The blog of DAVID KOUŘIL

Vacation!!!

This year we spent a week in Kardamili, a town in Peloponnese, Greece. We did a similar thing as last time: rented an apartment, got a car, and traveled the area as much as possible.

We’ve been to: Polylimnio waterfalls, Methoni, Koroni, Pilos.

Beaches: Kardamili, Kalamitsi, Phoneas, Voidokilia, Kalogria

Unfortunately I had sun allergy again. I’m pretty fair-skinned so I’m used to getting sunburnt, but getting rash from the sun is something even worse. It seems that there are ways how to prevent that so I’m gonna try some of that for the next year!

Btw. I love flying. If I was deciding right now what I want to be I’d sat a pilot. I don’t really know why I like it so much, it just seems so cool to be flying planes.

One thing I like about going on vacation is that I leave my computer at home, no working, which makes me think a lot. I think about what I’m doing, what I want to do, how should I be doing it, what are my goals, how I’m gonna reach them, what future I imagine for me and Gabi, … I write it all down in my phone and then go through it back home. It’s very easy to lose direction once you are back in your regular life, it just feels like one day after another. At that moment, it’s nice to look at these notes and see if you are working towards something in there, or if you need to navigate the life a bit better.

We have some very nice photos (mostly Gabi did them but sometimes I pushed the button):

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.

Aiming to be the 40-year-old that doesn’t know what he wants to do in his life

I don’t know if you’ve seen or heard this piece before:

It was originally written as an essay by Mary Schmich and then made into a song by Baz Luhrmann. I’ve heard it first in the form of this song when I was writing my bachelor thesis. I put it in my spotify playlist and I regularly bump into it when I’m listening to this playlist on shuffle. I always take something different from it, depending on what problems I’m having or what I’m thinking about at that moment.

Last time it was this part:

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Lately I’ve had the problem that I’m again being attracted by different things and I have a hard time choosing what to focus on. The things is—I’ve been led to believe that I need to choose one thing, give my whole life into it, and then maybe I have some small chance of being successful. That’s a very frustrating thought because I have quite a number of things I’d like to do.

This time however I’m starting to get comfortable with that. I’m not gonna be known as a prodigy, a 14yo kid who makes an iphone app, sells out concert halls, or writes a book. I’m an almost 26-year-old guy, my may-be-a-prodigy years are over. But I still can (and should) be me.

And therefore I’m aiming to be the 40-year-old who still can’t decide what he wants to do in his life. I want to explore everything I want. I most probably won’t be successful at it. But if there’s one thing I’ve found out already, it’s that you don’t have to be world-class at something to enjoy doing it.

Hell yeah!

I’ve been waiting with the blog post this week because of one reason. I was a bit stressed out because there was this one thing that needed to be taken care of.

When you are a citizen of EU (or Switzerland) and you come to Austria, you have 4 months to go to the Magistrat and apply for a permission of longer stay. They tell you this when you register (Meldezettel).

This wouldn’t be that bad, however I heard only bad things about the Magistrat. Mainly that you go there and you wait for hours. And that they don’t speak English. Because of that, I’ve been postponing going there for a long time, but Gabi is the good one and she wanted to have this done right. So I knew that before the end of August we should do this.

Today we finally went. Luckily a friend from work (Haichao) offered his help and I’m so glad that he did. I can get around with English and a little bit of German but there needs to be a will on the other side as well. German is an official language in Austria (and I really want to learn) so I’m fine with the offices only speaking German. It’s just very inconvenient for us. And stressful.

Everything went smoother than I expected. We arrived half an hour before the opening hours and there was a line. However then they opened the door and the Magistrat itself was huge and well organized. I love that in Austria they have waiting numbers everywhere. We actually didn’t need to wait that long because the have so many offices. We almost didn’t have enough time to fill out a form and we’ve been called to an office.

Having this done is a huge burden lifted out of my chest.

This week I need to finish up one more thing at work and then I can prepare for our vacation!

I guess I’m really going to the USA

I’m gonna be visiting US for a conference this October! I’m part of the people from Vis-Group attending IEEE VIS 2017. It’s gonna be the first (bigger) conference I’m gonna attend.

I am also the one given the responsibility of planning the traveling. I bought flight tickets on Friday, it was really a pain in the ass. I was buying a multi-city tickets because we’re gonna make a road trip after the conference and we would be flying out of San Francisco (the conference is in Phoenix). I don’t know what’s the best way to book flights, I was looking them up using Google Flights but then I realized that I still need to look those flights up on the website of the airline. And then things happen…like when you try to pay, you can’t choose certain countries for the billing address.

I’m pretty excited. I’ve wanted to go to USA for a very long time and although I’m kinda growing out of wanting to live there, I’m still very curious to see it.

There’s still a lot to happen until then however. Like our vacation for example. I’m really looking forward to that, our vacation last year was game changing for me.

But I need to finish some things before I leave for Greece. We have a big projects that’s coming to an end and I need to still implement some things for that. I hope everything goes well, I have about 2 weeks for that.

As for this week, there was a public holiday on Tuesday. I stayed at home on Monday too, but I was working from there. It sucks that both me and Gabi work on a different public holidays schedule. It’s rare that we get to have it on the same day so usually either one of us still needs to work.

There was a dinner with a guest visiting the vis-group happening on Wednesday and we went there. It was in a place on the edge of Vienna and it looked typically austrian I’d say. We drank some wine and had schnitzel. It was nice.

On Friday we tried the second IKEA in Vienna (the north one). We found out that IKEAs are pretty much the same everywhere. But they didn’t have the suitcase we wanted so that was pretty disappointing. At least I got the hot dog and we brought zimtschnecke.

Last thing I wanted to write down is that I think something is switching in my head when it comes to programming. It starts to click. For a long time I had a really hard time actually putting down my ideas into the code. I was always getting guided by a library or an API that I was using. I felt like there’s no way for me to make the code my way, go with my ideas and actually make things work. But now I’m figuring out that I can. I’m realizing that the most important thing when programming is to keep it at the right level of abstraction. At certain point you just need to abstract things into separate modules and rely on them to work. I guess I’m a really bad programmer cause I’m figuring this out just now. But I don’t really mind.

I think using git and branching a lot helps tremendously. That way I’m less scared that I’m gonna fuck something up, I know that I can always come back to the working version of things.

Oh and we went to Schönbrunn on Sunday.

[AUDIO] Thunderstorm in a tent on Pohoda 2017 music festival

I finally got to uploading this thing that I recorded at Pohoda. I like to listen to storm sounds while working, hope you like it too!

A trip to the zoo

I’m writing a diary on my computer that comes in real handy when I write things for the blog. It usually seems that there’s not much happened and I have nothing to write about. Then I look at the diary and see all kinds of stuff I did, or things I thought about…and bang, there’s your blogpost.

Like this week, we had a jam session with colleagues. Apparently, a lot of researchers play some musical instrument (myself included). So we got together and made some noise. We also drank which didn’t go well with the playing that much.

I experienced a little bit of crisis this week too. I felt like I didn’t really get a break ever since I finished school (and the sprint to that was taxing by itself), and even though I was working on a lot of things, I didn’t really have much to show for it. That was my impression at least. Of course that’s not true, but in the moment it was an overwhelming feeling. I’m really looking forward for our vacation in Greece in 22 days.

I like being disconnected. That’s when I get into the right headspace and think about important things, ask important questions, and figure out what’s important to me. This get’s easily lost in the day-to-day, when the stress and emotions are the primary drivers.

I got a bit of taste of that this weekend when we visited my parents in Czech Republic. We went to the zoo and just chilled. Of course the two days were enough for me to want to go back and work on things. But I take it as a good thing.

Heatwave 2: The Sweating Continues

The extreme temperatures continued this week.

I took Thursday and Friday off, to spend some time with Gabi and also chill out for a bit. Our vacation is still one month away.

We went for a swim in Alte Donau and for a walk.

I really need to spend more time outside of the apartment. When I have nothing to do I’m just easily bored. There’s only so much work I can do in a day and when I have all the free time I can I don’t use it very well.

Being outside makes everything feel better. I don’t know if I can describe the feeling…it’s like you are a part of it, part of the city, part of the world. You are actually doing shit instead of just looking out of window and trying to figure out what to do.

Also: I cooked this deliciousness:

In the middle of a hot summer in Vienna

It’s consistently hot in Central Europe. I definitely like it better than winter (I hate being cold) but sometimes it’s annoying when you sweat through a t-shirt just walking few steps to a store. Our apartment doesn’t have air conditioning—it’s not very common in Czech Republic and Austria—so we are experiencing the heat wave pretty intensively. In the office we do have AC, but it’s 3 of us there and it’s hard to keep the most comfortable temperature for everyone. It makes me wish I had an office for myself a little bit.

Most of the people from work are on vacations. On Wednesday I had to go to Brno to get my Master’s and Bachelor’s diplomas translations. Ticket machine broke while printing my public transport tickets, then the bus back to Vienna had more than an hour delay. But I got the translations so I would say it was a success.

On Thursday I finally submitted the PhD admission (that what I needed the diploma translations for). I almost left the study department because there’s been such a long line of people waiting. But fortunately it moved pretty fast and I submitted everything successfully. Now I have to wait few weeks for the answer if I can do the PhD at TU Wien.

On Saturday we went on a small bike trip/hike. There’s a hill with a castle, or a church or something, that you can see from the city. I’ve wanted to go there since I got here and we finally did that. The route we took was pretty steep but the view from the top was worth it.

Looks like our vacation plans are forming! Gabi has been going through flights and booking.com and she’s basically the one planning the whole thing. She found some quite cheap plane tickets to Kalamata and we bought them. Just like the last year, we will pick the accommodation later, rent a car, and just go on our own.

Talking about vacation makes me realize that it’s almost a year since I started writing the blog. That’s cool. And although I’m not breaking any view records, I have no plan to stop. Looking back, seeing the photos, and reading about the things that we’ve done, or what I’ve been thinking, is just too much fun!

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.