Programmer's resolutions - 2014 report

links, 2014, lists

As Matthew Might posted a traditional link to his 12 resolutions for programmers again today, I remembered I retweeted it a year ago as well, so naturally I got curious about how many of them did I actually fulfil in 2014. Here is what I could recall:

1 - Go Analog

The first point is also the easiest: 2014 was my first year as a parent which I think alone is enough to safely tick it off.

I still want to mention though that in 2014 my third year of boxing training has begun - and while I hit the gym less often than before Anthony was born (something to correct in the next 365 days), I didn't drop out.

Now the next 11 points are going to be tougher.

2 - Stay Healthy

Well, despite exercising less often than in 2013 and being less careful with my diet, I didn't put on much weight.

I did suffer recurring back pain (which was probably a consequence of the light injury) though. It was also the first time in the UK when I decided to make use of my private health insurance, and to be honest my experience was just awful. Not sure about other providers, but sorting out a claim with PruHealth easily takes just as long as the NHS queue plus you get a lot of headache in the process.

I also got cold at least 2 or 3 times, last time sneezing through my Christmas holidays. This is something I need to tackle in 2015 as well by getting a flu jab, taking vitamins or doing other stuff a responsible adult is supposed to do.

3 - Embrace the uncomfortable

Not sure if that counts, but I experimented with working and leasuring on the same PC by carrying my laptop to work for almost a year (something I have never done before). At first it seemed like a very good idea, but then I decided that benefits do not outweight the extra weight (no pun intended) in the bag.

I am back to a separate workstation, but now I can choose from experience. Another change was switching from a development VM to local setup (in Windows, while our production is running Linux). I still test everything in the VM, but an additional testing step was there anyway, and the development itself just seems more natural that way now (plus it's an extra diffrent environment to test the application in).

I also started wearing watches which I haven't done since I got my first mobile phone. It started with me fishing for a specific model on eBay (and succeeding) for a present, then I decided to try wearing one of those obsolete single-function devices, and now I have 4 watches, one of which I have customized myself (rendering it hardly usable in the process, but nevertheless), another being my grandfather's watch which old ruined movement I finally got replaced, and another being an automatic (earlier, the last thing I could imagine buying).

4 - Learn a new programming language

Not really. I took a Scala course online, but as it didn't result in any finished code apart from course test tasks, that probably doesn't count.

5 - Automate

Err, programming-wise - probably not beyond what was directly required by the nature of the project I worked on (some of its implemented features actually were automated versions of the legacy processes requiring manual intervention, but that was not my own initiative).

Everything else - well, a remotely controlled sound system is here since it's mentioned, but that's solely thanks to Spotify new update.

And since 'syncing' is on the list as well, my phone now syncs with my laptop automatically through BitTorrent (camera content, sketches, scanned PDFs and everything else go to neatly nested folders or to OneDrive.

6 - Learn more mathematics

Zero here which is a real shame. Especially considering that it's for the second time in my life (and for the first time in the last 10 years) when I feel that the lack of the maths knowledge really holds me back at work. Definitely something to pay attention to (even returning to a fraction of my uni level would be an great improvement).

I did somewhat advance in other sciences though, but that didn't have any direct implications on my work and life.

7 - Focus on security

Wasn't an achievement of 2014, but through the last year I continued sticking to 'every login gets its own unique random password' practice which I now find very comfortable.

I have set up 2-step verification for my every account that allows that, got a hardware USB token for Google and printed out reserve codes for others. I also advocate for 2-step verification at work, and maybe our product will finally get it in 2015.

If that's worth mentioning, in 2014 I have also got a personal VPN.

I didn't encrypt my Android phone though and my Kindle isn't password-protected.

8 - Backup your data

My documents still go to OneDrive and photos to Flickr, and everything to my external HDD, but that it what everyone does now.

One well put thought I came across in 2014 was that "There is no cloud. Just other people's computers." Not sure if I'm getting a proper NAS this year, but this is something on my ToDo list.

9 - Learn more theory

Another point that makes me sad, but still I got deeper into functional programming in 2014 than ever before (although still splashing in shallow water) and read a couple of CS papers.

10 - Engage the art and humanities

I almost stopped going to organised sketchcrawls and drawing meetups (the same lack of time plus the novelty wearing off), but I got a Samsung Note phone with precision stylus support and started sketching more often on the Tube since unlike a notepad and pencils it is always with me. While even that technology doesn't offer as much precision as a cheap pencil, I quickly got used to features like layers and undo (both helped me greatly with quick portraits which is now my favourite genre).

According to clippings.io, I have finished about 15 books in 2014, mostly non-fiction (history, memoirs, popular science). Four of them that I liked most:

11 - Learn new software

Almost nothing to write here, my daily used set of applications remained the same through just another year. I even keep using Total Commander!

12 - Complete a personal project

The only thing which vague resembled a personal project was a quick hack I put up at NHS Hack Day in Leeds which was about grabbing a screen from a third party application and annotating it with some meta data from a bar code scanner. The code was built in such a rush and was so hideous though that won't even link to it.


Now looking at all these points again it is easy to tell I can do better. Here is to 2015!