Retrospective: 2013

2014 »
by Coranna Howard in Self

What a disaster that was.

Let's see here.. overview first. I spent 31 days house-sitting and subsequently 71 living with my grandmother (from the end of March), the latter while suffering from a severe chronic headache and paired mental impairment. This obliterated focus, efficiency, and progress on everything.

After July, the headache got somewhat better (presumably due to diet and return to the homestead), but it took until late November to develop a functional theory: fructose malabsorption. Tweaking saccharide consumption resolved the issue (yet another slow downramp), although there were undoubtedly other factors (especially from my grandmother's house).

(And yes, I did visit a doctor in June. They had no theories. Nutrition tracking in Onsang is going to be glorious… *drools*.)

During the first month I was with my grandmother, I somehow managed to make Prisma for Ludum Dare 26. It's amazing this thing is even coherent.

For study, I planned on taking Algorithms, Part II (which started in April), but I didn't have the health nor time for it. I later took and "completed"1 the second run in November. I also took Algorithms, Part I again for good measure and crammed in Calculus One, Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, Functional Programming Principles in Scala, and Automata. The last one seemed to be low-quality, so I didn't do any of the material. I also dropped the Scala course very early because I deemed it not worthwhile.

Yet the remaining workload was too taxing for the weekend, so I ended up dropping the rest of them (five or so weeks in), excepting the Algorithms courses. For Part I, I revisited material and revised code for assignments, so there wasn't much workload there (and I only intended to skim over it anyhow, since I had already completed the run back in March).

Once I was back home, work kept me busy & interrupted. The headache and mental impairment made effort on projects inefficient and slow (even when at its lowest potency). Hopefully now that it's gone I can finally get some Serious Time rolling.

Goal review

Earlier in the year I sketched out my goals for 2013. Most have not happened, and the rest that "have" are not complete.

  • Static site generator. I haven't even touched the design since January. Jekyll has gotten somewhat better (speed-wise) and I know the way my sites are setup is disgusting (yes, that's Jekyll's fault), but I've forgotten precisely why, so I don't feel the urgent desire to replace it. I'd still like to roll my own at some point.

  • Log keeper rebuild. This is very much WIP, but I've got an initial API (Hord) working and theoretically-correct networking complete for the server/client (Onsang).

    So far I've created three libraries to assist the project: Trait Wrangler (trait testing), ceformat (constexpr printf-like format parser and stdlib I/O library writer), and Beard (terminal-based UI). I hope to have something up and running once Beard is usable — and I can't wait. I have wondrous, ridiculous, and 100% obsessive ideas for Onsang's use.

  • Android time tracker. I'm putting this one off until Onsang matures. I intend to move all of my time tracking into Hord nodes so that the various logs aren't disparate (as is currently the case).

  • ØMQ broker. I hoped to have a use for this in Onsang, but now I don't think I'll be using ØMQ, so it's on the back-burner until I find it interesting again.

  • Game engine. It needs a redesign.. which I haven't dug into. It'll probably happen once I'm done with my current contract work, since I'm still aiming to make Prisma into a Real Game™ (although that's reciprocal because I'm going to use Prisma as a guinea pig to flesh out the engine).

2014 starter interests

There are too many awesome things in our universe. Here are some of my interests coming into 2014.

I learned of SuperCollider just last week from Jeremy Zuckerman, and it's probably one of the coolest language-environments I've ever seen. This reignited my interest in audio, and I'm going to devote some time to learning SuperCollider for generative/responsive music creation and sound foley. I'm also tacking on some music theory.

On the visual side of things, I've been mulling over how to maximize visualization via imagination in a non-interactive medium. Books (and writing in general) are great because of the imagery and atmosphere you can conjure from them. I still vividly remember scenes from books like Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, One Thousand and One Nights, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea — far more vividly than I can remember any of the countless comic pages I've read.

It's not just a static representation, either. I can step through parts of the scene and see its angles and people and creatures. I find several reasons for this.

  1. Books have longer spans of engagement, and the only tool at the reader's disposal is their imagination. Length of engagement certainly affects the retention of the imagined scenes and the play within it.

  2. On the flip size, the engagement in a comic is very low unless the reader is going through entire chapters in a single sitting. For web comics, the reader will spend a very small amount of time reading new pages (once they've gone through the backlog). Comics take all of the written imagery and turn it into literal imagery, but in doing so remove the reader's imagination from the equation. This is inherent, and the shorter length of engagement reduces even the retention of the speech.

  3. BRAINS.

I enjoy reading and writing stories where the reader's imagination is only nudged part-way with descriptions and left to conjure the form and dynamics. To me, giving the reader a unique experience of the story is a lot more exciting than setting the imagery in stone with art. The annoyance is that I find it difficult to convey imagery in a succinct and natural manner with written English. I'd like something more expressive, but I can't think of a decent way to expand into existing media without losing the imaginative element.

Simply using cued audio could work, but I'd have to be really careful with timing and flow. As soon as the reader wants to read the previous page, the mood is generally upended. And the text gets chopped down into bits that can actuate an audio effect, meaning there's a lot of page turning and smaller chunks of text… meaning the reader is upending flow a lot more often. It gets ugly.

Actually, audio is really only complementary. The text still has to describe things. The audio will only ever be a layer plastered on to help with the nudging.

It's possible I'm just a poor writer (I am) and haven't yet found the secret formula. I imagine this desire will remain for years unless I either 1. figure out how to expand; or 2. improve my modus operandi to the point where it doesn't bother me. I should probably keep writing.


I tracked 8747.7 hours total in 2013 with 14350 entries. 12.3 hours are mysteriously missing.

Here're some numbers:

Existence (selected ~3474.6 hours):

  • 2831.9 hours: sleeping; monthly: mean 235.99, min. 213.50 (February, duh), median 236.75 (July, September), max. 251.60 (December). Compare to: 2782.5 in 2012.

  • ~370.0 hours: eating.

  • 272.7 hours: preparing food.

Study, projects, and work (~2121.6 hours):

  • 876.6 hours: project programming (616 public commits), 966.0 total tagged as coding. Compare to (more efficient): 823.1 in 2012 and 1149.5 in 2011 (for which only 10 months were tracked!).

  • 591.6 hours: working, 59.5 of which were spent writing packaging documentation. Compare to: 239.4 in 2012 and 140.9 in 2011.

  • 304.9 hours: coursework (mostly programming) and study.

  • 178.8 hours: designing games.

  • ~121.3 hours: writing (non-work; probably overlaps a bit with game design).

  • 31.8 hours: playtesting.

  • 16.6 hours: video game quality assurance (related to above, but specifically: writing bug reports, investigating, and gathering data).

Entertainment (579.7 hours):

  • 268.2 hours: watching anime (224.3, eep) and western television (basically The Legend of Korra × 2 and Avatar: The Last Airbender) (43.9). Compare to: 255.8/40.0 in 2012.

  • 189.1 hours: gaming. Compare to: 537.3 in 2012 (235.5 of Diablo 3 — eeeee).

  • 81.7 hours: listening to podcasts. Compare to: ~244.7 in 2012 (lot of backlog).

  • 21.4 hours: watching films.

  • 19.3 hours: reading comics and manga.


  • 941.4 hours: tagged IRC (span-wise; does not accurately represent time spent solely communicating in IRC).

  • 658.9 hours: netloop; 425.2 tagged reddit (… terrible!), 208.9 tagged twitter, 91.7 tagged feedread (RSS, blogs, comics and such).

  • 143.4 hours: in Windows, 102.3 of which were for gaming. This doesn't include work, which is 100% Windows for software packaging.

  • 36350 scrobbles (nearly no podcast scrobbles). Top three albums: FEZ, Tamako Market, and the Legend of Korra. Top three artists: Jesper Kyd, 野見祐二 (Yuuji Nomi), and Disasterpeace. Kyd and Yuuji are top artists because their share is distributed amongst multiple albums. If the albums were grouped, the top three would be: Assassin's Creed series, Nichijou, and FEZ.


  • Games: 35.5, only 16 of which I have played. The 0.5 is Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, which is an expansion.

  • Game bundles: 8. Humble: Indie #7, Mojam #2, Android #7, Double Fine, Indie #8, Indie #9, and Daedalic (weekly). Indie Royale: Spring Sun.

  • Kickstarters backed: 17. Categories: animation (4), art (1), comic (4), game (5), music (2), podcast (1).

  • Music: 5 albums, 1 EP, and 1 single.

  • Books: 5 physical: The Art of Computer Programming (box set, counted by volume) and The Design and Implementation of the 4.4 BSD Operating System. 2 digital: Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty (aka Shiji — or parts of it, at least) and Mapping and Visualization with SuperCollider.

  • Hardware: CM QFR keyboard, AT-50M headphones, CO detector, Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 mainboard, 16GB flash drive, Grifiti Fat Wrist Pad 14 (terrible), AT2035 LDC microphone, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4, On Stage MS7701 stand, miscellaneous others.

  • Etc.: glass beaker, replacement tea infuser (how dare you break that!), chair (finally), assorted teas (the knolled survivors), and a digital thermometer.


  1. I only really had time for the lectures and assignments. I found the exercises in Part I to be tedious and not worthwhile, so I wasn't even going to bother with them in Part II.