Bye bye 2013. Welcome 2014

How year 2013 fared for me, and my plans for 2014.

Mixed bag of a year. Some pretty hard decisions were made by me. I left the job I loved so much – joined Amazon, rival of the technology I was working on (OpenStack). I knew my life was going to be tougher at Amazon. It was not only about the work, but also about the philosophy. In NetApp, it was a complete opensource, collaborative model of development. Nothing of this sort of freedom I was going to get at Amazon. But there were some internal issues of working at NetApp which prompted me to switch over to another company. It wasn’t me who approached them for the job but it was the other way round. The funny part was, I didn’t think of joining Amazon till I got the offer letter. I said okay, anyways I will need to move out of this job (due to those internal conflicts, and partly due to the lower salary), so why not get some interviewing practice by appearing for them at Amazon! The compensation they were offering was significantly higher than my then salary, which just gave me another reason to accept the offer. I convinced myself that I am going to anyway leave the job at Amazon as soon as I get a better opportunity at a more freedom-loving place (freedom both in the sense of work-life balance as well as freedom of working on opensource softwares). I made a mental note for myself that I am going to work for Amazon for 6 months at the max.

But God has different plans. Within a week of joining Amazon, I got a mail that Rick Clark, one of the founders of OpenStack wants to meet me, and wants me on his team which is going to work on OpenStack. The way in which he likes to work, as was told by him over a phone call, impressed me, and I quickly switched jobs. Again, in just over a month. Believe me, joining Reliance, a name not at all known in the software industry, was one heck of a decision. Not to say that switching over to Amazon from NetApp was any less emotionally draining.

Even after joining Reliance (Reliance Jio Infocomm to be precise), as the Bangalore office was not completely set up by the time I joined, I worked from Mumbai office, and then from home for a couple of months. Life before and after this four-month period starting from leaving job at NetApp was more sedate and stable.

Things that went well for me

Day job

Absolutely happy with the day job. Totally in love with the ownership model we have in place. I get to decide which project I will be most interested to work on. I decide what needs to be done in what time. Though this causes laziness, I manage it by following a stricter schedule, and by giving importance of the sense of trust shown in me – if someone trusts me this much, it is my moral responsibility to not disappoint him by underperforming.

Our chief arhitect, Soren Hansen, is exceptionally brilliant, and equally understanding. I can talk to him just like a friend.

Day job compensation

My salary has grown to an amount that my spendings are now less than 1/5th of my total salary. This means I have fairly early in my career reached a level where I don’t care too much about my salary, and how much it is going to increase, and related stuff. It is just another number reflected in my bank account.

Task tracking

Be it tracking articles to read, blogposts to write, side projects to do, or things to learn; I am tracking each of them very efficiently thanks to the Trello. An awesome tool, and I definitely recommend you to use it. Till last year, I used to rely upon Microsoft OneNote, and thankfully I have found a better alternative for that after quite some time.

I also now maintain a notebook and a pen. This helps a lot for things to do in a short time, as I can have my notebook always open at my desk – not the same case with any software in the computer which always gets hidden in the background once we start working. It is a nice feeling to strike off items one-by-one from the bullet list you write down on a paper. I also find paper notebooks very helpful when I am planning something, e.g. a side project. The free form writing/drawing it allows is still not possible in the digital world, I believe.

Setting up priorities in life

Not anymore in mood of going for higher studies. Not going to prepare for interviews, and algorithmic questions. Going to work on side projects, and will look for opportunities of starting something of my own. Marriage? Don’t talk about it just yet.

Things that didn’t go that well

As always, more negatives than positives :)

Side projects

Two job changes, time spent in decision making and relocation, and day job work from four cities all made my life a little unsettled for a majority of this year. As a result, I couldn’t spend much time on any of them. I started with ResumAppGAE (I know, a poor name by any standards), an application to create your resume in a single-page HTML file, but left it completely as soon as I was offered a job at Amazon. Another one, 20-20-20 rule, is a simple one, and I am pretty happy with its progress. Not much learning involved in it, but it gave me important lessons with respect to time and priority management.

Very less blogs

I did work on a lot of items on which I can write blog articles, but always fell short of doing that. This article can be thought of an attempt to start fixing that.

Feeble Concentration

Failed hopelessly on the promise of using less online social networking. Still spending too much time on online news and social networks. I still think that at the most half an hour each day is enough to keep oneself abreast of all the happenings in the world, plus keeping in contact with friends. The harder part is execution :)

Also, there is still a very long way to go before I am confident of my breaks between working. Proper management of breaks directly affect the productivity when one is not on a break.

Poor time management

Only in the last months was I able to reasonably balance my time between my day job, family and friends. I hope to continue the same in the coming year.

Very less travelling/vacation

Not a single trip to any place worth visiting in the whole year. Whatever vacations I took I spent time at home. I am going to repent in my old age if I continue like this.

Plans for upcoming year

Better planning

Of day job, side projects, blog writing, vacations, time for friends and family.

Write blogs

Write as much as I can. It is the easiest, simplest and cheapest medium by which I can help people gain knowledge.

Final goal, plus some resolutions

Become expert in OpenStack. Implement and popularize a couple side projects (i.e. get people to love it). Lose weight. Do a simple workout daily.

All in all, a decent year. Not as good as I wanted it to be, but definitely better than the last one.