I am DVDKOURIL. This is my blog.

Preparing for the USA trip

I’m going to USA in a few days and I’m excited (and just a little nervous) about it.

First, we have a meeting with collaborators in Salt Lake City and afterwards we will attend VIS 2017 in Phoenix, trying to squeeze a Grand Canyon visit in between those. After the conference me and three other colleagues are going on a road trip on the west coast. Plan is not exactly clear for the road trip yet, we want to go to national parks mostly but I would really like to see some of the big cities too. We are flying back from San Francisco on Monday, October 16th. That’s almost 3 weeks I’ll spend there and I’m just super hyped for that.

I’m looking forward for all three parts: In Salt Lake City I will meet people that I’ve only talked to online so far, I’m sure the conference will be inspiring, and the road trip afterwards is going to be awesome too. I’ll be giving a short presentation in SLC, nothing at the conference, I’m only coming there to watch, get inspired, and network.

But most of all I’m looking forward to just experience US. Ever since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been living in the US world through the internet. Even though I’ve lived in Europe my whole life, I know a lot of the American culture from second hand. You get the feeling that this is the place where it’s all happening. I’m really curious to see how is this world experienced in person.

I’ll try to continue with writing updates on blog (with lots and lots of photos) but besides that I think it’s to be expected that I will be posting a lot of my instagram.

Vacation!!!

This year we spent a week in Kardamili, a town in Peloponnese, Greece. We did a similar thing as last time: rented an apartment, got a car, and traveled the area as much as possible.

We’ve been to: Polylimnio waterfalls, Methoni, Koroni, Pilos.

Beaches: Kardamili, Kalamitsi, Phoneas, Voidokilia, Kalogria

Unfortunately I had sun allergy again. I’m pretty fair-skinned so I’m used to getting sunburnt, but getting rash from the sun is something even worse. It seems that there are ways how to prevent that so I’m gonna try some of that for the next year!

Btw. I love flying. If I was deciding right now what I want to be I’d sat a pilot. I don’t really know why I like it so much, it just seems so cool to be flying planes.

One thing I like about going on vacation is that I leave my computer at home, no working, which makes me think a lot. I think about what I’m doing, what I want to do, how should I be doing it, what are my goals, how I’m gonna reach them, what future I imagine for me and Gabi, … I write it all down in my phone and then go through it back home. It’s very easy to lose direction once you are back in your regular life, it just feels like one day after another. At that moment, it’s nice to look at these notes and see if you are working towards something in there, or if you need to navigate the life a bit better.

We have some very nice photos (mostly Gabi did them but sometimes I pushed the button):

I guess I’m really going to the USA

I’m gonna be visiting US for a conference this October! I’m part of the people from Vis-Group attending IEEE VIS 2017. It’s gonna be the first (bigger) conference I’m gonna attend.

I am also the one given the responsibility of planning the traveling. I bought flight tickets on Friday, it was really a pain in the ass. I was buying a multi-city tickets because we’re gonna make a road trip after the conference and we would be flying out of San Francisco (the conference is in Phoenix). I don’t know what’s the best way to book flights, I was looking them up using Google Flights but then I realized that I still need to look those flights up on the website of the airline. And then things happen…like when you try to pay, you can’t choose certain countries for the billing address.

I’m pretty excited. I’ve wanted to go to USA for a very long time and although I’m kinda growing out of wanting to live there, I’m still very curious to see it.

There’s still a lot to happen until then however. Like our vacation for example. I’m really looking forward to that, our vacation last year was game changing for me.

But I need to finish some things before I leave for Greece. We have a big projects that’s coming to an end and I need to still implement some things for that. I hope everything goes well, I have about 2 weeks for that.

As for this week, there was a public holiday on Tuesday. I stayed at home on Monday too, but I was working from there. It sucks that both me and Gabi work on a different public holidays schedule. It’s rare that we get to have it on the same day so usually either one of us still needs to work.

There was a dinner with a guest visiting the vis-group happening on Wednesday and we went there. It was in a place on the edge of Vienna and it looked typically austrian I’d say. We drank some wine and had schnitzel. It was nice.

On Friday we tried the second IKEA in Vienna (the north one). We found out that IKEAs are pretty much the same everywhere. But they didn’t have the suitcase we wanted so that was pretty disappointing. At least I got the hot dog and we brought zimtschnecke.

Last thing I wanted to write down is that I think something is switching in my head when it comes to programming. It starts to click. For a long time I had a really hard time actually putting down my ideas into the code. I was always getting guided by a library or an API that I was using. I felt like there’s no way for me to make the code my way, go with my ideas and actually make things work. But now I’m figuring out that I can. I’m realizing that the most important thing when programming is to keep it at the right level of abstraction. At certain point you just need to abstract things into separate modules and rely on them to work. I guess I’m a really bad programmer cause I’m figuring this out just now. But I don’t really mind.

I think using git and branching a lot helps tremendously. That way I’m less scared that I’m gonna fuck something up, I know that I can always come back to the working version of things.

Oh and we went to Schönbrunn on Sunday.

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.

Going to my first conference

As I’ve said before, I’ve been at a conference this week. It’s been SCCG 2017 in Mikulov, Czech Republic, and it has actually been the first conference that I’ve ever attended. I’ve presented my Master thesis (through a poster). It wasn’t a huge event but it was good.

Mikulov is in a famous wine district so we had a wine tasting one evening. It was pretty nice.

Even though SCCG is one of the smaller conferences, I still brought back a number of notes. The three invited speakers (Daniel Sykora, Niloy Mitra, and Kwan-Liu Ma) have been inspiring. I’m at the very beginning of my PhD, so there’s a huge amount of stuff that I can absorb. And by the way, I think that the most that I’ve learned was from the bad presentations. I don’t know if it’s mean of me, but I really like to learn from mistakes that other people make. I can see what they do wrong and I try to not do it too. I guess it’s a little selfish, I still need to learn to be able to take critique of myself.

On the way back we stopped by at one wine shop, so I also brought some wine back home with me.

The weather has changed rapidly while I was away. Coming “back home” to Vienna has been pretty overwhelming—it was so hot, lot’s of people everywhere, and I had another one of the moments of realization that we actually live here now. I kinda love it.

There have been two guests at our institute on Friday—both very senior and knowledgeable people. I’ve presented some stuff that I’ve been working on since I’ve been employed by TU Wien. It’s still a little weird to me, to be talking with these people who have been working in the field of visualization for a very big part of their careers. But I’m trying to take advantage of that and I tried to get some advices from them.

I also finally got an Austrian SIM card. I wanted something with unlimited mobile internet (or at least close to it) and I ended up going for T-Mobile’s My Klax Flex (that’s what Renata got few weeks before me and it seems like a good deal). Having mobile internet in a new city is super useful. Even just when you’re looking for something in a supermarket and you need to translate it, it’s awesome to be able to look it up now and there.

On Saturday we went out to celebrate Manu’s (a colleague of mine) birthday. I finally took Gabi too!

This week has been pretty full of everything, just not a lot of actual working, I feel like. But it’s all good, sometimes it’s needed to step away from it, focus more on building the relationships, connecting with people, and making friends.