2018 in review

December 31, 2018

This year was the first year I spent half the time in the west and half the time in the East. From January til June i was in Asia, and July til December in London. I write this blogpost as I sit in a condo in Phuket, taking a well needed “Christmas” break driving a scooter around this beautiful island.

Here were my 5 goals for 2018:

  • Become a better computer scientist
  • Get more work in the blockchain space
  • Build an open source project
  • V10 climber on the moonboard
  • Take a trip back home

I only completed three of these goals. I smashed number 2 and 5. I’d give myself more than a tick if I could. Scraped myself through number 1, however I’d only give a half tick to number 4, and probably a big old fail for number 3. I’ll take some time in this blog post to review all these goals and what I did and didn’t do.

Become a better computer scientist

I did a few computer science courses on Front-end masters. I did not complete them in their entirety, but I definitely have a better idea of why we need computer science. One of the best things I did was read the book: 9 Algorithms that changed the future. This book is great for learning some real world examples of where algorithms have helped to revolutionise our lives, from search algorithms, to compression. One of my favourite examples is how a database keeps things in sync by keeping every update as an ‘atomic’ transaction, and if anything goes wrong, it can just roll back. This is something I’ve learnt from blockchain, but didn’t realise it existed in everyday database design.

Computer science is essentially the science of trade-offs, once you start to think like a computer scientist, you can better evaluate why a particular algorithm or data structure would affect your software. Do you want this to be fast, but take up a lot of memory - or is memory particular important to you and you don’t mind it being slow? These are all considerations I’ve start to learn about and applied to my craft as a software engineer. I understand more about data structures such as Bloom filters, which are a super cool data structure used to figure things like ‘related articles that user hasn’t read’. I also have started to understand algorithms we use everyday in Javascript such as quick sort (Array.sort uses it underneath). It’s been an eye opening experience and one that I would like to continue this into 2019

Get more into the Blockchain Space

I really smashed this one. I’m currently working at two different blockchain projects. One as a co-founder and one as a developer. I joined ENS full-time in April, and since August I have been working on product called Kickback, with two other cofounders. It’s been an exhilarating experience. I’ve had the chance to speak at two different events, one at ETHBerlin and one at Devcon4.

It’s been great working entirely in the crypto space, as I get to work with some really smart people and also completely remote. At the level I am at currently, I’d like to keep up this level of involvement into 2019.

Build an Open Source Project

Although I’ve been working regularly on jest-fetch-mock, an npm package I made in 2016 which recently hit 3.5 million total downloads. It hasn’t been a new open source project. Also even though all the work I’ve been doing recently is open source, but I wouldn’t call them OSS in the sense that I want other people to use them in their next project, but just the source is freely available to see.

The three I worked towards them, but didn’t hit all the targets . But that’s okay, the important part was having that as a long term goal to work towards. With the experience I gained in 2018, I can see more clearly what actionable steps will allow me to continue improving in 2019.

V10 climber on the moonboard

This year I’ve been working on getting healthier and stronger. Early in the year I was going to the gym to strengthen my body. And as I sit here in Phuket, I am also hitting the conventional gym every day. I need to work on strengthening my lats, shoulders and stretching out my fingers. Since being in London I haven’t been training on the moonboard as much these days, but rather training more movement on the variety of styles you can find in London climbing gyms.

The moonboard itself in the 2017 version seems to be significantly harder on the benchmark grade-wise, so I have not managed to get a V10 or even a V9 benchmark. V8s and 7s feel significantly harder for the most part and I have only climbed 2 V8 benchmarks this year. Earlier in the year there were only a few benchmarks, but I think in early 2019 I can start ticking off some easier V8s as many more were added whilst I was in London. This will be a goal I will be taking with be into 2019. I feel like I need to get back into a much stricter training schedule, working heavily on finger strength, upper body power and concentrating on technique whilst warming up.

Take a trip back home

Taking a trip back home was something I’ve been wanting to do few years. In the early days of me moving out to Asia I’ve found that there were financial constraints to coming back to London. In the last few years, that has changed significantly, and therefore I’ll be looking to come back to London more regularly and visit family. Coming back to London and seeing my parents has made me realise how important it is at this time to keep up that relationship and make regular trips back.

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Distilling the complicated into the simple. And sometimes general wonderings. Follow me on twitter