Rick Carlino

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

2022 Year in Review

Looking Back

2022 was a calm year and my first normal-ish year after COVID disruptions. My year was defined by a significant career change and reduced public engagement. I spent most of my time outside of work running and only entertained a small number of projects.

Career Changes

After working on FarmBot for almost nine years, I felt it was time to move on to new things. I sent my resignation notice in January and interviewed at 16 different companies over 30 days. I now work as a senior software engineer at Qualia Labs, a unicorn startup selling vertical software to real estate clients. I will hit the one-year mark this February. I am pleased with my new role, even if it is a different industry than my previous work. I primarily work with MongoDB and Typescript. What I like most about this role is the company’s size. After working on a small team for years, it is refreshing to work in an environment where I have many peers to work with and learn from. It was a great year for professional growth and I attribute most of that to the fact that I have a large group of peers to learn from on a daily basis.

The interview process in 2022 has improved compared to previous years, but it is still exhausting. Some companies I interviewed with were better than others. The primary advice I would offer to anyone responsible for hiring is to respect your candidate’s time. 3 interviews and an on-site are more than enough to make a hiring decision. If any part of your interview is used as a “filter” (pass/fail) rather than a graded assessment, it ought to be the first part of the interview process, not the last. And for the love of all that is good in the world, stop using Leet Code for any purpose. I will stop there before this post turns into a rant.

Even though many companies still get many things wrong, I feel optimistic that the interview process is improving overall compared to my previous job searches.

Projects and Open-Source Involvement

After starting the new job at Qualia, I spent most of the year avoiding large projects and focusing mainly on improving skills that would make me more effective at work. Particularly, I spent time getting more advanced experience with GraphQL and MongoDB, as well as learning some of the newer Typescript features that came out while I was not paying attention.

I served as the technical editor for an upcoming Javascript book that will be published by Wiley in late 2023.

I’ve also been doing research for a possible business venture. I will cover that one in the future depending on how things go. It’s still a very early-stage idea.

My main focus this year was running. As a result, I only did a handful of Open Source projects:

I also took time off to do a yearly Think Week, where I spend an entire week learning topics that interest me. This year’s theme was mathematics, the ESP32 microcontroller, and neural networks. Half of the week was spent reading, while the other half was on projects, running, and relaxation. I was not as productive as in previous years. I attribute the lack of productivity to an excessive focus on projects rather than a reading-only approach, like in previous years. Next year, I won’t do such a project-heavy think week. I will also do my think week away from home, where there are fewer distractions. The lesson learned is that projects are better done in small chunks rather than in long stretches. I can binge read books, but I learned that I work better on projects when the task is spaced out over time.

Hobbies and Time Off

I’ve done distance running as a hobby for over a decade. Because of work and family, I often neglect my training. In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself that “some time in the future” I would set down all my other projects and get very serious about running. This year might have been the year. I ran roughly 740 miles this year, which is a personal record. I also broke some personal time records and even placed 2nd in my age group, which I’ve never done before.

I ran three races this year and will run a 50k in January 2023.

My race results are listed below.


Javascript All-In-One for Dummies (I served as technical editor)

It is a comprehensive one-stop resource for full-stack Javascript development in 2023. Since I served as the technical editor for this book, you can rest assured that the material is free of errors and of the highest possible quality. 😉

The book is due for release next year.

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps

The book provides a high-level overview of management practices in modern software organizations. It’s an easy read and can serve as a refresher for senior engineers or an introductory survey of software management for junior devs.

Staff Engineer: Leadership beyond the management track

I recommend this book to senior engineers looking for non-managerial career growth.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

I bought this one on a whim after reading a comment on Hacker News. I thought the book would spend more time providing strategies for habit-building, but it focused more on breaking habits. I could see this book being helpful for someone struggling with bad habits, such as substance abuse treatment, smoking cessation, etc. I feel that the book is less useful for someone that wants to build new positive habits, which, unfortunately, was the reason I bought the book. I still gleaned some good insights, and it was a fun, easy read.

Using & Managing UUCP (1996)

I can’t stop reading about deprecated network technologies. What is wrong with me? I spotted this book for a few dollars used and decided to give it a read. I enjoyed learning about how ancient people from the past would keep files synchronized across devices and execute commands on remote machines.

Brilliant.Org Neural Network Class

I learned a few new things from this course but decided to cancel my Brilliant.org subscription promptly upon completion. You can buy a used book for the monthly price of their $10-25 membership fee and get a comparable level of value. I found a few technical bugs in the coursework, and the support team never replied to my messages. Some of their courses were confusing, and I am unsure if anyone got my feedback. The neural network course was a fair introduction to the topic but did not go deep enough. It did an OK job covering theory but ultimately left me wanting more.

Looking Ahead

Despite the drastic career changes this year, it was one of my most calm and predictable years. I improved my health and spent a vast portion of my time with my family. I have a positive outlook going into 2023 and am optimistic about the future.

The slower pace has left me feeling recharged and ready to take on new challenges. In the coming year, I would like to push myself to take on larger, longer-term projects. This likely means becoming more involved with Open Source projects, but I have not settled on any big decisions yet. I would also like to register for more races than in 2022.

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