War in Ukraine
Without any doubt, the most important development of 2022 was Russian invasion and full-scale war in Ukraine. Aside from being atrocious in itself (a military invasion of a major European country) and brutally devastating to an entirely friendly nation of Ukraine, this war will shape the world in the next decade or so. Since Russia cannot win this war even theoretically, its imminent fall will ripple across the world, perhaps, on the scale not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
And while the global implications of the war are important and all, it's hard to overlook more immediate and personal effects it has on people. A peaceful country of Ukraine being shelled by the Russians affects very real people in very real ways. Quite a few of these people I know personally, some of them are friends. With this said, most of my family is in Russia; some friends are still in Russia, although a lot of them are now scattered around the world. And while it's easy for me to side with Ukrainians against the invaders, ties to the "invaders" don't help with peace of mind and make this war somewhat more complicated to process. I'm not complaining, mind you, just want to acknowledge this. What did German-born Americans with a lot of Jewish and Eastern European friends feel in the late 1930s? I think, I know.
All in all, fuck Putin, fuck Russia, Glory to Ukraine.
While nothing of importance happened in 2022 compared to the war, for posterity's sake here are some other notable events of this shit-pile of a year.
This year I leaped from where I was 3 years ago to where I wanted to eventually get. I joined Auth0 as Developer Support Engineer in 2019, and all of 2022 I'd been working as a Software Engineer. I mean, I've been doing web development for a while, but somehow this feels different.
It also feels different because of the high standards expected from engineers which I didn't have to adhere in my past positions: usually, I was the one establishing standards for myself, which is no way to grow. This year I got to experience a level of growth and learning I haven't experienced ever before.
Funny enough, I struggled a lot. Like, A LOT. It was tricky to get the exact way the team I'm working with communicates, how problems and roadblocks are being dealt with, what exactly are the expectations, and so forth. So far, it all worked out pretty good.
I also want to acknowledge with gratitude that I've got a lot of help, mentorship, and guidance from more senior colleagues, and would've been struggling still if it wasn't for this help.
Apathy and hopelessness
I'm not entirely sure where this comes from, but this year I realized that I don't really have any hope for the future. It didn't happen this year, the hopelessness I mean, but I just realized what this nagging feeling was at the back of my mind whenever I reached out for a future I want, expect, or hope for.
I don't think humanity can get its shit together to avert or even just soften imminent climate catastrophe. The "global south" will never get justice it deserves. There will be no giving land back and no reparations. Money will keep ruining everything it touches. The rich will keep getting ever more obscenely rich, and the poor will keep getting poorer, struggle, get more sick, and die young. Fascism resurgence is here to stay. All of it sucks.
Personally, I just hope to not die soon, and try and survive until I can tap into my Social Security (given that it's still a thing 20 years from now which is not guaranteed). I don't really see my future. Where will I be 10 years form now? Where do I want to be 10 years from now? I just hope to be alive, have my family around, all healthy and happy, have a roof over my head and food in the fridge. A dog would be nice.
Feels like a low bar.
Death of Twitter, Rise of Mastodon
I've been using Twitter since 2007. In recent years, it became the last and only one social network I kept using; I'm not on Facebook, not on Instagram, not on TikTok, not on Telegram, you name it - I'm not on it. This year, though, Twitter died. Not just for me, mind you. It made me really sad but also hopeful for the new rising network that is built in a way that safeguards it from everything that happened to and with Twitter. Starting your social network over from scratch in your forties is tricky but also easier in some ways. It's easier to cut through bullshit. It's easier to be more particular about the company you keep. It's easier to walk away when something doesn't spark joy.
In the wake of Twitter takeover by a petulant idiot man-baby, Mastodon (or more precisely, ActivityPub protocol) got a huge boost. I toyed with Mastodon in 2019 running my own single-user instance, and it was fine. This time around it's not just fine, it's actually fun, exciting, and beautiful. And this time around, I'm running an actual public instance called Lounge Town. Feel free to join it, as of this writing there're about 170 active users with another almost 9 million all over the Fediverse. Chances are, some of your friends are there already, and some of the high profile people you used to follow elsewhere are there too. I'm so very happy to see Mastodon (and broader ActivityPub) go mainstream. I have no idea why anyone would ever go back to a corporate-owned walled garden social media site.
Goals hits and misses
Every year I set goals for myself, and every year at the end of December I review these goals. I mean, I look at them every day of the year and they guide my efforts, but in December I tally the results.
Out of 7 goals I've set for myself, I've hit three and kinda sorta hit two more. Which is not terribly bad. There's a lot of room for improvement, though. I still want to speak at a conference, and I still want to release a great free OTP app for iOS (with iCloud sync, no lock-in, etc). So these two just roll over to 2023.
Out of 6 guiding principals (or focus areas) for the year, I confidently maintained four. Again, not too bad, yet could be better. I failed completely "Time Outdoors": weather and general apathy ruined this hiking season, although we managed to squeeze some quality outdoors time, including one awesome vacation. I'm pretty happy with all the principles so I'm keeping them for 2023, probably adding a couple new ones.
Best buy: Steam Deck
I have to note this. I'm so very impressed with the device, with games that available for it, with pretty much everything surrounding it. I played a lot more this year than ever before, and I played way, way more different games than ever before. I think I get gaming, at last. My favorite games were in no particular order: "Horizon: Zero Dawn", "Detroit: Become Human", "Kena: Bridge of Spirits", "Life is Strange" and "Life is Strange: Before the Storm", "Superhot", and "Deep Rock Galactic" (which I mostly play with my son). An honorary mention goes to "Cities: Skylines" which I've been playing for years now and can't get enough of. I guess, I am what I play :)
Best Buy, Honorary Mention: The Beast
This year I've build myself a computer. It features top of the line AMD Razen 9, Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon 6950, 64 GB of RAM, NXT N7 motherboard and is enclosed in a glass case. Indeed, it's a beast of a machine. Also, it's worth mentioning that I personally don't use any systems aside from Linux ones. I still do have a 2013 iMac which is collecting dust on a table outside of my office, but I haven't used it in years. If for some reason you're interested in what else I use, I've got a page for that!
What I'm looking forward to in 2023
I never thought that my expectations could get any lower than the ones I had for 2021 and 2022 yet here we are.
If Russia loses its stupid war with Ukraine and finally implodes, I'd be very happy.
If we all manage to survive 2023 and gather a year from now for another installment of "Year in Review", I'd be very happy.
If no (new) major global fuckups happen, no (new) major disasters, no (new) major devastation, I'd be very happy.
I mean, I realize it's a lot to ask but at the same time, could the bar be any lower?..
2021 was a very long year. In part because we didn't get to decompress after 2020, in part because a lot of 2020 stayed with us through the entire 2021, and in part because of a bunch of personal stuff that happened.
This by far the worst year in generations is coming to a close. It won't be missed, yet it will remain in our memory, history books, and our shared trauma will take decades to heal. Here's to 2021, hopefully, a better year.