It’s that time of year when people are writing about what they accomplished in the year, sites are publishing countless the-best-of lists and the only thing I’m left wondering seeing YouTube Rewind is - “How come I’ve never heard any of this?”
Since last year, I too have started this ritual of writing down key highlights of my year so that I can look back a few years from now and have a chuckle at my naiveté.
2015 was a great year for me on Github. I did quite a bunch of work across various projects, different technologies and overall had a blast compulsively typing the innocuous looking incantation -
The highlight of the year, however, was my selection in Google Summer of Code 2015 and the project (called Surveyman) that I worked on during the summer. Having a great mentor, an exciting problem and a chance to work on React gave me enough motivation to spend late-nights after my day-job to hack on the project for approximately 4 months non-stop!
The first chunk of grey blocks visible around the month of March are due to a mini-burnout that I suffered. Coupled with college admissions announcements and a major release at my workplace I had no energy to hack after coming back from work. In order to recuperate, I decided to not write code on 2 days of the week - which is what you see in bottom gray boxes in April. In hindsight, it worked out well as the weekends were spent playing squash and finishing a couple of video games that were pending on my list for quite a while. Note to self: Do try this again!
If 2014 was the year of Nodejs, 2015 was the year of React. Although I jumped on the React bandwagon pretty late, I got an opportunity to work on a quite a few fun projects. From boilerplates to chrome extensions - React till now has scaled to all my needs. It feels great to have an awesome tool in my arsenal that I can wield whenever I need something done on the front-end.
Towards the end of last year I promised myself to learn a Lisp and that’s how I stumbled onto Clojure. The sales pitch of offering the trifecta of expressiveness (macros), practicality (JVM) and concurrency sounded like a compelling alternative to the languages I was using for most of my day-to-day work. So roughly 365 days ago, I tried a small experiment wherein I ported some Python code over to Clojure and came away pretty impressed. In the ensuing months, after spending a good chunk of my time working on 4clojure and a mini-course, I eventually started writing (but unfortunately didn’t finish) a guide for others. To be honest, the only reason I decided to learn React was to get started with Om.
Long story short, little did I know that the language that I had become so fond of during the year, will eventually help me land an internship!
I’m super excited to share that I’ll be interning this summer in the beautiful city of LA with Factual where I’ll be building distributed systems in Clojure!
My affair with Go is still in its very early stages. Go is an ideal candidate for building easy-to-deploy concurrent programs and that’s what I used it for. Started initially with building a worker that consumes messages from a queue, I eventually ended up writing a crawler for bekanjoos in Go as well. Overall, I think Go is a language very easy to get productive with. It is simple, has easy-to-grok concurrency primitives and produces statically compiled artifacts which are an absolute pleasure to deploy on servers. At the risk of sounding controversial - I’d recommend that every Python / Node.js developer should give Go a try for their next backend project.
On the academic front, this year I fared better than last year. Outside of grad school, I completed two courses - Intro to Big Data in Spark and Scalable Machine Learning. All wasn’t as rosy though, I started with a couple more but had to drop out as I was unable to cope up. I plan to give these courses a second attempt in this year - let’s hope I am more successful this time.
One department that I drastically need to improve in is reading technical papers. I’m still excruciatingly slow when it comes to reading papers and even more so when I need to blog about it. My grandiose plans of blogging about every distributed systems paper I read collapsed as the semester picked up pace and I started falling behind in classes. Clearly spending 20 hours on reading one paper, making notes and then writing about is not scalable. Writing paper summaries on the other hand has been a bit easier as you expect the reader to have an idea of the paper already. The only positive aspect was that I met my goal of reading more than 15 papers spanning across cloud computing, distributed systems and information retrieval.
As far as relationships go, 2015 was just fantastic. The most exciting part of joining graduate school was meeting more like-minded nerds! I made a bunch of new friends, met school friends after eons and even played host to a complete stranger for an afternoon!
Last year’s post ends with me promising to get more active. Thankfully, having a room overlooking the picturesque Riverside Park meant that I didn’t have to work hard to fight my lizard brain to stay indoors. As a result, I started logging my runs and eventually ended up running my first 10k around Central Park!
Here’s to an equally productive and fun 2016! 🍻