thoughtwisps One commit at a time

2018 -in review

Do it twice and it becomes tradition? That’s what they used to say at my old alma mater. And perhaps it applies to blogging too? In either case, I enjoyed doing a retro on 2017, so I’ve decided to take the plunge and do it again for 2018. It’s hard to believe the year is almost over and yet here we are. I have some half frozen piparkakkutaikina (frozen gingerbread batter one can buy in any Finnish or Swedish supermarket) waiting on the table, so I’ll try to make this short and sweet. As last year, the year will be reviewed in chronological order.


Crisis. Personal, internal, domestic, global, political, climatological. Every kind of crisis. All I can think about is the comic with the cartoon dog in the middle of a burning house drinking coffee with ‘This is fine’ playing on repeat. I’ve repeated that phrase many times to myself since that summer’s day in 2016 and now things are no longer fine.

In December, an hour becomes a long time in British politics. Power figures tiptoe around various brinks and meanwhile three million people with lives, families, lovers, hopes and dreams firmly rooted in the UK wait to see if they will be allowed to stay in their homes.

I used to be one of those three million, too. I used to dream about summers spent summiting in Snowdonia or running the Cumbria Trail, visiting Skiddaw again. Spending the winter season hiking around Guildford and Denbies, finally taking the plunge and running my first 100 mile race through the North Downs. And now, instead, I’ll be packing to move somewhere else. Even so, I feel incredibly privileged to be able to just uproot my life and move. Plenty of folks are in the same Brexit limbo situation, but can’t relocate as easily due to family issues or a job that requires presence in London.

The thought leaving a home of five long years weighed heavily and I spent the bulk of December wandering around the streets of London (now busy with the ebbing tides of tourists and frantic Christmas shoppers) and saying goodbye. I’m sure I’d like to come back at some point.

Various other things happened in December. I’m going to continue working on colour search engines and, but I’ll also be taking a step and working at Big Cloud Company with the machine learning division. Is this part of the big serious Career Plan? Not sure. We’ll see what happens.

A visit to Sweden to see a very good friend and to fill out some paperwork necessary for immigration. My friend introduced me to julmust - a Swedish Christmas beverage and I’m a fan now!


First time visiting Berlin and attending Blackhoodie 18 - an infosec bootcamp that is all kinds of awesome. To my surprise, I even managed to crack the reverse engineering challenge. You can read a writeup I wrote on the Blackhoodie webpage.


Did something I’ve never done before: had a lawyer review my employment contracts and tried to challenge some of the intellectual property clauses in it. Was unsuccessful. Also lots of job searching: interviews, some victories, lots of disappointments. Forever grateful to all of the lovely people online and in real life who gave me tips and advice and put me in touch with their network. No person is an island, no person is entirely self-made.


One of my longstanding dreams - visiting and hiking in the Austrian Alps came true! I flew to Munich and drove south towards Saalbach region. After a few beautiful days hiking around Lake Fuschl and the mountains around Zell am See it was time to return back to London and plan for the future.


Last dregs of the heatwave torturing London since late June vanish into a cool summer rain. I’m still working as a contract Python developer at Big Corp. A good friend comes to visit me in London, but I’m too stressed about the slow progress on the contracting project I am doing for Big Corp to properly enjoy any of it.


Heatwave. My commute to and from work involves a lengthy trudge across the Tower Bridge. In the afternoons, the bridge is crowded and overheated. I buy an ice tea from the nearby Starbucks just so I can hold the icy drink container against my forehead as I walk across to the DLR station on Tower Hill.


Search for second contract kicks off and I land a developer gig at Big Corp! The heatwave that is to torture this city for the next six weeks begins.


A childhood friend from Finland flies to visit me in London! We trawl through the vintage market at Spitalfields, look at the Gherkin and wander around the Tate Modern. Took the Eurostar to Amsterdam (for the first time!) to speak at PyData Amsterdam about JupyterHub and Kubernetes! The weather was glorious - stifling heat and clear, sunburned skies.


Finish one of the best gigs I’ve ever had - a six month remote role where I get to play around a lot with AWS, learn about Terraform and ECS and have a few disasters with CloudFront, WAF rules and a little known thing of SNI and Java compatibility. Decide that maybe remote-first is the way to go for me in the future. Spoke at PyData London 2018 about my work on deploying JupyterHub to the cloud with Kubernetes. Start drafting ideas for a lipstick colour search engine that is to become


Work, work, work.


Visit a good friend in Stockholm and look at the sights of the city. Consider seriously moving there for a while in 2019.


Work, work, work. One of the most memorable days that I still sometimes dwell on is visiting a snowy (or perhaps it was sleet?) Manchester for a work meeting in the middle of January and finishing Mortality by Christopher Hitchens on the train back.