The blog of DAVID KOUŘIL

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.

Hungary and Pohoda festival in Slovakia

What an absolutely packed week!

Leaving Vienna on Tuesday, I was going to Balaton in Hungary with our work group for something that’s called Closed Meeting. It has two purposes: a) talk about organizational stuff for the next year, and b) get drunk with the guests we invite (people call it networking).

The real adventure started when I departed on Thursday morning. I needed to get from Balatonszemes, Hungary to Trencin, Slovakia. This meant three trains and a subway ride in Budapest.

I am not very well-traveled. I was used to going on vacations with my parents around Czech Republic. I was 23 the first time I went outside of Czech Republic (and Slovakia, I don’t count that as being abroad). Going with a train in Hungary and getting around in Budapest was really something new to me (don’t laugh!).

I was surprised by how much I actually got used to being in Vienna, how many of the signs and words in German I know already. Hungarian—totally different, not catching anything.

This was my route:

I’ve got to say that mostly everything went well. I did miss one train in Budapest because of the queue at international tickets office (and because I was waiting at a wrong place at first) but that “only” meant waiting two hours for another one.

I left around 10:30 in the morning from Balaton and arrived around 20:30 at the festival in Trencin.

We had a tent rented for the festival and I wasn’t very well prepared for it. I didn’t think it would be so cold in the night so I didn’t bring a sleeping bag, just some warm clothes and a blanket. I am not a smart man.

We experienced two thunderstorms while hiding in the tent. It was actually pretty nice. I recorded the sounds, I don’t think I will have the opportunity to listen to a storm that closely any time soon.

The absolute high point was the headliner on Saturday night—alt-j. If I had to name my favorite band, alt-j would probably be it. The performance was ace. The only thing is that I kinda expected a little bit more emotional experience. In the end, it’s just three people playing music you know in front of you. I felt that I had more “spiritual” connection to their music while listening to it alone at home some evening. But that’s absolutely not something that’s degrading the experience in any way. For me it was a great show and an item crossed out off my bucket list.

I have some bands that I discovered at Pohoda and I’m starting to build up a spotify playlist which I plan to share soon.

I am really glad that we went. It’s something you can’t really appreciate while you’re in it, worrying about having to go pee, then getting water, then going pee again, hiding from sun, hiding from rain, and trying to survive in the middle of all the (mostly drunk) people. But once it’s over you kinda miss it. I guess you really need to see the discomfort as your friend. That’s where the real experiences happen.

Getting ready for a busy and exciting week!

Gabi was gone almost this whole week, she’s on a yacht sailing trip in Croatia with her colleagues.

I’m getting more and more excited about next week. Two things are going to happen:

  • we (the VisGroup, the group where I work) are going to Balaton in Hungary for a “closed meeting” which is a gathering of our group and some guests where we talk about stuff. And then,
  • we (me and Gabi) are going to Pohoda festival in Trencin, Slovakia.

I will be leaving on Thursday and going to Slovakia straight from Hungary. I’m counting on the trip itself to be an adventure.

I’m incredibly hyped up for Pohoda. The biggest headliner is alt-j, but I’m looking forward to the festival atmosphere in general. I’ve been there in 2014 I think and I loved it. I hope we’ll have similarly good time this year.


I’ve seen two things that I very much liked and they had some impact on me:

  1. a documentary about 3D printing and the business around it: Print the Legend.
  2. a GDC talk about the development of a game called Thumper.

The 3D printing documentary was interesting mainly because I don’t really know anything about the technology and the business of it. So it was interesting to see how it all got to be.

The Thumper talk was game-changing for me. I really love that guy’s calm approach to all of it. He’s not complaining how hard it was. He’s just explaining the journey and talking about how they got through. I like the simple approach. Just put something on the screen. And iterate. I like the idea of learning as you go but lot of the time I get stuck and I think that I’ve arrived at an impossible obstacle. But seeing them make this game made me think about the way I approach stuff and be more of a “deliver-it” programmer. I want to deliver things, not to do them right and overengineer it.

That’s it for today, see you next Sunday.

The week when I was sick

I was sick this week. I wrote about that already. It means however that there’s not much to say about my week other than that. I stayed home and I slept a lot.

The weather has been extremely hot, 35 °C at some point. It’s hard to say if it was good or bad that I didn’t go anywhere and was at home the whole days. I guess it was a good thing. Although the amount of sweating I did…

I remember last year when I was sick like this. It was very similar—also in summer (right before our vacation in fact) and I was also hit so hard that I could barely move. And the same as last year, I didn’t drink any coffee and I’m thinking about continuing with that. I haven’t had any coffee since Monday and I kinda like it. But I have to say that being at home makes it very easy to have a nap after lunch (instead of the cup of coffee).

The only thing about drinking coffee that I don’t like is that I don’t want to be dependent on something so much. I want to be able to focus and work whenever I want, without the need to get some caffeine before I dive into something (that’s a state of mind that I’ve been gravitating towards lately). I guess I’ll try to not drink it for a while and see how long I can do it.


On Friday we went to Donauinselfest. It’s a free music festival that takes place on the island in Vienna. We wanted to see Cro. We did and it was awesome! I really really liked it. Although being sober at this type of an event is not that much fun.

I’ve got to say that I’m very much looking forward to going back to my normal functioning routine.

The value of sheltering yourself

I think I need to cut myself off from a certain type of social media. Maybe it’s going to be enough to just do it mentally…let me explain.

I’ve got projects to do. Personal, side projects. Things that I’ve come up with to learn stuff. They are not the best ideas in the world. They will not make a hole in a world. But it’s still important to finish them. I don’t want to be a quitter. I want to be a doer. And you can’t be a doer without finishing what you’ve started.

I have a bad habit of going on twitter and looking at the stuff other people make. Sometimes it’s good to get inspired like that. But most of the time it just makes you look at what you’re working on and get bored of it. Maybe you’ve had an idea that you liked at the beginning but, now that you’ve spent some time on it, it’s not so new/exciting/easy-to-do.

Or in my case, I’m worried that I’m learning the wrong thing. The way technology world works is that it’s constantly changing, programming languages are going in and out of style. Everybody makes you feel that you’re doing it wrong if you’re not using the same programming language, framework, or paradigm they are using. It makes sense—everybody wants to be on the wave of what’s popular.

It makes sense to just ignore that. There’s no way of predicting future. You just need to get your head down and finish your things. You will learn something even if you work on the wrong project, using the wrong stuff. The important thing is that you’ll learn something. And finish something.