Category: Uncategorized

TypeScript is a tradeoff.

“I use typescript when I feel like having hours of migraines using 3rd party libraries and making sure I don’t have a single space or comma out of place! Works like a charm! Get a headache 10/10 times.”

-somebody on Reddit
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Groupon was my first true programming job. I’d worked briefly at a .com way back in the day, and I’d done a variety of tasks at a start-up in Beijing ranging from running human resources to assisting with business development. But Groupon was the first time my entire job was about producing code. Not coincidentally, it was my first job out of Hack Reactor.

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Visiting the house I grew up in this past holiday season, I had the strangest experience. I found my old notebooks from when I was about 14…and couldn’t understand the contents!

I had been a math prodigy, entering college when I was 13. But, after a couple of years as a good college student left for social reasons to become a pretty mediocre high school student. Over time, I ended up focusing on other things and the math skills deteriorated.

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2013 was a singular experience.

Entering into the year, I was upbeat but still struggling in a lot of ways. I had faced rejection on nearly every front—countless job interviews, a coding school, and even a love interest. I was living in a tiny room in Chinatown worrying about running out of what was left of my savings while I looked for work.

A that made 2013 all the more amazing! I developed new skills, got better schooling than I had hoped, started a great job, made great new friends and reconnected so many people from my past. It wasn’t just me, either. I also had the chance to see friends succeed on a bigger scale than ever before.

I have huge plans for 2014 and I have nothing but excitement about throwing myself in, heart and soul. It’s a day late to say this but Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you so very much for being my friends, through the ups and downs.

I’ve spent a lot of time on Massive Online Open Courses (AKA MOOCs). I’ve learned some great things from them, but I’ve also encountered a lot of time-wasting inefficiencies. For the most part, I’ve been taking programming and CS-related MOOCs. There are quite a few I looked at and then bailed on before doing any work, but also quite a few I put work into. Below is a list of the classes I worked on and then a summary of each.

Courses Studied

  1. Software Engineering for SaaS (UC, Berkeley)
  2. Introduction to Systematic Program Design (University of British Columbia)
  3. Discrete Optimization (University of Melbourne)
  4. Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications (Brown)
  5. Algorithms, Part I (Princeton)
  6. Linear and Integer Programming (CU, Boulder)
  7. Functional Programming Principles in Scala (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  8. Automata (Stanford)
  9. Principles of Reactive Programming (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  10. Mathematical Biostatistics Boot Camp 1 (John Hopkins) – In progress
  11. Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps (UI, Urbana-Champaign) – In progress

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Upon starting work as a software engineer at Groupon this April, I noticed that I was an outlier. Pretty much all the engineers I talked to had technical degrees, and a huge number were from one of three sources—Stanford, an Ivy League school or a start-up that Groupon acquired. My particular group was full of crazy-technical Chileans from one of those acquisitions. Needless to say, nobody else had a B.A. in a foreign language like I did. Within my first month on the job I started planning a roadmap to increase my skills to the point where I could shine even among this impressive company.

Education vs schooling

I can’t say I felt intimidated by the formal credentials of my peers. To be completely honest, I was and am a little concerned about credentialism being used to close certain doors, but it’s my belief that such barriers can nearly always be overcome. It’s true that companies tend to be conservative in matters deciding who to let do what work but after a person attains a certain level of mastery, credentials start to fall by the wayside. I learned that first hand when it came to university admissions

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Wanna get make all your files use spaces for tabs consistently and eliminate trailing whitespace every time you save in sublime? Put this in your user preferences:

{
  "font_size": 13.0,
  "tab_size": 2,
  "translate_tabs_to_spaces": true,
  "trim_automatic_white_space": true,
  "trim_trailing_white_space_on_save": true,
  "use_tab_stops": true
}

I absolutely hate trailing whitespace in any of my code. I used to use a plugin that eliminates it when you hit a predefined keystroke, but this is much more convenient.

Also see: Adding a JS build-system to Sublime

Many prospective students have been emailing me and asking about how various programming boot camps compare. How does Dev Bootcamp compare to Hack Reactor? Where can I find an App Academy review? Should I consider doing Hack Reactor instead of a four year degree at Stanford or Berkeley? Most of all I’ve been asked, “What happened after you finished the program? Could you find a job?”

I’m happy to say that Hack Reactor exceeded my expectations in pretty much every way possible. I learned far more than I ever expected and it was the most intense twelve weeks of my life (Except maybe that time I started a business with no capital in a foreign country).

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