2013 in Review

Jan 01 2014 Published by under General

For the last few years I’ve done a year in review type of post near the end of the year. I guess I blew that already. But January 1st isn’t a bad time to do it.


2013 brought a big change for me. After almost 6 years of working at Infrared5, I left there to work at Disney Interactive. It was a tough decision. I started at IR5 because the people there were my friends. And more friends arrived over the years. But the company had started as a Flash shop and with the slow decline of Flash, I felt it was facing an identity crisis. Long story short, I felt I was stagnating there the last year or two and needed to move on.

Moving from a small company to a massive one like Disney is tough. Oddly, I find myself back doing a lot of Flash work. But really touching all kinds of stuff – Objective-C, C++, C#, JavaScript, Unity, Java. For a month or so I became the go-to Jenkins guy, setting up build servers for a bunch of different teams. That was a lot of fun. It can get a bit frustrating being on a massive team where you only own a small portion of the code and other people are working on other parts. I honestly prefer smaller projects that I can start from scratch, do the architecture and then start fleshing it out, with another person or two helping to do parts. Thus far at Disney I’ve mostly been jumping around assisting in ongoing projects for a few weeks to months. A kind of strike force of one. But when I’m done with the current project I’m on, I have a project lined up for 2014 that I’m very excited to get onto. Nothing hugely glamorous, but something I’ll be able to start up myself and be a lead on.

Other than work, I’ve started a couple other projects. Of course there was Playing With Chaos. That took up a few months of my spare time, but was a ton of fun and hugely satisfying to be able to pull off the self-publishing of a book. One thing I’ve realized publishers are good for is publicizing your book and driving sales. So it hasn’t exactly been a runaway best seller, but honestly, I don’t think it was ever destined to be. It’s a niche title. A labor of love.

And I started the Coding Math video series. This has also been very satisfying and keeps me excited on a weekly basis, planning out new subjects, writing scripts, recording and editing. I’m almost at the point where my own voice in my own ears doesn’t sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. And learning lots about the process as well. I can see myself that the quality of the videos has come way up since the first one, but still has a long way to go.

Earlier in the year, I decided to build an arcade cabinet. This never fully materialized, but did spark a new interest in woodworking and an old interest in electronics. I dabbled in both a bit, but both got pushed aside when I started working flat out on Playing With Chaos. But both will come in handy for a new project I’ll be doing this year…

Personally, things are good. I ran my third marathon on my birthday in October. It wasn’t my best, but not my worst either. Since that race, running has taken a back seat for me. Marathon training is a four-month process that takes a lot out of you. I’ve gone through it three times in the last two years.So the last month or two I’ve taken a break. I’ve also gained some weight. So I start this year temporarily in the worst shape I’ve been in in a couple of years! But still, it’s better shape than I was in the previous 10 years.

I got a dog! I never was much of a dog person. Could take them or leave them. Some people at my last job believed I hated dogs. Not true. There were something like 5-6 dogs in the office and it was a major distraction all too often. Anyway, my daughter Kris has been dying for a husky for years. I kept saying no. My wife was on the fence. She finally joined my daughter’s side and they ganged up on me. So now we have a husky named Yuki. They promised to do all the work, including taking her for long walks twice a day. Of course, at this point, I am the chief dog walker. But this has had its benefits. At any rate, Yuki has totally changed our lives and is a really awesome addition to the family and home.

A husky needs a lot of walking. So I’m out with her 30-45 minutes or longer twice a day. This has lead to a couple of new hobbies. One is history. I’ve been into audiobooks for a while, listening during my long runs. But I started listening to history lectures from The Great Courses. You can get many of them on Audible.com and I can also get a lot from the library as well. (Side note: my use of the library has rocketed since I discovered that you can go on line and search for and order books, movies, and audiobooks from a huge network of libraries around greater Boston and suburbs. I can find almost anything if I’m willing to wait a week or three.) I’ve listened to a couple about the American Revolution, the Rise and Fall of the British Empire, The Fall and Rise of China, and the Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism in Russia. On deck are ones on Hitler’s empire, more about China, and the French revolution. And a few non-history subjects I wanted to learn about. It’s been a fantastic learning experience so far, and I’m able to bore my family to death with fascinating (to me) facts.

Also, while walking the dog at night, I started looking up in the sky. When I started, I could recognize the Big Dipper and Orion. And from the Big Dipper, I could sometimes locate the North Star. The rest was just random specs of light. But they were up there every night so I started looking closer. Tried a few different star chart apps, and settled on Stellarium. I just use the desktop app, spot a few things to look for before I go out, try to find them while I’m walking the dog, spot some other patterns while I’m out there and try to figure out what those were when I come back in. I have an app on my phone too, but it’s tough to use when you’re walking a dog and listening to history lectures. 🙂 I got up to the point where I could find and name more than a dozen constellations and more than a dozen stars as well as other features, including Jupiter and Venus. This past week I started thinking of getting a telescope to take things to the next level. Much of what I read said to start with binoculars. So I got a half decent pair and took them out last night with my daughter. Holy cow! The moons of Jupiter, the Andromeda galaxy, the Orion nebula! I’m now honing up on telescope basics and reviews. I need one.


So what’s in store this year?

1. I’d like to get out a printed version of Playing With Chaos. This requires formatting a decent PDF version, which I may sell directly in addition to the Amazon sales.

2. I have another self-publishing book idea that I started working on. This will be smaller and probably even more niche, but it has to be done. More on that if and when it moves forward.

3. Of course, I’ll be continuing on with the Coding Math series. Currently this is my top priority.

4. As hinted to above, I have another project in mind that will make use of both my electronics and woodworking skills (minor though they both may be). I’ve gotten started on this, but have some parts on order, will need to order more, and then will have various fabrication issues to work out. Taking this one slowly, but will report when there’s something to share.

5. More learning, learning, learning. Stars, planets, history, technology, etc.

To sum it up, I quote from the best New Year’s resolution tweet I’ve ever seen:

My new year’s resolutions:

1. Read
2. Write
3. Execute



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