Since this is a year-in-review post on a personal website that doesn't have any other content at the moment and, aside from my friend and a couple of bots, has had no visits, I'm not really expecting anyone to read this or gain much insight from it. But despite the lack of content, I have started and progressed on enough projects and learning endeavors in 2019 that I personally feel the need to reflect on what I have done and, by doing so, set a clear path forward for 2020.

Personal Website

It's not brimming with content yet, but launching BrennanTymrak.com was a big step forward for me in reaching my personal goals this year. I had played around with web design and development in the past but finally put the work in to make an actual site for myself that I am somewhat proud of. The design isn't great, but at least I can say that I did all the work myself and learned a lot doing it. For 2020, I have plans to add a lot more content related to programming and electronics with the goal being to put all I have been learning in one place so others don't have to scour the internet like I did just to learn the basics.

Podcast

What started as an idea I pitched to my good friend and co-host Troy Bouman in July finally became a reality in November when we launched our podcast, Engineer, Your Career. It began due to my own curiosity and lunch conversations at work about how people in the company got to where they are today. I quickly realized that I wanted to know about more than just the career paths taken by people where I currently work. So with Troy being as excited about the idea as I was, we dipped our toes into podcasting and are seeing where it takes us. While only two episodes were released this year, we learned a lot about the process and are looking forward to what we have planned so far for 2020.

Learning

This year also sparked a renewed focus for me on learning new skills, mainly around programming and electronics. While my formal education is in mechanical engineering and I have been working for almost three years in a job that does require some of that knowledge, I have found myself more interested in aspects of the work not directly related to the mechanical side. This has included using Python to analyze data and reading the C code that powers the control systems I work on. This has led me to dig more into embedded electronics as a way to understand the underlying design of electronic systems and the programming that goes into them. This has been a lot of my focus the last few months of the year and something I will be working on heavily in 2020. Outside of the engineering realm, I have been navigating my way through improving my web development skills, specifically in the basics of front-end development with HTML, CSS, and Javascript as well as backend development with Django. I have various projects in mind that I hope to bring to some level of functionality in 2020.

Equipment

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I made a major upgrade to my computer equipment this year. For at least the past year I had been relying on two very mediocre computers to do the job of one. My main machine was an Acer laptop I got in 2012 with a mid-spec i5 CPU and 6GB of RAM that I had been running with the Zorin OS distribution of Liunx. It was ok for basic web browsing but slowed down when I had too many tabs open (which happens often) or if I wanted to have Chrome and another application running at the same time. In the middle of this year the sound card started having problems and instead of spending time fixing it, I would switch to using a smaller Acer laptop I had with a low-spec i5 CPU and 4GB of RAM running Lubuntu Linux whenever I needed to hear audio. It was far from an ideal situation. So finally, with my wife's encouragment, I made the move to get a much more modern setup. After months of research, I settled on an HP Spectre x360 with an i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, 4K 15.6in display, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics. It may not be the best of the best in any category but for my price range and the Black Friday deal I got, it is a huge upgrade for me and an immense time saver. Instead of waiting while my old laptop hangs on basic tasks, I can actually get work done.

Recommendations

Here are some of the various forms of media, information, and knowledge that I came across this year that I found helpful, entertaining, or inspiring. Most of them have been around for a while but maybe there are new for someone.

Podcasts:

Books:

Websites, Videos, and Miscellaneous

Looking Ahead to 2020

Overall I see 2019 as being a transition year for me as I finally started putting the effort into projects and learning that I had talked about for years but never made moves towards. For 2020, in addition to the content I want to add to this site, I hope to get at least one or two projects completed and posted to GitHub. With the momentum I have built up over the past few months, I think I have a fighting chance of actually reaching these goals.

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