We reach the end of one more year. I didn’t set any expectations for 2022. At the end of 2021 I was about to leave my job at Prolific and I was resentful that I didn’t join my ex-colleagues at Twitter. The thought tormented me for several months. In retrospect, not joining Twitter led to two good things: a) not deal with Elon’s drama and b) join Vital. When a door closes, another one opens.
I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do next. Vital filled all those requirements and more. I have discussed how productive I have been for the last year. Stuff gets done. New features reach our customers quickly and because they are in Slack with us, communication is blazing fast. This is not an environment suitable for everyone, in fact it requires a particular mindset. I am not trying to put myself on a pedestal. It’s the harsh reality of working in a team of 8 people supporting hundreds of thousands of users. And this intensity was something I was missing dearly. The downsides are obvious, the stress is higher than usual and there’s a risk of burnout.
Vital has allowed me to touch pretty much every part of the stack. Mobile, Frontend, Backend and Devops. In my first week I was fixing a Garmin bug in the backend about FIT files. I had to go for runs, to generate realistic data, so I could debug what was happening. How cool is that? On my second week at Vital I was tweaking machines specs to better suit our setup. I also fixed a bug related to SQL constraints and deleting data. I then spent a lot of time working with Apple HealthKit. I am also particularly proud about the docs I wrote. The iOS SDK is now powering quite a lot of our user base. I then worked with Flutter and React Native. The latter confirms my previous suspicion that the experience would be dreadful. Unless for historical reasons, I have no idea why anyone would use React Native over Flutter. I have also seen the company grow. When I joined we were 4 people. We have doubled since then. The biggest challenge of operating at this size is how meticulous one needs to be at saying no to things. We got a lot better since the beginning of the year. My role as Head of Engineering is also quite fluid. Most of my work is as an IC. And some of my other duties are neglected due to lack of time. It’s a difficult balance and I need to get better at it. I feel that sometimes I might be snacking too much.
There’s a lot of work left to be done and technical challenges ahead. I am quite excited to see where we will be by the end of 2023. It’s unusual, but I feel quite optimistic about where Vital is. I am by default pessimistic, and my partner is my witness. She keeps telling me: you don’t complain much about your work at Vital. She is my canary.
An injury took me out of running for almost three months. This meant I couldn’t start the Dragon’s Back Race. The beginning of the year was also quite demotivating for me. Not sure why, but my head just wasn’t in it. This all translates into loss of fitness. I did a single Ultra. In the last month I haven’t run much as well. Running has a direct impact on my anxiety and stress levels. The less I run, the more difficult it is to manage them. Running consistently is truly an exercise in discipline and commitment. The simple things in life are often the most challenging.
I re-read the Three Body Problem books again. I have now read the first and second book three times and the third twice. I still enjoy reading them. It’s still the best sci-fi I have ever read. I also read Project Hail Mary, Shards of Earth and Ninefox Gambit. I am also finishing Dark Matter, but unlikely to finish it today. Too soon to make any resolutions, but I want to read a lot more in 2023. I want to spend more time reading long-form. This is already the case and my presence on Twitter has reduced dramatically for the past month. Could be placebo, but I feel better for not spending so much time there. I will not move to Mastodon - like many people I know have. I rather spend my time elsewhere.
I have now passed one month writing every day. It’s been an incredible experience and I can only recommend it. I was suspicious if I could find a topic to write about every day. But here we are. I will continue this endeavour throughout 2023 and see where it leads.