2018 in Review

I started this post pretty late in the year. I hope I could finish it in time.

So 2018 had been a mixed year to me. I had fun, I cried; I met new people, I said goodbye; I reminisced with the past, I started to plan for the future.

Work

Lepak, lepak, holiday, busy, busy.

That’s 2018 at my workplace. I started the year feeling so capable of handling anything, and the team started with a restructure, since my team lead could no longer handle this many people, he started to split the team into subgroups, handling different aspects of the project.

I, for one, was picked to handle the checkout features; together with a colleague. By checkout, it’s not only scoped to the “Checkout” page, but also to the Cart page, Order List/Detail page, etc.

The first quarter of the year started with this new big feature called “group buy”, and my group contributed two pages for that. Although the whole feature was big, the concern of my group wasn’t that much, hence I don’t feel that pressurized by the feature itself.

The next quarter was spent on this big refactor on the Checkout page itself which I really liked, since the previous codes were written in such a rush that everything was so messy and smelly. After this refactor, I was quite proud to say that this page is one of the page where Shopee used CSS Grid! Did you know that CSS Grid is (partially) supported by IE10? Yeah, basic features of CSS Grid basically solved the designers’ complain where our components were not aligned.

Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align Need align

Designer’s comment during designer review of Checkout page

After my group has finished this refactor, actually there wasn’t much Checkout features that are front-end heavy, hence at times, we were really free. This free times allowed us to work on other internal projects. As an example, I took up the project of upgrading the platform’s React Router version from v3 to v4; and also researching and integrating Cypress as our E2E testing platform in Gitlab CI.

I spent most of June 2018 at holiday. So, in the weeks leading to that, I was really free, as no one dared to assign me any more task since I was going to be away for 3 weeks on that month.

A few days before I came back to work, while I was still on my holiday, my boss called me, stating about another restructure. This time, the restructure is as wide as two departments (Product and Engineering). This new structure results in a grouping based on feature (and not platform), and the group will be consisted of many people from different platforms and teams, namely Project Manager, Product Managers, App devs, Web FE devs, Web BE devs, Admin Portal devs, Server devs, QAs

This big restructure puts me in two places: Discover Landing, and Checkout. It’s actually two really different groups and I was really busy on the first one: Discover Landing.

Discover Landing team, by definition, is the team that handles pages not scoped under any other teams, for example Shop Page, Product Page, etc. Some pages were really tied to campaigns, e.g. Microsite, hence the group was really occupied during the 2nd half of the year as all the major campaigns happen on the final quarter of the year: 9.9, 11.11, and 12.12.

After a while, my team lead realized that I can no longer contribute to both teams and I left the Checkout team. I think they’re in good hands now.

Lately, I started to realize the cost of maintenance. Whenever a feature request come in, I do have a choice of doing it myself (which will take no time), or delegating it to other members (which will take some time to explain and to discuss how it should be implemented). Early on, I did the easy choice to do many of the features myself, which then resulted in a high maintenance cost, since now only me that knows the feature and if there’s further request on that feature, I had to support it, or else, I had to do all the talking and discussion with others (which costs even more). That’s why, lately, I started not to take on features, except internal ones. I still can support bug fixing, but I plan not to work on any more big features. I also realized that I should spend more time on doing technical discussion, writing documentation, and ummm talking.

In November 2018, I and a colleague went to a partially sponsored trip to Chrome Dev Summit 2018 conference in San Francisco, USA. The logistics were a bit troublesome, but in the end, I actually learned a lot, and realized that there were so much things to do to make Shopee fast. That’s also one of the reason that lately I don’t take business features as much, to help on this matter.

People

Still at work, there were many people I met, and also there were many people left. The team that I’m in doubled to 15 people strong, but on the other hand, some senior PMs and developers left the company. I also started to know some people in HR due to the “food hunting” group that I always tag along. Well, I’m obviously not that close with the people from work, but I’ll try to join them in their activities. One thing that I usually don’t like to do is to spend time in office after hours (e.g. to play games, etc.), since usually at night, I have some activities/chores planned.

In May 2018, I met old friends from NTUBS at NTUBSA Vesak Celebration, and I ended up referring some of them to Shopee >.<

My family visited me many times this year. First on CNY 2018, where we experienced an empty Singapore where many shops and restaurants were closed. Then I went on a family holiday at Canada. After that, my parents visited Singapore again in October and November; and I visited hometown in early December.

I also experienced the “Square One“.

Health

I started the year falling sick. This causes me to postpone my scheduled blood donation to almost a month later.

After the trip to Canada, my back started to hurt, and it lasted for some months. (after that first few weeks, it didn’t hurt that much anymore, but a bit of pain was still there).

And then in December, when I was back to my hometown, I fell sick again. I almost blacked out that day, I guess this was due to having a food poisoning the day before. Because of this, I had to postpone my blood donation again. Luckily, this year I managed to still donated blood 4 times.

Anyway, in 2018, I started to exercise more regularly than ever. Whenever possible, I will stay over at my uncle’s place on weekends, so that I could swim 3 times on weekends: Saturday afternoon (2 km), Sunday morning (2 km), and then Sunday afternoon (1 km).

I started to lost weight (and people around me noticed it!), as I asked for smaller portion of rice. Even with this portion, I still feel full anyway, so why not. Another small thing I did was that I started to eat less meat. Whenever ordering mixed rice, I’ll try not to have meat in it.

My company joined the Corporate Challenge of National Steps Challenge and I hit 10k steps per day every day since 1 Jan 2018 until the challenge ended. This made me into the “Top 10 Steppers” in the whole Shopee (I think I was at #10), which I won some Shopee vouchers

Books

I read more books than any other year, ever! This year, I’ve read these books, in chronological order:

  • Star Wars: Leia, Princess of Alderaan
  • Star Wars: Thrawn
  • Dan Brown’s Origin
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw
  • Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances
  • Star Wars: Ashoka
  • Star Wars: A New Dawn
  • Star Wars: Aftermath
  • Star Wars: Aftermath: Life’s Debt
  • Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End
  • Star Wars: Dark Disciple
    • I finished this last one on 31 Dec 2018!

11 finished books! I think I could do more, but I guess that’s good enough. Actually the last 7 books were read in the final quarter of the year, after I purchased a Kindle. After I got my Kindle, I started to read a lot, every night, for around 1 hour before going to bed. I guess this has helped me to fall asleep easier and made my dreams so wild and adventurous.

Almost all of the books that I read were fictions, I guess that’s because at the end of the day, I would like to relax my mind and not to get more new ideas from reading a non-fiction. The only non-fiction I read was “What the Dog Saw”, it was an interesting collection of long-series articles about interesting facts in story-form. I got some insights from it, but it was pretty hard in the beginning for me to not stop reading.

Conclusion

I checked my “2017 in Review” post, I stated some goals there:

  • Be more social
    • Yeah if there are invitations to social events, sometimes I’ll join…
  • Keep being healthy, both physically and mentally
    • not physically, but mentally good
  • Read more books
    • aw yeah!

2018 had been a long year. Work has been a big part of my life; and outside work, it’s more about health and books. I didn’t really focus on people this year though.

Hmm, actually there are only a few things to expect in 2019:

  • CNY trip to hometown
  • Leadership trainings from company
  • Oversea trip with family, still unplanned

Some hopes for 2019 include:

  • Be more social: meet more people, get to know more people, spend less time on social media.
  • Maintain health of both body and mind: sleep at regular times, exercise regularly, eat less unhealthy food.
  • Read more non-fiction books: learn more stuffs from books.
  • Start and finish a medium-scale side project.

Happy new year 2019!

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