Originally I wanted to write another post, then realized that I had already done it (about Change), and then moved to another idea, but for reasons decided to leave it till later.
So here it is a post that I forgot to write at the beginning of 2020: How was my last year?
For all of us, that has been the most important event of last year (and still continuing because … I better don’t go there).
I was unlucky to get sick back in mid-March. Luckily for me it was only two weeks, with a full day of having breathing issues. A cousin of mine got hospitalized and required later electric shocks to the heart. Although I don’t know directly anyone that has died of it, my wife knows people (NHS workers) that have.
Working from home
Because of the above, I have been working from home since I recovered. Before this whole thing started, I hated to work from home. First, it was difficult for me to concentrate (working from the laptop, sitting in a couch); Second, I felt isolated from the rest of the team. So I only worked from home when there was a real need for me to be there (or to not commute … you know, London).
This whole experience has opened my eyes. My first concern was alleviated once I setup my room to allow me to work better, with my desk, my double monitor and not having distractions around me. The second went away because, once everyone is remote, everyone has to communicate through the same digital channels. Most of the year I spent pair programming, which meant no loneliness at all. That was great. Worse times where when I was in the bench, studying for my certificate (more below)
I had the benefits of not having children and having a garden. I spent most of Spring and Summer going to the garden for lunch, and after work. I don’t go much now due to the cold and damp, and I can feel my mental health taking a hit because of it.
I understand not everyone has had the same conditions. But I can see remote work staying in the future as the main option. Once children can go back to school, and we can socialize again outside, remote working allow us to increase the geographical range where we can offer our services, removes commuting and the need to move to a different city for a new job. Probably a 3 days at home 2 at the office, or even 4 and 1 could prevail (I still believe face to face communications are important).
Towards the end of 2019 I had started to experiment with working on my feet. It was in part motivated by my lack of exercise. So on January last year I bought an Skarsta standing desk from Ikea for my home. I went for that because I wanted something cheap, in case I wasn’t impressed.
I have been impressed. Mightily.
I started to use daily because, once recovered, I had quite a lot of back pain after a couple of days. As it happens, in the office you keep moving all the time, going to talk with people, going to meetings, and other stuff. At home, there is no need to move; everyone is a click away; therefore you barely move.
The first week standing up was quite tiring, but after a while it has been fine. Whenever I am working my desk is up, once I stop working I take it down. That helps to create a mental switch between work and me-time.
You still need to do some kind of exercise, just standing on your feet is not enough.
I had a few setups for my feet (socks, no socks, slippers, flip-flops). A bit late (nearly 11 months later), I got an anti-fatigue mat. During the next week or so I will evaluate.
Last point: keep moving your legs, if you don’t want to end with varicose veins.
One thing that I realize towards the end of the year is that I was in constant anger. That is not good. Not good as a person, not good as consultant. It affects your thinking, your relations, and your effectiveness. It has happened before, once, where I was in a similar situation (of course, probably the whole pandemic and the lockdowns did have a magnifying effect). That time I did take a decision that calmed me down. But didn’t do it consciously. I only realized the correlation after the fact. This time around I took the decision consciously and I can say that there is a causation (ok, no statistician will agree on causation with two data points). I am back to being a chill person. I like that.
So, as I have said not long ago: Know Thyself
How important is being right? How important is to indicate that you are right? In which context are you working? By the end of December I realized that my whole approach was incorrect. I try to think logically, be rational; I like to revision my positions as more data comes into place; and then I express my convictions and try to get people to take decisions based on them. I’ve been told before that I am a bit too direct (which is true but also funny, as compared to before I moved to the UK, as a Spaniard, I am not as blunt as I a was). But sometimes (most of the time?), pushing forcefully for what I think is right (and, this is important, sometimes I am not) is not helpful. I will talk more about this in my next post, due to a book that I am finishing. So this section is just a teaser.
Somehow, by the end of the year I though I had not done as much writing as I had done before. But the opposite is the actual truth. I have written more blog posts that at any point before. I am hoping this year I can double the amount that I write (in which case, I am already behind). I think the impression that I had done less is because I did not as much of what I did most during 2019, the podcast and the LSCC hosting.
From a Tech perspective, 2020 was an interesting year.
I spent the whole year working on AWS (this new year I have re-encountered Azure), using mostly Terraform (such a lovely system). Because of all that AWS work, I went for the Architect Associate certificate from AWS (just because, as I don’t think tech certificates tend to indicate the person has any kind of proficiency).
Somehow I managed to test the waters, for the first time, of the PHP sea. But because I was just tiptoeing into it, I did not have encounters with the worst parts of it. It mostly did what I wanted it to do, with the occasional head scratch. The language I used the most was Typescript, of which I am becoming less and less interested. Taking into account that I loved Turbo Pascal, Delphi and C#, it seems like a negative mark in my admiration of the work of Anders Heljsberg. And I was able, again to use Clojure, which is one of my favourite languages (well, my top three are all FP languages)
In terms of architecture I have seen both monoliths and microservices again. And my believe that a well designed monolith goes a very long way was reinforced (even when I saw a really good event driven microservices architecture being used successfully in production)
I think 2020 is a year that most people will prefer to forget. But it has lead to two discoveries for me that
could should will have an important effect in my future.