It’s that time of the year again. Scrolling back through photos, talking about what we did last year, planning what we’re going to do this year. For me, now traditionally, it’s also the time when I write this post1.
3 people have asked me when I’m going to publish it, so at least 3 people are expecting it. Even if they are the only people who ever read it, I’m happy to write it for them. You know who you are. Thank you! 🥰
And while on the topic of writing, let’s start here. Yeah, I wrote nothing on my blog. 😬
I continue to write extensively in my journal, a daily habit detailed in this post2, and Obsidian. I’m trying to get better at second brain / PKM stuff, but I’m often still figuring out how to organize things, how to link things, how to make it useful. But I’m slowly getting there.
Technically I wrote a technical blog post last year, but it’s a guest post on my friend’s blog and it was only published this year. If you’re interested in the Turbo and/or Hotwire stack, you should definitely check it.
Another place where I haven’t written much last year compared to previous years is Instagram. Just 6 posts, with the last one being way back in May.
You might remember that last year I left Twitter3 and wrote about why I did it. In short, it felt like the right thing to do for my mental health, and looking at what’s been going on there since I left it, I definitely don’t regret doing it. But it’s funny reading that post now with the following in it:
…while my Instagram usage numbers are high, they also bring me joy, so I don’t plan to do anything about them.
Now, that aged like milk. 😂
I don’t know why and when exactly, it’s hard to put my finger on it. But something changed. Whether it was the constant pushing of Reels, more algorithmic feed, more annoying ads, posts that felt overly polished, something else, or a combination of those, I don’t know. But I stopped enjoying it.
Yesterday while running and thinking of this I came up with a decent analogy. I love Big Mac. The first couple of bites taste amazing. But after I’m done with it, I think of so many better things I could have eaten instead. But then some time passes, I forget about that experience, and I’m back at McDonald’s again.
Instagram used to be gourmet food. Then more people joined and it became a great restaurant. Then they added Stories, and it became an awesome pizzeria. With every new thing they added, it became a slightly worse restaurant. The kind where you go out of habit, not because you enjoy it. Where you go because everyone else is going.
Also, people became shadows of themselves, trying to be something they’re not, trying to be like others, trying to be perfect. Photos turned into content. Enjoyment turned into engagement.
So on September 24th, I left it. I deleted the app from my phone and deactivated my account.
The first days were hard. It was like a drug addiction. I instinctively reached for my phone to open the app that was no longer there. Slowly it got easier and easier. Soon I completely forgot I ever had it.
The funniest thing about this was that even though I normally posted several stories per day, no one really noticed I was gone. The first one was my mom, but not for the reasons you might think! She asked me why I don’t watch her stories anymore. 😂
There are definitely things I miss. Staying in contact with people got much harder. I guess we consider writing a comment to a story a much lower barrier than writing a 1:1 message. Or maybe we simply forget about people we don’t get reminded of. We’re all busy living our own lives.
As I’m writing this, I’m already thinking of coming back. If nothing else, to let followers know about this post. 😅
One place where I did actually write a lot of public content was Visualizer Updates. I did a ton of work there, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out. Just a month ago, I shipped a massive v4 update that I was working on for months. Visualizer became a decent4 source of my income, and it deserved to have an actual logo, and some extra coding love on top of all the other continuous improvements I am doing. With over 4,000 lines of code changed in one PR, I believe I succeeded.
It now has over 4,000 monthly active users, and, in the last month, averaging over 14,000 daily unique visitors. It is getting integrated into more and more places. Just a couple of weeks ago, a Beanconqueror update added automatic Visualizer uploads. This expands the reach of Visualizer to a whole new filter coffee audience, and I’m really excited where that takes it.
Another project I mentioned in the yearly review last year and dedicated most of the first half of the year was European Coffee Trip Business. It’s a platform for café owners and ECT staff to manage their presence/data inside ECT.
It took a while longer than initially expected, but that’s also because we expanded the scope significantly. It’s now a fully custom CMS build around their core product. I’m really proud of how it turned out, and I’m super excited to see where we take it in the future. We have so many ideas, and I can’t wait to start working on them.
With Heroku going sour, join.run stopped working, so I had to move it. It was written years ago, but I wanted to play with Kamal5 and all the latest stuff in Rails, so I decided to rewrite it. Halfway through, I got distracted with other things, but I’ll probably finish it at some point. Maybe. Definitely more likely if I start using Instagram again. 🙈
Speaking of coding: you might remember how last year I stated that I’m going to start working with Better Stack. That was most likely the biggest professional failure in my life. I was deliberating whether to even write about it, but I decided to do it. I believe it’s even more important to talk about things when they don’t turn out as expected.
I’m not going to go into too many details, let’s just say that I was a poor cultural match. I still took it personally, and it hurt a lot. I was struggling with imposter syndrome for years, and just when I thought I was finally over it, this brought it back in full force. I felt like an absolute failure.
There’s this quote from BoJack Horseman that I say often:
When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.
And, looking back, that’s exactly what happened here. The red flags were there, but I failed to see them. I was so excited about the opportunity and enthusiastic about joining that company that I failed to see that I wouldn’t be a good fit.
Realizing how well Visualizer and ECT Business were doing, the recommendation I got from Advisable CEO, and all the other numerous successes I’ve had in my career, the imposter syndrome slowly faded away again. But it surely left a mark on the year.
Luckily, I was able to find another gig with Uplisting. Starting over the summer, we were off to a slower start, but I’m very happy with the team and the product. I’m also very excited about the future of the company, and I am looking forward to what we’ll be able to accomplish together.
On to lighter topics. I traveled less than the last couple of years, but still some. With my girlfriend we went to Madrid and Barcelona over May 1st weekend, and then to Sardinia in late June. Spending the summer at the seaside meant that we also frequented Italy.
As mentioned, I did start a new job, so that made it harder to go anywhere for an extended period of time. Fear not, though, we have some exciting plans for this year. All I can say is that you can really look forward to next year’s review. 😄
Yeah, I didn’t take many photos last year. Especially my drone felt neglected. With everything going on, I simply didn’t feel like it. That definitely contributed to me leaving Instagram. I even cancelled my Lightroom subscription.
I really wanted to make a Polarsteps photo book of the Sardinia and Madrid/Barcelona trips, like I did for the Iceland trip, but I never got around to do it. I need to force myself to do it this year.
Maybe writing this post will help. 🤞
At least I was still running. And I was even posting photos from my runs on Strava. You should follow me there. I (probably) won’t leave that, too. 😂
Looking at the stats, I ran a total of 288 times with 3,375.3 km (2097.3 miles), with 35,080 m (115,092 ft) of elevation. That’s a bit more distance than last year, but much less altitude than previous years. Most of the summer I spent at the seaside, so that probably explains it. I need to go on trails more, since I really love running there.
As for races, Wings for Life went terribly. Heat and humidity killed me. I was planning to run at least 30 km, hoping I’ll beat 31.19 km of last year, but I barely managed 24. I started doubting my running form.
So when Ljubljana Marathon came around, I kept my expectations low. The day before, I went for a short run, and I almost died from humidity. I also felt less prepared than last year, so I aimed for ~3h30min and go from there. But I felt great, and the weather was perfect, and I just ran. Anytime I looked at the watch, I was going too fast. I had to hold myself back the entire time. Maybe a bit less after the rain downpour at 32-36 km, when I felt my legs being a bit tired, but overall I felt absolutely amazing. 🤩
The result? A new PB of 3:22:08. Way way waaay above expectations. 🥰🥰🥰
And a cherry on top: my girlfriend successfully finished her first half-marathon at the same event.
According to Goodreads, just 13 books this year. I did read some fiction for the first time in a while, though. Over the summer, I got hooked on Arto Paasilinna. I read 2 and a half of his books, and am already looking forward to reading more.
As for the non-fiction, of course I read Elon’s bio. I believe Walter did a poor job. As he did with Jobs. I’m no fan of Elon, and I do believe he’s one of the most interesting people of our time and deserves a better book with a deeper and less biased look into his life.
The best book I read was no doubt What’s Our Problem? by Tim Urban / Wait But Why. It’s a long read, and it definitely feels repetitive at times, but it’s so worth the read. It’s about societal problems of our time, how we got here, where we’re going, and how we can fix it. It’s about technology, politics, psychology, tribalism, polarization, public discourse, and so much more. I’m doing it a disservice by trying to summarize it, but trust me: it’s very good. You should read it.
Ha, look at that, I made a yearly review feature on Visualizer! 😂
It’s almost exclusively about my espresso consumption, and there was also a lot of filter coffee, that’s not included. But it’s still a decent6 representation of my coffee consumption. It also makes it very clear who my favorite roaster is: my friend Banibeans.
He had so many amazing coffees this year, and I’m constantly amazed by his roasting skills and the improvements he’s making. I definitely recommend ordering some and just between you and me, there’s this discount code you can use:
VISUALIZER10. But don’t tell anyone. 🤫
I didn’t go to any coffee festivals this year, but we did go to HOST Milano. I knew it was a big event, but I didn’t expect it to be that big. It was massive. We walked the entire day, and we still didn’t see all the coffee related booths. And they were just in 2 out of 5 halls total. It was insane. 🤯
And that’s it. Another year gone by. I’m so happy I started writing these posts. It’s nice to look back at what happened from time to time and think about the big picture. A year is a long enough period to see some trends and patterns, but still short enough to remember most of it.
It is somewhat cheesy to do it at the end of the year, but it is as good of a time as any to do it. And it’s also a good time to think about everything we want to do in the next year.
Until then, I wish you all the best in 2024.
May it be at least as good as 2023. 🥂