2022 A Year In Review

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15 min

2022 has been a year of significant change for me. I've wanted to write this since the summer when I thought of this title. I was considering borrowing the style from Robb Knight's and Sophie's posts, but much like my journalling, I find lists restrictive (more on this later in the journaling section), so I chose to do it this way instead.

Buying my house

At the start of 2022, I was renting a little one-bed flat. I intended to buy something at some point, but it wasn't really on my mind. Much to my surprise, towards the end of January, my landlord contacted me asking if I wanted to buy the flat. After initially going for it, I ended up pulling out due to a myriad of issues; this then started the search for somewhere else. I initially began looking for somewhere to rent, assuming I would receive my notice shortly. After lamenting my annoyance at having to rent again with my boss, he suggested that I look to buy and just sofa surf between places if I need to. Despite my initial reservations, this made sense.

The search increased from there, and I started reviewing property listings hourly and phoning them immediately for viewings. Despite this, I could not view all the properties I wanted to, such was the market's craziness at the time. All in all, I viewed in the order of 30 properties and offered on 3 before finally having an offer accepted.

Thankfully, as I'd been in the process of purchasing the flat, I had most of my anti-money-laundering and other checks in place, so I was able to complete in a speedy 84 days. The process of completing was surprising. After weeks of back and forth with lots of people, to then be given the keys and be left alone was a stark difference. Going from a tiny flat to being entirely responsible for a house was, and still is, a little overwhelming at first, but it's slowly sinking in. Overall it was an exciting and stressful experience, but I'm happy with how it worked out.

Warhammer

In 2021 I started to pick up Warhammer again, slowly working my way through one of the starter sets I'd picked up many years ago (Tempest of Souls, for those curious). As I was expanding my Nighthaunt collection, I grew a bit tired of painting ghosts despite my love of the lore and gave Slaves to Darkness. A little later in the year, I ended up going to a party and found out a friend had some Space Marines and Necrons he'd got in a starter pack. This spawned a discussion that led me to look into 40k and eventually give it a try. I was torn between trying Space Marines and Tyranids, but I ended up picking the Space Marines as I didn't fancy doing another "horde" army.

Picking Space Marines only increased my analysis paralysis. I couldn't decide what Chapter to pick. I love the Imperial Fists' lore and style, but their rules and painting that much yellow dissuaded me. I eventually decided to go for a custom chapter and settled on a lovely purple scheme after trying lots of different colours.

To learn more about 40k, I started reading (listening) to some books, and it was all going well until one of the last Ciaphas Cain books and The Devastation of Baal. These books (particularly the latter) focus on the Tyranids, and to say it captured my attention would be putting it lightly. So I ended up also picking up a Tyranids starting set and am currently stuck picking a colour scheme.

On top of all this, I also decided to participate in a Painting Competition. So far hasn't gone very well, but as it's for a friend, I intend to finish this project before starting any new ones (we'll see how long that lasts).

Obsidian and Journaling

This year I stumbled upon Obsidian, and I cannot stress how useful this tool has been. The ability to write something down and file it away and not have to keep all the details in my working memory has been a vast improvement.

Now, whenever I'm researching/learning something, I will open a note about it, jot things down, and link it. I can't say how useful this is bar basic re-enforcement but even that's a major plus. I really wish I'd had something like this at university.

I've not followed this religiously, and there are many things I should've taken notes on, so my graph could be more impressive, but what I have so far makes me happy. I am aware this might fall into the "feeling productive without really being productive" category.

Screenshot of obsidan graph

I also have a note called "inbox". This is where I stick any and all links to anything I find interesting for me to review later. I used to try and remember things, and writing them down and not worrying about forgetting them is easily the biggest win for me so far.

Journaling

Something else that Obsidian has given me is a journaling solution that works for me. I've tried it numerous times but never stuck with it for more than a short period. I think what clicked for me was:

  1. It's digital and private (no questionable cloud storage)
  2. I can link to notes
  3. I can link to people

Once I realised I could have notes for people and link to them in my daily notes, I was hooked. This was further enhanced when I started linking them to each other, interests, places of work, and social groups.

I often struggle to remember people and things about them. Now, if I know I'm going to a social event, I can find the note for that social event and quickly review people's interests. It's prevented a few "oh, I'd forgotten that" moments and allowed for more flowing conversation.

For an example of why I think this is powerful, see this graph where I've unhidden the "people" (pink) and "journal" (yellow) notes. The purple ones are social events/groups. It shows how deeply connected both my journal, and people's notes are to everything I do.

Screenshot of obsidan graph

Later in the year, I noticed I was journaling less and less again and wasn't sure why. I have a template I use for my notes, and the way I'd designed it was groups of lists such as "what went well", "what was bad", and "reflections". This led to very restricted and "stiff" journaling where I'd just list things and not actually talk about them. As a result, I never really got my thoughts or emotions down on paper and removing them from my mind. Once I realised this, I completely redesigned my template to be much less restrictive.

# {{title}}

## Season Theme:

## Your day:

## What are you grateful for?

Since changing this my journaling has improved vastly, I write more, I remember more, and I feel better for it.

I also stumbled across CGP Grey's Theme Video again and decided to add that to my template, which has been a fun experiment. I'm not sure how much it helps me, but it reminds me of what I'm trying to achieve.

Health

This has been an unpredictable year for my health. At the start of the year, I made some rules for myself, which could be grouped into a broader category of "not consuming so much crap".

This was a good start, and to keep me on track, I downloaded an app to monitor the number of days since I last broke a rule. I do well when I gamify aspects of my life, and losing the big streaks helped a lot.

I followed my rules for a while until the house purchase stress caused me to fall off the rails a bit. An added benefit I didn't expect was the money I would save, despite the ridiculously high cost of soft drinks at bars.

Not long after the clocks changed, I decided, on a whim, to try running. I've never been an active person, and I've always particularly hated running, so this was a strange whim. And, I must admit, to my great surprise, I enjoyed it. Since then, I've run on and off 3 times a week and even invested in some running shoes (go to a good shop, it's helpful). I can say, without a doubt, that running and weight loss made me feel better than I have in a long time. I wasn't setting any records, but I felt good and was improving.

In the end, before the house stress entered my life, I lost about 9kg and was very close to being the lightest I've been in my adult life. While I still have a lot to go to reach my goal weight, this a milestone I very much look forward to coming close to and breaking again this year. Unfortunately, with the house stress, I gained back almost everything I'd lost, but I know I can lose it and look forward to getting back on it.

I also caught covid at the start of the year, funnily enough, 2 weeks after my booster. Overall, not good, wouldn't recommend it. Final review: 0/10, would not cough again.

Music

After a significant break of no music due to covid, 2022 was really the first full year of music, and it was a wild ride.

One of the groups I'm in performed The Grand Duke as a show for 4 days with 5 performances. It went surprisingly well considering the time since the last performance of that magnitude. But, it did result in half the group getting covid.

During the summer, I was asked to play at a mass. Having never been to a Catholic ceremony before, it was very educational, if not hard, to play while choking on incense. Interestingly was also my first official paid gig (unless you count food and drinks as "proper" payment), which now makes me a "professional".

After the summer break, another group I'm in had no French horns. I've always fancied one, so I decided to use the gap and fill it, so I got one. This has been a humbling experience. Having to start from almost 0 again was challenging. To add to this challenge I only gave myself 6 weeks to learn it before my first performance with it, and for added fun, I had to swap between French horn and Trumpet for it. Overall I'm pleased with how far I've gone with it and look forward to seeing how comfortable I am with it in a year's time.

Programming

At the start of the year, I decided to give Rust a go, a decision that has impacted me deeply.

Rust promised something I strive for, fewer bugs and more safety. This might be a slight bending of the truth, but that is how I saw the promises Rust made. These aspects are essential to me as I regularly get frustrated with the frequency of bugs and the lack of proper tools to prevent them. In many other languages, I emulate this by using highly modularised code, written as functionally as possible, immutable data structures and lot and lots of tests with good coverage. But it feels lacking compared to the tools Rust provides.

After messing around with it and getting bullied by the borrow checker, I started working on some more "serious" and larger projects. It was also around this time that I stumbled across NoBoilerplate's fantastic Rust videos that introduced me to the power of Rust's type system and "correctness". This, combined with Result and Option types demonstrated how a compiler can do a lot of the work for you if you give it a lot of information.

As you might've guessed, I fell in love with this and talked about it a lot, much to my friends and colleagues' annoyance. Unfortunately, I can't move all my projects to Rust, so I had to make do. We have moved a few of them that I work on to Typescript, which has allowed me to implement both Result with a custom error definition and Typestate for internal APIs. Unfortunately, we can't use Option as you'd have to do something special with JSON.seralize to make it work. Applying these techniques has:

  1. Improved my confidence in the projects
  2. Highlighted a significant number of bugs
  3. Allowed us to focus on correctness vs bug fixing
  4. Reduced the time spent writing tests for errors that the compiler now enforces behaviours for

I might be falling into the trap of feeling productive again. But this type of safety and correctness makes me feel much better about the quality of the code I produce. And while I don't use it professionally, Rust has provided me with knowledge and tools I could use regardless.

Privacy Concerns

During this year, I also became much more privacy-conscious. I made efforts on all my projects to protect users where possible. For me, the big change was dropping Google Analytics and Google Fonts. I was recommended (and would recommend) Fathom Analytics as a replacement for analytics, and I found Bunny Fonts to be a suitable replacement for fonts. Both are easy to use and do what I wanted them to do.

Social Media

As outlined in my leaving Twitter post I'm not, or at least wasn't, one for social media or posting in general. I rarely posted more than a few times a year and often less. More often than not, I was retweeting funny things or getting angry with the state of the world.

Micro.blog

With people leaving for greener pastures, I took it as an opportunity to re-evaluate my position within the social media world. I was first told about Micro.blog by Robb Knight, we discussed it a few times before I gave it a go, and I'm glad I did. The community is friendlier, and the lack of likes and a retweeting equivalent lends itself to much more "intentionality" rather than chasing interaction.

As Robb put it:

Micro.blog ... has no likes, no follower counts, no retweets, and no post dunking quote tweets. If I post something, I don't know who saw it or who enjoyed it but it doesn't matter; I'm posting it because I want to ... but none of it is being posted to try and "go viral" or get likes.

It was weird at first, posting and not getting instant likes, but posting just for yourself is fun. One of the many things that put me off posting on other platforms was it'd be shoved in people's faces, so I felt the need to perform. Here, I post what I like and only know if someone enjoyed or even saw it if they take the time to reply.

Instagram

Similar to Twitter I hadn't posted on Instagram in a long time, primarily due to the "x has posted for the first time in y" notification people get. Not only does this highlight that you've not posted a lot, but it also leads people to mindlessly like your posts as a performance, which is worse than no interaction. Again Micro.blog + my website filled the gap for me with minimal effort.

Mastodon

I originally intended to avoid Mastodon, but after freeing myself of the Twitter curse, I decided not to engage with a similar platform. I still think this way, but after (again) Robb spoke about omg.lol I thought I'd give it a look. I mainly got it for the Linktree-like pages geekyaubergine.omg.lol, but it also comes with a Mastodon instance, so I thought I'd at least set it up.

At first, I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I'd got my replacements for the two platforms I used to post on, which left Mastodon feeling redundant. I started following people who'd moved to it previously and noticed similar behaviours that I wanted to avoid. Andrew Canion's comment about treating Mastodon as ephemeral stuck with me. That, combined with status.lol got me thinking and deciding to use it similarly. Though I'm already uncomfortable with the "engagement" statistics and notifications I've received.

So what now?

This is what I found myself asking towards the end of the year. What I settled on was:

I like this system for now, but I still have some concerns about Mastodon, but I'll try it for now.

One thing I learnt in moving away from other platforms is that getting your data is a pain (Micro.blog makes it very easy. So I'm wary of posting anything I care about to a platform where reclaiming it would be hard.

2023

Sort of following the "themes" methodology, I'm refusing to commit to any resolutions passed very vague ideas, phrased as "I would like to". I've gone with "would like to" rather than "will" as life is hard, things change, and your definition of success might (and likely will) have to change to reflect those new circumstances. That said my goals are:

  1. I would like to improve my health
  2. I would like to paint and play a 1k point game with one of my 40k armies
  3. I would like to ship at least one of my unfinished projects