3 Jan 2021

Thank Christ That Is Over... But Is It?

I think we can safely say that 2020 has been a tough year for nearly everyone. But it is important to pause and take stock of what happened over the year, and consider both the good and the bad:

No, 2020 really was crap. But our family did have some good news. We were able to improve our financial situation a lot, and that has really helped our mood in the current circumstances. Our son, Matthew, started nursery and really loves it. And after 5 years working at Queen's University, I was able to start working from home, which meant I got to spend a lot more time with my family.

In terms of bad news, we had a few Covid scares. Our son, Matthew, has had to be tested for Covid twice (simple colds needed to be tested before he could go back to nursery), and just before Christmas, his nursery had a confirmed case. With the current large number of cases in Belfast, we won't be sending him back on Monday, and it appears most other parents will also be keeping their children home. We have been bored stupid under lockdown, like everyone else.

Back in January, my wife, Mei, and Matthew, travelled to China to spend time with my wife's family for the Chinese New Year. China locked down on 24th January to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, and my family were unable to travel back until mid-Febrary. I was very stressed about this, and immensely relieved that they were able to get back to Northern Ireland. They then had to self-isolate for 2 weeks. At the end of March, I started working from home, and I have continued to do so ever since.

In May, I started a new job in a different department in QUB. It was advertised as a DevOps role, but in reality, it is an infrastructure/operations role, with little development work. Whilst I have learnt a lot over the past 6 months, especially about Linux and Docker solutions, this isn't where I want to be, and I'll hopefully make a move back into software development soon.

Some of the highlights of the part year have simply been able to meet up and spend time with friends and family whenever the various lockdowns have eased. I have also come to appreciate the benefits of working in an office, and being able to step away from work - something I struggled with when my work was always waiting for me in the bedroom. I also really missed the social interactions with colleagues, which Zoom or Teams just can't replicate. A lot of people have been talking about the office being eliminated following Covid; I think they are over-estimating the benefits of working from home.

In terms of personal projects, I've spent a lot of time on DIY around the home. I cut down on my coding outside of work - one of the side effects of working from home was that I didn't want to code on personal projects in the same environment that I work in.

Anyway, while 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, I suspect that this year, 2021, will be even tougher. Most of us won't be vaccinated against Covid-19 until the end of the year, and I suspect we'll see the economic impact from April onwards, when the furlough scheme ends. Keep yourself and your families safe.