Ronit Ray

2021 ended on a whimper for me, with an incredibly stressful couple of months. While I am glad to be past that phase now, it is time for me to look forward and embrace the new year. Here’s some things I have planned.

Revamped habits

I’ve been letting myself go the last couple of years, and it’s time I got myself back on track. I will be attempting to improve my systems this year and be more productive, more helpful, and more stable emotionally, mentally, and physically this year. This will involve better productivity and knowledge management systems (watch this space in the weeks to come), better financial decisions, and at least attempting to cultivate something resembling a sane approach towards personal fitness.

Another thing I have been lacking in is keeping a record of things I do. This year, I will be recording my work and personal tasks in a clearer, structured and actionable manner so I can refer back to them when the need arises.

Finally, I will be making every effort to get back into reading this year. I used to be an extremely prolific reader and would absolutely devour books for fun. However, due to a variety of issues, stress, and perhaps bad personal habits, my attention span seems to have soured. I got very little reading done in 2021, which is a shame. I will be putting aside some time to read daily, starting off with 15-30 minutes and perhaps increasing this as time goes by. I’d like to mention that this is only because I find the pursuit to be an enjoyable and a valuable one, and I am not doing this for numbers or statistics. It’s something I really want to do.

A learning push

This will be a year of decisions for me, to evaluate where I am professionally and where I want to go. Since graduating in 2019, I have been working as a full-stack developer, although the bulk of my work in 2021 has been in frontend, building rich experiences with Angular. I will admit that it wasn’t particularly pleasant to me early on, but the last few months have been equal parts gruelling and enlightening. Being put through the wringer and living in HTML, CSS, and TS for 10-15 hours a day has allowed me to develop an insight as well as an appreciation for the craft that I was missing before this.

This year, I want to hone these skills and learn how to write better, optimized code along with proper unit tests, and become a better developer. I also would like to evaluate where I want my learning journey to go from here. If I am to continue in front-end, my understanding is that demand for Angular is waning, and this is a domain where I will need to stay abreast with whatever shiny new toy is in fashion now. This seems to be React at the moment, and I will need to get my hands dirty with it as quickly as possible. If I do want to switch things up, I will need to come up with a learning plan. I will be following a T-shaped approach, dipping my feet in a number of things, seeing what sticks, and then diving deep into the subject I like the most. I don’t want my experience to go to waste, but I do think I can keep it relevant even if I am not working on the same stack I have been for two and a half years now.

A new look for this site

I started this site at the end of 2020 with an extremely barebones look and a self-coded static generator based on Jinja2. It has served me well, but there are some idiosyncrasies:

  1. Jinja 3.0 seems to have changed the way some of the templating code works. The workaround was to lock the version to 2.11.3 in pip, but that is neither sustainable nor secure.
  2. There wasn’t a clear delineation between the working folder and the output/build folder. I couldn’t get links to work quite right, and kept having to place assets in the output folder. This was still minor since most my posts were text-only and I didn’t have to do this too much.
  3. The markdown spec was a bit odd, and I found myself having to put in blocks of standard HTML into posts for simple things.

Each of these issues was minor and likely fixable, but together they were able to introduce enough friction into the day to day site administration experience that I started putting it off towards the end of the year. This meant missing a self-imposed target of 50 posts for the year by quite a large margin.

I’ve decided to rest on the shoulders of giants and be concerned only with the writing process and the content of the website. As such, I have ported all my content over to an established static generator. There are a lot of good choices for this, but ultimately I landed on Zola for its single binary, simple workflow, and quick build times. I was able to find a theme that appealed to me, and with a few CSS changes I was able to make it look and work as I liked. I’m hoping this reduced friction will help me through the year.

Participating

Finally, I want to put myself out there this year. Not the easiest thing to do in a pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down, but I don’t necessarily mean this in a physical way. I learned a lot about myself this year, and there is a lot more that I want to do, see and be than the person that looks back at me in the mirror. I’ve been a wallflower all my life, and I don’t necessarily dislike it, but I will be participating more- opening myself up to new experiences, new emotions, new friendships, and more.

Happy new year.