2023: Year in Review

Posted 2 months ago
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Fireworks

As the year draws to a close, it is an opportune time to contemplate the accomplishments of past years in order to gain a better perspective. Looking back on my achievements, I feel a sense of pride and gratitude for all that I have accomplished, with the help and support of those around me.

This year, many things that were previously in progress seemed to fall into place, leading me to pursue a new career direction that focuses more on engaging people rather than code. This is a path that is better suited for me at this stage in my career.

The Book 📚

I was contacted about the opportunity to write a book in February, and with few hiccups managed to completely finish the content. The book is available (for preorder) at Barnes & Noble, which I think is both strange and awesome!

A few years ago I started to explicitly seek out and try out new things, and this is one of the bigger achievements for sure! I've learnt a lot about the writing process, about integrating different technologies and about teaching.

I spent a lot of evenings in writing content, building and testing the projects and repeatedly go over sections to rewrite them. In the first few weeks I logged the hours for my own interest, but I'm glad I stopped over time. I thought I was prepared for the amount of time, but it's very much different in practice than in theory! 😅

Extra writing achievements ✍️

Article on Smashing Magazine

I'm super proud on the publication in Smashing Magazine: How To Deal With Big Tooling Upgrades In Large Organizations. Having been a reader of Smashing for some time, I was super excited to be selected to provide content for the platform!

Article in FrontMania magazine

I was asked to provide content for a printed magazine that was going to be distributed on the FrontMania 2023 conference. I wrote an article on getting started with OpenAI endpoints and a Nuxt web application. With a very niche topic, depending on a highly volatile (change wise) API, I was actually surprised it to be printed! 🖨️

Additional writing

I also set some goals on increasing my efforts on this personal website. I set a goal of at least two contributions a month. Due to the book writing efforts however, I noticed I was not going to reach this goal. To be fair though, I set the goal to increase my writing and I think that's been fulfilled by writing the book 😅. The other reason was to generate a bit more traffic and visibility for this website. That'll move over to next year I guess.

Artificial Intelligence 💡

There's no denying that AI took flight this year, with OpenAI & ChatGPT making AI accessible for the masses. Of course there have been multiple successful products being launched, which immediately sparked debates about the opportunities and risks involving the rapid progression of the algorithms.

While I'm concerned about the risks that AI can pose, I also see a lot of potential in boosting productivity and I've been using it to assist me in lots of mundane tasks.

I was asked to provide input on a new concept called GPTcoding Labs, to discover a potential new concept to teach developers how to leverage AI in their day to day work.

The talks 🎤

I was contacted by organisers to provide a CFP, but of course, not all of them were successful. Being contacted was a new thing for me though, which shows that I've become more visible as a speaker in the tech space.

I did speak at some conferences: I spoke about software migration (from Vue2 to Vue3) at VueJSLive, JSNation and VueJS Global Summit. At FrontMania I gave a talk about a topic I've been working on since February: Design System classifications.

More engagement

At JSNation I was also part of two panel discussions, which was fun to do and something new for me as well, going public that way.

I really enjoyed being an MC at VueJS Global Summit. I got to introduce a couple of people I knew from the Vue space, which made it extra fun! This should lead to me MCing at VueJS Amsterdam one day!

As an external assessor, I frequent graduation ceremonies to provide feedback and advice from business point of view. I had the extraordinary pleasure to attend one of the most outstanding presentations this time, with a completely new concept fleshed out and prototyped, aimed at reducing noise levels and increasing the feeling of productivity at open spaces.

Program Committee

While I was on stage in this year, for the 2024 edition of JS Nation, I'm actually on the program committee! So far I've found it really interesting to contribute to a conference this way and see some of the activities that take place behind the scenes on organising a tech conference.

Socials

I've also invested a bit more time in my social media presence, by posting more frequently and interacting with other users. Twitter is still the place to go: it simply has the most activity and traction.

Career and work 🧑‍💻

I moved to a new team in the beginning of the year. The team is building a new platform to helps publish more pages in a unified way within Jumbo. I entered the team with the purpose of starting to onboard other teams to start using and contributing to the platform. This heralded a bit of a switch in responsibilities from my side. I was transitioning more and more into the lead role at this point.

I moved as a tech lead into the Design System team, where we took charge of revisiting the existing design system and forming new processes and guidelines to improve the quality and stability of the design system, while maintaining the development speed.

I've founded the initiative where we are discovering and learning about Open Source contributions. The reasoning is that we are using open source and we should be able to give back to the community. My role was facilitating in forming a team and connecting within and outside of our organisation.

Hackathon updates 🛠️

The solution we've submitted for last years Jumbo Supermarkten Hackathon, was put to production and we saw positive feedback on the feature! ✓

In other Hacakthon news, this year I participated as the captain of a team of students. This was the first time we invited a student team to participate in our yearly event. I was super proud of the result, because their concept was awarded one of the seven Golden Tickets and proceeded to the finals! 🎟️

Collaboration with Education 🎓

Something that I've been championing for more than two years finally came to fruition. I have been working on talking and convincing the right people to create funding and start collaborating with Fontys University of Applied Science's InnovationLab, where external organisations and students collaborate on challenges from the business. I strongly believe we should invest in education and I have been working on this collaboration for quite some time. I am very proud of having achieved this. 🤝

Guiding challenges

I've been in the lead of mentoring three groups of students from various backgrounds and challenges:

  • A team from Business Driven Business Development was examining how lists and recommendations of recipes can be better coordinated by applying Machine Learning to the properties of a recipe, with the aim of putting together better weekly menus for customers (later at an individual level).

  • A team from Digital Experience Design iterated on a concept from the hackathon, whereby a daily menu can be put together based on various inputs (store data & customer data), taking into account loss prevention in stores and individual customer preferences.

  • A team from Digital Marketing from a Fontys Minor was tasked with investigating how we can better collect feedback at Home Delivery

There were more activities flowing from this collaboration.

Career Day and Invites

With three colleagues I represented Jumbo Tech Campus as a potential organisation for graduate assignments and we set up a special day to invite students over to give more information on the Jumbo Tech Campus and promote Jumbo as a tech employer.

Sharing knowledge 🧠

Jumbo organises Learning Days every year, which are sort of internal conferences. Vendor get invited to speak and it is open to anyone working at the Jumbo Tech Campus. I was asked to give three talks on topics I have been involved in recently:

  • Kompas: Development and Role of a Design System

  • Great Migrations: Upgrading at scale

  • Building a Frontend Platform to serve our customers' needs

It was really fun to be at an internal event for a change and share my thoughts on some of these topics. I also managed to co present with colleagues which enables them to grow as well.

Taking the lead

As part of our deparment wide strategy, we're going to invest in web based solution, which means that our native iOS and Android apps will be sunsetted over time in favour of offering a hybrid solution. Using our existing platforms and technology, a working group has been tasked to lay the ground work for this. I'm acting as the lead of the working group.

Career Development 🌱

I've also started to express my goals of growing into an Engineering Manager role. I think I'm ready for this, but haven't been able to make this step just yet.

More bucket list 🪣

This is becoming very meta, but I was a guest on the podcast Life Talks about jumping on new opportunities. Chatting was a really nice experience. I got in contact with the host Surbhi via polywork, which is a platform that helps connecting people with similar interests.

See the world 🗺️

Willingen 🏂

Because the first skiing lessons in Sweden last year were such good fun, we wanted to do a short trip to continue the lessons for our kids. Willingen is a relatively short distance and small area. It was barely snowy enough to be able to ski or snowboard, but we had some good fun during a three day stay there!

Iceland 🌋

I was really looking forward to revisiting Iceland. My wife and I visited Reykjavik and its surroundings 9 years ago and now it was a perfect time to explore it with our kids. We went in the last week of April and first week of May, when the ring road is open and it starts to warm up. It is one of the most awe inspiring countries in the world, with such diverse landscapes and weather conditions. We saw geysers, dormant volcanoes, gigantic waterfalls, shy mink and humpback whales, floating icebergs, melting glaciers, curious Icelandic horses and even witnessed the northern lights! Being in this type of raw nature made a lasting impression. Two of the highlights were the hike in the snow towards a soak in a hot water stream and visiting the public swimming pool in Reykjavik.

Mexico 🌮

During a three week visit to Mexico, we travelled through the Yucatán peninsula. Our starting point was the very touristic area surrounding Tulum. It had some gems, such as Yal-Ku and Dos Ojos cenotes, spotting sea turtles. In general, we tend to dislike the overly touristy locations so we were also happy to move further down the peninsula where we discovered Bacalar and explore the temples (and millions of bats) near Calakmul. From that we traveled via Campeche and Mérida. These colonial cities offered lots of sights to explore as well. We did lose our precious teddy bear in one of the hotels here! 🧸

The end of our journey was spent at a very secluded off the grid villa. It was very luxurious with the most awesome views (and kitchen!) on a 3 kilometer private beach! We stayed in a Nature Preserve and spotted lots of birds too!

People in Mexico are super friendly and helpful, unless they are on the road. Those are dangerous! 😅

Highlights were the tacos at Taquería de La Unión in Mérida, the journey of our families Teddy Bear and the off the grid stay at Nirvana Blue villa.

Denmark 🔌

This was our first trip where we could test drive our electric car for long range distances. We had a vacation planned in Århus, Denmark and decided to see how that works with more limited range and charging times. It was a lot of trying out new ways of travel, since planning becomes a bit more of a challenge: we discovered that you really want to align longer stops with something valuable: having a snack, coffee or grabbing some food. All in all, it was a bit of a hassle for a relatively short stay, but we'll learn!

The highlights of the trip were the visits to both Legoland Billund and especially Lego House! Both were very different and super fun to visit! The house in Århus was also incredible: a typical Scandinavian villa, with a rich orchard (we ate a lot of apples), the two bunnies and the house cat. It was a very comfortable, cozy stay!

Home Exchange 🧳

When travelling, we try to make use of HomeExchange. It's a platform where individuals or families exchange their homes with each other for a period of time, typically for a vacation or holiday. HomeExchange allows people to experience different destinations and cultures while staying in the comfort of a home, rather than a hotel or other traditional accommodation.

💡 If you're interested in this, or want to sign up, feel free to use our referral code which nets you (and us) some Guest Points to start with: lydia-b4aeb

Health 🏋️

I've been hitting the mark of at least one workout a week, save for vacations, and during the summer months managed to spend quite some time on the road bike. I did not meet my yearly kilometer goal, partly due to weather and home improvements (which usually take place during the weekends).

Fund raiser

I challenged myself to a sponsorship cycling tour, of cycling 160 kms in one go and managed to raise € 620 to help fight cancer. I'm very proud of both the distance as well as the amount raised! 🦀

On the run

I did pick up running, very carefully, after a long period of not being able to run. It was in fact one of the reasons for me to start road cycling. My left knee is still a weakness, so I'm limiting myself to a maximum of 5 kilometers on weekly sessions and we'll see how it goes.

Sustainability 🌱

My wife works on the topic of sustainability in our municipality and we've been making some investments to reduce our footprint. We've installed 13 solar panels, on sunny days (and on a yearly average), we generate more electricity than we use.

The solar panels were installed because of our new electric car. We're leasing this as an opportunity to reduce our emissions and investigate the electric driving experience. It's probably going to be the future of driving, and we're able to start doing this at an early stage. For our usage (the car sits at home during daytime), we should be able to charge via solar energy for some part.

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