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My work’s Secret Santa’s gift: a Rick & Morty t-shirt in addition to Beer Hawk Craft beer Discovery Gift box.

Do you wonder what this is about? The end of 2020 is happening. Such a strange year for all of us, right?! This surely wasn’t the most exciting year we can recall so far. However, I am going to focus (at least I’ll try) on what & how this year has been so far, without mentioning politics or world miseries (rest assured, keep reading).

For those who don’t know how this kind of article works for me. I typically start matching my previous year’s ToDo objectives against some facts or actions, to try comparing them in the most accurate and objective possible way.

First of all:

Keep working / participating on interesting projects (crossed fingers)

Let’s go first to purely referring to my daily job as a Software Engineer at Twitter.

We made really exciting features across 2020 in my team, the Consumer Search Clients team, of course in combination with other well distributed teams across multiple regions and disciplines (aka backend, ML, DS, product, design, QE, other feature and core teams, etc).

For instance, the first released feature was the addition of Search features for Lists on Android & iOS:

Search a List, the latest to join the rest of them for Lists.

Lists are really powerful, a Use case could be when we create a List, adding some users to it, then reading those users’ tweets from the list feed, by pinning the List in the Lists menu (start drawer menu). From that point, we could also search for Lists from the Discovery page maybe. In case you wonder how to get to that point, the UX explained is:

Search a List UX

Later in the year, we included the ability to Share Topics & see Topic Cards (in all timelines within Twitter) for any Topics from the Topic Landing page (for all clients including iOS, Android & RWeb). Either sending it via Tweet, sending a DM to a friend, or sending it externally to other apps.

Share a Topic via Tweet, DM or externally, Topic Cards can be rendered in all Timelines.

This was really interesting since we created the Topic Landing Page earlier in the year. But users started to Share Topics via screenshots previously to this feature as there was not a way to share a topic throughout the app at the time.

Good milestones there! Sorry but this is all I could tell you for now 👌, maybe next year more!

I’ve been lucky to be part of those and other efforts, for the second time at Twitter I was a mentor 👨‍🏫 and it was a really nice experience! Moyin was an excelent mentee.

Thankful for all of it.

On the other hand, about not related (directly) tasks in my daily work, I started to do something I had pending for a long time: MORE public contributions to the Dev community.

In fact, I can probably tell you more this year about that than ever before. This year was especially full of (remote) opportunities for either talking at conferences or writing articles, of course, coding first in Github or Gists to try proofs of concept.

From September 2019 I started to increase my collaborations, but I became more engaged from April 2020 when participated at Android Makers (AM) in Paris, wait, in Paris? Due to the start of the pandemic, this was a remote conference instead.

Despite the conference was in April, I came up with the idea in December 2019 and the work started in February: investigating, designing, coding, experimenting, etc.

Previous to this event, I got an invitation from my friend Antonio Leiva (DevExperto) for a personal interview about career development. I really enjoyed talking about my experience in Spanish. Thanks Antonio!

Going back to the AM talk, in the end, I consider the conference and talk went pretty nicely, I liked this conference’s format from a speaker's perspective: I was able to make it from my flat in London 🇬🇧 ! To be honest, I wasn’t so sure of making that big effort for an online event. Not only for the energy you need to spend on it but also because it was the first time in a remote conference, where you lose human contact and networking. But in the end, I was encouraged and created the content, practiced a lot, and was pleased with the experience.

This was a nice picture taken from my flat in London 🇬🇧

But that wasn’t all. I contributed for the first time in a technical podcast (for the Spanish 🇪🇸 language community) thanks to David Hackro, host of the AndroidDevPodcast. I can tell, being at different timezones was challenging, while he was in Mexico 🇲🇽, I was in London 🇬🇧.

Tweet of the AndroidDevPodcast with its link to all Audio formats.

I believe the invitation to this great podcast was thanks to the big impact that the public articles had. I can tell that I wrote a bunch of Android/Kotlin articles (6 articles from the “Fueled Reactive apps with Asynchronous Flow” series and a new independent one later on), whose first 6 articles were written in 6 consecutive weeks, which received quite a bit of attention from the Android/Kotlin community (were featured on Android / Kotlin weekly, thanks a lot to both newsletters!):

Great, but was that all?

Later, I decided to give it a go and submit proposals to more conferences, like Droidcon EMEA (#dcEMEA). I even extended the talk to “Fueled Reactive apps with Asynchronous Flow and StateFlow to sync with the UI”. While those in-person conferences became online events, I began to take this a little bit more seriously. What do I mean by that? I upgraded my speaker setup, both with a new microphone 🎤 and a quality stream-cam 📹.

Microphone with a condenser was part of the new speaker setup

#dcEMEA went really well (this is the offline demo)!

Short VOD with the #dcEMEA demo.

I gave this same talk during our internal/private event called #OneDroid at Twitter, where all Android engineers meet once a year (this is part of my actual job, but I’m telling you public speaking contributions in chronological order).

Having a beer after the #OneDroid event

Furthermore, I was invited by my good friend Nicolás Patarino to give that same talk in Spanish 🇪🇸. So I did it at the Madrid Android Developer Group (MADG) meetup. I was thrilled to be part of this meetup, thanks Nico! Besides, I was especially excited to see people who attended Droidcon EMEA who were also present at this Spanish talk edition:

Victor attended both EMEA (English) and MADG (Spanish) talks.

After that, really surprisingly, I got invited by my friend Enrique López-Mañas to the Kotlin Munich meetup 🇩🇪, the same day it was going to happen. Thus, I participated with no time to prepare really. I hoped it went well! Thanks Enrique!

This wasn’t the last of the talks, I was lucky enough to get a space on a meetup I followed from its beginning called Kotlin London 🇬🇧. Big thanks to Pablisco, Amar, Guillermo and Enzo!

Myself trying the speaker setup the same morning of the Kotlin London event.

To close this wonderful year, I received the greatest news of getting my talk accepted for Droidcon APAC #dcAPAC, I had a terrific experience there. The first time I traveled to Asia 🌏 whilst sitting in London 🇬🇧, can you imagine? It got featured at Kotlin weekly.

The capture of the presentation at dcAPAC with Raul wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt.

And that’s a wrap for 2020! I can consider this year as probably the most successful one for speaking and writing technical articles.

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Try to learn more about functional programming or deep learning or another interesting technical topic

I can say this didn’t work out the way I thought. However, it worked really well for “another interesting technical topic”, for instance, I started talking about “Fueled Reactive apps with Asynchronous Flow”, which was an attempt to migrate from old systems using RxJava 2 to Kotlin Coroutines and Flow. This was complex enough to be considered an “interesting technical” topic or challenge. Afterward, I enhanced my knowledge of new technologies like StateFlow for communication with the UI in Kotlin. The latest article which got featured at Android 436 & Kotlin 220 weekly:

Indeed from that point, the talk evolved and became “Fueled Reactive apps with Asynchronous Flow and Stateflow to sync with the UI”. I think this is good enough to be considered a successful achievement.

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Keep reading general purpose books

At the beginning of the year, I finished reading a book written by Eric Idle, well-known as one of the Monty Python.

His biography was hilarious, a really interesting life to live, lucky Eric.

Then, I started to read a new book, but honestly, I had a bad time sometimes reading this book, it had a lot of words from another language rather than English, surprisingly those were Russian. But I found good resources on the Internet about the book with quick hints of those words, luckily, don’t you trust me? Read this.

“A Clockwork Orange” book by Antony Burgess

Finally, I finished it and was an interesting one. I recalled some bits and pieces of a masterpiece movie from Stanley Kubrick with the same name, actually based on this book.

I also read another comic book (in Spanish 🇪🇸) called “El Jueves 40 años” with the history of “El Jueves” (the best humoristic and controversial/satyric comic magazine created in Spain). I enjoyed it so much!

Later on, I started to read a book in Spanish 🇪🇸 which I haven’t finished yet. It’s out of my comfort zone but is something I want to learn someday: stock investments.

“Cómo invertir en bolsa a largo plazo partiendo de cero”

I won’t be rich with this, but it’s a good starting point for my future self investor.

Coming back to general-purpose books, I finished another one from a friend of mine called “José Luis López”, a short book in Spanish 🇪🇸, really easy to read, highly recommended if you’re looking for a short one!

“Fin de Fin de Año” by José Luis López

I will probably start a new one for 2021 that has been on my reading list for quite a while, it’s called “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu cover book, from my reading list back from 2008

Taking a look at this, I think there is some to-do here, despite it didn’t go badly it could have gone better (more reads).

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Travel to amazing places / events & having a bit more of life balance

This 2020 wasn’t meant for traveling for obvious reasons, aka a Global pandemic.

The only long trip I had this year was to Houston (Texas, US 🇺🇸) for Twitter’s #OneTeam event. Fortunately, we had a good time there, we enjoyed the conference and as a bonus, we visited the Nasa Space Center. The next photo is a really nice one, it’s me with a Nasa rocket!

Raul was visiting the Nasa Space Center, Saturn V rocket is behind him.

After that, I cannot tell you much. Back in February, I tried to learn Japanese on Duolingo for my expected trip to Japan.

Duolingo, learning some Japanese.

However, due to the pandemic, the flight to Japan was cancelled, we weren’t able to fly and the tourist Visa was also pushed back for any European citizen. Maybe another time.

During the summer:

Beach in the south of Spain with fog.

We also saw for the first time fog at the beach in Cádiz (south of Spain). Other than that, the summer break was the best of the year, with good sunshine, good food, and our families’ company.

Life balance explicitly speaking wasn’t the best, since I spent quite a bit of my spare time preparing talks, articles, etc. But I can’t complain about this, since it was my decision to contribute further and engage with the Dev community in addition to I enjoyed it pretty much!

Therefore, thinking of travel and life balance on average, I think this wasn’t the best year really. It saddened me a lot to miss my Japan trip.

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Keep running and may be participating on another half a marathon some day sooner

I run a lot this year, but really, I mean A LOT. The next table is the 2020's stats (updated the 31st) compared to my previous 2019 poorly year (512.5 km) is improved massively:

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2020, 1202 km in total.

Actually, I even managed to practice more sports than usual and I did alternate some weights lifting with running.

Unluckily, I didn’t run a virtual 10k (the one I subscribed to, it got canceled in its physical version) or half-marathons on purpose. Simply I don’t enjoy them, I would rather prefer the real ones with real people instead. Otherwise, it’s fine to me just running in my own way with my own (metal/rock) music. My favourite running band is actually Meshuggah! (Try it, it will make you run faster!)

When at the beginning of the year listening to Meshuggah at Buffalo Bayou running. In Houston, Texas, US

I even lost some weight that made me lighter and fit for running in the near future.

I reckoned that I lost about 8 kgs this year

That was really good for me. I tried during quarantine times to be healthier, practiced sports several days a week, and ate as many greens as I could. When wasn’t possible to do any sport or just for the sake of taking a breath, a walk also worked for me.

Having a morning walk during droidcon APAC talks.

Regarding the food, we even baked some bread ourselves at home.

Homemade bread at home.

Of course, pizza 🍕 too.

home made pizza!

(Update) we baked for the first time “Roscón de Reyes” (a traditional Christmas sweet) during Christmas season.

“Roscón de Reyes”, a traditional sweet for Christmas, the night of the 5th of January is a must.

I am happy about this one and its final results!

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Now I need to focus on what I would like to do for 2021. Since a Global pandemic stopped many things for good, I’m gonna be realistic and try avoiding to fall into high expectations.

I will keep this minimalistic (sorted by priority order this time):

  • Keep a healthy lifestyle
  • Keep working / participating in interesting projects
  • Keep reading general-purpose books
  • Try to learn something new (anything)

Thanks to Cristina P. to proof-read this article and making the year a good enough one still!

To end this post, you could have a laugh looking at my first painting ever, done during our team workshop at work (from home), not too bad for me really, a little Christmas Robin:

little Robin first painting ever

To close this 2020 year with some more laughs, please watch the next funny video recorded by surprise from our window, with some visual effects and music added by my brother after watching the original version.

That’s all folks, have a healthy New Year, and stay safe!

Written by

Software Engineer (Android) @ Twitter. Kotlin lover. Continuous learner, sometimes runner, some time speaker & open minded. Opinions my own.

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