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Year in Review – 2014

I’ve never tried to write end-of-the-year posts; they tend to be biased towards recent events, and I find it disingenuous to summarize a year’s worth of events meaningfully into a small, overarching set of themes.

This year however, I have an additional tool to organize my thoughts and make the task more tenable: I have been keeping a journal since our baby, and I’ve been rediscovering the entire past year’s worth of thoughts. With its records, I’m going to take a stab at reliving 2014…


Personal

This was the year I fully dove into murky waters of the Bay Area’s real estate market, and it’s really as bad as reported. We were extremely lucky in that we were able to successfully close on a home, but it took months of effort and at many times caused a ton of stress. The entire process left me drained, emotionally and financially.

Best of luck to those still looking and working towards owning a home here.

Professional

I’ve spent most of this year acclimating and growing into my role as a people manager for software engineers.

Generically, the wisdom here is acknowledging that people management exercises a wholly different skillset than engineering. Throughout the year, I kept on digging into the truth of that sentiment, with new challenges and scenarios I was helping lead and manage. I’d like to think of my job as making people scale.

While the vast majority of engineers have had managers in their careers, what I’ve realized is that it’s hard to appreciate what an engineering manager does on a daily basis without stepping into the role, and simply seeing all the crap that goes into software development.

Web

A career in front-end web development has compelled me to keep a close eye on the evolution on the design and implementation of websites. Of course, I’m also a happy user of native apps, and I don’t see the ongoing rivlary between native vs. web apps as a zero-sum competition.

More than ever, I’m advocating the understanding of the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each platform. Costs of development, speed of iteration, and user experiences all factor into the discussion, but In an ideal world, the product’s use case ought to dictate technology, and not the other way around.

Consumer Technology

From a consumer technology standpoint, 2014 was a year of measured evolution. Instead of new categories of gadgets and products, we received iteration and enhancements of existing parts, from bigger iPhones to more powerful laptops to curved 4K displays and slimmer smartwatches.

I like this process of maturation for existing technology. It affords the users breathing room to understand the roles that these devices play, and provides time to modify workflows and lifestyles around these advancements. That said, bigger developments – self-driving cars and space travel and connected homes – will completely reshape society, and we should savor this time of maturity now, as we will likely be in the middle of complete disruption yet again in a couple years’ time.

Games

I’ve had the luxury of reading, playing, and subsequently writing about games way more than I’d have thought possible given that I have a toddler charging around the house. Personally, I can’t wait till he’s old enough to watch and play along.

But having a kid has shifted the types of games I play, from epic multiplayer adventures to more indie and mobile fare[1]. Admittedly I’m late to the party, but I really enjoyed games like Brothers and Valiant Hearts. In particular, I appreciated that they sought smaller, more tightly bound experiences and hit on subtle notes in story and gameplay.


So that was my year in a multi-faceted nutshell. Onwards to 2015!

Footnotes    (↑ returns to text)

  1. Though admittedly, indie and mobile games have become a major part of modern gaming anyway.
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