Joe Woods

Published on 2020-12-31

December 2020

Hello!

I am sure that I will not be the first to say that it has been a weird year. I'm thankful that I was able to spend so much of this year working on myself, trying to be the best person I can be and setting myself up for an infinite number of exciting, fantastic futures.

I've tried to think of some resolutions for the new year, but really, I can't think of anything that I'm not already confident I'm going to do — and that's something I'm awfully dang proud of!

I hope you're doing well too. I hope you had a great holiday season, and that you too will go on to do fun, exciting things in 2021.

Music

Wow, we did it — that's 11 blog posts across 12 months! Here's December's post. And here's the playlist:

Life

I was very grateful to be able to take two weeks off at the end of December (and very beginning of January, too, technically). It's been nice to get some rest and relaxation that I didn't quite realize that I needed!

M got an Oculus Quest 2, which is a seriously fantastic piece of hardware. I've played through Superhot VR, which was quite fun and silly; I'm also playing Tetris Effect, which is nothing like what I was expecting. Tetris Effect came out over two years ago now, and based on its promotional materials, I sort of expected it to be this peaceful and pretty experience. It's certainly a great-looking game, but I did not expect it to be as intense as it is… nor did I really expect for there to be this theme of overarching humanism to come across so heavily. Basically, I expected a pretty Tetris game, not a message about how your soul can traverse the universe to show how we are all connected — but I'm not complaining, it's pretty fun. Check out this video of a playthough of a particularly intense level if you're not convinced.

I have mostly been playing Beat Saber. I did not realize how large of an arrow-shaped hole was left in my heart by not being able to play Dance Dance Revolution due to the pandemic. I'm glad that I've fully been able to fill that hole with arrows that fly toward me on blocks instead. At time of writing, I've only been playing for about a week, but I think I've gotten up to the level where I'm no longer trying to match my existing rhythm game skills to the mechanics of the game, and now I get to just get better and grow. I've also revived my rhythm game Twitter account, which I created for scoreposting back in February so as not to spam my main Twitter account. I only had about three weeks in the US to use it, though, before we all stayed home for a while! I wish there were a Mastodon instance for rhythm games — I am vaguely throwing around the notion of starting one, but I don't really feel linked in to the community enough to do so.

Anyway, at time of writing, I'm becoming comfortable with Expert songs, absolutely cannot pass Expert+ songs yet, and can sightread near-FCs on Hard. The skill jump between levels in this game is a pretty wide gulf to cross!

VR, in general, is super cool. It feels to me like what the internet in the nineties must have felt like: astonishing, awesome in the literal sense, hard to comprehend, full of promise, clearly and obviously the future. I didn't have the skills to really learn how to code back when the internet was expanding — mostly because I was too young — let alone to learn how to build applications on the web. I'm going to make sure I can at least participate from the sidelines this time around, though!

I've also spent more time on IRC this month, having spent time migrating fully from Limechat to irssi in tmux. IRC is a weird place, but you can find me as tjwds on a few servers; the best place to contact me is probably Freenode, as expected.

Finally, a few friends and I did a digital Secret Santa exchange where we all were assigned someone to make a short video about. This was really fun, and everyone involved made some really great stuff. Though we weren't able to meet up in person this year, it was nice to see folks and spread some holiday cheer!

Programming

I spent a whole lot of time on Advent of Code this month. I did end up giving up halfway though day 20, but that's a lot further than I've gotten in the past! The beginning was fun, but the last day was very involved and I wrote a bug which I spent more than an hour trying to unravel in day 20 and decided that it just wasn't worth it anymore. It was really nice to make a routine around writing code that I had to stick to, though.

I also finally got around to updating my online homepage, which is now live at joewoods.dev. I tried to make this sort of digital directory / business card at least interesting without being ugly or obnoxious, and I think I did an alright job. At least it's now more interesting than what was there before, and now hosted at the right domain — that's one fewer property at the old hosting provider to migrate.

I had been planning to spend a whole lot of time on the failbetter migration this month, and it ultimately ended up going pretty well. After a few false starts, I was able to write some scripts to automate what parts of the migration could be migrated, though unfortunately, many aspects of the migration require a small human touch… and across over 1,000 works, that really does add up! Unfortunately, I won't be fully done by the time I go back to work in the new year, but this massive project that I've been planning for quite a while now does seem like it'll be drawing to a close relatively soon.

Reading

Early this month, I finished The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. I thought it was really… stellar. Not quite one of my favorite books of all time, but there are little moments in this book that really shine. Especially the next to last scene. There's absolutely no feeling of closure that comes from the end of this novel, which is sort of a shame, in my opinion, but that's what the rest of the series is for!

I also read The Bridge by Iain Banks this month. It was fine! There were certain aspects of it that I did like, and others that I didn't, but it was engaging enough to keep me thinking about it for a while. I just couldn't really identify with any of the characters in this one, which is unlike my typical experience with many of Banks's other works. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it.

And to round out the year, I'm currently in the middle of Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis — more to come when I finish it!

failbetter

This month, failbetter published three works:

Some other stats

This month,

That's it! Thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch with me any time at joewoods@fastmail.com.