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Life

A year in review: 2023

It feels stranger than usual to review things at the moment, as I’m starting to feel more “continuous” about the flow of time rather than discrete with jumps (as the new years and holidays and so on are happening). Thus it doesn’t feel like there’s a particular closure as the calendar year comes to the end. So it’s more of a work-in-progress, rather than anything else. Let’s see what stands out in this, and where are we going, in this year in review

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Life

Year in Review and Preview 2015/2016

Looks like I haven’t done a yearly review last year, the latest one on the blog is from the end of 2013. That’s surprising, but then it’s even more pressing to take stock of 2015 and set up the coming year.

2015 – Results

This year have seen a long trip to Europe in February (Hungary, Prague, Vienna) which definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things that I probably should have understood back in high school (especially regarding history). On the other hand, I was a visitor back in my home country Hungary too, and tried a bunch of things that I have never tried when I lived there before, been there with different eyes (and would love to spend more time home again too).

The rest of the year was spent here in Taiwan, on small trips all around the north and east coast, and around Taipei City.  A lot can fit into day trips, and it is fun to mix popular places with off the beaten track.

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Life

Another stable orbit around the Sun

Time for taking stock for this year, check-point in a continuous development.

2013

Altogether it was a pretty different from what I have planned for, and in many ways exceeded my expectations, partly because external forces guided me on different paths than I have planned before – and in retrospect that’s a good thing.

I’ve travelled to Shanghai for the first time, and that was the only time out of Taiwan this year. Other than that, some fun trips within the country to Alishan, Sun Moon Lake, and other places. I got to quite like weekend or short getaways. Will have to do more of those in the future.

This blog had 18 posts (not counting this one), and while that’s pretty low, I feel they were pretty well researched and lasting, so even as I want to increase the frequency of writing, I will try to keep writing long-reads.

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 47 books (and planned to read 52). This year was different in a way that the books are divided pretty much half-half between fiction and non-fiction books. That didn’t happen before, maybe I was more down to earth? Or there were more interesting non-fiction recommendation from friends? The favorites this year are probably Peopleware and The Beginning of Infinity for one side, and Snow Crash and Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World on the other (though there wasn’t a book that I really didn’t like, hard choices).

Have given a conference talk at PyConTW, and published the talk in a paper – first time first author, which definitely have to be improved. Have given some other invited presentations (about the Taipei Hackerspace), held a class (at NTUST about innovation), and did a few workshops (in the Hackerspace). Lots of opportunity for development, I feel that my style and capabilities are improving, as well as I’m getting more opinionated about how these things (talks, classes, and papers) should have been done.

The biggest improvement was with Taipei Hackerspace, it has come a very long way this year, and there’s no end to it. I learned a lot of organization, interpersonal skills, and some technological skills as well.

This whole progress enabled kicking off my Project (with a capital P), Moonpunch, in which I want to put most of my energy into. Lots of science and development is there to do, I cannot wait to see what comes next – and not waiting, making it.

There are also a lot of small stuff, like finished my first Movember, learned a lot about Bitcoin, watched a lot of good movies, started to meditate (though stopped for a while).

Photo of the sky with airplane
The speck of dirt in the middle is an airplane flying by

2014

At the moment only one thing is sure – have no idea how anything will look more than about 4 months into the future. That’s a scarily short time frame.

Things I’m wishing for:

  • finding my modus operandi even better, and make more valuable contribution
  • preparing for a trip to Kyoto in the spring, would love to get back to Hungary in September for the 15 year high school reunion, and hope to fit in some travel to an unexpected place, somewhere off the beaten track.
  • re-start learning Japanese, and put more effort into Chinese
  • get back into meditation again, and a healthier life
  • find more good books, that’s always something to look out for

Re-reading that list right now, it feels like I have big aspirations, but no specific wishes, making this list really just a work in progress. (Maybe I should add “make a better list” to the end?). It will be a lot of “winging it.” That feels like a good way.

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Life

Counting down to the next

Since living in Taiwan, the Western style new year feels a bit arbitrary for me. The Lunar New Year is at least tied to something, it is easy to define, even if it’s more complicated in its own traditions. Nevertheless, I like the New Year, and it’s good to have some periodic semi-forced review time. When it’s cold, it’s even better (sorry Southern Hemisphere).

Sunset over Taipei
Sunset over Taipei

This year felt a bit like growing up. I was grown-up before (can’t afford not to be at the age of 31), but my way of thinking have matured a lot, and it feels like that happened because of all the limitations and stress and projects and winding path I took on.

In 2012 somehow extended on the projects I worked on, like building a certain portfolio. Ignite Taipei is still there (maybe the main drive behind my experimentation), while it got company in the form of Future Shorts Taipei, the continuation of the Geek Dinners, later OpenHack Taipei and the (preliminary) Taipei Hackerspace. They seem to have a common theme – building local events related to technology, innovation and art. I hope I can continue with this theme, and see where it takes me. Kickstarter, social networks helped a lot to expand my world in these directions. Not sure if all these projects will survive next year (at least not with me at the wheel), but will definitely learn from all of them.

There were some really good books this year, discovered Pynchon, Tolstoy, and Calvino, as well as many smaller ones. Keep rediscovering Tolkien, Asimov, Murakami, Vonnegut, Beckett. Had a lot of brainy-books too. My shelf is still totally full, I can be sure, that the next year will be just as busy in terms of reading and just as mind-blowing.

In research I wasn’t that successful, though I have learned a lot. Will see what can we do in the next year in the lab. We were building a new experiment and it is not a real surprise that the results are still ahead. Whether my true way is down on academia lane or not, that remains to be seen.

I have a lot of startups related influence around me, and for years I’ve been hatching plans without any results. Next year supposed to see me set some hard deadlines for decisions (different visa for Taiwan, that lets me do more, for example).

There were some great travels this year, a big European tour for the first time since I moved to Asia, and in Japan for the first time ever. No plans for travel for the next year yet, maybe more within the country and more purposeful choices of destinations? Though I like quick changes of plans and surprises. And visitor friends from countries are good too.

This time it feels strongly that I’m in “in-between”, with choices ahead. The Sun is already setting on 2012 here, let’s make 2013 count.

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Life

Retro-spectacular: 2011

Last day of the year is customarily used for reflection. Very useful artificial boundary that makes us think in a time span (a year) that is still quite manageable for humans. One year is quite long to create change, but still short so most of one’s projects are only on the way and didn’t reach their full potential. Taking time to think about those projects and the change make the good parts more permanent and the bad parts more temporary.

This year was really a game changer for me. It’s different in quantities and qualities as well. I remember thinking at the end of 2010 that I missed a lot of opportunities and time just passed me by for one year. Actually, for quite a few years I think there wasn’t too many things to speak of – though all of them have sown the seeds of the awesomeness that was 2012.

Calendar with all days checked off except today, December 31.
The year is almost out

Let’s take some (probably incomplete) stock.

Writing

This blog itself is almost one year old, I have started it in January. Haven’t written as much this year as I wanted (like how come there’s nothing #1" href="http://gergely.imreh.net/blog/2011/10/blog-mixtape-1/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">since October?). This is not good, and it could be conveniently be blamed on being too busy to with all the projects I’ve been up to, but cannot completely. It benefits me greatly to write as much as possible, sometime in an organized way (like here), sometimes completely just in a flow. It is not really an excuse either that “I couldn’t find enough topic”, anyone who talks to me off-line often cannot get me to shut up about a thousand things. So better get to it.

Doing NaNoWriMo was limited to a few days of novel writing for me, got only 10% done, which is almost nothing. I said almost, because in those few days there were times indeed when storytelling was working, never before felt so good about writing, and changed the way I now read other people’s writing. So it’s not a total loss.

Doing 750 words was probably the best influence: write at least 750 words every day, about anything. I signed up for every monthly challenge  to write each and every day. I made the first one in October I think, since then I failed every time and often in a stupid way just forgetting about it. Next year I got to get myself off the Wall of Shame again. One thing I learned from it that once something is not perfect (i.e. I missed a day), I tend to let it go and miss more days: failures aggregate if one lets them. A habit worth getting rid of.

Brain stuff

I really enjoy programming, and the Language of the Month series was great, to learn some about Scala, Lua, Prolog, Javascript, and a bit of Go that I haven’t written up yet. It wasn’t every month in the end, so maybe should rethink the project, but I want to continue: there are just too many programming languages and they are awesome way to exercise one’s brain and learn completely new ways of thinking.

I could create a couple of small tools and sites as well, like WatchDoc that I use myself all the time. Nothing too big and still looking for a project that I can build something substantial for. But being able to make your own tools in the online when you need them is just as rewarding as working with your hands offline. The computers/internet is the next generation of Lego if you know how to talk to it.

Took part in the first online Stanford Classes: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Databases. All three totally worth it, it’s an experience I’m yet to write up, but I’m already using so many things I have learned. Also, my friend’s friends come to me saying “I heard you were doing the Stanford online courses this year, do you want to do it together next year?” There are many more really promising courses announced for the spring semester next year, now I have the problem of having to choose between them. 3 was kinda manageable, so right now I still have to cut down from the 7 noted down.

Somehow I had time to read more this year as well, though I have failed my Yearly Reading Challenge, totaling out at 30 books. I planned one for each week, but it’s just the motivation, the ones I had read this year all really worth it. I have hundreds of books on my to-read list, many of them from friends’ recommendations, so looking forward what will  next year’s 52 books be.

Community

The biggest change with regards of community and my drive as a force of change was taking riding the StartupBus. I cannot overstate how much that changed me: the people, the things we did, the travel and sights that were connected. I’m really glad to still be in touch with many of the people there – and hope to get back in touch with quite a few more. It is a community I’m proud to be part of and can’t wait to see what else comes out of it.

The bus set a few different things in motion, one of them ended up being Ignite Taipei. It is probably the single most important thing that I did this year. Or actually did 3 of them, together with the most inspiring people I can ever wish for. It is something I want to continue on for the foreseeable future, and want to grow it, as well as I’m sure I’ll be growing with it.

A small side project that was Geek Dinner, which is getting together, eat, and being able to talk in a way that I don’t have to hold back on anything. Programming, art, social networks, photography, microcontrollers, laptops, phones, all fair game and when you people don’t tune out  within 10 seconds. It seems there’s really a need for something like this in Taipei, people were really happy and eager. I hope I can carry it on.

A lot has changed about how do I use communities, how do I interact with people on Facebook/Google+, because I realized a few different things how I prefer to be interacted with. This lead for example to the No-Like Manifesto where I try whenever it’s possible to give a (meaningful) comment and not use likes/+1s, just as a last resort and when that’s meaningful in itself. This lead me to so much more discussion and been able to connect to people better. I can indeed say I know my friends a bit better now than I did before, and in big part because of the 24/7 interaction availability of whatever technology or network there is available for it.

Looking forward

This is just a short summary, I must have missed countless things. Now, however, it is really time to look forward. I’m already feeling so excited about a lot of projects that I’m planning for next year, and if I can carry over the excitement of 2011, it will be extraordinary too. Will include films, art, electronics, definitely include a lot, a LOT of people, friends, a lot of kicking ass.

And hopefully a lot of happiness. ^^
Cheers to You!