I’m not sure I’d like to call them “resolutions”, but here are a few of the
things I’m planning to work on in 2016.
- Improve my skills with Python and Go
I’ve been using Python and Go for most of my projects lately, whether at work
or for fun, and I usually feel like I can figure out how to solve my problems
But in both
langues, I still spend a lot of the time with API docs open in the next window,
and I haven’t written anything longer than a few
thousand lines of code in either. I’d like to try to tackle a couple of
larger projects and get really solid with the standard libraries, so I can
spend more time coding and less time looking things up.
- Get a better understanding of theory
There are several areas where I have a solid “practitioners’ understanding” of
what I’m doing, but not a lot of underlying theory. This includes some fields
I at least touch on every day as a system administrator, such as monitoring
and configuration management, as well as some basic computer science I didn’t
get in school since I wasn’t a CS major.
Having come from physics, where I learned a lot more theory before attempting
to put anything into practice, this feels pretty backwards. I know that
these days, computing is a
field where it’s pretty normal to be self-taught and just start working; and
large systems administration in particular seems like a field where there is
not a well-defined body of theory that everyone reads. Still, I’d like to
get myself on a more rigorous footing, especially given the scale and
complexity of the types of systems I work on, and those I’d like to be
I have a Goodreads shelf
where I’m collecting some of the books in this vein that I’ve read, and will
probably re-read this year. It includes some books that aren’t strictly
theory, but more like collections of best practices; but these are useful
too. Sometime later I may post a list of papers I’m planning to
read or re-read this year. Suggestions in this area are welcome. :)
Having been out of physics and materials science for over five years now,
I guess it’s normal for me to feel a little rusty on some things. But while
I don’t intend to be getting back into active physics research, I’d still like
to maintain the skills I spent so much time learning, and still be able to
use and understand advanced math when called for. Not to mention refreshing
myself on how to “think like a physicist”, which definitely comes in handy
from time to time.
In particular, I know that my statistics and linear algebra are rusty, and
those are areas that are useful in any technical field, so I’ll probably focus
on these. I’ll also try to spend some time refreshing my calculus abilities;
while I think I still have a pretty decent grasp in that area, I’m not sure
I’d enjoy it if you asked me to integrate by parts…
- Read more fiction by diverse authors
I’ve seen calls in the past to read only women, or only people of color, for a
given year, but I’ve always thought it would be too difficult to restrict
my reading habits that closely. I tend to pick up books impulsively, and don’t
always notice who wrote a given novel; I don’t love the idea of deciding to
not read something exciting because of who wrote it.
Not to mention I have several ongoing
series I enjoy which are written by straight, white men. And while I realize
that part of the challenge is in its difficulty, fiction reading is escapism
for me. Reading more books I can do; giving up others is a little too far.
However: Max Gladstone, whose books I enjoy myself, posted about an
which I am willing to try. While he had different reasons, he eventually came
In the end, I settled on a related project: I wouldn’t read two books by straight white cis men back to back.
I like this because it should increase the diversity of my reading – always a
good thing! – while not killing my ability to follow series I enjoy. And who
knows, maybe next year I can go all in.
I know in advance that 2016 is going to be very busy at work. Much more than this
year, I expect to be spending some nights and weekends at the lab. Knowing
that, I’m going to consciously try to make time for doing things completely
unrelated to computers: playing board games, going curling, tasting beer,
playing with our cats, and spending time with Leigh.
Of couse, we’ll see how it goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2016
I end up doing completely different things. But these are a few of the things
I’m planning to think about right now.
Good luck in 2016, everyone. And Happy New Year!