Annual Review

personal annual review

Last year, after seeing Nick’s “annual review” post, I intended to do one myself; but by the time I got around to it, it was about April, so I never bothered. This year I’m starting in advance, so let’s see how that goes.


Every year I say I’m going to start writing more, and every year it never happens. Not counting this one, I’ve apparently written only one blog post in 2014. Something I’d like to try, however, is writing up anything I feel the need to tweet about more than once. I’d also maybe like to try a weekly roundup of news, blogposts, etc., that I’ve read. Hopefully it’ll be good practice for university (see below). Reviewing the books I read would be good, too.


I’ve now been using Goodreads for over a year and it’s been somewhat interesting to track what I read, as well as the slight “gamification” aspect of challenging myself to read more. I’ve read a lot on the tube, as well as the occasional lunch break, and I’m picking up Sara’s habit of reading in bed, though I often find it hard to just sit and read when I have a day off — the internet is too much of a distraction. As I mentioned above, I’d like to write more reviews.

Looking back at Goodreads, however, I do see that I’ve been reading Anna Karenina since January, and have been stuck at page 190 since July. Perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel? (I’ve another “in progress” that’s been on hold for almost as long, but as it’s actually three books in one I’m not counting it as such.)


My second year at Birkbeck started in September. Sort of. Technically I’ve had slightly more than one academic year, so in that sense my second year actually started in April. Also, I’m currently enrolled on the first year, but a credit transfer should mean that next (academic) year I should be able to go onto the third year (the first and second years are basically identical). Fingers crossed.

The area I still really need to work on is essay-writing, and particularly time management. I ended up not submitting coursework for the summer term, as I’d been so badly organised (I decided it wasn’t worth the stress just to submit something that would necessarily be sub-standard). I don’t want to be in that position in future; next term I’ll start thinking about essay schedules right from the beginning.


Apart from the few weeks I spent working and studying in Helsinki (subject of my last blog post), where I also spent Christmas, I’ve spent a weekend in Cornwall (for the first time in too long) and visited Brighton (not for the first time) and Dover. (I’ve also visited Denmark and Sweden, albeit briefly, en route to and from Finland.) Next year I’d like, of course, to travel some more, especially outside the UK; a trip to Catalonia has been on my mind for a while now. If I get around to passing my driving test, day trips will also become much easier.

I made a map of countries I’ve visited.


At the beginning of the year I moved into a new team at work, to focus less on day-to-day operations work and more on developing software to help reduce the amount of day-to-day operations work we have, and in particular to move some of that load onto the developers responsible. It’s given me a chance to try out some new technologies and gain some experience with modern Ruby development and testing practice. It feels like I’m actually in a position now to think about what to learn and work on in order to improve as a programmer, and to be able to actually do so, more than I did when doing systems administration full-time.

Health & Fitness

I haven’t cycled since February, at least. A combination of several factors: firstly, more and more I’ve appreciated the time on the tube for reading; secondly, the flat we’re currently in has no safe storage for a bike at the front of the house, no exit to the street from the back of the house, and a very narrow passage that it’s just annoying to get the bike down.

I did, however, start running. Sort of. I took some inspiration from danbjorn’s charity half-marathon and started at the beginning of September, aiming for three times a week and hoping to build up to 5k by Christmas and carry on into the new year. However, I injured my foot in early October, then spent half of November with a bad cold, and combined with university and sheer laziness I didn’t start up again until the end of December. I had hoped to run in Helsinki but decided that running in the snow wasn’t very practical. My intention was to run a half-marathon around October 2015, but I have no idea right now whether that’s an achievable goal or not; I feel like I haven’t yet run enough to predict how much I can improve by then.

Life in general

Sara and I moved in together at the end of February. So far we’ve managed not to annoy one another too significantly, although I probably ought to get around to sorting out the boxes full of stuff left over from my old flat.

I haven’t been to any St John Ambulance meetings or duties since the summer. Although it’s something I’d like to do again in future, I decided allowing myself at least one free evening was reasonable.

A combination of living with Sara and people from Plymouth finishing university and moving to London means that I actually seem to have some sort of routine that doesn’t just involve working and sleeping. It’s quite nice. More of that sort of thing, please.

The Future

Things seem to be going in the right direction. More reading, more travelling, more (and better) studying. Goals should be measurable, I suppose, so I think a target of a 2:1 average for this year of university and a visit to at least one or two new countries, as well as keeping up the 36-book goodreads challenge that I managed this year.