2019 Year in Review

2019 is the year where all the things I planned didn't happen, & the things I didn't plan happen.

Welcome to my annual year in review post! This is my third time doing this consecutively (2017, 2018) though I’ve been doing this on-and-off since 2011. TL;DR? 2019 is the year where all the things I planned didn’t happen, & the things I didn’t plan happen.

🌐 Community

  • My friend Kiki & I started a podcast, Kartini Teknologi. We’ve had the honor to host 10 Indonesian women working in tech so far. Having the chance to talk to them (& share our discussions with you all!) is one of the things I’m most grateful this year.

Kartini Teknologi speakers

  • We also co-organized the first Global Diversity CFP Day in Jakarta! We had our participants present their talk abstract at the end of the day, & they were all SO FLIPPIN’ AWESOME! Southeast Asians are generally underrepresented in the global tech conference scene, & I’m excited to see more of us in the future. We’ll be holding the next edition of Global Diversity CFP Day Jakarta next year, January 18, 2020 at Microsoft Indonesia. For more information, check out this page.


🎤 Speaking

This year, I gave 6 different talks/workshops in 8 different conferences/meetups.

I always try my best to put my slides & code online so that they benefit others who didn’t attend the conference. You can check out the slides on my Speaker Deck page & the code on my GitHub, or my other previous talks here.

I attended PyCon APAC & SEAMLS as well. I’m very grateful for the opportunities & learned a ton!

🛫 Travel

I’m lucky to be able to visit 8 countries & 12 cities this year. So many first times: I tried the jeepney in Manila, sketch-hopped in Angkor Wat, made ceramics & ate bugs in Siem Reap, stopped by Hedy Lamarr’s memorial & Boltzmann’s grave in Wiener Zentralfriedhof, went to the Church of Bones, went to the DMZ by train, spent 3 days jungle trekking & river tubing, went to Artjog, watched a Burmese movie in a movie theater in Yangon, spent 2 days biking in Bagan by myself. I now post my travel stories on my Exposure page if you want to check ‘em out.

Travel pics: Angkor Wat - Church of Bones - Seoul - Vienna - 🚲 around Intramuros - jungle in Tangkahan - train on the way to Vienna -  The Lucky Boomerang bookshop in Jogja - Artjog

I solo traveled in Manila, Siem Reap, Prague, Vienna, Seoul, Bagan, & the first trip to Jogja (went there twice this year). The rest were combinations of both solo & not, kinda. I actually really enjoyed this mix. No one can take my love of traveling solo from me, but I learned that I actually do enjoy spending some time with other people as well, & they actually made these trips memorable. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of these people. THANK YOU. <3

Travel pics: Sunrise in Bagan - pine forest in Jogja - Tangkahan - Bandarku Ceria in Brunei -🏍️ around Bagan - North Korea from the distance - Jewel at night! - Yangon strolls - taking the boat in Brunei

I learned a lot of things from my travels as well. From my visit to a school in Tonlé Sap I learned about their various efforts to get kids to go to school, & these efforts are far from easy given the challenges. When I spent some time with a local artist in Siem Reap I learned how he turned his life around with art. In Tangkahan, I spoke to locals who are so passionate about preserving the jungle, & how they are passing their love of it to the next generations. I also learned about the tech communities in different countries & what problems they’re solving with tech.

👩 Life Things

  • 🎨 I sketched quite a lot this year:

  • 📚 I read 43 books. Better than last year, though my target is 52 books/year. I did quite well the first half of 2019, but the interest kind of waned in the second half. I usually read during my commute, but most days I felt like I just want to listen to music & let my mind breathe for a bit. Some stand-outs (not necessarily for good reasons): I love Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdads Sing with a capital L, Andre Aciman’s Find Me is a disappointment (I love Call Me By Your Name so I’m even more disappointed because I had high expectations), Ted Chiang’s Exhalation is a gem, & Claire L. Evans’ Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet is my favorite non-fiction I read this year.
  • 💻 As always, I’m learning a lot of new stuff at work, & currently working on an exciting project!
  • I also contributed to pandas & Apache Arrow!
  • 🎵 I only watched one Barasuara album release concert & ERK & that’s all? I missed so many concerts I was interested in (Travis, Mitski, etc.) for a variety of reasons - from travel schedules to exhaustion - but at the same time concerts aren’t really my priority anymore so I’m not feeling too bummed for missing those. My favorite 2019 releases in no particular order: Frightened Rabbit’s Tiny Changes (RIP Scott Hutchison), Andrew Bird’s My Finest Work Yet, The National’s I Am Easy to Find, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated, Local Natives’ Violet Street, Sigrid’s Sucker Punch, Isyana Sarasvati’s LEXICON, & Barasuara’s Pikiran dan Perjalanan.

⏪ Looking back

  • I learned that it’s good to always have plans, but they’re not everything. The following seems to be working well for me so far, & I’m planning to continue doing it: do what I genuinely like, give my best, & maximize its positive impact on other people.
  • I didn’t learn generative art at all. Halfway through the year I realized that I didn’t have enough space in my head to learn fields completely new to me, so I let it go.

⏭️ Next year

The big focus next year is on improving myself in things I’m already doing.

  • 📈 Data science & machine learning: currently doing this at work, but I think I need to spend more time to reflect on what I’ve done/learned. I have this idea where I’ll spend a month every year to focus on studying a topic (e.g. self-supervised learning for January, bandit algorithms for February) but let’s see.
  • ✍️ Writing: I don’t write much this year. I have a lot of ideas & unfinished drafts but writing is harder for me somehow, & I need to get myself used to it again.
  • 🏃‍♀️ Running: I did quite well on this first half of 2019, but after all the traveling I couldn’t manage a consistent schedule for this. I hope I can keep a more consistent schedule next year.

⏪⏪⏪ Bonus: Looking back at the past decade

This time 10 years ago I was probably busy coding my now-defunct personal website, urbanconspiracy.net (yes, terrible name) (it would have turned 10 years old this year!) while listening to My Chemical Romance. Right now it’s still pretty much the same except that I’m 10 years older so nothing has changed much, I guess?

Just kidding. This decade I survived junior high school, graduated high school, graduated college, volunteered at an NPO, was involved in CompFest with other ~250 awesome human beings, gave talks in different meetups & countries, met a lot of amazing people, made new friends, saw a lot of beautiful places, learned a lot, & am still learning a lot. It wasn’t all sunshine & rainbows, true. Regardless, I’m grateful for everything that I have in my life.

Up to the 2010s I was mostly operating in autopilot mode where days just passed me by. In this past decade I was mostly trying to get out of this autopilot mode & trying to gain control of my own life. For the next decade, I’d like to be more intentional on everything: things I’m working on, things that I say, the relationships I build with people, the time I spend, the money I spend, & more. Of course, being intentional means I need to have some set of priorities, goals, values, or dreams that I’ll base my actions upon, but at the same time I understand that these are ever changing as I learn more & more about the world, so I’ll make sure to actively evaluate my values & dreams as I go.

I don’t know what the future holds (does anyone?) but I’m kinda excited. Also scared. But mostly excited. Cheers for a better year (& decade!).

Sunset in Irrawaddy River.

December 30, 2019

Year in Review