Look back at 2012

In 2011 I spent much of my time on various websites. In 2012 I did much the same, only all my effort was focused on Khan Academy. I also had a bit more success in my science, publishing my second paper on a bioinformatics algorithm: MergeAlign. I also went to Cilia conference in London, followed by a Chlamydomonas conference in Germany. Finally, to round off a year of travel, we had a holiday to Singapore to meet Victoria's family. Ironic therefore, that I did almost no Chinese study this year.

Khan Academy

Last year I made it my aim to get 100 Earth badges, which I achieved before the end of January.

Getting 100 earth badges

Once I had made the target to get Earth badges I concentrated on getting the light speed badges for as many exercises as I could. By the end of the year I had nearly 500 and made over 3 million points, way more than I expected. Hopefully I can get another 3 million this year (assuming a steady stream of exercises) and so reach 10 million (and the Tesla badge) by the end of 2014.

Energy points at the end of 2012

In focusing my effort on completing exercises, I started with a spreadsheet and screen scraping, but soon realised that wasn't enough, so looked into the API. After making a program to extract the data I wanted, I realised it would be more helpful (especially for other people) to make a website. And so after a lot of floundering with things I didn't understand (particularly OAuth), I finally got a working site: WhatBadgeNext. It has been quite popular, more for the latest video page than anything else. It even got a couple of comments from people working at Khan Academy.

Half way through the year, Khan Academy added a computer science section. I spent much of the rest of the year making programs there - it's easier than making them on my computer and blogging about them. My most successful program was a simulation of an accretion disc with I made by combine what I had learnt from making a similar 2D python simulation and my 3D graphics tutorial. The program won the competition and Sal even made a video about it.

My accretion disc program

Khan Academy also added badges for answering questions, which meant my focus was temporarily switched to getting the Oracle badge (100 answers with at least three votes). I was also contacted by Khan Academy, which was very exciting, and made a Guardian - so now I can help moderate the discussions on the site.

Khan Academy discussion badges


Below are the stats for 2012, with the values for 2010 and 2011 in parentheses. Last year, the number went up by about 6-fold, this year they went up by about 3-fold, still more than I expected. I had hoped for 200 visitors per day for a month, which I achieved in June, with 542 people visiting in one day. This was due to a link on Reddit (here) and happen whilst I was in Germany.

  • Total number of visits: 91,995 (28,763, 4,199)
  • Total number of page views: 210,218 (72,175, 12,348)
  • Total time spent on website (days): 186 (64, 9.5)
  • Most page views for a single page: 21,990 (9,048, 1,286)
  • Mean visits/day: 251 (78.8, 13.2)
  • Mean page views/day: 574 (198, 39)
  • Mean time spent on my website/day: 12 hours (4.25 hours, 43 min)

Next year, I'm not sure what to hope for. 1000 visitors in a day or 500 visitors per day for a week seem a bit much to hope for, but so far my expectations have always been exceeded.

Other websites

Using what I learnt in making the WhatBadgeNext website, I made a more practical website to host the mergeAlign algorithm Steve and I made. Shortly after making the first website, I did a course on web development at Udacity, which covered a lot of what I had struggled to teach myself over the previous two months. It was still useful to learn some more pointers and get ideas for how to organise things, which I was able to use for the mergeAlign site. I also created yet another site to add my SVG optimiser. I hope to add more Python and Javascript experiments later.


What with all the time I spent on Khan Academy, I didn't spend much time on StackOverflow, and only got up to 1781 points. Maybe I'll try harder next year.

Previous years: 2010, 2011

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