Looking back at 2023

5 minute read

2023 was not a prime year. It was divisible by 7 and 17 and by a rollercoaster, but I’ve managed to survive it.

The newest family member started walking and talking, which is/was delightful. My second newest family member started to pose simple questions requiring complicated answers, which is always challenging.

Software Engineering-wise, I am not precisely a Professional Software Engineer anymore since I switched to management years ago. But for reasons I am too afraid to admit, I still practice a technical hobby called Recreational Programming1. This means that I program for fun in my limited spare time (a few hours a week); it makes me feel nostalgic for the years when programming was not a job.

In 2023, I didn’t achieve much and blogged little, but I did a few things I am proud of:

  • I’ve finished and published an article I drafted and archived long ago called Demystifying bitwise_ operations in C. Unexpectedly, It became pretty popular and got to the first page of hn, which is always lovely, but not a purpose in itself. I also had to pay 50$ to Netlify because of the traffic it created: I’ve forgot to compress the pictures and diagrams. Lesson learned.
  • I’ve curated and solved a list of leetcode (or leetcode-like) coding challenges. I haven’t yet published this list (it sits in an excel file), and I am not sure I will even publish it, because I don’t think it’s that useful for anyone other than me. Solving lots of exercises consistently through 2023 helped me improve my programming self-esteem. I’ve also recapped concepts I haven’t touched in years (e.g., tries, heaps, backtracking, and dynamic programming). I highly recommend you do the same, even if you don’t plan to interview at MAANG or similar. My list of exercises was built around this roadmap, so check that site if you don’t already know about it.
  • I’ve finished reading this (free?!) book: THE NATURE OF CODE by Daniel Shiffman. I had fun playing with graphics, vectors, forces and (the forces of) nature. In the process I haven’t learned “pure” Processing, but I am now comfortable writing p5js javascript code. I plan to publish some of my modest creations (2d and 3d) shortly.
  • I’ve watched (the pen & paper way) two online calculus courses as my knowledge of the subject began fading away. I also discovered two tools I wish were available when I was still in school: desmos and symbolab. They are so helpful. There’s no excuse for being terrible at math nowadays, except for lousy teachers, but you have YouTube to fix that.
  • I found myself lost (again) in the rabbit hole called Fourier Analysis. The last time I got caught there was in Uni, but out of desperation to pass exams, I lost myself in grinding math without understanding the subject at a deeper level. I still don’t fully get it, but at least I can Fourier my way out of it with a low pass filter.
  • I’ve switched from MAC to Linux at home and am amazed at how things have improved since 2012, when I last used Linux Mint. Everything works smoothly, and even if things are not as polished, I feel I’m in complete control of my computational life.
  • I returned to using an RSS reader to get to valuable content hidden in the contemporary web’s noise.
  • I have shown interest in AI and LLMs for work-related tasks (outside the area of creative programming). I also dabbled into cloud technologies, but that’s not something I can develop on my blog.

From a cultural perspective, 2023 was thin. I haven’t read much, or seen impactful movies (with a few notable exceptions):

  • I was gifted the Seven Black Books of Carl Gustav Jung. Footnotes were essential for me to understand what the author had to say or what the editors thought they understood. Seeing how gifted people perceive and approach the miracle of existence is always interesting. In his quest for knowledge, Jung comes up with unique insights. I wish his journals were less heavy on unfamiliar (to myself) symbolism and less open to interpretations. I did find this YouTube Channel explaining quite a lot. All in all, I am conflicted: on the one hand, I’m not too fond of mysticism; on the other, I am attracted to it like a moth into flame.

Music-wise, in 2023, I experimented with different genres I hadn’t touched before. I am more of a prog-rock guy, but 2023 was the year of alternative rock, punk, and the aesthetics of the 80s. My favorite tracks of 2023 (as reported by Spotify are):

  1. Bahaus - All we ever wanted
  2. Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Coming Home)
  3. The Clash - Train in Vain (Stand by Me)
  4. The Lemonheads - Mrs. Robinson
  5. The Fall - Big New Prinz HD
  6. The Cure - Lovesong
  7. Sad Lovers & Giants - Lope
  8. Carl Barat - Grimaldi
  9. Pulp - Common People
  10. The Feelies - Loveless Love
  11. The Veils - Jesus For The Jugular
  12. Peter Murphy - I’ll fall with your knife
  13. Arctic Monkeys - Four Out Of Five
  14. Gang Of Four - Damaged Goods
  15. The Specials - Ghost Town
  16. Brant Bjork - Radio Mecca
  17. Babyshambles - Beg, Steal or Borrow
  18. The Libertines - Up The Bracket
  19. Queens of the Stone Age - The Vampyre of Time and Memory
  20. Morrisey - Rebels without applause
  21. Editors - An End Has A Start
  22. Iggy Pop - Loves Missing
  23. Rome - To Die Among Strangers
  24. Killing Joke - Eighties
  25. DIIV - Doused
  26. Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut
  27. Lord Huron - The World Ender
  28. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
  29. The Pigeon Detectives - Romantic Type
  30. Madensuyu - Give
  31. Something You Can’t See (Audio) - Desert Sessions Vol. 12
  32. Talking Heads - Psycho Killer
  33. Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
  34. Them Crooked Vultures - No One Loves Me and Neither Do I
  35. The Strokes - Heart In A Cage

Bye 2023!

1I’ve first heard about Recreational Programming by watching @tsoding, and it made sense.