It’s the very end of 2020 and it’s time to review what happened this year, what I achieved, where I failed and what I am going to do next year. I make it public for better accountability and maybe to provide some ideas for others.
How COVID changed my life?
If we want to evaluate 2020, even on a personal level, we cannot avoid mentioning COVID.
Maybe it’s a bit strange, one would say even controversial, but COVID changed my personal life to the better.
I spend much more time with my children. Even if that’s something difficult during the workday, I like it. I spend more time with them in the morning, I help them to get ready and we have a common lunch at least on Wednesdays - it’s not a school day in France.
My son goes to a nanny on Tuesdays on Thursdays to socialize before kindergarten and to hear more French. That also means we can have lunch only with my wife twice a week, some time to be alone together, something we didn’t really have for years.
Apart from that? Less travelling, no meetups and fewer conferences.
And of course, the way I work changed completely.
Mandatory Home Office
I must confess that with a good colleague of mine, we were the last ones to leave the office. We were basically kicked out on 16th March around 10 AM. Since then, I only went back once to get back my stuff.
I didn’t want to work from home because originally no screens were provided, I had none at home, I had no comfortable desk nor chair and I was afraid of working with the kids at home.
Finally, I got to work from home with my internal setup of two screens and I invested in a small desk occupying a corner next in our living room and a comfortable chair.
Now I would be the last one to go back to the office and when I’ll change jobs, most probably I’ll look for a fully remote position.
I would lie if I said that working from home doesn’t generate tension from time to time. It does, yet it’s still worth it. Both because of the emotional plus and also for the flexibility. I’m pretty much the person who follows a very strict schedule even in a home office, I don’t like to work at strange hours. But if I have to take care of the kids or some immediate chores, I can and I can make up for it later.
I hope that once the hysterical situation will be getting back to normal, employers - in particular mine - will consider remote work more normal if not as the new norm.
Work, work, work
This year I spent more time on improving how we prepare for security audits, how we approach software security in general. I managed to dedicate some time to coordinate removing all the C++ compiler warnings from our codebase and now we handle them as errors. With warnings we removed a lot of undefined behaviour, thus making our code more robust.
I improved a lot our tooling, both for security-related activities, for our CI/CD and for ticket management. I have even fewer reasons to leave the command line.
At the end of the year, I started to learn Angular to prepare for a new project. Though it’s unsure yet when I’ll need it as the project changed even before it started.
My god, I might have to relearn Java a bit. But even I have to, I want to focus on C++ even in the mid-term…
C++ has been in my main focus since the beginning of 2018. For almost 3 years. At that point, I made a decision that I must understand it better, much-much better if I don’t want to struggle at my work.
During this journey, I published more than 60 articles about C++, I built some personal projects, and this year I had the opportunity to get into C++ On Sea and I spoke along with presenters like Herb Sutter, Kate Gregory or Matt Godbolt.
I also built Daily C++ Interview, a side project where I send out a C++ interview question every day for free and one can also subscribe for the answer - for a small amount of money.
I built CMake Project Creator to significantly limit the time you need to set up a new C++ project. Contributors are welcome!
I’ve been publishing book reviews for almost 4 years, and this year I decided to improve their depth and add more quality to it. In parallel, I created a subdomain on my personal page where I publish only book reviews and I created a dedicated newsletter.
I don’t like to work on multiple side projects at the same time, but this hackathon hit me as a surprise, while I already started to work on something for my wife. A Flutter app that helps to track how many clothes our kids have. So if she sees something, like a good deal, she can quickly check if we need anything from that size, form that kind of clothes. It’s already in a good shape, I’ll publish it in a month or two.
What is waiting for me in 2021?
I hope we can go this year to the Azores… A 3-week trip we were waiting for a long time, and we had to cancel it for obvious reasons.
I already started, but most of it will come next year. I’m helping as a proofreader Rainer Grimm’s work on his new book, C++20. It’s very rewarding. I get some insights on how to edit a book, my name will be mentioned in the acknowledgements section and I can learn C++20 quite in the beginning. I don’t have to mention, I’m reading it very thoroughly.
Speaking about books, in 2021 I plan to finish my first book, The Seniority Trap. You could already read some excerpts from the first few chapters.
I continue to improve my C++ skills, I still have to make a plan for how to do it. But I think, concepts now provide plenty of opportunities, and templates were an area where I definitely need some improvement.
I also plan to transform Daily C++ Interview, as in its current form it’s not sustainable. I cannot keep adding new questions until the end of the world - though it might be closer than I’d think. I dedicated myself to add questions throughout 2020Q4 and I don’t quit before it ends. But I already started to think about how to transform this product. Most probably, I’m going to revamp it into a 128 days program that requires less daily attention and I can focus more on the other projects I have.
At work, I will have to be a better thought leader, I have to speak more and be more active at meetings. I have to act as a leader, even as in individual contributor if I want to progress into more senior roles, like a staff or a principal engineer. It’s not enough to find and fix problems, I have to shape more the discussions we have.
I have to continue working on my routines and incorporate more about my body. I already made some progress, but I’m far from the end.
That’s a bit long, but a lot of things happened, I worked on a lot of things. And despite COVID, 2020 was a great year and I’m pretty sure that 2021 will be even better.
I wish you a happy new year!