What I Did in 2015

The Muse suggested I write one of these to highlight my professional accomplishments, especially since this blog is listed on my resume (I don’t know if that looks kind of tacky, but LGL does give a good idea of what I’ve been doing and what skills I have, so it is practical). I guess it feels a little odd for me, because I can’t remember everything offhand myself. Fortunately, I can flip back through my archives and see what’s been up based on my blog posts.

I’m not sure who this is for, honestly. Mostly, my accomplishments last year were not exactly professional, more just personal projects and so on.

Divided up into sections which are roughly the same length, for easier reading. Not all have the same number of months. Roughly chronological order because I’m using old posts to help me remember all the stuff I did last year. (It was a lot.)

January-March

Attending community college to earn an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree in Programming (have been since the previous fall).

I was in the Linux learning stages myself, and also learning to use VirtualBox. It seems like a lot longer ago than it was. I made this blog, and wrote a post describing how to set up a Linux VM. I discovered Debian and it became my favorite distro so far. I tried learning to program in C, but didn’t go very far with it because my classes became pretty difficult right after I started getting into it, and haven’t come back to it yet because I haven’t had anything I want to make that requires low-level programming. I’m still learning the high-level stuff for now.

April-May

Took a Linux class and surprised myself with how much of the material I already knew from a few months’ odd tinkering here and there. Read Eric S. Raymond’s paper “Cathedral and the Bazaar” and wrote a bit of commentary on it. Converted a Windows box into a mostly-Linux box (it has had very few problems to date, mostly from the age of old files that needed transferring). Started looking for jobs, but as I wasn’t of age until late June, most turned me away on the spot.

Oh, and I got some kind of honor award or something because I’d gotten straight As that semester. I forget what it was. President’s List or something.

June

Started poking around in the book Head First Design Patterns. (I should come back to that.) Decided I was pretty competent with Linux and wrote the post that made this blog popular–it was actually a long time in planning, starting with a cold email to ESR about whether there was a book on learning to use Linux, and a casual remark that if not, I’d throw my links on a WordPress blog or something and send it to him so he could send it to all the other teenage nerds who were probably emailing him the same question. Instead, he put it on his “How to Become a Hacker” page–which is a courtesy I was not expecting, and suddenly this blog gained a whole bunch of readers. So many that my link above is basically superfluous, because nearly all of the people reading this are reading because of that page. I can’t thank ESR enough for this, my readers are awesome.

Anyway, June was a busy month, and I definitely didn’t stop there.

I discovered Paul Graham’s essay page and started binge-reading. I decided I wanted to start a startup (which I still do, but am putting off due to a lack of cofounder candidates until I go to a 4yr university) and began mentally designing my product. I discovered TechWeek and arranged with my parents to go during September to the Kansas City event.

Also, I turned 18.

July

Finished reading the last of PG’s essay archive. Started building a cross-platform app called tinypapers, which was to be an app to store notes, business cards, receipts, and all the other clutter paper that ends up in wallets and pockets. I spent a lot of time on that. Also wrote some casual essays on the blog based on reader comments and whatnot.

August

Wrote some more essays, including a long, rambling one about software licensing and how to compromise on it for businesses that want to make money from selling software. I probably overthought that.

Worked on tinypapers some more, had several major impostor syndrome episodes, went back to work, fixed bugs, etc.

Got my first job that had paperwork attached: a 3-month internship at an engineering company. To be honest, it wasn’t really a programming job as I’d believed, and it wasn’t something I would have wanted to keep long-term for reasons I won’t elaborate on, but it was a job, it paid more than minimum wage, and it wasn’t retail or food service, so on balance it wasn’t a bad deal.

When I went back to school later in August, I started working on Raspberry Signage. If you haven’t read about it on the blog yet, Raspberry Signage is a project I designed in response to a school official’s announcement in one of my classes that our digital bulletin boards were on some very shaky, unsupported ground, because the company that the school had been paying lots of money to maintain the boards had gone out of business.

I designed a solution in which the monitors would each get a $35 Raspberry Pi minicomputer attached to them, which would be programmed to visit a WordPress website in Chome’s Presentation Mode (which hides the navigation bar). This web site would simply display a slideshow of whatever signs we needed to show around the school.

This project is my baby, and it’s almost finished. We’re going to need some real hosting, rather than just the little Apache server I set up back in one of our labs. We’ll probably want a dedicated Internet connection for them–or at least getting them hooked up to the tablet network, which is a mysterious secret thing where only dedicated people are allowed to know the credentials and whatnot, so if we go this route, I sure hope one of their dedicated people knows how to stick together some code on a Linux box. I wish I could say the school doesn’t have anyone who’d faint at the idea of using a terminal-based text editor on Linux config files so as to give the machine access to the school network… but I can’t, because there’s bound to be at least a few people who would look at that and think we were cracking the network. And then there’s the ordeal of configuring aaaalllll the different monitors with their different screen resolutions, because I don’t think I’ve seen two around the school that are alike, and RPis are not the best at auto-configuring screen resolution, so you kind of have to do it by hand.

(I probably would not have understood most of that giant paragraph I just typed a year and a half ago. My, how far we’ve come.)

Most of the programming is done, though. I just need to tweak the image I have.

Kudos to my brother Tim Yoder for doing big, big chunks of the work on this. I didn’t have access to an RPi or anything when I came up with this idea, so he was the one who found out which config files to edit. He even poked around until he found a WP slideshow theme that fit our needs. I was going to code one by hand, being green enough not to look for the pre-invented wheel first.

September-November

Attended TechWeek in Kansas City, and visited UMKC. I really liked Kansas City and decided to apply to UMKC. (My other three choices are Chicago colleges. Chicago is pretty awesome too.)

I discovered that tinypapers was basically Evernote, and “officially” stopped working on it, as I decided I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. (Unofficially, I’d been busy with a combination of my job and a very stressful set of classes, and hadn’t been working on it for a while.) I guess I’m still kind of holding a candle for the idea that I’ll finish it as an open-source project, but I can probably find more productive things to make.

I applied to Y Combinator with a different idea that had been in the back of my head for a while, even though I had no cofounder and they’re really reluctant to accept one-person companies (they’ve only taken a few). I got turned down; oh, well. I’ll find someone who wants to make neat stuff with me eventually.

Made a GitHub account and put tinypapers up on it. Not properly, because I had no idea how to use git at the time. It’s since been cleaned up.

December

Volunteered at my school’s “Plant Yourself in STEM” event, where we make a day out of the Hour of Code program and run other programs on the same day. I ran a Linux activity both days we held the event. My activity consisted of this game I wrote, this FAQ I wrote, and my giving a little mini-speech on what Linux and open-source was all about. It was a very successful event, and I’m proud of the work I did to help make it happen!

I also learned the basics of git and cleaned up tinypapers’s GitHub repository.

—–

Anyway, that’s what I did last year! Which also makes a history of this blog, basically, since it started in March. That reminds me: I have to figure something out for the blog’s first birthday.

It was really interesting reading through some of my old posts. I have poor emotional memory, but I’m also a good writer, so it brought back a lot. I’m remembering how much fun it was to work on a big project with big aspirations, and it’s making me want to go back to that. Maybe it won’t be tinypapers, but I want to get back into something big I can work on for eight hours straight on weekends and stuff, because that was a lot of fun.

Post in the comments below: what did you do last year that you were most proud of? It can be your proudest programming-related moment, or just your favorite accomplishment.

Signing off, and happy hacking!

–Rebekah

 

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5 thoughts on “What I Did in 2015

  1. Hello again!

    I haven’t really made a point to, but I find myself popping back in every so often anyhow just to see if you’ve had time to add another post. Reading some of your earlier posts and the comments that follow it seems that there are many people who believe you write rather well; not to mention your posts themselves contain good content.

    However, being as you mentioned starting an internship I’d imagine that the posts will be fewer and further between. Congratulations on the position!

    If you do ever find time I am curious as to your thoughts on a particular matter. As a neophyte I’m still learning which programming language is mainly used for what purpose and why. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the matter. Is there a standard outline of programs and their uses? A secondary question that spawned from the previous is that I’ve heard several say that some programs have “more power” than others; how does a language have more power over another one?

    I thought to ask you, because as I just mentioned, you know what you know and admit what you don’t (which I think is an incredibly valuable quality), but also that you are able to explain what you know in relatable terms.

    Hope all is going well!

    Like

    • Yes, I can explain that! I’ve been ridiculously busy recently, although not with the internship, which lasted only three months and ended in November 2015. Instead my schedule is packed with college visits! Which is more stressful than it sounds; weekends are not going to be the most relaxing for the next month. Fortunately, I have Fridays free on my schedule, so I don’t have to miss class for them, but homework piles up really easily when you have to dedicate your weekends to something else.

      I really want to write your post, though, so maybe I can get to it this weekend in my downtime at the hotel or something. If not, well, at least you know why, and it’ll be forthcoming later on.

      Like

  2. Hahaha well I see my congratulations are a few months too late! I suppose I can apply it to your completion of the internship, then. I definitely understand that and you’re right; it’s a very stressful process. Weekends are a valuable commodity and nothing makes you realize that more than having them booked for a solid month or two!

    I appreciate your desire to answer. There’s no need to rush, I’ll still be around! Since you mentioned hotels I’m inclined to ask; are you looking at attending a university a good deal of distance away from home?

    Also I must say that it’s really awesome and encouraging (odd as that may seem) to read this post and see where you started and how far you’ve come in just over a year. Especially the section where you mentioned that a year ago you wouldn’t have even understood most of what you’ve written. Such an incredible vantage point looking back and seeing where we’ve been.

    Good luck with your hunt for colleges!

    Like

    • Oh, hey, look… it’s a present!
      https://letsgolarval.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/on-languages/

      I don’t really want to be in my parents’ back yard–I’d like to get out and explore–but I also don’t want to be more than a day’s drive from home. My main thing is that I want to be around other ambitious nerds who want to build stuff, so I can build stuff with them.

      Fortunately, my college shopping is over for now. I may have to revisit a few favorite schools later, or at least spend some time on the phone with them, but I’ve picked out four places I’m applying and I’m not taking any more suggestions. I’ve heard enough “My friend’s cousin’s dog went to University of X and got an MBA. You should visit there!”–if I can’t stay home long enough to finish my homework, it’s kind of moot point if I don’t graduate.

      Like

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