2018 in Review

This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2018.

Posts Summary

This year I set out to learn about Bioinformatics. I completed the Bioinformatics class on Coursera. Under this umbrella I wrote about Cell Biology and DNA Sequencing. I’m on my way to write about DNA Fragment Assembly, but wanted to work out the theory behind it first, which led me to Eulerian Circuits and De Bruijn Graphs.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 11.09.01 PM

I was curious about current technologies such as Blockchain and Two-factor Authentication and wrote a bit about them.

One of my resolutions for last year was to learn the Rust programming language. I implemented the code from few of my posts using it, including the HyperLogLog data structure and a solver for a game called Bulls and Cows. I still ventured a bit with OCaml by learning BuckleScript (JavaScript with OCaml syntax).

I continued my slow progress in studying Distributed Systems. This year I read Google’s F1 Database paper and wrote about LSM Trees.

Besides BuckleScript, I haven’t dedicated too much time to Web Development topics, the other one being Layout properties of CSS.

The Blog in 2018

The most popular post is still the 2014 Introduction to the Parsec Library, with 1.3k visits. From this year, the recreational math problem, Bulls and Cows was most viewed. Overall the blog had a total of 9.6k visitors.

I kept the resolution to post once a month on average. The blog completed 6 years with 79 posts.

Resolutions for 2019

I’ll repeat my resolutions from 2018 for 2019. I don’t think I learned nearly the minimum of Rust, especially around memory management, and I’ve only scratched the surface on Bioinformatics. Besides DNA analysis I learned more about other problems like protein folding that seem exciting.

I haven’t done any mobile projects and only read one paper, so I’ll put these on the bucket list as well.

Personal

The end of the year is a good time to look back and remember all the things I’ve done besides work and the technical blog.

Trips

I enjoy traveling and 2018 had plenty of trips. I haven’t had been to Europe before and this year I happened to go twice! Once for work, to England and another time for pleasure, to Greece.

In England I explored mostly around London including the cities of Bath and Dover.

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Top: Tower Bridge; Iconic double-decker bus; Rosetta Stone at the British Museum. Bottom: Roman Baths; Dover Cliffs; Windsor Castle.

The trip to Greece included Athens, Santorini and a train ride to Kalambaka, to see the Meteora monasteries.

greece.png

Top: Athens seen from the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and Santorini. Bottom: Temple of Zeus in Athens, a monastery on top of a mountain and the Akrotiri museum.

There were also trips around the US, including Albuquerque in New Mexico, New Orleans in Louisiana and Los Angeles in California.

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Top: Taos Pueblo near Santa Fe NM, Petroglyphs in Albuquerque NM, Venice Canals in Los Angeles. Bottom: Getty Museum in Los Angeles; Jackson Square in Louisiana; French Quarter in Louisiana.

There was also a trip to Montana, to the Glacier National Park. I really like National Parks and I’m glad to have visited this one, which is very beautiful.

glacier.png

Glacier National Park: Iceberg Glacier, Mountain Goat and Bearhat Mountain

 

Books

This year I read a lot of non-fiction, especially science-related. My favorites science books were:

  •  Blind Watchmaker from Richard Dawkins. He delves into Darwin’s theory of evolution to  conclude it’s the most probable explanation for the existence of life on Earth.
  • Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley is a highly engaging and elucidating tour of our genome. Each chapter is dedicated to one chromosome and he provides an example of trait or disease related to it.
  • The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson. It describes some fascinating detective work from a doctor during a time we knew a lot less about diseases.

In the realms of humanities,

  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker is a thorough presentation of facts and data to back the claim that despite localized set backs and short-term regressions, the world has been becoming more progressive. The idea that stuck the most with me is that each new generation tends to be more progressive than their parents, which shines a optimist light to a more humane future.
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty makes the claim that the success of a nation has nothing to do with geography, race or culture. There is a lot of world history in this book and I learned a bunch about different countries.

I also enjoyed some biographies,

  • I Am Malala – inspiring story from a Pakistani girl who went on to win the Nobel Peace prize in 2014. Great overview of the history of Pakistan, and the life of a civilian under the regime of the Taliban.
  • Born a Crime – The comedian Trevor Noah had a pretty happening life. The book covers the recent history of South Africa and especially the Apartheid. He provides an interesting perspective on growing up on the later part of that regime and for being the son of a black mother and a white father.

and reading stuff related to trips,

  • For Greece, I chose The King Must Die by Mary Renault. It is a fiction set in the mythical kingdom of Minos in Crete. I really like the fact it alludes to Greek myths but the story itself does not rely on supernatural elements.
  • For Montana, I picked A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. It’s a short story set in rural Montana and a constant theme is family relations, fishing and the big questions of life.
  • A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon. I was in Japan in 2017, not in 2018, but I only managed to finish the book this past year. I learned a bunch about the recent Japanese history, but not in enough detail to change how I thought about the experiences from my trip.

Movies

I haven’t watched many movies but really enjoyed Coco and Crazy Rich Asians.

 

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2017 in Review

This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2017.

I focused on finishing reading Purely Functional Data Structures, by Chris Okasaki, which was one of my goals from last year, so it’s no surprise that more than half of my posts were notes on it. In the process, I learned more about OCaml’s features. Speaking of OCaml, I used it to answer a question on subsequences.

I also completed a course on Scala, which was another of my 2017’s resolutions.

I finally took some time to play with my raspberry Pi, to develop a web server and a simple monitoring system.

Other things included learning more about how JavaScript works, about Google’s Spanner database. I’ve also attended a conference, the OpenVis Conf.

Personal

The end of the year is a good time to look back and remember all the things I’ve done besides work and the technical blog.

Trips

As in 2016, 2017 was very busy with trips.

I visited quite a few cities in the Eastern US this year. This included Washington DC, Baltimore, Boston and Chicago. I must say they have better museums than the West coast. My favorite ones were the Smithsonian and the Boston MFA.

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Top: Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Downtown Boston. Bottom: Marina City Towers in Chicago, MIT in Cambridge.

I love National Parks and was glad to be able to visit a few of them. This included trips to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, here in California. In Seattle, I made a quick trip to the Olympic National Park. And more recently, Carlsbad Caverns and Big Bend (New Mexico and Texas).

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Top: Trail in Kings Canyon National Park; Cape Flattery, near Olympic National Park.
Bottom: Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park; White Sands National Monument

For a long time I wished to visit Japan and I was finally able to make it. I spent 2 weeks there, exploring the main cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Komatsu, Hiroshima, Himeji.

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Top: 1. Tokyo, 2. Temple in Nara, 3. Fushimi Inari-taisha.
Bottom: 4. Itsukushima Shrine, 5. Himeji Castle, 6. Mount Hakusan National Park

Books

I read a lot of fiction this year.

War and Peace took me a long time to get through, but it was a very rewarding read. It’s a mix between history, philosophy and fiction, set during the 1812 invasion or Russia by Napoleon. Slaughterhouse-Five is also about war, the WWII, with a dark humor take.

If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino is sort of a meta-book, full of self-references. Pretty interesting read.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Strange Weather in Tokyo and Snow Country all have their background in Japan. I enjoyed the idea of reading books related to a country before visiting it.

I’m usually not into science-fiction but I enjoyed reading Red Mars.

books

For non-fiction, Survival of the Sickest was my favorite science book of the year. Homo Deus was also very interesting. It’s from the same author of Homo Sapiens, Yuval Harari. Even though it’s about the future of humanity, I liked his discussions of the present better – especially about humanism.

The Blog in 2017

Like last year, the most popular post was the Introduction to the Parsec Library, with 1.6k visits. From this year, the notes on Google’s Spanner database paper got 250 views. Overall it had 9.5k visitors.

I kept the resolution to post at least once a month. The blog completed 5 years with 66 posts.

Resolutions for 2018

For this year, I plan to learn Rust. I haven’t decided which technical book to read yet. I also want to learn mobile development and read more papers.

2016 in Review

This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2016.

This year I improved my knowledge on Web Development, learning more about HTTPS, JavaScript development, Web workers. I read a book about human-computer interaction, The Design of Everyday Things.

From my last year’s resolutions, I finished reading Code Complete. I’ve started learning about OCaml and started reading Purely Functional Data Structures by Okasaki, while implementing the data structures introduced in this book in OCaml. I’m still only 1/4 of the way in, so I’ll keep it in my 2017 goals.

I’ve only managed to try out one data visualization project, the hex map, and I’ll continue exploring this area next year.

I missed enrolling in any Coursera classes and learning about either Scala or Spark, unfortunately.

Personal

The end of the year is a good time to look back and remember all the things I’ve done besides work and the technical blog.

Trips

In 2016 I was lucky to have travelled a lot. In the beginning of the year, I did a road trip around Arizona, where I visited some beautiful National Parks and monuments, and a Biosphere, which inspired a blog post!

Arizona: Saguaro NP, Chiricahua Monument and Blue Mesas at Petrified Forest NP

1. Arizona: Saguaro NP; 2. Chiricahua Monument; 3. Blue Mesas at Petrified Forest NP

I’ve also been back to Brazil, which included a short trip to Caldas Novas in Goiás, where many resorts and hot springs are located.

Then I had an opportunity to work for a month in Tel Aviv, Israel. During my free time I visited Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada National Park, and Eilat. I also visited the magnificent Petra, the ancient city carved on stone, in Jordan. This was the most fantastic and memorable trip of the year.

1. Yehuda Market in Jerusalem; 2. ruins in Petra, Jordan; 3. a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

1. Yehuda Market in Jerusalem; 2. ruins in Petra, Jordan; 3. a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

Later in the year I’ve been to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and also stopped by some museums in Salt Lake City in the way.

1. Prismatic springs; 2. Yellowstone falls; 3. Grand Teton NP

1. Prismatic springs; 2. Yellowstone falls; 3. Grand Teton NP

Shorter trips included Austin TX, Seattle WA, Mammoth Lakes CA and Las Vegas NV. It was a pretty intense year in terms of travelling, including 2 new countries and 5 new US states. I’m very grateful for being able to see these places and I hope 2017 will also be plenty in exploring.

Books

I read some really good books in 2016. Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene were my favorite science books. Empires of Indus is a great book on the history of civilization around the Indus river.

Farewell to Manzanar is a touching biography of Jeanne Wakatsuki focusing on internment camps Japanese Americans were sent to, in particular Manzanar, during the Second World War. I had a chance to visit the historical site that exists there today.

I haven’t read much fiction but Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Morgenstern’s The Night Circus were entertaining.

As for biographies, my favorite is Einstein‘s by Walter Isaacson. I had enjoyed his work on Steve Jobs and he didn’t disappoint here. Einstein is one of the few scientists I also admire as a person.

Movies

I’m not a big movie watcher, but this year I made a point of watching well known classic movies and it was rewarding. I’ve seen: A Clockwork Orange, Empire of the Sun, The Godfather, Schindler’s List, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Seven Samurai, Akira, My Neighbor Totoro and Gandhi.

The Blog in 2016

The most popular post was the Introduction to the Parsec Library, with 2k visits. No post from this year got popular, all of them below 50 visits :( Overall it had 7.5k visitors.

I kept the resolution to post once a month. I missed April, but I made up for it in November, so I wrote a total of 12 posts (excluding the meta post). The blog completed 4 years with 51 posts.

And we now have a new domain, kunigami.blog :)

Resolutions for 2017

I missed many resolutions from last year, so I’ll carry some over, which includes finishing Okasaki’s Purely Functional Data Structures and learning about Scala and Spark. I’d like to write an iPhone app next year too and continue exploring ideas around data visualization.

2015 in Review

Another year is over! This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2015. I’ve been in the US for over 3 years now. 🇺🇸

This year I revisited a programming language that I already knew a little, Python (here, here and here). I’ve also written about JavaScript and Haskell. Unfortunately I didn’t learn any new language this year.

From my last year’s resolution, I finally managed to finish reading the Real World Haskell, which I started reading back in 2011 (see this first post). I’m 1/3 through Code Complete, but I haven’t started the Purely Functional Data Structures (I bought the book at least, so I’ll stick it into my 2016 resolutions!)

I haven’t fulfilled the goal to read more code. It’s not as exciting as writing code, so I had trouble sticking to this resolution.

I’ve completed a short class from a Coursera, Data Manipulation at Scale: Systems and Algorithms, and I ended up not concluding the WebGL Programming class.

I had really memorable times on trips to California’s parks and forests, especially the world’s tallest trees from the Redwood National Park, the unique desert flora from Joshua Tree National Park, the cinder cones from Lassen National Park and the great Mount Shasta.

Sceneries in California

Landscapes in California

I’ve done a business trip to New York and Seattle. In New York I visited a few museums.

Museum of Math in NYC

Museum of Math in NYC

The Blog in 2015

The most popular post was the Introduction to the Parsec Library, with 2.2k visits. No post I wrote this year got a lot of traction, React.js introduction being the top with 250 visitors.

The blog was visited by 7k people over the year, up from 5k last year.

I’ve tried to post once a month, but missed September and December. I did post more than once in some months though, for a total of 14 posts. The blog completed 3 years with 38 posts.

Resolutions for 2016

I want to learn 2 new languages. One is Scala a functional programming language on top of the JVM, and it’s the language Apache Spark, the distributed data processing framework I want to learn more about, is written on.

The other language is OCaml. I’ve studied Haskell for a while, so I think it’s time to move on to other. I’m still interested in Functional Programming, and I’m planning to read Okasaki’s Purely Functional Data Structures, which used Standard ML. Looks like OCaml is based on Standard ML, so I hope to kill two birds with one stone.

I’m also interested in the application of computer science in other sciences, such as in Biology and Physics. I’ll look for Coursera classes to get started on subjects like genetics.

If those are not enough resolutions, I also wish to do more experimental/creative work regarding data visualization. I’ve started a github repository a while back, but ended up creating only one experiment, to visualize Earthquakes in California over time, using proportional symbol maps.

Earthquake Visualization

Earthquake Visualization