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Year in review 2023

For the past few years I've been thinking about writing a year in review post, but could not find enough will power (or courage) to do so. As one of my biggest goals for 2024 is to work more in the open, I gathered all my nerves and wrote this post with my highlights of the past year. From personal life to professional endeavors, side projects and athletic pursuits, 2023 was a year of growth and challenges, and I'm excited to share this journey.

# Personal

Not much new happened in my personal life, and I'm happy with the stability after a few years wandering between France, Portugal and Slovenia. I'm still living in the beautiful city of Ljubljana with my girlfriend and two rabbits, in a slightly bigger apartment than the previous one, hopefully for the next three years.

Bunnies eating vegetables
My two furry children

Learning Slovenian is the biggest challenge I'm facing, and I'm still struggling with it. My brain is too focused on work and side projects, and I can't find enough space to learn it properly. Slovene has nothing in common with the languages I know, and learning everything from scratch is overwhelming at times. Overall, I made some progress, and I'm able to understand some basic instructions, but I'm far from being able to have a proper conversation.

Snowy Ljubljana
Snowy Ljubljana

I also underwent a corrective eye surgery called Relex Smile (opens new window). I did not mind wearing glasses for everyday life, but it was a pain to wear them while doing sports. My personal experience with the surgery was incredible, the procedure was quick and painless, and I was able to see clearly from afew hours after the surgery. My computer screen was a bit blurry for the first few weeks which was slightly annoying but expected. I now have a perfect vision, and I'm really amazed by the whole procedure.

# Work

I've been working at Roche (opens new window) as a contractor for the past three years now, and I'm still loving it, even if 2023 was the most challenging year so far. After an internal reorganization I got assigned to be a tech lead for a new team with more international projects, and also more responsibilities. The reorganization also meant that the other developer with whom I worked for the past two years saw his contract canceled. I was sad to see him go, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to work with new people.

# Learning more about accessibility

One of my main focus during the year was to build an internal accessibility scanner built on top of playwright, that is available to all developers at Roche. Using playwright at scale to scan hundreds of thousands of pages was a challenge, but I'm happy with the result. The scanner is now used by ~100 developers, and we are able to catch a reasonable number of accessibility issues before they reach production.

# Building Without JavaScript

One of the funniest projects I worked on was to build a website without JavaScript. A business unit needed a simple platform to handle a few CRUD actions as a temporary solution before they could switch to an enterprise solution. I made a quick MVP with Laravel and Tailwind CLI, no JavaScript, no Webpack/Vite, no NPM or Node on the server. Some features where challenging to implement, but the result is great and everyone is happy with it. It's cool to know that we can still build useful web application without any JavaScript, but unless you have a very specific use case, I would not recommend it as the trade-offs are not worth it.

# More meaningful work

It's part of the enterprise life to work on projects for months just to see them canceled for various reasons. I'm happy that during the past year I worked on projects that were meaningful, with real impact on cancer patients, prenatal screening and other important topics that make the world a better place for everyone.

# Side Project

My main side project for the past year and a half as been (opens new window), an uptime monitoring and incident management platform that I built with Laravel, Inertia, Vue and Tailwind. The project launched publicly in May 2023, with poor results. I was not able to get much traction, and I'm struggling to find a way to get more users.

Phare on ProductHunt launch on ProductHunt

I try to ship a few new features every month and slowly improve the underlying platform. I'm learning a lot with this project, and I'm happy to work on it even if it's not a big success. I know that it's a long-term project, and need to slowly build marketing and sales skills to make it work.

The harsh reality of side projects often includes facing indifference. Despite pouring time and effort into, the struggle to capture attention underscored the harsh truth – in the vast digital landscape, standing out requires more than just a good product as Justin Kan wisely Tweeted:

The wise words of Justin Kan

The product is evolving at a good pace, with uptime monitoring, incident management, status pages all released in 2023. Lots of backend work around ClickHouse, MySQL and Redis as well as many quality-of-life improvements for the UI.

Phare uptime monitoring
Phare uptime monitoring

For 2024, I would like to ship a first version of Phare Analytics, a new product that will let users get insights about their visitors. And continue to improve the existing uptime monitoring and incident management platform.

# Sport

After a few years of running, I decided to try something new at the end of 2022 and joined a Triathlon club in Ljubljana. I was not sure if I would like it, but I quickly fell in love with the sport. I had amazing results after only a year of training, and I'm looking forward to the next season.

Overall, the training was hard, and I had a lot of ups and downs, I managed to stay consistent throughout the year and logged a whopping 473 hours of training, which is quite incredible to reflect on.

Strava year in review
No pain, no gains

# Swimming

77 activities - 156 km - 57 h

Learning to swim front crawl as an adult without any prior experience is freaking hard, the first three months were horrible. My body was in a constant struggle in the water, I was feeling like I was drowning every second, nothing about it felt natural, my stomach hurted after every session and my sleep was terrible on swimming days. I'm glad I did not gave up, even if I was thinking about it at every session.

I started the year with a time of 21:20 for 750m and finished the season at 15:09, which is a huge improvement. More importantly, swimming front-crawl is starting to feel natural and comfortable, and considering how hard it was at the beginning, I'm really proud of the progress I made.

# Cycling

121 activities - 6 840 km - 212 h - 67k D+

I spent the winter training my bike skills on a home trainer, starting with an FTP of 3.22 W/kg. Had my first ever outside road bike ride early April, followed by my first bike race (160km) in June and a one-week training camp in the Austrian alps where I climbed the highest road in Europe. I finished the season with an FTP of 3.45 W/kg which seems to be a good result for a first year.

Tirol training camp
Training camp in the Austrian alps

# Running

143 activities - 1 944 km - 156h - 13k D+

Running progress was slow but steady during the year. Training for triathlon meant that I had to run less than in the past, which got frustrating at times. I also had to learn how to run with bike legs, which is a unique feeling when you're not used to it.

# First IronMan 70.3

The pinnacle of my triathlon journey in 2023 was the completion of my first half IronMan. The 1.9k swim, 90k bike course, and half-marathon demanded everything I had to give physically and mentally, but the experience was incredibly rewarding with a killer time of 4:59:45. Crossing the finish line was a moment of triumph and relief, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

IronMan 70.3 finish
Finishing my first IronMan 70.3

I had my doubts, but the training plan works. For 2024 I need to keep the consistency, sleep a little bit more and improve my fueling during training.

# Goals for 2024

My number one goal for the coming year is to work more in the open. I plan to do that by sharing more updates from my work on and a few highlights from my work at Roche. I also plan to continue on my triathlon progress and see how fast I can get with a few more years of serious raining.