unicornsfartpixels is an online notebook cataloguing the always expanding web development landscape & creative side of code.

January 03, 2018

2017 - A Year In Review

A few days late but hey, if last year taught me anything it was how to be flexible when it comes to the timing of things.

So 2017… What a complicated year. And not only because of world events and the crazy politics that govern them. Shortly after I highlighted my excitement about working for Bright in my 2016 ‘year in review’ post, the startup announced it wouldn’t continue. The wonderful team I had so enjoyed working with was forced to disband and shortly after returning to Europe from Canada post-Christmas holidays, I had to pack up my life in Berlin and move back to Paris. Starting the year off with a bang!

It was a frustrating and dissapointing time to say the least. The paperwork that goes with startup failure is just… ugh. Especially in a country so in love with complicated bureaucratic hoop jumping. I swear it’s a national sport in France. But in the midst of it all, what were once work relationships settled into friendships and each of us was able to refocus on our personal and freelance projects.

Sadly, a very, very dear friend and fellow GRLFR member passed away suddenly this summer. Antoine Bonnet aka KIK aka Mr Ghetto DYI… It still doesn’t quite feel real. Just a few months before, he’d been encouraging me to apply to residencies and take more chances with my creative ideas. I like to think that I honoured both our friendship and his memory this year, landing my first residency in Lisbon in November where I debuted a WIP prototype of an audio viz idea that’s been kicking around my mind for a while. Antoine is missed every day 🎐❤️ ️

I also simultaneously juggled a slew of unfortunate home catastrophes, including destroying a neighbours kitchen wall not once, but twice thanks to a bathtub leak that needed to be fixed not once, but twice - the second time to be sure the repairs would hold, they pulled up the entire floor, and redid the tiles - not once… but twice 😑. Because of course… They say shit happens in threes… This was the inception version.

But amidst it all, freelance and personal projects kept me curious. In July and August the P5.js Diversity initiative launched a digital bookclub covering Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms. We’d all meet weekly over video chat, which one time landed me unexpectedly on a call with Dan Shiffman - don’t mind my fan-girling, but Dan’s YT channel has been my go-to for years so it was great to get to chat with him URL about code, culture and how we learn.

In October I spent 10 days in London freelancing. I also ported this blog over to Hugo/Netlify from Jekyll/Github Pages, and kicked off a new season of writing after a bit of a lull (Jekyll was too slow, it just got too frustrating…)

In Paris where I spend most of my time, access to art is far from free but in London there’s a fair amount up for grabs at no cost. Timing happened to be on my side when I was there, and I got to see some Olafur Eliasson and Ryoji Ikeda works IRL - two of my favorite artists. Ironically, Ryoji brought the same pieces to Paris in December, so I got to experience everything twice!

Like I mentioned, I did my first residency in November - TempStudio was an amazing experience that taught me so much. There were 24 of us holed up in a huge warehouse in central Lisbon - everyone was working on their own projects but we ended up helping each other so it really felt like everyone was kind of working on individual parts of a larger whole. At the end of it all, we opened the doors to the public and got to see people’s reactions and interpretations of our work in real time.

As someone who generally creates for and on the web, this was an extra special experience for me. I used the browser, sure. But I took things offline and off the computer by hooking up a midi controller to Chrome with the Web Midi API, allowing people to interact with the peice in what turned out to be a much more immersive way than a mouse or keyboard ever could provide. I’ve uploaded a demo here for anyone curious, but you’ll have to content with your track pad. Since not everyone can get there hands on a Launchpad Control, I removed the midi-controller option.

November was also #Codevember, and while I didn’t participate every day, I still beat my record from last year and ended up with 11 creative sketches to show for myself. I went in with a plan this year, which helped a lot - I restricted myself to one technology and base idea to iterate on throughout. On the one hand I figured it would be a great opportunity to learn a specific technique or piece of tech, on the other hand I worried my sketches would get boring after a few iterations. I used mo.js, which I definitely got the hang of, but only relied on a select few tricks throughout the challenge, so I can’t say that I learned the library particularly well. My sketches did get more elaborate and interesting as the days went by though, which makes me think the little I did learn about mo.js, I made my own.

And finally, December! Which brought with it possibly the biggest surprise of the year. I’d been itching to get back on a team and work on larger scale projects, one’s that would challenge me and help me grow as a developer. In a surprising and unexpected turn of events, I was hired for a new role at Scaleway right before the holidays and will be starting in just a few weeks! 2018 is already looking like it’ll be full of new experiences.

2017 Goals - scorecard

Last year I outlined a few goals I hoped to achieve for myself. While I didn’t hit all of them, I was surprised to see how many of the goals I’d set had actually helped me create new habits. Goals seem to get a lot of flack for being these rigid pass/fail sort of things, which creates pressure and fosters the anxieties that come with that. So, “Who needs goals? Let’s cultivate habits instead,” right? But why does it have to be one or the other. Goals are just future marks we want to hit, and creating habits are a great strategy to get us closer to hitting them.

Javascript - 2/5

I wanted to learn as much Vanilla JS as I could and get my foundation in the language solidified. While I certainly devoured my fair share of JS workshops, most of the projects I worked on either used a library (hello three.js❤️ and p5❤️) or else used more CSS than JS.

Tutorials - 3/5

I wanted to write tutorials that would be helpful not just for me, but anyone else who finds them. I definitely think that the quality of my posts has improved over the last year, but the blog did end up on a bit of a hiatus. When I got back to writing toward the end of the year, my intro to audio visualisation actually gained a tiny bit of traction online, which I think is a sign I’m headed in a good direction with things.

Interactive audio-visuals - 5/5

I wanted to finally dive into audio visualisation and create the interactive project I’d been thinking about for a few years. Which is exactly what I did in Lisbon.

Series Projects - 4/5

I wanted to keep up a series project over the course of the year. I started off strong but got distracted by other interactive projects I was called to work on. I did sort of hop back on the wagon with Codevember though, so I feel like I did this goal justice.

Health - 4/5

I wanted to cultivate an affordable physical exercise practice that I could keep up in any city. In Berlin I could go for a run in a park so big it felt like a forest (which is key, it seems, to me having any desire to run…) and in Barcelona I’d found a great JiuJitsu gym, (seriously, Micheal and Natasha are the sweetest people, everyone should go train there.) But in London and Paris green space is lacking and classes are so cramped it makes their price seem less than worth it. So what’s a girl to do? Living room yoga it is! I have a nice little travel mat I can pack up and take with me anywhere as well as a good thick on at home in Paris, and then there’s Adriene, the best yogi I’ve found on YT to date. Honestly, she’s great. So great in fact that I’ve kept up with doing yoga a few times a week since August.