2023 in review

Picture of a Dark-Eyed Junco, a bird from British Columnia with a black head and the rest of the body being brown and white. It's standing on the grass, which patches of ice and snow behind it.

2023 was a bit of a shit year for me. I’ve tried to keep most of my personal life out of this blog, so I won’t go into details. That being said, if I’m going to review this past year, it should be mentioned that a bunch of events took a huge toll on my mental health. With that out of the way, let’s review some parts of 2023, in no particular order.

  • 2023 was the year I finally caught COVID. Thanks to being vaccinated (and lucky), it wasn’t too bad: I had fever for a few days and slept a lot. In the end, I was mostly pissed off because we tried to stay careful, but there is only so much you can do to protect yourself when most of the population has moved on. I must say I don’t love this collective amnesia that makes it seem like we’ve learned nothing since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • I recorded a WWDC session about Xcode Cloud. This had always been a goal of mine when I joined Apple, so I’m happy I got the opportunity to tick that box. I worked with some amazing people and entered a filming set after a production-assistant yelled “presenter on set” and people started clapping. A pretty surreal experience, but also a funny one. You can watch the session here.
  • I ran my second half marathon in Vancouver. This time I joined a running clinic and I highly recommend joining one whether you’re just getting into running or not. This meant waking up early on Saturday mornings to go run with a bunch of strangers, but those people are now friends. I’ve learned a lot about running and started to buy some good quality gear that made a big difference, even if I still look like a big traffic cone. We also bought an electric bike for my girlfriend that I shamelessly borrowed on Saturday mornings to go to the meetup point that is 8km away. I didn’t think I would care that much, but it’s so much nicer to bike for 30 minutes than the original 20 minutes bus, then 20 minutes walk commute that I was doing, especially when it’s raining. There is no way I would have been able to bike home after running 10+ kilometres without the electric assistance. I’m sold on the electric bike concept and I’m considering buying my own now.
  • Speaking of running, I also started going back to the gym, after avoiding it for a couple of months due to a pretty traumatic experience with a toxic coach. I’ve now been training with the same coach for the best part of the last 6 months and it’s been great. She’s listened to my goals from the get go and I’ve been meeting with her every Tuesday after work. Being able to deadlift 100+ pounds made me feel incredibly proud of myself, which is saying something as I’ve never been super secure in my own body. This, with all the mobility exercises we’ve been doing, has also greatly improved my running.
  • I went back to France in June for the first time since I moved to Vancouver, 6 years ago. Thanks to my employer’s remote work policy, I was able to travel for four weeks and work for 2 of those. Working remotely in a different timezone with little overlap was a double edged sword: it’s quiet so you get a lot of time to focus on your work, but it feels truly lonely when you have to wait for the next day for a pull request review, or because you’re stuck on some weird Bazel issue that makes no sense to you. That said, I will happily do it again because I was able to see my friends and family longer.
  • I bought a 3D printer after chatting with Frank about his Bambu Lab P1S. I’ve always been interested in 3D printing, but I never committed because the maintenance (assembling, bed levelling, cleaning up, troubleshooting) scared me off. I’m really happy that you can find models like the P1S now (the one I got as well) since there is basically zero maintenance required and I got to print and design a bunch of pieces already. Weirdly, I’ve seen a lot of gatekeeping happening on TikTok, where seasoned 3D printers criticizes those machines for being too easy and not allowing you to learn the craft properly. Thanks my dude, but that’s also not where I want to spend my time. Fortunately, the vast majority of the community has been welcoming.
  • I got my first tattoo. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never committed to, probably because I was overthinking the process. After meeting the right artist and chatting about what I wanted, the process became quite simple. This tattoo now represents 57% of my personality and I’m ok with that. This is also the opportunity for some goofy posts on Mastodon.

I don’t know what 2024 is going to look like, but I sure hope it goes a little easier than 2023. The positive outcome of writing a blog post such as this one is realizing that I was still able to achieve some of my goals. Speaking of, I started thinking about what I’d like to accomplish this year.

  • I only wrote 3 blog posts in 2023 and they were short, each one being the (undelivered) promise of getting back into the habit of writing more. I got really good at starting blog posts but never finishing them, either because I lost interest or because I wanted to draw a cover image for each post, which took a while. Wrapping up a blog post would become this overwhelming task that I would simply end up sweeping under the rug. This year, I’m hoping to achieve one blog post a month. If you’re reading this, that means I only have 11 to go so, yay me. Honestly, I would settle for 6.
  • I signed up for the BMO half marathon in May, which is going to be my third long race. I would love to bring my time closer to 2 hours, but I’ll be happy to just finish it, as usual. I’m hoping to commit more seriously to the “homework” runs during the week and I now have the great Peak iOS app to keep me honest.
  • Since I made the switch to join a platform engineering team, I’ve learned a lot and made some interesting contributions. That said, work has not been as satisfying as it could have been, but having a mental health in shambles for most of the year clearly hasn’t helped me dealing with some of the frustrations I may have had. I’ve already started dealing with those in an adult manner by having conversations with my manager (and my manager’s manager) about expectations and so on, so it should make a difference.

I have some other mini-objectives that I’ve set for myself, but it’s more about day to day stuff, like finally finding a to-do list system that works for my brain, reading more books, watching some documentaries in between those TV shows we’ve been binging… but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself.

Many thanks to Camille for the picture of the best bird ever.