Looking Back, and Maybe Even Forward

2012-01-01 12:35

Also known as Obligatory New Year’s Post.

It was quite a year, this 2011. No single ground-breaking change, but a lot of somewhat significant events and small steps – mostly in the right direction. A short summary is of course in order, because taking time to stop and reflect is a good thing from time to time.

Technically, the biggest change would be the fact that I’m no longer a student. Attaining MSc. some time in the first quarter, I finished a five year-long period of computer science studies at Warsaw University of Technology. While there are mixed views on the importance of formal education, I consider this a major and important achievement – and a one with practical impact as well.

Being a polyglot is fun

My master thesis was about implementing a reflection system for C++. Ironically, since then I haven’t really got to code anything in this language. That’s not actually something I’m at odds with. For me, sticking to just one language for extended period of time seems somewhat detrimental to development of one’s programming skills. On the other hand, there goes the saying that a language which doesn’t change your view on programming as a whole is not worth learning. As usual, it looks like a question of proper balance.

This year, I’ve got to use a handful of distinct languages in different contexts and applications. There was Java but mostly (if not exclusively) on the Android platform. There was JavaScript in its original incarnation – i.e. on client side, in the browser.
Finally, there was Python: for scripts, for cloud computing on Google App Engine, for general web programming, and for many everyday tasks and experiments. It seems to be my first choice language as of now – a one that I’m most productive in. Still, it probably has many tricks and crispy details waiting to be uncovered, which makes it likely to grab my attention for quite a bit longer.

Its status always has contenders, though. Clojure, Ruby and Haskell are among languages which I gave at least a brief glance in 2011. The last one is especially intriguing and may therefore be a subject of few posts later on.

Speaking and listening

2011 was also a busy year for me when it comes to attending various software-related events. Many of these were organized or influenced by local Google Technology User Group. Some of those I even got to speak at, lecturing on the Google App Engine platform or advanced topics in Android UI programming. In either case it was an exciting and refreshing experience.

There were also several other events and meet-ups I got to attend in the passing year. Some of them even required traveling abroad, some resulted in grabbing juicy awards (such as autographed books), while some were slightly less formal albeit still very interesting.
And kinda unexpected, too. I learned that there is bunch of thriving communities gathered around specific technologies, and they are all just around the corner – literally. Because contrary to the stereotype of lone hacker, their members are regularly meeting in real life. Wow! ;-)

…and blogging

Finally, I cannot ignore the biggest change this very blog has endured only recently. I should probably apologize for how short the explicit notice on it has been. This may be a reason behind several declarations of forgoing RSS subscription which have sprung up in comments following the announcement. Obviously, it isn’t the most important factor in such decisions, but it’s something I shall bear in mind for the future.

Point is: this is all something I have totally expected to happen. The phenomenon of vocal minority is well-known to me, as I experienced it within several Internet communities I (used to) frequent, where it’s even more prevalent. Fortunately, in this case it’s easy to dispel the illusion of mass exodus: I simply have the numbers.

Usually, I’m not very interested in this kind of website’s statistics, but such a transition warrants a closer look at relevant charts. The worst scenario I could expect was a kind of “ground zero”, i.e. loss of vast majority of regulars and reverting to baseline of just incidental traffic for many months to come.
It wasn’t really that unreasonable, given a steady and noticeable shift in topics I was covering in the past few months. Many long-time readers remember that I used to keep prominent focus on graphic programming and game development. This is no longer the case, and for those who stayed despite this shift, a switch to posting in English could have been the last straw. There is nothing wrong with such attitude; in fact, it would be perfectly understandable.

The actual course of action is nowhere near this grim possibility. Raw visitors’ count has dropped only slightly, while the number of those returning multiple times has in fact grown. Regardless of how those figures will look at some later time, it is rather obvious that the trend is strictly positive.

So it would seem that all is well, right?.. Hah, not quite. As always, there is plenty of room for improvement. I received comments that the quality of my English is somewhat lacking, for example, and this is something I shall definitely strive to improve. Admittedly, writing in foreign language turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected it to be.

In any case, thanks to all visitors who came here in the past year. I’m looking forward to see you all in 2012 as well!

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Author: Xion, posted under Computer Science & IT, Life, Thoughts »

2 comments for post “Looking Back, and Maybe Even Forward”.
  1. nsx:
    January 31st, 2012 o 14:44

    Don’t let others undermine the skill level of your english. It’s simply amazing, considering you’re not a native speaker. Keep at it!

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