Blog Overhaul

After some thinking, I’ve decided that I’ll be conducting an overhaul for this blog in the near future – either use of a new theme and cleaning up past posts, or starting a new one hosted elsewhere. I bought a domain name today, but haven’t decided on a host yet. In the past year or so, I’ve been using WordPress more as a blog than a website, since it makes more sense to direct people to my GitHub to see my projects, and my LinkedIn to see my work experience, but WP is a bit bloated as it’s template based and I am looking for a more minimalist style. This is what I wanted when I started originally (over 2 years ago now), but beautifully designed blogging platforms have emerged since then and I’m considering a switch.

WP has really awesome dashboards, and has great mobile support (holo style on Android is looking awesome) but

  1. The commenting system is a bit sub-par. I am considering removal of comments altogether so questions can be directed to my email or twitter instead.
  2. It’s also a bit troublesome when I want to update a past post because there’s a mix of old and new information, and again, comments make it a bit awkward too. It’s a bit easier when I can just make a brand new post, but I can end up writing repetitive content.
  3. Attaching media requires too many steps so I never end up doing it. This is really bad for people who don’t like reading walls of text. I need something more lightweight.
  4. My content is starting to become disorganized. I wish there was an easier way to bulk update tags I have on all of my posts so I can categorize them better (there’s probably support for it on but not It also becomes awkward when I don’t even remember half the content I posted way back when, because most of my posts are pages long so I’m not willing to go back and give myself a refresher.

I’ve had blogs in the past that were completely about my experiences, rather than about giving advice or writing meaningful content, and that’s something I miss doing – I just don’t want it to get cluttered in my more informative posts. I am thinking of having separate pages that keep these types of posts separate, or some similar system with tags.

If anyone has suggestions on which blogging platform I should use, let me know. I’m planning to get things done in a couple weeks the latest, but in the meanwhile, I will give an updated insight on the current state of the CS and SE programs because I know university application deadlines are coming up in a separate post (look above).

Pre-Grace Hopper ’12 – Perspective from a Facebook Scholar

I’m very honoured to be a recipient of the Facebook Scholarship for Grace Hopper for this year. I have been told about the conference in the past from a handful of upper years and past coworkers. What truly appealed to me about the conference was the presence of thousands of technical women. So of course I wanted to attend.

Every day (whether it be at school or work) I am surrounded by a male majority.  At school, I’m with a more immature crowd, 100 males in their early 20’s with only 10 or less females in the classroom. To be completely honest, I’ve gotten used to it. But I do miss having female companions that I can work closely with.

Currently at work – my team is mostly male. At my previous co-op, I actually had a female team lead,and our Director of Eng was female, too. So I was a little more comfortable, and had people to relate to.

Cut to the chase, I am pretty excited for the conference. Facebook gave us a little excitement by giving us their own small sessions and gatherings in the past few days. I am with 24 other scholarship recipients and I believe 11 former interns – all female! We were given the chance to check out the Facebook NY office last night, hear a tech talk from Goranka Bjedov (a capacity planning engineer @ Facebook), do some small group chatting + technical interview prac., and explore NYC.

Facebook took us to see Mamma Mia on Sunday. It was my first broadway show, and I really enjoyed it. The lighting was beautiful and obviously well though out, the actors were great. The only issue I had was that any time they started singing, the background music overpowered their voices (maybe it’s only an issue for the balcony level audience).

The tech talk given to us on Monday was about scaling infrastructure. It was very interesting, considering the huge figures Facebook deals with in comparison to other big tech companies. With only ~1000 employees, it’s crazy how Fb can handle so much traffic.

The group chatting was informative, despite my large amount of interview experience from co-op. Went through a problem similar to Scrabble with Amy Platt (Eng @ Facebook Seattle). She briefly talked about her past experience @ MSoft & Google, and encouraged us to always negotiate salaries.

We talked briefly about how males boast about projects they’ve been on, claiming they’ve ‘lead’ projects even though they were just a developer; while females who have lead 1000s of engineers always used “the team”, or “we”, and basically was too shy to be proud. And then we have males vs. females on salaries – females are satisfied with what they are being paid or are not ambitious enough to negotiate, while males will go very far into negotiation.

Jocelyn Goldfein (Director of Eng @ Facebook) also said a few encouraging words. She feels that the purpose promoting women in computing is not because women have a difference in perspective, or whether women are better at creating technology for women. It’s about seeing the use cases of various types of people as an individual, and creating technology to be usable to a diverse groups of people. She also mentioned how we can promote women in computing. Obviously everyone in the room was confident with CS and where it would take them, but to encourage younger women – we need to overcome psychological-influenced thoughts and remove stereotypes as much as possible.

For example, it is a common stereotype that Asians are good at math. But it is another common stereotype that girls are not good at math. So is an Asian girl good at math? Jocelyn mentioned that if a study was done where 1 group of Asian women was given an article to read about Asians excelling in mathematics, another group given an article to read about statistics that women are less capable in the sciences and maths, and one group not given anything, then there’d be significant results. It’s just who we are as humans – we get psyched out easily by what we read and hear about.

Overall, I thought there were some very interesting and inspiring perspectives brought to us by females at Facebook, and with this being my first time attending GHC, I can’t wait to hear more of them at the conference.

The Real Summer Vacation

Exams ended about 3 weeks ago, and I’ve finally decided to make a new blog post. I finally had the chance to enjoy my summer!

Here’s a run-down on what I’ve been up to:

-watching a lot of Youtube, anime, reality TV shows
-family time
-boyfriend time
-a trip to New York & New Jersey
-attending the 2NE1 New Evolution Concert
-finally purchasing my Macbook Air
-getting my wisdom teeth extracted
-moving to Toronto
-recovering from my wisdom teeth removal
-getting akin with the various social networks out there
-taking advantage of the free online courses out there

Yes.. the things one can do without the worry of an assignment, test, or exam. This blog post will be bursts of random moments based on the run-down above… I apologize in advanced if it is hard to follow : )

So I watched Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood – the full series. Well actually, I started it back in 2009 when it was first being played in Japan, but likely discontinued due to my keener hard-working nature for wanting to achieve high grades (it was around university applications season). So I watched episodes 20-64 recently. Wonderful series, and I’m so happy I finally completed it! Definitely deserves a 10/10 for plot, character development, music, fan service, and all that jazz. I’m feeling lazy so I won’t do a full review. But I’ll say that I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a nice seinen series (aka. an anime that has some adult themes to it, some controversies here and there).

I also haven’t spent actual time with my family since last Christmas due to my co-op in San Francisco, and the short transition to my spring school term. So I have been at home for the most part, helping my mom do some late spring cleaning since her arm isn’t doing well. Although I’m always out and about, I still call Kitchener my home. : )

So the 2NE1 concert was the purpose of our NY/NJ trip. It was quite a blast. (Pic above taken from their official FB Page) Despite the constant thunderstorm reports, there were none (whenever we were outdoors, at least). My first K-pop concert, and definitely not my last! I was so glad that I got to hear pretty much all of my favourite songs from them, and see them on stage. 2NE1, my favourite k-pop group, we will meet again : )

I have also been slowly packing to move to Toronto these past few weeks for my next co-op work term. I moved in yesterday in my new apartment. Very exciting stuff. Most of my classmates have started work, but I don’t start until Wednesday next week (cause that’s how Freshbooks rolls!) It’s a very spacious room, with a private washroom. The nice thing is that everything is newly renovated. It’s my first time living in a room with hardwood flooring (I like it so far!) The only issue with this room is that there is very little air circulation (no A/C in the building), but I believe I figured out how to adjust the temperature via the balcony door and the fan.

I spent the whole afternoon at Indigo (a Canadian bookstore) today reading a manga called Dangeki Daisy (image above taken from MyAnimeList). I didn’t see any of the manga I’ve been following, but decided to give this one a try. It turned out to be a wonderful shoujo manga, and I am almost complete (had to leave since it was soon to be closing time). It actually has some dark concepts to it, which makes it worth the read. Unfortunately, I believe it is being put on hiatus, so I’ll have to wait awhile for its continuation. Sat on the base of a bookshelf reading it, and now my butt is sore. There were no chairs available since there are many people like me, who sit around for hours and read at the bookstore.

Prior to this, I made my first $100 jean purchase at Jean Machine. I had a 10 dollar off 30 for the store, but was really planning to just look and and not buy. Turns out that the sales associate was very sociable and easy to get along with, and I’m not kidding you, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had at any retail store. Although I was only looking at jeans, she chose a few tops for me to try on so it was easier to visualize the jeans. She did not say things like “Those look great on you” or whatever the typical retail chick says, but helped me as if she was shopping with me, and sharing her expertise with me. It was just a really pleasant experience (which of course, encouraged me to buy a pair of Silver Jeans and even one of the tops she recommended me to try on).  Continue reading

Experience Microsoft 2012

So I just spend about 4 days in Seattle/Bellevue for an event called Experience Microsoft. The program is for undergrads who (from my understanding) have applied for an internship, scholarship, or the Explore program and did not get accepted. Explore Microsoft is a summer internship program for first and second years. Read more about it here:

I got into the program because I applied for their Academic Scholarship, and I actually won : ) It was thanks to StudentAwards , as I wouldn’t have known about it without their scholarship database.

There is actually no information online about the Experience Microsoft program, so I guess it’s pretty secret. Not anymore though (haha). A few of my coworkers at Lookout worked at Msoft previously, and told me a little about Msoft before I went off. I decided I would go in with a clean slate, though (without external opinions).

Msoft flew me in on Wed night and I attended this 2-day event at the main office with ~75 other students across North America. I was actually surprised by the large amount of Canadians! There were at least 10 or 20 of us; lots of freshmen and sophomores, and a very equal ratio of guys to girls.

We stayed at The Westin, which was probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. So the awesome thing was that msoft reimburses all our meals while we’re there.

Day 1 (Thurs) consisted of presos, good food, networking, activities, and tours.

We had a workshop on windows phone development, which was pretty fun. It’s actually so similar to Android development, but the tools and interface are much nicer. Visual Studio is pretty awesome, and is so much more friendly than Eclipse :P Learned some C# syntax, and like everyone has told me, it is similar to Java. The mapping from xaml layout objects to methods is very VB-like (VB6 was the first language I used, brings back memories!).

The presos were interactive and gave a great overview about how the work is at msoft. Something that really stood out to me was The Garage – a place to do personal projects. It gave off the start up / open source feel, in this huge corporation setting.

There were a ton of raffles going on throughout the day, and I was especially jealous of those who won windows phones! Continue reading