So 2010′s been a year.
Nearer it’s start some friends and I competed for the second time in MIT’s BattleCode, this time getting second non-MIT spot, or 18th overall. These competitions have been good for us: they are fun, it’s a good group project, and we work on our group project skills like planning, coordinating, and so forth. We spend so much time on our own, or in school even, working solo it’s good to work these skills as they will be needed later. Also it’s fun to learn about and catch up on low level AI stuff, like swarming and flocking movement/coordination techniques etc.
Over the summer I was in China which was amazing.
Then in the fall while finishing off my degree in CS once and for all I also competed in the Google sponsored University of Waterloo AI Contest. This, while being a simpler solo competition, was notable for me as it was my third major project undertaken in Lisp. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and again learned lots more about Lisp and again improved my Lisp style. Lisp and the emacs environment just take longer to learn and wrap my head around. And since I don’t get to work in them constantly, between work and school, it takes time. I’m by no means a master, but after convincing a friend to take a stab at the same competition in Lisp for his first try with Lisp, I at least see how far I’ve come. I’m getting more used to thinking functionally, especially with respect to using Lisp mapping functions instead of loops to modify, filter, or build on data. I placed disappointingly poorly due to lack of time, but I’m satisfied with what I learned (and also proud by association that the winner was a Lisp entry!). It was a good experience. I look forward to being able to undertake some more Lisp projects in the new year.
I also boned up on my Python this fall for a small work project, a multi threaded web crawler for a client. Played successfully with Python’s threading, so that was fun.
And that brings us to now. I’m in Colombia for the holidays, and in my vacation spare time I’ve finally gotten around to looking at the codebase to my school project “Cortex”. As school projects are, it worked, and well, but the codebase was a bit of a mess due to strong time constraints. Now that I have some time I’m doing some massive cleanups and adding a few features I’d wanted to but didn’t have time to. Hopefully early in the new year it’ll be in shape that I can release it. That would be nice.
So 2010 was a great year. I got to write a lot of cool code in several different language. I got to travel more than I ever have before, and I read a lot more than 2009 (traveling facilitates a lot of reading :)). It’s been a good year.
For 2011 though, now that I’m done with school, I’d like to start by releasing more code, starting with Cortex; getting more paying work; and looking at maybe starting a startup. I’d like to spend more time working on both AI (if you hadn’t noticed, obviously a hobby of mine) and in Lisp, starting with getting back into my signed copy of Peter Norvig’s “Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp” (yes getting it signed was awesome and a ridiculously geeky moment) and moving on from there. I’d like to at least keep up with the reading. I have high hopes for it to be an interesting year.
So here’s to 2010, you’ve been great, lets see if I can’t build on that for a more amazing 2011.