I am DVDKOURIL. This is my blog.

What if you already had your followers?

I’ve been wishing for a (social media) following for some time now. You might think it’s stupid and that I’m just a kid that wants to be famous. But I don’t see it like that. I really think that if you do this right, gather around you the right people, use social media to your advantage, things can happen and you can get to opportunities you wouldn’t even dream of.

However, recently I’ve realized that I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve been trying to get an audience just to have an audience. I’ve been posting to Instagram just to get followers on Instagram. I’ve been following many people and I was thinking about how can I emulate that, how can I take the thing that made them succeed on social media, and apply it to myself.

One problem is that I wasn’t really doing it. I wasn’t putting in enough work.

But another thing, far more important I believe, is that I lost the purpose. I lost my flavor, I wasn’t showing what I want to show, I was showing what I thought people want to see.

I kinda knew it subconsciously—I don’t want to be another lifestyle, food, or fashion blogger (that’s what seems to be “hot” these days). I actually want to do meaningful things (at least meaningful for me).

All this led me to ask myself a question: “What would I do if I already had my followers?”. What kind of pictures would I post? What would I write about? What would I share with these people?

It’s very similar to the  “What if money was no object?” question. I thought about what I would be doing if suddenly I had all the money I needed and a decent number of people following what I do.

My answer is that I would create more. I’ve been artistic for a big part of my life—I’ve been drawing and painting, and I’ve been playing the guitar and making music. Even programming was something that I took up to express myself artistically—by developing games. I’ve been drawn to all these things but I couldn’t really choose one to focus on. I believed (and still do) that to make it in something, you need to be really specific about it. You need to double down on it, and work really hard. And you still might not make it. I was really scared of that (I call it being pragmatic), that’s why I never fully took the artistic route and instead invested myself in programming. Don’t get me wrong—I believe that programming can be as creative and as fulfilling as doing anything that’s considered traditional art. But I realized that I want to steer it a little bit back towards the creative side of coding. That’s why I also fell in love with creative coding and generative art (or whatever it’s called).

I’m still very much interested in programming, software development, and software business. But I realized that the artistic side of me will always be there, that it’s what I would do if I had nothing to do at all, and that it is the thing that’s giving me some kind of flavor.

 

Things slowed down

Last week was veeeery slow. At least to me it seemed. I think it’s because of the contrast to what was happening the week before.

Many people at work are having vacations and I didn’t realize how much it influences the general working morale. I thought I’m pretty self-motivated. Me and Gabi (well mostly Gabi) are looking at vacations too but it’s hard to decide. Last year was the first time I went to a holiday at sea (we went to Kefalonia) and we had the best time ever. I’m afraid that nothing can live up to that. But we want to go in September anyway so I guess we have some time to pick something.

Usually when I have some downtime (nothing huge to worry about), I have a bad habit of thinking and re-evaluating things. Most of the time it’s work-related. Side projects work I mean.

About my side-projecting: I need to have a mission. I need to be learning new stuff. I’ve been like this for a very long time. It gives me a sense of working towards something, sense of getting somewhere. I don’t think it has paid of yet (and maybe if I applied myself that much into the main thing that I’m doing it would be better) but I need to have this kind of distraction. It keeps me excited about programming.

I have some projects that I’m trying to finish. I have things that I’ve committed to learning. But as it happens sometimes, I started to think if I should maybe stop doing this and start learning something different. Javascript in this case.

I get the benefits and why it’s so popular right now. It’s very easy to make something in it. It’s nice that it work in browser. But I just don’t like Javascript. I’m used to “traditional” programming languages like C++. It might be that I’m becoming the stubborn programmer who’s against doing things the new way.

I believe that there are many applications where you just can’t and shouldn’t use JS (and I believe that those are the kind of projects I’m aiming to do). But because it’s so easy to use and show, you end up seeing JavaScript projects everywhere, and it makes you feel like you’re missing out on something if you’re not on this hype wave too. And I don’t think anybody likes to feel that way.

But I don’t want to be complaining here. It’s just something that has been on my mind.

Getting ready for a busy and exciting week!

Gabi was gone almost this whole week, she’s on a yacht sailing trip in Croatia with her colleagues.

I’m getting more and more excited about next week. Two things are going to happen:

  • we (the VisGroup, the group where I work) are going to Balaton in Hungary for a “closed meeting” which is a gathering of our group and some guests where we talk about stuff. And then,
  • we (me and Gabi) are going to Pohoda festival in Trencin, Slovakia.

I will be leaving on Thursday and going to Slovakia straight from Hungary. I’m counting on the trip itself to be an adventure.

I’m incredibly hyped up for Pohoda. The biggest headliner is alt-j, but I’m looking forward to the festival atmosphere in general. I’ve been there in 2014 I think and I loved it. I hope we’ll have similarly good time this year.


I’ve seen two things that I very much liked and they had some impact on me:

  1. a documentary about 3D printing and the business around it: Print the Legend.
  2. a GDC talk about the development of a game called Thumper.

The 3D printing documentary was interesting mainly because I don’t really know anything about the technology and the business of it. So it was interesting to see how it all got to be.

The Thumper talk was game-changing for me. I really love that guy’s calm approach to all of it. He’s not complaining how hard it was. He’s just explaining the journey and talking about how they got through. I like the simple approach. Just put something on the screen. And iterate. I like the idea of learning as you go but lot of the time I get stuck and I think that I’ve arrived at an impossible obstacle. But seeing them make this game made me think about the way I approach stuff and be more of a “deliver-it” programmer. I want to deliver things, not to do them right and overengineer it.

That’s it for today, see you next Sunday.

The value of sheltering yourself

I think I need to cut myself off from a certain type of social media. Maybe it’s going to be enough to just do it mentally…let me explain.

I’ve got projects to do. Personal, side projects. Things that I’ve come up with to learn stuff. They are not the best ideas in the world. They will not make a hole in a world. But it’s still important to finish them. I don’t want to be a quitter. I want to be a doer. And you can’t be a doer without finishing what you’ve started.

I have a bad habit of going on twitter and looking at the stuff other people make. Sometimes it’s good to get inspired like that. But most of the time it just makes you look at what you’re working on and get bored of it. Maybe you’ve had an idea that you liked at the beginning but, now that you’ve spent some time on it, it’s not so new/exciting/easy-to-do.

Or in my case, I’m worried that I’m learning the wrong thing. The way technology world works is that it’s constantly changing, programming languages are going in and out of style. Everybody makes you feel that you’re doing it wrong if you’re not using the same programming language, framework, or paradigm they are using. It makes sense—everybody wants to be on the wave of what’s popular.

It makes sense to just ignore that. There’s no way of predicting future. You just need to get your head down and finish your things. You will learn something even if you work on the wrong project, using the wrong stuff. The important thing is that you’ll learn something. And finish something.


This is probably something very obvious to a lot of people but I sometimes need this kind of talking-to even if it’s from myself. I’d love to hear you opinion on this, reach out to me either on email or @dvdkouril.

How not to look for bugs in your code

In the project at work I basically have data that I’m rendering with a very sophisticated rendering pipeline. I was not getting exactly correct results so this week I had to look into that. From my point of view, there were two parts where things could go wrong: the data loading or the sophisticated, complex, error-prone rendering routine. I’ve spent two days going through every single part of the rendering, making sure that everything does exactly what I need it to. Of course everything was fine. The problem was in a code which loads the data from a text file. At some point I thought that this might be the problem but I dismissed it because it was “too much work” to debug.

It was just a gentle reminder of how much I still have to learn. Sometimes I get really hyped up and I’m excited to deliver things. But then I get stuck for few days on one thing and I’m reminded how hard software development actually is. It kinda makes me appreciate higher-level programming languages and other people’s libraries.

I was at my colleague’s “proficiency evaluation” this Friday. It’s a new kind of exam at TU Wien for PhD students. You are supposed to do it some where in the middle of your PhD and basically you show what you’ve already done and what’s your plan for the rest of the PhD. He was the first one to do it in the Vis Group and even though he passed, it wasn’t 100%. I took a lot of notes and I’m going to make sure that I have a better plan for my PhD.

This week were also notifications for IEEE Vis 2017 conference and quite a few papers got through! The one that I was participating on too! That’s good news because more people are going to go to Phoenix this autumn.