January 2021

Well, it’s been an interesting month. I often talk about these articles as time capsules; if, decades down the line, I or someone else wanted to come and see what I had been up to the month that President Biden was inaugurated, that there was an armed group who was encouraged and succeeded in storming the United States Capitol Building, and that memes took on Wall Street… well, maybe you’d be surprised to see that I did actually manage to get some stuff done this month.

Things have been just fine for me. I hope you’re doing well too. This month, I wrote a lot of code for work and a little bit outside of it, somehow. I read an astonishing amount, and I had a huge success in getting help with the failbetter migration project.

I hope you had a great month too.


It’s time for year two of the music blog! I’m toying around with the format a little. Here’s the article, and here’s the playlist:


It’s worth mentioning that I did two things to organize my inboxes this month:

  • First, I migrated all of the newsletters I actually read to Feedbin. This makes more sense to me, as entries in my email inboxes at work and at home represent items that I need to do, and “read this thing” todos fit into a totally different paradigm that I already set up with Feedbin. This is a pretty great feature, and I’m glad to be able to use it!
  • Secondly, I’ve completely shifted the way I organize emails: I used to use whether or not an email was unread (that is, the lack of the Seen flag) as whether or not the email needed action. Now, unread literally just means I haven’t looked at the message, and if it’s in my inbox, it still represents a thing to do, otherwise, I archive it.


I have been slowly working my way though A Programmer’s Introduction to Mathematics by Jeremy Kun. Though I’m only partway through it, I can already tell that this will be one of my favorite programming books ever, if not my favorite. Though there are still critical concepts to come in the later chapters, this book has given me the confidence to be able to work through a whole new domain of problems, as well as widening the perspectives and approaches I take in regards to computer science in general.

And it’s really nice that my brain no longer turns off when I scan my eyes upon formulas marked up in LaTeX, especially since the vast majority of them mean “add some stuff together.”

Other than that, I didn’t get a whole lot done! No public-facing projects to share this month, though I did write some code here and there. I have brought someone new onboard to assist me with the non-automatable portions of the failbetter migration, which is a massive relief for me.


At the very beginning of this month, I finished Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis. I thought it was alright, and certainly not offensive, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of a few of the mechanics of the book. It does start to pick up the pace as the book progresses, but I also was dissatisfied with the ending. I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading it, though!

Next, I read Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi. This was an extremely difficult book, but it is all the better for it. It really asks a lot of hard questions, and the atmosphere it creates isn’t pretty or cinematic, but it’s something that I’m glad I was able to read.

After that, one of my friends had given me a physical copy of Recursion by Blake Crouch, promising that I wouldn’t be able to put it down. She was right! It certainly wasn’t a perfect novel, but it was extremely interesting, very gripping, and knew just what to say at the right time to keep you engaged. Nothing about this novel, from the characters to the sci-fi backdrop, was particularly believable, but it was so incredibly fun. If you’re looking for an action-packed sci-fi thriller, well, you’ve probably already read this one!

Finally, I read Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This is the next trilogy within the same fantasy universe as three other books I read late last year. This one was a bit different, in that I don’t really think it stood on its own as a singular novel — while the first three could have been read without touching any of the others, Ship of Magic really feels like one third of a book. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It was interesting, the world obviously as well-crafted as the same world from the first three; the way each character, even the patently evil ones, have something about them that makes them redeemable is astonishing and really makes you think.

So, of course, after a little bit of a back and forth, I decided to go straight into the next book in the series, The Mad Ship. More to come when I finish it!

Whew, I read a lot this month!


This month, failbetter published two works:

Some other stats

This month,

  • I typed 868,496 keys and clicked 157,095 times.
  • I listened to 1,957 songs.
  • 13 albums escaped from the Album Gauntlet
  • I wrote 23,702 words in my personal journal.

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