2021 All Wrapped Up

Well, here we are again. 2021 is almost over, and as usual, I have no idea where it went. I know I’ve worked hard and achieved a lot, but time seems to go very fast lately.

I read a lot of books

First up, books! I got through a fair number of books in 2021. Here’s the list, along with why you should read them too.

  • The Timeless Way of Building was arguably one of my favourite books this year. It was one of those books that managed to take my gut feeling about several “house-y things” and tell me why I felt the way I did. This book is for you, even if you’re not particularly interested in architecture. It might ignite a passion in you, as it did me, and give you a whole new way of viewing your house and home.
  • Predictably Irrational is the perfect book if you’re looking for an insight into your brain. You might not like what you find out, however. It’s changed how I view my behaviours, and I’d like to think it made me more self-aware. Then again.
  • A Mind of its Own is a fascinating read about our self-delusions. It’s not entirely comfortable, especially when you realise you’ve been kidding yourself all these years (and probably will continue to do so).
  • Yes please was a delightful read. I often think it’s easy to look at famous people and miss all the hard work that went in before seeing them on stage/tv. This book is brutally honest and open; it made me laugh and cry in the same sitting.
  • Woman & Power is for you if you’ve ever wondered (and frankly you should) about the roots of misogyny; this book is a must-read. It’s enlightening and depressing all in one. Read this book, then ask yourself how much longer must we wait?
  • Show Your Work is about learning to step out from the shadows. Also, since we’re here, please remember that good work does not speak for itself. You’ve been lied to. This book is an excellent read for everyone who wants to show their work professionally or personally.
  • Everybody Writes was such a good book. We’re not born good at writing, but we can learn and improve. So read this book if you do any writing and embrace TUFD (The Ugly First Draft)!
  • Thinking in Systems: A Primer was a book that I didn’t have any expectations of. I’ve found it quite hard going at times, but it will completely change and re-frame how you look at the world. I have a much better understanding of why things happen now and perhaps the smallest of grasps on the systems around me and their impact. This book will reframe your view of the world and add a lot of understanding to the systems you interact with.
  • Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy is my current read. Of course, this means that soon we will become puppy parents. This book is doing an excellent job of training me to look after the family addition. I’m pretty sure it’s going to eat my shoes, books, post and anything else I accidentally leave at its height. Of course, it’s all going to be my fault when it does because they are “legal chew toys”!

I moved house

A lot has changed since we bought our old house back in 2014. We have both changed jobs and moved to remote working in part due to the type of job and in part due to the pandemic. We embarked on the journey of moving house in September 2020, had an offer accepted on our old house in November 2020 and moved in our new house in March 2021. It was four months of packing, stress, anxiety and then happiness. I don’t intend to repeat it any time soon, but I have no regrets about doing it. If you also moved house in the pandemic, remote high-five coming your way! One day I’ll manage to finish unpacking, today is not that day, tomorrow doesn’t look good either.

I changed jobs

2021 was a year of change! After almost 18 months at JetBrains, I accepted a role at MongoDB as a Keynote Storyteller. I’ve been there three weeks now, and it’s been a whirlwind already! I spent my first week in New York, which was awesome because I met my new team members in person, something that isn’t a given with remote working. Covid-19 brand Omicron has since ramped up, so I’m very grateful to be home now with good memories and lots to do!

Of course, this also meant that I got on a long haul flight for the first time in over two years. That part was stressful; the outbound and inbound requirements and resulting paperwork for Covid-19 took time and effort, probably because I checked it at least 8 times both ways.

Related to this, I also managed to move beyond the free tier for my Amazon S3 bucket of blog post images. This means that there was a lot of traffic to my site. Four thousand of you in fact came to check out my blog post for my last day at JetBrains. Can I get a hug, please?

I migrated my website

I’ve been procrastinating about this since February 2020. My site was hosted on SquareSpace and I was quite convinced that I didn’t know enough front-end web development to move it to WordPress, despite also recognising that I wanted it on WordPress because it’s a lot more configurable and cheaper. I was also struggling with my blogs as I tend to write them in markdown in IntelliJ IDEA and SquareSpace is not great at supporting markdown. So this festive holiday I decided to just bite the bullet and get on with it. After 2 days and only one exceptionally large gin when I misconfigured something and lost a bunch of stuff (no I didn’t have a backup and yes I should have had a backup) – welcome to my new WordPress site! I still need to untangle my blog post categories and tags, perhaps I’ll do that now. Also, it’s amazing the lengths I will go to to avoid writing my new talk. 

I’m co-authoring two books

I can finally announce that I’m working on a book with Trisha Gee called Getting To Know IntelliJ IDEA! I’m going to put this blog post down in a bit and work on it some more. It’s an absolute pleasure to work alongside Trisha and continue to advocate for users with the product. I still love working with IntelliJ IDEA even though I no longer work at JetBrains; there are not many products I can say that about!

But wait, there’s more! I can also share because it’s now public that I’m working with Daniel Terhorst-North on his book Software Faster. Daniel has a wonderful way of looking at life and the challenges throughout it. I’m honoured to be a part of this project and learn from Daniel. The book list above includes recommendations from Daniel too.


In summary, it’s been a year of change and growth. It’s been jam-packed, which is how I like it. As I look to 2022, I’m excited about contributing to MongoDB World 2022, book prospects, and continuing to share what I hope will be great content with the community. In addition, I’m building out a new talk that I’m excited about! I should probably apologise now for the shameless use of David Bowie lyrics. Right, time to chill a bottle of bubbly for the New Year!


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