Ihechikara – 2023-in-Review

Author: Ihechikara Abba

2023 was an incredible year for me in regards to work, school, family, and personal growth. My goals are usually split into two categories: quarterly goals and yearly goals.

My quarterly were goals spread across four quarters of the year, while my yearly goals typically involved milestones I wanted to reach by the year’s end.

Most of my personal goals for 2023 were targeted at laying the foundation for the first quarter of 2024. I needed to learn new skills, and get school out of the way.

These were my yearly goals:

  • Upgrade and buy new hardware for my workspace.
  • Learn new skills.
  • Graduate from school.

Now let’s talk about my goals for each quarter. While most of these goals are personal, I’ll also be talking about work at freeCodeCamp.

Table of Contents

First Quarter of 2023 (January to March)

I reached a couple of milestones in the first quarter of the year.

Full-time at freeCodeCamp

In March 2023, I joined freeCodeCamp full-time. Prior to that, I was working as a part-time staff.

This simplified things for me: I could focus less on freelance jobs, and more on work, upskilling, and school. And that’s exactly what I did.

I learned a lot about the editorial team’s workflow from Abbey. Abbey has been a mentor right from the moment I started contributing to the freeCodeCamp publication as a technical writer.

Moved into a New Apartment

In February of 2023, I moved into a new apartment with a friend who’s an incredible chess player/coach and salesman. I’ll talk more about chess at the end of this article.

Blog Goes Live

I started building my blog with the Gatsby.js gatsby-starter-blog template. It was a good experience learning and building with this technology. That was my first time using GraphQL.

But then I discovered the Astro framework. I did some research and it seemed easier for me to build with and scale long term. I abandoned the Gatsby project, although the development process was almost complete — all that was left was to design the blog.

So I started learning how Astro worked. The process wasn’t straightforward. I had to use the Astro documentation a lot, and studied some templates, but it was fun to build with.

By the first week of April, the blog was live 🚀. You can have a look here. You can see the code on GitHub here.

I got help building my blog from a friend — Joy — who helped me set up/style some of the design components at the early stages while I focused on JavaScript/Astro logic.

The UI/UX design was done by Phenom. An exceptional product designer.

Learning about Embedded Systems

In most Nigerian universities, you’re required to undergo industrial training related to your course of study.

In February, I started my SIWES (Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme) training. I interned at a company that taught a wide range of skills from programming to data science/machine learning and embedded systems/IoT/robotics.

For more context, my course of study was mechatronics engineering so I enrolled for the embedded systems and IoT training using Arduino. I had learnt a couple of things about Arduino in the past, but I had no hands-on practical experience.

The training lasted until May. At the end, I had gained experience working with Arduino hardware and software.

Here are some pictures from my presentation at school for the SIWES training:

SIWES presentation SIWES presentation SIWES presentation

Second Quarter of 2023 (April to June)

Full-stack Projects

When I joined freeCodeCamp in 2022, I focused on writing articles on different topics like Python, Java, C++, Algorithms, and general IT topics.

But I wanted to stay up to date with web technologies as I did mostly frontend development before joining freeCodeCamp. I dedicated the second quarter to building MERN stack projects.

I started by re-learning Node.js using videos on the freeCodecamp YouTube channel. Then I built some projects using videos from freeCodeCamp, the Net Ninja and Traversy Media.

Things move really fast in the web dev space, and programming in general. When I built my blog, Astro was at version 1, and while writing this article, its at version 4.

Similarly, I reserved some resources on Next.js 12 and when I was ready to start learning, Next 13 was released. Version 12 became outdated.

Then I decided to buy a Next 13 course. Few weeks after that, Next 14 was released 😂


At this point, my blog was live so I worked on keyword research and writing articles.

I didn’t do a lot of writing for my blog in 2023. I wrote 7 articles across different topics including Arduino, Astro, Express.js, JavaScript, Node.js, Python, React, and TypeScript.

Third Quarter of 2023 (July to September)

The third quarter was very busy for me. Everything was happening simultaneously — school, work, personal goals.

Arduino Handbook

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn” — Phil Collins

I started writing the Arduino handbook in the third quarter. I learned a lot while writing, and this helped me understand the things I already knew better.

The handbook was published in the first week of October. You can check it out here.

Arduino setup

New PC

Getting a new PC was one of my major goals for the year. I needed something with higher performance.

Before getting the new PC, I was using a Lenovo Thinkpad. It worked great but not when I had to join a video call, or run the freeCodeCamp codebase locally. You could go make a meal and return, and the codebase would still not be running.

I also wanted to switch from console to PC gaming. So I ended up buying the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16.

This was a massive improvement because I could easily run some software that either couldn’t be installed or performed slowly on the Thinkpad.

The codebase now starts within a minute or two 🚀.

New PC New PC

Fourth Quarter of 2023 (October to December)

Python Curriculum

I contributed to developing freeCodeCamp’s Python curriculum. This was mostly what I did for work throughout the last quarter of the year.

It was a great experience and I learned a lot from collaborating with other members of the team.

You can learn Python fundamentals by buidling 15 projects here.

Da Vinci Resolve Course

Learning video editing and buying a camera were the only goals left for me to be ready for the first quarter of 2024.

I bought a Udemy course on video editing using Da Vinci Resolve. I finished the course in November - my first time finishing a Udemy course.

I’m excited to put this skill to good use!

Da Vinci Resolve Certificate

Speaking at Events

Speaking at events is one thing I’ve always wanted to do. Unfortunately, my exams were clashing with most of the Google DevFest events that are usually organized at the end of the year.

Luckily for me, I was able to speak at DevFest Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. I spoke on the effects of AI in web development.

You can access the presentation slides here

Here are some images from the event:

DevFest Abakaliki 2023 DevFest Abakaliki 2023

New Camera

Researching for a camera can be frustrating. But do I really need a camera? Well, yes. I would explain why but I’d be giving you 2024 spoilers.

I bought the Sony ZV-E10 camera and the Sigma 16mm F1.4 lens.

Sony ZV-E10 Camera Sony ZV-E10 Camera

At this point, all the hardware changes/upgrades for my workspace was complete.

This was my workspace in September 2022: Workspace image

This was my workspace in September 2023: Workspace image

Final Exams

I’ll keep this section short because I intend to talk more about school in a different article.

I wrote my final exams in December. Here is a picture from my sign out day: Sign out image

Why am I Talking about Chess?

Well, chess has become a part of my daily routine. I’ve done something related to chess every day since 2020.

I intended to play in the Nigerian Chess Championship in 2023, but I was far from being ready for that. Competitive chess isn’t the same as playing hobby chess.

I spent this year playing hobby chess and ended up having no improvements, for the first time since 2020. I ended the year with a Lichess Blitz rating of 2000, which is 100 points below what I was rated at the beginning of 2023.

Lichess blitz rating

I reached my highest bullet rating ever: 2100

Lichess bullet rating

Remember my friend that’s a chess coach? 2023 was great for his chess. In fact, he’s in the top 1% of chess players in Nigeria. That’s something I can brag about 😂

Lichess blitz rating

How am I Starting 2024?

Most of the things I did in 2023 were done to lay the foundation for 2024. The goal for the first quarter of 2024 is to start a YouTube channel.

I learned about embedded systems because that would be the primary focus of the channel.

I also built full stack web projects because it would be the secondary focus of the channel. I learned video editing too so I can edit my videos.

I was able to buy new hardware for my workspace as well.

I’ll talk in more detail about what to expect from the channel in the coming days. You can follow me on Twitter so you don’t miss it.

Thank you for reading, and have a fantastic 2024!

Check out my YouTube channel for tutorials about embedded systems, IoT, and web development.


Subscribe to my Newsletter

Subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss updates and resources. You'll get these emails once a week.