Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Wrap Up

Inspired by Cate Huston and @femengineer - instead of focusing on what I didn't finish in 2015 that I had wanted to, I'm going to do a wrap up of what I did accomplish. This is by no means complete, but this is a great time of year for introspection.

For work:
  • Increased my team's size and the scope of the work we're doing, though the work still seems to add up faster than I can grow the team.
  • People on my team have taken over leading areas, so I can do other things. This is good - they are smarter than I am, and they will make sure the right thing happens at the right time.
  • Dusted off my C coding skills and learned the new processes for: using virtual test boxes in our internal cloud, building the gate with the new "lullaby" process, and all the new rules for testing, code review, etc.  I integrated two changesets - one was minor - a few lines.  The other was over 5000 lines  - mostly removal. 
    • I've learned: 
      • My team will 100% criticize my code, it doesn't matter that I'm their manager.  And they were right, despite the fear and anger from some other senior engineers.
      • Coding while managing a large team meant lots of nights and weekends.
      • Senior engineers do NOT like to see managers integrate code. They told me so.  But, some of us still do little things.  Then again, we don't usually have time and our team will do it better.
  • Crypto Week 2015! I organized an internal crypto themed conference for about 60 people, including folks from our partner companies. This is where we do our big planning and discussions.
  • Continued to co-chair the PKCS#11 Technical Committee, which is fun and also a lot of work.
  • Spoke at the International Cryptographic Module Conference and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. 
  • Co-chaired the Grace Hopper Communities Committee, with more than 100 volunteers writing blogs, video blogging, note taking, speed mentoring, and leading lunch time table topics.  The conference had 12,000 attendees. We started working on this last spring for an October conference.  It was madness, amazing, inspiring and exhausting.
  • Led Oracle's participation in the OASIS PKCS#11 Interop booth for RSA. Tons of fun meeting real customers face to face!
  • Attended my first BlackHat. This was weird, because I attended 10 or so DefCons (starting with DefCon 2), but only possible thanks to my friend Runa, who gave me a pass :-) 
  • Started leading another FIPS 140-2 validation for Solaris 11.3, because I am a glutton for punishment - but also because I think there is merit in these validations. Our algorithms will be better for it.
Personal:
  • Built a gorgeous, drought tolerant, demonstration garden with my husband in our front yard. Our grass is gone. In one bed, we have California poppies (which have now spread EVERYWHERE) and a city tree (Chinese Pistache). The next, roses that did beautifully in the hot, dry summer. The next: peppers (bell, jalapeno, serano, pepperocini, poblano, banana, etc etc), tomatoes, herbs and squash. In the arbor we have roses, daisies, and other plants. In pots, we have things like "hot lips" that the hummingbirds LOVE.  Strange old ladies would walk the path in our yard and bring their tripod and take pictures. Pretty cool - and VERY low maintenance.
    • Failed to take pictures, but did do a video... but need to post it. :-)
  • Went home and took care of my parents when my dad had unexpected urgent surgery. My mom is disabled, so we needed all hands on deck. They are both, thankfully, doing well now.
  • Read 29 books. Goodreads thinks I read 30, but one book is on there twice.
  • Narrated 5 novels for Learning Ally, for people with dyslexia, blindness or other reading disorders.  That's over 45 hours of final recorded material.  Many more hours in the studio.  They are awesome - please give them money.
  • Did a dream vacation with my husband and two friends from NYC to Italy! We visited Serrento, Rome and Florence. We took day trips to the Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, Lucca, Pisa and a Tuscan villa to learn how to make amazing pizza.  At the end, we stopped by England to see husband's family and friends.  We flew first class on air miles.  We used VRBO and saved a ton of money on lodging, had kitchens and washing machines!
    • Hot tip: You need to book first class trips about 10 months in advance, to take advantage of "super saver" rates and must be flexible on dates. We were a little late (only about 8 months out) so we had to pick weird dates/times, and could not get direct home.  We also had to pay tax, which was about as much as buying economy tickets. But, first class was amazing on British Airways' A380. Not so much on the smaller plane back to Philly. 
  • Found out my cat has allergies like me. She now takes the same allergy pill I do, but in half the dose. Well, sometimes she takes it. Other times, it's found hours later somewhere else in the house.  Sometimes we crush it into her food. Sometimes she falls for it. She's 14 and climbing all over my desk now as I write this.
  • I had a few odd health issues this year, that meant I lost use of one hand for nearly 3 months.  That sucked. No, not RSI. No, I did not crash my bike. Yes, I am doing better. I had to use voice recognition software. It was awful. The worst. It believed I had a thick East Asian accent, and could not be convinced otherwise. Customer support was the worst.  This is the "best" software on the market. HATED IT. 
    • But, it helped me to prioritize and focus.  Sorry if your email wasn't answered, but I get hundreds a day and I just couldn't get to them all.
  • I lost friends, due to reasons. I found new ones, or good old ones. This is sad and awesome.  Support came from unexpected places, and I am so incredibly thankful for every one of you that called, texted, and hung out.  My anxiety levels have gone down. I no longer have to do everything for another person, just right, for fear of being ostracized. My husband was amazing, as always.  I am not perfect, and thank you to those that understand. I know you aren't either, and I like you that way.
  • I managed to ride my bike 65 miles in the Marin Century in August! I want to do it again!
  • I raised nearly $1600 in one week for the Valley Fire Victims as a part of the Levi's Grand Fondo. I couldn't do that hard ride, so I served free beer to thousands of thirsty cyclists.
  • I was appointed as the official alternate for the Mountain View Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee - if a vacancy occurs before the next major recruitment process.  I attend nearly every meeting, and I'm getting positive changes done for bicyclists and walkers in Mountain View on a regular basis. This is awesome!
Not too shabby!

Best wishes to you all for 2016!

Valerie