The Best of 2015
As a nod to @fogus and his blog, Send More Paramedics, I’ve opted to start the annual tradition of recapping the year with the best things I’ve found, learned, read, etc.
These things are listed in no particular order, and may not necessarily be new.
Favorite Blog Posts Read
Not a lot here that I can recall, but this handful stood out as good reads. Some of them I plan to refer back to in the future.
- What is Code? - Easily my favorite article of the year, taking 2 days to read. This is an epic asking the simple titular question, “what is code?” which ultimately follows the concept of programming and software engineering in a fun and complete way. It is incredibly accessible if you have no idea about programming and I would probably recommend it as a read to anyone who asks what I do for a living.
- How a group of neighbors created their own Internet service - Interesting article from Ars about a small island town creating their own ISP.
- 1980s computer controls GRPS heat and AC - Awful title aside, this is a news report about a school district in Michigan with heat and AC still controlled by a vintage Commodore Amiga.
- THE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE OF SOVIET ARCADE GAMES - A look into what the USSR was doing while coin-op video games were being developed in the states. Interesting information about the ideas behind the games and the technologies they employed.
- Bitcoin mining on a 55 year old IBM 1401 mainframe - Combines two things that interests me: Bitcoin and mainframes. Interesting post on getting a mainframe to mine Bitcoin.
- God’s Lonely Programmer - Follows Terry Davis, the sole programmer of TempleOS.
- Creating a BBS in 2015 - For April Fools, Lobsters users were greeted by a BBS-style interface to the website, and the mechanics behind it are incredible.
- Duckspeak Vs Smalltalk - An interesting look at the Xerox PARC philosophy and its application at Apple.
- In Realtime: Saving 25,000 Manuals - Jason Scott works with a volunteer team to save 25,000 files that were destined to be trash.
Articles I’ve Written for Other Publications
I’ve tried something different this past year and have worked to write more for others than for just myself. This has been really fun, but has reduced the total number of entries I have written this year in general. I hope to find some more outlets to contribute to with like-minded interests. I like working with small teams like this instead of bouncing ideas around with only myself.
- Finding Forgotten Footage - An article I did for Lunchmeat Midnight Snack #4 (a print zine) about finding strange VHS tapes with home-recorded footage.
- Automating Site Backups with Amazon S3 and PHP - An article I did for the now-defunct TechOats website (still sad about that one). As the title describes, I automated backups of my websites using Amazon S3 and a simple PHP script.
- The New Wild West - An article for NODE about how the internet of things and the sort of always-connected culture opens things up again for a wide variety of attacks. I draw parallels to the 1980’s boom of hacker culture where a lot of stuff was just left wide open.
- How to Run your Own Independent DNS with Custom TLDs - A tutorial I did for NODE after remembering the failure of the .p2p project and the success of OpenNIC.
Favorite Technical Books Read
I’ve been trying to read a lot more this year to cut through my growing pile of books. I’ve mainly focused on technical books, including books I’ve only been made aware of in 2015 as well as ones that have been on my shelf for years.
- Garage Virtual Reality - An antiquated virtual reality book from the ’90s touches on a lot of interesting technology from the time, including homemade projects and technological dead ends. The perfect amount of technical instruction and cyberpunk ideas.
- Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering - An amazing book on reverse engineering. I picked this up around a decade ago, and it was completely over my head. At the time I dismissed it because it was already outdated with the popularity of “softmods” for the Xbox, but picking it up again it is really just a good general book on getting into reverse engineering and the focus on the Xbox is a fun nostalgic little bonus.
- Cybernetics - A dated and likely obscure text, this book deals with the early ideas of cybernetics and expands into theory on artificial intelligence and neural networks.
Favorite Non-Technical Books Read
- Microserfs - A fun book that follows a group of ’90s Microsoft employees as they start their own company.
- Crypto - An incredible look into the world of cryptography, following all of the pioneers and the cypherpunk movement.
- Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age - My favorite book of the year, a wonderfully- detailed look into the rise and fall of Xerox PARC and all of the completely fascinating things they invented.
- The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing - I love coffee and this book lets you learn about all the varieties, proper brewing techniques, etc.
- Ready Player One - A fun dystopic sci-fi book about a civilization obsesses with a treasure hunt and ’80s culture.
Number of Books Read
Favorite Musicians Discovered
- King Tuff
- Elle King
- FFS - Franz Ferdinand and Sparks
- Devo - Everyone knows “Whip It,” but I’ve been focusing on their first few albums.
Favorite Television Shows**
Mr. Robot (2015), The X-Files (1993)
Programming Languages Used for Work/Personal
Programming Languages I Want To Use Next Year
- Common Lisp - A “generalized” Lisp dialect.
- Clojure - A Lisp dialect that runs on the Java Virtual Machine
- Go - Really interested to see how this scales with concurrent network programming.
Still Need to Read
Computer Lib, Literary Machines, Design Patterns, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
Life Events of 2015
I became engaged to be married.
Life Changing Technologies Discovered
- Amazon Dash Button - I hacked a $5 button to email me when I press it.
- Ethereum - An interesting decentralized software platform. Still not entirely sure what to make of it.
- Microsoft Hololens - I want one after seeing this video. I’ve already supported Oculus for VR, but this is winning me over for AR.
/r/homelab, /r/retrobattlestations, /r/cyberpunk, /r/homeautomation.
Plans for 2016
- Get married.
- Write more for NODE (if possible!), Lunchmeat, or other publicans I find out about.
- Write an article for 2600.
- Find my missing Leatherman.
- Release a mobile app.
- Do some FPGA projects to get more in-depth with hardware.
- Continue to flesh out Anarchivism with videos/print.
- Organization, organization, organization!
See you in 2016!