Berlin has been calling me and my wife for a while now. The first time was in 2014, when I was going to join a startup as their CTO but it didn’t work out. We still took the time to explore the city well enough and in the process fell in love with it.
The city has this je ne sais quoi that I’ve only felt in a few places in the world. It feels alive, it’s cool and a lot of fun. Granted, it’s also messy and chaotic but different from any other city I’ve been it’s chaos is part of its charm.
Later on in 2017 the city was calling us again. My wife got accepted to do a six month internship in a respectful international institution and we couldn’t say no, so we decided to do it even if it meant being apart from each other. During that time I spent most of my weekends traveling the 900 km between Berlin and Nuremberg to spend some time together.
At the beginning of 2018 the city did one more attempt to invite us when I got a job offer. It wasn’t an easy decision, since I was quite happy to work for SUSE but we thought it was the right move for us as a couple since we were hoping my wife could find more job offers in a bigger and more international city.
Moving meant we needed to find a new apartment but the rent situation in Berlin is not so simple. It’s common to find yourself looking at an apartment with 20 other people who are also interested, and if you are not a German or don’t speak the language well, your chances decrease. We were lucky and after a week we managed to find something. We are both thankful and excited to call it our new home.
However, rent here is higher than in Nuremberg so we had to settle for something smaller. That meant we had to get rid of some of our furniture and reduce our footprint. For me the hardest part was to let go of one of our bookshelves. I love books, but they use so much space so I decided to consume books in digital form from now on.
For this upcoming year, I’d like to continue this path and make sure we only have what we need at home and get rid of anything that is there just taking space.
The company I started working is Babbel. They are on a mission to help people learn to speak different languages, which I find totally awesome. Probably the coolest thing about working there is to hear so many languages being spoken on a daily basis. I got a glimpse of such multicultural work environment back when I was in Switzerland. In a time when people complain so much about immigration, I wish they were able to experience how nice it is to share with people from different backgrounds and different cultures.
So far most of the web applications that I’ve deployed I’ve done so by either managing the servers or using a PaaS. This is the first time I experience the concept of Serverless using AWS Lambda. This meant I had to learn some of the concepts behind SOA and event-driven applications.
The last time I attended a computer science class was in 2009. In 2019 I’d like to brush some concepts to continue growing as a professional. I found about Teach Yourself Computer Science and want to read HTDP or do the MOOC.
Talking about books here is a list of what I read in 2018. I believe that the books we choose, reflect a lot of what we are going through in our lives. In a way, I think you can tell more about my year by checking what I read:
The Daily Stoic: This is the second year in a row that I read this book. I use it as a morning devotional on my way to work. With time I’ve realized that I want to be more disciplined and starting the day with a devotional helps me achieve this. What I like the most about it, is how actionable the book is. Yes you can go deep and start making philosophical questions but you can also put most of its suggestions in practice.
The life-changing magic of tidying up: I’m a messy person by nature, but I’m trying to change that. There is one major concept that I’ve found helpful: keep those things that bring you joy in life and get rid of the rest.
Choose Yourself!: This book really picked my attention with the following phrase on its cover “Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government.”, but it under delivered.
Crushing It!: This was a gift from my wife. She knows I like everything Garyvee produces and this was not the exception. However, if you were to read something by Gary I think “Crush It!” is still the best of his books.
Smartcuts: This was a gift from one of my best friends who knows me pretty well and he is great at picking gifts and this was not the exception. I’m a sucker for these 4HWW kind of books that oversell the idea that an individual can hack the system and win big. I’m not sure if these books help or not, I read them because they energize me and keep me going.
The Courage To Be Disliked: People who know me are well aware that I’m not afraid of saying something that will piss others off but I picked this book because it talks about Adlerian psychology and I was interested in the topic.
The Obstacle is the Way: I picked this book because I want to learn better how to deal with the problems that I face in my life. Like The Daily Stoic, I enjoyed it and got a lot from it to the point that I gifted a copy to my wife.
In 2017 I started a project called “El Camino del Programador” (The Programmers Way) where I’m sharing about topics related to software development in Spanish. I started it because I’d like to see more technical content being done in my mother tongue so it can reach people who haven’t been lucky to grow in a bilingual environment like I did.
What I didn’t realize is that coming up with ideas, recording and publishing them is a lot of work. I wanted to share a podcast every week but between my full time job and my personal life I only managed to do 9 episodes in all 2018.
Harder than the work invested, is the minimal feedback I got from listeners. I was doing a lot of effort to make it easy to contact me but I was either reaching the wrong audience or they are not finding the content useful enough. As an experiment I released the last episode also in video format and for the first time got some genuine questions by the audience.
In 2019 I plan to continue with this project but focus on video rather than audio. My long term goal is to see more representation from the Spanish-speaking community.
As I mentioned, in 2018 I decided to read books in digital form. At first I tried using my Android tablet, an Nvidia Shield K1, which I enjoyed using to read news at night before going to bed. This didn’t work because I was constantly distracted by notifications. Because of this I decided to get myself an Amazon Kindle.
The experience of using an e-ink device is not as good as a paper book but it’s far better than a tablet. However, the list of devices I was now interacting with on an average day was getting uncontrollable for me. So I decided to get rid of my Pebble smartwatch and the tablet.
This was a great decision because I found myself consuming less media. In 2019 I plan to continue this trend and cut on social media and use the time to produce more and better work.
2018 was a good year. I moved to Berlin, an amazingly cool city. I started a new job. Did a little travelling and stayed healthy. Like every year before, I failed to workout and didn’t read all the books that I wanted, but putting everything in perspective I’m pleased with the results and thankful for this passing year.