Year In Review 2021
January 30, 2022
Been planning to do this for a while but never got around to doing it. Ever since I started doing yearly planning and reviews (2020), It made all the more sense to do these reviews publicly. Not just because everybody else does it, that’s part of it. But more importantly, committing publicly naturally pushes you to accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourselves.
Beginning of the year, I worked quite a lot on purely infrastructure-related problems which were really interesting but H2 2021 was more scattered in terms of the kind of things I was picking up. I wasn’t very impressed with the work I did in late 2021 especially. Would’ve loved for it to be more streamlined but that’s how it was. In terms of the stack, I continued working with Go, Kubernetes and the general cloud-native infrastructure domain for two main reasons. First, I like working on infrastructure and developer tooling in general, the stack I mentioned above lends naturally to these domains. Second and rather fortunately, I still work on infrastructure a little bit as part of my day to day work at HackerRank.
End of 2021, I finally got around to working more on open source which was super fun and refreshing to get back to. I also wrote a (fork) socket.io supplement emitter which I brought up to speed with the current main socket.io API along with other improvements, this was part of a problem I was solving at work. Secondly, as part of one of the yearly goals I had set for myself, I wrote a tool that uses AST(Abstract Syntax Trees) to format your Golang code, specifically the structs to make it more readable and easy on the diffs. I also wrote an accompanying vim plugin for it.
Looking back now, I realized I didn’t “hack” much in 2021 and I’ve considered that while planning for 2022.
reading & writing #
I did quite a lot of reading this year, very diverse. You can find all the reviews of the books here. I also finally managed to automate syncing reviews with Goodreads, thanks to Arpit for the API. After a year-long gap with audiobooks, I was back into it, partially because Audible generously provided a 3-month membership for free twice! If I had to pick one non-fiction and one fiction I enjoyed the most in 2021, I’d say Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shu-Ching Jaminet and Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Choo Nam-Joo.
Writing, on the other hand, was a disappointing affair. Just go back one page and you’ll see that I’ve written just 2 articles in the past 1 year. I’ll save you the effort:
Again, this is something I’m going to actively focus on in 2022 (this post is part of the initiative:)) I’ve also started Journaling again after doing it in 2019. I don’t have a clear goal in mind with it but I’m hoping I’ll somehow write more this year because of it and simultaneously reap the mindfulness benefits.
Gyms were closed for a good portion of the year and only when the second wave of COVID in Delhi passed(more on that later), they were allowed to open again. I started with PPL (Push, Pull, Legs) and then later switched to a slightly modified variant of 531 by Jim Wendler. I was doing 531 for the second time and this time around added pull-ups and chin-ups as assistance exercises. Thanks to the overload, I suffered from bicep tendonitis and a rotator cuff injury. I haven’t gone back since.
I finally caved in and bought a cycle, did a lot of it when there were very little COVID cases and when the pollution in Delhi made it possible, I found it to be a surprisingly cathartic experience. I also finally learned swimming. I’m able to front crawl, do backstroke and was still perfecting breaststroke when the pools closed for the winter season. I’m happy with the results though. Finally, badminton has been more or less consistent over the past year, it’s the only anchor I have most of the days when work becomes too much.
On travel front, I was able to make two domestic trips this year, Andaman and Mussoorie. Both were fun trips but not as relaxing as I thought they’d be.
I’ve been consistently learning Japanese for a good chunk of the year(actually every day as per Anki). Started learning just the vocabulary using Anki and later on took a 3-month course with two great instructors. I’m comfortable with Hiragana and Katakana. Kanji, on the other hand, is a totally different beast altogether and so far, I’ve only learnt about ~300 words. I’m planning to appear for JLPT sometime this year. We’ll see how that goes.
Remote work has its ups and downs. During the honeymoon phase of it, I was very excited about all the time I’d save and the things I’d do with that time. But it turns out that when you’re working from home, it’s very difficult to draw a line between work and life. Even if you do draw one, it’s a blurry one. On top of that, you’re missing out on a lot of necessary social interactions due to remote work. A friend at work recently mentioned that he barely knows all the new folks that have joined the company and that rings true with a lot of us. I’m happy that HackerRank is now a remote-first company officially and employees can work from wherever they feel the most productive. I’m thinking of making optimal use of this policy but I don’t have a clear picture of what or how.
Lastly, COVID has been extremely tough for everybody and I’m grateful to be where I am right now. The 2nd wave was extremely distressing. I jotted down some observations on the societal impacts that came with it. As I write this in January 2022, things are becoming normal again after the 3rd wave but it really feels like it’s never going to disappear completely.
I have some specific areas I’ve identified which I’m going to be focusing more on in 2022, most notably:
- Education: Learning new things, reading about more diverse topics, focusing on retaining more information that I’ve read (needs a post of its own), etc.
- Health: Gaining more strength, continuing with lifting, cycle more, swim again.
- Career: Taking more ownership, focusing on good engineering, learning more about how to interview candidates.
That’s about it for this review, I had a ton of things to say but that’ll be me deviating from the topic so I’ll try to branch out and try to post more. See you again next year for a similar retro.