Here’s my review of 2018 - my first successful annual review. I remember wanting to do something like this, a couple of times before too. This time, I managed to get started and wrap it up!

I’ve been inspired to write one by a some reviews that I read this year – some of them do it every year.

My review isn’t as systematic as any of these. But, I have some inspiring examples in front of me to aspire to. Hope this will start something that I can keep doing annually from now, if not more frequently.

I’ve divided my review into a few different areas - based mostly the time I have spent on them, how important I feel they are, and the extent of notes I have in those areas.


Side projects

I worked on a bunch of side-projects this year, some of them abandoned, some completed and found useful, some abandoned after the first version turned out to be not so useful. Most of the stuff was “webby”, and unsurprisingly a bunch of my side-projects were Ultimate related.

I spent a quite a bit of my spare time between about March and September contributing to Zulip – mainly as a mentor on the zulip-terminal project, apart from some minor contributions around improving setting up of the dev environment for the zulip-server project. I also facilitated a Zulip sprint during PyCon at Hyderabad.

I also got to attend the Zulip India Summit! It was great to meet a whole bunch of Zulip contributors. I especially enjoyed the conversations with and the presentations by Tim and Greg, mostly around developer productivity.

I’m really impressed and inspired by the amount of care and effort that is put into stream-lining the process of contributing to the project, and the emphasis on developer productivity.

I played around with a little bit of React Native development, but wasn’t able to devote much time to it. I’d like to play around some more with it, this year.

Find Playo Venue
I wrote a simple map based tool to find the most suitably located Playo venue with good ratings, when some of my friends and I were playing a lot of badminton together. I still use it sometimes, but we’ve mostly figured out our “favorite” venues.
I built a site inspired by this Trump tweet archive for Modi’s tweets. I used Dash to build it, and it was quite fun, despite a few annoyances. This tweet archive, though, isn’t as interesting as the Trump archive, since the tweets are more calculated and strategic. But, a few things could be added to make it more useful.

The repo is private as of now, but I’m happy to share the code, if anyone is interested.

I spent a couple of weekends maintaining Blaggregator. I updated Django to 1.11.x which is also something I did on Akvo RSR (my work project), later during the year. I also worked on making the crawl faster by handling dead blogs better, etc.
I tried to get started with learning some Rust, and as an exercise, I started building a tool to analyze Apache logs and show some useful stats.
Org-mode to Zulip helpers
I wrote some Emacs helpers to post to Zulip. I’m quite happy with being able to post longer messages from inside Emacs - this lets me retain a copy of things like my checkins or interesting links in my notes/journal file.
I tried to help a friend of mine build a newer website for, and spent about a couple of days on it. But, there were other bigger problems which needed attention from my friends, and this site just fell by the wayside.
Abandoned projects
There are bunch of other projects that I’ve abandoned. I may end up spending some time looking into them, this year.
SOTG Calculator
I had the chance to look at the Spirit scoring sheets for a couple of tournaments, in the beginning of 2018, and was utterly disappointed. I always knew that it was a lot of work to get the top scores just a few minutes after the final game, but I found a lot more mistakes than I expected – a lot of them were easy to avoid with just a little automation.

To help improve the situation, I built a simple webapp to compute the scores from a Google Spread Sheet. Finding the initial adopters turned out to be very hard, despite the app making life a lot easier for people. It was disappointing to see people saying they didn’t have enough time to try the app, and instead chose to manually compute everything that the app could’ve done with a couple of clicks!

But, eventually it started to be pushed as the official tool starting this season, and has found a bunch of happy users.

We used Whatsapp to co-ordinate team practices and to keep track of the players attending, etc. But, this started to get quite spammy, and it was a hassle to have other conversations on the group, while folks were calling in for a practice. It was a nightmare to have people call in for two different events at the same time.

To see if people were willing to switch away to something less spammy, a friend and I started with a simple RSVP app and most people seemed to not mind using it.

Unsurprisingly, the app eventually got a lot of features - to make it easy to manage team practices and team resources like photos and training material. It is being used regularly by the team, without too many problems.

As an after thought, may be we have an over-engineered solution, and just asking everyone to use (Google) Calender & Email would’ve worked.

Huddle magazine archive
The Huddle was a good Ultimate related magazine run by Ben & Andy a few years ago. They eventually stopped running it, and the archives disappeared from the original site but are available on the USA Ultimate website which is super hard to read! I wrote some code to scrape the site, and convert the articles into markdown posts and made a more readable version of the magazine here.

I tried to get in touch with Ben & Andy, to ask if they were interested to replace the “coming soon” message on the original site with these archives, but didn’t succeed. Posting it on Reddit and sharing it with my team got some people interested, and hopefully they keep using it.

To help my team with understanding rules better, I built a light weight tool to easily create video based quizzes - embed video and ask related questions, use videos to show answers.

To build a question bank, I tried to get some people on the team to volunteer, but it didn’t really take off.

Ultimate Frisbee

2018 was filled with a lot of Ultimate - not just playing, but also thinking, talking and planning.

Some of these questions will continue to take up some of my mindspace this year, whether or not I continue to captain the team.



2019 goals/ideas

I want to give having a motto for an year a shot, a la Buster Benson. My motto for 2019 is “Be Deliberate”.

I’m not sure I know exactly what this entails, and I’m sure I’ll get a better understanding of it, as the year goes by. But, here are few things that I think would be good starting points:

Thanks Kartik Krovvidi and Shantanu Choudhary for reading drafts of this post, being excited about it, and useful suggestions to make it better.