◈ 2023

october 8th

it's been quite a bit since i updated the blog. i survived my first quarter at google as a full time swe, so that's good. i did some oncall training and have been doing quite a bit of work on the topic modeling product. i've got a main project i'm working on and then i'm also doing analysis of the topic modeling using conversation logs to test it. it's actually quite a bit of fun. it's been really fun skating around the city after work, before i take the train home. i've been taking a bunch of pictures and recently dropped off some rolls of film at a camera shop to get developed, so i'm looking forward to those.

i've also been working really hard to get oracle of secrets done. i've been doing a lot of vertical gameplay slices, completing dungeons and adding new assembly features as i'm developing and getting feedback from playtesters on my discord server. right now, i have the mineshaft desert dungeon and the ice mountain mansion dungeons i'm working on. the mineshaft has a custom minecart sprite the player can ride in, similar to the somaria platform. the ice dungeon will have the twinrova boss from the oracle games that i've made myself.

i feel like i want to make some changes to the website. the infrastructure has stood the test of time but is definitely starting to show its age. particularly i'm not sure what i want to do with zeniea. that code is really old, and i could refactor it and keep working in PHP but i'm not sure if it would really benefit me, going forward. i'm worried i may have to finally bite the bullet and learn modern javascript, especially since i'm more likely to run into it at work. i come from a jquery age and am resistant to change, though i hear jquery is making a bit of a comeback. i still need to be more up to date i think. PHP will always be apart of my identity but i'm not sure if i want to keep developing in it.

july 9th

i've finally got my new place. i have a mattress and bed frame coming this wednesday so i can sleep there. it's a pretty nice townhouse in new brunswick new jersey and it is pretty close to the train station i'll be taking into the city for my job.

june 28th

wow i can't believe it's been so long. i'm finally in new jersey and started my job at google as a software engineer in new york. i've been commuting from central jersey but i'm getting a place in north jersey at the beginning of july. moving out here was a bit hectic, but not that bad looking back on it. i had my car shipped and google handled it, and then i drove my own moving truck with my stuff in it. i'm definitely going to try and be on top of blogging now that i'm free of my academic responsibilities. i also have work from home days every week which is nice. i'll definitely have time to finish my ROM hack and continue other personal projects.

back in march i ended up going to miami for spring break to help with the stress of that last semester. that was a lot of fun. i've been working on learning my spanish more still too.

march 4th

i'm starting to get a bit exhausted. i figured this would happen eventually given how many classes i am taking but i still feel the effects nonetheless. it's hard to give anything 100% of my effort and i'm really just looking forward to it being over soon. i'm glad i don't have a super negative attitude about it like i used to in the past. i could be all woe is me my life is so hard and busy and i'm so stressed and it's just not that serious.

february 17th

i just got back from my valentine's day weekend trip to new jersey. it was super fun and i am so happy i got to see nicole. we went out to brunch in princeton and i got to take pictures with my film camera of the campus and surrounding area. we also went and stayed at the plaza hotel in new york city which was a super cool experience. rode the new jersey transit northeast corridor line to new york penn and then got an uber to the hotel. we went out to eat at this cool mexican restaurant in midtown and then we had the fancy hotel champagne bottle. it ended up being like super warm the day i was supposed to leave (wednesday) so i booked an extra day to stay out in new jersey and we went to a park together to take more pictures. it was a really nice break from the monotony of school and work and usually we wait until spring break to see each other again so it felt good to visit for valentine's day. we have done valentine's day in the past but it just hasn't always been a regular thing with the long distance. i am really looking forward to this summer with her since we are finally going to live together for good in california.

since i've been really into the trains lately i made a point to actually use the rock island metra and blue line to o'hare airport for my flight, and then when i got to jersey since nicole was at work that day, her dad picked me up from the train station near them. i got to ride my first new jersey transit bus from the airport to newark penn station, then i took some pictures with my film camera of the station. it's super fun getting to revisit newark penn station and new york after how much fun i had over the summer for my internship. i wish i could go back out to new york immediately, but my google offer ended up being for the bay area so i've gotta go out there first before i can think about transferring my location in the future.

now that i'm back i need to start focusing on school and extracurricular activities a bit more. i'm pretty good about staying on my work especially when professors provide a lot of content online in the form of lecture videos and slides, but i missed a general body meeting with the google developer student club while i was out of town, so i'll want to make up for that by holding some events before the month is over. it's a lot of work juggling all my classes, my job, the extracirricular obligations, and my own personal hobbies like zelda hacking but really i have never felt more alive haha. i'm very excited to graduate and i know that i don't have to push myself super hard anymore and that is a really good feeling. for all the stress and anxiety i took on trying to finish my undergraduate, it feels good that i'm very close to being finished.

some of the zelda hacking things i have in mind is finishing my 18 hour challenge hack that i'm working on. i've built a full overworld and started the graveyard dungeon and i have about 8 hours remaining on my timer to finish up that dungeon, do the castle dungeon i have planned, and then do all the story and bug fixes. once i've done that challenge hack and release that with the others in the community, i'll pivot back to oracle of secrets and finishing the HUD/menu code. this will be important for playtesters as i work on finishing the last couple dungeons and overworld areas. after that i will work on the transformation masks code and integrate those with the dungeons that they correspond with. i'll likely write more on this as well as the work i've been doing in building out the zelda3 editor i've been coding.

january 26th

figured i would take some time again to blog. last week the faculty at school was on strike so i basically got a week long break for MLK day. i went into the city last monday and took some pictures with my camera, got a haircut, and started working on a new diet. when i say new diet, i just mean that i'm trying to gain weight more intentionally now. i'm a vegetarian and have been for about six years now. i've always struggled to gain weight, even before switching to vegetarianism. so last week i started my journey of not only improving my diet, but also quitting nicotine vaping. this helped with the appetite a lot. i've been actually doing some weight training on top of my daily exercise and i think i'm going to try going to a gym or the fitness center at school so i can work on more. i'm hoping to gain 10-20 lbs over the next year so I look and feel better for california.

i took advantage of the rest of the week off and really just worked on myself, the new diet, and making sure i didn't relapse on nicotine. after day 3 it got a bit easier. i've also been writing poetry every day since then too. i've put some of it on my blog, but other stuff i have been typesetting with latex so it has a unique aesthetic. i've really been enjoying writing more often. i got a moleskin book to write ideas and doodles for my poems in. a lot of the ideas come from things in nature, especially thoughts i have when i'm on the train going to chicago for school. it's nice to share the stuff i write with nicole. and the snow lately has been a nice inspiration when thinking about the world. i'm going to be moving to california this summer and it's my first time ever going so far. i've lived in places like texas, florida, new jersey, etc but I have never been this far away from my family. it's going to be an interesting experience. so i want to document this time well, since it's probably the last time i'm going to call this place and this way of life home.

i'm taking the minolta into the city with me today. i loaded some black and white 400 film. i think it will be cool with all the snow in the city.

january 10th

i had my first last day of school yesterday. i had said that back in august when the fall semester started, but technically it's true here too. i only had two classes but it was still a busy day. first was an advanced data structures class, based on the standard data structures and algorithms class that basically every computer science major has to take. i'm looking forward to getting back into the weeds with the C++ projects. i didn't do very much C++ last semester, mostly machine learning with Python, some low level C, and some Arduino programming. UIC is mainly a C++ school when it comes to computer science and that's where the school shines in my opinion. thankfully, i had a lot of friends in this class.

after class i tried heading over to central camera on wabash, but i showed up just 10 minutes after they closed. i got a minolta srt202 film camera for christmas from my mom and i wanted to take it in to get cleaned and serviced. i took some pictures with the roll that's currently in the camera of the college and experimented a bit with the manual settings. i took a photography class in high school but that was completely digital. i think it's going to be interesting learning how to use film. i also got a handy portable 22mm wide angle lens camera that i put some black and white film in to take pictures of buildings in chicago.

then a bit later i had another class, concurrency programming, with a professor who has a twitter account where he posts a bunch of anti-woke stuff. i had him for my 300 level computational theory course and he's a great professor, but the type of stuff he says on his twitter account is actually hilarious how engrained in the culture war it is. like going out of his way to say that he's going to make a point to use all of the standford banned words in his lectures. i'm not sure if i will keep the class yet, since i loaded up more classes than i need and plan on hopefully dropping at least one. all he spent the first lecture talking about was like, computer programmer salaries and job satisfaction levels. he has a good sense of humor and all, but i didn't really participate in the lecture.

i was working on my assembly code for the oracle of secrets menu in class and pushed a few changes to the way that item counts are handled in the HUD. i'm currently trying to figure out where certain parts of the re-draw logic, since there are still frames of the hearts and magic refill which appear in their vanilla position, rather than the new HUD layout that is drawn from a static tilemap. after class i had to take the 6:30 Metra back to Joliet. The annoying thing about the evening services for the Rock Island district is that they basically double as a south side of Chicago local service. there's a series of local style stops along the route that get skipped in the morning during the commuter services. it's basically a patch in the insufficient infrastructure of the south side. rather than building a proper CTA line, it's just put on Metra to service these communities. so my train ride was an hour and a half long.

now i'm on the train again and i've got a couple more classes today all in the morning sequentially. economics and computation, computer graphics, and artificial intelligence. most annoying part is that my first class of the day is at 9:30 and on the southmost end of campus with no direct transit access to it besides the bus. so it's just a hefty skate in the morning. it's probably good for me to stay active though. and to top it all off i have a dentist appointment after school. gotta take care of the teeth.

january 4th

i'm going to try a different format this year. i stopped blogging for the last six months because i always struggled with little things like coming up with a title so i'm going to leave it all in one page and try to increase the frequency while reducing the density of the blog posts themselves. i'm interested to s ee how this blog differs from other years with this new format.

here's a quick recap of the last six months since i wasn't blogging:

after that absolutely brutal semester, i went to visit my (now) fiancee for christmas in new jersey and had a really great time. it was super cold so we didn't get to go out and do as much as we wanted, but it was also really nice just to finally have a break after doing all that school. i managed to avoid all of the craziness of the winter storm flying into philly and even on the way back as southwest was cancelling tons of flights, mine managed to leave basically on time and i got home in time for new years with my family.

now i've only got one semester left until i'm finished with my undergraduate and will start the new job on june 20th. i plan on making the most out of it by doing events at school for our google developer student club. i'd like to take a trip to the chicago fulton market office at some point. my mom gave me an old minolta srt202 film camera and i'm going to use it to take pictures in the city.

nicole is going to be moving with me to california and i'm really excited to move somewhere new and see new things. i've been really into like urban planning stuff and public transportation the last year and i think it will be really cool to see how different american culture is on the west coast. i'm excited to see san francisco and the cable cars. i definitely am looking forward to the weather.

the product area i'm in at google is cloud ai, which is a bit more corporate than the sexy openai stuff that's going on right now, but i still think it will be good for the name recognition of being in what is now a trendy field of tech. i've been utilized the chatgpt service to help with programming for my zelda3 hacking. i am definitely super interested in ai and want to keep working with it, seeing as how quickly these apis are catching on.