Hindsight is 2020 meme

2020 – Year Review

Reading Time: 8 minutes.

Like almost customary at this point, I decided to take a look at 2020 – which goals I had set for myself, if I hit them, and what happened on koskila.net during the year.

And like last year, I thought I’d set myself a few new goals!

In my last year review post, I commented on 2019:

2019 was borderline tumultuous – in 2020, I hope it’ll be slightly smoother sailing.

Me, in my 2019 review

Oof. Overall, 2020 was definitely not “smoother sailing”.

But while 2019 was a year of changes, 2020 wasn’t. Rather, it’s been a year of stabilization – a statement, that almost makes me feel a bit guilty with everything that’s going on in the world.

Background

The difference that COVID-19 has had on the daily routines of a remote worker, and some friends that are in the restaurant, tourism or retail industry, is mind-boggling. Obviously, the constant feeling of impending doom takes a strain on anyone, but overall, it’s easy to feel extremely blessed working in IT, in a remote-friendly company such as Valo.

COVID-19 really didn’t affect the daily life of someone who lives in the middle of a forest, works remotely, orders almost exclusively online and doesn’t much care for public gatherings or nightlife that much. I do miss traveling and speaking at events, though.

Professionally, it’s been a year of .NET and reliability engineering. I’ve had to dig deep into different Entity Framework performance issues and I had the privilege of re-architecting some of our infrastructure in Azure. Of course, it was challenging to 0-downtime hotswap an app service with major memory leaks (EF Core 3 offered us some challenges) for a globally distributed network of API endpoints, with Azure Front Door acting as a façade and load balancer – but it was also eye-opening and very educational.

One learns a bunch about architecture and DevOps practices when dealing with services that simply can’t experience outages.

Anyway – that’s that about work and life during 2020. What’s up for the website?

Koskila.net site statistics

Again – I’m not sure if this interests anyone else, but even if it’s just for introspection, I’m going to look through a few statistics about my website. I enjoy reading stuff like this from other people, so I’m happy to look back and share myself.

koskila.net reached roughly 750k visitors in 2020. I’ll be taking a look at the traffic sources in a moment – but first, let’s take a look at the countries the visitors were from.

The countries were actually pretty much the same as last year. Apparently, that’s countries with a lot of techies dealing with Microsoft’s stack, year after year.

Top origin countries on Koskila.net in 2020

  1. United States
  2. India
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. Canada
  6. Australia
  7. Netherlands
  8. France
  9. Brazil
  10. Italy

Okay – and where were the visitors NOT from?

These are the countries where apparently nobody is using Excel, .NET, SharePoint or anything Azure AD -related..? :)

  • Guinea-Bissau
  • North Korea
  • Nauru
  • Vatican
  • St. Helena
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Isle of Man
  • Falkland Islands
  • St. Barthélemy
  • Åland Islands

Åland? Åland! An independent territory of Finland – and nobody from the islands visited my blog in 2020. That would be almost awkward – if the islands weren’t so culturally disconnected from the mainland. They’re very proud of their language and heritage, separate from Finland – it’s kinda like the Finnish version of Quebec! ;)

Knowing this, they probably have someone translating my blog articles into their dialect of Swedish instead of reading the site directly. But hey, as long as it helps someone, right? :)

Anyway – what were the visitors reading on the site?

koskila.net’s most read articles in 2020

This year, there was a pretty big shift from SharePoint -related articles towards ASP.NET Core – and my simple tip about modifying CSV exports in Excel turned out to be relevant to a lot of people, too!

The Azure AD -related articles (well, the ones starting with AADSTS) seemed to be helpful to quite a few internet users as well :)

Long story short, below are the 5 most popular articles on koskila.net in 2020!


A classic – this issue keeps bugging people year after year.


Another “note to self” – I even updated this one a bit just days ago. Should probably expand it more, as there’s plenty to post about!


This one was originally conceived after a long fight restructuring some code I inherited from a colleague who left. He had hardcoded different date formats using different methods for different views – it was infuriating, but at least a popular article was born out of the frustrations :)


Hah – turns out I wasn’t the only one struggling with this particular quirk.


Haha, what a classic. This one has been bugging me since 2017, and it’s kept on going strong. Crazy.

Traffic trends

2020 was definitely interesting in regards of traffic sources. Google seemed to be my dominant source of traffic until around May – which is when that source peaked at almost 100k monthly visitors. But after that, it plummeted to around 40k, after which it more or less stabilized around 50k / month, and slowly increased towards the end of the year.

Bing, however, experienced very different trends. In January, Bing accounted for around 1k visitors – but peaked at over 3k at the end of the year. It’s still small compared to Google, but definitely becoming a bigger source of traffic.

Not sure if that reflects the situation on the search engine market on the whole or if it’s more something I’ve done on the site. According to Statista, Bing HAS indeed grown from 4% at the beginning of 2019 to well over 6% at the end of 2020.

Microsoft Bing's market share has been growing fairly steadily for the past few years - and the search engine's traffic to koskila.net reflects this.
Microsoft Bing’s market share has been growing fairly steadily for the past few years – and the search engine’s traffic to koskila.net reflects this. Source: Statista.

Direct traffic is not insignificant – but it probably mostly comes from people using aggressive tracking protection, and Google Analytics simply fails to log their source.

Referral, social media and email traffic bring altogether 2-3% of the visitors. Duckduckgo (a somewhat anonymous search engine) alone brings in more traffic than the 3 sources combined.

Unlike last year, I don’t really get the network information anymore due to how the site is structured – so can’t really compare those this time.

But that’s that about statistics.

2020 Objectives

In late 2019 I set a few challenges for myself. At the end of the year, it’s a good time for a little bit of self-reflection to see, how I fared – again, even if it’s only for some self-reflection.

Goal 1: Burn through most of my time-in-lieu and organize work well enough not to accrue more hours.

Done! As a result, I got to spend way more time with my family. And we renovated a couple of rooms from the house we bought in 2019.

Goal: 2 articles per month, an article out of any meaningful OSS contribution, and respond to all comments in a week or less.

I suppose this one was quite successful as well – I posted altogether 54 articles (this one included) in 2020, so I was well above my goal. Not bad!

Comments were somewhat challenging – there were over 200 comments left by visitors, and quite a few of them were questions (which is understandable, given the subject matter). Sometimes I struggled to respond in any kind of meaningful way – but I think I didn’t leave anyone hanging for much more than a week!

I’m going to consider this one a resounding success.

Goal 3: More collaboration on live sessions & Finding an online community that I feel comfortable participating in.

Oh, what an absolute and complete failure.

The face-to-face events getting cancelled & a bit of a Zoom fatigue in regards of online live sessions made me concentrate more on blogging. I did finish Hacktoberfest, but in truth my open-source contributions were fairly slim this year. I did try and file useful issues and did contribute a couple of improvements & fixes to MatBlazor, which I use heavily both in my day-to-day work and some hobby projects.

I didn’t do much better in the community-side of things. I did contact one of the “Microsoft 365 communities” on whether they’d be interested in collaboration. While they promised to come back to me, they never did – I suppose they already had plenty of contributors, so I let it be.

And all the while, the time I have available for ANY extra hours work has been diminishing as the family grows.

Goals for 2021?

Setting goals makes sense – the ones I set for 2020 certainly guided me, even if I struggled to meet one of them quite drastically.

1. Collaborate more

This one is a continuation to my 2020 task. I failed it in 2020, but I’m going to try again in 2021. Maybe not in the way of online conferences (I’m getting the feeling we all have enough Zoom/Teams calls as is), but something. Some options:

  • Work with a non-profit to help them with whatever Microsoft-related challenges they might be experiencing
  • Open-source projects
  • Guest posts? Do they even count? I’ll need to work on this goal, seeing how it turned out to be challenging in 2020, too.

2. Share even more than in 2020

In 2020 I reached my goal of 2 articles per month. In 2021, I’m going to keep that up, but craft a bit longer ones – whenever feasible.

I don’t like deep-dive tutorials, and keeping them up-to-date would be an impossible task – but I’m looking at expanding more on the background of the articles I’m posting, in order to better understand the topics myself, too.

Even this goal is going to be a bit challenging, as I’m working from home with 2 kids and a renovation underway, but hey, let’s see how it goes, shall we? :)

3. Publish an app (of sorts)

I tend to start things – and either leave them partially working but only for my own use, or as is more typical, not even finish them.

Perhaps 2021 would be the year to publish one of them?

That’s all, folks

2020 was not quite the year I was expecting, but you know what they say about hindsight… And I think it turned out quite okay in the end of the day.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s make it a better one.

mm
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