2020 in review

Oh boy, here we go

It’s been a little over 9 months since the day I left my university dorms (got kicked out, rather), in light of the pandemic. I have my finals going on right now, and 5 days to go for the next examination — a great time to reflect on what I managed to do this year. So here I am, sitting at my little home office-thing, with a bad cold — as is tradition during December — writing this post. Let’s get to it!

interning at CometChat

I spent a good part of this year interning at CometChat, mostly working as an infrastructure engineer. I dabbled with some pretty neat tech — here’s a quick list of things I worked on:

  • XMPP over WebSockets (RFC 7395). Also wrote wsabi — a WebSocket proxy in Nim. Never got used, but cool nonetheless.
  • On-premise (bare metal) deployment of our stack using Docker Swarm.
  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) deployment of our stack.

I think there’s value in adding that I experienced a paradigm shift in my view of tools like Kubernetes. I still think they’re bloated and abstraction heavy, but they exist to solve a problem — and they do it somewhat okay. In an ideal world, nobody would fall for the “cloud” meme, and wouldn’t toss everything into a container1 — but our world is far from that.

things I made

  • shlide: A slide deck presentation tool written in pure bash. Born from a conversation I had with a friend — quickly hacked it together over a weekend. Even used it for a talk I presented!
  • vite: Go rewrite of the static site generator I wrote in Python, way back in 2018. It was a misnomer, since it was far from vite.

other hackery

Self-hosted a bunch of services on my Pi. The only downtime is when my ISP goes down, which is thankfully not that often. Here’s a list of things running on my Pi right now:

  • radicale: Cal/CardDAV server
  • Pleroma: Single-user federated social media instance
  • filehost
  • gonic: Music streaming server
  • crxn: Cool network of cool people.
  • Few other things that Nerdy uses.

My OpenBSD install is still going strong! Started at 6.6, now on 6.8-current. This is most definitely my endgame OS — everything just works, and works very well.

I played r2wars this year, which was hella fun. A good exercise in assembly programming. I even placed 3rd, so that was awesome.

this blog

Evidently, this site has undergone quite a few visual changes. It’s no longer that all-black with white text, with occasional bits of cyan. My overall aesthetic has considerably mellowed down — prioritizing good typography over colors.

$ cat pages/blog/*.md | grep 'date: 2020-' | wc -l
      26

26 posts this year (including this)! That’s 8 more than the 18 I wrote last year — roughly 1 post every two weeks. Pretty good variety too — some technical, some less so…and some controversial. Heh.

onward and upward

Contrary to popular opinion, 2020 wasn’t all that bad — obviously, I only speak for myself. That said, I’m looking forward to 2021 for a number of reasons: for one, I’ll be done with college (finally!), and starting a full-time job at a company I find really exciting!

I have a few blog post ideas that I didn’t get around to writing this year, so expect to see a few of those. The new job will involve a lot of infra-related work — I’m certain my incredibly sought after insights on those things will find their way here, as well.

Anyway, I’m going to enjoy the rest of this year playing Runeterra and Halo MCC. On to greater things in 2021, and I’ll see you next year!

Questions or comments? Send an email to ~icyphox/x@lists.sr.ht — my public inbox.