Looking Back at 2020

Published on 28 December 2020
6 min read
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We all know this year hasn’t been easy. That doesn’t mean it had to be wasted. Regardless of how bad or good it has been for oneself individually, there are always lots of lessons we can learn from what we’ve been through.

More Than One Pandemic

I think one of the most obvious takeaways from this year is that we are not living just one pandemic (COVID-19), but also one that’s equally worrisome and potentially even deadlier: misinformation. The sheer amount of false information and hatred being spread through both social media and real life is becoming bigger every passing day.

They can be shared by ignorance, personal or political interest, or simply to “watch the world burn”. It is painful to watch the world go backwards like this; especially when people close to you are affected as well.

Mental Health

I am sure that regardless of any individual impact the pandemics have had, your mental health must have been impacted by all of this somehow. “Doomscrolling” became a thing, fueled by our time watching and reading terrible news while quarantining in the safety of our homes.

Initially, I was guilty of that too. Checking many times a day for news, how the pandemic was growing, getting angry at how our leaders were dealing with it, and more. Fortunately, I ended up realizing how harmful that was to my mental health, and that there was no good coming out of it. A few minutes a day is enough to catch up on important news, the rest of the day can be spent on myself. So instead of mindlessly scrolling through the doom and gloom on the internet, I started to work on more personal projects, learning new stuff, and playing games.

Learning with Personal Projects

This year I worked on a few personal projects, and tried different approaches with them so I could learn new things. I didn’t necessarily get really in-depth into most of the things I learned, but the knowledge I got definitely made me a better developer.

Screenshot of my Pocket Companion app
  • I built an Animal Crossing companion app, with great utilities for when playing the game. I focused a lot on CSS animations for this one, while trying to mimic the official Nintendo app in looks. Learned a lot of things while building it:
    • State management in Angular projects, with NgRx;
    • Offline functionality with IndexedDB in the browser;
    • Improved CSS Animations;
    • Improved Ionic and PWA knowledge;
    • Improved performance knowledge, with Web Workers, Virtual Scrolling and Lazy Loading;
  • I redesigned part of my website - I decided to change things up a bit, with an animated (but still lightweight) header background, a new logo, typography improvements, code highlighting, and more. I think it looks more professional than before, and represents my way of building things better as well;
  • I built my Resume as a Web Component - using StencilJS to build it, and CSS Grid for the layout. Both of those things were new to me, so it was pretty interesting;
  • I learned about CSS Scroll Snapping - a fantastic new CSS capability that helps with reducing the amount of JS in our websites;
  • I focused a lot on improving my design skills this year. While I’m still a developer (and plan on continuing to be), designing things is something I find very fun. I learned messing with a few design-related things this year:
    • Edit SVG files in Inkscape - still a lot to learn, but I’m already capable of doing some edits to existing files;
    • Build high-fidelity mockups in Figma - being able to design more quickly than I was by building it was great for speeding up the process, and being able to collect feedback earlier was fantastic as well;
  • I started to contribute a bit more to Open Source projects, like elementary OS. Mainly with a still-in-progress website rebuild, but also with tons of feedback, issue reports, offering support and participating on discussions.

Fun

Since I committed myself to stop seeing bad things and focus on good ones, I resorted to at-home entertainment a lot this year. My highlights:

TV and Movies

  • Mr. Robot was a jaw-dropping series. I started watching it just this year, and binged to the finale quickly. It was an incredibly powerful series, with genius writing and cinematography. Highly recommend it to anyone, even if not a fan of the tech/hacking theme;

  • Community was a great find; It’s not a series I had ever heard of when it was still airing, as it never got popular here in Brazil. However, after hearing about it on the web and finding it on Netflix, I’m so glad I started watching it. Loads of fun, full of references, internal jokes and Dan Harmon genius;

Games

  • Animal Crossing New Horizons was one of the best things to happen this year. It’s far from a perfect game, but it could not have been better for the current situation, providing an easy escape into a world free of our current burdens. It came out at the beginning of quarantine and still provides daily wholesomeness to this day;

  • Dungeons & Dragons was a surprising source of fun considering my party only played online this year. But even with social distancing, we managed to have a lot of fun. With FoundryVTT, things are much easier to handle and it’s not much harder to get immersed. I’m even trying to be a DM of my own campaign… I’m not sure it’s going as well as I hoped, but hey, at least I’m trying.

  • Hollow Knight… I’m so glad I played it. Being a Metroidvania, a genre I’m not really a fan of, it completely hooked me with its worldbuilding, art style, atmosphere and frustratingly satisfying difficulty. A 10/10 for me, for sure;

Hollow Knight official artwork
Hollow Knight official artwork, by Team Cherry

Writing

Well, since this is only the third blog post this year, I definitely did not do much writing. I haven’t felt inspired to do so, as I was often busy building nice things or winding down from all the mess that was going on. I’ll repeat my intention of trying to write more next year, of course, since it shouldn’t be hard to do at least more than in 2020.

Wrapping Up

If you’re still reading, thanks! You’re probably my mom or fiancée. Anyway, 2020 was a very exciting year, even if not in a good way. Let’s hope 2021 is a more boring one. See you then!

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