My 2018 In Summary

Just as 2019 is starting, I summarize my past year. Last year I wrote my first “Year in Retrospective” summary post, and it made me realize how diverse and interesting my year had been. So I decided to repeat the experience and share my summary of 2018. Here we go —

Community Activities

Following my passion for Software, Electronics, Robotics and Making, I recently started a new Meetup Group called IoT Makers Israel. We had the first event in a new maker space that was just launched, and it was a blast!

Another remarkable project for me is the Community Hours. A few months ago, I opened a weekly spot on my calendar for people who want to connect with me. I have between 4 and 6 calls every week, helping people with career decisions, getting started with blogging, public speaking and many other interesting topics.

I had the opportunity to interact with many talented individuals and collaborate with them. For instance, a week ago I had a call with Charlie Gerard, whose work I have been following, and finally got to meet her. I also met Omer Raviv, who told me about his ambitious plans to bring a new debugging experience to the JavaScript world. Michael Hladky shared with me his work creating an RxJS Marble Diagram design language. Adi Polak and I started collaborating on Mixed Reality. And I could go on with more examples for hours…

Blogging Challenge

Inspired by a blog post from Sara Soueidan, I decided one evening to challenge myself and write a new blog post every single day for a month. This was during October, when I also got married, which made it even more challenging.

For the most part, I managed to keep up to the challenge, and learned to write shorter and more focused articles, as well as to start and finish a blog post in the same day. I did lose much sleep over this challenge, but I am very happy with the results. Not only that, telling the story of my challenge actually inspired two more friends, Ire Aderinokun and Abraham Williams to take on a similar challenge:

Public Speaking

For the past few years I have been doing much public speaking, but most of my talks were solo talks. This year, I set myself a goal to start doing talks together with other speakers. I started by collaborating with Alex Castillo on a Virtual Reality session for ng-conf, and I think the result speaks for itself:

Next, Kapunahele Wong and I worked on a talk together for AngularConnect, explaining about Injector Trees in Angular:

We shared the “Behind the scenes” of the talk in a blog post, which explains what it takes to collaborate and work together on a “long-distance” tech talk — as Kapunahele lives in the states, and I live in Israel.

I also had the opportunity to collaborate on “React Fiber and Angular Ivy” talk with Netta Bondy, which was a lot of fun and also taught me a lot about React. Netta is one of these rare people who actually read the source code of the framework they use, just out of curiosity —

This year I also submitted a talk to BSidesTLV, an information security conference that was held in Tel Aviv. This is the first time I gave a talk in a security conference, and the talk was about breaking the cipher of an encrypted with Python. Most of my talks are related to either Front-End, Electronics or IoT, so this was totally stepping out of my comfort zone:

Finally, I had my first experience where my live demo totally failed on-stage. This was during NgAtlanta, an awesome conference that encourages diversity among the speakers. Despite my demo failing, I got a lot of empathy and positive feedback from the attendees, and remember this is a positive experience:

That time when my brain waves decided to be shy

This experience is what eventually let me to blog about Live Coding and encourage others to give it a chance and not be afraid of it.

New Engineering Skills

I started the year experimenting with Augmented Reality on the Web:

This technology was really fun to play with, and I even took it with me to the Finnish snow:

Taking this photo at -15°C was quite a challenge

Ast, TypeWiz and Angular

I also started experimenting with Abstract Syntax Trees (AST), and how it can be use to create innovative tools for developers. This experiment eventually turned into TypeWiz, a tool that automatically adds missing types to your TypeScript code. I also gave a bunch of talks about AST and how it can be used, including my AngularUP talk this year, Let Your Angular Code Write Itself.

I also spent some time exploring Ivy, the new rendering engine of Angular, and even managed to run it inside a minimal StackBlitz app. I’m pretty amazed by how the Angular team managed to simplify things. Usually, frameworks get more complex over time, but in this case, it seems like the opposite is true, and thus, I really enjoyed digging into it.

BigQuery and Stretching the Limits

Another technology that soaked my free time was Google’s BigQuery. It is a highly-scalable SQL database, which can run queries over vast amount of data in a matter of seconds. After using it in the “traditional” way for some projects (e.g. my Spanish Lesson Action). Then, after organizing a meetup event about the theory behind Bitcoin, I had this crazy idea:

Harnessing BigQuery’s power to mine cryptocurrency. I was quite amazed when I managed to prove that this was actually feasible (though not very much profitable), and moved on to another adventure — Running complex AST queries on all the TypeScript code in GitHub using BigQuery.

All in all, this was a fascinating journey for me, and the first time I worked with data sets of several terabytes, or as some call it — Big Data!

Making, Electronics and 3D-Printing

Last year I presented my IRL No-Internet T-Rex Game in Chrome’s annual Developer Summit. This year, I was invited to present again, so together with Ariella and Avi Aminov we tried to build a robot that plays the trumpet and failed.

However, we had a backup plan and eventually managed to build a Web-Controlled Trumpet Playing Robot:

Our backup plan was to use a speaker, together with some Web Audio love

I spent several days prototyping and designing several mechanisms for the robot, such as a syringe based air-pump and a servo-controlled fingers, which thought me a lot about modeling complex, 3d-printable mechanisms.

Let there be fingers 🖐🤖

Presenting the robot in the Chrome Dev Summit was quite an experience, as I created a small code editor and let the attendees hack the code that controls the trumpet, and the results were quiet surprising:

Some More Projects

I also created a JavaScript controlled Rock Tumbler, which I improvised in just a couple of hours from stuff I had lying around:

Another fun project was turning my 3D printer into a plotter:

Work Projects

I work with Pavel on several side-projects that help us making a living. This year, we tried to create live video chat application for the Wix app market, but after spending some months on this without getting any significant progress with the product, we decided to abandon it. I did learn a lot about WebRTC from this project.

We also tried to scale up our Social Media Stream app and start selling it as a standalone product, but were unsuccessful at building the sales funnel. We are now starting a new project called VoiceOn, and hoping to get a working prototype deployed for our first customer in a couple of weeks.

Oh, and by the way, I no longer work for BlackBerry ;-)

A special guest in our wedding day

Looking forward to 2019!

This year was really interesting, and as 2019 is starting, there are several things I am already looking forward to:

Ariella and I are going for our Honeymoon to Japan. We will travel across the country for almost two months, and I just can’t wait to get this journey started.

On the community front, I’d love to see the new IoT Makers meetup group growing. I have so many ideas for events and workshops, and got a very positive feedback on the meetings we had so far. I also want to keep blogging at least once a month, and to keep meeting interesting people through the community hours.

Finally, I hope to see VoiceOn growing this year and becoming a successful business. Well, that’s all for now. Wish me happy times in Japan!