2022 in Review
I like trying to do a yearly review. It started mostly as a media consumption review but I’ve slowly grown to add some bits about life in as well. This year’s is a bit late and definitely media review heavy. There could be more to talk about but I don’t feel like it, and for reasons outlined below it’s been slow enough to assemble this. Perhaps I should start blogging with more frequency to mitigate that. More obligations to think about for another day.
Working straight out on one job, not following my own best practices of taking time between switching jobs, moving with next to no time off, and just the general rolling on of the omni crisis, I don’t think I was quite kind enough to myself and by the end of the year seemed to have a bit of burn out. Thankfully Tor Project is kind to its staff, possibly well aware we are all keen, and gave us about two weeks off for the holidays. Normally I find myself doing coding side projects during time off work but as a sign of how over the line I think I let myself go I just wanted to veg and recoup and didn’t do any. I think as the new year has started and I’ve focused on just work giving myself some additional time not to do much else I seem to be slowly bouncing back, but it’s taking a bit.
Something that caught my eye and got me thinking was seeing this maybe glib quote:
“One of the striking things about reading Victorian literature is how no one questions the idea that a person’s nerves could be so shattered that they would need a year of leisure and travel to recover. Even the posh Victorians understood the gravity of burnout better than we do.”
I’m not saying my “nerves were shattered” but I’ve flirted with burn out before and for me at least it sneaks up on me usually cus I’m intentionally pushing hard and I don’t noticed my enthusiasm for doing things dwindling till I just can’t push any more. Then it takes a good while to recharge and get that enthusiasm back. Thankfully I don’t think I’m that bad off, just tired, and understandably so. I seem to be fine at work, it’s just extra curriculars that I’m taking a break from till I’m more recharged. It’s always interesting to see that disconnect grow, cus there are so many projects I feel excited about having done, but when I go to think about starting my mind just slides off them.
I suspect I’ll take a little more vacation time this spring and hopefully be digging into some more extra work around with enthusiasm in not too long.
I do think there are mental health practices I might look into to help myself. The world seems to be rolling along in omnicrisis and enuring myself in that too much and missing the local and in my life good things too much is easy to do with social media but not good for my mood.
In the first half of 2022 I was working for Open Privacy and we continued to deliver a ton of great enhancements to Cwtch: profile pictures, profile import/export, message formatting, apple silicon support, android power management improvements, a whole docs site, and more. I’m really proud of out work and the stability and feature of Cwtch that we’ve gotten to. Sadly, as the pandemic wore on and the recession loomed and the crypto markets crashed, our funding shrank, and we had to let me go. With Open Privacy cutting back staffing and hours it’s now in a sustainable position, where it’s stable on it’s monthly patreon funding, but a lot of our future plans for Cwtch will have to wait till funding improves. For 2023 I believe we’ll be looking at slowly growing that funding up a bit so we can improve our maintenance releases and also start moving forward albeit slowly on more plans.
Thankfully this was far from a surprise, the writing was on the wall for a while, so I spent the spring interviewing, and ended up beyond lucky, as I was able to land a job at Tor Project, which is basically a dream job for me, and months later I still can scarcely believe I get to work with this group of amazing people on this tech. I’m now on the Tor Browser team learning a bunch and already getting patches into Tor Browser. Additionally I’ve already gotten to leverage bits of my past experience and have lots more along those lines coming in 2023. The workflow is a new one to me, managing a huge set of patches on top of a moving codebase beneath. It’s interesting so I’m learning technique still which is rad. Also of course the Firefox codebase itself is massive so lot’s to explore there. It’s the oldest codebase I’ve ever worked on. In my first month I was referencing docs that hadn’t been updated in over 20 years for an old component.
Aside from changing jobs, we also moved. This was our decision thankfully and we’ve landed in a place that is cat friendly, so we no longer have to fear eviction if the cat gets spotted, and we have a little more room, each having a small office now. It also means we can foster cats, which we’ve been doing! It’s quite nice but moving itself was a lot of stress, tho I think we did a pretty decent job managing it all. Now it’s just the long tail of being in a new place with lots of small improvements here and there slowly being gotten to as time and money permit.
Each of these sections is a “loosely” ordered list, going roughly from things I liked more to things I liked less, but order is weak at best.
- Elden Ring
This is my game of the year, the game I happily spent the most time in and still think about, and will probably return to for more runs. It definitely hits the build-craft itch I have and watching build videos inspires me to try new runs. Also I find the reward structure very satisfying. Being able to have locations, bosses etc all with specific items they drop motivates each build/characters journey, and makes them different from each other. I found going back to other games where you just had merchants selling weapons and just did missions for credits and XP to be much less satisfying after this experience. Then there is the lore, which isn’t exactly front and centre, but the world is drenched in it and you can certainly dig into it, and it’s fascinating to me, which is of note as I’m overwhelmingly a sci-fi person. I think just the very lived-in-ness of the world, the decay, the seeming assured path it’s on to more ruin, it hits some notes of the time. And that if you dig in, you can find alternate possibilities is oddly hopeful. And finally just the map, the first time playing through it, that wonder of discovery and exploration, again, unmatched in recent games for me.
- Horizon Forbidden West
Unfortunately this game launched along side, and I played after Elden Ring. All the aforementioned experiences were still buzzing in my head and it unfortunately left me finding some of the mechanics of this game, through no fault of their own, feeling a bit frustrating for me. A little bit of a shame, because over all I think compared to a lot, the combat mechanics are still very good and a lot of fun. But the real start in this game is the story, that is pushing much further into sci-fi tropes, which I absolutely love. Also there is now a small team/base assembling aspect that hit a note of nostalgia in me for StarControl 2 (and prolly a wider audience for mass effect maybe?) which was just a delight. And I’m left excited for the DLC this year and the third instalment, when ever it comes (tho I wish they could have done one more script pacing pass, the final reveals felt a bit tacked on unfortunately).
- Citizen Sleeper
I found this game through a Kay and Skittles video entitled Citizen Sleeper: A Game About Precarity and Hope and went out to play it as recommended before finishing the video. Definitely worth it. It’s mechanics are fairly simple, basically resource management in the form of dice, energy, health and money. But unlike many games I’ve played before now, it really tilts you into the near trouble all the time, you never feel like you’re left many chances to stabilize and catch your breath, just always rushing forward and hoping. The story here is cute, and has an emphasis on building community for support and mutual aid. It’s much better summed up in the linked video so go play it and then watch that :)
This game was a delight. It just has a stylish look and theme: roller derby but with guns and murder. The gameplay comes together amazingly, giving a unique shooter experience where you have to line up your strikes as your on skates and can’t just move and strafe, but instead are managing and steering forward momentum. Speaking of managing, reloading is done by tricks, so sweep by an enemy unloading at them, hopefully kill them, then do a trick, and line up another attack. To cap it off, score is calculated with a modifier that evaporates with time, but renews and increases with each kill, so the ideal level run is a dance of perfectly timed and spaced kills and trick to get max combo multiplier. The game is just a treat. If you want this said better, maybe more eloquently, and in more detail, check out Skillup’s Rollerdrome review.
Cute and fun. I’m a scifi and cyberpunk junkie and love cats so “cyberpunk cat game” was unmissable. Even had a little world building that was fun. Gameplay was light but pretty sufficient for the short length of the game.
Returned after about a year off, and only about 1 escape. Did the full 10. Good times. Then fell off again. In light of Hades 2 announcement will need to return to close out character stories.
- Vampire Survivor
This was a surprisingly fun little game to drop a few weeks compulsively on. Enjoyed the build craft element of it, and the achievements that yielded unlocks gave them more heft and motivation to go for, and in turn made me try gear I may have given a poor first assessment of and be surprised. All its elements were pulling in the same direction, nice to see.
- Apex Legends
Go to for some P2P FPS when I wanted it. P2P is hard for me, I never feel like I can get much of an edge, if I ever do improve (debatable) I just get harder lobbies. I like the game, speed, movement, and lore, but in the later half of the year I didn’t visit much.
My old fav for a few years. I seem to be still pretty burnt out on it, but it wasn’t that big a content year anyways, with the biggest content drop of the year, the Duvari Paradox, postponed again into next year. That looks interesting and I’ll prolly return to check it out.
- Ghost Song
Cute little metroid-vania I liked the look of. Was pretty satisfying, and cute, but I found the ending a bit abrupt. Still, haven’t played one in a while, this was a pretty decent visit to that game type.
Fun game to build ships from scratch from square components and then do combat against the AI in the light randomly generated camping or against friends. Had some good fun in this with friends late in the year doing some coop and then vs combat challenges, which got silly quickly, like a challenge to only build ships that spell your name.
A hard city builder in space on a space station/ship. Have yet to finish, it’s hard, and this is another genre I haven’t tried in eons, like, since the 90s with sim city 1… -_-; Anyways I’m enjoying it despite the hardness, and it’s bit of story and world building is firmly entrenched in some good anticapitalism satire (think Glass Onion) so it made me an easy target for the game. Also I really like the soundtrack and have listened to it a bunch outside of the game, so check that out too.
Boomer Shooter that got talked about a lot. Gave it a try, it’s fine. Didn’t do anything super special for me, about 1/3rd done I think and wandered off.
Stylized creepy scifi horror game apparently in the vein of metal gear solid (which I haven’t played any of). I’m mostly still just started, an hour or two in only. Not gripping me with gameplay, but the spooky scifi style may yet drag me back to finish it.
- Risk of Rain 2
Cure little coop rouge like. Played with some friends for a bit and had some fun.
- V Rising
Looked like a cute Vampire based base builder explorer and boss fighter RPG thing. Looked really good for coop. Sadly I couldn’t lure any friends in at the time of release and I got stuck on boss 3 or 4? so fell off. But seemed pretty good and fun so far. Had fun with the base building aspect.
- Apsulov: End of Gods
Norse mythology scifi Apocalypse shooter. Made it a few levels in. The game play was pretty bland and the setting was at least a bit unique but didn’t quite grab my particular tastes enough to get me to finish.
I think my show of the year. A contemporary show using just a hint of scifi, but then deep diving into the philosophy and morals of it more in the scifi tradition. Great old time, well done, and stylish to boot. Don’t want to say much more to spoil it, go check it out if you can.
- Yellow Jackets
A fun new tense mystery story set in two time periods with a hint of teased horror and some now broken characters. Has some good promise, I hope future seasons can live up to that.
- Our Flag Means Death
Super cute, funnt, and delightful queer pirate romance story. Looking forward to more.
- For All Mankind
Watched the first two seasons of this and was surprised by how much fun I had. Granted you have to be able to suspend one rather sizable chunk of disbelief, it’s yet another story where history and reality have to be bent to make America an underdog to be worth rooting for, which is stupid and annoying. But if you can jump to that fantasy world and get past that, they yeah, some neat alt history space stuff for ya.
I’ve never clicked with Gaiman’s works before, including that I’ve read about 4 or 5 of the Sandman books. This was the first time it pretty much just worked for me. So kudos to the team. I applaud their pacing choice to not try and draw stories out, season 1’s 10 episodes are taken up by two story arcs from the comic and two one shots, so much better than if they’d tried to draw the opening arc out over the same number of episodes as I’ve seen some adaptations of other works try. I found the two arcs adequately engaging and not bad, but episode 6, the two one offs, in The Sound Of Her Wings, was by far the bright light of the whole season and just an outstanding piece of TV and story telling. The follow up 1 off animated episode was also fun, and does more good work building out the world.
- The Devil’s Hour
Basically a Dr Who miniseries down to and including Peter Capaldi, with a dash of horror. Enjoyed
- Pantheon (3 eps)
I would have loved this to bits as a teen or early 20something about 15 years ago. Glad its out and bringing Singularity fiction to a wider audience but covering known ground to me and the character’s didn’t quite suck me in. I may try and return to.
- The Peripheral
Pretty fun adaptation of the half of it I’ve seen so far. Love Chloe Grace Moretz in stuff.
- The Endgame
I’m a sucker for “masterminds” so this drew me in. It’s not totally poorly done. It’s def trying to evoke other big plan-within-plan shows and such like Prison Break and such. It is a bit less well executed but fairly adequate. Also cancelled now, so, pretty missable.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
The least bad thing the new Star Trek generation has produced. It finally starts to get that Star Trek might benefit from being episodic, because the massive and deep stupidity of the writing team they have is contained to little episodes and not stretch painfully over season long “plots”. So they have bad camp episodic writing. But now their episode count is a bit low at 10. There’s no reason a show this silly and poorly written needs such high budgets for appearance, effects, look, etc. Drop the budget per show and pump out more and you might really be getting close to a hit. A few stand out written eps by freelancers and you could just about have a winning season on your hands. As it was, this was by far the least awful thing they’ve put out and fairly watchable. I’d watch season 2.
But core premise vs story telling wise, I have questions. Yet again, for like, the every-ith time, the writters and show runners seem angry at the old Federation of TNG and TOS and want to pick fights with it and disparage it. Which, like, fine, it is super open to critic, just like, why are you then doing that on a show about the Federation’s Flag Ship and poster boy captain? Clearly the writers have different opinions they want to express so why not do a show set in the Star Trek universe that isn’t about the Federation. Maybe a Mauqis show if you need to still leverage the IP, or just set a show outside Starfleet about some federation folks maybe doing things they think are morale the federation can’t or won’t. There is super room for this and you own the IP and are writing the shows, so like, do it? It’s just baffling they keep putting that energy it to like famous federation properties. Makes my brain itch.
- 12 Monkeys S1 and some S2
Amazon TV can do ok mid tier TV if it doesn’t need budget for too many effects, so this mostly just passes. Also I kinda like the lead from the season and a bit I saw of him on Nikita. But it started wearing a bit in season 2. But I’m also still curious. With time may return to.
- Sort Of
Binged the whole season on an airplane. Mostly endearing.
Pretty fun ultra violence. Nothing special but we’ll see how it develops when ever season 2 arrives.
- Roswell New Mexico s1 & 2
I was a huge teen fan of the original show Roswell, so this should have hit me in the nostalgia, but mostly the changes, age up, etc made me want to avoid it. Until I got critically bored and tired and needed something to rehab a tired brain on. Nothing special, but there’s some OK updates, better representation chief among them. Otherwise it’s just kinda weird, no idea who the audience is intended to be. Still teen YA drama, now with adults. eh.
- Avenue 5
Some OK laughs.
- Quantum Leap
Watchable, when it prolly shouldn’t be, so they’ve achieved something with that. Layering a mystery on top of the classic formula helps. The show runner previously did Blindspot and I enjoyed at least the first two seasons of that, similar gimmicks (some amnesia again), but I won’t complain given the context and constraints. Adequate cast too.
- She Hulk
It was a miss for me, but so has all the Marvel shows, so that’s not too surprising.
- Leverage Redemption s1
Don’t. The balance from the original show seems off or I’m older and more discerning?
Weird, can’t quite believe I finished this cheap little Brit Sci Fi show, but there aren’t enough sci fi ship shows so I’m prolly starved. Bits of potential, some dumb, a little chemistry, not enough, and it was cancelled.
- Stranger Things s4
- Umbrella Academy s3
I keep being surprised so far more seasons of this show keep working for me.
- Wheel of Time
Did not work for me. Apparently they were younger in the book, but wanted to appeal to a more adult audience so aged the actors up, but not the writing of them. And apparently they made some pretty weird creative choices. Super didn’t work for me.
- Murdoch Mysteries
Lol we were bored and tired and needed something to watch. It’s dumb. So dumb.
- Cyberpunk Edgerunners (3/10)
Did not connect with the characters or setting. Pitting tech enhancements as a mental risk and all that’s been talked about a lot as pretty toxic. This just seemed like recycled stuff from better material, decades old.
- Westworld Season 4
I find Westworld continually struggling to live up to its potential. Season 1 was some very engaging TV but season 2 somehow felt like it had nothing else to add or say for the whole season despite adding more *worlds and actually having a few little things to say about observing and predicting and AI. It just stretched so little over so long. It’s not worth watching. Season 3 came back and had new setting and new things, and was much more worth coming back to, but even then was already wearing thin by the second half of the season. I just get tired of these supposedly advanced AIs having no communication abilities and all their disputes having to come down to cool looking but stupid sword fights, it is not interesting. Season 4 was just, more of that. Some twists mostly for twists sake rather than any greater purpose. And now in the HBO-magedeon it’s been candled and I’m a little thankful. I probably would have watched season 5, but out of some twisted compulsion. Now I’m saved that.
Star Trek Picard: Season 2
Thankfully I can compartmentalize, but if I couldn’t, then this show is so bad it would retroactively start ruining Picard from TNG for me. Because they decide to invent some past and trauma for him. They make the dumbest season long plot. Honestly, there’s not much point me wasting my words on it, this is truly some of the dumbest worst most awful TV made. I have a SciFi and Star Trek addiction but the new generation of show runners and this show are slowly curing me of it. If you like star trek, do not watch this, unless to hate watch. Even then. It is just. I scarcely have the words to encompass all the confusing, baffling, bad, and stupid choices that were made this season.
- Everything Everywhere All At Once
My movie of the year. Amazing fights, acting, over the top visuals, and an emotional core that worked and tied it all together as a through line. Good time.
- Glass Onion
Fun anticapitalist “mystery”. Prolly a smidge less good than Knives Out.
Had a fun time with this one. It paid homage to it’s inspirations (esp the Thing), but the new cast / setting was refreshing for the genre, and the kids had good chemistry. Was fun for an indie Canadian horror.
- Ready or Not
Watched on an airplane. Maybe that’s why it was meh for me. Seemed a bit silly in the end.
- Gunpowder Milkshake
Ok but had more potential they could not deliver on.
- Mercury 13
Interesting documentary on the women recruited and tested to be Nasa Mercury pilots and then rejected because sexism. Cool folks.
Pretty fun back to basic Predator movie, and I like Amber Midhunter.
- Bobs Burger Movie
Some laughs but I think it works better as a show.
- The 355
So fucking stupid.
- The Ministry for the Future
Pretty strong opening, and the terrorism parts seemed plausible, but didn’t buy crypto currencies saving us all. A disappointing end from KSR.
- The Book of All Skies
Greg Egan at it again with fantastically imagined worlds. And a pretty ok story
- Murderbot Diaries 1-6
Zombie horror isn’t usually my thing but this was still an interesting ride.
- Iron Widow
Lots of fun
Even more ridiculous Greg Egan settings. Story didn’t exactly go where expected, but I kinda enjoyed that the main through line ended up being “consent”.
- Invisible Sun
Interesting ideas but I think the series stretched a bit and also didn’t deliver enough? A bit unremembered already.
- A Closed Common Orbit (Wayfarers 2)
Enjoyed more than #1. But I enjoy AI.
Top Books List
Something I figured I should note was my top books, as it doesn’t change too often, but if you compared to 20 years ago, it’s completely different. So maybe check in every 5 to 10 years on this one.
The top 3 are basically what I’d recommend for getting caught up on near future singularity related fic.
- Disaspora - Greg Egan
- Accelerando - Charlie Stross
- Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi
Then if we’re rounding this out to 5, I’d add
- Blindspot - Peter Watts
as it’s so very my jam, and I might think about reaching for
- The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect - Local Roger
but that last one, it’s been a long time since I’ve given it a read, and there were some intentionally “provocative” sections that might just be bad now. But when I read it like ~20 years ago it did lay a lot of ground work and questions for future singularity fic and about consent and humanity that matches most of the rest of my pics. I think. If I’m remembering it right.
Tech Thoughts from 2022 into 2023
As evidenced by Sarah’s latest bug report, it seems she can’t use an Electron app for a day with out finding security and privacy issues. It’s just one of the endless pieces of evidence that HTML/JS based cross platform UI frameworks are unworkable in an kind of security context. We continue to be happy with the results we’ve been able to deliver with Flutter, maintaining an app for 4 OSs with mostly one codebase. Promisingly, Sarah also bashed out several rapid prototype apps last year as well. So it seems clear to me that in the short to medium term, Flutter is where I should be focusing my efforts if I want to make any GUI apps. I also am keeping an eye on Iced, the new Rust UI framework, that is being used in the new Cosmic DE, but for one, it’s desktop only.
Programming language wise, I continue to find my interests drawn to Rust when and where possible, but this year I’m browser dev, so I’m working in a whole host of languages from C++ to some JS and scripting tools in perl, shell, etc.
Taking all these as premises, and given that Tor Project is seeing good progress with Arti the Rust reimplementation of Tor, it seems that something that might be useful to poke at if I have time would be Arti bindings for Flutter.
This also flows from and fulfills my basic need to find decentralized self hosted solutions for things, and it’s hard. Sarah was trying the closed source, centrally hosted, Electron app Obsidian and found security issues in a day. I’ve been playing with Joplin for mind mapping and note taking, and while it is open source, cross platform, and allows self hosting with nextcloud, it’s also an electron app. I would love to enable a new generation of decentralized GUI apps so giving tor bindings to Flutter seems like the quickest first step. A next step might be making some simple storage solutions on the backend of a Tor Hidden Service, maybe some kind of DB and a doc store, then it would seem pretty straight forward for one to next make quick flutter apps for small uses that allow syncing across apps via a Tor hidden service deployed storage server, be in run in one of the apps on a desktop or deployed on a server as a container or bare metal. This all follows the Open Privacy approach of giving folks as many options as possible to suit their needs. One just needs the correct tools.
Anyways, that would be my dream to deliver this year, but between a fulltime job, and continued work on Cwtch, which has so much more I want to deliver as well we’ll see if I get to any of that. Also being mindful of the above discussion on burn out :D.
As Open Privacy has blogged about already, we are working to finalize a stable API for Cwtch, so I’d like after that to do another release of the Cwtch Rust bindings and get back into bot work. I have realized I’m less interested in some “talky” bot and more something like a shell interface that just takes commands. Someone did quip it sounds like I’m converging on ssh over tor with more steps. I probably need to sit with and evaluate a bit more what I ultimately want out of this work but I think there is some cool and useful applications here, but it also could and maybe should mean I should be looking at exactly what tools I want and poking at starting them as independent rust projects I can tie into a bot later.
Finally, just Linux desktop thoughts: it’s been a disappointing decade for the Desktop in general, Linux included. There are for me glimmers of hope in projects I’m watching tho from System 76’s Cosmic DE to Wayfire and Sway based on wlroots, and Budgie’s potential migration to the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries have all caught my eye as projects to watch, but I’m not sure any of them have releases scheduled for 2023. So we’ll keep waiting. On the Distro side, I think if I have new installs to do I may step back from Ubuntu and look at Debian instead. I am not enjoying Snaps, Firefox in a snap seems just annoying and frustrating. We’ll see.
I guess that’s it for 2022. I’m not left with any big take aways yet. Perhaps just trying to tapper my social media consumption a bit in more low energy times. Also near the end of the year someone did say something to me that linked up with my motivation to manage my own information pipelines, and it was to try some new things, and curated forms by semi trusted orgs, in the form of magazines / zines / newsletters. Pairing with some twitter exodus I actually signed up for a few paid magazines, and have subbed to several news letters. We’ll see what that brings. I’ve also been trying to get out and walk more each day, as especially working from home, I lead a pretty sedentary life and that’s not always the most healthy. That has given me some time to listen to podcasts of which I’ve been mostly enjoying Cancel Me Daddy, Podquisition, and a bit of All Gamers Are Bastards. Also starting Law Bytes.
For 2023 I need to focus on building a bit more self care into my life to keep digging out of and avoid more burn out.
Take care of yourselves!
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