My New Year's Resolutions for 2018

Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to kick off this blog and write about not just tech-related stuff, but whatever interested me. I made two posts of photos I took during my adventures studying abroad here and here, documented my summer in San Francisco in a three-part series starting here, and I even wrote two posts analyzing the performances of top professional Smash Bros players here and here.

I thought I did well on that resolution. While I didn’t maintain a regular posting schedule, I managed to write at least one post per month. This is something that I intend on continuing through 2018. Additionally, I want to challenge myself on a couple of other fronts.

Make more content

Over winter break, I have lined up some blog post ideas. With a slightly lighter courseload this upcoming semester, I think I will dedicate more time to writing them and posting on a more regular schedule.

I also intend on continuing my book reviews; the first one I did on Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You was received well. And since I’m planning a post-graduation trip through Europe, I’m also planning on collecting plenty of footage of my travels and curating it on various channels.

Learn a new language and use it in a side project

2016 and 2017 were busy years for me. I was first occupied with semester studying abroad, and then a Google internship, and then tough schoolwork and interview prep, and then a Stripe internship, and then more tough schoolwork and even more interviewing. I didn’t have a lot of free time to develop side projects and explore new areas to the extent that I did during my first year of college.

However, this year will be different. My last semester at UIUC is gonna be pretty chill compared to any other semester, and I plan on making use of the anticipated increase in free time to pursue personal projects. I am currently learning Elixir, which I find interesting so far. I’ve found that my knowledge in OCaml, which I learned in my Programming Languages & Compilers class, is proving useful.

I’m thinking of doing a personal project involving Elixir; probably some real-time simulation like a virtual stock market or options market, which I think will highlight Elixir’s great support for concurrency and reliability.

Elixir logo
The logo for the Elixir programming language.

Learn more about cryptocurrencies

I’ll admit that at the beginning of 2017, I was skeptical about cryptocurrencies, partially due to ignorance and partially due to negative publicity about hacks like Mt. Gox and the DAO hack. However, around November, I started to warm up to the concept and began to do my research on Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other altcoins. I figured that while there may be flaws in specific cryptocurrencies, the overall concept of a decentralized and distributed ledger will likely play a large role in people’s lives in the future.

Even though I put small monetary stakes in the cryptocurrencies that I believe will succeed, I’m not expecting a huge return, or even any return, on any of my holdings. I think that too many people are investing in crypto and expecting short-term 100+% returns; this was made apparent in the increased mainstream adoption of Bitcoin and other altcoins and the subsequent rally in early and mid-December. However, many people were burned in the slump at the end of the year. The anecdotes of people taking out mortgages to buy Bitcoin worry me.

This year, I will keep an eye out on new research and developments related to this space because I want to stay as informed as I reasonably can about this space. And before investing in any new cryptocurrency, I will try my absolute best to do my due diligence on the team and technology behind it.

Ethereum and Bitcoin
Ethereum and Bitcoin, the two most popular cryptocurrencies.

Help struggling computer science students

As I’m approaching my final semester of college and look back on my college career, I realize that I wouldn’t be where I am now without my supportive peers and family. I’m truly fortunate in that regard.

This is why I’ve volunteered my time and energy in paying it forward. In April, I taught a class introducing Python to prospective and admitted students at [email protected] SAIL and I intend on doing that again for this year’s event. I’ve also helped teach interview workshops aimed at underclassmen to help them solve technical interview problems.

However, other students may not have this type of support network. The coursework in any good computer science curriculum is tough, study-life balance is usually non-existent, and the internship search becomes more and more competitive year after year. Without supportive peers and family, it’s easy to struggle and give up.

If you’re interested in or studying computer science and you’re struggling and cannot find advice relevant to your situation online, you have a resource in me. Shoot me an email (listed in my blog’s sidebar), and I will try to respond in a timely manner. Now I’m not a omniscient career advice guru, but I hope that my advice will be at use to you.