Laura Kalbag

My 2018

My first yearly roundup since my 2015 roundup. I’ve blogged over the last three years, so I needn’t summarise the last three years. Just 2018. My initial thoughts on 2018 were “I’ve not done enough.” But, actually, thinking back on it, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

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One of the reasons I felt behind on work was because of how much travelling I’ve done. We started the year in Ghent, working on the Indienet initiative. Working with the folks in Ghent, and travelling for conferences really dominated the first few of months of 2018.

In March, we moved from Malmö in Sweden to Cork in Ireland. And over 2018, we settled in far quicker than we did in Malmö. Being closer to the UK meant I returned more often to see my family, and it was easier for us to return to North East England for my grandfather’s funeral in November. Travelling is still utterly exhausting, I’ll never be good at it. But I’ve been learning better not to plan too much and burn out too hard with each trip.

The second half of 2018 was dominated by Better. Ahead of our releasing redesigned apps for iOS and macOS in September, I stepped up my work on Better’s blocking rules to try to publish new rules every couple of weeks (which ended up being fairly all-encompassing). This resulted in a lot of ranting and griping on social media whenever I had to block another awful tracker, or work my way around a site’s unethical attempts to block blockers. But it did give me more insight into how trackers work, how the businesses behind them operate, and how an extraordinary number of developers deploy prototyping code to live sites.

I don’t set New Year goals anymore. Just going to try to keep on keeping on. Trying to be better and trying to do better. (Pun not intended!)

Photos time!


graph of Git activity showing every day of the year shaded in darker or lighter blue depending on how many contributions per day. The second half of the year has more contributions shown in dark blue. Only a few weekend days are shaded at all.

My activity in GitLab code contributions this year. Noticeably more intense in the second half of the year. Mostly successful at not working on weekends!

View of old buildings in Ghent over a canal at night.

Beautiful Ghent where we worked hard and made friends.

Oskar the huskamute standing in a field covered in snow.

Snow across Europe at the beginning of the year meant this snow dog had some fun

Me and my sister Emily sitting smiling in a helicopter.

My trip to Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand, was unbelievably brilliant. My sister Emily flew in from Sydney. We had a wonderful stay and they even flew us from my workshop to dinner in a helicopter! First helicopter trip for both of us, and one of many wonderful experiences the Webstock team gave us.

Osky on top of a mound in some sunny woods. He looks majestic.

Living near the wood in Ireland has been perfect for Osky and me

Osky looking fed up with a vet’s cone around his neck. The area around his right eye is shaved with a large stitch on his right eyelid.

In May, Osky had an operation to remove a wart from his eyelid. He looked miserable but recovered quickly!

Sam sitting across the desk from me with some recording equipment.

In May, Sam and I also started recording the audiobook for Accessibility For Everyone, which we released in August.

Me and Aral sitting on a tour boat.

In June, Aral and I did a little tour of Cork harbour. (It’s a very big harbour.)

Me, my sister Jess and my brother Sam, dressed smartly and smiling for the camera in a slightly goofy way.

One of many trips back to the UK, one time I even dressed up.

A paper bag with ‘Binifadet’ printed on the side, accompanied by fancy yellow Lavendar Lemonade drink.

I made it for three days in Menorca for my family holiday. It’s now a yearly tradition to visit Binifadet and have a nice meal to remember my mum on the anniversary of her death.

Oskar the huskamute lounging in a statuesque manner on the top of some steps, surrounded by plants and flowers.

Oskar made the most of the long summer by sunbathing. Weird snow dog.

Selfie of Aral and me in a busy bar, I’m sipping a margherita.

On our way to Newcastle for the funeral in November, we stopped off in Dublin and managed to have a little time to ourselves to celebrate Aral’s birthday.

Oskar on the top deck of a ferry, looking fed up at the camera.

We finished the year with a road/ferry trip to England with Oskar. He didn’t like the kennels on the ferry, so on the return trip we spent two hours in cold on the top deck. Fine for a snow dog.