2020 in review

2020, hey? What a time to finally get back on my ”year in review” horse. It was a calamitous year for many of us, but there’s a lot I’m thankful for from 2020.


In January I started a new job with Culture Amp, as part of the Icelab closing and the whole team moving across. I couldn’t have found a better place to work: the people are inspiring, I’ve wound up with a great mentor/manager, and the projects are nourishing. There’s so much I can contribute to here, and I know I’m still only scratching the surface.

A new workplace with it’s own tech ecosystem meant I did a lot of learning for work this year. Among other things, I started working with event sourcing, distributed systems, AWS CDK, and even a little Go as the year came to an end.

I’m full-time remote with Culture Amp. Under ordinary circumstances (which went out the window before long), this would mean semi-regular visits to the Melbourne office, and I was lucky enough to do that a couple of times in January and February before travel became unworkable. Aside from that, I’ve enjoyed many hours over Zoom working with all my new colleagues.

And just to tie a bow in the a big year of work-related things, Michael, Max, and I worked through to December putting the finishing touches on the very last Icelab project, Navigate Senate Committees.

I’m deeply grateful to be where I am now, to have smoothly closed one chapter of work while opening another that I’m excited to inhabit for many years to come.


This year in OSS has been all about Hanami 2.0 development. By the end of 2019, I’d already made the broad strokes required to make dry-system the new core of the framework. 2020 was all about smoothing around the edges. I worked pretty consistently at this throughout the year, focusing on a new technique for frictionless, zero-boilerplate integrated components, view/action integration, a revised approach for configuration, and lately, support for code loading with Zeitwerk.

Towards the beginning of the year, I decided to follow Piotr’s good example and write my own monthly OSS status updates. I published these monthly since, making for 9 in the year (and 10 once I do December’s, once this post is done!). I’m really glad I established this habit. It captures so much of the thinking I put into my work that would otherwise be lost with time, and in the case of the Hanami project, it’s a way for the community to follow along with progress. And I won’t lie, the thought of the upcoming post motivates me to squeeze just a little bit more into each month!

This year I shared my Hanami 2 application template as a way to try the framework while it’s still in development. We’re using it for three production services at work and it’s running well.

Helping to rewrite Hanami for 2.0 has been the biggest OSS project I’ve undertaken, and work on this was a slog at times, but I’m happy I managed to keep a steady pace. I also rounded out the year by being able to catch up with Luca and Piotr for a couple of face to face discussions, which was a delight after so many months of text-only collaboration.

On the conference side of things, given the travel restrictions, there was a lot less than normal, but I did have a great time at the one event I did attend, RubyConf AU back in February (which seems so long ago now). Sandwiched between the Australian summer bushfires and the onset of the coronavirus, the community here was amazingly lucky with the timing. Aside from this, the increase of virtual events meant I got to share a talk with Philly.rb and appear on GitHub’s open source Friday livestream series.

I also joined the GitHub sponsors program in May. I only have a small group of sponsors (I’d love more!), but receiving notice of each one was a true joy.

And in a first for me, I spent some time working on this year’s Advent of Code! I used it as an opportunity to develop some familiarity with Go. It was great fun! Code is here if you’re interested.

Home & family

The ”stay at home” theme of 2020 was a blessing in many ways, because it meant more time with all the people I love. This year I got to join in on Clover learning to read, write, ride a bike, so many things! Iris is as gregarious as ever and definitely keen to begin her school journey this coming year.

As part of making the most of being home, I also started working out at home in March (thanks, PE with Joe!), which I managed to keep up at 5 days/week ever since! I haven’t felt this good in years.

And to close out, a few other notables:

  • Started visiting the local library more, I enjoyed reading paper books again
  • Some particularly good reads from the year: Stephen Baxter’s Northland trilogy, Cixin Liu’s The Supernova Era, Stephen Baxter’s The Medusa Chronicles, Roger Levy’s The Rig, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon, Kylie Maslen’s Show Me Where it Hurts, and Hugh Howey’s Sand
  • Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ was just great
  • Got a Nintendo Switch and played through Breath of the Wild, a truly spectacular experience
  • I think that’s all for now, see you next year!
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