Another year, another year-end-review, I always say. Thankful to have an opportunity to reflect on another trip around the sun. You may think it’s odd to write a review of 2019 in December of 2020, but if y’all have 2020ed at all, you understand how remembering 2019 could be therapeutic.

If you asked me, my friends, my family, or anyone adjacent to my life, you’d know that the main theme of my 2019 was work. My day job has been as intense as ever. We’re a small company and being a small company comes with growing pains. But we have accomplished so much more than you’d expect for a 3-4 person engineering team.

While going through my 2019 work journal, I realized how little work I did that relates to my official title (and my career goals) and I’m frustrated about that. Even so, I encountered challenges and solved them because they needed to be solved. The passing of time has revealed just how difficult some of those challenges actually were. Many days I completed a legitimately absurd number of tasks. Often, I would go on to put in a couple hours for my second job as well. I did, however, manage to get set up to work from home—this has turned out to be important.

The majority of my spare time was spent on my side hustle with the goals of attending ICASSP 2020 in Barcelona and trying to grow the old savings account as much as possible. In the process, and with help from my esteemed colleague, I built an accurate no-reference speech quality estimator—a thing that’s been sort of a holy grail in the speech processing field for decades. If you asked me whether or not this was possible even 5 years ago, I would have said, “no”. In our second iteration reduced the number of parameters in the model by >99% and improved robustness. We wrote and submitted two papers, and the second ended up being accepted to ICASSP 2020 (mission accomplished!). I am proud of this, full stop. I am proud I was able to accomplish this in my spare time.

Even though I spent so much time working, I really think I managed to wring everything I possibly could have out of 2019. When I wasn’t working, I:

I tend to have trouble giving myself credit for the things that I do. I am truly surprised about what I managed to accomplish this year. But it is also clear that my life was out of balance. I intend to rebalance in the future.

I am disappointed in myself, though, for not taking stock of 2019 sooner. I made several realizations while writing this post that I wish I had made earlier. Realizations that would have affected decisions I made during 2020, now all but spent. I’m setting a goal for myself to process all my 2020 photos and write a post for 2020 by February 2021. Wish me luck.

Finally, 2019 was my tenth year of attempting to capture and process at least one photo every day. I have some things to say about this and they merit a separate post that I will write some time in the future. Suffice it to say, though, that I am pleased to have this 10-year-long record of my life despite how much effort is required to create it. Perhaps my photography not quite as good as it should be given I’ve been practicing for 10 years. But looking through all my 2019 photos I’m pleased with their quality.

On to 2020.