Wrapping 2k23

Published at December 29, 2023, 12:26 GMT+0
An image depicting the word "2k23" is getting wrapped inside a box. The best box I have ever drawn.
An image depicting the word "2k23" is getting wrapped inside a box. The best box I have ever drawn.

Yesterday was still January, wasn’t it? Time flies. Next year my age will start with the number 3, but I guess I’m 29 until I’m 30. I feel old now. Anyway, let’s get to the main menu, shall we?

At the time of writing, these were the things that I recalled happening this year:

  • First playthrough of Final Fantasy X
  • Started a lead role at AccelByte
  • Learning more about making a compromise
  • Learning more about giving feedback

There was one thing that unfortunately didn’t happen this year: I didn’t get selected to speak at an international conference. It will remain one of my targets for next year. Now, let’s start!

First playthrough of Final Fantasy X

Okay, this is maybe my highlight of the year. I played Final Fantasy X (FFX) for the first time! At the best time of the year too—around April—a fasting month for Muslim folks. I interpret FFX as a game that is all about defying a de facto religion, so I find my play timing is very memorable given that Ramadan is a holy month in Islam.

Zanarkand Ruins, which shows up in FFX opening before reaching the main menu.
Zanarkand Ruins, which shows up in FFX opening before reaching the main menu.

The world in FFX is called Spira. People in Spira follow Yevon’s teachings, in what could be perceived as their religion, where Yevon is their god. Across the region, there are a lot of temples that people can use to pray and in those selfsame temples, summoners can obtain aeon by communicating with the fayth in each temple. Aeon is some kind of divine beast whereas fayth is some kind of statue that preserves one’s soul.

Anyway, I fear that it’s going to be super long if I write about my full playthrough here, so perhaps I’ll explain it at another time, but playing FFX has made me more… liberal (not sure if I can find a better word). I question my religion more and perhaps in questioning my religion more, I become more steadfast in some aspects while becoming doubtful in other aspects.

One of the other aspects is “how revered parents are in Islam”. In Indonesia (at least), parents are mega-revered. Unfortunately, due to that fact and Islam’s teachings, a lot of parents abuse their power and become a dictator in their families. If their children raise concerns against them, then their children will be labeled “insolent” or worse, “disobedient”. Worst, in Islam, disobedient children are sentenced to hell because God’s happiness towards someone depends on their parents’ happiness.

In other words, if our parents are happy, then most likely we will be speedrunning to heaven. But, what is the parameter of the happiness of our parents? We don’t know, that’s the thing. What if they are only happy if we only say “yes” to them? In doing so, we won’t develop our brains. People say that family is the place where one can develop a lot of things, especially communication. If we only say “yes” to our parents, how do we make sure that the world won’t abuse us? Parents say that the outside world is more unforgiving; but unfortunately, by making us only say “yes”, they are opening the way for outside people to manipulate us.

But I digress. I will continue my praise of FFX in another blog post. FFX is a great game and I got caught off guard by the ending. I knew what was coming and yet… when it finally happened, it still struck me hard. Needless to say, tears were shed. What a masterpiece.

Started a lead role at AccelByte

If you told me a few years ago that I would become a team lead at some point in the future, I would have dismissed you immediately because of your out-of-the-world claim. But hey, at the time of writing, I am now leading 5 people. Not even I could have predicted this outcome and I don’t even know how long could I sustain this, but we will see.

Personally, I don’t mind managing people (well, I mind a little bit since I’m antisocial), but it’s the tidbits that come with it that I am concerned with. I have issues with the routine of this so-called Scrum-thingy. Backlog grooming and sprint planning are so boring. I’m okay with sprint retrospectives because I love retrospectives and getting better. But for backlog grooming and sprint planning… I feel like most of it can be done asynchronously.

Imagine if everyone collaborates asynchronously before backlog grooming and sprint planning and then in the meeting, we just ask, “Are we good?” and if we are good, then we lock them and leave the meeting. Wow! That’s probably my main dislike about Scrum—it is heavy on the “synchronous” part.

I wonder why there is no one proposing this “semi-asynchronous mode” of Scrum, considering we are in the age where remote work is beginning to become popular. Or maybe it is popular, just not yet in Indonesia. I guess.

Learning more about making a compromise

This one is perhaps for more about my personal life—maybe a bit at work, too. The cases that I remember were (1) when I was arguing with my wife about something and (2) when I was being a somewhat “moderator” in an asynchronous discussion at work. Both were about reaching a consensus.

Reaching consensus is hard because sometimes there are people who maybe don’t want to see reason. In my cases above, I was lucky that I discussed with people who were not arrogant.

In me and my wife’s case, it’s about improvements, mostly. Let’s say that there are numbers 1—10. Me and my wife were at extreme ends, 1 and 10. I wanted her to move from 1 to 5, but since it was a bit too extreme, she was only able to move bit-by-bit, say, to 3. In the meantime, I also tried to move from 10 to say, 7. The intention was so it could be perceived that both I and my wife are trying (and not only her). That way, it is easier for both of us to reach a fair conclusion.

At work, it’s a bit trickier. There were people with strong arguments and both were right. My job was to ensure that their arguments were heard and from there, I tried to find a “middle ground” between them. What were the non-negotiables and what could be negotiated? It resulted in a pretty fair conclusion with consent from all parties, so I’ll take that as a win.

Learning more about giving feedback

This is related to me being a lead. As you might have known, I was not an expert in giving feedback. I learned about it a little bit at AccelByte prior to me being a manager… and now that I already am, like it or not I have to learn it so that I could help my direct reports grow.

AccelByte has a pretty good career ladder “rubric”. Well, for engineers, at least (not sure about other roles). So, I used those career ladder rubrics and made one for each of my direct reports. We do progress checkups every 3 months and see which aspects weren’t achieved before and which aspects have been achieved now, and so on, and so forth.

I also try to give feedback in other mediums as well, such as in pull requests and Slack (channel/direct messages). Hopefully, my efforts could bring good things for my direct reports.

Closing words

Yeah, not quite sure what’s my closing words this time as 2024 approaches. I guess, hopefully, I will be able to stay healthy and sane. Everything else can come afterward.