Category Archives: Hacker School

HS Day n, n+1: Craziness

I’d fallen out of my blogging habit, sadly, but that was kind of silly and I really should get back on that, especially since things are coming to a close here and I should write all this down so that I can remember it.

It’s five in the morning right now, and not the good kind of five in the morning where I’ve just woken up after a good night’s sleep and I have some green tea and I get to watch the sun rise knowing that it’s going to be a good and wholesome day. No, this is a better five in the morning where I’ve just been to see Anamanaguchi and finally walked in the door to my apartment about ten minutes ago.

Starting on Thursday: I was supposed to move back across the hall in with Nathaniel, but I found a guest of his asleep on the floor – wearing nothing. Nope. I went to Luscious Food for lunch, and ate my sandwich on the bench out front of our apartment to give the guest some time to wake up and put clothes on. As far as I can tell, he just liked sleeping in the buff? Anyway, Levi and Broghanne arrived and sat on the bench next to me. I explained the situation, and they explained that Levi, Nathaniel, and this guest had all been working 15-hour days for a film/tv internship, and that they were probably on very few hours of sleep.

Chelsea – a good friend from college – texted me and asked if I was interested in a position in Milwaukee, WI. I said yes, since I wasn’t sure at this time that the house in Boulder with Eric, Matt, and Sam D. was going to work out. So why not? 20 minutes later I had a Skype interview with them.

I ended up moving all my stuff into the living room since they were still asleep in the room I was supposed to move into. Then I went to Hacker School, where I programmed for a bit, did a presentation on my galaxy generation function for Space Adventure, and then walked with Martin and Matt over to Ebay for the jobs fair. Oh – I bought a business card holder on the way in at a custom belt store since I made business cards the other day.

The jobs fair is the “big event” for Hacker School – they make their money by getting companies to hire Hacker Schoolers, and although they don’t push us toward a job though them, it’s a great opportunity for the companies as well as anyone looking for a job. I got a green sticker on my nametag: looking for a job now. Others had: yellow for a job in the future; red for already employed or not currently job hunting; blue for facilitators and hiring company people. The companies each gave a 2.5 minute presentation, and then we schmoozed and boozed. I talked with representatives from Twitter, Etsy, Next Big Sound, The Ladders, and Custora.  Took an UberX home and crashed.

The next morning I got a job offer from the Milwaukee Company, H2OScore, which I haven’t given them an answer yet so I won’t say anything here. They’re a really cool and environmental company, though, and if you live in WI, you should check them out.

Fridays there is no Hacker School so I walked up to 7th ave and got lunch at a Vietnamese place, then hung out at Barnes and Nobles a bit. Ended up buying a book on Typography. Walked back, got a ginger ale from a corner store, and played a really long game of FTL. Dinner at Zito’s sandwich shop, then off to NYC for Anamanaguchi.

Forgot to mention: I wore my Pikachu/Mario shirt today. By this point, four people had already commented on it. (“cool shirt, dude!”).

I start chatting in line with another guy with a pikachu shirt (#5) who seemed pretty drunk already but he was chill, and another guy named Ryan who was definitely under 5′, super cool, played drums, and seemed to be there on his own so we kinda became friends. I got inside (patdown by security), and waited for friends. Alisa, two of her friends from home, Ian, James P, David, and a friend of David’s showed up. We explored the location a bit – the opening acts ranged from terrible to mediocre – there was some pretty standard house music, and we eventually ended up in the basement, where the DJ seemed to know what she was doing. The tickets had listed Anamanaguchi as starting at 10, but apparently they were going to start at 12:30, upstairs, and we weren’t even allowed upstairs until midnight. At this point I was at 10 comments on my shirt.

So at 12 we made our way upstairs. Cool enough venue – terribly expensive soda/water. I got a Coca-Cola without realizing it was going to cost $5. Blargh.

There was an opener for Anamanaguchi who was good enough and got the crowd moving. I was pretty close to the front – usually right on the edge of the mosh pit, pushing people back in, and helping people up when they fell. The floor got covered in drink pretty quickly (I was totally sober), and was alternatively slippery and sticky.

Anamanaguchi finally started at 1:30, 3.5 hours after they were listed. But oh man, were they awesome. I’m glad I brought earplugs – the bass was really loud. There was incredible energy in the crowd, and the whole thing went by like a blur. Large bouncy balls were released into the crowd, the lead guitarist put one of their lamps into the crowd, and we carried it out to the middle of the room, then went ramming speed toward the stage. It was a giant mosh of nerds, so everyone was super friendly. The show ended kind of abruptly, but it was still very enjoyable.



Afterward: IHOP. Subway. Home. Blog. Sleep.

From Brooklyn,



HS Day 69: Party at Wall Street

Wednesday night I wandered around after Hacker School looking for somewhere to eat. I found myself in Little Italy, and promptly seated myself at a restaurant that seemed the proper balance of cheap and classy. $12 for a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine? Yes please; it was delicious. I think I ordered off the wrong menu, because my bill came to quite a bit more than the promised $12, but it was well worth it. I did a bit of doodling in my sketchbook, then headed home on the N train: the won’t run from Manhattan to Brooklyn for a year or so, due to repairs from Hurricane Sandy.



Hacker School went normally Thursday- that is, a day full of learning and coding. I worked quite a bit on my Space Adventure game (check out the StarMap!), with help from Matt.

I’m also trying to build my Budgeted app using Angular, but I’m having a heck of a time getting people to help me with it for some reason. Kevin gave a great talk on Angular at my request on Wednesday, but I’m at the point where I need help with the actual code, and Kevin’s last day was Thursday.

A while ago, the Hacker School facilitators announced that we would be attending a party at the NYSE on the 8th. Exciting! People not associated with the exchange are usually not allowed into the building.  There was quite a hubbub about dress code: the NYSE has one, and a significant portion of Hacker Schoolers didn’t own the proper attire – one didn’t own closed-toed shoes. Apparently there was a mass shopping trip on Wednesday.

We arrived about 30 minutes early, so Matt, Nabil, and I walked down in the light rain to the tip of Manhattan, where the Hudson meets the Atlantic. We admired it for a bit, and then walked back to the NYSE building. They checked our IDs and we walked in. (There was a lot of security)

Lining up to go through another security checkpoint.

Lining up to go through another security checkpoint.

There were some small displays of historical stuff on our way in.

There were some small displays of historical stuff on our way in.

We went up to a big ballroom area where there was food and (non-alcoholic) drink. There were two little stations where servers would prepare tiny sandwiches or pasta to order. An entire table of fancy desserts.

The main room.

The main room.

Fancy food stuff

Fancy food stuff

Some people from Juniper Networks (the party hosts) gave a bit of a talk, and then directed us to a historical presentation of the NYSE.

History of the NYSE

History of the NYSE

We (the Hacker Schoolers) wandered there for a bit, then returned to the main room to mingle with Juniper folk. For those of  us not interested in a job through Juniper, it was a fun enough event but the socializing wasn’t particularly exciting.

I mostly hung out with Matt, Joe, and Willson, talking about past jobs, pay scales, and other programmer stuff. I’m under the impression that I have one of the highest experience/age ratios here thanks to my internships and early entrance into coding.

Took the with Matt to catch the N at Canal St., and fell asleep around midnight.

Friday (Today), I woke up around 5:30, cleaned my room, walked to Staples to pick up a new book I bought (Videogame Character Design!) and packed my bags for Minneapolis, where I’m attending my grandmother’s memorial service tomorrow. Currently at the airport, waiting on my flight which has changed gates twice.

From LaGuardia Airport,


P.S. I totally forgot – Peter Norvig was at the NYSE party! I chatted with him, Kevin, and Julie about various electronic education stuff, although I left after a Juniper guy entered the conversation and started the “I don’t trust Gmail because you guys read my emails” argument with Peter, which was kinda awkward.


HS Day 67: Getting back on track

It’s been a week since my last blog post, which is the first time I’ve missed posting here since day 3. I’d been feeling somewhat out of it since last week, though, and I’ve been having a hard time fighting off distraction and sleepiness – signs that I’m feeling a bit depressed.  With only two weeks and two days left of Hacker School, I really can’t afford to be spending time not cramming in the last bits of learning that I can. Last Thursday, I decided to abandon my own projects and work more on pair programming in an attempt to widen my horizons and stretch myself as a programmer, and the results so far have been excellent.

My first pair was with Aki, on his 3D Tetris program, helping with JavaScript refactoring and learning a lot about 3d programming in the process. I audited (“sat in on”) the graphics class at Lawrence, which went very fast but was excellent for at least getting a first look at the fundamentals for graphics programming. That’s my idea with the pair programming – even if I don’t end up learning everything there is to know about 3D Tetris like Aki will, I’ll have seen the fundamentals and can think on them and integrate them into my future work.

So, funny story – I paired on Monday morning with James on a Angular.js project. Angular is a web frontend framework which uses data binding to keep all three parts of its MVC in sync. At noon, I had a tech interview with a company in Colorado, and one of the first questions they ask me is, “have you worked with any web frameworks?”

I answered truthfully, “I’ve just started learning Angular.js, but I’m looking to expand that”

“What do you know about data binding?”

Good thing I’d learned about that 15 minutes prior!

One thing that always gets me during interviews is knowing the acronyms and names of stuff. If I can, I keep a Google window open so that I can look things up really fast when people ask me about them. I don’t think it’s dishonest in my case, since I actually do know the things that they’re talking about  – like data binding – I just don’t know that it’s actually called “data binding”. I remember that happened to me three or so times in a row when I was interviewing for an internship at Renewable Choice.

Them: “What’s CRUD?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know”

They look at me as though, what is this guy doing as a web dev if he doesn’t know what CRUD stands for. “Ah, it’s Create, Read…”

“Oh, Update and Delete, yeah. It’s used for…” etc etc. Acronyms are hard for me to memorize I guess? I always end up learning things from interviews, which isn’t how it’s supposed to be, I think.

Monday and Tuesday I ended up taking a 3 hour nap in the afternoon, which was pretty bad. I basically screwed up my sleep schedule Sunday night and got into a vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep at night, because I slept during the day, because I couldn’t fall asleep at night. Greta suggested on Tuesday (today) that I go for a run in the afternoon, and I did – I ran about 2 miles at Prospect park, which was peaceful and relaxing. I stopped a bit early mainly because I haven’t gone running in  a long time and I didn’t want to hurt myself.

I’m still unable to fall asleep (It’s midnight right now) but I think I’ll be on a much better track than I have been, since I’m tired and I’ll probably fall asleep in an hour or so. Until then I’m keeping up to date on WCS Korea 🙂

From Brooklyn,


HS Day 52 .. 56: Greta’s Visit

HS Day 52: Empire State Building

Greta and I took the subway to Hacker School together. There’s a strict no-guests policy, so she spent the day wandering around Manhattan while I programmed.

I’ve started in to the Project Euler problems.  I’m (as of day 55) on problem number 24, at a rate of two or three a day. I did start on number 11 or so.

Greta and I met up and went to Getting Hungry for lunch. We invited Matt, but he slept in and wasn’t in by lunchtime. Greta and I chatted about our wedding, and hung out for a bit in the restaurant. It started to rain, hard. We left the restaurant and split up – I back to Hacker School, and Greta back home for a nap.

I attended the Monday night talk at ebay – a talk about networking by Jessica, who knows her stuff about networks. I’d actually given almost the same talk near the beginning of Hacker School, but it was a good refresher and the food was good – pasta instead of the usual pizza.

The whole time, though, I just wanted to get back to hanging out with Greta. We met at Union Square park (she actually got off at the wrong stop there, but it happened to be where I was walking to – serendipitous). We wandered north, discovering the Museum of Math, and various other shops and boutiques. We eventually found ourselves at the Empire State Building. We were going to go up to the observation deck, but were informed by the red-jacketed security guard that there was 0 visibility due to fog – so we went home to Brooklyn.

Stopped in to Pizza Town – a local pizzeria, for a calzone, then returned home. It was raining lightly, but we didn’t use our umbrellas.

HS Day 53: The Met

I went in to Hacker School a bit early, since Greta and I made plans to visit the Met over lunch. She met me around 11am, and with Matt, we ate lunch at Pret. Matt is freshly married, as of about 2 months ago, so he was interested in our wedding plans and was excellent company either way.

After lunch, we bade goodbye to Matt and took the train up to Central Park, which we walked across to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Central Park was nice, although we were accosted by men “giving away” their rap CD, which they signed, then asked for a donation. I gave them far too much since I was caught off guard, but one of them was quite persistent about getting a donation from Greta, so we gave him back his (already signed) CD, which he wan’t happy about. We weren’t in any danger, but it was just a strange (and very NYC) experience.

Central Park

Central Park

Greta in Central Park

Greta in Central Park

Some musicians in Central Park

Some musicians in Central Park

Erty in Central Park

Erty in Central Park

The Met was fantastic – what people had been telling me was true – you could spend an entire day there and only see a small portion of the exhibits. We saw:

– A photographic history of the Civil War, which was very personal – lots of pictures of people (since portraiture was big then) – and quite gruesome. Fascinating and revolting.

– A collection of Grecian statues, only some of which were replicas, yet you could get right up to them (no velvet ropes). It was very cool to stand in awe of Perseus holding Medusa’s head, larger than life, on a pedestal.

– Some 17th century furniture, very glitzy and ornate.

– A special exhibit on Punk Couture. Lots of plastic dresses. Everything was very creatively made. My favorite was a dress held together with massive brass staples.

– A large selection of modern art, of which I’m a fan. A couple of Jackson Pollocks, a few by Georgia O’Keefe, Rothko, etc. Very neat to see the paintings in person. I knew a lot more of the names than I should have. (Thanks Liberal Arts Education :D)

Greta by a Pollock painting.

Greta by a Pollock painting.

One of my favorite pieces from the modern art area of the Met.

One of my favorite pieces from the modern art area of the Met.

– Kenneth Price’s statues, which were amazing. Very simple shapes with holes cut into them, painted brightly and interestingly. Playful forms. A set of two enormous matte black kidney-bean shapes, which seemed the embodiment of softness. Probably my favorite exhibit.

I returned to Hacker School for the rest of the afternoon, and Greta hung out in a nearby Starbucks and continued to read The Hobbit.

We took the subway to Union Square and browsed various shops and museums there – eventually having dinner at a little american place right on the square. We sat outside – the weather was perfect – and chatted about our wedding. There’s a lot to plan and think about.

It took us a long time to get home because the N and R couldn’t make up their minds about being local or express.

HS Day 54: MoMath, Newsies

I went in to Hacker School on my own, and Greta stayed home for a while before heading in and meeting me at Union Square. From there, we went to the Museum of Math. The museum is awesome – if you’re at all mathematically inclined, or even if you’re not, you should consider checking it out. There are two floors of exhibits, all focusing on some neat aspect of math. My favorite exhibit was a large screen of LEDs on the floor, which displayed the Voronoi Regions of everyone standing on the screen. The museum is in somewhat of a beta state – a lot of the exhibits are under construction or don’t work quite perfectly, but the place is still very fun and educational. I’m heading back with my dad this Saturday to show him the place.

Gravity cars machine.

Gravity cars machine.

Erty is a fractal.

Erty is a fractal.

Greta on the square-wheeled tricycle.

Greta on the square-wheeled tricycle.

Greta made a pretty wallpaper thing!

Greta made a pretty wallpaper thing!

Afterward, Greta and I visited a gaming shop which we had discovered in our earlier wanderings near Union Square. The place was huge and packed with games. We had a great time wandering around. I bought some small gifts for my D&D group, which I’ll give them the next time we play.

Afterward, I returned to Hacker School and Greta went to Starbucks again for Tea and Hobbit. I worked on Project Euler problems, as well as my javascript game. There’s not much progress being made on that right now, and it’s kind of losing steam, but I’ve learned a LOT from working on it.

Greta and I grabbed dinner at Chipotle, then dropped our stuff off at Hacker School and caught the subway to Times Square, where we saw the show Newsies, on Broadway. Yay impulse buys? I’d never seen Newsies, the movie, so it was a first-time experience for me. Greta kept singing along with the songs, which was cute – she was very excited, since Newsies is one of her favorite Disney movies. The audience was super small – I don’t think there was a bad seat in the house – we sat about 10 rows back, on the ground level.

Afterward, we wandered Times Square for a bit, buying some clothes – a new green jersey dress for Greta, and a pair of shorts and a jacket for me. We hopped on the train to get home and realized that my keys – to home and to Hacker School – were at Hacker School. We went to the location and  – luckily for us, Simon and Alyssa were just hanging out super late at the place, so we were able to get in and retrieve our stuff and keys. Otherwise we would have had a really hard time getting in to the apartment.

HS Day 55: Grand Central Station

Greta and I slept in a bit, since we were exhausted from all the walking yesterday. Our next order of business was a visit to Grand Central Station – just to see the place. I was quite hungry when we arrived, so we checked out the main terminal for just a bit before heading downstairs to the food court – I got some Chinese food, and Greta had a savory crepe. The food was good and the terminal was beautiful.

Celebrating 100 years of Grand Central.

Celebrating 100 years of Grand Central.

Greta at Grand Central Station.

Greta at Grand Central Station.

Erty at Grand Central Station with his new Newsies hat.

Erty at Grand Central Station with his new Newsies hat.

We took the  to the 1 to Hacker School. Greta went back to Brooklyn and got a manicure, and I worked with Mary on the engine for my Javascript game. I learned about Python generators from Pedro, and attended the Thursday presentations. Since I haven’t finished anything in the last two weeks, I didn’t have anything to share.

Immediately after, we met up with some other Hacker Schoolers and went to Hudson River Park to see “Foxygen and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down” with Ian, Alisa, Bella, Amandine, Mike, Alex, James, and a few others (apologies if I missed anyone / got the names wrong). The opener (???) and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down were good, but I wasn’t particularly into Foxygen – too weird for me. Greta and I ate from the Rickshaw Dumpling Co. Food Truck, which was delicious. I’d seen them around town a few times so I was excited to try them out. We left after Foxygen’s second song.

We walked all the way in to Times Square, since that’s where the best subway route to get home was, and visited a cake shop which Greta had seen on TV. Then we took the 2 home and went to sleep.

HS Day 56: Greta Gone

Not much to say today – We woke up, Greta Packed while I got us sandwiches from Zito’s – a favorite of mine. I dropped Greta off at the airport and she left. 🙁

My dad visits tomorrow, which will be fun.

I’ve been playing SC2 and working on various things all day, but in a kind of post-awesomeness sadness. Mono no aware.

Finally caught up on blogging, though. Should be back to daily now.

From Brooklyn,


HS Day [57 .. 60]

Some short posts, since I’m behind on blogging. Also because I’ve found there’s less to blog about on weekends. Maybe I should move to a weekday schedule?

HS Day 57: Dad Visit, Day One

Pretty much did nothing interesting on Saturday during the day – kind of a day off, feeling lonely after Greta left. My dad arrived for a visit around 7, and I picked him up at a bus stop in Manhattan, near Penn Station. It was cool out but not cold, so we took our time walking to the subway, back to Brooklyn. We ate at Nahm Thai Restaurant, which is just a few blocks from my apartment, and chatted about life, programming, my upcoming wedding, et cetera.

After dinner, I got a chance to play with my new Leap Motion, which I’ll post a review of on this blog eventually. We went to bed around midnight.

HS Day 58: Dad Visit, Day Two

My dad and I woke up around 10 and ate a slow breakfast at Dizzys, the jazz-themed ’50s style restaurant on the corner of the block my apartment is on. Good food, large portions, somewhat slow service. Took the train in to Manhattan, to the Museum of Math, and wandered around there a while. Since I had seen everything already with Greta, I didn’t have quite the same fascination with each exhibit that I did the first time, which I worry was to the detriment of my dad’s experience. We had a good time and both enjoyed ourselves despite that.

Afterward, we walked in light rain up a few blocks to the gaming store that Greta and I visited after MoMath, but it was closed – apparently it’s not open on Sunday. So, we kept walking, past the Empire State Building, to the 1 station at 34th street.  We got off at Houston st. and ate at Chipotle. We talked about my idea for a game that I wanted to make. I’d been carrying my sketchbook around all weekend, but this was the first opportunity we had to sit down and discuss it. It’s a little single-player game for android, which I’ll be writing in Java over the next week or two. More details to come 🙂

We took about half an hour to visit hacker school and fix my dad’s Steam account, which we’d been meaning to do for a while. Hopefully now he’ll be able to play the Steam games that I got him for xmas about two years ago…

We got coffee (tea for me) at a coffee shop near the bus stop, then he got on a bus and went back to D.C.. It was very nice to show him around my areas of NYC. (“It was good to see your NYC,” he said at the end of the trip.)

I spent the rest of the day working on various projects, playing StarCraft, and surfing the internet. I did get a potential freelance client, so we’ll see how that turns out.

HS Day 59: The Future and Android

Arrived at Hacker School around 9am today, to talk with Nick about Jobs. I’ve been contacted by a certain Golden, CO – based employer to do an interview, but I’m starting my job search earlier than I really should be. We talked for nearly an hour about jobs, as well as subway schedules (since he knows NYC a lot better). I’d include more about that discussion, since I’m excited about a lot of it, but I’m going to maintain silence about it while I’m still pursuing the aforementioned employer.

I started in on my Android game today, with little to no knowledge of what I needed to do. I downloaded Eclipse and read through a few tutorials. By lunchtime (Mahmoun’s Falafel), I had a working Android emulator which would load a skeleton app I downloaded.

I talked with Doron and Sunil for a while about Javascript – Doron is new to Javascript programming, and he was wondering the differences between Javascript, JQuery, and Node.js. I explained them, and he started in on a Javascript app – a multiplayer music sequencer which seemed pretty cool.

Later in the day, I helped Alex C. with an app written in Coffeescript, which I’d never worked with before. As far as I can tell, it compiles to Javascript. Neither of us spoke Coffeescript, so we were very confused, which was a lot of fun. He was trying to rewrite an existing app to send any input to a log. I ended up giving up and returning to my other projects, but it was cool to get a little bit of exposure to a new language.

After all that, I went with some other Hacker Schoolers to Jane Street, a quant trading firm. Derek and I chatted about my game on the subway on the way there. A woman with mental issues sat near us and made everyone a bit uncomfortable. On our way out of the station, Derek accidentially bumped into her, and they got into a verbal altercation (and almost a physical one – she punched him in the back of his leg.) It was almost surreal. The other Hacker Schoolers (there were quite a few of us) kind of surrounded Derek and walked away with him, while she shouted at him from the subway station.

Jane Street has fancy offices. They’re on the 33rd floor of a building overlooking where the Hudson meets the sea. Very posh. They had an on-site gym and massive glass-wall offices.

View from Jane Street Offices

View from Jane Street Offices

The talk was excellent. Stefan Karpinski, the author of the Julia language, answered audience questions while explaining the various features of the language. It seemed like a fast, fun language, and if I ever need to do data analysis, I’ll definitely check it out.

I took the R home and went to sleep.

HS Day 60: 

I missed my stop on my way in to Hacker School this morning, since I was engrossed in Malcom Gladwell’s “What The Dog Saw”, a compendium of his shorter articles for the New Yorker. Very interesting read, although reading that much Gladwell in a row, you kind of get tired of his formula. But what a great formula it is.

I spent most of the day working on my Java and Android stuff. Mostly Java – I figure I can write the game as an applet and port it to Android later.

I also helped out Alisa with a calculator project of hers – remember that if you’re using a large if-else or switch statement in Javascript, there’s probably a better way to do it using objects. I’m planning on doing a write-up of this idea for this blog soon. Maybe I’ll give a presentation on this as well.

After Hacker School I hung out for a while and watched Innovation vs Maru, which was super amazing. I also played cards with some of the guys, including some alumni. I lost terribly but it was a lot of fun.

Afterward I watched some more SC2 and played a few games. Ended up heading back to my apartment around midnight, where I found a doughnut from Levi (he works at a bakery) sitting on my desk. I ate it, which was actually a bad idea, since I ended up staying up later than I wanted to. Watched more Starcraft, went to bed.

HS Day 51: Greta

Everyone in the apartment – Ian, Levi, Nathaniel, and I – was wide awake and wandering the house around 4am this  morning. Ian had a flight to catch around 6am, so he and Levi apparently decided to just stay up and catch the flight after no sleep. I was up because I ate a sandwich at about 11pm and was full of energy. I played a bunch of Starcraft and finally fell asleep around 6am.

I woke again at 1pm and packed up all of my clothes, to take them to the laundromat. Nathaniel suggested a place north of our apartment, but I checked it out and there was no AC, so I went to the place I went last time, which had some AC and larger machines. I did my laundry – stepping out briefly to get a bagel at “Beygl”, a trendy bagel shop one block over.

I finished my laundry around 4:30 and took the N to the M60 bus to pick up Greta. She arrived about 20 minutes early, but it all worked out. I didn’t realize that you could use metrocards on the bus, which was nice to learn. We took the same bus back to the subway station, and rode some combination of N, Q, and R trains to get home. I kept getting us to try to switch trains to catch an express train, not realizing that the express trains weren’t running. It ended up taking us about three hours to get home. We dropped our stuff off at the apartment, then walked to the Target at Barclays Center to do some shopping (I had no pillows on my bed…) and ate a late dinner at Pepperocino, an Italian place on 5th ave – delicious.

Greta and I at Pepperocino

Greta and I at Pepperocino

It was very late after that, so we returned home and went to bed. I’m very happy to have Greta visiting. We didn’t have much time to talk or hang out or just be around each other after graduation and our engagement, so it’s wonderful to be able to spend some time with her now.

From Manhattan,


HS Day [47 .. 50]: Missed Blogging

I managed to not blog the last four days. Oops! Important events:

My good friend Ellie visited on her way home from Europe, where she had been presenting her findings on sunspot activity at a physics conference.

I freaked out about non-existent bedbugs (in my defense, the evidence was there!) and proceeded to nearly throw out all my bedsheets for nothing.

Played SC2, lazed around, and finally got Arch Linux installed alongside Windows 8! I was going to do a technical write-up, but the final round of installations went too smoothly and I had nothing super tricky to explain to the internet.

I guess I’ve been averse to blogging the last couple of days because I hadn’t really felt like I accomplished anything worthy of blogging. I’m going to use that to motivate me to do things worthy of blogging next week.

From Brooklyn,


HS Day 45 & 46: Arch Linux

On Monday, I decided I wanted to try installing Linux alongside my Windows 8 so that I could dual-boot. Turns out that’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I’ll do a full technical write-up tomorrow (since I have to do a full install from scratch … again).

Anyhoo – Monday at Hacker School was entirely devoted to working on my computer and trying to get the OSses to play nice. Then I went home… and tried to get the OSses to play nice. Javier was super helpful and actually knew what he was doing, which sped up my installation time quite a lot. I’m using Arch Linux now, which is much more low-level than ubuntu. I really like it though – there’s no preinstalled window manager, and it’s super stable.

Spent today – again – working on the computer. I ended up going to the Microsoft store in Manhattan to get a copy of Windows 8 that I could install with. They were very helpful, even though the process took about 4 hours.

Aaaaand I have to go back tomorrow, since the copy they gave me was 32-bit instead of 64-bit.


Not a long blog post tonight, mainly because it’s really hot here and I’m out of energy from working on linux stuff.

Addendum: Before I realized the Windows was the wrong version, I decided to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate than with a mojito? (There are probably better ways to celebrate but for some reason I really wanted a mojito). So I wandered around brooklyn for a while looking for a place that sold rum. All the liquor stores were closed, though, so I went to a bar called Union Pub or something – they only took cash, so I found an ATM. Then the bar didn’t serve mojitos. The bartender, though, told me that there was a place called Blueprint that was a cocktail bar, which would sell mojitos. He said his friend John was working there and that I should say that Keith sent me and that he should make me a “beautiful mojito”. So I went in, asked for John, told him that Keith sent me, and that I would like a beautiful mojito. That’s what I got – it took probably 5 minutes to make and was delicious. I drank it slowly, then paid and went home.

From Brooklyn,


HS Day 42, 43, 44: Role-Playing Games

Friday –

There’s no Hacker School on Fridays so we have our D&D games then, and we met today at 1pm to do just that. There’s construction going on at the old Hacker School place, and the new place has people from The Ladders who have to do Actual Work, but we found a secluded area at the old space that didn’t have any construction workers and set up our dice and minis.

We played from 2pm until about 7pm – Martin, Matt, Alisa, Ian were there at the start and James joined us a few hours in. They were fighting a giant slime beast accidentally created by an inept wizard’s apprentice.

They didn’t manage to kill the giant slime beast in time, so we decided to hold another session on Sunday.

Martin and I went to get a burger a 5 guys. I managed to spill ketchup everywhere ( I tried to get a giant boat of it (about a handful) to bring back and it slipped out of my hand). The guy at the counter was super cool about it. I learned my lesson and just took a little, covered cup of ketchup.

I found Mary wandering around the Hacker School space and managed to convince her to help me out with the Space Adventure game for 20 minutes. I’m hoping to finish up the collision detection with her on Monday.

I worked on my game for quite a while longer, then went home. Ian and Levi were looking for something to do, so we played Counterspell, a game I designed (with the help of Daniel, Nathaniel, and others from Lawrence). We had a good time, and Ian pulled an amazing win by cloning a spell four times and managing to roll Levi as the target for all five copies.

I worked on my Space Adventure game for quite a while longer and finally fell asleep, probably around 2 am.

Saturday –

Woke up around noon. Did nothing all day except work on my game, eat chinese/thai food, and play StarCraft 2 / Antichamber / FTL.

Sunday –

Took the 3 to the 1 to Hacker School to pick up the D&D map, then walked to Prince Street and took the N to Matt’s apartment in Astoria, Queens. There was a door that looked like a hotel, and another door that was locked. I called him and said the door was locked, and he came down to let me in – exiting through the door that looked like a hotel. His apartment was super swanky, which was awesome – he’s a super humble guy and I didn’t expect it. James and his long-time girlfriend Liz were there already, and we waited for Alisa to show up. I was about 30 minutes late, and Alisa was about an hour late – it was cool though, since we created an elf sorcerer for Liz, and transferred James’ character to an actual character sheet.

We played from 2:30 or so until 7, and had a good time. Ate pizza, etc. The game was a scripted loss for them (it was the first part of a longer campaign), and I felt bad having Liz’s first experience playing D&D be one, but that’s okay. They fought an Illithid with several Thrall – way above their level, and now they’re captured. All part of the plan.

Took the N home with everyone but Matt (since he was already home) and became dehydrated on the way – I drank a bunch of water, then passed out on my bed until Greta called around 11 on her way home from work. I was glad to be able to chat with her, and felt a lot better.

From Brooklyn,


HS Day 41: Peter Norvig Shirt Day

Peter Norvig, who finished up his residency with Hacker School today, wears amazing shirts. Apparently his wife makes them for him. We decided to have a Peter Norvig Shirt Day today to celebrate, so a bunch of people dressed up in Hawaiian shirts. I put on a brown short-sleeved shirt with flowers on it – sadly, the most Hawaiian shirt I have out here.

Arrived at Hacker School on time, after getting breakfast at Jazzy’s. I worked with Erik, Alex, and Matt to finish up the Risk AI – We had it done by 5pm, which was the deadline. Matt and I worked on a dumb AI for it (available online!) that was about 30 minutes of work away from being done at 5. So close. Lunch was at the Gyro cart across the street, which was surprisingly fresh and delicious.

Presentations went a bit long, even though there were only a few of them – pretty much everyone went over the 2 or 5 minute time limit. We demoed the Risk AI program with the AI that Erik wrote. After the presentations, The Ladders – the company whom we’re renting space from – held a party with TONS of beer and pizza. I had a beer and some pizza while I chatted with some people from the ladders (Including an Asian guy named “Ha”, which I didn’t catch and asked, “Huh?” to which he responded, “Yeah.”).

Joy, giving her presentation.

Joy, giving her presentation at The Ladders space.

Matt and I retreated from the noise of the party and finished up our AI – It turned out that the crash was caused by the server incorrectly telling us that we had a valid move when we didn’t. I had another beer with pizza while we worked.

I ended up chatting with Travis for about an hour about NYC afterward, and then left to go home. The two beers, plus my lightweightness, made it so I pretty much passed out in my bed at around 10pm.

I woke up from 1am to 3:30am and spent some time working on Space Adventure – which is really coming along.

From Manhattan (the next day)