2018 was a great year. It had some details but mostly it was a total opportunity for learning and understanding a bunch of different things. There was a lot of moments during the year, some of them were happy, some of them were sad. Most importantly, I grew as a person and as an individual, my understanding of the world got new (and great) upgrades, and maybe we all should feel glad we managed to trip around the sun once again. Life is good.
This year began with an ugly face, at the beginning of the year I was working around 12 to 18 hours a day to complete an overdue project. My life was pretty much something like this:
- Wake up
- Stress about the project
- Write some code
- Go to work
- Keep coding
- Go back home
- Code a little bit more
I was sad and trying to figure out how I managed to get myself into that position. As the time flew by, my life wasn’t getting any better, just wake up, code, sleep, repeat. And eventually I broke apart and had a major mental breakdown around April. I quitted my job, started freelancing and later landed what I can now say is the best job I could’ve dreamt of. But there is much more depth into my year, so I would like to talk about my greatest moments of 2018 (in chronological order).
Disney Film’s Exposition
During January I visited a Disney Film’s exposition in the Cineteca Nacional. There’s always this mystery behind movies, and animated ones have a million things we don’t know about happening backstage. It was really cool learning the influence Disney himself had on the allies for WWII in Latin America, as he was personally sent by the president of the US to México and other countries to gather information for a movie in order to keep us from joining the war in favor of Germany or Russia.
It was a nice trip, I love the Cineteca and visiting it with my girlfriend was super fun.
Smart City Hackathon
At the middle of March, I helped with the organization of a hackathon for the Colegio de Ingenieros Civiles de México. I wrote a management App where the hackers could register, join a team, and view general information about the event. Also, it had a bunch of options for dietary restrictions, allergies, sleeping occupancy, special requirements and demographics for the swag and everything so the event could run smoothly. The event had issues with the amount of people registered vs the amount of people that actually attended the event but, in the end, it was a fun and very interesting approach towards solving issues related to the City and it’s inhabitants (us).
Also in March I attended a hackathon organized by Hacking Health (a NGO focusing on bringing top-notch technology into the medical scene), I was a technical advisor for the event and made a bunch of friends and learned a lot about the inherent needs to the medical area with technology. I made a lot of new friends and learned about how UNAM is focusing engineering students to be proactive in their own areas with events like this one and giving them all the tools they may need to become great professionals.
Talent Land 2018
During April I visited with my girlfriend, some friends and my brother Guadalajara, Jalisco, to attend my favorite tech event here in México: Talent Land (Campus Party as it was known before).
It was a nice trip, I learned a lot about different things and technologies (mostly about Blockchain). It was super fun, as always, going to an event were all the geeks can gather around and be themselves without anyone (or anything) judging. Also it’s the event where I get to see a bunch of inspiring people and amazing friends of mine.
Just for the record, this was the first time I didn’t registered for the hackathon that happened during the event but, also, this was the very first time I don’t loose said hackathon (weird coincidences, huh?).
Late in April I also attended the Latin American Open Source Software Installation Festival, in which the main idea was to gather as a community and share with people the advantages of using open source software. It was an entire day at the Fábrica Digital El Rule downtown México City and there was a bunch of workshops and conferences about installation, distribution and contribution to free software.
Quitting a Job
In May I parted ways with my job at the time. It was too much stress and actually made me go sick for a couple of days, so I decided my health was above anything (including work), and quitted for the greater good. It wasn’t sad, it was just a change of direction around my career and the person who I wanted to be. No regrets, perhaps the third best decision of my year.
I freelanced (again) for a couple of months and really liked going to my local Starbucks and use it as an office. I crafted a couple of software platforms and finally had time for myself.
Orquesta Sinfónica del Palacio de Minería Summer Season
My girlfriend and I love classical music, we attended to a lot of concerts for the summer season at the Nezahualcóyotl music hall at UNAM here in México City. It is totally worth to go each sunday (or saturday) and listen to some beautiful music played by an extraordinary orchestra such as this one. If you have the chance, I am completely sure you won’t regret going to a concert.
Mario Schjetnan: Reconciliar Ciudad y Naturaleza
During June and July, I visited the Mario Schjetnan’s exposition on the Palace of Fine Arts called: Reconciling City and Nature. It was an amazing tour through a lot of different projects Mr. Schjetnan (an amazing architect with great interest in sustentability, beauty and usability) participated into with his company GDU. For me, architecture is an entire area where I have zero to none knowledge but this exhibition really helped me understand the important nature of architecture and design towards the creation of really smart cities. Also, the previous projects that were presented are totally amazing and the amount of work that each one has really presents us with an opportunity to not just think about adding parks and buildings into our cities, but to be elegant and creative during the design process.
Later that month we attended a lecture with Mr. Schjetnan were he explained how projects rise from concept and the multiple complications he’s found during his works all around our country. A truly awesome experience.
In June I joined the VR3 team. It has been one of the most important and incredible decisions I made this year. It’s been an amazing journey and it will only keep getting bigger and better.
From this point on, I went back to participating in hackathons, with them. And for the first time in my life, I won a hackathon.
I won a hackathon.
And if you keep reading, you’ll notice it wasn’t just one hackathon, there was a lot of them.
The most important part of this new job is that now I work with an amazing cumulus of knowledge distributed in each member, from VR to AI, Blockchain and Machine Learning, all the hype words have an actual expert and just sitting around those great minds give you the idea of how a truly multi-perspective, functional and top-notch technology project can be done. I am just the back end guy, but some day (sooner than I expect, hopefully) I will be able to be half as good as these guys are. Just amazing.
Elisa Carrillo & Friends Gala
In July I went, with my girlfriend’s family to a Ballet Presentation. It was from the Mexican, world-renowned, artist Elisa Carrillo. The different musical pieces ranged from contemporary to classical, each and every piece was performed with complete mastery and beauty (as expected). I am deeply looking forward for attending the presentation again this year.
So, this is the hackathon. It wasn’t very famous, or popular, but we won. Yes, we won the hackathon and I almost passed out when we found out. There is no way to describe how it feels winning in something you have been trying for a long, long, long, so freaking long, long time and finally happening. Maybe it was the way of working during the hackathon and my terrible ideas that didn’t allowed me to win one with my previous teams, but this one, winning this one, it just felt like the best feeling in the world.
BBVA Bancomer Hackathon
We later attended this hackathon, which is one of the biggest in Mexico. We won two different categories with amazing projects on each one. The team divided and worked out efficiently and we made great projects. We made a project for Cisco and another one for the Data Science category.
I wasn’t involved in this project, but (as far as I understand) we worked out a model that estimated the size of a small or medium sized business with a data set given by the bank. Oh yes, we won this one.
This was the project I worked on. It consisted of a UX improvement for the ATMs where, by just having your WiFi enabled (not a requirement) we could offer you a Cash Disposal in under 30 seconds. Basically we used the device’s MAC Address and the Cisco Meraki API to find out if a registered Client walked inside the branch and offered them a list of actions from within the banks existing application. The operation could be programmed beforehand (such as a cash disposal) and by just walking into the branch you get prompted in your phone and then, by scanning a QR code on the ATM, you can perform the operation in less than 30 seconds.
The use of the Cisco Meraki API is crucial in here, and represents an upgrade in the total customer journey and security within the bank. Also, yeah, we won a trip to Cancún. So far so good, right?
One of the books I read during my
useless elementary school French classes was: Les Miserábles by Víctor Hugo. My memories of the story were mostly buried deep in my bad thoughts corner due to my awful experience with the French language (and school) during those years. I’ve always loved musicals, in fact, the main reason I started to learn piano was because of the music on The Phantom of the Opera and Cats. Despite the fact Les Miserábles is a well-known story, musicals, here in Mexico, tend to have some lyrical problems due to translation issues, this is because most of them are written in English and then translated to Spanish, but, at least for this one, as translating French to Spanish is much easier, the lyrics are really well-written and the entire show is amazing.
In september we attended the Blockchain Hackathon, in which were we developed a blockchain-based identity management app for refugees and migrants. The system basically consisted of a blockchain with the person information that could be retrieved, upgraded, validated and/or created through SMS, phone calls and a web platform. As you can expect, we won this one too and now we are waiting for the results on our application for a UNICEF fund to help this project reach the millions migrants and refugees that really need this kind of tool.
I can’t remember the exact date, but I visited an exposition with the art and work from Leonora Carrington. To be entirely honest, my knowledge in terms of arts is pretty short (not to say
null), but Surrealism isn’t my favorite cultural movement and I find hardly a connection with it. I really liked the colors used in her paintings and the way she expressed her reality through them, but I must insist that it is simply not my genre.
Blockchain Summit LatAm, Bogotá
In October we went to Bogotá, Colombia and attended the Blockchain Summit Latin América 2018, where we learned a lot about the ecosystem and the main actors within this amazing technology.
Yes, another hackathon
During the event there was a hackathon and, as you can expect, we participated. It wasn’t clear the categories for the event, but there was certainly prizes given by Companies and Organizations that used blockchain technology. We participated in two of those prizes, the AdEx one and the MakerDAO one.
For the AdEx prize, they were looking for a way to allow mobile programmers to integrate their amazing service into their apps. The idea was that, by the end of the event, we coded a library that would be Plug-N’-Play in order to allow the ads from the AdEx blockchain to be displayed properly within their apps. We wrote a React-Native library that allows everyone writing mobile apps in that framework (which is hybrid, meaning you write your app once and it will be compiled to Android and iOS) to integrate the AdEx product into the app. We won this prize.
MakerDAO is the organization behind an amazing stable coin, the DAI, which is basically a cryptocurrency that
shouldn’t won’t change it’s value, it will always be simple as 1 DAI = $1 US Dollar. For their prize, we wrote an app that allowed transactions with DAI to be sent without paying any fees. The problem with this fees is that you can’t pay them directly with DAI, you need to pay them with Ethereum (a non-stable coin), so the transaction process required users to have Ethereum to pay the transaction fees and DAI, well, to give away to me (you can ask for my address on Twitter ;) don’t be shy), so we wrote an application that uses Ethereum, that the MakerDAO organization will give, in order to allow users to send DAI without any fees. Obviously validating you are not making bad use of the platform and with time and amount restrictions. We got 2nd place on this one (we only got money).
This year I also met the incredible team of Blockchain Academy Mexico and attended their Hyperledger: Fabric course, in which we learned how to setup this blockchain by IBM and use it for the use cases that required a permissioned blockchain. We met a bunch of great people during the course and we have the great feeling that a bunch more will be doing with these guys.
Cisco Live! Cancún
The prize for winning the Cisco category on the BBVA Bancomer Hackathon was a visit to the Cisco Live! event on Cancún, México, during the first week of december. I am not going to enter a lot in detail of what happened during the week (as there is another post on this blog about it) but we met a bunch of amazing people, we learn a lot about networks and cybersecurity, and, obviously, being to Cancun is amazing, we got an all-inclusive access to the conference hotel so we enjoyed ourselves and the event as far as we could.
When it rains it pours. This year I finally payed-off all my debts. It may seem as a minor achievement but, let me tell you something: it isn’t a minor achievement. At the beginning of the year, the bank began calling me on a daily-basis, my credit score was that of guy with 2 non-payed mortgages and awful debts. Throughout the year I managed to give away almost 90% of my income to pay this debt and, as December 2018, it is now deep buried in the past. Fuck banks and their loans for idiot 18 year old kids.
Life is better now
Right now, my life is getting better. Everyday I learn something new, I am exercising (baby steps, baby steps) and pushing myself into learning stuff I wouldn’t be allowed to learn anywhere else.
I am happy now.
This year was filled with fun adventures and amazing moments and great people and awesome projects. I may be only calling out the best of my year, but in the end, the only things that I will really care about are those that made me happy.
It couldn’t be the same without my girlfriend, Maura, who is the most amazing human being I’ve ever met. She encourages me everyday and has changed my life for good. Also she tolerates all my bad jokes so there’s no such amount of love in the world to compensate her for that.
Come on 2019, I am waiting for you.
As always, for comments and feedback, you can find me on Twitter as: @humbertowoody.