2018: Year in Review

I filled 2018 with learning, reading, and projects.

Teaching, Tinkering, Programming

After starting a new position in December 2017, I started a second position as a Teaching Assistant at a Coding Bootcamp teaching web development. I haven’t taught computer programming formallly since college, so this opportunity reminded me how satisfying teaching is. I look forward to teaching more in the new year.

Also on the web, I re-designed my personal site using Jekyll and helped re-launch the Utopian Slingshot site. After years on WordPress, the migration to the so-called JAMstack was refreshing.

I spent a good deal of time tinkering, particularly with IoT technology. Configuring these devices reminds me how easily humans adapt to our circumstances. Shouting across the room for Alexa to turn on a light or the television is now part of my routine.

IoT also inspired a Halloween project: creating a Skull-version of Alexa, complete with custom wake word. For a first Raspberry Pi project, I was satisfied with the results. For a software-person, hardware and system hacking presented novel challenges.

Skull Alexa

Following my Raspberry Pi project, I began to learn more Unix fundamentals. A happy consequence has been my adoption of Vim and tmux as a development toolset. Although I still break out VS Code on occassion, I’ve learned to love how Vim is optimized for editing text. It’s a rare treat to find a tool that empowers the way Vim does.

Editing this post in Vim

Side Projects, Hackathons

A few fun side projects included writing a clone of Lunar Lander in JavaScript from scratch, starting a repository to track snippets, and prototyping a virtual-reality scene builder.

I was also excited to participate in two hackathons this year. The real fun of hackathons, it turns out, is meeting people and navigating the wonderful mix of skills, experiences, and perspectives.

Books

I read 22 books in 2018. A few of my favorites were:

  • East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

Steinbeck’s rich, American epic, East of Eden propelled itself into the position of my favorite book. I also conquered Moby Dick, that classic Whale-tale after weeks of battle. I’m happy to have read both.

Films

I watched 51 movies in 2018.

The Favourite, Annihilation, and Isle of Dogs were favorites from 2018.

I filled in a few cinematic blind-spots by watching classics, like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Dr. Strangelove, Brazil, and There Will Be Blood, as well.

Conclusion

Overall, I learned a lot in 2018 – from fundamentals like networking, testing, and technical communication to specific tools like Docker, Laravel, and Drupal. I also met new people, visited great friends, and enjoyed establishing myself in a new community. I look forward to what 2019 may bring.

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