2017 Year in Review

So it’s been a while eh. 16 months since my last update, that’s almost a record. I’ve been procrastinating writing my 2017 year in review for about 8 months now, because as you may have guessed, I didn’t accomplish many of the things I set out to do. I’ll have more to say about work ethic and reflecting on my reasons for failing to meet my expectations soon, but I must get this post out before midnight or I’ll be fined $50. I’ve found having a monetary fine has been one of the best ways to stick to my goals, even if it does cause me to rush at the last minute.

So what did I accomplish out of my monthly goals for 2017? and what am I planning to do in the future?

Paper Towers

I’m happy to report that this goal was completed and you can find the open source Tower Storm here. There’s still a LOT more I’d like to do with this game and codebase such as moving to ES6 instead of CoffeeScript, adding a map editor, removing the dependency on RethinkDB, and making it simpler to setup a server (a docker based setup would be sweet). I also want to release videos walking through the codebase (which I did record and put on Twitch, but it looks like they disappear after a few weeks?). I ended up keeping the name Tower Storm because I already owned the domain and social media pages and I still love the name.

Learn Spanish

This I also somewhat accomplished. I took lessons on italki for a while which were incredibly helpful and accelerated my skills far faster than Duolingo, though both together was a good combo. My girlfriend spent the summer of 2017 in Ecuador doing her masters thesis and I was able to visit for a week and somewhat navigate my way around with the Spanish skills I’d learnt. I could barely hold a simple conversation with someone who spoke slowly and clearly.

Krav Maga

I ended up doing Krav Maga for a year, and it was fun. I learnt a lot and feel like I could defend myself in a bar brawl, but would still have trouble against someone with any kind of weapon. The classes were intense and really pushed my body to the limits, including one I had to bail on half way through because I was close to passing out (probably shouldn’t have done it after not eating for 8 hours). The only downside was there was a long period where I could only take basic classes which was frustrating. There was some special training you had to do to take advanced classes where you actually spar’d with other people, and there were no classes for this coming up for months. I’ve stopped doing Krav Maga at the moment but I may pick it up again in the future.

Study Time

Unfortunately I barely started on Study Time, BUT I did have a big breakthrough in how this would work. For the longest time I’ve been wanting to build a peer to peer social network (it was in my bundle of ideas but didn’t make the top 10 list because I didn’t think I was skilled enough to pull it off). This social network would have no central servers, just everyone hosting some small portion of the data and sharing it with everyone else. Anyway I’ll delve into this deeper in another post but I found a network that is basically this called Scuttlebutt, and using this same technology I think it’ll be possible to build the API’s for the metadata about each lesson / course on top of this network. Then anyone will be able to load up the application, download metadata about courses off other students, and when viewing the videos stream them via torrents. I’m super excited about this and want to try and pull it off again soon, I feel like the pieces are available I just need to put them together.

Learn the Cello

I did this one! For 6 months I learnt the Cello last year, and it culminated in being able to play a (pretty crappy) rendition of the red wedding theme song from Game of Thrones. I stopped after 6 months because I wanted to dedicate time to other projects, but I would like to pick it up again one day.

Educational Honesty, Reverse giving charity, Build a Farmbot, Web Basic, Mass Reforestation

Unfortunately I didn’t even make a start on any of these projects (well, there was some research, but nothing created). Which is a bit of a disappointment. I feel like I got too distracted by my work at Amazon towards the end of the year (with AWS Cloud9 being released) and put everything on hold and slowly forgot about them.

I will be building a FarmBot later this year, I finally have balcony that gets enough sun that this is possible. I’m not sure about the rest of the projects, they’re things I would love to see in the world but don’t quite fit my optimum hedgehog intersection. I’ll be reviewing my ideas backlog and coming up with some further ideas for this year soon. I’ll also be utilizing this monetary fine mechanism to ensure I post more and share my ideas more on this blog, because they’re not going to happen when they’re tucked away in my private notes.

So I accomplished 4 out of 10 ideas I wanted to do last year, which isn’t bad, but I can do better. I’ll be creating my list of goals for the next year soon and taking all my lessons from the last 18 months into account when doing so. At the very least I learnt a ton, and that’s my motto for life: Always be Learning. It’s not about where you are but where you’re going and how fast you’re getting there. If you have ideas or feedback for me, let me know. Last of all: enjoy life, and don’t forget to be awesome.


Projects Status Update – April 2017

I unfortunately procrastinated the March status update so much that it has melded into the April update. Over the past 2 months I’ve been working on 4 of my 10 Projects for 2017. Those 4 are: Paper Towers, Spanish, Krav Maga, and learning the Cello. My current core focus is learning the Cello and I’m spending 3 – 4 hours a week on the rest.

Paper Towers (Now Tower Storm again)

Firstly I decided to stick with the name Tower Storm instead of re-branding this project as Paper Towers. I’m proud to say that Tower Storm is finally Open Source!. I spent around 30 hours in the last 2 months removing all copyrighted graphics and sounds from the game, and cleaning up the code so it’s easy for anyone to run and make modifications. I finally pulled the trigger a few hours ago and put it up on Github. I also did my first open source development stream, if you’re interested in seeing how I develop Tower Storm, how to mod it yourself, and my thoughts on programming in general you can follow me on Twitch.


As of the 21st of April I was up to a 25 day streak on Duolingo doing at least 30 minutes of spanish a day (50xp per day). Unfortunately I lost that streak, but I will be continually learning Spanish on Duolingo over the next year. Alongside that I’ve been watching movies, LoL games and random Youtube videos in Spanish. I’ve also switched my PC and Phone to use Spanish as their default language. Every little bit of learning helps.

Krav Maga

I signed up for Krav Maga 2 weeks ago and so far have done 6 classes. I’ll probably continue this 3 times a week schedule. So far we’ve practiced basic punching, hammer fist, kicking, roundhouse kicks, getting out of chokes, and defending yourself when you’re on the ground. I’m really enjoying it so far, it’s useful, it’s a ton of fun fighting as hard as you can (into pads) and it’s a great workout. I hadn’t been punched in maybe 15 years and it’s an eye opening experience, and made me realize I have to toughen up a lot if I want to survive a real life fight.


To celebrate the open sourcing of Tower Storm and the down-winding of that project I went out and hired a Cello for 3 months. I’ve only had it a week now and haven’t had lessons yet. I bought a beginners book and have been teaching myself how to play with that and YouTube tutorials. I’m excited to report that I can already play the beginning of the Rains Of Castamere song! Albeit with a lot of squeaks and quite slowly. I can’t wait to learn more.

So that’s it. I’ll be continuing to focus on these 4 activities until at least the end of May whereupon I may start on another depending on my progress and time available.