Two years have gone by since I last sat down to write for this blog, but now seems as good a time as any to provide some kind of update in the form of reflection.

This year I moved cities and changed jobs while trying to figure out what on earth I actually want in my career direction. In some ways I feel like I am still reeling from the move at the start of the year, even though not a lot has really changed in the time since.

I tried my hand at livecoding on Twitch for a couple of months while working on an entry for GB Compo 23. It was enjoyable enough - though my viewership was quite limited, it was nice to see a few viewers repeatedly watch my streams. What I realised though was that more than the livestreaming itself, what I enjoyed most was actually having dedicated time set aside to work on my hobby projects, which made me feel much more productive. Ultimately, I stopped streaming as the competition deadline approached, deciding that if I wanted to actually finish something submittable on time, then the added load of streaming the process was not very tenable. I spent the last month rapidly piecing together the bare essentials of a Gameboy RPG for submission.

The end result was Skeleton Crew, a very minimalistic but functional RPG that tasks the player with navigating a small dungeon and engaging in turn-based fights along the way. Nikku4211 provided music for the game which definitely helped it feel a lot more ‘real’. While the game lacks much flair I’m quite happy with how it turned out; it was a big learning experience for writing Gameboy games in C, and getting the full range of functionality like menus, saving/loading, and all the combat logic together felt like a big accomplishment to me.

As mentioned, I changed jobs about halfway through this year, but as time goes by I still find myself dissatisfied with the overall state of my career. I have been really struggling to put my finger on what is wrong or what I would like to change in order to regain my zeal for my work. Currently, I theorise that my issue lies in having pigeon-holed myself into SaaS product companies for too long. I’ve lost sight of what I really enjoy about programming - facing new problems, discovering new tech, and learning ways of doing things that I had never necessarily thought possible previously. I want to take time to explore new areas of programming, away from my usual haunts of .NET. I’ve been reading Crafting Interpreters by Robert Nystrom, a frankly excellent book on language design, and am eager to jump into more books that expand my technical knowledge. I also want to explore embedded programming more - taking my experience from the Gameboy and applying it to some more employable skills like programming microcontrollers and electronics projects.

I travelled to Japan in October with my wife, and had an excellent time there. Everyone always says Japan is great, and they are right. It can be quite crowded with tourists now but it is still worth it.

I kept an eye out for cheap second-hand consoles while I was there, and didn’t have much luck, but I did manage to find a PSP for the reasonable price of about $70AUD - having never owned one before, I’m really enjoying exploring the PSP library and customising the console with custom firmware.

My Raspberry Pi that I set up to serve this website two years ago is still going strong. We experienced some brief downtime while I moved houses, but when we got to the new place, all I had to do was connect it up and it was back online in no time. I think that’s really neat. I also still really enjoy the thought that for every hit to my website, you’re connecting directly to my home. Somehow, it makes this site feel more personal.

I don’t know how practical it is, but I would still like to try homelabbing at some point, and set up a mini server rack at home. I’m not entirely sure what I would do with it, but I think it would be fun to have multiple servers for different purposes operating out of my home.

I’ve been trying to read more books, mainly in the sci-fi genre, which I find the most attention-grabbing. I think I’m most attracted to the more classic sci-fi books, since it’s interesting to see how they underpin many of the popular sci-fi tropes of today, and as such as I’ve been very slowly making my way through Dune, which has been taking me more than a year now. It’s a book that I struggle to decide if I like or dislike - I find the general setting very interesting, along with the broad political intrigue that plays out between its primary Houses, while I find the actual story of the protagonist Paul and his exploits to be silly and/or dull at times. I am determined to finish it in any case, and only have a quarter of the book left, though I know not when I’ll next find the willpower to pick it up and begin the home stretch.

Meanwhile, I have resolved to not let that block me from reading other books, and I have recently been reading 2001: A Space Odyssey, yet another classic that I’ve not read before. In contrast to Dune, Space Odyssey is an easier read by many orders of magnitude, which feels very refreshing. While a lot of its ideas feel quite played-out by today’s standards, it does not dwell on any individual concept for too long before exploring something new, which keeps it engaging.

Well, that about sums up what sits on the top of my mind when looking back at this year. There is not much in the way of connective thread running between this year’s events - this year has felt quite jumbled for me, and I know not what to expect of where things shall be in another year’s time.