A lot happened this year. Not really any easier way to describe the year.
Let's jump in.
Let's start with the elephant in the room: I'm a university student now. Yes, that's right, I am the loudest and proudest member of the fightin' Texas Aggies class of 2026, studying toward a BA in Communications.
Some of you may have noticed a detail about this: Texas is not Malaysia, my home for the last six years. So this summer was largely spent with the move from that continent to this one.
The good news: I love the A&M Communications department, far more than I was even expecting. I'm definitely in the right place.
The not-so-great news: it's winter right now and I miss the tropics so much.
A&M is a great school too; I'm part of both the University Honors program and Communications Departmental Honors, and I'm enjoying both programs. This semester I finished the last of my science requirements (by taking a Racquetball class, no less), thrived in my COMM 101 class and a Journalism class on American Mass Media, and got a bit frustrated in my US History and US Literature classes. They covered the same time period (foundations through the Civil War), but I don't feel a ton of stake in US history and kept running across examples of fairly narrow mindsets compared to the international scope I tend to think on.
But overall, my first semester went great and I'm looking forward to next semester, where I'll be taking Public Speaking, Group Communication and Discussion, Beginning French I, Concert Band (and lest I forget, I'm in the A&M pep band too), and Foundations of Money Education, among a few other things.
I did some blogging, but honestly not as much as I would like. You can check out my blogs and see what's there yourself.
Other than that:
- I launched A Rainless Sky, an interactive murder mystery set in a fantasy world of my own design. It messes a good deal with free will and causality and is somewhat mind-bending to write, which is why updates have been... slow. I hope to get to it, but since I wasn't originally planning to write it, it's lower on my list of priorities.
- I have a redesigned page for my writing you should check out. There's not much new there yet, but it does have a bunch of poetry that I'm publishing! I've written more and plan to put it up soon.
- There's a project I've been planning for two years that is finally ready to go: The Prodigal's Brother! This is a hard science fiction story set in the year 2078 and I am so excited. I put out the prologue on Christmas Eve and one update will be published every day of 2023. Please, check it out and let me know what you think; I'm really very excited to finally be publishing it after so long.
Not much other than that (I failed NaNoWriMo after four consecutive wins, but... University!), but I'm very excited about this year; having to publish a new chunk of story for The Prodigal's Brother every day should help me build a habit of writing and I have a ton of ideas I'm working on.
This was a big year! Let's start with the biggest thing:
I launched Freedom to Write, a formal grouping of projects focused on developing and supporting Free and Open Source Software for the writing industry. The first project, readable.css is out and has received a good bit of positive feedback!
I redesigned all of my sites as well (except for See With Eyes Closed which still needs a little work); they now all use readable.css and are based in Deno instead of NodeJS. (NPM, NodeJS's package manager, is owned by Microsoft and I'm trying to move away from depending on Microsoft.)
Speaking of moving away from Microsoft, I moved from the Microsoft-owned GitHub to Codeberg for all of my projects. I'm also moving toward more permissive licenses instead of the GPL for my code; I have a post about that coming out soon (hopefully).
I've had big strides this year in both hardware and software. Let's discuss!
I was daily driving a Surface Laptop (1st-generation) that has now been retired. May it rest in peace.
Just kidding, that thing was the worst laptop I've ever used! By the end, it's screen hinge didn't keep the lid up (I used a bookend to prop it up), the trackpad had popped out, the battery disconnected occasionally shutting down the computer, and my fifth replacement power cord had failed.
And because it was 0/10 repairable ([according to iFixit], "The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it."), the only option was to get a replacement. I stuck it out to the end of High School.
And now... (drumroll please) I have a Framework Laptop (12th Generation Intel)!
This thing is absolutely fantastic. Absolutely. Fantastic. I've got a full review coming out soon (hopefully).
I also got a Mechanical Keyboard, a Ducky One 3 TKL Daybreak, which you can look up to see how it looks. I have it with Cherry MX Clear switches, which are fantastic. My typing speed went up from ~100 wpm, where it had stagnated, to ~120 wpm since getting it, though for some reason I can also type that same speed on my laptop now. It's odd, but I'll take it!
Other hardware includes a Pine64 PineTime which is also really neat and should also hopefully have a full review out soon.
This is where things get interesting. For a long time, I was staying on Fedora Workstation with GNOME. Occasionally, I'd try something else, but nothing stuck.
Then I discovered... Vim. It's a text editor that's a complete paradigm shift. I can now edit text and code faster than ever before and without my hands ever leaving my keyboard.
I started looking around for other software to match; I found qutebrowser, a browser that also lets you use it keyboard-only, faster and more efficiently than I ever did things before. I'm much more comfortable now when browsing the web, focusing more on the actual sites instead of the process of navigating the sites.
The rabbit hole goes deeper. I switched to i3wm, then SwayWM, which works better on my Framework Laptop, window managers for my Linux install that let me control the entire operating system with my keyboard and have an enormous degree of control over it.
I also use a ton of different programs; most use keyboard shortcuts similar to vim's, helping me have a consistent experience across all my programs. They also run from the terminal, which probably only matters to you if you already know what that means. ;)
The final piece of the puzzle was mouseless which, true to its name, has completely done away with my need for a mouse. More than that, it allows arbitrary keyboard remapping, which is awesome.
I'll probably be posting more about that here on this blog and on tty1, my upcoming blog about the Linux terminal.
I've taken in a lot of writing, music, etc. this year, so I'll briefly go through that.
Liu Cixin is my new favorite Science Fiction author, I've decided. Not only do I love the Three-Body Problem trilogy, I've now read Ball Lightning and two short story collections and am in the middle of Supernova Era. His writing is fantastic, especially in the way it connects the large and small scale of plots. For example, one short story I read was about a hitman trying to take out targets in the middle of an alien invasion. You'd expect a story like that to be more focused on the alien invasion, a huge society-shifting event, but no, he's trying to take out his targets. Now, it turns out there's a connection, but that only shows how well Liu Cixin connects the large and small.
I haven't read as much as I'd have liked to this year. I read some Heinlein (and decided that while he's a good write, I disagree with much of what he writes). I reread some Asimov and Bradbury. I read a ton of early US literature for a class.
Not much else to report on this front, as far as I can recall right now. I wish I'd been tracking my reading progress on Bookwyrm so I could better report it, but I'll have to try that again this year.
- Supernova Era by Liu Cixin
- What if 2 by Randall Munroe
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (it's a reread, and yes I know that sounds like bragging but it is so good on the reread)
Everyone's listing this on their "Year in Review" posts, so here goes. I listen to:
- Writing Excuses
- Command Line Heroes
Not much else at the moment; occasionally I also listen to Writer's Routine, but not regularly.
I don't watch much. But:
- I loved the new Dune movie
- Did I watch anything else new? I'm not sure I did.
I've got some RSS feeds for you I'm gonna spit out without much explanation:
For more, view the list I subscribe to. This also includes some feeds of my own stuff, since why not?
more from me
Okay, I'm done for now, I think. Maybe I'll add something if I think of it.
If you want updates as I'm doing things, you should follow me on Mastodon. I post there a ton.
I'm looking forward to a great 2023!