A new year has begun. And I wanted to have a look back at my 2019. Looking at my pictures of 2019 and trying to remember what has been, I realize that quite a lot happened in that year. Sometimes it can feel like there isn‘t much that I accomplish; like time is just passing by without much happening, but that is often mispercieved. 2019 was actually full of interesting and exiting things for me.

First of all, it was the year I got married to my lovely wife. We had already been engaged for some time and last year we decided to finally make it happen and we had a beautiful wedding with our family and friends.

I was also surprised to remember that I also traveled a bit in 2019. Mostly business trips, but I had the chance to see some new places. I went to Singapore for the first time and wow, it really is a fascinating city. It is so clean and modern. Even having been to Tokyo before, it really amazed me. There is so many cultures and such beautiful places, like the gardens by the bay.

Being in that part of Asia, I took the opportunity and also visited Malaysia for some freediving. Malaysia is quite different to Singapore. I haven‘t seen much of it, but it immediately becomes apparent that it is less clean. However, I really enjoyed the beautiful island of Tioman and the really nice and welcoming people there. So much so that I actually extended my stay for a little bit to be able to finish a freediving course.

In 2019, I also visited Paris for the first time of my life, although I didn‘t see too much of it, as I went there for a conference and didn‘t have a lot of spare time. But I briefly saw the Eiffel Tower :)

While being in Paris, I also decided that I wanted to get my own 3D printer. And I think with that a new time of making began for me. I‘ve always liked to tinker with and build things, but somehow, I don't often finish projects that I start; or even get very far with them at all. I think that is changing a little bit. Since I bought the 3D printer (a Creality Ender 3), I actually did and finished some things that I am proud of. 3D printing is super fascinating and I learned a lot since starting to play around with it and also made a lot of interesting and sometimes even useful things with it. I have even recently used it as a pen plotter and I am planning to get it to plot Japanese calligraphy (let‘s see if that actually works out).

I also published a YouTube video in 2019. I have been using a Keyboardio Model 01 PC keyboard for a while now, but the stock keyboard switches were too hard to press for my liking. So I dug into how to change the switches for ones that I like more and discovered, that it is actually possible to change the keyswitch mechanics without soldering. That’s what I am showing in my YouTube video of 2019. I am hoping to be able to create more videos in the future, as I really enjoyed doing it, even though it was a lot of work.

Making the YouTube video also re-ignited my interest in camera equipment. I have had a Fujifilm X-T10 mirrorless camera, which I really liked for its compact size. But for filming, it quickly reaches limits. And thus I decided to sell the X-T10 and buy a used Panasonic GH5 instead. I am really happy with that camera. It is quite a bit bulkier and heavier than what I was used to, but I really enjoy taking pictures and videos with it and the bunch of new lenses that I bought.

In May 2019, I also got an e-bike and already used it for over 1.200 km, mostly for commuting. Last spring, I canceled my lease of a parking spot at work and now almost exclusively commute by bike and sometimes by public transport. My bike commute also enabled me to take a number of cool photographs.

In addition to getting married, my wife and I also moved to a new home. As this was shortly before our wedding, we had quite the stressful summer. But we now live in a really nice apartment, were we also had a really great thanksgiving dinner with some friends.

At the new place, I also remade my home automation setup. In early 2019 I had already moved the Home Assistant installation that controls everything from a Raspberry Pi to a more powerful Linux server. When we moved in September, I started to add a lot more devices; mostly smart lights and motion sensors. I am still not happy with it, as there is a lot more to set up, but it is a start. I gave an overview of my setup in an earlier post on this blog.

Later, I also added a second server to my home: a self-built NAS system, powered by the FreeNAS operating system. I didn‘t like the NAS systems that were readily available, so I created my own. I am quite happy with it, except that it is a little bit loud and thus I currently only turn it on whilst using the storage. I am hoping to either reduce the noise it makes significantly (by building my own fan controller) or to find a place for it where the noise is not an issue.

Speaking of making things, in 2019 I also learned a new skill that I was always interested in: welding. I took a one-day welding workshop which covered the basics of electrode welding as well as MIG/MAG and TIG welding. That was super interesting!

Me, welding for the first time. 

A friend of mine also got me really interested in FPV drones (link). I really got hooked on the idea of building an autonomous surveillance camera drone for my home automation setup. I haven‘t really started working on that project yet, but I already bought some drones ;)
A Tello camera drone and a small Whoop for FPV freestyle. Flying FPV drones without the advanced stabilization and navigation features of camera drones is quite challenging but also fun (although I still crash a lot).

In addition to all of that technical stuff, my wife and I also started to cook a lot more at home. Since we now have an awesome kitchen at the new apartment, it is also really enjoyable to cook there. I have been trying out many different Ramen recipes, for example.

With all of these things happening, 2019 was really interesting, but also sometimes very stressful. That was especially true for the December. Somehow the last month of the year always turns out to be super stressful for me. At least in December 2019 I got to experience another first for me: my first snowshoe hike, which was super nice and also quite exhausting, but in a good way :)

On my first snowshoe hike

To tackle the stress and the occasional feeling that I don‘t achieve enough, I started to review the things I do more often. I took up blogging again, after a long time of not publishing anything. I re-joined Twitter and joined Instagram to satisfy my urge to show off stuff that I do ;)
And I also take more notes and pictures of things that I do, in order to remind myself, that I don‘t just waste my time, but actually use it for a lot of interesting things.

My year 2019 ended with the visit of the 36th Chaos Communication Congress with a number of really good friends. I had been at Chaos Communication Congresses before, but it had been some time (almost ten years) since my last one. I was a little bit nervous before going, because I wasn‘t sure whether I was up to so many people and didn‘t really know what I wanted to do there. But I deliberately did not make plans to achieve anything there; I only decided to try to relax a lot, enjoy the time and see what happens. And it turned out great. I had a lovely four days at the end of 2019 in Leipzig at the 36C3. Thank you to all the nice people that made it such a nice experience and big thanks particularly to my friends whom I went with and great people at WikiPaka WG that made me feel welcome and gave me a place to relax.

Finally, I spent the last evening of the year 2019 back in my home town at my friend‘s place at a great New Year‘s Eve party 🎉

2020

It is now already a few days into the new year and after a lot of looking back on the last year, I also want to spend a few moments to look forward to 2020. It is certainly going to be another interesting one. My time at university is coming to an end and I need to decide what I want to do next. That will probably be my main focus for the new year. I also want to keep building and making things as well as writing about it on my blog and social media, taking pictures and maybe making a few more YouTube videos about it as well.

Happy New Year to you all!