My 2018 in Review

posted on January 2, 2019

Following My 2017 in review here’s my 2018 one.

I mentioned last year that I should really take notes as the year passes by, but lazily I didn’t do it this year either. Hopefully 2019!

There were two major events that I will remember 2018 for. Here they are in chronological order.

My mom’s kindergarten

My mom has been a kindergarten teacher and principal for the last ~20 years. This year, finally, she moved on from the government one that she has been working at and started her very own private one in Sofia, Bulgaria.

It’s been a massive undertaking for her, but only to some extent to the rest of the family as well (hence I am writing about it).

I know, it’s not my my mom’s year in review, but since that’s something she has wanted to do for ages, it’s become a major part of my life as well.

So my involvement began in April, when I was told I have about a month to come up with some branding and a website for parents to be able to learn about the values, authority and offerings of the kindergarten.

I was quite pissed about the short notice initially, since that meant that for more than a month I would be spending every free hour before and after work cracking on tasks that I wouldn’t necessarily call myself well-versed in.

That being said, I did consider it a fun challenge, as I do have interest in all sorts of design, as well as web development work (although increasingly I’ve been becoming less and less into it, as I consider the modern web development practices less and less privacy aware).

Additionally, that project lead me to read some design books which I really enjoyed reading, but more on that in the book section below.

After that, my parents started renovating the building of the kindergarten which was a massive undertaking on it’s own, but definitely worthwhile, since the parents have been very appreciative of how good looking, warm and spacious the building has become.

To cut the long story short, while the renovation was going my mum was trying to gather her first children in July, and a couple of them started going some time in August.

Since then, the kindergarten has filled it’s capacity of 24 kids, which for the time span of four months, I consider exceptionally good growth.

Even though, my involvement has not been massive by any means, I consider the opening of the kindergarten a really big event in my family, since I know how much my mom has wanted to do it and I am myself very interested in education as it obviously is essential for the further advancement of mankind.

Let’s go on to the much much bigger event in my life in 2018 (possible whole life so far).

Uncle V

Soo, I became an uncle. Woohooo!

I vividly remember the evening my brother and sister-in-law told me and my partner. It was such an emotional experience! I drank wine, danced to balkan music and probably cried a bit.

About 8 months later young Krasimir Shotarov Jr. was born. Lovely, cute little fella!

I am surprised by how quiet he is. He can spend hours just chilling and looking about. The last few days before leaving for London again (my family lives in Bulgaria), he had started following us with his eyes. Stuttering and slow, but soo cute!

I had the chance to spend a lot of time with him the last two weeks of 2018 and I really really enjoyed each second of it.

I cannot wait for him to grow just slightly older, so I can have an excuse to buy and try out all the cool science projects for kids!

Let’s move away from personal life for a bit.

Work

Seems like 2018 has been a bit slower for me than the years before, quite possibly because I got a bit burned out from writing at bindpose.com and maintaining talk.bindpose.com.

Following that, I decided to spend my free time in things at least slightly different from what I do at work, so I did some sculpting, video editing, the web design and branding that I mentioned above and of course a lot of tinkering with different programming tasks.

Programming

I am quite happy a made my first contribution to somebody else’s github project, which was one of my goals for 2018.

Some of the other things I worked on this year are:

  • vsClipboard - A clipboard manager for windows (Reusing Ctrl-V for pasting, where if you press it once it pastes the last copied item, but if you hold it you have a choice from the clipboard history.)
  • PaletteFile - A Sublime Text plugin for creating files and directories through the command palette
  • vim-midi-chlorian - Python autocompletion for vim (utilising jedi).
  • Stardust - A physics engine, which is still very much in progress and I am yet to share it
  • A ton of small scrapers, tools, etc. for a variety of tasks - helping out my partner getting data into spreadsheets, scraping info and offerings from children catering providers for my mom’s kindergarten, etc.

Additionally, I made the switch to primarily using Linux at home, which has been absolutely incredible! The fact that I can customize the whole experience, remove bloat and utilise CLI workflows to the fullest has been really satisfying.

Rigging

Apart from getting promoted to a senior character TD this year and working on some really cool tools and developments, that I am not at liberty to share, I haven’t done much rigging in my spare time.

I mentioned above that I have done some sculpting and I have plans to carry them into animation, but we’ll see how that goes.

I have realized, though, that my personal rigging system at home has become quite outdated, so that might be one of the big undertakings for 2019.

Onto books now.

Reading

As a kid and a teenager I never had interest in books, but in the last few years I have grown incredibly fond of reading.

Apart from the following books I read, I have been constantly going back and forth throughout Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality as I keep finding bits of it incredibly rewarding to reread. Additionally, I have been able to understand more references the more I have read the book itself, which leads to renewed interests in certain moments.

Okay, let’s go through this year’s list. I have read a total of 23 books this year, which is unfortunately less than last year’s total amount, but I did read a lot of papers this year about Physics Simulations, Numerical Optimizations, Calculus, etc., which I also found very rewarding, so I wouldn’t say it’s been a less productive year reading wise.

  • Snow Crash - by Neal Stephenson

    I didn’t find the story very captivating, but the world-building and characters were incredibly well thought out.

  • The Diamond Age - by Neal Stephenson

    Quite similar to Snow Crash, in terms of what I liked and didn’t, but I found the setting a bit less appealing.

  • Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software - by Charles Petzold

    A fascinating read! I’ve always been into computers, but was also too scared to ever read about the very low level architecture. Code was incredibly approachable, though, and a lot of fun to read.

  • The Design of Everyday Things - by Donald A. Norman

    Another fascinating read! It changed my whole outlook in terms of designing not only products, but workflows and systems in a way to minimize errors.

    The biggest takeaway for me was the misconceptions about human error. A lot of people (including me before reading the book) would be satisfied by human error as an explanation to why something has happened. It is way more appropriate, though, to investigate what produced the human error - things like badly designed machines come to mind quickly, but also badly designed work/sleep schedules can indirectly lead to catastrophic results as well.

  • Rework - by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

  • Logo Design Love - David Airey

  • Skin in the game - by Nassim Taleb

    After reading the book, I am surprised by how many people seem to recommend it. I found the author very untrustworthy, as on way too many occasions he would drop a statement with a lot of information which the reader is expected to believe without any justification.

    Additionally, I found the concept of the book quite obvious.

    That being said, I am planning to read The Black Swan and Antifragile, just because of the good recommendations.

  • The non-designer’s design book - by Robin Williams

  • Consider Phlebas - by Iain M. Banks

    A lovely space opera. No massive takeaway, but great storytelling.

  • The vital question - by Nick Lane

    Another fascinating read!

    A lot of the ideas in the book are really hard to be proved, but I found the alternative of the primordial soup really interesting.

  • Factfulness - by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund

    Probably one of the best books I read this year.

    Reading HPMOR and Factfulness I realized I have had a very cynical outlook about the world nowadays, but I found the information and ideas in Facfulness very useful for understanding not only that the world has been changing for the better, but also of common misconceptions regarding politics, economics, educations, etc.

  • Game Physics Engine Development: How to Build a Robust Commercial-Grade Physics Engine for your Game - by Ian Millington

  • Real-time Collision Detection - by Christer Ericson

  • Why we sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams - by Matthew Walker

    Hands down the best book I’ve read in 2018.

    Not only did I find it a lot of fun reading through, but it has definitely had the biggest impact on my life. It radically changed my feelings about sleep and lead me to changing my schedule quite substantially, which has proved to be incredibly rewarding.

  • Mort - by Terry Pratchett

    I feel a bit stupid about only just discovering Terry Pratchett, considering that I find his sense of humour not only hilarious, but incredibly sophisticated. I find a lot of similarities with Douglas Adams’ books, which I have a massive love and appreciation for.

    Mort specifically, I think is an amazing work of fiction. Hilarious, with a great and easy to follow story, and very interesting characters.

  • Small Gods - by Terry Pratchett

    I have very similar feelings about it as I do for Mort.

  • QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter - by Richard Feynman

    Even though a lot goes way over my head, I still found the book very approachable, but of course, you cannot expect anything less of Feynman.

  • Thinking Fast and Slow - by Daniel Kahneman

    Another one of those fascinating reads that I consider life changing.

    I learned about this book from the author of HPMOR and it comes up a lot on Hacker News. Now I understand why.

  • The War of the Worlds - by H. G. Wells

    Really cool to read an older piece of science fiction. I also have a particular weakness for stories set in London.

  • The Invisible Man - by H. G. Wells

    Also really cool book. Not sure how explored the topic of invisibility has been before The Invisible Man, but I found it really interesting knowing it was written in the end of the 19th century.

  • Dune - by Frank Herbert

    Another great story with lovely characters and world-building.

  • Ку-Ку Бенд: Ад и Рай - by Иво Сиромахов

  • Thinking Physics: Understanding Practical Reality - by Lewis Carroll Epstein

    Another book I learned from Harry in HPMOR.

    A super cool way of teaching not only physics laws and methods of computation, but also a way of thinking of solutions to problems, involving first and foremost, making sure you understand the question.

  • Artemis - by Andy Weir

    An absolutely awesome science fiction novel!

    I really enjoyed both watching and reading The Martian, so I was really excited when I saw Andy Weir’s new book poster. I thought it was brilliant! Exactly what I would expect from a modern science fiction author. Highly recommended!

And that’s all the books I read in 2018.

I think I would recommend all books apart from Skin in the Game and of course the subject specific books such as the graphic design and physics engine ones, which are great books in their own right, but would be only of interest if you have an interest in the subject, while all other books I would recommend to all.

Conclusion

All in all, I’ve been really happy throughout 2018, even though I feel like I haven’t created anything massive to be proud of.

Luckily other people have created great things and it seems to me that in my mind 2018 will always be the year Krasimir Shotarov Jr. was born.