Advent of Code 2020 retrospective

December was hectic. In my last post I wrote about participating in Advent Of Code 2020. Now that some time has passed I’ve gathered my thoughts on the experience.

First of all it was really fun to practice problem solving, and TDD. The assignments are perfect for exploring the language you choose and its standard library. There’s also a high chance of bumping in to problems that you need new knowledge to solve efficiently. That’s awesome. The ramp up in difficulty was interesting and felt well thought out.

My philosophy while participating was pretty much; have fun, use no extra dependencies unless stuck, include unit tests. I honestly had no clue how hard or easy it would be before starting.

How did I do? I completed all (except one) parts up to and including Day 17, part 1. Mostly in the same day as the problem was released. Some solutions were pretty bad/slow. Some took a lot of effort to solve. That effort also grew as the days passed. I did not reach my main goal of solving all problems. But I did manage to reach my stretch goal of finishing top 100 on the lobste.rs private leaderboard (989653-afc97283).

Private leaderboard placement

My dedicated Advent Of Code Time was usually before work, so I went up at 7 to look at the problem and try and solve it. If I couldn’t in 1 - 1.5 hours, I had to wait until after work. This turned out to be a bit tiresome in the later stages of the event. Suddenly I couldn’t even solve part 1 in the morning. To sit down and bang your head against more code problems after work + normal life stuff appealed less and less as christmas came closer (with its extra responsibilities).

Same issue with the weekends. Motivation faded towards the end because I knew I needed to spend a lot of free time to solve the problems. Time was definetly a bigger constraint than I anticipated. Oh and I also interviewed for a new job during this time which didn’t exactly help.

Lame excuses aside, it was a nice experience and I might do it again. :D