Content tagged 2015
Recreation and Balance
For years, I've been focused on production. Even my "relaxing" activities aside from throwing dinner parties or going to concerts with friends have been productive in nature.
- Open Source
- Trying to Make Music
- Pseudo-Competitive Smash Brothers Melee
You get the idea. For the past 5 years or so, I've been terrible at doing things purely for recreation and fun. I struggle not to think of it as "wasting time". I'm always anxious about my technical abilities, my ability to find employment, my preparedness for the future. Rationally, I know that's all pretty ridiculous but I struggle to unwind all the same.
Work life balance has for a while seemed a relic of a bygone era. But I want to turn that around this year. Ironically, I've worked more 50 and 60+ hour weeks this year than any previous one. It turns out becoming responsible for the education of 15 people in a 12-week programming bootcamp is pretty demanding. That's why I'm listing these purely recreational goals to try and commit myself to doing some things just for fun.
- The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
- One of Idoru or Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
- One of Redemption Ark by Alistair Reynolds or The Player of Games by Iain Banks
- Prince of Persia journals
- One of Transmetropolitan / Y: The Last Man
- Retro/Kickstarted: Hyper Light Drifter
- New Adventure: One of Rime or Legend of Zelda Wii U
- Nostalgia: One of Ocarina of Time, Fez, or Pokemon Red/Blue
- Sci-fi: One of SW: KoToR or Mass Effect
- Fantasy: Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy IX or Earthlock
- Magic: Play more Magic the Gathering with James, spend money on cards. Be a kid.
- Watch at least 2 documentaries about creative passions: Cooking, Indie Games, etc
- Game Loading?
- Mind of a Chef?
- No Map for these Territories?
- One of Modulations / Hi-Tech Soul
- Take at least one trip to the beach for no less than 5 days.
- Take at least one trip to see: James, Burke, or Justin.
I've been in a technical rut for a while. Sure, I learned new things at my job but limited myself outside of it by sticking to projects I wasn't motived about and only working with tools I was familiar with.
As much as anything, 2015 is going to be about playing with new projects, experimenting with new tools, and focusing on fundamentals again. Seeing as I have 3 big goals here, I might just try to tackle one each semester. :)
To that end, my primary goal will be to learn Ocaml and build something cool with it. I'm leaving that just as open ended as it sounds.
I'm interested in Ocaml for a variety of reasons. Its origin dates from a time before Intel and Microsoft created a 20-year dominant platform. It was envisioned as a systems language, much like Lisp, to compete with C++.
That said, it employs pattern matching and a strong, static type system like Haskell. Unlike Haskell, it has a fairly simple runtime and compiler built to give very clear intuition about code performance. While Ocaml is strongly functional, it provides for use of imperative state without monad machinations (sorry @James).
There are other reasons but I think this is a good start. I'd be interested in everything from writing an IRC bot, to scripting tasks, to NES reverse engineering tools (i.e. lots of graph manipulation), to OpenMirage toys.
I've leaned towards backend work in my career where possible. After helping TA Tim's Frontend engineering course last semester I finally want to pick up some front end skills. I'm not angling to get much better from a design or HTML/CSS perspective, but have a definite interest in mithril and Clojurescript's om. Elm also seems really cool but I'd prefer to stick to slightly less alien tech for the time being.
I'm considering porting my Nintendo emulator to Clojurescript and getting it to use canvas but I worry about getting bogged down as I did with the Lisp version. It was fairly painless getting a rough cl-6502 port up in Clojurescript in a few days though.
To be honest, my algorithms chops have never been terribly good. I think one thing that's intimidated me working on trowel is a lack of confidence in my algorithmic reasonining. So I'll be working through the latest edition of Sedgewick's Algorithms with a particular focus on graphs. With any luck I'll actually make some progress on trowel. Maybe I'll even wire it to an om app with some logic programming or constraint propagation tricks.
I've got plenty of things to work on in 2015 so I'm breaking this into a sequence of posts based on subject. I'd like to broadly note that for my first semester (roughly January through March) I might barely get anything done and that is okay. I've never taught before and I expect that learning curve to take up most of my time until early April. Now without any further ado ...
A Few Goals for 2015
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