2020 in Review

Hello and welcome to my second annual year-in-review post, the first being last year's 2019 in Review. Unlike 2019, I had actual goals this year - so I can give a report on how I did. Yay!

Three photos from 2020.

2020 Goals

Read 10 books ✅

I read 14 books/series this year, surpassing my goal of 10 books.

  1. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  2. Code by Charles Petzold
  3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  4. 1984 by George Orwell
  5. Over The Garden Wall (Series) by Jim Campbell
  6. Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda
  7. The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
  8. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  9. Zed by Joanna Kavenna
  10. Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
  11. The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by the McElroys
  12. March (Series) by John Lewis
  13. Rage by Bob Woodward
  14. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I was also delighted by several books I read with my son, including Dog Man by Dav Pilkey and A Narwhal and Jelly Book by Ben Clanton.

I'm currently rereading Watchmen after watching the phenomenal HBO series a few weeks ago. I expect to finish it by the end of this year as well.

Write 10 blog posts ✅

I wrote exactly 10 posts this year not including this post or the mid-year review. That's 6 more than last year!

  1. Adding RSS to My Next.js Website
  2. Twitter Defeated Me
  3. The Codemod Side Quest
  4. Home Screen Hack
  5. Making a Minecraft Server Status Page
  6. Building a Culturally Irrelevant Recommendation Board
  7. Life, Art, Nostalgia
  8. lily dex
  9. Pokémon Data Munging
  10. “It's Just the Algorithm”

In addition to these, I searched the Wayback Machine for one of my old posts, updated it with photos from my 2010 college yearbook, and republished it: Giant Portraits.

Release the next chapter of lilt ✅

I had big dreams for lilt that weren't realized this year. Regardless, I did add a few new areas to the game and announced it on Twitter, completing this goal.

my twitter text adventure, @FamiliarLilt, has some new areas to explore - tweet ‘start’ at the account to play 🗿 https://t.co/wz4zFabHix

— Michael Knepprath (@mknepprath) January 2, 2020

Complete 3 online courses 🔴

I made some progress on Testing JavaScript by Kent C. Dodds and made it most of the way through 100 Days of SwiftUI by Paul Hudson. I learned A LOT this year, yet I didn't complete a single course. This was the only 2020 goal I failed.

It'd be easy for me to say, well, this was an unrealistic goal. It doesn't reflect how I actually learn. So it goes.

It'd be easy. And while I do believe it's true, I don't want to jump ahead without pointing out the fact that I clearly didn't understand something about myself at the time of goal setting and will take this into consideration when setting goals for 2021.

Draw, illustrate, animate! ✅

I managed to create several drawings and animations during the first half of this year as outlined in my mid-year review. Since then, I made another movie with my son called Bag Crush, more drawings, and started working on some 2D animations.

Drawing of a bathroom stool.

A few of my drawings were enhanced by a collection of Copic markers I recently purchased, including the illustration for my most recent blog post, “It's Just the Algorithm”.

Bonus: Develop an iOS app ✅

One of my 2019 goals was to build an app. I spent quite a bit of time on this but ended up failing to accomplish this goal. In hindsight, I feel that the main reason was my lack of Swift experience and the rush to build something before picking up even the basics of it.

I didn't set a repeat goal for this in 2020, and yet... I built an app! And published it! This was all thanks to the excellent 100 Days of SwiftUI course mentioned above. I didn't complete the course, yet I was able to do more with the knowledge I gained from it than I would've ever imagined at the beginning of the year.

I have to give some credit to Apple, as well. SwiftUI wasn't around for my previous attempts at iOS development, and it was a joy to work with.

Three photos from 2020.

Cool Things

Side projects

I worked on a lot of web-based side projects outside of my goals outlined at the beginning of the year.

Earlier this year, I dropped all of my other projects to work on the Culturally Irrelevant Recommendation Board, a website inspired by a retired podcast of the same name. I spent a full month on this site and described the process in a post entitled Building a Culturally Irrelevant Recommendation Board.

I also worked on a game. I gave it a name, Tiny Mystery Club, and added some actual gameplay elements. I think it will be an interesting sandbox to play in next year.

Tiny Mystery Club

Finally, I did a bunch of work on my personal site, including integrating Goodreads and Letterboxd into my About page to display six of my most recently read books and watched movies. Behind the scenes, I added a bunch of Cypress tests and used GitHub Actions to automatically run them on all of my commits.

Three photos from 2020.


Last year, my family moved to a new state. For the first time in years, I thought about doing some online gaming since it's a fun way to socialize with the friends I wasn't able to see as much anymore.

We've been playing about once a week and it's been a blast. Early on we played Hammerwatch, then Unrailed! (which has an amazing soundtrack), some Tabletop Simulator, and tons of Among Us.

Among Us waiting room.

2021 Goals

Time to up the stakes. Here are my revised goals for 2021.

Read 15 books

Last year, I said I'd be happy if I read ten books. Since I surpassed that goal by quite a bit, I'm going to increase this goal to 15. My only hesitation here is that I'd like the flexibility to read some larger books such as Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. We'll see how it goes.

Write 10 blog posts

I think 10 posts a year is a pretty good cadence and I'd like to continue with it. My main hope is that these goals drive me to be consistent, so they don't necessarily have to increase in difficulty.

Release the next version of Tiny Mystery Club

I believe Tiny Mystery Club has a lot of potential, but I haven't spent anywhere near as much time as I would like developing it. Next year, I'd like to develop a good mystery and release it as a big 2.0 release of the game.

Develop a collection of 2D animations

Hand-drawn 2D animations, that is. I've dabbled with it in the past, so I know it's fun! The result of this goal should be a collection of thematically connected, consistent hand-drawn 2D animations.

Illustrate a comic

I sorta gave myself an out this year by grouping drawing, comics, and animation into one goal. Next year, I'm GOING to MAKE a COMIC. That is all I know at this point.

Launch lily dex

I published lily dex, but I haven't formally announced it anywhere beyond Twitter. I'd like to finish any lingering features on my to-do list, then make an actual effort to get customers. I also purchased the lilydex.com domain, so I'm considering building out a lily dex web app, as well...

Three photos from 2020.

Parting Thoughts

2020 was my first year publicly setting goals, so it was far from guaranteed that I'd be continuing it in 2021. It did cause me some stress, especially when I realized there was no way I'd be completing three courses by the end of the year. I think it was worth it, though. I always had something to work on and all of it was rewarding, fun, or both.

Thanks for reading! 👋