Summer 2018

September 1, 2018
Reading Time: about 4 minutes


Going into Summer, I had one defining thought.

I have to prioritize figuring out what I genuinely enjoy.

I’d spent the last 4 years with disproportionate focus on career and academics; it was time to figure out my hobbies and how I’d be as an adult. The following is a collection of things I worked on or did that were significant to me in some way.

Magic Mirror

I’ve had two raspberry pi’s that simply sat on my closet gathering dust. I finally picked these up and created a magic mirror. I wanted to do several other things as well here (integrate Nest cams, self-host a server, etc.). Now that I’ve finished, there’ve been two big observations.

First, I have no idea how raspberry pi’s are marketed to children to learn to code. Learning to work with a potentially oudated debian (or subset thereof) distro was a terrible experience. I probably spent more time dealing with memory, energy, and dependency issues than actually coding. Next, I’ve always had this glamorous image of magic mirror’s in my head. For those who don’t know, these are simply webpages with one-way mirrors in front of them, so you can look in the mirror and see information on it. This has actually been pretty cool to play with despite how simple it is. There’s a pretty big community built around making this process as easy as possible, so tons of existing modules exist for integrating all your devices.

Magic Mirror

Anime (and Anime Expo)

Growing up, I always had a rather stereotypical view of anime. Now that I’ve watched several, I have a new appreciation. Many have sophisticated and entertaining storylines and progress much faster than TV shows. For those of you disappointed by the current options for shows, I recommend trying out anime. There’s a wider variety of types and a seemingly more active community. When I attended Anime Expo (courtesy of Josh), the big surprising factor was that there were actually people of all types – all genders, ages, heights, appearances, etc. People were generally friendly and all just happy to be there despite the intense heat. Cosplayer


In July and August, Josh, Alan, and I visited the UK, France (Paris, Lille, Versailles), Brussels, and Amsterdam. People there are far more social than here and seem to enjoy life more. It wasn’t uncommon to see someone sitting alone eating a fruit and relaxing on a bench facing a canal. Work almost never came up in conversation even at company events. Shoutout to Rylan for showing us around London. Street performers were far more competent musicians and we actually listened to a quintet for over half an hour in Amsterdam.


Traveling LA was a fantastic experience. The most surprising factor was the scale of what they can do in Hollywood. If you haven’t been to universal studios, I highly recommend it. Definitely check out their general tour; it was easily my favorite “ride” simply due to how many times it exceed expectations.


I use a fantastic app called Overcast to listen to podcasts. There are two notable features – smart speed and voice boost. The latter is self-explanetory but the former is less so. Smart speed accelerates playing audio by removing the filler “empty” pauses in people’s speech. Unfortunately, this only works for podcasts so to listen to audiobooks, you have to host your own podcast. This experience has been detestable. It is difficult uploading/downloading large files onto the app and if the connection is broken, it is difficult to debug anything on the app’s side. On the plus side, I finally got it to work with a 3rd party app. In the first 4.5h of my audiobook, I’ve already saved over an hour in empty time. 10/10 highly recommend.


I spend an exorbitant amount of time organizing my thoughts and workflows. Memex has a great idea. Often times you’ll come across a useful resource or infographic that you’d like to save for later. Saving these links to a centralized storage takes forever and is easily forgotten. Memex let’s you store these easily to lists you can create right in the page. It then has full-text search, making it extremely easy to find any page you’ve read in the past.


All in all, I’ve progressed in my personal interests for development, optimizing my learning, and come up with some hobbies to try when I start work (hopefully the clubs there are good). I’m particularly hoping to get into fencing, snowboarding, and cooking. The first two have given me genuine, in-the-moment happiness as soon as I tried them. The last one would be convenient and cool to show friends. Here’s to hoping they go well.