2022, the summary

Overview of side-projects and learning resources

This is the 10th-anniversary post (hurray!) of this ongoing series of yearly summaries with noteworthy side-projects and self-education. It contains short descriptions of projects and pointers to interesting resources. These posts aim to show I'm serious about continuous self-improvement and to inspire others to have fun with new technologies.

Previous year: 2021 <---> Next year: 2023 (upcoming)


At the beginning of 2022, we finished moving to our new apartment. I say finished, but a move is never really finished and so I'm still working on making the place my home. Other than moving and reading, I've been pretty busy with work.

The only physical project I finished this year relates to my new DIY room, which is also my home office. I hope to get more physical projects done next year.

Wide Oak Cabinet

I built a wide cabinet out of oak wood to go with my home-built desk. I'm pretty happy with the result. Check the link above for photos and more details.

Recommended Readings

Here are a couple of books I read this year that I recommend.

How to make friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie

Originally written in the 1930s, this book is a gem. It's filled with timeless observations on how humans interact and tips on how to make interactions more successful. Even though it was written almost a century ago, it's still as relevant as back then. The way people work doesn't change much. The book manages to walk the perfect balance between genuine and manipulative. There's lots of good advice on how to be genuinely interested in other people. At the same time, it often hints at why these techniques work with references to 'faults' in the irrational human brain, and how to use them to your advantage.

Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill

Another book that's almost a century old. I've been told this book is considered the mother of all motivational books, and I can see why. However, it has not aged as well as the previous book, and it does contain its fair share of debunked ideas and religious references. It covers advice on how to set bold goals and relentlessly pursue them with no other option than to succeed. The main idea in the book is to build a habit of positive mind control. Repetitively suggest your mind, with strong faith, that you'll reach your most important goal ("think"). Over time, this will influence your unconscious brain, which in turn will come up with strategies to reach this inevitable state of success ("riches"). Of course, you'll also need to gather the necessary knowledge and do proper planning. You'll need to be decisive and have perseverance. You need to surround yourself with smart people. And you need to stop spending brain cycles on negative influences, like personal worries or negative people ('clear the brain for riches').

Machine Learning Engineering - Andriy Burkov

This book should have been titled Applied Machine Learning. It contains lots of good advice for data scientists working on real-life machine learning projects. The majority of the book covers the science aspects: the creation of models meant to run in real production environments. This includes practical tips on data (offline training vs during inference, biases, data validation), supervised learning, evaluation metrics in a business context, and proper bookkeeping of code/data/models. Unfortunately, the book contains little content on engineering: only the last 5% briefly covers model deployment, model monitoring, and model maintenance. It still expects a handover of the ML model to "MLOps experts" to bring it into production. Regardless, it's worth a quick read for both data scientists and software engineers, as both need to understand ML modelling in real-world production settings.

Amazon Unbound - Brad Stone

This is a follow-up book on The Everything Store from the same author. It starts right where the previous book ended, and covers the continued journey of a successful web store quickly becoming one of the most valuable companies on earth. I have been at Amazon for half of this book's lifespan. I found lots of insights on how big decisions came to fruition that also affected the work I was doing. This includes the inception of large new bets like Alexa, Amazon Go, and Prime Air (drone delivery). It also describes the explosive expansion of store selection, fulfilment centres, and corporate offices beyond Seattle. Lastly, it includes lots of gossip about Jeff Bezos' changing lifestyle (for what it's worth). Unfortunately, there's very little about AWS, maybe because of the author's assumption that the general reader is more interested in Jeff Bezos than in software development. But overall I pretty much enjoyed the read.

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels - Jason Schreier

The making of about a dozen computer games is vividly described in this book. It does not make the gaming industry look very appealing to work in, with lots of late-night crunching and deadlines. But the interdisciplinary work combining software with art and entertainment must be an interesting environment. Overall worth reading, especially if you know more of the games than I did.


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