like to research some of the overlap between distributed systems and AI (e.g. distributed training & inference)
That’s all I got for now; happy 2023!