Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year in Review - 2015

Bam! The end of the year is upon us again, so it's time to do a bit of customary introspection and look back at the year just passed... and what a blast 2015 has been!

Particular highlights were:
* Attending Siggraph Asia 2015 in Kobe, where I presented my first paper at an international conference about Grease Pencil.
  - Other highlights from that trip included visiting Himeji Castle, Akashi Bridge, and staying in Kobe Portopia Hotel
* Our recent Christmas holiday trip to China (Guilin + Guangzhou) and Hong Kong
  - I just got home a day or so ago. All the juicy highlights and observations will be coming in the new year, once I finish going through my photos and notes
  - Particular highlights in China were the Lijiang River Cruise to Yangshou, successfully climbing Solitary Beauty Peak in Guilin, Chan Clan Mansion in Guangzhou. Special mention must also be made the traffic + infrastructure + pollution in this part of the world (though I probably wouldn't call them highlights...)
  - Spending Christmas in Hong Kong was really really awesome! No wonder Mum has been wanting us to do it for so many years! Lots of wonderful memories, awesome food, and happy times spent visiting some of my favourite places and people. Particular highlights (towering above all the other really awesome things) were seeing Tsim Sha Tsui turned into a pedestrian-only zone on Christmas Eve, seeing the Landmark Atrium's Christmas display this year (it's really freakin' amazing!), the Pulse 3D light and sound show on the wall of the Cultural Centre, and seeing all the amazing Christmas decorations everywhere
  - Sitting between German Ariel (in a cowboy hat + boots), and the super interesting grandpa Mr Chan on the flight home
* Our flying visit to Wellington to attend the awesome World of Wearable Art show in October
* Having fun developing lots of new features for Blender again (instead of just doing maintenance/bugfixing work)
  - In particular, working on the Stroke Sculpting features for Grease Pencil
  - Putting in place the new Action Management tools, NLA Strip Time/Influence animation fixes, and improving the Propagate Poses tool
  - Working on getting the new Depsgraph functional for Object Transforms, Bones, Constraints, and Drivers, solving many long standing rigging limitations
  - Working with Daniel M Lara (pepeland), Matias Mendiola, and more on some exciting new stuff
* Getting snow and a wonderful up-close visit from the silvereyes for my birthday
* Visiting a pine tree seed farm up in Amberley, and seeing Halswell Quarry Park + Travis Wetland Park for the first times too 
* Seeing heaps of awesome daffodils this spring, including many in places I'd previously never looked!
* Getting some fancy new equipment/toys: my Note 4 and Intuos Pro 5 - both of which have become indispensable in many ways
* The release of Cosmos Laundromat, Glass Half, Caminandes 3 (well, half of it)
* Watching Inside Out, Finding Dory trailer, the "Klaus" trailer by SPA, and The Grand Budapest Hotel (finally - albeit a censored version on a tiny plane screen with bad headphones)
* Prince Harry's visit to our Uni campus, on a freezing day with pouring rain + hail
   - In retrospect, it may have been better to just have brought my camera along with me for the day, instead of using my phone, as it would've made a lot of things much easier; not much work got done either way that day...
* Making some progress on my research work, and finally figuring out a comprehensive design framework for highlighting techniques + an experiment method for analysing their effects

However, 2015 was also the year when several of my long-serving things finally gave up the ghost:
* After 15 or so years of loyal service, my shaver finally broke on my last day in Guangzhou (before heading down to HK) during our Christmas trip
* Our old microwave started playing up (the LCD backlight started flickering while cooking), and was replaced on Mothers Day
* My old desk lamp also fell apart while dusting it, and is no longer with us

There were also a few bittersweet moments:
* Watching a silvereye fall out of the tree right in front of my eyes, and then die right there on the spot
  - While I don't like seeing them die, at least this one
* Finally seeing a hedgehog up close, and getting some good pics of it.
   - Then, a month later, finding it dead on the road on the morning of the Santa Parade :(
* Farewelling my uncle before heading home at the end of our holiday trip -  It was especially poignant as he has been through some tough times over the past year or so, so I hope things will start looking up for him in the coming year

Overall, 2015 has been a really awesome year! Awesome people, awesome memories, and heaps of travel to interesting places! Bring on 2016!

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