My 2018 in review: Udacity and beyond!

We’re almost another revolution around the sun and a lot has changed for me this year. I won a Google scholarship, got a promotion, completed a Udacity Nanodegree, lost some weight, and worked on lots of cool side projects. Now as we slide through December, I’m looking back on this year and what it’s meant to me.

Google and Udacity

In January of this year I was selected to participate in the Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship, in which I completed a series of web development tracks with 10,000 other developers in the United States. At the end of the program, I was in the top 1,000 performers and won a Udacity Mobile Web Specialist scholarship, which I completed in July.

The continued education aspect of Udacity has been great, as the program coordinators frequently reconnect with alumni to provide resources and events. I really recommend Udacity to anyone looking to learn a new skill.

Fitness

I started a regular yoga practice this April that I’ve been sticking with for the year. Initially I was doing at least 30 minutes a day every single day, but now I’ve settled into a 5-day weekly routine. For anyone looking to explore yoga in 2019, I highly recommend the videos at DoYogaWithMe. I do a solo practice with these videos, and I’m particularly partial towards anything by Fiji McAlpine!

Next year I want to start making more changes to my diet to complement what I’m doing on the mat. I’ve been exploring the idea of lifting weights, too. I’m heading into 2019 with a stronger focus on fitness than ever before, and I’m hoping to keep that momentum!

Work

This May, while completing my Udacity Nanodegree, I also received a promotion at work. While I wouldn’t say it’s because of the certification, my newfound knowledge certainly became central to my new job responsibilities. I’m now managing most of our digital assets and websites, as well as leading web app projects with our proprietary technology.

And in the last two months, I’ve assumed responsibility of all AdWords advertising with the goal of expanding into Facebook soon. I’m excited to see where this next year takes me and what I might learn in helping our company. Being provided the opportunities to use and master these skills on the job has been so self-fulfilling, but it’s also drained a significant amount of my free time. I hope to keep working on my side projects next year, so I’ll have to make an effort to consistently carve out time!

Projects

Between completing the Google challenge round and starting my actual Udacity course, I started to develop an idle game in Vue called Ophion. This was my first time building anything in a JavaScript framework and it was a tough learning process! I was still getting used to ES6 and the project had a lot of initial growing pains. I learned so much while tinkering with the experimental game I was building, but I shelved it upon starting my Nanodegree. I’d like to pick it back up next year, but I have a feeling I’ll take what I learned and apply it to something else first.

Then I garnered a sharp interest in fantasy consoles and wanted to build something really old and different than the modern frameworks I was constantly using. A lot of the consoles are in Lua, but I found TIC-80 in JavaScript and I was able to stick with the language I’ve been using all year. I ended up participating in a quarterly #FC_JAM, and you can read about my endeavors using TIC-80 in JavaScript.

Between those I finished my Nanodegree, and then I tabled both of the above projects to start working on Pinwheel, my highly opinionated fork of the Ranvier MUD engine. I eased in by exploring the general concepts behind MUDs in the age of modern video games. I argue that MUDs provide a sense of telepresence unmatched by similar forms of media, and I’m eager to explore the possibilities with modern technology. The engine I’m using is built in JavaScript and has been heavily rewritten from the Ranvier original.

In starting this project, I stumbled across The MUD Coders Guild. We’re all interested in or working on MUDs, and we have a very active Slack. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re reading this! The developers in this group have built lots of new MUD technology that connect resources between games in our very niche gaming community.

I want to use these new technologies to make it easier and faster to try out a MUD like my own and play it on a wide variety of devices, including mobile. I’m also building a web app to sit on top of my code to allow for another yet interface to the underlying engine. I’ve blogged about my maxims and goals for this project, and I know Pinwheel will continue to feature prominently on this blog in 2019. I’m currently nearing a 0.5 release with the initial rewritten skeleton.

Blogging

I’ve also consistently maintained this blog this year, which is a big accomplishment for me! I’ve kept plenty of blogs before but never with a static site generator. Designing it from scratch, coding the structure, styling the pieces, and maintaining the entire thing has made the blog a labor of love.

Besides this post, I’ve published 14 blog posts this year totaling more than 25,000 words! That’s a novella—or half a month of NaNoWriMo! I’ve posted at least one post per month for this entire year, which was a goal I set for myself when I created the blog initially.

I’m exploring the idea of turning this entire blog (and my website) into a PWA (Progressive Web App) soon with Vue and VuePress, but I’ll have to preserve the SEO structure I’ve built so far, because I’ve already accumulated nearly a hundred pages and Google is ranking me in search results now!

See you in 2019!