Another year has passed and it is again difficult to itemize what has exactly changed and what I accomplished this year. Let’s start with something specific and see where it goes from there.

I started using Google AppEngine for my server development needs and it’s actually pretty easy to use (especially since you can use Java). This has made me reconsider whether I need to pay for my webhost because between AppEngine and services like DropBox, I can pretty much duplicate the functionality for free.

My primary goal this year for Android/software development was to build an app that would be as successful as Condado on Google Play. Although I haven’t worked on it for almost two years, Condado has slowly been racking up a lot of downloads and positive reviews – it has almost 35,000 downloads and over 1000 reviews (4.63/5 rating). However, the publisher for San Juan has released their own Android version on the store so my app could be suspended at any time.

I made a few significant attempts at this. My first try was actually the result of a hackathon hosted by the Canadian government. I thought A Healthier Commute was a novel idea and even though it placed second in a national hackathon with official press releases and media coverage, it didn’t actually generate any interest. The app has been out for almost a year and it *only* has 60-something downloads.

My next attempt was half-hearted and was simply a reference app for people playing Card Wars: Adventure Time. It didn’t take long to make and is steadily (but slowly) being downloaded by people who play the game (should exceed 1000 early in the new year). I wouldn’t count that a success though. I followed that up with an app I wanted to make for awhile, which is a HD photo aggregator for Taeyeon photos. I felt Always Taeyeon was a high quality app and the user growth/engagement was tracking really well; but it got suspended from Google Play and I basically had to abandon it as there’s not much recourse from that. So I’m still looking for a successor.

In my day job, I also spent a lot of time building Android apps. I started out the year working on an app called Cabin at the Samsung Accelerator and ended it by working on a [product redacted] app in Samsung proper. I made several trips to NYC this year. It wasn’t as frequent as the year before, which is actually fine for me because there isn’t a good enough balance on my trips to actually tour NYC. I went enough times to maintain my SPG gold status for next year though. I also made 2 trips to the Bay Area as part of the new work I’m doing.

In terms of travel though, that’s about it. We made a couple of road trips as a family to some usual destinations, but we didn’t take a long (plane) trip this year. The first half of the year was spent hanging out I guess – after winter we went with Apollo to some parks and other outdoor activities that his small legs could handle. Then Jovian was born in the summer and we stayed indoors for a little while he grew up, before going out more in the fall.

Both kids are growing well. Apollo makes cognitive leaps every once in a while – he went from making sounds, to copying a couple of single syllable sounds, to understanding the sounds spoken to him, to saying multi-syllable sounds to express his desires, to understanding sentences, and is now at a stage where he can string together a couple of words into a clause or full sentence. You can have a conversation to him and he can express his opinion. He’s a lot better at imitating sounds, and may repeat your entire sentence if he feels like it. He knows his number and alphabet, and is starting to read (via memorization). We put Apollo in daycare in preparation for Jovian’s birth and while it took a bit of adjusting, he is fine with being away from his family for a couple of hours.

Jovian is also growing and is at a stage where others can play with him. Not much here to note, because the first 3 months of a baby’s life is just sleeping & etc. Looking after two kids is not as tough as I thought it would be, but it also varies depending on the age difference between the two kids. Apollo is not old enough that he can look after himself (unless he is playing) so at times both kids need constant attention. It’s work now, but when Jovian gets just a little bit older next year, they’ll start interacting and playing together!

I didn’t play a lot of games this year, mostly because I cut back on freemium games that require a lot of attention. I played most of the talked about mobile games of the year (that weren’t freemium) either by buying them or using extra credits from Amazon or Google Play. No console this games this year, but some games on computer – mostly Hearthstone but also a couple of other card-based games. This year saw a lot of card (collectible or otherwise) games come out, it makes sense on mobile as there aren’t a lot of graphic requirements.

My spare time was spent on the usual stuff: exploratory development, games, and music. I didn’t pick up or attempt to look for any new hobbies. No reading beyond web articles via Pocket. My top music for 2014 is covered in another blog and while it was like most years – how I’m listening to music is undergoing a shift. The market has been moving to an online streaming model for awhile now and I think I was 2 steps behind – still buying CDs and listening to mp3s I ripped/bought. This year I exclusively bought online (it’s cheaper anyways) but I started thinking about moving away from iTunes. One is because there’s so much streaming now, which is a good way to find out about new music (without relying on radio). The other is because the iPod Shuffle which we’ve used in the kitchen died (as did its backup) so that’s one less way I’m using iTunes. To replace it, we’re using Spotify streaming and bluetooth enabled speakers (via a dongle). Play counts & stats are still interesting, but not as important now. And finally, I started uploading my music collection onto Google Music. I’m not sure if anything will actually change in 2015, but the possibility is there.

It’s difficult to sum up my feeling for 2014. It didn’t feel like a year – not because there wasn’t a lot of things that happened, but I think everything seems to blend in together. I guess there wasn’t a lot of really cool memories too look back on, so it’s almost like 2014 is incomplete – like it was only half a year and there’s still more to come. Maybe it comes with getting older that the years blend together.