It's been a long time since I shared something from my personal life, and generally, not much has been written on the blog in the last few years. Changes in lifestyle, health, and priorities have had a significant impact on how I process things and what I want to share.
The health state is worrying me more than before, which is gradually worsening.
As for physical health, even 3 years after COVID, I still experience some mild effects and, frankly, don't expect them to improve significantly. Aging also contributes to this. We value things we don't have - indeed, only after falling sick with COVID did I appreciate how my productivity was inexhaustible even when I was tired and physically unwell.
Due to COVID, then emotional turbulence and stress caused by our house being flooded right after we moved to a new place and my son was born, I tipped towards depression. Putin's government's war against Ukraine completely destroyed me mentally. That brought me first-hand experience of how deep depression is experienced, and trust me, it's not a walk in the park. Thanks to the specialists who helped manage many aspects of my perception of reality.
What makes physical and mental health worse is my fitness. I'm in the "obese" territory - almost touching the 100Kg mark with a waist measurement of 109cm, not very body positive, is it? Partially due to the depression, laziness, and back issues that prevent me from running, one of the few physical activities I enjoy most. Also, having a kid is great, but obviously, I got taxed on the "me time".
It's something I started earlier for multiple reasons but frankly, it can be very mentally involving to choose meals that fit well into life with a toddler and a partner who probably doesn't want to eat only pescetarian food. With all the depression, it's really difficult to dedicate even a little energy to think about it. However, I found the rule "keep meat to a minimum" very easy to follow. By November 2023, I returned to pescetarianism and soon after, I stopped craving meat, just like last time.
That resulted in me returning to a normal software development job, and I was lucky enough to get into a startup I really liked. I liked the team and product, but after many years of contracting and challanges around MEV, I felt myself in the wrong shoes, so I quit. Probably that was one of the worst career decisions I've made. You just can't leave a great promising startup with experienced founders who are building a great product when all the checkboxes are ticked, just because it doesn't feel like previous experiences. Having some aftershock of depression at that time, it took no time to resign :-/
I have done some contract work, but it's irregular. Changes in regulations "IR35" in the UK, along with the recession, also had a massive impact on the contracting market, resulting in reduced demand.
So, I'm finishing my 2023 while working in a permanent role in another company, completely remote, and the lack of social interaction drives me mad - I never liked "remote only" or "office only" types of work.
I've got a few job offers in the companies but ALL of them aren't allowing to use Linux for work. In almost 20 years of delivering production software I rarely come across the hard no for Linux laptop, but this year is cursed. Seriously, do you need me to deliver products or use laptop with bitten fruit logo?
Sadly, I haven't done many this year. A few noteworthy projects publicly available:
- PhrasesHub.com - a website for English learners, a SEO + AI experiment
- Solidity Address Table @ GitHub - a library for EVM that allows reducing calldata use by mapping addresses into indices. Due to the nature of the L2 Rollups, gas savings with this library can be as much as 30%
- localnode library @ GitHub - Ethereum development tools for JVM apps are subpar compared to those found in TypeScript and Rust world. This library should be a little help for Kotlin and Java developers, allowing them to run tests and simulations in local node or forked envinroment in parallel with ease. It solves my problem; I don't see why it wouldn't help fellow devs.
This year's learning was very fragmented but fruitful compared to 2022.
- Learning to be a parent, that's a big one. Reading and experiencing something I haven't come across before, and it's so far from my everyday activities where I'm supposed to be good at. It turns out it's fun to be a dad!
- Managing and navigating in the time of depression - another non-technical but highly important skill for keeping yourself sane. It can be hard sometimes, given the craziness of the world around, but there are techniques that help.
- Rust, I guess one of my contributors to the depression(irony). I'll do a dedicated post about it. It was an interesting experience to get to use something I was very keen on learning for several years. As much as I liked some "low-level language" features, I found its extremely disappointing language design and type aspects. What's a real bummer is the quality of the dev tools. From now on, I would only consider Rust where Kotlin-Native wouldn't do, or where I've got to use C++.
- LLMs from the developer's point of view. As mentioned above, PhrasesHub.com was my playground in preparation for a bigger project I've been thinking about for some time. I think I've learned enough for some level of prompt engineering, basic fine-tuning, API to automate everything, hardware requirements, and types of LLMs publicly available. Surely I'm just scratching the surface, but it should be sufficient to build the MVP I'm thinking of. If that takes off, I can always invest more time to learn or get professionals to work on it.
This is the usual disappointment. I tried to read(?) comics this year for the first time in my life - it seems quite an interesting format I totally neglected earlier: The Name Of the Game[en/comics], The Imitation Game[en/comics], The Lie And How We Told it[en/comics], The Danish Way of Parenting[en/audiobook], Crucial Conversations[en/audiobook], The Chimp Paradox[en/audiobook; wip]. Embarrassingly, I didn't read a normal book this year.
This year was pretty good, very close to the pre-pandemic frequency of travels. Obviously, with a kid, it now costs like 5x more, but it's worth it!
- Spain: Los Crestianos(Tenerife), Palma de Majorca
- Austria: Vienna
- Montenegro: Podgorica, Budva(x2)
- Romaina: Bucharest
- Itally: Rome
- Thailand: Bangkok
- Japan: Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Tokorozawa, Utsunomiya, Niigata, Kobe, Okayama, Kurashiki, Hiroshima
- Vietnam: Hanoi
- France: Paris
- UK: Manchester, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Sheffield
(new destinations are in bold)
Let's see what what 2024 has prepared for us.