A Year Of... interesting things

2016 In Review

2016 was a Year of Hobbies with some emphasis on robotics.

Success. Failure.

The year started with me purchasing a LEGO Mindstorms kit and with the help of my daughter I even built a few robots. I don’t know precisely what happened, but all of a sudden it felt if not boring, at least dull.

Perhaps it was as soon as we built the claw robot and it worked well picking up the object off one side, but had troubles securing it on the other side, and it all started feeling like it debugging job and that’s something I already do too much in my main line of work.

I didn’t like the programming environment much either. As a software developer, it felt restricting rather than enabling and installing the Linux OS on it, while empowering, moved the needle too much toward the feels-like-work side of the specter.

Looking back, a Scratch-like or Blockly-like (used by code.org) language would’ve served the Mindstorms much better.

It was an interesting experience and I am desperetaly wishing something interesting comes my way again that will make me bring my Mindstorms out of their boxes.

The year, to a large extent, it was also a success, seeing how I’ve listed video games under hobbies. I’ve played a good amount of video games.

And then I encountered Destiny and my free time was done for.

Not all for naught, though:

  • In the social space, Destiny increased my list of friends from roughly 3 to over 80. A lot of these friends I hang out with even if we’re playing different games.

  • In the personal space, Destiny helped me build my patience and helped me work on my (in)ability to complete tasks/projects, including asking (bothering) friends for help;

  • As the first console multi-player game I’ve played (how did I manage to get through 5 HALOs without ever playing PVP?!) it was both a satisfactory and a humbling experience. I’m old(er) and therefore my reflexes are slow, but the severe beatings I got in the Crucible, Destiny player-vs-player (PVP) arena definitely took my ego down a notch.

  • Lastly, Destiny opened the door to programming Slack bots (showoff and DestinyTracker) and allowed me to enjoy the wonderful community built around an incredible app: Ishtar Commander (iOS, Android)

Lessons Learned

What worked comes again from the world of video games.

Having bite-sized concrete tasks, i.e. quests, missions, and bounties, that are are trackable and when appropriate measurable, helped keep me engaged. The satisfaction from completing this tasks was large even from the smallest of them.

What didn’t work came from the first half of the year where and when I did a poor job of defining measurable tasks and even poorer job of tracking them.

That is by far the #1 tool I have to implement going into the new year: define and manage “deliverables”.


Video-games will definitely carry over into 2017. I want to keep playing - but keeping it at a reasonable pace (maybe a few hours a week?) as it shouldn’t provide a distraction from the goals of 2017 or even normal life goals, but it should be there as a relief valve, something my personal situation has required quite often throughout 2016; however the lesson of trackable, measurable goals should constantly remind me that I need to continue applying them in fulfilling the goals of the new year and even those of day-to-day life.

Furthemore, I will continue my engagement with the Slack-bot projects mentioned above, and hopefully find novel way of either incorporating my 2017 targets or perhaps would make for good resume padding buzzwords.

Finally, I’d also like to find a way to bring back Mindstorms into the mix, but at the moment of writing this reflective post, I do not know how to make that happen.

Resource used

LEGO Mindstorms


Let me say that I’ve never seen a community like Destiny’s.
It’s vibrant, it’s opinionated, it’s kind, it’s vocal, and it’s in no small part due to how Bungie managed it from community engagement to opening APIs deep into their game engine.

Here’s to 2017 being better.

So what did you think about this post? Liked it? Hated it? Thought it was stupid? Thought I was stupid? Deemed it to be informative? Found mistakes or misinformation? Want to lavish excessive praise or cast fiery insults? Contact me and have at it.