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My 2021 Retrospective

My 2021 Retrospective


This year I've gotten an amazing advice from my colleague and a friend. The advice was to start writing down my achievements on a weekly basis.

Initially, this was an effort mostly focused on my daily job. With a clear list of my achievements, it would be easier to sell myself and all I've done. Soon I realized that if I didn't put it down into the notes, I would completely forget what was I happy about last week or last month. With this, I decided I would want to do something similar with my achievements beyond my work. To clear up to myself where all my free time has sunk into :)

With the amount of time I was granted during the lockdown, I was having fun with all the projects that I've done.

My Year

In Numbers

To start off, here is a quick rundown of my year 2021 using numbers.

640 days streak
combined in learning French on Duolingo (and elsewhere).
5 lo-fi tracks
published with combined 458 views (not too much, but I'm happy with anything). Check out my Youtube
9 piano pieces
learned and some published on my Instagram stories.
20 books
read with many started and left unfinished for the coming year, yaay! Reading Challenge 2021
993 Github contributions
not including my day job, that would more than double it! My Github Profile
5% body fat
lost, just by minding more what I put into my body and sweating at the gym often.
1x of bodyweight
lifted on benchpress and squat. Thanks to consistency at the gym and caffeine.
4 apps
published on Android & 2 of them on iOS (including Nuri).

Music—My Original Lo-Fi Track

There's a deep love of music of all kinds in my heart. I was first sat down at a piano at the second grade of elementary school. I've been playing ever since. Most of the time, reproducing other people's music. With that, it wasn't such a reach to the desire of producing something on my own. A completely original track of lo-fi music.

Good Things Take Time | Original Lo-Fi Chill Beat

I sat down to free Garage Band included in MacOS, started playing around with all the handles. And once I understood the interface, I put together my own lo-fi track. I wanted it to be completely original, so no loops, no other recognizable tracks. Just me and my music. The track itself is not as good as I would want it to be. But I decided I'll publish it anyway. If I tried to make it perfect, I would probably never have released it.

When the track was done (although I did go back and edit some parts even later on), it was time to create a video. I grabbed an old picture of myself and started tracing it in Affinity Designer. As I learned, tracing it completely was not ideal, so I took some creative liberties there. Especially with light, which was completely flat on the original picture. Then I threw it all at Final Cut, added some effects to make it a little more dynamic, and published it to Youtube.

I made a couple of more tracks also. The four, I published before this one, are neatly in a single video.

Pauline | Mini Original Lo-Fi Mix

I also bought the domain, although I'm not sure what to do with it yet. Perhaps something to think of in the year to come!


Leadership & Engineering—Nuri

At the start of the year, the company that employs me had a very difficult task ahead. We had only a couple of months to implement a full rebranding. From what used to be Bitwala to a new reality that we called Nuri.

And in this huge company-wide effort I was put in charge of the technical aspects of that migration.

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At the same time, I was eager to get more into writing as well. So I explained the migrating of the entire app and website to Nuri in more detail in my trilogy of articles.

This whole effort took half a year of time, blood & sweat. We had a lot of bumps on the way, but we made it through, and I met a ton of super talented and intelligent people along the way. Which is something that I also learned to appreciate a lot more.

At the end of the year, I was also involved in the Learn initiative to add a new educational section into the forefront of our Nuri app. This was an effort where I was the only engineer in our team (so the implementation was almost solely on my back) and again, with a strict deadline to finish by the end of the year. And again, we managed to pull this one off. At work, this year was a year of tough and long days, but also a success and a lot of fun!


Game Development—Thamira

About 5 years ago, my friend Vladimír and then a flatmate approached me with the desire to build a game. I was intrigued so I started researching how to make a game. I downloaded Unity, made a bare setup, and ran a game template. After spending about a weekend playing around with that tool, I was unable to build anything resembling a game with it. So I gave up on that idea. But my friend was excited, so he came up with a concept and even a name for it. Both were really good, but they weren't turned into reality just yet.

On the beginning of this year, more than 3 years since the idea, we were talking and looking back at it. This time I approached it as something I clearly can do. I downloaded Unity and started experimenting with it. Soon enough, we had our first prototype.

We've already progressed beyond what's shown in the video above. If you want to be a part of the journey, try our game and perhaps even influence the future of it, visit Thamira Website or join our Discord server.


Third Dimension—My Room In 3D

After spending so much time in my room locked down, I've become quite aware of my instant surroundings. Also what impacts on my everyday life everything around me has. How the light enters my room at different times and how it affects my mood. But the moment I enjoy the most about my apartment is how it looks when the light is dim coral in color. I enjoyed it so much so that I decided to experiment with it and build it myself in Blender.

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I've been a complete beginner at modeling in Blender. I had to learn how to work with the UI, how shaders work, and how to procedurally generate materials that look like real things (the floor is completely procedural, no texture). Yet, I've been able to create each of the models for this 3D creation manually and on my own. The carpet has taken a toll on my MacBook in particular but given a few hours of rendering, I was happy enough with the result.

As part of this, I also streamed the making of Google Nest Mini on Twitch. A handful of people joined and saw my stream. And I got to experiment with my presentation as well as explanation skills in real-time.

A lot more…

Apart from what I've noted above, there was a lot more to the year than that. To keep this article short (and to finally finish it), I'll just list a couple of those things here.

1 - Published an interactive article about privacy → Privacy Policy Of Your Existence

2 - Made some more of my music that I haven't published (but that I'm occasionally listening to or sending to my friends to enjoy)

3 - Experimented more with Blender

4 - Created a crypto chart watch face for my WearOS watch → Crypto Watch Face - Github

5 - Published a couple of Android 12 widgets with @davidtyemnyak

∞ - Who knows what else I forgot I worked on. There was just so much this year.


What I learned

Given enough time, you can learn a lot of things you might previously be intimidated by. All it takes is to jump right in and start experimenting. You'll not be good at first, but that's fine. You're gaining valuable experience that will always come useful later on.

What's next?

There have been many setbacks this year. I went through it with the huge privilege of having opportunities and the freedom to focus on the many things I'm passionate about. And discover even more passions along the way. I'm heading into the next year very hopeful. This year has been difficult for most of us and all this was my way of making it a little more bearable.

Writing this has been fun and I sincerely recommend you to do the same. Just put everything you yourself consider an achievement (anything at all that's important for you) and share it with me! I'm going to be happy to read them all.

Looking for more?
There is going to be more content soon. Stay in touch!
Ondřej Bárta
Reading Challenge