29th Dec, 2023

2023 Review

Ah, it's this time of year again.

Life, in general

  • Our second daughter was born in late November this year. The time before and after the birth have been one hell of a ride, but we're very excited she's healthy and with us.
  • Spent a lot of time with our older daughter, picking up new hobbies and doubling down on old ones. We went rock climbing a lot and rode our bikes in the summer. We also started playing Pokemon Go together (a hack to get her out and ride the bike more). We programmed her first website (which is regularly updated, but I don't feel confident in sharing here) and once the nights got longer, we even made some trips in American Truck Simulator.
  • Did a lot of photography in the first half of the year. It's an old hobby of mine which I picked back up. Because of life, I spent less time taking photos in the second half of the year. Looking forward to picking it back up soon! Some of the pictures are on Instagram, if you're interested.
  • I made an effort to get back in touch with people I once was friends but somehow lost contact with and also to stay more in contact with close friends. While there is a lot of room for improvement, I'm happy I at least have this on my radar. I think I may need to use a system to be more successful.

Side projects

  • The project I worked on with the most consistency is this website. I launched a rebuild of it early this year and added more and more features over the year as I saw need. Most notable, there now is the Garden and my reading notes. There were other features that I briefly added and removed again, like bookmarks. I also used this site a lot to test out interesting products, like TinaCMS or Supabase.
  • I did a bunch of writing this year. Even though I set out to do better, the biggest part of what I write stays private: A lot of notes (that I try to publish in the garden whenever I have time), journal entries or just free writing. I also filled a few paper notebooks this year. Very happy with that, gives me a lot of clarity in my head. Could use more clarity still, though. I terms of numbers, I wrote 21 articles this year on here, which is way short of the "one article a week" goal I've had for a few years now, but it's also the year I published the most yet, so the direction seems right.
  • As for actual projects, there were a few. I tipped my toes into game development again in a few languages (rust, typescript) and engines (godot). I liked it, but eventually always found something more interesting related to the web. Maybe some day I'll finish a game. None of the projects are actually finished (of course), but a few I like are:
    • Carpedi: A todo-app that will delete your tasks after a day (after the approach Jason Fried shared in an interview I read a few years ago)
    • copy-current-url: A chrome extension that clones the nice Arc feature where you can copy the current url with a key combination (when switching between Arc and Chrome, this was the feature I was missing most
    • click-clack: A typing test I build mostly because I wondered how one would build such a thing
    • ictl (I'll check that later): A bookmarking service that I'd like to use (but is not very usable in it's current state, I only just started it)
  • I read a lot this year. I think the biggest part was essays and articles on the web, but also a few books. While the quantity of books I read was lower than in previous years, I feel like the quality of my reading was much better: I took more notes and remembered more of what I read. A positive development. My favorite book was No Rules Rules.


I started working at Gigs in November 2022, so this was my first full year and boy did I enjoy it. I'm not sure into how much detail I am allowed to get here, so I'll keep this somewhat general. I was able to be part of some interviews, I was able to onboard a colleague, I got more comfortable in sharing small videos of what I built and writing internal blog posts about what we did in our team. We shipped some exciting features and had more public appearances. It's the most interesting job I ever had and I'm beyond excited to see where we're heading next year (we're hiring, btw).


  • I got Covid for the first time in early April. The sick period as it was pretty mild, however, I dealt with fatigue for a few month. Got my second infection a few weeks ago, so far no longer lasting symptoms.
  • Got into a good running habit in the summer for a few months. Unfortunately, did not keep it up.


  • Spent some time in Berlin earlier this year to meet some people in the office. I arrived on a weekend so I had a full Sunday for myself (which doesn't really happen anymore once you have kids). Spent the day walking through Berlin, drinking coffee and listening to an audiobook or in a cafe reading. Also had the chance to work from our Berlin office, which is always pleasant to do.
  • Took a work trip to Portugal in March. The retreat was great, unfortunately did not get to see too much of Portugal. Planned to stay in Porto for a few more days, but unfortunately caught Covid, so I did not really see much of the city.
  • Went on a short vacation with friends to northern France in the summer, to a small town named Cucq. There was nothing spectacular around, but it was a nice trip with great people. We went sledding in the dunes!
  • At the very end of the year, we decided we need to see something different after being sick for 4 weeks straight and spent a few days on a lovely farm in the Netherlands called Huize Blokland. It was a great stay, especially with kids as we were allowed to explore around the farm freely and the hosts were lovely. Unfortunately, we had to cut this trip short because the youngest one got sick.

Tough times

There were a bunch of tough times throughout the year that allowed me to grow as a person. Most memorable are the ~2 months early in my wife's pregnancy where she was tied to the bed most of the time. I somehow managed to get work, taking care of our daughter (who wasn't in daycare) and my wife and the housekeeping done. Not only did I manage it, I also created some of the best memories with my daughter in this time as well as shipped some complex features at work.
There are a lot of situations, once you become a parent, that you would say are not possible to handle when laid out to you by someone else, but if you have to do it, you just make it work somehow because there is no other option. This is one of them.

In general, I'm very content with my mindset towards troubling times. I'm not nearly as resilient as I'd like to be, but I approach those situation with a constrictive mindset and embrace them as chances to grow.


As I try to be mindful with where I spend my money and what things I accumulate (I'm failign miserably if you ask my wife), it's fair to also reflect on things that I enjoy having spent money on and things that I regret spending money on.

Best purchases

  • Tumble Dryer. Not sure how we managed to live before, but especially now with a newborn again, it's so convenient to throw towels and bodies in the laundry and have them clean and ready to use the same day. The alternative would have been to buy a lot more items to make sure we always have some available while others hang to dry.
  • My Fixed Gear Bike. I was using an old fitness bike for chores and to get around town. I started watching a lot of Fixie videos and decided to buy an entry level one. Really enjoy the simplicity of it.

Worst Purchases

  • Switch Lite. Thought it would be great for the new Zelda but I used it for maybe an hour or two before I sold it. I get why people like the switch, it's just not for me.
  • The Ergodox EZ. While I've written about how much I liked it before, I eventually sold that unit when it became too much about configuring my tool and less about the outcome of what I was using it for. Late this year I had the idea that I just did not do it right the last time and bought a cheap one off eBay again. Turns out it's still the same: I like the idea of it, I can see how it can be a powerful tool, but I feel like it's getting in the way of what I really try to achieve. Sold it with a small profit at least.
© 2024 Chris Jarling