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For the New Year

·7 mins

The new year is just around the corner and that means that it’s time to make a comparison between the past year, and set myself up for success for the next one.

Hopefully all is well, but who can really tell. Here’s a few sections on each aspect of my life that I want progressing forward for now.

Education #

Education was never something that I consciously paid attention to throughout my university life. Exams were a one-week long event, the syllabus open-book, the questions easy. Took like a few days of prep for anything math-related and a single day for everything else. The night before the exam was when study time and anxiety were corporeal entities.

That being said, Undergrad and Postgrad have quite the chasm between them, and picking up a course on stuff that I might not like could be a very expensive mistake.

I wrote the GRE twice. The first time was a disaster because my computer failed and the second time was a test center based examination so that went alright. However, due to the first test failing, I was behind on priority deadlines for universities, and had none of my documents ready by the required time. Plus, with no research done into which university I’m seeking to join, and which course to pursue, it seemed pointless to invest into the Masters education plan just yet. So, that’ll have to wait for next year.

Speaking of the domain that I want to study in, Software-Defined Networking segues itself into this post. It all started when I approached a professor of my university that took up the Cloud Computing course. I mailed him mentioning that I wished for him to be my guide in Cloud Computing and DevOps, which ended up scheduling an appointment with him in his cabin. This was an eye-opening session for me, wherein he mentioned that his actual domain of expertise was Software-Defined Networking and that he would not be able to accept my request as such.

However, I was honestly more interested in the professor’s knowledge of the networking space. So, an introduction to Software-Defined Networking was more of a nail on the coffin for me. Upon a bit of discussion, it was finalized that I would be working on SDN.

To date, I have managed to write up two papers, one for Station Migration, and the other, a conference review paper. I’m genuinely happy about this development and to be honest, I do feel like I made the right choice by approaching a professor that most would consider scary, for his knowledge and not for the marks that I may receive at the end of all this.

By September next year, I wish to have universities shortlisted, professors contacted, scores in, documents set, and applications ready to send. Hopefully, it all plays out in the ideal manner, but one can never really tell what’s in store for the future.

Lifestyle #

Till date, I’ve attempted to set up time tables on various different occasions. As I gather, I’ve failed on every occassion that I’ve tried to set one up in the past.

Wake up early in the morning to go to the gym and work out? ~1 week. Study for a three hour stretch on one subject and get to another one? ~2 days. Productivity-only lifestyle with pomodoro timers? ~1 day.

Recently however, I’ve discovered a few new tricks to maintain a sustainable time table. And, I’ve also discovered that adding in your recreational tasks, as well as not following the schedule to the exact second helps to improve the chances of getting stuff done and to get into the zone of productivity.

I wish to carry this on through the next year as well, and improve my chances of following a healthy lifestyle by working towards it slowly. At the current stage, the best I can do is a 6 hour long productivity session with a few breaks in between, but I aim to get it to 7 hours by the next year’s end.

The Work-Life Balance #

Over the course of the last year, I’ve met a few new people. Some of them, were quite amazing to be very honest. I did not expect them to be that much fun. However, what I did miss out on was the opportunity to get to know them much much earlier than I had.

Had I known these people before I spent two years holed up and confined in my room, working on obscure code to get trivial tasks done, I might have had a very enjoyable few years in my college. But, I chose not to.

I consciously believed that I wasn’t the outgoing type and did not wish to form any new connections, simply because I believed that my career was going to be the one that shaped my future. That, in hindsight, is foolish.

I found out this year, that what I really enjoy is spending time with friends, and overall, having a good time while still being productive. I’ve found that striking the perfect balance between my work and my life is what I wish to do.

So, my goal for the next year, is to find people that are fun to hang around with, and actively make close friends.

This is going to be a challenging task, since I have to overcome two things,

  1. My crippling anxiety.
  2. My inflated ego.

Career #

The last year, upon reviewing my GitHub contributions and querying my relatively poor memory, I’ve managed to learn a few things over the course of the year,

  1. REST APIs.
  2. FOSS Development Workflow.
  3. DevOps.
  4. Software-Defined Networking.
  5. there’s definitely something that I’m forgetting.

The coming year, I’m going to a place that I did not expect to ever see myself going to. I’m going to Pune, and as one does, there’s a bit of anxiety attached to it. One does face quite a few questions at crossroads in their lifetime.

“Did I pick the right university?”, “Did I choose the right place to work at?”, “Did I waste my time, should I have prepared a bit more, and got into the dream company that I always wanted to work at?”

To be fair, these are valid questions and are also ones that constantly live in my head rent-free. But, the fact is, there’s no way to tell!

The decisions that I’ve made may put me in a better position or a worse one, but I won’t know until I take the leap. What I can do, however, is to help make the journey more bearable by packing a few toilet paper rolls, medication, and some rope, as a last resort.

Jokes aside, I hope that I get to learn something new that keeps me intrigued and interested. I will be working in fintech, and hopefully that means that I can finally learn how to manage my money and invest into assets, which sounds very appealing, to say the least.

Anything else? #

This year, I had to hand over the reign of the Open Source Community to the next generation. It was a messy affair, and there was way too much unnecessary drama, which really made me appreciate the transparency of the FOSS community with it’s decision-making skills to keep everyone well informed. However, leading the club for 3 years has me numb to event planning and management at this point. I can pinpoint what needs to be done and streamline operations for an event at any time of the day now.

Considering that most of the event management was done online thanks to COVID, I don’t miss any event experience at the university per se. There’s not many photographs or videos to remember the events by, and considering how some of the events went, I’m okay with that. I’ve come to realise that even though I like being in-charge of things, I get too attached to the negatives of the event to notice the postives anymore. I did, however, make some very amazing friends attempting to host events in college though. People coming over to your room, conversing throughout the night and working on setting up CTFd infrastructure was quite the vibe.

Apart from all this, I did want to set up a YouTube channel to document my research into the SDN domain, with live videos and examples of functional networks. I was hoping that this would solve two issues-getting an audience for my endeavours into this domain, and make online resources for people to refer to in the SDN domain space (there’s too few of them at present on YouTube which causes the threshold for entry to be set too high up).