This year was interesting, as I imagine all years are after high school and before one decides that a bigger house in the suburbs is worth it. Some highlights:
I was surprisingly more emotional about leaving Cisco than I had anticipated. I liked my co-workers and loved my manager (apparently this is rare), but hated the city. The work was technically challenging, but writing C for a year definitely contributed adversely to my hair follicle health.
Got my driving license
When I was in Montreal, being an STM-card-carrying user of the metro, I naively assumed that every city in Canada similarly inhabited the 21st century. Why would I, as a liberal left-leaning tech yuppie, ever need a driving license? After a year of cursing buses that were late by half an hour as I waited in -20 C weather, I decided that enough was enough and I couldn’t stand another hour-long commute to get to a cafe.
I hated the city. I initially had a long paragraph here explaining explicitly why I hated the city, but it was too mean, so let me just say that I am happy that I have concluded that I am a big city person. I do however actively miss the people I met in Ottawa and the people I rekindled relationships with, so much so that I end up making a trip back every other month. Also, in hindsight, it was kinda dumb to live in the suburbs and not own a car. If I had to do it again I would suck it up and buy an automo-destroyingfinancesandenvironment-obile.
Moved to Vancouver
Right after I got my Ontario driving license, I moved to British Columbia (yay for planning things out). I love this city. It rains all the time but I invested in some raingear (along with some fancy waterproof shoes off of Kickstarter run by a Vancouver-based Allbirds-inspired-design shoe company) so I’m cozy as an Eddie-Bauer-wearing bear zipping around on buses and SkyTrains that are mostly on time. Everyone has a Commonwealth accent, and I’ve gone full North American and started going to trivia nights on a weekly basis. After moving here from Ottawa, I decided that I could not bear another suburb, so despite the insistent and monologous advice of every single Punjabi taxi driver I gave Surrey a pass and signed an overpriced lease in downtown Van-city. “Taxi driver?” I hear you ask, “Who takes taxis anymore?” British Columbians (is that right demonym?), that’s who. British Columbia has told ride-sharing services to fuck off. Or rather, Big Taxi has leaned on the government enough to squeeze out a fuck off. While I get that Uber is exploitative towards its drivers, I’m unconvinced the incumbent taxi industry is much nicer. Besides, the taxi industry is unequivocally worse than Uber and Lyft for end users - googling “vancouver taxi reviews” is left as an exercise to the reader. To echo the sentiment of a girl I overheard on the SkyTrain yesterday, “with Uber you can, like, book and pay from your phone!”
Started working at Salesforce
Yas. I started working on the Privacy and Data Governance engineering team at Salesforce. The motivating idea is to make it easier for you as a company to respect your users’ opt-outs not only because you want to be legally compliant but because you care about your users’ -happiness- business (happy customers are paying customers or something). Cynicism aside, it’s cool to be able to push privacy-preserving philosophy over sales-agent-maximizing credo at an engineering level. It helps that we can just point towards Facebook and go “do you want that kind of press attention”; usually settles things pretty quickly. Thank you Facebook, for making the lives of advocates of privacy-enhancing-defaults easier everywhere.
Attended IETF meetings in London, Montreal and Bangkok.
At Cisco I started getting involved with the IETF as part of my day job implementing IETF specifications for model-driven telemetry. As I dove deeper into the cabal that is the IETF (the social dynamics are so interesting that a friend of mine is writing an entire PhD thesis on it), I found out that there was a group of human rights advocates who were working on publishing documents examining the relationship between Internet standards and human rights. I loved this, so I started volunteering with them. Long story short, I became an ‘Internet of Rights’ fellow supported by ARTICLE 19, the organization leading the human rights work at IETF. I wrote a draft to improve HTTP 451 (a status code that indicates that content has been censored) and published a piece on user consent in WebRTC.
Co-chaired the first meeting of the new privacy research group
I am co-chairing a new privacy research group at the IETF. Our first meeting was in Bankok, and it went pretty well: we had people from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Tor Project, Off-the-Record devs and Princeton University web researchers talk about their work in the field of privacy. The next meeting is in two months and I am utterly beset with anxiety about it.
Got my permanent residency
After 7 long years contributing to the economy of this country, I am now finally a resident. While my immigration woes are far from over, it feels like a large stride on the path to a future where What I Want To Do is not leashed by the colour of my passport.
Visited home after 2 years
Trains, cold, love, family, warmth, jet lag, food, flights, kites, choking smoke, friends, beer, stifling, pride, high school, nostalgia.