2018: What I did this year

My annual review of the past year.

One thing I said I needed to do last year was work on my shoulders. I get a lot of pain in my shoulders when I sleep. I can’t sleep on my right side because my right shoulder just starts hurting, I can’t sleep on my left side because my right shoulder starts hurting, so I’m sleeping on my back which means I’m snoring (and sometimes my shoulder hurts).

I looked into getting a new mattress. We’ve had this one since we got engaged about ten years ago, so we’re due. But, we have a British bed, and sizes here are different from there, and there’s quirky weird laws around exporting mattresses, so it’s problematic. Haven’t done it.

So I opted for some physio instead. I got my shoulder MRI’ed, which showed nothing, and the doc recommended physio, but that’s too complicated to set up. So I’ve just been doing some pushups before bed each night. And sometimes lifting some small (12lb) weights. It has really helped! I can feel the effects when I lie down, and there’s no pain in the morning. I’m proud of myself for keeping that up all year.

Another thing I said I’d do is stop getting older. But, sure as clockwork, I turned 40, so that’s a fail. I’ve been trying to keep a little fitter, but I’m getting no younger. To celebrate the occasion, I invited the folks from work round to my house and we had an awkward social event in the sweltering 100F heat of Walnut Creek for my birthday. It was good.

Speaking of work, I’ve settled into being an IC. Coding is just much easier than working with people and I need easy right now. I’ve got this feeling that I’d like to switch back into management at some point, but it’s not imminent. I’d rather improve my coding skills for now.

Last year I started off working on Settings. My thinking was that they’re the unglamorous part of the website and as we rewrite and refactor the website they’re the most likely to be forgotten. I did a lot of work to assess what needed fixing, both from the API and the website, and build out what was needed. The next big project was GDPR compliance, and the settings work turned out to be essential for that effort, so it turned out really well. The new API endpoints I’d made could be used by the native mobile clients as well, so now (finally) you can set all your settings on all the clients!

I also worked on a privacy/security problem during this time, for which I also wrote a blog post on the twitter engineering blog. That was a fun project to get into and learn about.

For another GDPR project, I was asked to look at cookies across the company. As a long-time employee, I figured I could use my historical knowledge here. We had a huge log of 600k different cookies that were sent to Twitter, which needed classification and ownership. We managed to find owners and roll out the allowlist filter at the front of the service without any incident. It was surprisingly smooth.

A small thing I was proud to do last year was Text Size. As the team worked on various accessibility fixes, I realised that I was struggling to read the text on the site myself. My eyes are pretty good - I’m just getting old. So I added a text size option. I’m not sure how many other people are using it, but personally I find it invaluable. 🤓

Enough work

We took a month off and went to England! We stayed with my parents in their new house in the sticks; we journeyed up to the cousins in Melton Mowbray, we took a short trip to Poland, we went to London to see the Harry Potter play, we went to Waldringfield to mess about in boats and camp in tents. It was a lot! Probably too much. It was only our third trip back since we moved here eight years ago, and the temptation to do everything is too strong. I’d like to do the Waldringfield part again, maybe just with Jack, because it’s a part of my childhood I really value.

We bought a new car. The old one was only five years old, but it was having battery issues and getting tetchy. The car had electrical issues from day one, and honestly I’m happy to see the back of it. We looked at different options and settled on something similar from a different manufacturer.

The biggest shock of last year was losing friends.

I found out from tweets that Cindy had died. It was the kind of shock that just stops you dead. I couldn’t keep working - I just went home to tell my wife. We met Cindy through Matt when we first moved out to SF, they were incredibly friendly and helpful - we still use their leftover cutlery. We’ve not been in touch for years, so didn’t know she was sick. I still can’t quite come to terms with it.

And then we lost Dave Goody. He ran the coffee shop in Fort Mason, which we stopped at every day when Jack was a baby. The place was never too busy, so he always had time to give us a warm welcome and a chat. He marked Jack’s height on the wall as he grew. We’ll always remember him fondly.

And we also discovered that my favourite great aunt had terminal cancer too! What is happening? I thought this kind of thing wouldn’t hit for another 20 years or so. I thought we were still in the “everyone’s having babies” phase that follows the “everyone’s getting married” phase. I miss that phase.

Next year:

  • take Jack back to London
  • try some new things
  • write some blog posts
  • work out if nine years at Twitter is something I really want to do O_O