2021 in Review
While 2020 introduced a slew of changes to everyone’s personal and professional lives, these changes were considerably less pronounced for those of us working in tech fields. After all, most software engineering and server/cloud configuration was already performed remotely before the pandemic using long-standing processes/tools. Adapting to online tech teaching in the college was a welcome challenge, and also more relevant for the industry.
As 2020 was ending, we all knew that 2021 would bring vaccine rollouts but not a complete return to normalcy. I was very interested to see how the pandemic shakeup would transform the workplace and our use of technology in 2021, but also knew that 2021 would be more like season 2 of 2020. Consequently, I decided to make the most out of the more delightful aspects of 2020, including work-from-home, online tech conferences, and local outdoor activities.
Many of the program changes I proposed at the college back in 2020 were approved internally this year and I was able to do a lot of necessary curriculum development for both current and future upcoming courses for 2022. I also managed to update my Cybersecurity certifications as well as give a few online presentations for KW-LUG on WireGuard configuration, container/microservice development, and cloud native concepts. Seeing the reactions from people who were learning Linux using my latest Cengage Linux textbook was also a lot of fun this year. Most of them were software engineering students since understanding Linux, Git and containers is now a core skill for all developers.
The online tech conferences that I attended last year were incredibly beneficial for me professionally, and I wanted to build on that success in 2021. By carefully preparing for the tech conferences and talks this year, I was able to maximize my learning while making some fresh new connections. Having access to 4 different cloud providers via my extracurricular work also made a huge difference, as I was able to try out various cloud technologies and advanced topics during the events as well as participate in competitions and other challenges.
My ability to kube the netes scored me some nice swag too, including the mug of truth shown right (special callout to Red Hat, Linode and Cockroach Labs for being extra awesome to me specifically). I definitely felt like I levelled up my skillset in the areas of microservice software development and site reliability engineering this past year. Here are the online conferences I attended in 2021:
- Red Hat Summit
- SRE from Anywhere
- NS1 INS1GHTS
- DigitalOcean Deploy
- ePBF Summit
- Cloud Engineering Summit
- Dash Conference
- All Day DevOps
On the extracurricular front, I continued working on the same cloud/microservice projects from 2020 as well as started a new project provisioning and automating the maintenance of some large-scale cloud storage using Rook/Ceph (which is a lot more complex that it sounds). Most of the mainstream development I did this year involved creating a variety of different Kubernetes operators in Go, as well as a Java microservice that keeps changing scope every week (I’m still developing it as a result).
This year, I made sure that my teaching, curriculum development and extracurricular projects were carefully balanced with outdoor activities each day. I walked everywhere I could walk to instead of driving, as well as took advantage of the large sports park that my house backs onto (shown left). Unlike in 2020, it was beautifully maintained this year and quite busy with people taking advantage of this amazing local resource — it seemed like there were people running or playing tennis, basketball and soccer every evening all summer long. If I didn’t have a Microsoft Teams meeting scheduled for the noon hour, I’d often run 10 laps on the track.
Most of the longer adventure walks I took with my dog on remote trails were in the spring and fall since she doesn’t do as well in the extreme summer heat now that she is getting older. But we still went for 3 walks a day around the neighborhood and local parks during the hotter days.
I also found time to do some necessary repairs and upgrades around the house this summer, got a new car (long overdue), binge watched HBO’s Silicon Valley from beginning to end (best comedy series ever created), caught up with some friends, discovered the craft of brewing incredible coffee using an AeroPress, read some sci-fi classics, and listened to a lot of new music using some amazing headphones. Oh, and my daughter (who is currently living in Australia) let me know that I’m going to be a grandpa :-)
Overall, 2021 was a pretty relaxing-yet-productive year for me both personally and professionally. And while there wasn’t a lot of travel, I did visit this place fairly frequently (it’s quite beautiful):