Retrospective 2102 Edition

2012 was a big year. Lots of things happened and I learned many things. My hope is that this post will serve as an inspiration for 2013 and beyond.


For Christmas 2011 I recieved a copy of Seven Languages in Seven Weeks. The book provides (as evidenced by the title) an overview/introduction to seven different programming languages. I made it through the book, but it was not an easy feat. I will be the first to admit that I did not fully understand the book. The final three languages - Erlang, Clojure, and Haskell - were brutal for someone with little theoretical experience with programming languages. I learned a lot and plan to revisit Seven Languages over the summer once I finish Algorithms and Compilers. But as far as 2012 is concerned, the most important aspect of Seven Languages was my introduction to the beauty of Ruby. I ended up spending the rest of 2012 learning Ruby. Here is my 2012 Ruby reading list.

All of these books provided insight into programming in Ruby and I plan to re-visit the advanced titles as I continue to explore Ruby in 2013.

The most interesting project I created while reading through these books is my static blog engine which powers this site.


Photography became my new hobby in 2012. For my birthday Rose bought me a DSLR with two lenses (Nikon D5100 with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G in case you were wondering). I have taken 3,465 photos since my birthday. Most of them were out of focus or over exposed, but I had a few good ones and have managed to reduce the frequency of unusable photos with practice. I look forward to exploring more aspects of photography (snow and flowers are the first two that come to mind).


In 2012, I decided to begin migrating my workflows to the command line. GUI’s became too unreliable, slow to upgrade, and difficult to customize. This pilgrimage began over the summer when Apple released a new laptop (15” MBP with Retina Display). The new display required developers to rewrite their existing applications, otherwise they would look horrendous. My previously favorite editor failed to upgrade in time for me. I switched to vim and haven’t looked back. I also switched from bash to zsh and began using tmux to manage multiple applications.

The biggest change in my computing experience was realizing that I could change the function of keyboard keys. I knew that it was possible from my gaming days, but applying that idea to text editing was new to me. The most useful change was remapping capslock. I mean, what a useless key. It is one of the largest keys and performs a frivilous task (only usable in YouTube comments). It is almost begging to be changed. Steve Losh pointed out one potential use of capslock on his blog. He proposed that capslock be remapped to control AND escape. I know that it sounds crazy, but read his post and you will see the light.


I found many new TV shows that are excellent. Most of them are shows that have ended and I missed, which I tend to prefer. The highlights are 24, Battle Star Galactica (2004), The League, and Top Chef. 2012 also brought the end of two favorites: House and Chuck. House is the first series that I watched from the beginning and ended with good ratings, which provides a new perspective to television. 2012 even had two superb seasons of Survivor - One World and Philippines.

Throughout the past year I have realized that video games have lost almost all presence in my life. Instead of Mario Kart we play board games and watch tv; and instead of playing TF2 or Guild Wars I write code. Not sure why this happened, but I found it to be an interesting observation.

One form of entertainment that has not lost prominence is podcasts. I still listen to six or seven each week. This may reduce in 2013 due to the cancellation of two of the best - Hypercritical and Build & Analyze (still worth listening to the back catalog). But new podcasts continue to find their way onto my iPhone.


On a more personal level, 2012 was a year which contained many changes. In January I began my final semester at YSU with two classes and working on my thesis. In February I was flown out to South Bend for an admissions interview with the graduate school at Notre Dame. Apparently they liked my answers because I was admited to the program with a full stipend. May marked the end of my Master’s degree with a successful defense of my thesis and passing my finals.

On June 1st my wife and I packed up our first apartment and drove seven hours to our new home in South Bend. This was a first for both of us. We had both lived in Pennsylvania for our entire lives. At the end of June we adopted our puppy, Radley. He has provided many learning experiences and is the perfect addition to our family. Throughout the summer I worked as a research assistant on campus and made some new friends. We also explored the local attractions. I even managed to lose my wedding ring in Lake Michigan. Both sets of parents also made a trip out to see us over the summer. They are happy for us, but miss having us fifteen minutes away.

On August 14th Rose and I celebrated our second anniversary by assembling a portable grill and cooking steaks. At the end of August I began my first semester of classes at Notre Dame. I had one class and research. Both went surprisingly well and were excellent experiences. In September Rose started her new job as a therapist working with children suffering with autisim. Every day I am impressed by her patience and willingness to help others.

October brought both of our birthdays. Mine was first and my parents came out to celebrate. They gave me a new game - Agricola - which has provided many weekends ofentertainment. For Rose’s birthday traveled by train to Chicago. It was a long day full of walking and excitement. I even managed to take a few photos.

2012 was the first year we had our own Thanksgiving. Rose cooked the turkey breast and pumpkin pie while I made the sides and Radley cleaned up the floor . It was crazy, but everything was tasty. I look forward to doing it again next year.

In December I completed my first semester at Notre Dame with a 4.0 GPA (first time ever. I guess it helps to only take one class.). We also made our first trip back to PA despite the snow. Radley loved the car ride and made many new friends (five dogs at the in-law’s for Christmas!).

I think that just about does it for my year. Can’t wait to see what next year brings. Happy New Year!