tisdag 31 december 2013

2013, a good year

Finally getting around to write some thoughts about the year 2013.

2013 was a good year for me.

Work-wise I took a decision to change my role at work and get back to working more hands-on with software development. And thanks to the kindness of my managers I was able to get a role that I'm enjoying a lot. I'm really glad I made that decision.

Now I'm working in a small team with equally motivated colleagues and spending most of my time on three things:

* Actual development (finally again), i.e. design and implementation, in a technical area that is new and exciting to me
* Studying technologies that are new to me
* Giving lecture talks about web technologies and frameworks, to colleagues at work

The last part is an unexpected thing that I wasn't planning to do but that I find fun and valuable. To learn a subject well, it's good to set a goal to actually teach the subject to someone else. And it's nice to mix up programming with a social task like teaching.

On my free time at a home I spent much time learning new things and doing a lot of prototyping, mostly related to web technologies. Web technologies has been sort of a dark area knowledge-wise for me, so I really wanted to make an effort this year to learn about it. And I think mixing prototyping with studying is a great way of learning something new. Some of the things I have prototyped are:

* Mario: A Mario clone, including a level editor. (http://www.mattiaserlo.com/mario/index.html)
* Blockify: A photo booth app that puts a Lego-like filter on the camera viewfinder, and lets you share Lego-filtered photos on Facebook. (http://www.mattiaserlo.com/blockify/blockify.html)
* Cloudraw: An app that lets clients draw together, and share images with each other, in realtime. (http://www.mattiaserlo.com/cloudraw/cloudraw.html)
* A video chat application, using WebRTC.
* Mapshare: An app that lets several clients see each others locations on a Google map, and lets them draw graphics on the map. The drawings are shared in realtime between the clients via a server. (http://www.mattiaserlo.com/mapshare/mapshare.html)
* A very early prototype of a racing game, using ThreeJS. (http://www.mattiaserlo.com/track/index.html)

I think one reason I was able to get my current role at work is because I had learnt new skills while working on those prototypes.

Another fun thing that happened during the year was that I was able to borrow a pair of Google Glass. I made some development experiments with them, and as a result I got invited to the software conference Öredev (http://oredev.org) to give a talk to software developers about Google Glass and how to develop applications for Glass. That was a really fun and rewarding experience.
Later on I continued prototyping a native application for Glass that lets you remote control the camera from a webpage, and chat with the person wearing Glass, using websockets and text-to-speech.

And on a private level I had another great year with my wonderful girlfriend, and we did many nice trips together. One long one, to Florida, and many short ones to various beautiful places in Japan. The photo above is from our first test-flight of a newly purchased kite, at Tamagawa river in Tokyo, on a cold but beautiful afternoon one of the very last days of the year.

Looking forward to more great experiences in 2014, the year of the horse!

Google Glass at Oredev