2015 — Year In Review

It’s 2015.. the end of it, I suppose. I’ve never done a year in review before, but this year was a toughie. Lots of change, lots of faces, lots of priceless experiences.

Health was an important factor this year. It’s very easy to get sucked into things. But, always remember to take care of yourself first.

2015. Let’s take a quick snapshot, archive it, and paint the accomplished smile for the year.

Around the end of 2014

Last year, I had graduated out of high school and was quickly employed at a startup. Continuing to the end of 2014 carried some very interesting news. Opal Labs, the start-up that I joined in June 2014, had closed a Series A Round for $8M. Only being their for half of the year, the start-up dream felt real and attainable, safe and yet excitingly risky. This strong round closed out the year, and led to 2016 being the year of hitting the ground running, hunkering down, and producing great product. Personally, it was to be the first full-year of actual employment. While other friends waved off to faraway universities, I held my own and stayed with my parents. (Which is a great idea. Never give up free rent!)


Boom. Hit the ground running and this month was mostly filled with work.

  • But besides work, I signed up for Mandarin classes!
  • And quickly found out that it didn’t interest me as much.. ):


This month was a big month of change in my development workflow, and also a push to learn more!

  • I switched to ArchLinux on my MacBook. This was a bit painful as hardware support is not 100%. I would go back to ArchLinux if I ran on a more compatible laptop. OSX apps are also hard to give up. I use Sketch, which is OSX only. ):
  • Switched from Sublime Text 3 to VIM. And I’ve never looked back. :) Might try out emacs on a sunny day.
  • Started one of my more ambitious projects, HHVMCraft. Minecraft Server implemented in PHP. This was very fun, as I wasn’t a PHP developer, so it gave me a chance to learn more about the “supposed-dying” language. Also, it’s a great icebreaker at parties. ;)


March was very difficult month. I had injured my leg, or pinched a nerve somehow, and was practically bed-ridden for 3 days. This still majorly affects me today, which reminds me to go do physical therapy.


Pretty much due to March’s injury, this month was more about work and recovery. Not much happened.



  • Switched from ArchLinux back to native OSX.
  • New PHP project, phpnes, NES emulator port in PHP using SDL output. This one is extremely ambitious. And unfortunately, nothing is functional. Just a whole lot of code.


Still recovering, but relatively getting better. This was mostly a research-filled month, driven to refactor my employer’s codebase. :)

  • Created Headmaster, slack bot with natural language processing for dev automation.


March through June were definitely the hardest months of the year. But July was a good starter to end the year strong.

  • Went to CascadiaFest 2015! The best conference I’ve ever been to… also the first tech conference I’ve ever been to. This gave me an awesome sense of community around the front-end development scene, as well as some inspiration/motivation to push forward.
  • Launched a real personal website! I wanted something extremely simple and minimal. I wanted to do a live person counter, and did that part quickly with Node.js. Originally, the homepage was only links to: my twitter, my github, and a mailto link.
  • Released my first NPM module, Octosync! This was a simple module to get real-time updates to github repos. This was used in a side-project to build an internal real-time github dashboard. But it never saw the light of day. ):


  • Discovered Nim, the programming language.
  • Created Nima, a static website generator in Nim! This was a fun project that I’d like to revisit again now that I have better knowledge.
  • HHVMCraft, the Minecraft Server in PHP, finally works and is demo-able! One of the happiest achievements this year. :)


  • Finally bought a car! Definitely needed due to the length of commute. Had been saving up entire checks since October of 2014!
  • Created Karmabot, an experimental bot for sending anonymous compliments through Slack. Something I’d like to revisit again.
  • Discovered Elixir, the programming language. Or rather, fell in love with Elixir.
  • Jumped into the functional programming side. :)
  • Created Q3Ex, quake 3 server status api. It was a fun small project to learn Elixir. I had aimed to have another side-project to incorporate this into a real-time dashboard for the office. TBD. :)
  • Asked a StackOverflow question on Elixir, answered by José Valim himself! (Creator of Elixir).


Pretty much a work month. Hunkered down and wrote a lot of code.

  • Joined the Elixir Slack. Wonderful community. You’ll see Chris McCord all day in #phoenix. Also a lot of regular people who put in a ton of work in helping others.


It was time to get dev-ops-y.

  • Set up Ansible Tower on a DigitalOcean droplet, created a few more droplets for testing, and wrote a bunch of Ansible Playbooks for personal use. This was later open-sourced under tower.andrewvy.com.
  • Wrote ansible-elixir, an Ansible Role for building/deploying/upgrading Elixir applications through Exrm.
  • Did tons of research on EmberJS!


  • Refocused on learning.
  • Open sourced my personal website.
  • Created sketches, my personal github repo for storing all my notes and ideas relating to Computer Science or any learnings I stumble upon. Basically any exercises or small code snippets too small for individual repos.
  • Created my own personal slack for personal journaling!
  • Published an article about my learning structure!
  • Jumped into learning C. This has been easy, painful, awesome, and not-so-awesome. The joy of little abstractions. :) Learn C The Hard Way was a major help into this.
  • BOOKS. I dropped mad money on books this month. Nearly 15 or so books were bought this year. I realized this month that I needed to start reading, and to start my own personal library. Because of this, I’ve started an Amazon Wish List and continually threw books into that list. Each month, I’ll take my monthly book budget and buy from that list.
  • Started lifting. Kidding. I started reviewing math with Khan Academy. Reviewing algebra, geometry, trig, in order to set myself for tackling Calculus and Linear Algebra in 2016.
I’m experimenting by tracking all of my progress through a Google Sheets document.

Onwards to 2016

It’s been a great year, minus the slump. 2015 was definitely a battle, and I’ll be seeing the spoils of war in 2016. Fortunately, the first few months of 2016 are fairly low-key. I’m planning to do some high-intensity learning by making sure I put at least an hour of study a day. And maybe, just maybe, I will beat my 2015 GitHub contribution streak. :)

I liked Sarah Groff-Palermo’s 2015 review and her review of the year by summarizing it into a single word. Putting all the elements of this year together, I think the best word for 2015 would be conscious. Conscious as in: listening and being aware of others’ thoughts, being responsive and taking action where it needs to be in your environment, and also being aware of your own self.

Let’s see what 2016 holds for us!

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