2022 in review

Another year flew by, I can’t really believe it’s already been a whole year since I wrote 2021 in review. A very busy and somewhat stressful year - although not for all the reasons I predicted a year ago.

Personal stuff

Unlike my previous “year in review” articles, this time I’ll start with the personal stuff as that had a big impact on everything else.

This year I turned forty years old! I’ve now reached the age where my barber deals with my ear hair – by burning it with a lighter. I’m definitely starting to feel a bit older and midlife-crisis-y.

In April I moved to my new house and later that same month I started dating a wonderful woman from Germany. The house is taking up all my money, and the girlfriend all my weekends, so between those two there wasn’t room for much else this year. As a result much less time was spent on open source projects, writing articles, and the Mentorship Program, as you’ll see below.

It was also a year of loss: my parents’ dog died, one of my cats died, and my mom’s sister, my favorite aunt, passed away after battling cancer for many years. I am really glad that I did move to be closer to my family, as we were able to lean on each other a lot this year.

Open source projects

Last year I started a whole bunch of open source projects, and this year I started none. The existing projects are stable and working fine and as intended. I did feel less productive this year after the flurry of new projects last year, but it is what it is.

I did work on the open source sentry-cocoa SDK for about half a year as a freelance developer. It’s a big and very complex project, and it’s all written in Objective-C which I hadn’t worked with since 2016, so it was an interesting challenge. It was also fun, and reminded me of the many years I wrote Objective-C fulltime, and all the good qualities that language has. I still do greatly prefer Swift though!

Side projects

My side project Critical Notes is still going strong. In 2021 I made a bunch of big architectural changes: I switched from Svelte to SvelteKit, and from Firebase to my own API witten in Django. This year I switched from JavaScript to TypeScript, which was also quite a large undertaking, keeping me off the streets for many many hours. And with most of my weekends now gone, that meant many late nights instead.

The TypeScript refactor paved the way for many new features and design changes - now that I have the compiler helping me along, it’s much less scary to make big changes. This resulted in a really big changelog this year, and many happy users.

Last year I ended with 12 paying subscribers and a few hundred users overall, and I made 336 euros. This year I made 1077 euros from 32 subscribers, out of a little more than two thousand users. I’ll be honest: I wish the income would’ve grown more (to make the many many hours worth it) but I am still happy that there are people at all who want to pay for this tool.

In 2021 I had 10k unique visitors and 62k total pageviews, this year those numbers are 15k and 242k, respectively. It may seem that the amount of unique visitors hasn’t grown a lot but that is because in 2021 I got almost 6.000 visitors in one week due to a Hacker News post. Looking at the pageviews you can see how much the site has really grown. The average visit duration has increased from 3 minutes to almost 8 minutes which is really great.

I also hired a content writer for Critical Notes, to write campaign notes for the D&D podcast Dungeons & Daddies. Hopefully this will attract more users, when they see how it could help them with their own campaigns and adventures.

Career changes

For a few years now I’ve had this feeling in the back of my head that I want to do something else at some point. I am now 40 years old and I don’t see myself still programming eight hours a day in ten years, for example. But what would I want to do, and how would I start to make my way into that new direction? Would I be able to do it as a freelancer or not?

So this year I posted a cheeky “company opening”: instead of a company posting a job opening, why not a person posting a company opening? I listed what I am looking for, and I did find a company! Starting in January 2023 I’ll be working for Sound Radix, a small Emmy Award winning company working on innovative audio technology. I will be responsible for the website and API, but I will also help with other management tasks where needed. And I’ll still be doing it remotely and as a freelance contractor.

The stack I’ll be working with is SvelteKit and Django, which is the same as I use in Critical Notes. That does have the potential to make working on my side project less fun, but if that happens I’ll probably start work on a native iOS app to keep that variety in my life. Maybe SwiftUI and the Composable Architecture?

Mentorship program

With the new house, a new girlfriend, spending time with family, and of course work (both the paid projects and Critical Notes), something had to give and sadly that was the mentorship program. I started the year with three mentees but I ended with none - as mentees dropped out I did not accept new ones, because I did not have the time nor energy for it. Hopefully this is something I can give more time in the next year, we’ll see how it goes.

2023 resolutions

I was not able to do a motorcycle roadtrip this year, which is definitely getting higher on my priorities list next year. I want to keep growing Critical Notes, try to get a marketing person involved – it’s time to throw some gasoline on this simmering fire! Hopefully accept new mentees into the Mentorship Program again.

2022 was all about family, and I want to make 2023 more about my friends. After moving away from them it’s harder to keep in touch, it takes more effort to see each other, which is something I want to do more next year.