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Year in Review: 2023

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DALL E Year in Review 2023

Inspired by Aaron Francis and Stefan Zweifel, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and reflect on 2023.

Personal

I'm deeply thankful for everything that's happened this year. Most of all, I cherish our ninth year together, Ágota, experiencing a love and partnership beyond my wildest dreams ❤️.

Snowboarding again after 10+ years: At the beginning of the year, we went to a chalet in the mountains with our friends to relax. I finally dusted off my snowboard and took it for a ride. It took me a moment to get back into it, but like cycling, you never really forget how it works and I still remember how sore my legs felt after just a few hours on the board. Will try and do it again this winter.

Getting diagnosed with sleep apnea and starting therapy was a blessing. I kept having troubles getting a good night's sleep and started having anxiety issues, because I couldn't rely on being rested enough for more complex tasks. Since starting CPAP therapy and looking like a diver imagined by AI at night, my energy levels have soared. This was a big turn around for me, you can read more about it here:

Keeping Calm and Productive with a “Loud Mind”
Weird tips for people with a brain that doesn’t shut up. My take on daily struggles and productivity for the “loud mind”.

Walks, lots of walks is what I've been doing with my extra energy. It helps me think and is a beautiful way to get the day started. Morning walks feel like a commute to work, even if I mostly work from home and evening walks help me unwind after work.

I've read quite a few fiction and non-fiction books this year. I started to read more again in 2022 and I'm super happy that I read many wonderful books this year.

We took a different kind of vacation this year, but it was one of the most memorable so far. Instead of traveling far away, we borrowed a car and took the most slow and scenic routes to places in Switzerland. Every evening we would decide wether we wanted to stay or go and where we would be heading next. It was so much fun and very relaxing.

Ágota and I on a walk in Lenzerheide
Ágota and I on a walk in Lenzerheide

An experiment with a semi-automated YouTube shorts channel. When AI became all the rage, I took a few hours and let AI create the worst programmer jokes and lots of them. The YouTube algorithm fell in and out of love with it as quickly as I did. If you are looking for very bad programmer jokes created by AI, here you go.

Moving to a new apartment at the end of November was a bit stressful, but we are very happy to finally have a new place in Zürich. We've been looking for a new place for a few years and got lucky with this one. There is still some stuff to unpack and more furniture to buy, but we are mostly settled in already.

Thinking about friendship a lot this year and how it changes in your thirties. On that note, my year ends with a wonderful surprise. Ágota asked me to pickup a relative at the airport today and instead my great friend Noel flew in. We had a long chat over breakfast and while we stay in touch through chat regularly, we don't see each other enough in real life. I'm definitely going to celebrate and cherish my friendships even more next year.

There is much more, but these came to mind when reflecting on personal things that happened in 2023.


Work

In late 2022, I decided that my sabbatical was coming to an end and I started to work again with wonderful clients, whom just happened to appear at the right time.

A B2B SaaS to revive existing content: I started building this with a great partner company and we already attracted close to 20 paying customers, including two Swiss banks and a TV station. The product doesn't even have a logo yet, but we finally decided on a domain name and will make the product available to the public next year. I am very proud of the product so far and the partnership we formed.

Integrating a side project into the SaaS above to allow customers to automatically create social share images on the fly. Built on the amazing Remotion (React for Videos), we plan to expand this integration, as the experiment was a great success. Finally, there is a reason for me to learn Typescript and React. This integration started as a fun experiment during my sabbatical, where I created videos and images from content.

I had the great pleasure to give two talks at the Laravel Switzerland Meetup. First I talked about my journey from WordPress to Laravel and later this year, I talked about my project Wire in the Wild, how and why I built it using Livewire 3. My buddy Ruslan does an amazing job organizing the meetup. I had a lot of fun and plan on attending more meetups in 2024.

Talking about Wire in the Wild, I haven't had any plans to build a collection of Livewire project, but it unexpectedly came together at the perfect time. I took it as a chance to learn more about Laravel Livewire 3 and find out what others are building with it. If you happen to build Livewire projects, feel free to add yours. When I launched it in mid October, I couldn't have imagined that we would have a collection of almost 150 projects by the end of the year:

Wire in the Wild - Real World Laravel Livewire Projects
Wire in the Wild collects Laravel Livewire and TALL Stack projects. Feel free to add yours, the more the merrier.

With my increased energy levels, I started to blog again more regularly and finally started a newsletter. I refreshed most of the older articles on my site, wrote 10 new articles and sent out two newsletters. Feel free to subscribe, the next newsletter will be hitting your inbox early next year.

Through Wire in the Wild I connected with another Laravel developer and we started working on a secret project together. It should be ready by the end of January and I can't wait to tell you more about it.

Doing some WordPress for clients again. I didn't think this would happen, but with all the new features in WordPress, I'm happily building two client projects. Check out what is possible with WordPress nowadays, I'm very impressed with the lightweight block themes. Both projects will be launched by the end of March 2024 and I'm looking forward to keep doing both, building products with Laravel and crafting sites with WordPress. On a side note, I had a lot of fun creating the silly video below and will create more for sure. A few scripts are already written, I'm just waiting for the last pieces of furniture to arrive for the office in our new apartment:

The 108 most popular WordPress plugins active at once
As many of you, I desperately need to know what happens to a fresh WordPress site, when you install the 108 most popular plugins.

While user testing the design and content for a WordPress site, I scratched my own itch and quickly built a little app to gather user feedback across all devices. I'm done testing it with a few clients and I'm almost ready to launch my first micro SaaS. It's my first Filament project, but definitely not my last, in fact, I already started to refactor the B2B SaaS from Livewire 2 to Filament.

This all sounds great, but I have to report a failure too. In summer I had to cancel a project after starting it. I thought I could use the money, but the client and I simply weren't a match. I refunded the deposit and sent them to a more suitable match and they are super happy with their new site. Chasing some quick money wasn't worth dealing with a client that I'm not matching with.

All in all it was a very eventful year and I'm in love with my craft again for the first time in years.


Just getting started

It feels like Aaron Francis is on to something, calling his current modus operandi his maximum effort era. With all the output I've been getting from proper sleep, I feel like I entered a similar era. I'm having so much fun working and can't wait to build and ship even more next year.

I'm going to be focussing on my health too and Ágota is with me on this, so we will be working out more and improving our eating habits.

If you wrote a review yourself, feel free to send it my way, I love reading them and seeing what you have been up to.

Wishing you a great start into the new year.

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