The blog of DAVID KOUŘIL

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.

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.

Short week, weekend spent in Czech Republic

On Thursday, there’s been a public holiday here in Austria. That meant that I stayed at home while Gabi was working. I stayed at home for Friday too (because most of the people from the institute didn’t go to work either) but I tried to work at least a little.

I don’t really remember much happening regarding work.

For the weekend we went to visit my parents in Tlumacov in Czech Republic. I went with a train on Saturday morning (Gabi was going from Brno by a bus). We’ve had a lot of good food and enjoyed not being in the city for a while.

The most eventful was my way back to Vienna. I went with a train again, but it was completely full. It’s a long distance train that was full of Polish people with beers. For a while I was standing in the aisle and made some small talk with a woman who got on the next stop. I thought I have 2 hours of standing and constantly letting people pass by to go to the toilet ahead of me. But then, when the conductor came, he told the two of us to go sit down in the first class! So we went, sit down with the woman, and talked. It turned out that she’s Czech but living in Austria for a very long time. It’s very nice when you randomly meet someone like that.

The weather is getting crazy so I was very glad to come back home to our nice-looking, nice-smelling, and cool (as in temperature cool, but it’s cool as in awesome too) apartment.

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.

We just continue Vienning

This week’s blog post is also coming out late because I really didn’t feel like writing anything on Sunday, and I didn’t realize that I’m going to be at a conference from Monday till Wednesday.

I have a credit card y’all! I was having problems with my bank (debit) card last week (could make an online payment, could withdraw money) so I stopped by at my favorite Erste bank to see what’s up. While I was there, I also applied for a credit card. I’ve never had one in Czech Republic and from what I’ve read on the internet, it’s a little bit safer to pay with. Plus, some services (car rentals for example) want you to have credit card, not a debit card. The card came after two days, followed by the pin code the day after. So now I have a credit card and I feel very mature.

I went to a talk of Felix Krause on Wednesday. It was very nice! I’ve watched tons of talks like this (people talking how they’re doing what they’re doing) on youtube, but I have never gone to one. I guess that’s because not that many people I’m interested in come to Brno. I really liked it, it motivated me. I’ve been struggling to find a direction which I should take in my side projects and one of the things Felix said was that you should keep your eyes open on the things other people . You might be doing something, but maybe it’s more useful to develop something you’ve created to help you build that initial thing. I guess you never know where you’re gonna end up. What you need to do SOMETHING.

As I was saying, I’m having troubles choosing what should I focus on. I really want to make tools for myself. I want to learn how to make them on iPhone, because that’s what I see myself using all the time and it could be useful to use it more for work. On the other hand, I also want other people to be able to use what I make. And the third point is that I want to make some side money out of this. I think the money part should really be the last thing on my list. I really believe that if you make something good, the money will follow. But still, I think I have to keep that in my mind, because if I don’t, I might as well end up being an open source maintainer who gets zero income out of what he’s doing while it takes a full time job to do that.

I’m going to a conference from Monday to Wednesday. It’s actually my first time going to any conference (I have a poster there). So I hope that it’ll be fun.

After I come back, I really want to get an Austrian sim card with mobile internet. There’s an option to get a sim card which is not prepaid and nor contract. You just pay each month and get minutes/sms/MBs and when you want to stop this you just stop paying. This doesn’t exist in Czech Republic as far as I know.

First week living together in Vienna

First week of both of us living in Vienna—Gabi was back in Brno for 2 days, I went for a beer, we had a fight, and after we made up we cooked a lot of delicious food. That about sums it up.

The work week flew by very fast it seems to me. It’s actually really hard to get something done and it’s very easy to get distracted with little tasks. I have a lot of those.

Gabi was in Brno because of work so she didn’t really enjoy much of Vienna at the beginning. It really isn’t the same without her. Even in a nice apartment with all our stuff. And I swear, if I lived alone, I would have the nastiest apartment ever. I don’t have the slightest motivation to clean up when I’m all by myself.

On Thursday, we went for a beer with VisGroup. It’s fun, but I always feel so miserable the next day. I couldn’t eat anything and I was tired. Not a good idea to drink on Thursday. I don’t really drink very often so I need very little to get in the mood but I have a really hard time stoping at the right time. And also…peer pressure.

At least the weekend was peaceful. We cleaned the apartment, cooked, I did some work on my iOS project. We also went on a little ride along Donau on our bikes on Saturday. And on a walk to Augarten on Sunday (a rainstorm caught us on the way home).

I was losing my mind over the weekend a little bit. It felt like whenever I wanted to do something, I couldn’t because of technical issues:

  • I tried to buy a washing machine—my card didn’t work (“technical error”).
  • I tried to see what’s up with my Jahreskarte (public transport card)—couldn’t load the page, technical outage.
  • I had to submit a final version of a poster to a conference submission system—no way to do so, the review not even visible.
  • I wanted to login into UPC administration for the first time—credentials in the email instructions didn’t work, couldn’t reset it. I had to create a new account, for which then I didn’t know what the username is (it’s the email! thought it’s written nowhere!)

I was only able to resolve the UPC thing eventually, which means that I have other little errands to do next week…uhhh.

We are now completely moved to Vienna

Wow, it’s the first time I’ve missed putting out a post on Sunday. The reason is that I was just completely exhausted yesterday.

We spent all weekend with moving. On Saturday, it was another trip with a rental van, only this time without our friend’s help and with the rest of ALL our stuff. You don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to physically, with your own hands, move each and every one of them from one location to another. We also bought a couch, which meant we had to somehow get 60 kg to the first floor. But we managed!

We went back to Brno to return the van, relax for a while, and sleep there so that we could hand over the apartment in Brno. There was also a lot to clean still.

I would say that we are very clean people. We can take care of the place we live in. That’s why we were pretty angry that we had to pay for a kitchen unit doors under the sink because it got wet and wrinkled slightly. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think we treated the apartment as best as we could and this was just an effect of actually living in the apartment. It was some kind of chipboard or something like that BTW. Something that almost wrinkles when you just breathe on that. I don’t think you can expect something made from the cheapest materials to last forever. But I don’t know, maybe I’m the asshole…

Oh no, it’s completely ruined!

But anyway, we handed the old apartment over, put the rest of the stuff into Gabi’s mum’s car, and went for lunch to her and her partner’s apartment. After that they took us and our stuff to Vienna. The rest of the Sunday was spent putting our things into places and cleaning. We also finally found out where our storage compartment in the cellar is. The door sign was “parteienkeller” which translated by Google Translate was funny—”party cellar”. It’s pretty nice to have something like that, in this previous apartment we had to keep everything in the apartment. We were lucky to have the bikes down in the bike room. The bike room there was able to only take 4 bikes. And there were 12 apartments. Here in the apartment in Vienna the bike room is HUGE. I guess it’s not surprising when you think about how many people use bikes for every day commute here.

The new apartment look awesome in my opinion. Even now when we are not done unpacking yet, it’s getting cozy. I like that. I can only hope that we are going to like it here. It’s been pretty scary and emotionally taxing, this whole procedure of moving. At this point, I’m glad we are doing this. I’m glad that we are trying this big scary and outside-of-comfort-zone thing. Now I just hope that it doesn’t turn out being a bad move.

April weather

I have a hard time writing something this week.

It’s really cold these days. I think I’ve heard that there is a wave of cold air from the north coming and that’s easy to believe. It’s been hailing one day! It’s not very pleasant to be outside and therefore there was not much happening this week.

On Monday we had a holiday (Easter Monday) and we basically just went for a short walk because it was so windy. Other than that we spent the day laying around. Gabi left on Tuesday morning and it was just me again for the rest of the week. But that’s not gonna stay that way for long! Just one more week.

I’m getting more comfortable in the city every day. I figured out the fastest way to work with just one transfer. The bus stop is few steps from our apartment and the station of Ubahn where I get off is similarly close to the work. I’m nailing the conversations with the cashiers (“grüß gott”, “danke shön”).

We need to go through one more weekend of moving. We will be finally handing over the apartment in Brno so we need to move the rest of our stuff to Vienna. It’s probably going to be pretty hard to coordinate and execute but at least that’s the last thing. After this we both will be living in Vienna.

I was thinking about my goals and “mission statement” of what I want to accomplish actually. Right now, I’m just having fun learning stuff, studying whatever seems interesting to me. I, of course, have this goal of becoming better person—I want to be emotionally stable, calm in high pressure situations, knowledgeable, be the guy who’s able to help people, contribute. But that’s just what I think growing up is about. I always had big ambitions. I knew that I’m going to be successful somehow. I never knew how, but I was just sure that I will find success. My problem however is that I feel like I should already be working on my success. Not to say that I’ve been failing up to this point—I’m very proud that I was able to get my master’s degree and get a job at a university in another country. I want to achieve more however. I want to take control of my life. I want to do things my way and be sure that my actions are what influences the results.

Two things kinda triggered these thoughts. First, I watched La La Land with Gabi. The struggle of becoming great and achieving something is the theme of Damien Chazelle’s films Whiplash and La La Land (I loved both). Another was this DOOM documentary. I don’t know what’s so interesting in this for me. But I really wished that I had the skills needed to work on something like that game.

That being said, I’m still going to continue doing what I’m doing. I’m starting to get really into Swift and iOS development. I really like that all the info is basically out there, either in official apple documentation, or in tutorials on the web. The thing about iOS tutorials is funny—everybody wants to make money on that. There’s so many people explaining how to do simple stuff and marketing their books/paid tutorials. I don’t know if that’s the only way people make money from iOS development. But I just want to create apps, tools for myself, and maybe games. I want to produce as much as I want. And I will!

We now have the Internet at the apartment (and Gabi’s visit in Vienna)

Many people at work already are, or are preparing to go, at a conference, which means that it has been kind of a slow work week. It’s also what they call “first Easter week” (Friday was Karfreitag, not really a public holiday but nobody worked I think).

As soon as I got to work on Tuesday, I noticed that in the online package tracker it was written that my package from UPC (the modem) should be delivered that day. I was expecting a text message but I didn’t get any. I went home right away and waited. Finally, around 3 pm, a GLS van arrived and I got our UPC router. I think the apartment got like twice as cosier as soon as I loaded a webpage!

While I was waiting, I thought it would be a good time to try out our oven. Therefore—mini pizzas!

When I started talking about the food, this is Zimtschnecke. I was hyping it up to Gabi all the time last year when I was in Vienna. You would say I overhyped it. But no, Zimtschnecke delivered. Gabi said it was the best thing ever.

Gabi came on Thursday night. She was supposed to come at 7 pm, but the bus was close to 2 hours late. We went to a walk around Donaukanal, that’s where the title photo is from. It looks very cool, but it doesn’t smell as good (too much pee for our taste).

My parents visited us on Saturday. They’ve never been in Vienna and me and Gabi felt a little bit bad that we didn’t take them anywhere. It’s a pretty long drive (3 hours or so) so they couldn’t stay for the whole day. The weather also wasn’t very nice and we needed to pick some basic stuff in a store (like trash can) which they even bought for us. So we kinda used them. But I think that there will be many other opportunities for them to visit us, maybe even stay for more days, and we will be able to take them around Vienna.

It’s been very windy on Sunday, but we went on a walk along Donau and then to Floridsdorfer Wasserpark (which is like a park with lakes, very cool)

That’s it. We still have free Monday tomorrow together thanks to Easter holiday. I’m not sure what we will do.

First wedding in my life

My third week in Vienna. I had one main task for this week—prepare a lecture for a Computer Animation course. I’ve been assigned the topics of Kinematic Linkages and Motion Capture.

I have no expertise in either one of these. But we have been following one book so I tried to make myself a little crash course on these topics. I really tried. But I don’t think I did a very good job. I’m not really a mathematician by heart and I had maybe two days to learn everything and prepare the lecture. This meant that I could only talk on a very high level, not really going into detail because I just didn’t have any depth of knowledge. Even though that lecture probably sucked (and I finished very early), I think I did what I could, and I’ve learned things that I can improve upon next time.

This week I also ordered internet connection for our new apartment. It has been a cool experience to not have it for a while. I like that when I went home, I wasn’t working. I couldn’t. I couldn’t answer things on Skype. I couldn’t answer things on email. I couldn’t catch up on stuff that I didn’t manage to do throughout the day. I was at home and I was either relaxing or working on something personal offline. On the other hand, I couldn’t be very productive. When I needed to do something (like the internet connection order) I had to wait for the other day. That’s a downside.

On Saturday we went to a wedding. I’ve never been to one before. Our connection to the newlyweds was that Gabi went to school and was friends with the bride. So we weren’t pivotal guests. I’d say we had a pretty good time! Made some new friends. I think the couple can be very happy with how well everything went. We didn’t stay very long, left at maybe midnight. We slept at this old house in an old bed and I had an allergic reaction in the morning. I forgot my meds but we went on a walk around the town, to get some fresh air.

When we got home on Sunday, we were still so tired. So we just had a pretty relaxed Sunday, even ordered burgers from BURGER INN which was an excellent decision. Had a brownie too.

All in all, it was a little bit more relaxed week compared to the last one. I was spending a bit more time outside the office. I really look forward to the spring, when Gabi’s going to be with me in Vienna already and it’s going to be warmer again.

First week in Vienna

This was my first week working in Vienna and living in our new apartment.

I picked a very busy time to start working there. On Friday night there was a deadline for the VIS 2017 conference, so almost everybody was working on a paper, including me. I was spending most of my days at the institute. We don’t have the internet at the apartment yet. I was just sleeping there, watching the two movies I have on my laptop (Good Will Hunting and Dirty Dancing), and assembling IKEA furniture. I haven’t even cooked or eaten anything there.

It’s so empty it’s sad. We still have a lot of stuff in Brno and I’m just too used to living with somebody. I’m really looking forward to when Gabi’s gonna move as well.

I still like Vienna. My commute to work is not the shortest (30-40 minutes) but I don’t mind. The sight of the city is still new and exciting to me so I like that I get to see more of Vienna.

We submitted the paper (I was second author, Peter did most of the work) on the night from Friday to Saturday. There’s a tradition of drinking after conference deadline which means I didn’t sleep that night. I successfully made the 6:55 bus to Brno and then proceeded to sleep through the rest of the Saturday.

Next week would probably be a little more relaxed but I need to give a lecture on Thursday.