. 2021 Year in Review

Rick Carlino

Personal blog of Rick Carlino, senior software engineer at Qualia Labs, co-founder of Fox.Build Makerspace. Former co-founder of FarmBot.

2021 Year in Review

Looking Back

2021 was a better year than 2020, but it was certainly not a normal year for anyone. From a professional perspective, most of my energy was spent on continuing education for embedded systems, particularly with regards to embedded Linux and the Raspberry Pi ecosystem. I hope to continue this focus into 2022. On the personal side of things, I took on a new pottery hobby, began weight lifting and intentionally took a break from marathon running for a year.

Like many people, I really thought that the pandemic would be over by now. Many of my plans to do more networking, go to conferences, go to local meetups and do public speaking simply didn’t happen. I hope to revisit this in 2022 when things go back to normal. They are getting back to normal… right?

At the makerspace, it was a similar situation. Illinois re-opened and promptly shut down again a few weeks later. We were able to have one big social event before the shutdown. For now, we are mostly in “hibernation mode” until the health department changes their guidance.

With all that aside, it was a good year for personal growth. Although I had a mild breakthrough infection towards the end of the year, I am in good health. I read a lot. I tried many new things.


Social distancing has given me a lot of time to read and learn. Below is a list of classes, books and tutorials I watched.

Travel and Events

2021 is a new record for “least miles travelled” in my adult life. According to Google Maps, my entire 2021 travels could fit within a 45 mile (72 km) radius. The only exception to this is a one week trip to San Luis Obispo for work.

I attended Vintage Computer Fest Midwest as well as a few weddings.

Like most people, my travel and event attendance during COVID has been minimal.

Other Stuff

  • I served as the technical editor for an upcoming book, React JS Foundations. You should buy it when it comes out.
  • I created a news aggregator.
  • I wrote a higher-than-average amount of blog articles, reaching ~20k visits in 2021.

My most popular article for 2021 was “Build a Raspberry Pi Linux System the Hard Way”.

Looking Ahead

Continue focusing on the Raspberry Pi platform. It’s no secret that I like working on Raspberry Pi projects. In 2021, I learned that readers of this blog feel the same way. Both of my Raspberry Pi related blog posts were very popular on sites like HN and Lobste.rs. I will continue developing my skills in this area and sharing what I learn along the way. It’s a lot of fun and the ecosystem is only getting better.

Run a marathon and focus on my health. I (intentionally) did less running than in years past. I will get back at it in 2022 and run a race again.

Do a big a group project. In my past two yearly retrospectives, I’ve talked about the importance of being connected and sharing my progress with others, though I feel I could still be doing a better job. The pandemic has certainly played a role in this, but it is a problem nonetheless. I will talk more about this in an upcoming blog post. If you’ve got a group project you would like to collaborate on, shoot me a message.

Find a “hard reset” and take on an aggressively new project. 2022 marks my official tenth year anniversary as a software developer. I have been involved with computers since a young age and I have worked in technical positions for my entire career. My first official position as a software developer started in 2012. The early days were fun because I was learning new skills and building things. Lately, it seems that I am becoming over specialized and I miss the fun of being a full-stack generalist. The best way to describe it is that I am starting to get too comfortable. I hope I can learn something that is completely new in 2022. I’m not positive about what that is yet, but I’ve got some ideas. Stay tuned for a future blog post.

Activities to Avoid in 2022

  • Take a vacation from HN, Lobste.rs. I need a fresh perspective on things. I spend too much time on the same sites and news sources. I worry that I am limiting my exposure to new ideas in doing so.
  • Take a vacation from political news. All it does is stress me out. If something political is bothering me, I can write my representatives directly.
  • Don’t work alone. I really need to stop working alone. In 2022, I promise not to do that. Really!