Max Fierke

never met a *nix system I didn't want to be friends with

Accomplishments & Challenges in 2018

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Max Fierke

December 30, 2018

Hi there. How are you? Good? Good. Glad to see you here. How are your parents? Still trapped in that Winnebago, huh? Have you tried WD-40? Oh, they like it in there? Okay, moving on...

As we go into 2019, one of my resolutions is to use this, my personal site & blog, more and platforms like Twitter and Medium less. I'd like to kick that off by writing up this post on my accomplishments for the year 2018. I don't think I've ever written one of these before, but it seems like something that would be helpful to have for posterity.


2018 was ultimately a pretty good year for me personally & professionally in a number of ways. I referenced some of these on There were also of course not-so-great things to happen as well, but here's what I'm proud of:

  1. I finally acquired a puppy. Her name is Tessa. She's a little over a year old now. I'm not 100% sure what breed(s) she is, but my current guess is a Beagle & Rat Terrier mix (which the internet has told me is called a Raggle). She's adorkable and you can see photos of her on my Instagram
  2. In May of 2018, I returned to Germany for the first time in 18 years to see relatives, many of whom who had not seen me since then. It was my first trip there as an adult with an ability to speak some amount of German. My family is all from the former East Germany, so none learned to speak English in school growing up. I was not as good of a conversationalist in German as I was hoping, but I was able to listen and understand most conversations, which was incredibly valuable. I'm hoping to return in 2019.
  3. I was promoted to a "Senior Engineer" at work, which felt very validating. Because I started programming in junior high and did a lot of open source work before I worked professionally, I've always had a hard time with titles and determining where my non-professional & open-source experience fits in with my professional experience. Now it feels like my title more accurately reflects what I feel my capabilities are and that's rad. Mentoring is now a more explicit part of my job, as well, which has been a great so far!
  4. Moved into an apartment for humans, rather than ants. For the last two years, I lived in a <700 sqft 2bd apartment with a roommate. It was small and was difficult to keep all my things in. In July/August, I moved into a ~1200 sqft 2bd apartment, which allowed me to get a puppy! Yay!
  5. Automated a ton of things so I could spend fewer weekends messing with configuration and rebuilding servers and such. I got all of my side-project infrastructure provisioning centralized into one repo with a bunch of Ansible roles & playbooks. It's easy as a few playbook runs for me to recreate any of my side-project infrastructure, and I have done so this year. I also automated installation of my dotfiles across all my machines, so every machine I use works as I expect (It's FANTASTIC.)
  6. Found an artistic outlet in building a video game. Technically, I started this in late 2017, but I did a lot of artwork creation in the early part of 2018. Unfortunately, a lot of this went on hold by the summer, but I'm going to make it more of a priority in 2019.
  7. Caught up in Game of Thrones. I'd been stuck on Season 2 for like 5 years. Finally got HBO Now and binged my way through the rest of it. Very excited to see how it ends in 2019.
  8. Restarted my vinyl collecting in earnest. Another benefit of moving into a new, larger apartment, is that I finally have a place to store my vinyl and a permanent place for my record player. I've picked up a number of really cool things this year, including an 1967 pressing of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in very good condition, a translucent green pressing of Green Day's Warning, and finally, after six months of scouring local record shops, a copy of Gil Scott-Heron's Pieces of a Man.
  9. Traveled a ton (mostly for work). I went to Boston a handful of times. I spent two weeks in Germany & Switzerland. I went to Chicago a couple times. I experienced the Cincinnati airport (It's a vegetable-less ghost town.) I spent a week in Denver.
  10. I contributed a bunch of stuff! I wrote a blog post on ember-concurrency with GIFs. I released an ember addon called ember-concurrency-retryable. I became a maintainer for ember-tooltips. I contributed to the crystal compiler. I built a couple things for funsies, like an elevator simulator and a steganography tool. I made progress on porting reptyr to Rust.

Not So Great Stuff About 2018 That I Hope to Improve in 2019

2018 had some downs as well. Here's some of those:

  1. Experienced some health stuff & wasn't drinking coffee for most of 2018. I had some weird gut stuff going on towards the end of 2017, that led to me having stomach pains whenever I consumed coffee, kombucha, and alcohol, among other things. It seems to be all better now. It seemed to be partly due to the side-effects of a medication I'd been taking. And partly because I had developed a small hernia near my navel. I switched medications and had the hernia repaired, and I'm able to consume all those things again.
  2. I was much more of a hermit in 2018. This is a bit of a perennial problem, but I'd made some improvements in years past. This year, it was partly due to health stuff, since I often see people at bars and such, and not really being able to drink made that difficult. More frequent travel also contributed. As did my killer AV setup and PS4 that I acquired in the beginning of 2018. I also have a tendency to be singularly-focused when I'm working on something I'm excited about, so it's easy for weeks to go by before I realize I've not been seeing people as much as I should.
  3. I stopped working out. In 2017, I was probably in the best shape I'd been since high school. My old apartment's rec room was less than 10 feet away from my apartment door, which served as a constant reminder to work out. In my new apartment, it's on the other side of the building. The first few months of living in the new apartment with a new puppy were a bit hectic and I had to be thoughtful about when I left her alone. She's mellowed out a lot recently and can be trusted to be left alone & out of her crate in the apartment for a couple hours, so I'm hoping to get back into working out regularly in the new year.

That's it! I'm going to sit down and plan out some goals for 2019.