Fatih Arslan

My thoughts about Programming, Coffee, Bags and various other stuff

Recap Year 2018

It’s time for a recap of 2018. I wrote one in 2017 and it’s great to read it once in a while to see what I’ve done in the past. This helps me to stay focused on the things I value and let me look back in case I want to see. Let me start with this year’s family updates (Family always comes first!)

Family & Trips

Alper, my son, is growing and leveling up each day. I’m saying ‘leveling up’, because it became a joke between my friends, as we discovered how a baby or infant changed overnight to something else. For example, Alper started to climb suddenly a steep hill or mountain-like terrain on the playground (I never saw it and it happened suddenly). It’s amazing to see how these little humans are capable of.

Alper, my nephew and me skateboarding in Mainz, Germany

Alper, my nephew and me skateboarding in Mainz, Germany

Because I’m also working from home, I had the chance to play and grow up with Alper. I think one of the best things in my life was to work remotely as I’m able to experience everything with my little son.

We always visit Germany each year as I was born there and half of my family is still living there. I miss Germany a lot due to my childhood memories and hence visiting and staying there for a couple of weeks is always refreshing. Also, both Alper and my wife Zeynep enjoy it there.

Bodrum, Turkey

Bodrum, Turkey

Besides that, I’m very fortunate that my mother is willing to take care of Alper occasionally so we could have some weekend trips with Zeynep on our own. We had several family trips, such as Bodrum, Antalya, Istanbul, Frankfurt and Berlin. I did share some of my photos on my Instagram page if you’re interested.

My usual gear I bring with me on my trips

My usual gear I bring with me on my trips

Of course I also travelled alone due to my job at DigitalOcean. We had many off-sites and visited several conferences (KubeCon!) around the world, such as Copenhagen, NYC, Montreal, and Seattle. All of these cities were wonderful. If I had to pick up one, I think it would be Montreal or Seattle. It was my first time visiting these cities and I hope I get the chance to visit it again in the future.

I usually always travelled with a single bag and nothing else. Travelling this way really changes your mind. I bought some travel clothing, such as merino t-shirts, new packing cubes, etc.. The only mistake I made is to sell my beloved Fuji X100F. It was the perfect one-bagging camera. I’m waiting now for the latest X-Pro3 model so I can jump back and use again a rangefinder inspired camera. I’m planning to share more of my experiences traveling with a single bag in 2019.

YouTube

I really like watching Youtube videos (who doesn’t?) The more I watched the more I also wanted to create some content on my YouTube channel. I wanted to do something else besides coding, so I started producing some technical content in Turkish. Because I had zero gear I had to buy a lot of stuff to produce these videos, such as a microphone, camera stand, audio recorder, editing software, etc..

One of my first YouTube setup

One of my first YouTube setup

I shot 27 videos in 2018, so that’s 2.25 videos per month. At some point, I stopped producing videos because it was just too much work. The amount of work that goes into a single video is so large, I have huge respect for people editing their videos.

Because of that, I recently pivoted my channel and started to produce videos where I just talk about various kinds of topics that I’m interested in lately. It doesn’t take a lot of time and I really like the current concept. Let’s see if I still have the energy and time to produce videos.

Side Projects

Everyone knows me from vim-go and from various projects I have done in the Go community. This year, as some of you already know, I decided to step back from my day to day jobs from these projects. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made personally. But life goes on. It’s been three months where I wasn’t involved with my open source projects and I never felt so good.

Fixmie.com: Automated code fixes

Fixmie.com: Automated code fixes

One of the other reasons I stopped working on existing/new open source projects was to fulfill one of my dreams of working on the project that I was researching and planning for a long time. It’s called “Fixmie” and I announced it two months ago.

Fixmie is a service that checks your Pull Requests on Github, automatically analyses your source code and then fixes your code, for you. It does it by commenting on the appropriate lines with “Github Suggestions”. You can then decide whether you want to fix it or not by pressing the suggestion.

It’s not open to the public yet as I wanted to control the pace of the project myself, therefore people are invited periodically (you can request access from fixmie.com). So far around 160 users are using it and over 2200 repos are checked continuously. I’m planning to spend most of my time in 2019 on Fixmie and continue to innovate the service with new features and improvements.

DigitalOcean

I still work with DigitalOcean and it’s been three years since I’ve been with them. I’m fortunate that I’m able to work with amazing people on high impact products. As some of you remember (from my last year’s recap), I started working on the containers team starting at 1.1.2018.

Me at KubeCon EU - Copenhagen

Me at KubeCon EU - Copenhagen

It’s been one year and during this time we successfully launched “Kubernetes on DigitalOcean”, a managed service for Kubernetes. It was a big success and you can easily see the responses over all the web. I usually always work behind the scenes, but this was the first time I worked on a product that was accessible by everyone. The feeling of saying “I made this!” is just wonderful in my opinion. Of course, a customer facing product is very different compared to something that is not visible to outside users and is done entirely inside the company. Both have their pros and cons, but I like it so far.

I worked on various projects. From outside many of you know that I’ve created and maintained the csi-digitalocean driver that seamlessly integrates DigitalOcean Block Storage with any Kubernetes product. I was able to ship v1.0.0 before the holidays and going forward I hope to invest more time in improving it even further. The CSI spec is still evolving and because of that, during my work, I started taking tons of notes, which eventually translated to one of my largest blog post in 2018. It goes in detail about how CSI works and how to write and implement the spec. Definitely check it out if you’re interested (btw, this was one of my goals in my 2017 recap blog post, so mission accomplished! :)).

Internally, my main focus was maintaining our base images, creating new releases (DigitalOcean is one of the providers that offers already Kubernetes v1.13) and working on small fixes/improvements in our core services. There is still tons of work to be done next year. I hope I’ll be able to share some of the work I’ll be doing in 2019.

Working from home

It’s now almost 6.5 years I’m working remotely. Working from home is so far one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I can’t list the benefits because there are so many. However, I want to talk about some of the recent challenges I had. There are some improvements in those areas, but it’s not perfect.

My home setup: iMac Pro on a standing desk

My home setup: iMac Pro on a standing desk

First of all, remote rocks if you’re in the same or similar (-/+ 3 hours) timezone with your co-workers. Everything is in sync, you have meetings very early or around noon, you can contact several of your co-workers if something is needed, be part of ongoing conversations, etc..

In my case, this is not the case because I live in UTC +3. And also we don’t have any daylight saving time anymore, which means the difference is even higher. As an example, the difference between Ankara (where I live) and NYC (my employers HQ) is 8 hours. With the West Coast, it’s 11 hours. Now think a second about what this means.

When I wake up in the morning, everyone is sleeping. This means I’m totally alone and have to work in the dark. Fortunately, I have the ability to work on my own piece if needed and doing it very well for 67 years, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy. Trust me, it’s not. Some of the big challenges are especially meetings. All my meetings start at minimum 5PM and end around 1AM (depending on the type of the meeting).

Of course, it’s not the same every single day. I’m very fortunate to have a great manager and team that aligns with my needs, so that helps to adjust the meeting times or let me have “meeting free” days. For now, I’m trying not to have any meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have any meetings, but I will try to reschedule them if I can.

Resting corner in my room

Resting corner in my room

Throughout the years, I also invested in my office to make it more pleasant to work from home. I’m in the same office for the whole day, converting it into something more comfortable is worth it. I upgraded to a desktop machine (iMac Pro), bought a standing desk and also changed the corner of my room to include a couch, a coffee table, and a big wall picture. Whenever I’m exhausted, I sit or lay down there, brew coffee and read some of my favorite magazines.

In my the pros outweigh the cons and I suggest everyone try to give remote a chance if they can.

Blogging

I wasn’t able to write a lot this year. The total number of blog posts I wrote was 8 (including the one you’re reading right now). However, most of them are very lengthy and I believe I can write more if I write shorter blog posts.

Writing the ‘Recap Year 2018’ blog post

Writing the ‘Recap Year 2018’ blog post

I still enjoy writing something, I derailed a little bit when I started creating some video content on Youtube, but I still keep coming back to writing. I wish my writing would be better IMHO. I’m trying to improve it by reading books and writing more (which didn’t happen as you see), but I think I need to spend more time reading some books about writing. That’s one of my 2019 goals.

Recap

2018 was a very calming year. I made some big decisions in my life and tried to work on some of my long lasting plans. When I read my last year’s recap I can see that I stayed on the course and did most of the points I wrote in my recap. I hope I can continue at this pace.

The upcoming year looks very bright. My son is getting older and I enjoy every single moment of it. Seeing him growing and changing will be another highlight this year. Besides that, we’re planning to work on some brand new projects at DigitalOcean and I look forward to seeing how it ends up. I will continue to explore my new iPad Pro and see if it fits my needs (btw, this whole blog post was written on an iPad with Ulysses and deployed via Github + Netlify using Blink.sh. I’m planning to release a lengthy blog post about my iPad Pro setup and scripts)

Thanks for reading and happy new year to everyone!


If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to share it with me on Twitter: @fatih