2020 Project Highlights 🌟
5 min read

A year in review

One of the bitter-sweet things of 2020 is that with nowhere to go, a lot of the time normally spend on out-of-home activities (travel, holidays, visits, etc) suddenly became available to invest elsewhere. For me, a lot of that went towards various side-projects. When looking at 2020 with a focus on just those side-projects, it might just be the most productive year I’ve ever had. An overview.

Window Opener

Automatically opening our bedroom window using a linear actuator, integrated with home-assistant. Electronics, custom PCB, 3D printing, Home Automation and a lot of iterative improvement. There was a lot of different technology involved in this project, and I learned a ton from it. I made a lengthy blog post about it that contains all the details.

Window Opener end-result

Mini Workshop

One of my plans for 2020 was to build a small workshop to better organize my tools and reduce the time needed to set up. The challenge was that our house doesn’t really have space for a proper workshop. So I ended up building a ~1m2 mini-workshop in our pantry/bikeroom, using plywood and pegboard. As with every workshop, this project is forever in-progress. More photos can be found on its project page.

The mini workshop - already my *Making* sanctuary.
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The mini workshop - already my Making sanctuary.

Rollable electronics station
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Rollable electronics station

Home Assistant Conference Talk

I had been wanting to do a bit more public speaking for a while, so when the first home-assistant conference was announced I knew I had to submit an abstract about casa, my home-automation setup I’ve been working on for the last 4+ years. To my surprise and delight, the talk got accepted and it went really well! All the details and the slides can be found on github.

Creating the Ultimate Morning Routine

Monitor Stand

Learning how to weld had been on my TODO list for a while, and so earlier in the year I impulse bought a dirt-cheap MIG welder without much further research. After getting the hang of the absolute basics, I decided to build a new monitor stand for my home-office over a few weekends. This was so much fun that I’m already looking for other welding projects I can take on in 2021. The monitor stand project page has more photos.

Final result
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Final result

Welding the legs
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Welding the legs

Blogging

I only started blogging in late 2019. I had made a few attempts that didn’t really go anywhere before, so I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep it up for over a year now. I blog about once a month about a variety of topics: Making, Home Automation, Software Engineering, DevOps, People Leadership, and Productivity. If any of that interest you, you should have a look at the list of posts.

Do you still keep papers around for administration?  If so, you might be interested in [my blogpost about going paperless](/posts/going-paperless).
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Do you still keep papers around for administration? If so, you might be interested in my blogpost about going paperless.

I also write about work stuff sometimes, like my post on *[The Art of Releasing Software](/posts/art-of-releasing-software).*
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I also write about work stuff sometimes, like my post on The Art of Releasing Software.

Gitlint

I maintain an increasingly popular (yet still fairly small) open-source python project called gitlint which allows users to enforce style rules on their git commit messages. 2020 was a good year for gitlint, with 3 strong releases and a significant uptick in its popularity. I also blogged about my experience maintaining gitlint.

Gitlint had an 80% growth in github stars over the past year (200 → 360).
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Gitlint had an 80% growth in github stars over the past year (200 → 360).

Mini Broom holder

Small woodworking build that holds a broom in my front yard. In itself not special, but what made it stand out for me is that it was the first time I used CAD (Fusion360) to a create a 3D model and drawing for a woodworking project before building it.

Reading

While I usually read 2-3 books a year, I’ve always wanted to read more. Yet, trying to set a goal (e.g. 5 books a year) only caused me stress and anxiety. Late last year however, I started listening to books while running, driving and evening walks and as a result I’ve been able to finish to quite a few good books this year. For work related books, I’ve been able to finish multiple books by reading a chapter a day during my morning time. My Goodreads profile contains all the details.

[The Unicorn Project (by Gene Kim)](https://www.amazon.com/Unicorn-Project-Developers-Disruption-Thriving/dp/1942788762/) is the best work-book I read this year (and perhaps *ever*). Highly recommended for DevOps practioners.
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The Unicorn Project (by Gene Kim) is the best work-book I read this year (and perhaps ever). Highly recommended for DevOps practioners.

[The Body (by Bill Bryson)](https://www.amazon.com/Body-Guide-Occupants-Bill-Bryson/dp/0385539304/) is the best non-work book I read this year. I like Bill Bryson a lot: his popular science books are both highly informative, well-narrated and often funny.
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The Body (by Bill Bryson) is the best non-work book I read this year. I like Bill Bryson a lot: his popular science books are both highly informative, well-narrated and often funny.

And a bunch more

Plenty of additional tinkering and working on different projects in parallel 😎 I’m not sure whether 2021 will be nearly as productive, but I sure wouldn’t mind!