Goals for my study leave

Published on: November 3, 2020 by Joona Tuunanen

I’ve had a feeling for quite some time, that I’d like to be a better programmer. At the moment I would describe myself as a useful hacker. I know a decent amount, but I still need to google way too often even basic stuff. At the moment I see myself as someone who knows how to google stuff, find some code and adjust it to my needs.

But I don’t consider myself to be really good at programming in general and I’d like to rectify that. And to make it happen, I’ve taken an indefinite part-time study leave from our agency, where I focus on client work on Mondays and Tuesdays while dedicating Wed-Fri mainly on programming projects.

I have a few ideas what I want to learn and do. Here are the main things:

Learn cloud stuff

I’ll start by taking the Data engineering with Google Cloud program on Coursera.

This is particularly interesting because I all the really cool things that I’d like to do require quite robust and automated workflows to really make sense.

I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas regarding automated or almost completely automated SEO processes for years, but I haven’t had the skillset to actually implement them. With these crazy ideas I mean stuff like

  • custom real time change detection and cloud crawlers in general
  • automating internal linking based on KPI’s/trends
  • categorising search queries more or less in real time or at least automatically

Those are not unique ideas, but they are ideas that I’m very interested in. I know some of those things can be done with commercial software, but the thing that makes some of these a little bit more difficult is that my context is typically Finnish companies and Finnish language, which is notoriously difficult for people and for machines (because it’s such a small language with only 5.5 million speakers).

If you have any ideas / tips / resources to share with me I’d appreciate a friendly tweet over here.

Build more things with Appscript

My colleague Jyri and I have been building some internal tools at OIKIO that are rather handy. Well, I’ve done the relatively easy Google Sheets frontend while Jyri has been commandeering the Python fairies with very sophisticated cloud processes. We currently have for example a tool that allows us to scrape acquire data from search results, saves all that up in BigQuery from where it’s pulled back through an API to Sheets for automated analysis.

There’s also our own internal Appscript based Google Sheets addon that helps us be more efficient in Sheets. This is basically a collection of different custom functions to make all our consultants lives easier.

OIKIO Sheets Addon

As it happens with a lot of things, once you get a taste of automation and custom tools you tend to get more greedy with with them. That’s exactly how I feel about Appscript and the possibilities with it. So more of that for me please.

Kudos to David Sottimano and Gábor Papp for inspiring talks about Appscript during the last 12 months - both of them have definitely pushed me to start this journey.

Building own projects

Most SEO consultants probably know the feeling of frustration that often comes from working with clients and dealing the realities of their organisations and resources.

And a lot of us also feel like it’s useful to have some projects of our own to test stuff with and perhaps earn some sweet sweet affiliate commissions with.

So I wanna build a few sites/projects to not only hone my programming skills but also keep myself humble in front of algorithms. For years I’ve had the luxury of working with companies that are in top5 in their industries, so I’ve kinda forgotten how it is to grow a website from nothing.

At the moment I have a few projects that I know I will be doing at some point in the future:

  • I want to build my own fetch and render tool for no other reason than to learn how to make and maintain a publicly accessible tool. I’ve also owned the domain fetchandrender.com for a few years and it would be a shame to let it rot.
  • a website that has at least 100000 unique pages. This will be a DJ-related website leaning heavily on API’s for data / content.

I don’t know about you, but those things do sound quite exciting and daunting challenges to me.


So yeah, I’m going full-nerd for a while. For the sake of my sanity, I’m hoping that I can climb out of this mode with a few more tricks and tools up in my sleeve at some point.