Jul 2024 Tweet
Reflections on 2023
It has not been a very good year. I personally can’t complain about anything. But the war in Ukraine continues, and the war in Israel has started.
Yes, a single person can't do much about it, but at the very least we can:
- vote for sane and competent people
- be well informed, not fall for propaganda, fight disinformation
- donate to the right causes
Let’s start the year with good and charitable deeds.
This year I’ve worked on a bunch of side projects, and posted more on this blog. My posts were featured in hackaday and weekly robotics, which I’m quite happy about. The page views have increased from 20/month to 500/month, Not much, but, small steps.
I work as Starship Technologies, where we use autonomous robots for local deliveries. Our robots are doing great! This year they have completed a million autonomous deliveries (and 5M in total since launch), and the service has been expanded to dozens of new sites in several countries. Looking forward to continued expansion in 2024.
toy of the year
Hands down, it’s the 1m high construction crane:
Nothing too memorable this year, except for animation.
This is a great film about jazz, passion and talent.
Did I like the movie just because of the music? Not entirely, the characters and the plot are lovely as well. Still, I liked the sountrack by Hiromi almost as much as the film itself. It’s not surprising – I do listen to her music a lot, and have been to her live shows twice.
The Boy and the Heron
The new Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece.
The first half of the film is just great. As for the second half – somehow I felt like there is just too much of everything in it, too many settings, creatures, events, mysteries… First I thought that the plot and the editing are too messy. But now I think that maybe it was intentional, and I just did not understand it fully in the first viewing?
In any case I’ll need to watch it again – it deserves several viewings just as any other movie by Miyazaki.
“Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity” by Peter Attia
A book about health and longevity, written from a very solid science-backed standpoint.
First of all, it made me reevaluate my attitude towards exercise. Before, I thought that doing a bare minimum is all right, as long as I'm fine with my body shape. But the author makes an evidence-based point that being extremely fit and strong has a huge impact on long-term health and lifespan. Genetics is important, but apparently it's possible to "cheat" and have similar effect from being in top shape.
I also liked that the author does not give any prescriptions when there is no data, for example he does not give much advice for diet/nutrition, apart from caring about macro-nutrients balance, just because most studies on nutrition are so conflicting and uncertain.
And the chapter about mental health is just great. It's so obvious – why even bother about health and longevity, before making sure one would be able to really enjoy life? Any book on healthy lifestyle should have such chapter. 5/5.
"The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds" by Michael Lewis
It's a nonfiction story about a pair of influential psychologists who had shown how surprisingly irrational people are. it's also intertwined with the story of their relationship, bunch of other interesting characters, historical events, scientific paradoxes... All very well written. Highly recommended. 4/5.
“Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
Nice and entertaining read, kind of like “Ready Player One” but for bibliophiles and typography nerds? It’s filled with random trivia, and has the same dynamic of an unremarkable protagonist dragging a group of friends into a mystery hunt.
I guess the book’s main problem is that it can’t decide how serious or goofy it wants to be. 90% of the novel is great, but 10% is total cringe. Descriptions of the tech scene are especially bad, not sure if it’s a creative choice or author’s ignorance. But, a really good mystery plot kind of compensates for all the shortcomings. 3/5.
”The Kaiju Preservation Society”, “Starter Villain” by John Scalzi
It’s a nice, light and mostly entertaining reading. The main problem of this books is that they are just like your average mediocre Hollywood blockbuster – full of tropes and stereotypical characters, just without the good parts (block-busting VFX). There is too much witty banter. Same jokes are repeated too many times. I guess I’m just not a part of the target audience?
I ended up reading the first half with some excitement, then getting increasingly bored, and finishing the books only because of curiosity about the plot. Which is an experience that I’ve also had with most of the recent Hollywood movies. 2/5.
“System Collapse, The Murderbot Diaries Book 7"“ by Martha Wells
The problem of this book is that it spends too much time on the character drama. I expected more of an action-packed thriller, like the previous books. Oh well, the first book (“All Systems Red”) is still great. 2/5.
”Witch King” by Martha Wells
This book has two storylines. Every other chapter jumps to the different story, which I hated. It’s like there is a cliffhanger after each chapter. 3/5 for one of the storylines, 2/5 overall.
Time from time I buy old SF books and magazines from a local bookstore. Old SF stories are a great entertaining reading, with many of them being surprisingly relevant and thought-provoking.