2023 in review

Year of the Rabbit is ending, so I decided to take a look back at things I've done in those last twelve months.

Fun 2023 stuff

Demoscene debut

Joining the Ghostown Amiga group and working with them on our latest production, the 64K Amiga OCS intro titled "Electric Lifeforms", was definitely a highlight of 2023 for me. It made quite a splash too, after winning 1st place in the "Amiga Intro" category at Revision, it quickly climbed charts on pouet.net, and we even got an article in the paper magazine!

(I may look unamused in the photo they featured, but I swear I was just really tired. ^^")

My role in the project was mostly helping with smaller implementation details and post-processing - syncing effects to the music, coding transitions etc. I was also helping with implementing a custom floppy bootblock to help us save up some RAM.

I have to say, as someone still rather new to the demoscene, I was absolutely overwhelmed by all the positive reactions we got at the party. I met a bunch of awesome new people from all over the world (well, mostly Europe, but still!) and felt really welcomed as a newbie.

It wasn't our last word too - we will be back with something even better. Someday... >:)

x68000 venture

I managed to fix and run not one but two of those legendary (at least in Japan) Sharp machines - Expert (1989) and Super (1991) models. As most of them, they suffered from dead PSUs, and, in case of Super, some nasty corrosion that was causing problems with the soft power-on circuitry. It is staying with me for further experimentation, while the Expert found a loving home in Germany with a fellow demoscener.

With the power issues taken care of, I have almost a complete setup to start working with X68000 for real. But I miss two rather important components - a keyboard and a mouse, which dovetails nicely with the next point on my list:

First steps into electronics design

This one wouldn't be possible without polprog, who is as awesome as a teacher as he is as a boyfriend. With his guidance, I was able to design and assemble a prototype USB adapter board for the aforementioned X68000 computer. While the firmware is still a work in progress, first tests are promising!

Plan 9 adventures

If you don't know, SDF is regularly organizing Plan 9/9front "bootcamps", which are really a series of workshops and challenges to familiarize people with this peculiar OS. Over the course of few months we learned about how serious Plan 9 treats the "everything is a file" principle and how to work with it on daily basis. We did a bit of theming and of course the most serious challenge of them all - learning how to use acme. I was cheating a bit because I already had some experience with 9front, but shhh...

At the end of it I was one of the six people who scored the highest amount of points and even won the Raspberry Pi Zero running 9 front! Though the most enjoyable prize I got out of the bootcamp was making more amazing internet friends!

As fun as the SDF venture was, it wasn't my only Plan 9-related activity this year. I tried solving some of the Advent of Code puzzles in Alef, the language created during the OS development. Like the Alef itself, my efforts were rather short-lived, but I managed to write some working code in it. On daily basis I am a Go programmer, and since Alef is one of the languages that could be called grandparents of Go, it was really fun to see for myself where it all started.

I have a few smaller and bigger Plan 9/9front projects in my backlog for 2024, with a public presentation/workshop for university students and staff being the first one.

New job

I've been working at my current job for 4 years now. In general I enjoyed my time there, learned a lot and my direct coworkers were always competent and easy-going bunch. But 2023 was a year of dreadful projects and big changes at the company, which caused me to think about leaving more and more often. So it was a really nice christmas surprise to learn a big telecom company is interested in hiring me for the senior R&D position. It's going to be quite a jump for me, but I'm feeling hopeful about it.

Japanese progress

This one is a win, but a bit bittersweet. Sweet, because I made a substantial progress with my vocab and reading skills, to a point where I can go through simple games and mangas without stopping every other word to open up the dictionary.

Bitter, because I know I've been slacking quite a bit and wasn't systematic. I could be early N3 level right now (JLPT has 5 levels, with N5 being the lowest), but as for now, I am barely N4. At least I think, didn't take the official exams yet. One nice thing is I managed to keep up a consistent Anki streak since June:

I also started translating the "Inside X68000" book into English for my USB adapter project, but it will take a while.

Where to?

I am not good with resolutions and forming habits, so instead of those, I have a loose list of things I'd like to accomplish this year. I don't think I'll do all of them, but hitting at least 3/4 of them would be really nice.

  • Writing for my tech blog more consistenly: I have a lot of half-finished posts in my drafts, would be nice to publish them someday! Especially to continue the "Amiga demoscene for beginners" series, which was blocked for half a year due to backporting features into our Amiga framework.

  • Publish another demo with Ghostown: I have only partial control over it as we of course work as a team and most of us have their own adult lives, but I'd try my best to not slow things down.

  • Take a JLPT exam: I decided to skip N5 exam (as it is really easy) and go straight for N4 this year, mostly to challenge myself and force to study more.

  • Finish my Plan 9-related things: other than the aforementioned presentation, there are other things I'd really like to do, but I am not comfortable revealing them just now.

  • Working through a backlog of my old hardware that needs fixing: I have a lot of old machines that need maintenance. Some are minor things like recapping, some will require much more love (like a beaten up IBM PS/2 Model 60 currently hiding in my closet).