2019 is gone.. Long live 2020!

5 min read

Warning: self-centered and somewhat sappy content. You can go to another post if you don’t want to hear me rambling about myself.

It’s been a long year, a sad year, a happy year. Actually, the last three years of my life have been this way, they have changed my perception on life and death, and I have walked the thin line between calm and sadness many times. But also the last two years have been among the most beautiful years of my life.

I don’t know what’s wrong with us people, we leave a beautiful home surrounded and fed by nature, we all move in crowded big cities and we work long hours just to pay our rent and buy the same berries we could harvest for free from the forest.. And a lot of other fabricated needs. But that’s a whole other story. 🙂

Having the little one made me realize that I was too blinded by the daily work habits to want to learn new things and evolve, I was frozen and it was time to escape and live again. And so I did. And so the journey began.

For two years since now I have walked outside and played in the park two times each day, I can say it is a good thing for my health. But I started to like chocholate, and that’s a bad thing for my health. 🙃 The little man taught us to live again and still does and says amazing things every day, that makes us want to evolve and be better human beings, and reconnect with the nature so that we can show him all the beautiful things surrounding us.

Sad events have happened in our lives also during this time, and we are still coping with pain and anger, but there is hope that we would start over and move on…

About 2019.. On the 31st of December 2018 I have put maptheclouds.com online with a fake snow animation, just to show it to my parents 🙂. I didn’t know exactly what I would do with the website (I’m still figuring out), but I have promised myself to put it online until the first day of 2019. Initially, my idea was to make a website where I would publish a map every day during 2019, but I got distracted by learning and postponed it.

It was a year of learning new programming bits and reconnecting with GIS (Geographic Information Systems). I am a cartographer, and the past years at job I have worked as a back-end developer using Perl. I let Perl aside for a while and I wanted to learn JavaScript and Python so that I would make and automate projects in GIS, but also put them online. And also manage the devops work, security, SEO, design, architecture, all aspects of a web-gis project from start to finish. 😃

Some would argue that is better to specialize on one aspect of the project development, but I would like, at least for now, to see the big picture, have a broader overview of the project and build it from the start to the end, even if this means I could not work on larger scale projects.

So, I started to develop the building blocks for a mélange of GIS, programming, 3D maps and vizualisations. Let’s see what I will end up with. 😄

I have started learning JavaScript and Python using multiple information sources and mainly video courses or tutorials, in order to speed up the process. I have time to learn mainly at night, so speed was a crucial aspect. I ended up using Udemy, FrontendMasters, freeCodeCamp, W3Schools plus Google. I’m picking specific courses depending on what I want to learn at the moment. I have started with FrontendMasters, realized I have to slow it down a little to grasp some missing links first, tried general web development courses on Udemy, got bored, used freeCodeCamp to exercise and went back to FrontendMasters and some specific courses (for example D3 or Svelte) on Udemy. This year I will use Egghead, too. 😉

I loved the JavaScript courses teached by Will Sentance on FrontendMasters, he is a brilliant teacher and left me with a precious memory: the backpack (his way of explaining the concept of closure).

Regarding maps, I only used Coursera to update my knowledge, with a course on GIS (ArcGIS). This week I will end it! It is not necessarily a software-oriented course, this information can be applied to any GIS software and processes. For the rest of GIS learning, I will rely on open-source materials and software, there are many resources and a beautiful and helpful community. For now I will focus on image processing and interpretation, and 3D maps, then I intend to test Python and R for data vizualisations. I have started a free course on RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging) remote sensing from eo-college.org, I’m learning about LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), too, using PDAL and awesome Entwine.

There are a zillion things I would like to learn, but this is a nowadays online courses advantage and trap, so I will just pick what I need on my way to specific projects.

2019 was also the year of FOSS4G 2019 Bucharest conference, that took place at the end of August (when I was supposed to launch maptheclouds.com). It was an amazing event and one that I hope will revive the open-source geospatial community from Romania, it was an inspiring event and helped me reconnect in one way with my lost cartographer life.

From my point of view, Cartography, especially GIS in Romania is not a viable niche. GIS specialists work in other fields of activity and in all sort of non-related cartography jobs. I have always loved cartography and the sense of freedom it gives me when I follow a road on the aerial photos or I look at the amazing patterns on satellite imagery. That’s why I’m making this career shift, I hope I will be able to make a living out of GIS working from home. 😌

2019 was the year of Romanian presidential elections and the #30DayMapChallenge started by Topi Tjukanov on Twitter. I’ve seen lots of amazing maps and discovered lots of beautiful inspiring people that share the love for maps. The hexagons map I was supposed to make for the challenge ended up being presidentials2019. And pushed me to write more posts on this blog, to explain what I have done and how, and finally launch maptheclouds.

The last two months of 2019 were also the months I’ve spent less time with the little man, because of the GIS course, and that’s a bad thing. Now, for 2020, I want to focus on my little child, play more with him, learn what I can learn at night, and see how things will evolve. I will do this because it’s easy to get caught by interesting, yet abstract things and forget where it all has started. I guess I’ll go with the flow and see where it takes me, put the little pieces of information and build what I can and when I can. If there’s one thing a child can teach you, that’s patience, and I must make use of it a lot this year.

New Year’s Eve was the day I’ve witnessed once again the fragility of humanity and the impact humans have on the balance of our planet. While some people were celebrating the eve of a new decade, thousand people flee to shore, under the blood red skies of Australia bushfires. 🙁

The lesson, I guess, is that we should appreciate that we’re alive, stop wasting our life on consumerism and poisoning ourselves and the planet we live.. And care more for the people.

That being said, have a better new year! 🙂

Airstream Inc.

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