Tag Archives: personal

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.


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.


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


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).


The first Hack Reactor class has graduated started working, a new cohort has arrived and my class is now the senior class. The new students are awesome! Considering how selective Hack Reactor is, I can't say I'm surprised, but it has been great to meet them all.


Tomorrow is my last day of class at Hack Reactor before the break starts. I'm absolutely exhausted. There are so many things to do and so many things to learn, that I've decided to list them:

  • Contribute to an open source project
  • If I can get some time with our instructor, get started working on his project, bound.js
  • Do some contract work for a friend of a friend who recently got in touch with me
  • Improve my RoboDuel game
  • Work through more of the programming language design course at Nathan's University
  • Clean up a couple of things on Toshuo
  • Meet up with a couple of cool people I've recently met at meetups

I'm especially looking forward to that last one.

This is an archive of some of my thoughts after completing the first two weeks of Hack Reactor. When I filmed it, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever share it or not, but I’ve decided to go the open route. Warning: it’s not edited and it’s full of uhms and pauses.


This is an archive of some of my thoughts after completing the first two weeks of Hack Reactor. When I filmed it, I wasn't sure if I'd ever share it or not, but I've decided to go the open route. Warning: it's not edited and it's full of uhms and pauses.


The first day was no disappointment. In fact my classmates were impressive enough that I felt just a bit of impostor syndrome. One thing that makes it especially interesting is that half the students in the school were just starting as I was, and half the students are in a cohort that is about half way through the program. That other cohort was shockingly capable! One of the first things we did was pair off with advanced students so they could demo their projects to us.