I’m staying in the Champaign-Urbana area. No summer classes - after four summers of class, I decided against doing that ever again. Instead, the majority of my time is devoted to interning, with the remaining hours of the day going to either my own projects or research. This blog post is (hopefully) part of a series of posts for this summer, detailing the highs, lows, and everything in between. This introductory post has quite the agenda:
- new computer
- living in Champaign
- raspberry pi
I took my last final exam May 12th, and promptly packed up all of my belongings. The next day, I moved everything out of the dorm and back home. It was quite an eventful move out - I may even write a separate post about that day. When I got back, I dumped everything out of my suitcases and began re-packing a smaller subset of my stuff for the summer. Yes, even though school just ended, I had to move back down to Champaign that Sunday - I started work on Monday, May 16th.
As for work, I’m interning at Intel, as part of the software development tools team. Intel provides a tool called Intel Processor Trace, and the work I’m doing revolves mostly that. Once the summer is over, and more importantly, I am more confident in what I can and cannot talk about, I’ll write a post about that, too.
My first day officially started at 8 am, but the new employee training didn’t start until 1, so I had the morning to myself. I went grocery shopping and setup my desk in my apartment. The thing I was most anxious about - and didn’t learn about until a few days after - was whether or not I was eligible for some sort of employee discount. My desktop at the time was long overdue for an upgrade, and being an Intel employee (even if for just a summer) meant I had to at least try to get bleeding-edge performance.
Few days after I started working, I stumbled upon the Employee Purchase Program site, and all my dreams came true. I was able to order a brand new i7-6700k for a new computer, heavily discounted. Three weeks into my internship, I ordered all of the parts for my new build.
- Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 7
- 16 GB DDR4 RAM (soon to be 32 GB, then 64)
- Corsair 450D
The rest of my components I transferred over from my old build:
- GTX 780ti
- Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD
- some 1 TB HDD
- Corsair AX-860 power supply
As I write this post, I’m still in Champaign, eagerly waiting for this upcoming weekend and my parts to arrive. I actually commute to and from home every weekend, because most of my friends are living closer to the suburbs, and, going home means my mom can cook for me and I can stock up on food for the week, rather than buying lunch everyday or trying to cook myself.
Backpacks, backpacks, backpacks. Or, to be less specific, bags. I think I have a bag problem. I have a lot of bags. I think each bag has a specific purpose - some sort of activity that greatly benefits from that bag style and no other ones. Which is why I have many bags, but four nice bags. Three of them are Timbuk2 - messenger, small backpack, and a massive, 40L roll-top - a high-quality and fantastic-looking bag company. Last one, and also the newest in the bag-clan, an Osprey. I recently discovered Osprey as a brand in general when I saw one in the wild and decided they look awesome. I also read about them a lot on r/buyitforlife, a subreddit that basically embodies my own purchasing style. I decided I wanted to get one with a wire-frame, since they push the actual bag away from your back and only the top and bottom touch, which greatly increases airflow and consequently decreases back-sweat.
I think I spent about three or four hours at the nearest REI checking out different bags, different sizes, different styles, but my indecisiveness didn’t let me pick one out. This is why credit cards are great - I walked out of REI with five different backpacks, fully knowing that I would return four of them, and maybe even all five if I really couldn’t decide. I didn’t really have time to test them out even more at home, so I just laid them out in my bedroom, and over the course of the next week, would have random encounters with different ones, until I eventually decided to just return them all. But, all hope was not lost. I had really liked Osprey’s Radial 34 - great design, amazing quality, and the wire-frame did exactly what I wanted. The pocketing perfectly suited my needs, and I was almost ready to keep that bag. However, the water bottle holders on the site were horrible. Rather than the common mesh, the radial had two zipper pockets (??) on the side for water bottles, and didn’t really hold anything in there at all. I usually forget to put on shoes before my backpack, so a lot of the time I’ll bend over to put on and tie my shoes with my backpack on. Every time I did that with the radial 34, one (or both) of the bottles fell out. And using stainless steel bottles meant that the life of the bottle would be cut down drastically, so I went back to the drawing board. After some more online research, I found the radial 26 - the 34’s smaller sized version. Osprey probably released the 26 after the 34, because the 26’s side water bottle holders were mesh! This bag was the one. I ordered that one online, and returned the other five, extremely satisfied with my new purchase. I’ve been using the bag for about a month now, and it’s fantastic. (I could probably even write backpack reviews …)
Living in Champaign
Not much to say here.
For some reason, I have three raspberry pi’s (two 2nd ed, 1 first ed) and decided to actually put them to use this summer. The first project is controlling LED’s with my voice, hopefully using Siri. I’m planning on integrating it with HomeKit using an open-source node.js-based project called HomeBridge, which lets you add custom “home” items to HomeKit. The goal is to be able to turn them on and off, and set the color using a fairly standard (and small) color palette. I’m starting this project in the next few days - I just brought back my raspberry pi and breadboard kit from home yesterday. The LED’s I’m using I bought from adafruit a while ago (LINK HERE). I have 100 LED’s across 4 strands, which I’ve already taped to the ceiling, wall, and under my bed. I think it’ll be really cool once I’m done, and I can definitely transfer it to my apartment during the school year.
The second project is going to be a DIY Alexa. Amazon provides an excellent guide on how to set one up, so this “project” is really just Yasha-buys-parts-and-wires-them-together, but it’ll be really cool at the end and might even inspire a project for the third raspberry pi.
I don’t really have a third use for a pi yet. I do, however, want to build some sort of lock-checker (and maybe locker/unlocker). I usually forget if I actually locked the door or not, and want a super simple way to check that once I’m in class/at work/etc. I’m thinking something like going to a website, and it just reads out some sensor value that’ll tell me if it’s locked or not. I’m hoping I can build this during the summer as well, but I’d rather build the LED’s and DIY-Alexa first.
My dad drives a total of two hours a day as part of his commute, so he listens to podcasts during his drive almost every day. I’ve also really wanted to get into podcasts, but I never had something like a lengthy commute. Recently, I read online somewhere that some software engineers listen to music during work, as expected, but others also listen to podcasts, due to their low-commitment nature. You don’t really have to focus on it, and your eyes and hands can do something else. This past week or so I’ve been trying that out, and so far it’s been interesting. I follow @Gruber and @DaringFireball on Twitter, so his podcast “The Talk Show” was my go-to for the trial podcast. I actually care about the content he presents, though, which is why I have mixed feelings towards listening to podcasts while working.
Positive: If I get stuck while coding, I can just focus back to the podcast, and something is there for me to do for a bit and it’s a pretty great mental break. But when I am coding, it doesn’t distract me, whereas music typically does. I also get to (fairly passively) keep up with the tech scene, without spending work hours reading through Hacker News or Twitter.
Negative: It does get pretty distracting. I listened to an episode of The Talk Show with Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi and basically had to listen to the thing.
Speaking of The Talk Show, John Gruber opens ep-153 with a statement I completely agree with:
To be successful, you need three things:
- A fussy way to make coffee, real good coffee
- Carbonated water
- A clicky keyboard
Yeah, basically spot-on for me.
I’m still working on the “fussy way” to make good coffee, but good coffee is definitely a high priority for me. Currently rocking a french press and some knock-off pour-over, but I’m hoping to have a Chemex and quality grinder by the end of the summer.
Intel’s fridge is stocked with LaCroix, my go-to carbonated water solution. Gruber makes his own using a SodaStream, but there’s plenty of LaCroix at the office (or at Costco …) and that works for me.
I also happen to own a Ducky Shine 3 with cherry MX blues (the super clicky ones) and I’ve now had it for two and a half years. I’m going to be replacing the keycaps with double-shot PBT sometime this summer, along with a thorough cleaning job.
Well, that wraps up Summer Sixteen’s first blog post.