It's been over a month since I updated this blog, time to self-check in on my progress and resolutions and see where we are.

( Photo by Daniel Jensen )

Right: when I started this blog, I made a committment to keep an up-to date list of my learnings over time and share them here for wider benefit. But, you may have noticed some kind of a radio silence going on for the past 30+ days. What happened? Have I been bitten by a zombie? Have I made millions and moved somewhere inaccessible?

Because, time goes fast and from the paltry 3% at the start of the year we are more than one third in now!

Obviously I haven't been overran by a zombie horde, as I'm here typing. But, I have been busy on a few things lately:

Vacation

Yep - we all need to switch off from time to time. I actually brought my laptop with me in case I got inspired, but in the end I preferred disconnecting and enjoying the moments.

In fact - I want to share something that I learnt on another vacation a couple of years back and that made a huge impact for me. Turn off push notifications on your phone (and wearables).

On my phone, I only have SMS notification on - and nowadays I get a very few of these. I turned off any instant push notification from the likes of Twitter, Linkedin, Meetup, Whatsapp etc... I went on and completely uninstalled the likes of Facebook, Instagram and so on.

Only apps that are there to alert me about something really crucial and time sensitive have the privilege to distract me from whatever I'm on about. I am also only alerted about e-mails from very specific categories or people, and  I only let few instant messaging groups and individuals to "vibrate" my attention away.

I can still decide to look at, say, my Twitter feed on my own accord, but I am not constantly interrupted without notice.

As I said, I did this a few years back during a vacation, and ended up not re-enabling any of these notifications when I got back.

Try it, you won't be disappointed.

Events / Meetups

Photo by Andrei Stratu

I have got the habit of regularly attending Meetups after work. After all, London has such a massive offering in this sense that it would be stupid to pass on a free learning and networking opportunity. Here are some that I find quite useful for me:

If you attend any of these, maybe we will bump into each other.

I also had the chance to attend the AWS Summit London this year and it was definitely a huge event (more than 12,000 attendees apparently) with a lot of interesting content and sessions - you can find all the content and recordings here.

I particularly enjoyed the talk by Danilo Poccia on Serverless, and the example brough up by Caroline Rennie on how Comic Relief managed to migrate existing applications that were difficult to scale into a modern serverless approach.

This enabled massive cost reductions:

  • ~ $85K in March 2015 using the previous architecture
  • ~ $5K in March 2019 using the new architecture

as well as facilitating more rapid code iterations and adding new features. Here are the slides to that particular presentation: I liked how Caroline also explained what was the methodology to get past the initial concerns from the business stakeholders, by focusing and improving a smaller, non-critical part of the system to demonstrate the power of the approach and gain support. Well done to Caroline, her team and Comic Relief!

Self Training

I have doubled down on personal training courses - I think in my case they are really helping in maintaining my "sights on target" and firming up my array of technical knowledge alongside hands-on work.

Firstly, I'm continuing to make good use of my acloud.guru subscription and currently churning through the AWS Developer Associate videos. On the side, being a big believer in the power of online communities, I'm doing my best to help other students on their forums: check them out!

Speaking of, it was really nice to meet Ryan Kroonenburg at their networking event after the AWS Summit. It's nice to shake hands with someone you only viewed and heard in videos for months! It reminded me of my online gaming days where you would go to a LAN party and finally put a face to a nickname 😁 As they have recently raised $33M in funding I'm sure there are more exciting things coming down the line for us subscribers!

I have also invested in a couple of other courses, which are still on my to-do list:

One big victim of all the above efforts (although it's a bit of a stretch to include vacation as an effort, isn't it!) is my reading list. I had set a more conservative goal of 20 books read by the end of 2019. I achieved 20 out of a goal of 25 in 2018 .

However, one image can say more than a thousand words:

In fact - this is not entirely true. I am churning through Designing Data-Intensive Applications since December 2018. Not an easy read, but an insightful one for a Software Architect. I would recommend this book even though I haven't finished it yet.

The reality is that the above video courses and other activities are taking up most of my active time - yes, make sure you also include down time in your plans. I guess I have about 63% of the year left to catch up on my reading list!

Before you go

As you can see I haven't been completely inactive over the last few weeks. However, there is no excuse for not having updated my digital home with some good resources. I hope the above list gives you some ideas and directions in your learning journey.