Month: December 2020

2020 Review

I think the most generous thing you could say about 2020 is that it was strange – nevertheless there have been some highs and lows and so, in true narcissistic fashion, are some of my personal high lights and low lights as a middle aged grumpy bastard working in tech.

F#

A real highlight for me. Over 2019 I’d started to become ever more frustrated by C# with this exciting numbered list of issues bothering me the most:

  1. I increasingly felt I was “fighting” the language – its object oriented roots support patterns we’ve mostly decided are unhelpful to us now and while C# has evolved its still held back by those roots.
  2. Ever increasing complexity – as its evolved lots of complexity has been added and it shows no sign of slowing down.
  3. As a combination of (1) and (2) there is no longer an obvious path of least resistance.
  4. When I started to pick up F# some of the things I felt were helpful (immutability being a standout) were not baked into C#. They’re still not common.

In any case. I jumped ship to F# as I recognized my approach was increasingly functional with a dash of object orientation – which really is F#s bag. Their was definitely a steep learning curve to “do things well” (I mean how the actual fuck do you do a loop without being able to change a variable) but the pay off has been massive.

Their is also some fantastic framework support – the SAFE stack comes to mind.

In any case – at the end of it all I’ve never felt as productive as I do with F# – it was well worth the effort to learn. And there are some fantastic folk in the F# community – helpful, friendly, thoughtful and generous with their time.

Getting to talk at fsharpConf 2020 was bloody amazing too! A real genuine highlight of 2020 for me.

Receiving an MVP Award

That was super cool. It was nice to be recognized and I was super appreciative of the award and the nomination.

I’m not sure if I’ll be renewed – my community contributions have fallen off (change of role, bit burned out with everything going on) and its fair to say I’m about a million miles away from towing any kind of Microsoft line and have found myself quiet critical on a number of occasions this year (I hope they appreciate critical friends….!).

OSS in .NET land

I’ve bailed on this. To me at this point it seems like something of a lost cause. A mugs game as I’ve written before. Yes Microsoft are having another trip around the “how could we improve this” but the published pieces I’ve seen aren’t really encouraging.

I’m not going to blather on about it all here. Aaron Stannard has published many many thoughtful articles on the topic but my takeaway is: you’re better off working in another ecosystem or simply accepting the ecosystem for what it is, leveraging it as it stands, and building a product and business out of it. OSS may form part of your strategy (likely adoption and PR), it may not.

AWS

I became curious about AWS while poking around their support for ARM processors and discovering a significant economic advantage was to be had. I’ve migrated my bike performance website over to it and learned a lot through that. Ironically they seem to be making better use of .NET than Microsoft and Lambda is fantastic (having a full suite of F# blueprints puts Azure Functions to shame frankly).

If I was to compare AWS with Azure I would say that AWS feels more low level and like it is built for developers by developers with a more consistent foundation. You can get going more easily with Azure “in just 5 minutes” but once you get past that facade AWS just feels more “put together” to me. I can’t imagine working with AWS without a robust infrastructure as code solution (I’ve been using Pulumi).

If I was to start a new project today as a .NET developer what would I choose? AWS.

(and in fact I have been doing that this last couple of weeks)

A full year as CTO

If I’d known we were going to have a pandemic I’m not sure I’d have moved into a role that took me so far out of my comfort zone. Its had highs and lows. I still have the itch to make things (myself) and COVID + CTOing has left me too exhausted to scratch it in my free time which has been frustrating and led to quite a few started and unfinished projects. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much about that.

Personal stuff

Like many my mental health has definitely taken a battering this year – I’ve not been effected directly by COVID in terms of my health or my job (beyond operational issues) but I’ve seen people who are and its “always there” like a nasty hum in the background – combined with the role change it really gave me a pounding. I’d also finally in my 40s figured out ways to compensate for the things I don’t have in my life by putting other things in their place and they’ve ben cut off by the pandemic.

See the source image
End of the year James

I crawled into the Christmas break with quite bad insomnia, what I can only describe as “micro-panics” each night when I went to bed, and an utter absence of energy and enthusiasm.

It took about 12 days of my Christmas break to start feeling back to even vaguely normal again. I’m nervous as to how I’ll get on in the first quarter of 2021 but will push on.

Looking ahead

I’ve been thinking about what I’m good at and what interests me. Really its doing early stage product development on small budgets / tight resource constraints with tiny teams / solopreneur land. I love it and I’ve got quite practiced at optimizing the development side of it. I’m thinking maybe their is some writing and perhaps even business opportunity around that.

I’ve also got a truck load of product ideas. I always do….

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