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Ask HN: What did you learn in 2018?
47 points by rwieruch on Dec 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 69 comments
What did you plan to learn in 2018 and what did you actually learn?

- Dove head-first into the fundamentals of distributed systems, applying all that I learned to solutions for scalability issues at work.

- Realized that the secret to promotion is that it’s all about making your superiors look good. This brought on even greater realizations about society in general and individuals in my life.

- The importance of work/life balance and that the “life” portion must involve taking good care of yourself.

- The value of being kinder to all those I see regularly. It’s easy to drop some of the positive interactions with those we’re comfortable with.

This sounds interesting. Please tell us more.

Improved my German considerably. Can definitely deal with any situation by now, but I still have much to improve.

Also learned a lot of Elixir.

Both are things which in the past year I've commited to learn. Learning is a constant process, next year I expect more of the same, but a higher mastery level!

Also learned a decent amount of management things, better organization skills etc, but that I didn't plan for.

I'm curious, what kept you motivated to learn German? I've tried learning languages multiple times in the past, but keeping up with it has proved difficult because I have no use case.

Because I've moved to Berlin :-)

I currently speak 3 languages and have learned then due to needing to speak in my day to day life. Just move abroad!

Nice! I'm learning German as well. Can you tell me if you used any books/tutorials/apps/classes? Thanks in advance.

Duolingo, normal classes in the beginning. Nowadays mostly speaking to people and watching TV and every once in a while reviewing grammar.

Give it time.

Not OP, but I had great success with learning languages after reading Gabriel Wyner's "Fluent Forever". Don't pay attention to the way he advertises his new app, frankly it does a disservice to the quality of the book. I ended up thinking and gaining much more fluency in my chosen languages after reading his book and using his techniques.

Kudos! What do you think are some good resources to learn/get better at elixir?

If you did web development before, just try to use phoenix and write a route, then something with db calls, read docs and so on. Get any elixir book if you like learning from books.

I also did the whole "learn Erlang for greater good" like 5 years ago. It is much easier to understand elixir if you know Erlang, at least to the basic level, as in the end, it is just Erlang.

Out of curiosity, what steps did you take for improving your German?

Normal classes, duolingo, self-study, talking to people(I live in Germany)

even I am trying to learn a new language and basically finding it a bit harder.

can you let me know the process you have followed and how did you practice and tips on getting better

Normal classes, duolingo, self-study, talking to people(I live in Germany).

If you don't live in a country where they speak the language, I suggest you learn it in a class, for a long period of time and do your homework. There are no secrets imho. The more time you dedicate, the more you learn. It is really like learning an instrument, there is no short way of becoming good at it as some might claim. Your brain needs a lot of time to do the bit flipping it needs to get accustomed to the language.

Some tips that worked for me for learning German: Join some Discord where people speak the language, use some reddit sub in that language, read the news and so on. Today using the web I think somebody can learn how to speak it fluently as they can talk to other people online. You don't really need to move to that country in order to learn it.

To be honest, even though I live in Germany, people would rather almost always just talk in English with me. Only when I go to the doctor or some government agency I have the chance to speak German. Discord and internet friends/people made me learn much more than in real life. Maybe it is my personality type, check what works better for you. As long as you have exposure and you feel challenged by what you are studying, I think you are learning as good as you can.

I planned to go from beginner Python to employed developer. Went a bit off track and learned the basics of lots and lots of languages. Kept switching the domains I wanted to work in.

I studied a fair bit of CS, but in a fairly shallow way (it's been a decade since my last maths lesson).

This year I proved to myself I could learn lots - next year is proving I can do the same, just in one or two things!

It's harder to focus on learning a single thing perfectly with all the noise out there. Did you get employed as a python developer?

Nah, it turns out opportunities for Python + first job in the UK are somewhat rare, especially as I don't have a completed degree. If you don't live in London, C#/.NET or JS + a framework make up 90% of opportunities. Of course, just learning the right language isn't how it works, and it took me a while to take that on board.

> It's harder to focus on learning a single thing perfectly with all the noise out there

Preach! I've definitely flipflopped languages and target positions based on a combination of reading posts here (and on Reddit), and a few damning/exciting articles or blog posts - not that I'd admit that at the time. I continue to seriously consider various levels of disconnection from the web, from blocking a couple of sites, to editing my hosts file, to using my routers child-blocking settings (block device by time, website etc)...

I planned to learn React and modern JS/Web dev (had been doing iOS/Swift dev.) Instead, my dev. manager left and, since I was the most senior person on the team, I was given the job.

So, instead of learning React, I learned that I kind of like dev. management, or at least some parts of it. I also learned that I like traveling for work. I would never have thought that this would be so, but I was encouraged to try it and to my surprise it's working out well.

I picked up iOS/Swift this year from React. Any advice going the other direction?

What kind of dev work do you do that requires traveling?

It's mostly because the dev team is geographically disperse (India/Boston/Seattle). I also have to meet with customers occasionally and of course they could be anywhere.

Don't want to turn this into a reddit AMA but .. would be nice to hear how you managed your transition to management. Did you read any books or blogs that helped? I was in a similar situation and have basically been emulating the style of previous managers - not sure how the team feels but I'm in a bit of a funk - feel like I'm letting myself down.

I am not the original poster, but you can do much worse than reading and really thinking about _The Phoenix Project_ and _High Output Management_.

Solid recommendations. I would also suggest books and content by Michael Lopp, aka Rands. He's gone from engineer to high profile manager and his work is solid. "Managing Humans" is a particular favourite and seems to be well received by engineers and leads making the transition.

Basics in Probability as well as a superficial introduction to Stochastic Processes. Decent foundation in mathematical analysis. Continued progress in calculus and basics in differential equations. Covered parts of the history of mathematics from 4000BC up to Newton/Leibniz. Did some mathematical modelisation, improved in R. Learned a basics in Mathematica and Matlab. Introduction to differential geometry. Had a solid introduction to group theory. Started an introduction to numerical analysis.

Google cloud platform. Got certified as architect in exam beta. Kubernetes... ... and Salesforce (as a sales representative). I know, completely unrelated stuff; but worth every minute.

That Django is neither the mental megalith nor archaic project I thought it was. It's actually a joy to program with and extremely flexible, without getting to e.g. Java levels of verbosity. I've not learned close to all of it yet, and have relied upon more glue code from blog posts than I'd like to admit, but it's actually pretty nice, and definitely Pythonic!

Which reminds me, the Java I knew from 6 or so years ago is apparently nothing like the Java of today..!

It's worth checking out Two Scoops of Django for some best practices and just understanding how to use the framework well.

Cool, thanks for the rec

Learned Vuejs and oh my god it is the best thing that has happened for web development (at least to me) in a very long time.

Before this I used to like Angular 1.x but it was quirky with all the boilerplate code, DI stuff, etc and then I was completely feeling lost and upset with v2 upwards. A friend suggested I try Vue and it turned out to be everything that was missing in Angular 1 and so much better. I feel so happy working with it everyday now!

Same here. Started off by trying to pick up React. Found React to be really complicated for a non-JS developer (I've done mostly server-side stuff). Someone suggested I try VueJS, tried it and had a much easier time.

I started studying intensely math since May (~2-3h/day) to fill some huge gaps. Calculus up to multivariable, linear algebra and discrete math.

After those, some basic ML and I hopped straight to DL.

For CS related: Kotlin, Algorithms Design, Operating Systems & basic Networks. I'm preparing for OMSCS and I want to strength my application by earning as much MOOCs as I can. It was a very difficult -but enlightening- year.

Finally had the opportunity to use Rails after not liking fat frameworks for over 10 years and kept using my own framework instead and learnt I never actually needed it.

It attracts non decent programmers and code is usually not great when you inherit a project which causes performance issues later on and things in Rails are just odd.

Variables and methods are predefined with unnecessary English plural/singular rules which you can't tell if it's a variable/method defined by the local developer or done by rails and had to google so much to know how to use it when that knowledge is completely useless once I leave Rails.

Always better to learn the actual underlying tech like SQL.

I have to say I had the exact opposite (with the exception of performance).

After 10 years as a Ruby developer I had resisted working w/ Rails (always opting to use Sinatra).

This year I embraced Rails for a large project and I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. The documentation is great and the speed at which you can knock out features is second to none.

Took a French course on a whim, and ended up learning moving to France for a month, getting myself to comfortably conversational in the space of 5 months in all. Had my first insightful conversation on Blockchain tech entirely in French!

note: French shares many long and technical words with English, thus more complicated topics are often easier to discuss.

I didn't plan to learn anything new, but I did (re)learn some about c, mostly a good refresher on syntax, pointer and strings, plus the PKCS#11 API to communicate with HSMs. And along to this, a few crypto fundamentals around DES, AES, CBC/ECB, and KDF functions.

Also I used Installshield and VBScript for the first time to work on the Installer of our current project.

Did not plan it as such, but trying to convert Perl one-liners to Ruby one-liners led to learning Ruby more than I expected. I tried my hand at translating "Think Python" to "Think Ruby" and by November, I even published a book on Ruby regular expressions.

For next year, I hope to continue learning various tools for text processing

Ah, another translation of "Think Python"! Laurent Rosenfeld originally wanted to translate "Think Python" to French, but then decided to translate it to Perl 6: Think Perl 6 (https://greenteapress.com/wp/think-perl-6/). Which in turn got translated to Spanish by Luis F. Uceta: Piensa en Perl 6 (https://uzluisf.gitlab.io/piensaperl6/). Where will it stop? :-)

that's because Think Python is simply too awesome ;)

I did about 60-70% before stopping mine though, hopefully will finish next year or ask for ruby community to pitch in.

I decided to try my hand at hardware design. Just for fun, not profit. I expected to make modest progress because it has always seemed like some sort of dark art to me.

I spent a small amount of money on some Chinese FPGA boards and I have been having a great time building things and doing experiments with logic gates instead of software.

Could you tell more. I get same "dark art" feeling when I think about hardware design. And simultaneously I want to play with them.

Honestly the hardest part I have encountered so far has been learning the lingo. So much of what I was reading early on went over my head because i didn't fully understand the terminology and I don't really have an electronics background. But with enough patience and reading it starts to become clearer. And there is so much material to learn from online.

The cheapo Chinese FPGA boards don't have much onboard except an LED or two, so you will need some components and a breadboard or two to start making stuff happen.

If you have any experience with micro-controllers like Arduino (IE: knowing how to connect to components on a breadboard), and are already familiar with Boolean Algebra and finite state machines, then you won't find the initial learning stages to be too challenging either.

A lot of Python/Django from work, Japanese by myself, and a lot about art and history from reading.

Can you share the library or packages you used in django projects

Learnt Flutter and built an Android app.

Learn{t|ing} Rust, ported a lot of stuff from Java/Kotlin and JS to Rust.

Started my third degree, Maths and Stats. First semester went well, but I had to bail out of 2nd because of life issues.

I hadn't planned on learning Kotlin, everything else was planned.

I learnt how to code in Swift targeting Linux. That, in turn, taught me how to deal with the availability of just a subset of the frameworks/library with which I am familiar.

Next year, I'm looking into if I can port some of my old .NET code to .NET Core.

I planned to learn French, but je ne speakez it bien. Hopefully 2019 is the year.

As a French native speaker, good luck.

Thank you very much. 2019 is my year!

- That humans are rather primitive creatures. Monkeys in disguise.

- The average person is quite selfish.

- The average person is poorly educated.

Much of history/politics now makes sense to me.

I didn't plan anything, but I learned enough about dozenalism to invent my own timekeeping (i.e. breaking the day down into 12 units ad infinitum). Currently it's 3,9,6 est.

I've started learning Rust, and I have to say, it is the most satisfaction I ever felt from a programming language. Hoping I could do something useful with it someday :D

I didn't really plan to learn about anything specific. However, I did learn that I enjoy keeping journals/notes about everything I'm doing/want to do.

Ended up learning kotlin, advanced my python skills, acquired some basic ML knowledge, and journeyed further into the rabbit hole that is brazilian jiu jitsu.

Mini robotics combining mechatronics, computer vision and deep or reinforcement learning at the cost of an average lunch at restaurant has really been a dream come true.

Seriously upgraded my python skills. Switched almost everything I was using matlab for to python/C++ and it has been working out very well for me.

I learned a lot about unix systems, server administration, Windows internals, some more C++, graph theory and distributed systems theory.

Learned Elixir and Italian :D. Both are very rewarding experiences and somewhat similar in concepts of how to approach them.

What was the hardest ? Elixir.

What was more enjoyable ? Italian.

Took a great Bayesian analysis/PyMC3 class http://am207.info/

Swift - Wanted to get into iOS apps but ran out of steam.

React - No option, work required it. Starting to enjoy it finally.

- Flutter: yes I did

- First project fully in javascript (as a backend developer this was a hard one): yes I did

* factorization machines * word2vec * WARP loss for Matrix Factorization

Meta question: What do people expect to get from this thread?

I want to know about what people pursued this year. I'm also the sort of person that enjoys reading resumes, and making new years resolutions. I find seeing what other people do can inform my own actions.

Vue.js and EF Core. Publishing packages on NPM and Maven.

Coding a social network with Django and Neo4j.

its not too late to keep learning in 2018!


Learned Vue -> React

Go, Rails, Lambda/serverless, docker, java, python

Learned how to use dynamodb, google cloud datastore, bigquery, redshifts

I did this while working for startups which seen to use many different technology.

I work in ad tech because that's the only place i get to handle billion of clicks and challenges to deal with the traffic volume.

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