2021 updates
4 min read

2021 updates

It's one more milestone to write some retrospective. Yet it's an impetus for me to write updates of what I've been working.

Blog

In 2021 I started this blog. I decided to share my learning and thoughts on programming, to write more to clarify the thinking process. I wrote 21 articles starting from March 2021. I wrote about non-programming topics too, the most popular article was about a memorizing technique. I posted it on HackerNews, got 229 upvotes, and 6k visitors to my website.
Writing is great at finding new ideas too, not only understanding the current topic one started pondering about. Sometimes I find myself thinking about new topic ideas when writing the initial article.

What I like is the low-maintenance cost of this website: a server's expenses and the thing runs on free Ghost. The people work hard on it, thus I don't need to create my blog engine(however, I do that for one of my projects, more on it later). It's convenient - I write an article, publish it, and all of the other things like SEO are getting care of. Hence, I should only produce content and not focus on miscellaneous and not productive stuff.

In terms of SEO, I got 181 unique visitors for the past 28 days. The engagement time is 46s, which could be more. I expect it to increase when I have more organic search traffic.

Mobile game

In the November of 2020, I started creating a mobile game about playing as an AI that wants to escape from a digital lab. There were such games but I had some new ideas I wanted to play with. An inspiration for me was this CLI-like game. It took me around 4 months to finish an alpha version, which I published to Google Play.
It's still in beta with ~20-40mins of gameplay time. People liked the game from what I see on Google Play reviews. I wanted to expand the plot, but I took other projects to work on. Maybe in the future, I'll continue working on it. Or, create a similar game with a different idea. For example, a universe simulation.

What I've learned is that it's better to create a plot and then design beforehand. The plot was changing during the creation and it took a lot of time to change this or that. Also, it's better to spend more time on architectural decisions and documentation. Now, when I'm returning to the codebase, I don't want to disentangle many parts of it. Somewhere it's difficult to understand why such a decision was made. However, it was a side project and it's fun to just create things and not think about documentation and long-term support.

Reddit project

Around 6 months ago I started a project that aimed to help me find real problems to solve. The real problem is to find people's and businesses' problems they face every day(preferably), that are important enough to these people they spend money on a solution. I found Reddit to be a great place for such a purpose.

The searching process was straightforward using some specific keywords. The issue there was to filter the results. How to automate that? We got natural language processing. I spent some time experimenting with multiple technologies. The first and the simplest solution could cover some cases, but the overall accuracy was low. Then I went a hard way by creating my NLP models. The accuracy was still low, yet sometimes it could be okay. Though it didn't classify more difficult texts.
The experiments were fun but I needed a working solution. I switched to pre-trained models. TensorFlow has Javascript functionality, and they say you could connect Python pre-trained models to the JS library. In reality, it didn't work. Hence I outsourced the NLP filtering completely to Python. So, a project was on Javascript(UI and the server), but the filtering workflow was on Python.

The project was released to the public in November. After some time I thought about pivoting it.  So, the tool that will help not only indie makers and me but other people that struggle searching for something on Reddit. After a few months of searching Reddit for various things, I understood that it could be done much better. Also, people may look for not only problems to solve but many various things.

I spent 2 weeks pivoting and a month plus more to analyze the feedback to enhance it. I currently work on this project, but mostly on the marketing side. Now I spend more time writing content. By the way, it's Next.JS that parses markdown. I could employ a ready-made blog engine, but I thought it'd be enough. Well, it is, however, there are some minor issues.

Olwi now is aiming to help marketers, business owners, indie makers, and other people to find what they need on Reddit. For example, potential problems to solve, what people say about their brand or competitors, search for their potential customers. I plan to collect more feedback. For this, I improve my SEO and write more content to attract more organic visitors.

Twitter

I registered on Twitter at the start of 2020. Then I started using it more actively in 2021 by building in public, sharing learnings, and so on. I tried to engage with more people to get more visibility of my profile. Eventually, I followed around a thousand profiles and got a feed that has more garbage than interesting thoughts.

I could follow fewer people, and anyway I would see irrelevant tweets sometimes. My initial goal was to gain an audience for the future exposure of my person and projects. But faking the whole process for the sake of attracting other fake followers isn't worth it.


Twitter is full of people who are fixated on the idea of gaining more followers to sell info products. Or, gaining more followers to expose their thoughts on something they don't have real experience. Twitter is a good platform to engage with tweets you're interested in to spark intriguing conversations. Hence, to even find friends. But it's difficult to find such conversations without following a bunch of people and scrolling through a thousand irrelevant tweets.

Plans for 2022

I'll continue working on Olwi. Creating more content on this blog. But also I want to create some other projects(bad for focus though, so not sure I will). The burnout problem comes closer with more work though. I want to learn how to better handle my mental health. I should do it my first priority.

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