I am DVDKOURIL. This is my blog.

Autumn’s here, let’s go on a vacation!

Autumn weather has arrived to Vienna and we are preparing to go for our vacation in Greece.

After the triumph at the Magistrat on Tuesday not much has happened. Gabi went to Brno because she needed to pick up some things and also work at her company’s office. I’ve been trying to finish up some things at work as well but it didn’t go very well. Somehow the project I’m currently working on is just dragging on. I’m not really sure why, I have the feeling that the requirements are not really clear, I’m not sure how it should look like and I don’t know where I need to cut the corners because of technology limitations. And I don’t like that I’m the only one working on this one part. Other two people are involved but they work on their own parts. I totally get that, I myself have enough work to do that I don’t want to care about the work of others. I guess that there should be somebody above us who’s caring about this, knowing the technical details, and managing everything.

I’ve started to put the things I’m working on in my calendar few weeks back. I allocate blocks of like 1 to 4 hours and then put what I’ve been working on into the name of the event. It’s useful to go back and see what I’ve been actually doing and see the things that were absolutely unnecessary in the end.

So yeah, work has been a bit frustrating lately but it also might be because I reeeeeally want to go on the vacation already.

I need some time to think things through again. Last year the week on Kefalonia has helped me a lot. I figured out what needs to be done, figured what I want to do, and then over the year I just did it. Starting this blog has been one of the decisions I made on the vacation and it will soon be a year of me writing it. I’m so glad I started it and then kept on writing. I’ve had an interesting year (writing the master thesis, finishing the university, getting my degree, moving to a different country) and I freaking love that it’s documented somewhere.

So it’s an understatement to say that I’m excited for Wednesday when we finally go! I’m still going to go to work on Monday and Tuesday, try to complete things as best as I can and then I’m off.

Oh and as a sidenote: I’m choosing an acoustic guitar. I want to do more music. I have a shitty Stratocaster that I’ve had for maybe 10 years now. As a teenager I completely ignored acoustic guitars (typical..) but now I’m somehow attracted to an instrument that play without any amps and it’s just about how you learn to play it.

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.

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.

Going to Bara’s habilitation defense

(Yes, another Donau picture, I really like it there!)

I’m really slipping up on these posts. I’ve been really good at writing every Sunday but now it’s been like three times when I’m writing this the next week. However, for whatever unknown reason, I see that there’s always some traffic on the Sundays. That’s motivating!

We had planned to have a movie night at the institute on Wednesday. We didn’t end up watching the movie. I made spinach lasagna for the group, we went to the garden to eat, and we started drinking there. Because it was so nice outside (and so hot inside), we decided not to watch the movie and stay in the garden instead. It was really nice thought!

On Friday, Bara (my former supervisor and friend from Masaryk university) had her final habilitation defense and we went there to see her. The defense was successful and we spent the day eating and drinking in Brno. Congratulations once again, Bara!

Now a little bit about my projects. I’ve revived an old project of mine. It’s a visualization of data from RescueTime. I’ve been using RescueTime for a very long time, it’s one of the first things that I install on a new computer. The idea I had two years back was that I’d like to see when in the day I’m usually being productive and when I’m having my “lows”. I’ve ended up with implementing a prototype using Swift and SpriteKit.

This week, I decided to take it a bit further. I would like to finish it and make it so that other people can use it. So that’s what I’ve been working on in my free time.

My other project (the project manager) is going on as well, but I’ve changed technologies that I’m using. I’ve changed it to be an iphone app. The basic functionality is done and now I’m mostly thinking about how to develop it further.

I guess I’m going full on learning Swift and how to develop stuff for iOS and macOS. Initially, I wanted to spread out more. Not just focusing on one platform and maybe learn something more multi-platform (like Python). But the things is, I’ve always wanted to learn how to code stuff for iphone. And Apple makes it very pleasant to learn, with all the official documentation. You don’t have to google answers to your questions. You just need to read the manual. I really like that.

The other thing is that I’m getting more and more drawn to projects that I think are meaningful. More specifically, I like to design and make personal management/productivity tools for myself (and potentially other people as well). In general, my goal for 2017 is to focus more on making things that are useful, solving problems, rather than just because they look cool.


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