2018, a Year in Review
Posted on January 01, 2019 in general
2018 has been a busy year. It was the final year of my Bachelor's degree, the year of rewriting 3 of the most heavily used Minecraft mods, and also a year as President of Code Network, a large student-run programming society in South East Queensland.
Code Network was a major highlight and overall massive part of my year. I'd been a part since 2015, and had a role in running it since 2017. Moving from Events Coordinator (and acting Vice President) in 2017 to my position as President in 2018 was a massive step up in responsibility, as I was now responsible and on the line for if anything went wrong.
My three goals for the year were as follows,
- Encourage collaboration between groups in the Brisbane tech scene, to strengthen the region as a whole.
- Improve gender balance in the group, and make it a safer and more welcoming place overall.
- Cast aside some negative vibes the group had attracted over time, and grow it in every way.
To start the year off, we hosted a welcome barbecue with two other groups, UQCS (University of Queensland Computing Society), and WiT (Women in Technology). This event acted as a way to get a feel for the returning members in 2018, start a pattern of collaboration, and also to start the year off with a non-intimidating social event. Numerous people had told me that a lot of the newer programmers were heavily put off by the group as they felt intimidated that they haven't worked on as many cool projects as others.
We had a large turnout, with around 100 people attending. The event went well, with no significant issues.
One of the core parts of Code Network is the weekly meetups. During my time as Events Coordinator in 2017, I found that everyone was always asking for an opportunity to show off what they've been working on, and to see what everyone else has been working on recently. Because of this, we decided that the first weekly meetup should be a Project Showcase, where people can show off a project they've made, talk about a project they're currently making, or planning to make in the future. This event was so popular we had people asking us when the next one was happening as soon as it was over.
Our biggest event of the first semester was a networking night. We had just over 100 people attend, with a solid mix of students and companies. The night was fully catered and ended with a HackerRank-style programming competition between small groups made up of companies and students. This competition was so popular that it was brought back again for the networking night in the second semester.
Every year a sizeable local tech company and longtime friend of the group, TechnologyOne, run a competitive social event for university students. They pit Code Network against UQCS, and this year we won. I still have the (quite literal) trophy scars, as the trophy was massive and acrylic 😂.
For the second semester, we had another project showcase night with a twist. Instead of just having people showing off projects, we also allowed general lightning talks. This allowed people who'd learnt about something new without a project could still show something off. This meant that everyone who was very into functional programming could preach it to everyone 😅. The change was profoundly welcomed, with many cool projects and talks on the night.
Regarding the general weekly meetups, in previous years they'd tapered off towards the end. This year they continued until the end, still retaining their quality and consistency.
The most significant event of the year for Code Network is the Winter Hackathon. For 2018, we planned on expanding in every way. To accommodate a larger attendance, we decided to run it out of the Queensland Government Startup Precinct and RiverCityLabs. We had a turnout of 170 people, up from 120 in 2017, a growth of 50 people (40%).
One other change we made was the inclusion of lightning talks, which were reportedly a massive help to people who weren't sure what to work on.
The final big event of the year, the second networking night, was a collaborative event with Women in Technology. This networking night ran very similarly to the first, however with more collaboration. The collaboration allowed a more diverse group of companies to attend, as there were two networks to draw from.
The AGM was a good chance to debrief the year. There was generally positive feedback from everyone who attended, and there were a lot of people who were very enthusiastic about the future. Due to my graduation, I couldn't re-run for a name position, and I chose not to run as a general committee member.
I am looking forward to seeing what the new team does throughout 2019, they have a lot of good ideas and the experience to put it into action.
I had a great year running this group, with a great team alongside me. What we achieved throughout the year would definitely not be possible without them, and the effort they put into everything. I feel this has strengthened me as a person and made me understand and respect the Brisbane tech community. I've made great friends and met some truly amazing people through Code Network, and I'm keen to see what they do in the future.
In July of 2018, Minecraft 1.13 was released. For anyone who isn't familiar with the game, this was a significant update that heavily reworked how many of the core functions of the game worked internally. While July is fairly late through the year, updating WorldEdit, WorldGuard, and CraftBook to this release started on the 3rd of January. I'm not going to go into the details of updating the plugins, I've already written too many blog posts about that.
Updating these projects was a massive task, that I've easily dedicated thousands of unpaid hours to throughout 2018. I've also made great strides towards unifying and updating the EngineHub branding. EngineHub being the organisation that develops these pieces of software. As they've been sorely neglected for the past few years, the community is relatively fragmented. The overall goal is to create a strong brand and cohesive experience in using the software.
Throughout 2018, massive progress has been made towards this goal. There are still significant parts that are lacking, such as many online aspects of EngineHub. Due to me not yet having access to some of the web servers, I haven't been able to fix them. I'm confident this will be resolved in 2019 however.
Overall 2018 has been a fantastic year for me. I've done a lot, and met many amazing people. Hopefully, I can keep it up in 2019 😅.