2023 was a year of important changes and improvements in my life. My goals for the year according to last year's "Looking Ahead to 2023" post ended up going wide of the mark. I didn't succeed at the SGG goals and I abandoned #dungeon23 early in January. I also didn't keep to my ban on new entertainment. Where I did succeed, though, was in the fitness goals for the year. More on that in a moment.
This year, I'll start including a few notes about what I accomplish at my day job.
At my day job this year the biggest achievement was converting our monitoring stack from New Relic to Prometheus+Grafana. The one gap that remains is the profiling (what New Relic calls "APM"). I also continued to make small improvements in several areas, like the new ECS-based Wordpress architecture.
Iron Arachne had a big year this year. In March, it reached its fifth anniversary. Over the course of the year I made many updates to the code to clean it up and reorganize it. The most important updates, though, were the SvelteKit migration and the rework of the planet generator.
Prior to the SvelteKit migration, Iron Arachne was running as a static site on Netlify. However, when I migrated it, it became a Node.js application running on my own web server. This made it more difficult to manage, but gave me way more freedom in the long run.
The planet generator rework happened in the last quarter of the year. Previously, the images were set up as 3D scenes in THREE.js, with a sphere for the planet, another sphere for clouds if they were present, a plane for the starfield, and camera and light rigging. The rework turned them into a single shader capturing everything. I finally implemented atmospheric scattering and dramatically improved how the various planets looked. I also used this new rendering approach for the star nation and star system generators.
Besides Iron Arachne, I also began to self host more things. I bought a mini PC, installed Ubuntu on it, and set up several services on it. It's accessible via our Tailscale network, meaning I can access it from any device that is part of that network. Right now I have the following hosted on it:
- Jellyfin: for media
- Kavita: for browsing and reading PDFs
- IT Tools: for lots of little convenience utilities
- Paperless: for scanning and storing important documents
While Paperless is set up, I didn't really start using it properly in 2023. Same for Jellyfin. I've used Kavita and IT Tools more.
My Old Sites
I recreated as many of my old websites as I could find archived online and put them online again on a subdomain of my main site. Some of these I'd completely forgotten existed. In the course of this work, I also took inspiration from my old art galleries to rework the art section of my main site. It reminded me of how much I used to love making and sharing art.
Holy crap. I read 34 books in 2023, which is three times what I read in 2022, and twice my previous record. Granted, a lot of it was light fiction, but I still spent way more time reading this year.
One reason for this is that I decided to create a new fan site for one of the fictional cultures in the Valdemar novels by Mercedes Lackey. Before I can do that, I wanted to refamiliarize myself with them, and so I began the process of reading every single novel that they appear in. I forgot how much I enjoy these books. It's been a delight reading them. Some of them are completely new to me, too, which is awesome.
I also finished the Honor Harrington series of novels by David Weber. Those were a harder read, full of exposition and dense text. I enjoyed them too though.
Health and Fitness
I started 2023 with a ban on alcohol that ended somewhere near the end of January. Running became a regular routine for me; I ran in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays before work. My cardio health improved a lot; my VO2 max went from a low of 33.9 in January to a high of 37.4 in April and a more sustained peak of 36.8 in the latter half of the year. My cardio recovery went from 19 BPM in January to 37 BPM by the end of the year.
I stopped running in November when I undertook a self-imposed wellness challenge. For the month of November, I drank no alcohol and began a bodybuilding routine at the gym. Four days of the week I would go to the gym and lift weights. Cardio was limited to only a few minutes of cooldown walking at the end of each workout.
The amount of weight I can lift improved a bit, but what really improved was my confidence and interest in bodybuilding. Now I just need to reincorporate my cardio exercises and I'll have a more complete fitness regimen.
Silver Gryphon Games
We didn't make nearly as much progress on SGG in 2023 as I expected. I had planned on releasing at least one new book by the end of March. We only released two playtest books later in the summer; the new Aether and Ingenium editions. Despite trying to keep on top of Aethermancy it ended up being a struggle to get the manuscript finished. As of this writing, it's still not done.
Aether and Ingenium's second editions got completed manuscripts. Aether got a lot of editing. The rise of AI art has made it a lot more difficult to find cheap artwork made by real artists.