One wants to believe 2021 will be better than the last one, simply as it’s hard to imagine how it can prove worse, yet there’s no improvement in sight just yet.
Anyway, there’s this tradition and I want to focus on positive things, which in fact dominated my past year, save for the one mentioned above.
Lockdown and working from home
In early 2020 I’ve upgraded my workplace at home. I already had one curved 38" display, so I bought another (model LG 38WK95C-W) and mounted both monitors on the wall. I also replaced my old, but not obsolete notebook with a mini-PC carrying a lot of horsepower: a 16-core Intel Core i9-9880H and 64 GB RAM.
The PC is almost silent, and so small that I easily hid it behind one of the monitors.
This upgrade came just on time because in March the whole country crashed into what’s the government called the smart lockdown (which there’s little smart about).
I’ve visited my office at the Nederlandse Spoorwegen only twice since. I was part of the team developing software for selling contactless tickets, which made use of some special hardware, like CT printer and a PIN terminal, so going to the office was a necessity.
In the summer, after having worked for NS for two and a half years, there came a time for me to move on.
Rijkswaterstaat has become my next client as of September 1st, 2020. It’s a massive organisation charged with construction and maintenance of the Dutch public infrastructure, as well as making software facilitating those tasks.
Our team is developing the next version of the so-called Omgevingsloket, an online portal for citizens to communicate with local councils about matters related to their property.
Curiously enough, in 2017 I was a part of a team that developed Standaard Platform, a unified cloud solution for government applications. This time around we’re users of that solution.
We’d been fortunate to have visited Sölden last January, right before COVID-19 started its worldwide invasion. This was great, as usual: the mountains, the snowboarding, the sky, the sun, and the speed.
Then came the pandemic and holidays gradually became an obsolete thing of the past.
There was, however, a short break between the first and the second waves. The Dutch government discouraged the people from going on vacation at the time, but pretty much everyone ignored that.
We’d also decided to grab our chance and drafted a route around Benelux and thereabouts: Namur (Belgium) ⇒ Dinant (Belgium) ⇒ Luxembourg ⇒ Metz (France) ⇒ Strasbourg (France) ⇒ Eifel (Germany).
Since a lot of things were uncertain because of the pandemic back then, we preferred to book hotels right before departure, thus keeping our options open.
The vacation was fabulous, although we deemed the obligation to wear a face mask a bit annoying (he-he). That said, the further we went from Belgium, the more relaxed people seemed to be with regard to face masks.
Also, in Luxembourg we’ve visited the American cemetary for the first time. We’ve tried that several times in the past but every time the cemetery turned out to be closed.
The geometrically perfect rows of crosses are an unusual, mesmerising sight.
Back in May I was contacted by Alex Bozhin, the founder of Postoplan, who asked me to become their CTO and a co-founder. Postoplan is a fast-growing service for automated social posting.
The next months proved to be full of hard but rewarding work. I introduced the Scrum way of development in the company, which visibly boosted the motivation of developers. We implemented automated deployments and scheduled WhatsApp posting—a feature not available anywhere else (my knowledge of Go came in handy).
This is also why I hardly posted anything since May. Just didn’t have time for it.
But fulfilling both roles (a developer at Rijkswaterstaat and the CTO at Postoplan) became a bit too heavy on me in September, so we negotiated my departure as a CTO from the latter, yet retaining the co-founder role.
In the meantime, Postoplan is doing great, having gained almost 50,000 users in the past year, predominantly in the Spanish and English-speaking segments.
Most of the last year all inside trainings were forbidden, meaning I didn’t have a chance to go to aikido or fitness.
The ban on indoor training has lead to the explosive growth of popularity of inline skating. The skates were sold out almost everywhere.
We also decided to join the horde. After a good deal of searching we managed to order skeelers online. It was my very first experience on the matter, but it turned out just fine. During the summer my wife and me have covered a few hundred kilometers.
I also started running more, up to three times a week. With the total run of 1075 km that resulted in my beating my own annual record.
Happy New Year!
I was celebrating the last New Year’s Eve on a train from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg. By the way, it was quite a challenge to arrange my trip to Russia for my father’s funeral because of COVID-19 restrictions.
I gave the situation a lot of thought. Yes, it’s mournful, yet it’s obvious that’s the way the life is. It’s natural for people to die so one can best recognise that, accept that and be prepared to that, if at all possible.
The life goes on, so we just need to seize the day and enjoy our being here.
At this point I’d like to wish my readers to be persistent, balanced, successful, and, last but not least, in good health. We’ll make it through.