2021 a Year in Review

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022 5 minute read Tags: year-review

It’s that time of year again, time for reflection on past year and compare that to what I hoped to achieve in the previous post. Seemingly, this is the latest I’ve gotten to writing the post in a while, but it’s still the first half of January, so it’s not too late…

Blogging

Blogging has always been a mainstay of my online life, and something that’s been important to me, but last year was hard. Looking at the raw numbers, I did 29 posts, which is a little over half of what I did in 2021. There’s a few things that contributed to this, but one of the main things is that I spent more time trying to tackle some larger ideas that will pay off in longer blog series, rather than a lot of short and sharp posts which I’ve done a lot of in the past.

I continued on my GraphQL on Azure series, and I’ve got a few more things that I want to blog about on that topic, it’s just a matter of finding the time to dig into them properly.

Another thing I did a bit of last year was getting back into the CMS space, in which I started working with both Strapi and Keystone and ensure they would have good docs on how to deploy to Azure. I’m working with the Strapi team at the moment to get improved docs and I created a Keystone sample app that links from their docs. Again, these are parts of larger projects I’m tackling, so they take some time to get the initial work up and running.

Leadership

The joke at Microsoft is that the most certain part of your career is a reorg, and we had one of those in the middle of 2021, our manager left to take the manager role of another part of Advocacy, which saw us without a manager. I’d been working closely with them on our FY22 strategy, so while the HR process of hiring a new manager was undertaken, I stepped into the manager role myself.

This is the first time I’d been a manager at Microsoft, even if it was only for the interim, and I found myself very much in the deep end. All of a sudden I had reports all over the globe, from Israel to France, Brazil to the US (and try and find a time when you can all be in a meeting at once, go on, I’ll wait…), so my job really shifted. Rather than focusing on the projects I was tackling, I started picking up those our former manager had been doing. I was scheduling 1:1’s with everyone on the team, getting properly across the projects they were all doing (we also had two new people join our team, so I had to get up to speed with their projects which were mostly net-new to me), undertake reporting, work out what partner teams across the business we can support, undertake performance reviews and start planning for 2022.

It was a great learning experience for me, and it was probably the best way for me to get a taste of management, leading a team I already knew and in a tech space I’m familiar with, but we’ve got a permanent lead joining shortly and I’m looking forward to stepping back into my pervious role and supporting the new lead.

Presenting

While 2020 was the year everyone tried to become an online presenter and Twitch streamer, I feel like 2021 was the year everyone tried to avoid doing that, myself included.

Don’t get me wrong, I still did a few online presentations, I talked F# and web dev, joined a panel to talk about Serverless and discussed a web devs toolbox, plus some others for user groups around the country, but I was much more selective about it as I find presenting virtually a lot more draining an experience.

I also stopped streaming. I talked about this in the 2020 reflection post, so many people went into dev streaming in 2020 but I don’t think any of us really thought through the value of it. Dev streaming is hard work, you need to be talking to the audience, regardless of how big or small they are, constantly so that they know what’s going on and can follow your thought processes. And then there’s the challenge of context. If you’re doing a live stream, can someone just pop in part way through and understand what’s going on, without having to review the previous however many hours you’ve been on air for? what if it’s a series stream, can someone tune into part 3 without the others being watched first?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible to be a dev streamer and be successful with it, Glaucia on my team does it well, just a lot of us didn’t.

Building a house

At the end of the 2021 post I mentioned that my wife and I were building a new house. Well, it’s 2022 and… we’re still building a house 😒.

Between stuff ups with our builder (when they say they’ve submitted something to the council for approval, it doesn’t mean they have…), to delays getting demolition completed and signed off, to COVID shutting down construction in Sydney, we’re somewhat behind schedule.

It shouldn’t be that much longer, but as anyone who has built a house will tell you, delays are to be expected, so I’ll just say that I hope that when I write this post next year, it’s from the new house and not the rental we’re currently in! 😅

Looking to 2022

Like last year, I’m going to avoid making any major predictions for what I’ll be doing in 2022 as COVID is meaning we’re really looking at things day to day, and long term planning becomes a somewhat abstract concept.

I hope to get through some of the larger projects on my backlog as I’m really excited at how a bunch of this stuff can come together to solve problems people are having.

And I hope that the year is just a little bit easier to manage.