My recapitulation of 2020: another great year
Posted on: December 28, 2020
I wrote a recapitulative in 2017 and skipped in 2019. After blogging weekly since 2011, I decided to take a hiatus with my second children's upcoming. In 2020, I wrote a single post about my custom made desk -- that's it. However, today is different. Today, I will re-iterate the idea for the year 2020 because it is important to take a step back and appreciate all accomplishments, even if small.
January 2020 was a special month: we decided to live in the United States of America. After over 6 years of hesitation, we took a leap of faith and decided to sell our real estate in Canada and to establish our family for the long term in the USA. The revelation might sound simple and is summarized by two lines but the process was heartbreaking and head-bumping on walls for days and nights. It is so hard to know which path is the right one for me for my family. Living as an immigrant, in a different culture, in a different language, and isolated from our past is a challenge.
Picture of use the day we received the key
Selling the apartment buildings and our house that contained a lot of our belonging was not an easy task. Thanks to my mother, who was acting as a legal entity who devoted many hours to get a lot of stuff done. Even more challenging than we found a house in San Jose that we loved a few weeks after taking the decision. We made an offer, won the bidding and started the renovation, and were able to settle in a few days before the Coronavirus pounce on everybody in the world.
The floor plan of the house I created to help the renovation
My wife's father died a few days before the end of the year 2019. She could visit for the service in 2020 and come back a few hours before the lockdown. All that action faded in place when I came back to work from my parental leaves at Netflix. I was able to work for 1 week at the office before working from home since then. That period of time was stressful in terms of timing, money, and decision. The stress was mitigated with a feeling of being back on a long term track with a clear possibility to start dreaming of settling and seeing us growing in the country of our choice.
Renovator that drilled through the roof without fixing. Water went in the attic down to the living room...
The renovation was also challenging; let say that I had to do a lot more than expected, and I had to be a project manager and continually find issues along the process. I realized that even if you hire people with good references, with the average cost of all submission, it is still a business that tries to cut corners and plan with words. I'm glad the whole work was completed a few days before the lockdown, but I have a very bitter taste in my mouth. I've learned that nothing is well done as if you do it yourself. I will take this lesson into action in the next few months.
In March, we moved to the renovated house, found someone to lease our rental house. At work, after many months off, I was productive after a few hours. I was glad to be back coding, even though I am forever grateful that Netflix has such an amazing inclusion of fathers in their parental leaves.
In March, I migrated all our house electric outlets and switches to create a Z-Wave mesh. I decided to use Hubitat as a host, and since then, I've been programming the house to be smart.
Most of the project I am doing that are not on a computer, I have my little helper with me
I'll enumerate a few things I did in the house: installing a water fileting system, patching wall holes, painting the garage, installing shelves in the garage for 48 bins, replacing the leaking water behind the washing machine, installing a sink in the garage, installing a rubber floor in the garage, removing all the woods structures around the house that was infested with termite, removing a huge cement flower bed from the backward, removing 30 feet of bushes next to the foundation of the house, replacing a door that was accessing outside that was so old and unsafe with a stronger one, and a lot of smaller little home improvements.
On the technical side of my life, I released a course online on the Educative.io platform. It is a 12 hours course on TypeScript.
I also published a new edition of my Holistic TypeScript book that double the number of pages since the first edition.
I concluded one more semester at the University after taking a few semesters off when I was during parental leaves to really focus on my newborn.
The house is from 1964, and there is a lot to do. The condition was fine, but I cannot stand still when I see the improvement that needs to be done. I changed all the pipe between the main water pipe and the dishwasher because it was leaking. I also changed the galvanize "y" that the washing machine was used because it was leaking. I have not many Z-Wave water sensors to warn me if something goes back wrong.
My desk under construction
May was also the month I started working in the evening and weekend on the "perfect desk for me." That would allow working anywhere in the house without having my younger's one pulling wires. It was my first wood project, and the finished product is exactly like I planned.
Video of the final desk
Also, during that time that I build a Raspberry server that talks to Hubitat. The goal is to have a touchscreen device next to the front door to operate the house. For example, to check if all the doors are closed or the set up the alarm system.
Prototype of the Raspberry PI 4 system that communicate with Z-Wave Hubitat hub
May was also the month I bought a chainsaw! We had bushes that were 12 feet high; now, they are at 6 feet, which will help the maintenance. I also had to buy a pick and other tools.
Lot of work around the house
In June, I also removed 48 feet square of plants to extend the garage area with bricks. I replanted all the plants elsewhere which lead me to install an automatic irrigation system.
Increase the surface to park our cars
More technically, I iterate on my desk to add more light and a camera. Suddenly, the desk was less than the original shape of a "box" idea, but the audio and video quality have drastically improved.
The house is old and there was no electricity outside. I decided to install three outside and waterproof outlets around the house. I am very happy with the result and it is so helpful.
Water proof electric boxes around the house
As mentioned before, moving stuff around led me to appreciate automatizing the most that I can. There was an irrigation system but not connected. Now, all the zone are connected to a hub and detect if it is raining or not and which day of the week to water the lawn.
Piece of the motorized clothes hanger
Another project was to have a motorized suspected rack to dry clothes in the garage. The project was to have a structure that can go down to the floor and up to the ceiling to dry clothes or store light items.
Me trying to cleanup the crawlspace
I also went into the crawlspace many times to clean up, treat for insects, and take humidity snapshots to investigate if the underfloor is in good condition.
September to December
During that time, I started thinking about making Youtube Videos. I uploaded my first video about TypeScript and gRPC on July 16th, and since then, I have created around 40 videos. You can see my channel at: https://www.youtube.com/patrickdesjardins1
The house continues to take a lot of my time. I changed the fan from the bathroom that was noisy and inefficient. I isolated the garage door, installed outside lightning (now that I have electricity outside!).
We also bought a new car that will let us haul something for a next project :) Because we know we will live in the USA for a long time, we can now plan ahead more projects.
Fall was slower in terms of projects. A lot of focus on Netflix programming, a lot of time working on Youtube videos, and continuing University. The time to complete 1 minute of Youtube video takes me with the code creating, recording, and post-editing for about 1 hour. I finished the year with about 40 videos of 8 minutes (about 320 minutes of content) so about 320 hours of work there. I completed the semester with an "A" and plan to start the next semester in a few weeks. It will be my 8th class of 10, the end is coming.
In terms of construction, I built a teleprompter with wood and glass and also built a living room table that rotates to have a lego table hidden.
Teleprompter that I use during meeting to have eyes-to-eyes contact but also when recording my Youtube videos
Another project was to have a light that turns on red when I am recording.
Button that activate the Arduino Http Server. Another Arduino listen to the static IP to check if the server is running or not to activate a relay to turn on/off a red bulb.
The system is built with two Arduino chips that check their status to see if they are under a recording state. It helps everyone in the family to know when I can be disrupted or that I need to focus.
I could have added many more pictures, many more house projects, and also many activities with my family. While writing these moments of 2020 I realize how blessed we are for all the time we are spending at the beach or to visit wonderful areas that has these huge red trees. Many moments like watching a movie outside or walking around the neighborhood. We met new people in 2020 even if we are mostly confined. We also learned to be 24h/24h the four of us. I feel so blessed to be able to work and having my wife taking care of the children full time. I can focus on my work and my children receive the best education and love from their mother. The mandated isolation because of the Coronavirus is a hardship for many people, I am blessed to have our house, my work, and the children taken care of and hope that 2021will continue like 2020 and 2019 and the years before to be great years.