Year MMXIX summarized in 5 minutes8 min read

As part of my seven-years retrospective, here’s a 5-6 minutes readable summary of what I did in 2019.

Personal life summary

  • Q4 2018’s intense professional stress was replaced by emotional exhaustion in 2019’s Q1 and Q2. Caring for folks who have residual schizophrenia comorbid with depression and high-functioning autism, really is a lot of work that turns your life upside down, especially when a portion of your support network ghosts or gaslights you as they do not see any of the things you see.
  • Continued work with fellow researcher Dr Julien Meyer. It was a pleasure to collaborate with him in my day-to-day, and we probably kept each other sane during a pretty long winter. I was really happy for him when he landed a fulltime professor job at Nancy’s university of architecture some months later, although I was sad to see him leave Montréal.
  • I bought some tatami mats to sleep on the floor and I was pretty happy with them, but my waifu kept complaining that they “smell like a farm’s barn” and I had to get rid of them. Such a waste. Shikata ga nai desu yo~
  • Was very pleased to see Greta Thunberg gaining traction as she expressed into words what I had been feeling for the better part of my life.
  • For administrative reasons, mai waifu had to leave Canada and go back to France. I told people, “She left with the dog!” (technically, she did, here’s proof)
Pictured: a corginapping
  • With experience, I can now say I love dogs, but do not have the lifestyle to adequately care for them as an urban dweller. I also do not miss picking up poop three times a day at -20°C, or feeling genuinely sorry for their boredom while I relentlessly work in front of a computer. Having a dog—which typically is a very active being—when you have a busy sedentary lifestyle seems… somewhat cruel.
  • Coincidentally, all my consulting contracts ended in the summer that year, including “that technology manufacturing company” whose business management strategy had grown increasingly intolerable for me and my professional ethos as CMO. Considering the fact that I had also stepped down from my remaining facility management board duties some months prior, this meant I was, for the first time in a long time, not receiving 400-500 emails per week anymore, which was quite pleasant. It felt like I was waking up from a lucid dream.
  • Overall, with those multiple changes in responsibilities having occurred by Q3 2019, my life suddenly became much simpler again. Since I also needed a change of scenery while I was in limbo for mai waifu’s return and my upcoming apartment move, I took the opportunity to spend most of 2019 doing R&D to fix or improve my processes and positioning. Namely, I:
    • overhauled my personal website again (the last round was in 2017) to increasingly focus it on my consulting services rather than pretty drawings and photos (which you can still find if you look hard enough);
    • recreated my personal YouTube channel (but I then some months later, as the pandemic struck, I ran out of time and energy to post new stuff. One day I’ll get back to it.);
    • spent most of 2019 fixing my web infrastructure on fire (including this blog, and many other sites, whether for bugfixes or security patching) and my personal tools, some of which can be read about in the first and second part of the “upgrade treadmill trilogy”: about servers, and about browsers and desktop tools.
    • I also fixed up my VoIP systems (personal and business phone infrastructure)
  • Sold a prime investment opportunity, via email, to two people who were living on a boat in the Caribbean. I am not making this up, and I swear it was 100% legit. It had nothing to do with cocaïne or a sentient La-Z-Boy. Sometimes I think I would have a much easier time being a salesman or broker than an open-source marketeer 😏
  • Joined the Instant Pot™ sect. Seriously, semi-automated electric multi-function pressure cooking is a revolution in efficiency for busy young professionals.
  • After many days of research and analysis, ordered prescription glasses online for the first time (through EyeBuyDirect). For those who have very strong short-sightedness and astigmatism, paying 100$ instead of 300-700$ for glasses, and being able to “try them on” virtually with a photo (which allows a standardized, systematic comparison, and being able to actually see yourself—because you’re short-sighted, of course you can’t see yourself when trying out glass frames in stores), is a game-changer.
  • Spent days upon days of research and thinking about acoustic treatment for my video production studio room. I thus have a lot of information on the matter, but never ended up putting it into practice, as 2020-2021 has been too much of a mess and I had to shelve that project.
  • Moved to a different appartment. There often are a thousand papercuts involved with settling in and fixing stuff in a new home, and in this case it took months. The interior design process for the new location could warrant its own story, but I don’t know if anyone would actually care to read (or hear) about that.
Pictured: packing stuff into boxes for moving out of the old apartment

Bug reports and open-source stuff

  • Discovered that thumbnails generation in Nautilus (GNOME “Files”) is extremely slow compared to other file and image managers, and reported the performance issue with my initial observations. There have been some community patches proposed there to alleviate the problem by making use of multiple CPU threads instead of a single one, but they have not yet been reviewed as of early 2022. I hope they will be considered eventually, along with further possible performance enhancements.
  • Discovered that there is a way, with some hidden dconf gsettings, to make Tracker not destroy your computer’s performance, by throttling its indexing performance to the minimum (org.freedesktop.Tracker3.Miner.Files.throttle = 20) and by tweaking another setting to delay its launch on login (org.freedesktop.Tracker3.Miner.Files.initial-sleep = 45).
    It posit that these settings should be the default behavior. There never is a good time for a background search database indexer to be hammering my desktop’s performance. Needing to instantly be able to search, right upon login, through a gigantic filesystem that was somehow never indexed before is not a thing.
  • Discovered that you can tell Evolution, the email client, to only show email notifications for certain accounts. Go set your preferences in the Plugin Manager’s “Mail Notification” built-in plugin.
  • Thoroughly appreciated being able to finally migrate from Firefox 57 to a recent (post-quantum) version of Firefox, as Drive4ik’s wonderful “Simple Tab Groups” extension proved to be bulletproof and provided an upgrade path from Quicksaver’s “Tab Groups” extension. Again, STG is an absolute must-have extension; if you’re a chaos warrior, use it; you’ll thank me later.
  • Pondered what to do about the fact that my password manager, Revelation, was being removed from Fedora. I’ll spare you the details, but after much research and thinking, I ended up converting all my passwords to… an encrypted spreadsheet. And that is my password management system now. At least I know it will still work 20 years from now.
  • Pondered what I would do considering that GTG, my favorite productivity tool I was fully dependent on, was getting deprecated from Fedora’s packages. The rest, if you’ve been reading my blog is history. Otherwise, check out this epic tale about the upgrade treadmill of open-source desktop applications.
  • Proposed a stupidly simple yet functional presenter notes user interface mockup for LibreOffice Impress in my decade old bug report. The mockup is also attached to the bug report. I’m not offering a Ferrari this time, but someone else did mention they would be happy to pay a thousand pounds to whoever implements this. Just sayin’.
  • Went to the GStreamer conference for the first time in six years, and made this short documentary video. I would like to sincerely thank the GStreamer Foundation for supporting my travel to attend the event, which allowed me to produce that video pro-bono.

Miscellaneous findings and lifehacks

  • Did you know that you can set the amount of floors or height of objects (like buildings, trees, etc.) in OpenStreetMap? That’s what I did, and if you use a 3D representation of OpenStreetMap, like the F4 map, you can see the difference, complete with the sun’s shadow projections depending on the time of the day.
    • Additional tip: as Alexandre Franke kindly points out, you can also use the free & open-source StreetComplete Android app to make edits on the go while walking around, and object heights is one of the questions the app might ask you to fill in.
  • Realized that Squall actually died at the end of Disc 1 in Final Fantasy VII, and the three subsequent discs were just his dying dream. Square Enix will never admit this, but this is the only plausible storyline I will now consider makes sense.

As 2019 ended I thought, “Alright, let’s finish tying loose ends, do some forecasting, and prepare for great business in 2020!”… Aaaah, such gleeful optimism! 🤭



2 responses to “Year MMXIX summarized in 5 minutes”

  1. Bonus tip: Street Complete is an open source Android app available both on the Play store and F-Droid that gamifies OpenStreetMap contributions. One type of quests they have is asking you to provide amount of floors, types of rooves, and other building details. The buildings will obviously also be displayed in proper 3D like the F4 map if the details have been filled in.

    1. Absolument! I knew about that application, but didn’t realize (or forgot) that it would ask about heights. I’ll add a mention to the blog post.