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2021: Year in review

2021/12/29

Tags: meta

We are reaching the end of 2021, so I figured it would be nice to look back on the year and all the things that happened.

It would be easy to complain about the pandemic and I imagine that's a thing that crops up in many of these end-of-year posts. So, I will pass up on all of that for the simple reason that I am among the least affected by the pandemic.

However, I did go into 2021 in fairly low spirits. Starting my master's studies in the middle of the pandemic meant that I was kinda confused about how to proceed with my studies and I couldn't really talk about that confusion with my peers. So, at the start of 2021 my motivation was fairly low and my anxiety was fairly high and I felt kinda aimless. I figured I should start looking for a job, but that was also a source of anxiety, since I felt some fairly heavy impostor syndrome and was really uncertain about whether my skills were adequate. I have never before really done work beyond small gigs, so applying for a "proper" job felt intimidating.

I put in a couple of applications, from which I didn't hear back, but I got a response for a somewhat mysterious R&D Trainee position and an invite to an interview. This ended up being my first ever job interview and my first ever technical interview. I felt like I bombed half of it, but in the end I was told that I was hired.

Getting that job marked a change in course for the year. It gave me a fairly substantial confidence boost, particularly when I got to work with my fellow trainees and got a better idea of the skill level required at this type of work. I felt like doors were opening up and that I had decent path to follow for the future. During the six-month traineeship I participated in a successful web-based map visualization project, which yielded both a very cool prototype application and a slew of methods and technologies for the organization to adopt. We were even given a company award for that particular project, which felt really good, considering this was the very first commercial software project that I had worked on.

The traineeship culminated in a suggestion to apply for a permanent position on the R&D team, which I applied for successfully. Since November I have actually held the title of "Applied R&D Engineer", which if nothing else at least sounds cool.

Through work I also gained motivation to wrap up my studies and during the autumn semester I've tried to pick up the slack to complete my master's courses. I have plans to write my master's thesis next spring and have been assigned a preliminary topic to work on from the company. Hopefully I will graduate at least by the end of 2022.

Although the new job was probably the biggest and most life-changing event to happen to me during 2021, I also accomplished a couple of smaller things, although they may be more visible to those reading this blog than whatever I've worked on at the job.

Firstly, in 2021 I ditched Twitch in favour of Owncast. I've been increasingly unhappy with platforms like YouTube and Twitch and Owncast finally allowed me to easily set up a platform of my very own. Although this has obviously not been any kind of path to fame and riches (I never intended it to be, though), I have been significantly happier with this setup. My viewership was not significantly affected and all of the regulars followed me from Twitch over to Owncast and overall the response has been positive. On my end, I enjoy the independence from Twitch's arbitrary moderation policy and Content ID systems, and have been able to stress less about whether a certain in-game song might trip up the copyright bot and silence my VODs.

Obviously the move meant that I had to create a couple of pieces of software along the way to recreate parts of the Twitch experience.

Firstly, I wrote the creatively named vod-library, which powers https://vods.samsai.eu. Secondly, I wrote owncast-chat-overlay to show the stream chat during streams, so they show up on VODs. Both of these are free to use for your own purposes under AGPL, although obviously no guarantees for suitability or functionality are made.

I also managed to do some game dev during the year. I released Robot Ricochet in February and Incoming! in the summer. Robot Ricochet also got the honour of being the second piece of software that I've written to be packaged on the AUR. I am very happy with how both of the projects turned out and I am hoping that the "ggez-game" project I've been working on will also work out and be done in 2022.

I also switched from EndeavourOS to Fedora Silverblue recently and that experiment has been going well. I might eventually post a bit more about my Silverblue workflows and tips and tricks as I learn more about the distro and the best ways of accomplishing things. The distro still feels exciting and I feel like there's plenty more to learn and try!

So, overall 2021 turned out quite good for me and I am on good track to start 2022 well. New year's promises have a nasty habit of not working out, so the only promise I'll make is that I'll keep doing what I've been doing. So, that means more little software projects, more livestreams on over on https://cast.samsai.eu and more writing here on the blog. I have some ideas for what I might write about next, but I sometimes end up putting off that work for no reason, so we'll see when something actually materializes. For now, I thank all of you for this year and wish you a Happy New Year!

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