Revamping my life

I am not a story teller, never have been; yet here I am on Medium probably more to satisfy my own needs of documenting the stuff I do. A few months back, we (me and @deepanshjain) built Grelfie which would generate GIFs out of people’s pictures centred over a common theme without the hassle of transferring them to one place. In short, we built a distributed GIF generator which we felt was a need of the hour but it did not really take off that well. Though I am glad we built it and it seemed fun to use but its events like these that make you think back and introspect. To be honest, I haven’t really introspected and preplanned my life much before but I intend to do so now to see if I can actually make a difference.

Let me start off by sharing a mind map I constructed that tries to capture the things I want to focus on this year. This is by no means an exhaustive map of what I intend to do this year but depicts the things which were at the top of my mind. The headings/categorisation may not be very apt but that can be fixed over time.

Mission 2016

Academic Targets

Recently, I was on job hunt since I wanted to get back to Delhi and for some other reasons. Its easy to not be in touch with algorithms while you are on the job while they are rigorously tested at most of our so called “dream workplaces” and honestly it can get a bit intimidating if you aren’t prepared. I don’t want to feel intimidated ever again, hence I want to work on improving my algorithmic skills throughout the year. Currently I am working only on string matching algorithms but I think the mind map should get complete over time with more stuff in there. While trying the Accel Hack 2 on HackerRank where I was unable to pass all test cases for a question on string matching, I came across this wonderful algorithm called Z Algorithm. This is like the cooler sibling of KMP which is pretty intuitive and helps you find a pattern(n) within a text(m) in O(m+n) time. I enjoyed learning it and next I plan to learn more about suffix trees.

At work, I have seen most of the senior folks fluent with Linux commands while I tend to struggle with them. Hence, this is another focus area and I just started off with HackerRank’s Linux Text Processing Challenge to address this issue. Hopefully, I can improve other areas as well.

Physical Targets

Looking at me (skinny arms especially), you would probably guess I have never been to a gym before. Wrong. I did do that for a month last year but its time to get back at it. I still remember the feeling on the days when I did hit the gym, I just felt happier naturally and I would want that feeling to stick. Thus fitness is on my mind this year. I do plan on getting a new cycle when I get back home which would be another way to achieve this :)

Skill Set

That guitar which is just gathering dust sitting in one corner of my room, I think its high time I put it to use. Hence, I shall learn guitar too this year but not on my own. I am not motivated enough to do this on my own so I would just join some guitar classes to pick up the basics. I am excited for what the end result would be since I do enjoy singing already :D

Also, I have been working on Swift lately and its open source status is a motivation to do so. I wanted to learn Swift purely for OSX development but its hard to find great tutorials for that because all the focus seems to be on iOS. Thankfully, they don’t seem to be a lot different so I already started off with iOS development and I think I can migrate to OSX later once I am done with the basics. I am done with the Swift syntax and UIKit Fundamentals. I have been stuck on the iOS Networking part for quite some time but I would finish that up soon too.

Knowledge

Taking ideas to implementation is an art and it requires more than just coding. And not every problem is worth solving like probably nobody needed a distributed GIF generator like Grelfie. To understand how the already successful minds got to where they are, I plan to read some books on startups and I have started off with Zero to One by Peter Thiel. There are a lot more in that list but I haven’t put them up yet.

On the other hand, my knowledge is pretty limited in terms of economics which is why I am going to start off with Day to Day Economics to strengthen my basics and then I am going to read the Intelligent Investor since I am interested in stock trading.

Fun Reading

All my life, I have mainly been reading academic textbooks and neglected the joys of reading. The last fiction book I read was “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom. I do plan to catch up now by starting with the classics for now.

Testbed

Last but not the least, it is highly important for me to put my attained skills to proper use which would only strengthen them. Participating in challenges on HackerRank and CodeChef is one way to attain that. Building some useful OSX utilities based off simple ideas is another.

I do have a personal goal which is not up there on the mind map but if I do achieve that, I would definitely write about it :)

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