2023: A Year In Review
2023-12-26 in review
I’m writing this during a (lengthy) layover in Salt Lake City on the way back from my visit to the US. (Mental note: do visit SLC one day! It looks pretty.) This one included a much anticipated graduation ceremony: after slightly more than two years, I’ve finally graduated from the OMSCS program at Georgia Tech!
As a kid, I dreamed about going to MIT: I still have no idea where I had first heard about the school but studying computer science at a prestigious US university seemed like the bee’s knees. Going to Boston, of course, wasn’t likely to happen: I was no planetary-grade wunderkind, and my post-war working-class parents had too few internal organs to sell. All this made it extra surreal to walk around the Georgia Tech campus as a fresh graduate.
People tend to ask why I’ve decided to do this, and the answer is… because I could? I certainly didn’t have to: it’s not likely this diploma will have any immediate impact on my career. It was a fun, decent challenge: I’ve learned a lot, and it feels good to have a formal verification of my skills.
The big trip of the year was our summer vacation in Scotland. We were insanely lucky, and had the best weather one could hope for — to the extent that it doesn’t really feel like we’ve properly experienced Scotland. We saw Edinburgh, parts of Skye, and walked the very final stretch of the West Highland Way. It’s a beautiful country: I have photos but they can’t do it justice.
Otherwise, work led me to London a few times, Sara and I spent some time on the beautiful Croatian island of Vis, and took a short weekend trip to my place of birth, Sarajevo. The year wrapped up with a visit to Atlanta (see above) followed by an almost traditional end-of-the-year trip to Phoenix.
Fiction-wise, I’ve read all five books in Abir Mukherjee’s “Wyndham & Banerjee” series. It’s a very well-written set of detective stories set in early 20th-century India with a lot of references to its colonial past. In a vaguely similar vein, I’ve read Holly Watt’s “To The Lions” and “The Dead Line” which were a bit more taxing but very good.
I dove into Ruth Ozaki’s “The Book of Form and Emptiness” after a review in The Guardian, and thought the review did it justice — it was captivating, and any air of pretentiousness disappeared after a few pages.
As far as biographies & memoirs go, Chelsea Manning’s “README.txt” was an important but painful read. Ananyo Bhattacharya’s biography of John von Neumann, “The Man from the Future”, was brilliant: it’s quite a feat to attempt to capture the life of someone who had such an impact on the 20th century, and I’d say this was a success.
On the more technical side, William Kent’s “Data and Reality” is often mentioned as a classic of our field. Its examples are expectedly outdated, which does make it overly difficult to read but it’s extremely insightful: this is the book you want your domain experts to read in order to understand what the hell’s happening in your head when you’re writing software.
Finally, I’ve read “Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering” by Robert L. Glass. It was undoubtedly good and important but the quantitative aspects of it seemed less than convincing. The referencing is very good, so I guess it’s up to me to follow up and convince myself.
The event of the year was the departure of Peter Brötzmann, the great German sax player. I still remember hearing “Machine Gun” for the first time in high school, and being — somewhat literally — blown away: I had no idea you were allowed to do that on a record, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it had changed my view of music.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing Brötzmann play live in Zagreb several times, most recently with Heather Leigh, and his level of dedication to the music was always inspiring. This posthumously published interview of his (in German) got me very emotional — what a brilliant human being.
Concert-wise, things seem to be picking up pace, yet I’ve been lazier than I should’ve been. The crown jewel was Lean Left’s residency in Cafe Oto which wonderfully coincided with a work visit — and what a residency it was.
The list of albums is a bit shorter this year but it’s not due to lack of music — it’s definitely me:
- Algiers: Shook
- Ambrose Akinmusire: Beauty is Enough
- A.M.E.N.: The Book of Lies - Liber I
- ANOHNI: My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross
- Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily: Love in Exile
- Cattle Decapitation: Terrasite
- Dawn Ray’d: To Know the Light
- Feist: Multitudes
- Fever Ray: Radical Romantics
- Forest Swords: Bolted
- John Zorn: New Masada Quartet, Vol. 2
- Liturgy: 93696
- Oozing Wound: We Cater To Cowards
- Outer Heaven: Infinite Psychic Depths
- Satoko Fujii & Otomo Yoshihide: Perpetual Motion
- The Tallest Man on Earth: Henry St.
- They Grieve: To Which I Bore Witness
- Wednesday: Rat Saw God
- Yves Tumor: Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply: Hot Between Worlds)
Locally, the green-left party in Zagreb is still making strides. It’s difficult to address 20+ years of neglect and active destruction in three years’ time, and it’s even more difficult to properly communicate this to the public. Next year is super-electoral: it’s likely we’ll have all four types of elections (parliamentary, EU, presidential, and local) in a one-year period, and it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds.
I’ve been significantly less active due to my academic endeavors, and I’m looking forward to getting back into it next year.
I’ve spent some more time recovering from my shoulder surgery, and recently started feeling like I finally have a decent range of motion. It’s been long and painful but the shoulder is stable, and that’s all I could ask for.
I’ve never been much of a gamer but I bought a Steam Deck as a graduation present to myself. I’ve been enjoying it a lot: if someone had told me 10 years ago that we’d have a handheld device running AAA games running Linux, I’d suggest them be institutionalized — but here we are. Kudos to the folks at Valve.
I’ve continued helping my good friend IMS with his website for The Program Audio Series. There were no substantial updates to the website itself but he did release a couple of amazing episodes, and anyone reading this should check them out.
All else has been stable, and I wouldn’t mind it staying that way.
Plans for 2024
I’ve started toying with a user-land implementation of TCP/IP, both as a way of understanding the protocols a bit better, and as a foundation for a more ambitious project I have in mind. Motivation and inspiration are elusive beasts but I’d be happy to make any kind of substantial progress towards finishing it.
- keep up with my workout schedule, as it’s certainly doing me good;
- (finally) visit Rome with Sara;
- be a good and supportive partner;
- live to see 2025.