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2015 review

Recap of my year 2015, from tech and non tech perspective

This is my review of 2015 and the things I want to change or improve in 2016. I was thinking about this and I wrote it down, so here we go:

Done in 2015

Technical stuff

  • Improved my Erlang. Although I had been writing Erlang for some time, this year has been the first one Erlang has become a first class citizen in my toolbelt. It is quite cool because it complements very nicely other technologies we had been using. I open sourced Carotene from the work we had been doing in other projects, and also wrote a side project (a game) I want to launch soon. Having access to the kind of problems Erlang solves and being confortable and productive with the language has become unvaluable.

  • Started with React.js and loving it. We had been doing Backbone.js and some Angular, but this year I tried React.js, I liked it, and started using it for new projects. I tend to have several small side-projects I work on, where I can try new technologies, or languages, or whatever. Some of them are for learning German, or to keep tracking of my guitar learning process. Anything works if the scope is very small and has some utility. Then if I like something, I go deeper into it and finally I use it in real projects. This approach keeps me engaged, it is fun and very productive, so maybe you want to try it. I started using React with this process.

  • NodeTclTk. It is a small project but I really like it and want to continue working on it. It basically lets you write desktop apps in tcl/tk from node.js. It had been a long time since the last time I wrote C++ (the first programming language I learnt), but I really liked write some C++ again for this node extension. I have cool plans for this library, and I hope to work on this in 2016.

  • Did more training. This year we did more training in companies, apart from conferences. I like this kind of work, I find it fun (although exhausting). I did for instance a traning in PcComponentes, Spanish leader e-commerce for technologie and electronic gadgets. It is very nice to see projects like Symfony 2, that you started using before the stable release, being adopted by huge companies.

  • Two games for Ludum Dare. Technically the first one was done in December 2014, but I will include it here. We participated twice in Ludum Dare, creating two games in 72 hours each with Unity and it was a blast. We also did our own graphics and music, which was even more amusing. They are Dock and Cover and Project Pigeon.

  • One of our projects, that started as a side project, scaled to 13 million pageviews and 5 million users a month, and I managed the infrastructure. I had been for some time reading about scalability, but when the traffic arrived only applying common sense, Varnish and Redis here and there it scaled pretty well, so in some sense it was a bit disappointing, because I was expecting to face dragons and it was quite smooth.

  • For one of our clients, we wrote an expert system, where the program creates a diet from a database from a set of rules that mimic the work of a real dietician, keeping in mind a lot of factors. Being used to web stuff, doing this kind ok work was refreshing and at the end it is more rewarding to succeed doing something new than doing something you are used to.

Rest of life

  • Kept reading. I like to read, but if don’t do it for a while I lose some focus and start thinking about programming in the middle of a page. Reading regulary helps with this. I ended up reading 55 books this year.

  • Run my second half-marathon, in less than 2 hours (1:59!). I am not really trying to improve this, I just run twice a week 8km i a pace I am confortable with, but once a year I like to do a race, just because it is fun.

  • Rowed half of the island of Menorca in a kayak. This was very cool. We rented a kayak and just stopped when we wanted to, slept on the beach, and keep rowing the next morning. I think I will do it again this year. Maybe the whole island.

  • Started improving my strength with this routine. I like this kind of routines because I can do them without equipment, even if I am traveling, like during these Christmas. It improves my general strength and specially in the lower back an abs area. Doing this thing has almost removed the back pains I had started to develop due to lack of exercise.

Things I want to do in 2016

Tech stuff

  • More d3.js. I have been using it for a project, but I would like to do interactive charts and diagrams about some topics I am interested in. We did in 2010 and we liked it, so doing this kind of things with d3 with modern techniques would be awesome. I have starting to compile a list of charts I would like to do.

  • Write 2d games. I want to do a 2d game in a Ludum Dare during 2016. 3d with Unity was fun, but, for small projects, I think 2d and traditional pixel art is more expressive than the 3d models I can do with Blender in two hours. I don’t like so much the various frameworks I have tried, so, what i would really like is to write a small library that allows me to do simple games. I used SDL (more than 10 years ago though), so that could be a start, maybe compiling with emscripten to JavaScript. Who knows.

Rest of life

  • Improve my German. Although I can read books and newspapers with not much effort, to be fluent I will have to push it a bit harder. At the moment I notice that when I watch a movie with subtitles I understand most of it half a second later. So, my reading is quite good, but listening and speaking not so much. To learn German I have been reading and memorizing poetry, things that I like, but I guess I will have to go outside and speak more with people :)

  • Go to more tech meetups. Also related, I have a tendency to just stay at home programming or reading. I want to go to attend more meetups this year.

  • Go to art exhibits. Being exposed to art just elevates the spirit. If have weeks where I work, and then after working or during the weekends I program more for fun. Although I like it, if I do it during more than 10 days in a row, I start dreaming about programming, and I see the world like I am in a tunnel. To escape, what works better for me is to be exposed to art. I tend to read, but I would like to go more to the temporary art exhibits in Munich.

  • Keep working on my general fitness. I want to become stronger! I would like to do one hand push ups, freestanding handstands, and L-sits. If I do these, I will buy a pair of gymasting rings, it looks like fun. I also want to improve my flexibility.

  • Improve my guitar skills. The first part of the year I didn’t play so much, but after the summer I have catched up. I can play most songs if I have the tablature. I would like to have 20 songs that I can play blindfolded and start working on transcribing and improvising a bit.

  • Write more in this blog. I think a lot about things I would like to write about, tutorials and so on, and I have even written some but at the end I don’t finsih and publish them, I just start doing something else. I want to change this.