2019

2019 was my best year ever. This isn’t just because it’s the most recent. For example, I think 2017 was better than 2018.

I’ll try my best to give an unbiased look at the whole year, although it is definitely harder to remember January/February than November/December.

Life

I moved from Sacramento to San Francisco, which was a huge and exciting change. Made a whole slew of new friends, which was really good for me.

Started a new job where I pretty much write Haskell full-time. It’s fantastic that I’m finally able to scratch that particular technical itch.

I achieved all of my major goals for the year, which I’m gonna take as a sign to challenge myself even harder in 2020. It was a bit of close call though (I finally finished the last one in mid-December), so I don’t think I underestimated myself too much.

Writing

My newfound blogging habit might be my biggest personal change from 2018. I wrote over 100,000 words! Somehow I managed at least one new blog post every four days, which seems way more often than I remember sitting down and writing.

A couple of my articles were featured in the Haskell Weekly newsletter—Type-Enforced Exponential Trees in #156 and Building Lenses in #177.

Books

In general, the more technical a book was, the more I enjoyed it. My favorite of the year was probably Category Theory for Programmers, which hit me at a good time as I’m trying to learn more math to make ground-level sense of programming ideas. I got the least out of Inner Game of Tennis, and also still seem to need to read more fiction. Or any fiction.

This list is noncomprehensive, and organized chronologically from top to bottom. I read fewer books than I expected to this year, mostly because Princeton Companion to Mathematics took me multiple months.

Title Author
String Theory David Foster Wallace
Superintelligence Nick Bostrom
Princeton Companion to Mathematics Timothy Gowers
Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists Benjamin Pierce
Inner Game of Tennis Timothy Gallwey
Feynman Lectures on Physics Feynman, Leighton, and Sands
Game programming in Haskell Elise Huard
The Economy CORE
Hobby Games The 100 Best James Lowder
Godel Escher Bach Douglas Hofstadter
Types and Programming Languages Benjamin Pierce
Thinking with Types Sandy Maguire
Finding Success and Failure in Haskell Chris Martin, Julie Moronuki
Lenses for the Mere Mortal Brian Marick
Naive Set Theory Paul R. Halmos
Category Theory for Programmers Bartosz Milewski
Machine Intelligence for Healthcare Campion and Carlsson
Beautiful Racket Matthew Butterick
A Type of Programming Renzo Carbonara
Pearls of Functional Algorithm Design Richard Bird
Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach Stuart Russell, Peter Norvig
Type-Driven Development with Idris Edwin Brady
Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking Daniel Dennett

I also read some online “books” (e.g. Graphical Linear Algebra) but wasn’t sure how to classify those. I did some of the reading/exercises for a few random courses. I enjoyed MIT’s 18.657 - Mathematics of Machine Learning, but don’t remember too much about the other ones.

Video Games

This year was the first time I really branched out from PC in a while. I got both a switch and a PS4 near the beginning of the year, and managed to play through many of what seem to me to be the most important titles for each console’s respective libraries.

My 2019 game of the year is Baba is You. I really like indie puzzle games to start with, and the fact that the rules are manipulated in the same way as objects in the game is fantastic. I got several friends and family members to play it too, and everyone seems to have enjoyed it.

My other favorites include Journey, Shadow of the Colossus (both PS4 remakes of games I’d played before), and Celeste which was new. My least favorite played this year was probably Beyond: Two Souls. The writing was stretched a bit too thin, even for a video game.

The list below contains many of the games I played through this year, although it isn’t a complete listing. For example, I didn’t include some of my casual play-with-friends mainstays like Rocket League, or some tiny experimental games I don’t really remember playing. They’re ordered chronologically by date completed.

Title Platform
Bioshock PC
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Switch
Smash Ultimate Switch
Psychonauts PC
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Switch
Journey PS4
Flow PS4
Heavy Rain PS4
The Last of Us PS4
Beyond: Two Souls PS4
Minit PC
The Last Guardian PS4
Red Dead Redemption 2 PS4
Celeste PC
Horizon Zero Dawn PS4
Super Mario Maker 2 Switch
Baba is You PC
Ocarina of Time N64
Gris PC
God of War PS4
GTA IV PC
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Switch
A Way Out Xbox One
Control PC
Shadow of the Colossus PS4
Soft Body PC
Gorogoa PC
Rain World PC

Music

I composed over 50 songs this year! It feels like I’m at a point where I either have to decide to get more serious about it and learn a lot more (which means spending a lot more time), or ease up a bit and continue making music just for fun.

I couldn’t really think of a good format to show off what music I was most into listening to this year. My favorite album was probably Tinlicker’s This is Not Our Universe. My favorite single song was possibly the delightful ear candy of Yosi Horikawa’s Bubbles, although I think something like Ben Böhmer’s Ground Control or Sleeping With Machines by EDDIE would represent my general taste for the year the best.

I still like many of the same artists: No Mana, Rezz, deadmau5, Spencer Brown, Notaker. And some new ones: 1788-L, Yotto, Sysdemes, Vorso, ASHE. I was lucky enough to see a few of these people live, which was great. Compared to last year, I would say the songs I’ve been into the most have been a bit less thumping/bass-heavy and a bit more progressive/evolving over time.

Film

Somehow I only watched one movie in 2019 (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), on a recommendation from a friend.