Why I Rebuilt

1 year ago

I enjoyed making my first personal site. I used Wordpress and a shared host called x10Premium. I understood everything. I gained experience with these tools from my job at the time. Everything was familiar and relatively easy, which was convenient and made things quick. However, I wanted a change.

I know WordPress offers a lot of features, but I wanted more freedom. I also wanted to minimalize my site to only what I needed. Doing everything myself would enable this.

I've been wanting to edit/update my site for months, but I never did it. I was really dragging my feet. Then I got my current job, and my boss talked to me about this PHP Framework Laravel. I decided to give it a shot, and it's become my favorite way to develop. It became the foundation for my new redesign. With this new approach I needed a different host.

I went with Linode. My boss uses it and loves it. Several of the podcasts I listen to use it. They even have offer codes, and I took advantage of one. He and the show hosts talked about how easy it is to use because of the documentation, and they were right. I'm not saying there wasn't frustration on my part because of user error, but it was a really great learning experience.

Doing everything from scratch has taught me so much. Laravel and Linode are a great match. If anyone wants to make a site, I recommend this if you know what you're doing.

Houston Vlogging

2 years ago

I vlogged a few weekends ago in Houston while visiting my twin Austin. It was a lot of fun. I finished editing it; and before I uploaded it to YouTube, I asked Austin and my girlfriend Sarah to watch it first to see what they thought about it. This vlog was important to me because it was the first time I visited him, and I wanted it to be the best I could make it. Austin liked it, but Sarah said it actually made her carsick. However, she pointed out that not everyone may get carsick. I was conflicted about whether or not to take the questionable parts out that I thought should be there or leave them in. Sarah pointed out that I'm doing this for me and no one else. She was right. I was trying to conform to what I thought other people would want. But I decided to leave it how I originally had it. I really loved the way it turned out. I think it's my best one yet. I asked one of my friends if I could use his music in it, and he agreed to it as long as I credited him. I think that brought my VLOG to a new level. This is my favorite vlog so far.

I want my vlogs to be visually appealing and aurally acceptable. I never thought I would make vlogs, but I'm really glad that I do.

I Learned How to Crochet!

1 year ago

I learned how to crochet a few months ago. We were at Sarah's grandparents' house for her grandmother's birthday, and her little cousins wanted her to teach them how to crochet. I got roped into it, but I'm really glad I was. Crocheting is awesome!

At first it was hard to grasp. Even though Sarah was showing us what to do step-by-step, it was hard to see everything that was happening in the yarn. However, I powered through and learned how to chain that day. I tried doing the next step, adding rows, but I wasn't ready for that yet. I accomplished that the following day.

Adding the first row is the hardest one to add. You do it differently compared to the other rows. I eventually figured that out too. I ended up making a square, albeit it's a lopsided square, but a square nonetheless. It was my first item that I completed in the crocheting process. I was so proud of that square, I brought it to everyone I visited the following weekend to show them what I made. I realize it wasn't much, but I was still proud of it. It was my first thing.

I kept crocheting the following days with no direction. I just wanted to do it and get better at it. I was throwing ideas around with Sarah on what my first real project would be. Then it dawned on me; I was going to make a case for my keyboard. That was it. I was so psyched and determined to do this!

My Keyboard Case

I went into this idea with no plan, no pattern, no particular number of rows. I just knew I wanted it to hold my keyboard. I also wanted it to be able to hold my phone because that's the device I use the most with my keyboard. That would certainly make it a little more complicated. I just dove in.

At first I started off with a gray yarn. However, I eventually made enough of it to realize it wasn't wide enough for the keyboard. I started pulling out my stitches, but the yarn was difficult and didn't let me do that. Sarah told me some yarns are just like that. I gave up on trying to unwind it. That gave me the chance to switch to a different yarn. I chose a classy black because I knew I would be bringing this case all over the place, and black goes with just about anything.

I was hyped on the new aesthetic of this case. I figured out a basic plan by then. I was going to make one long piece so I could attach it to itself to make a pouch. Then I'd attach a pocket to the outside and finish it off with buttons and loops to fasten the flap. I compared the length of my chain to my keyboard, and I started my journey.

I'd compare my progress to my keyboard periodically to make sure it was okay. It seemed like it was going to be kind of snug, but it was going to work. Then I got to a point where it didn't seem like it would fit anymore, but I had made so much progress already. Sarah suggested I should make two same-size panels to attach to the sides to make it wider. I began making those panels after I finished the biggest piece.

Connecting Separate Pieces

By now I knew how to do a single crochet and weave in the tail. Sarah had to teach me how to connect a piece to another piece. It's basically single crochet with two pieces. There's just a little something different involved. I had to redo the panels because they kept ending up uneven. I redid one panel twice and the other one more time. Once I made sure they were both lined up, I started on the outside pocket.

The Phone Pocket

I finished it quite quickly, the hard part was sewing it onto the front of the finished pouch. I finally figured out a way to do this. Once that was taken care of, I started on the buttons and the latch.

The Buttons

My plan for the buttons was to basically just try to insert the thread into holes in the pattern and tie them on. This was futile. If I wanted to tie them, I had to reach down into the already sewn on front pocket; but my fingers were no where near long enough. I sat there for a while thinking of a different approach. I finally got it. I would make the string long enough so that I could weave it somewhere near the top of the pocket where I could actually reach. That was tedious, but it went well. The last thing was the latch.

The Latch

I decided I was just going to weave some string from the outer sides of the covering flap. This was easy, and then I was finally done!

Making this case was a great learning experience. It helped improve my muscle memory. I learned a whole bunch of new techniques. It still reminded me about perseverance. It was EXTREMELY satisfying when I was finished, and it functions perfectly. I really couldn't be happier with it. Thanks again to Sarah for teaching me how to crochet!


1 year ago

There's a certain magic about coding. It's so specialized. It's beautiful. I dare say it's prestigious. How do letters and numbers and characters become software? It's really intriguing if you think about it. I've learned that I really love coding. I'm proud to say it's a passion. Being able to figure out bugs and issues genuinely excites me. I love figuring out what's wrong with code. There's definitely a sense of accomplishment that comes with doing this.

I love learning new things. Coding will always have new aspects to learn. It's always changing. Coding standards get updated to make code more efficient and add new features. You'll never run out of things to learn.

There is no one way to structure your code. There's tabs and brackets and other things that are required, but that depends on which language you're using. However you decide to structure your code can be a personal choice. Sometimes it can be decided by your place of employment or by whomever you're working with at the time. It just depends. You want your code to be understandable in case someone else needs to use it or fix it.

Code looks nice to me. There's a certain aesthetic that it conveys. Editors and IDEs have color formats depending on what the code actually is, i.e., what it's file type or language is. I really enjoy all the colors. On the one hand the colors help with deciphering what everything is. On the other hand I just think it looks nice. You normally have to look at code for a long time, and I think it's better to look at colors than just grayscale.

Coding is so flexible. You can do infinite things with it. You can make a small program that sorts a few numbers, or you can make an application used worldwide. It all just depends on what you want to do. There's different languages to use to best fit whatever you're trying to accomplish. You shouldn't just stick with one language your whole life. You need to diversify. I've heard about some people doing just that, and they're stuck looking for work that requires that language. They can't do anything else. I don't think that's a good approach to your career. I'm trying to learn everything I possibly can. I eventually want to be able to get any job I want because of the experience and knowledge I've gained.

Code is ubiquitous. No matter where you look, something near you has been coded to function the way it does. Wherever there's a computer there's code. Your toaster has some kind of code embedded on its chip. Your thermostat may even have code. Those games you're playing on your phone weren't just there; they were coded. Whatever you're reading this article on was coded into existence. Code is everywhere, and it's popping up in more and more places.

There's just a certain magic about coding that you cannot experience doing anything else. That's what I like most about it. It's unique, and it really has no limits. It's the future.

Laptop Improvements

2 years ago

A laptop isn't a machine that you buy every year (unless of course you're a tech YouTuber). They're expensive, and the incremental changes from year-to-year aren't really enough to justify buying one that often. I haven't bought a new laptop since 2012. My laptop is pretty ancient in the tech world. Since I simply cannot afford to get one right now, I'd like to go over some steps I've taken to get the most out of my purchase.

I run Linux Mint 18 on my ASUS Q500A. It has an i5 Intel processor from 2012 in it and 6GB of RAM. It originally came with Windows 8 (good ol' Metro!). I was so excited about it when I bought it. It looked so sleek, and it ran better than my previous laptop (an HP). A feature that I was really looking forward to having was the backlit keys. My previous laptop didn't have that, and I was kinda feeling the pressure from all the people that had MacBooks in college. I was really happy when I bought it. To this day I'm still pretty content with it. I just wish it were faster and had a better screen.

Depending on how you count there are 3 major Operating Systems that consumers use: Windows, MacOS, and Linux. I want to talk about why I use Linux. Linux is pretty lightweight, and I think that's definitely good for my laptop. I had Windows 10 on it for a short while, but it didn't stay. I was having a lot of drivers issues; my guess is because it's so "old." It also wasn't as fast as it is on Linux, so I eventually switched. For most of my laptop's life, it's been on some version of Linux. I've really grown to love this OS. The customizability is second to none. It's secure and speedy, it can do pretty much anything Windows and MacOS can do, and it's FREE.

I've also done some stuff to improve upon the performance besides change the OS. Here's what I did for the most part. I've linked to an article from where I got some of the steps I've taken. I lowered the "swappiness." I've linked to what swappiness is, but it's basically one of the ways a Linux kernel handles memory. The default swappiness on Linux is set to 60, but that's for systems that don't really have enough memory. I feel like my 6 GB is good enough, so I lowered my swappiness to 10. I always keep it up-to-date. I reduced the visual effects of the system, i.e., window animations and stuff like that. The GPU on my laptop wasn't the best when I got it, so doing this step has really helped a lot. I've also turned off hardware acceleration in Google Chrome because I've been experiencing some tearing issues. Turning that feature off seems to have remedied that. I've also figured out that I need to turn it off or keep it plugged in if I let it go to sleep. If it dies or sleeps and then dies, it takes FOREVER to turn back on and be functional. It's extremely slow out the gate.

These are just some steps that you too can take if your computer isn't bleeding edge. I could probaby do more, but I'm pretty comfortable with where my laptop is at right now. If you try anything on here, let me know if it works. Let me know if you run into any issues as well. I plan on using my laptop as long as I can, and I will continue to make improvements to it as long as they're available.


2 years ago

I've been unemployed for 3 weeks now. It's not fun. Actually, that's not entirely true. Some of it is to be completely honest.

I don't have to wake up early right now. I can watch YouTube on my "breaks." I can go to coffee shops to do some work (that doesn't pay me anything). That's the fun part.

There's also a horribly depressing and stressful part of unemployment. I'm not getting paid right now. I need money. You need money to survive in this world. It's been really rough. My anxiety gets pretty bad sometimes because I'm not supporting myself or my family. I feel pretty useless.

I haven't let that bring me down enough to just do nothing. I've been applying to jobs. I've been submitting proposals to freelance jobs. I've been researching and continuing learning in order to keep progressing independently. I'm even working on an app right now.

I'm trying. I've done this before. I really hate it, but I'm not gonna stop until I get a job. I need to get one.

Beginning of the Year Reflections

2 years ago

This year I've set a lot of goals for myself. I've never really done that before. I've tried making New Year's Resolutions, but I've failed so many times. I've never explicitly said, "I'm gonna accomplish this."

There's been a lot of factors influencing my setting goals for myself. I've had full time jobs before, but they were in between college semesters. That caused me to have the mindset that I would have a break from working all the time. However, I do work all the time now. I've developed a discipline and drive from being a professional software developer.

In college I was never really ambitious in terms of setting goals for myself. The only goal I had was graduating; I just wanted to be done. College is really draining, and all my mind was on was finishing. Now that I'm out I don't have that stress anymore. I can focus on things that are personally more important to me. Also I have more free time to accomplish those things because I don't have anymore homework, and I don't have to study anymore.

I've figured out things I like to do. I know I love to sing, but I've (re)discovered my desire to post videos of my doing that. I've also figured out that I like to vlog, even though before I never even wanted to watch vlogs. I had such a closed mind regarding vlogs; that was ignorant of me. I'm so glad to gave them a chance because that's most of my video consumption now. If I never started watching them, I probably never would've started myself and found that this is something that I love doing. Another thing that I've learned I love doing is blogging. I've made my own website, and I'm trying to at least blog weekly on it. I've worked really hard on it, and I think it shows. I couldn't write in high school. I flat out couldn't. My writing wasn't very interesting, and I would say the same thing over and over because I couldn't think of what to say. I loathed writing because I wasn't confident in my skills; and I felt like no matter what I did, I'd get a bad grade. It's different now.

I love writing. I love writing what I feel or think. I love not having a rubric to follow. This freedom is what I believe helps me write. I get excited about writing. Whenever something pops into my head, I quickly try to jot it down so I can pick it up later and finish that thought. I really enjoy it.

I've figured out a lot about myself this past year, and I couldn't be happier about it. I'm glad I've set goals for myself. I've had a lot of encouragement especially from my girlfriend and brother that's bolstered my self-confidence. That helped me start a lot of what I've done, and they've encouraged me to do more. I've also gotten a lot of support from my friend Dana Blouin. He has a lot of great content on his YouTube channel. He also has a video about setting goals, and after watching it I decided to make an actual list. Making that list was and is really important. I feel like this approach will be better for me than just setting resolutions again. The clearer definition of these goals will help me stay focused better than just some vague resolutions. I'm so excited to accomplish everything I've set out to do.

Different Perspectives

2 years ago

I know my own personality; however, sometimes you get surprised by other people's perceptions of you. Recently one of my friends told me he could totally see me being a salesman. I asked why, and he said because of my personality. I just have that kind of personality. When he said that it really intrigued and flattered me. I secretly feel like I could do that. It wouldn't have to explicitly be a sales, but it could be a job that required that kind of charisma and attitude--a job that requires something being sold in some kind of way. I just really liked being told that. 

It's intriguing to think about doing something different than what you thought you'd be doing for your career. You kinda think to yourself, "Could I do that? I could probably do that." And then you switch to thinking, "Would I want to do that?" Maybe.

Discovering new things about yourself is great. It's a way for you to progress in life. It enables you to think from different perspectives. It's always good to change your mindset once in a while, and this experience definitely made me do that.

My First Year as a Professional Software Developer

2 years ago

It's been an interesting year full of learning and self-progression. When I say learning I mean A LOT of learning.

I majored in Computer Science at LSU. For the most part I stuck with mostly C++ and a little Java. I was required to learn a few more languages for some classes, but they were only for that class in particular. My education was a good start, but the profressional programming world is much different from what I learned.

I admittedly wasn't too ambitious in terms of independently learning other languages in college. My course load was already enough, and I didn't want to make it harder on myself by learning something else that I didn't need to. I should've though because it really would've helped me this year.

We were taught to avoid a lot of practices such as coding in IDEs and were restricted to only using certain languages. In the real world that stuff doesn't matter. You can pick whichever solution you think is best. Admittedly, I didn't know what to do with this newly discovered freedom. I was so used to being told how to approach a problem, I didn't know what to do at first. Sometimes you just need to brainstorm and try some things out. Often times there is more than one solution to a problem. My job is to figure out which is the best and most appropriate for that problem.

I've had my struggles. I haven't been able to figure out a lot of stuff. I've needed help. That's okay though. Sometimes you just need that push from someone else to help it click for you. I have taught myself so much this past year, but I've also learned from others.

I know I've learned a lot and have come a long way, but I know I'm nowhere near finished. I'll never be finished learning or progressing. I know there'll be challenges my whole career, but I'm looking forward to overcoming them.

I've been so blessed with this first opportunity to break into this industry. It's been perfect for me. I believe this is helping form a great foundation for my career.

YouTube Channel Update (Again)

2 years ago

I know I just made a channel update to vlogging Monday-Thursday and posting Tuesdsay-Friday, but I'm making another change. This isn't a spontaneous change. I've been thinking about doing this for a while. I've talked to my girlfriend about this a few times. I recently just talked to my brother about this. I'm only going to be making weekly vlogs now.

I don't live a very interesting life. At least not one where I can make an interesting video every single day. I thought I could remedy that by only vlogging four days a week. That didn't end up working out. I love my life, don't get me wrong. I'm just not always doing something, let alone something interesting enough to vlog.

Coming up with content when you don't really have much to work with is hard. You want to do it because you've laid out a plan you want to stay committed to, but you just can't sometimes. Sometimes if you do that it can just come out being filler. I don't want that anymore. I KNOW some of my videos have been really bad (and I mean REALLY bad). That's because I tried forcing something being created out of nothing. It just doesn't work. I want to make actual good content that's not painstaking to get through. I want all aspects of the content I create to be necessities, not fillers. I feel like that with this weekly vlog schedule, I'll be able to accomplish that.

I've been talking to my girlfriend Sarah for a while about this. We both agree that it's hard to vlog everyday. I don't live in a city where I can do something really interesting everyday.  I have a full-time job. YouTube is just a fun thing that I'm doing right now, and my job takes up most of my time. It's really unrealistic for me to make interesting content everyday.

My brother said sometimes it's hard to watch my vlogs. I totally understand where he's coming from. I really don't want that for my channel anymore. He told me recently that he'd rather I put out a weekly vlog chock-full of good content than daily vlogs that are boring. I agree with him.

I'm glad I've had these two people in my life help me come to this conclusion. I've been thinking internally about doing this, but having them both talk with me was the catalyst for my coming to this decision. I hope you understand. I just want to be able to create that best content that I can. I believe doing this will really help me achieve that.

I will be posting weekly vlogs on Fridays at 3:00pm US Central Standard Time. I'll occasionally sprinkle in an extra vlog when my week is interesting, but there will be officially only one scheduled video a week. Concerning my covers, I still haven't figured out a good schedule for those yet. Those are trickier because they require practice. I want to do more of them, but I need to put in the time first.

That's my channel update. I hope you understand and stick with me. I just want to produce the best possible content I can. To everyone that is subscribed to me or follows me, I really appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you.

Web Presence Update

2 years ago

This past weekend I spent some time working on my website and YouTube channel . Both have been public for while. I made some channel art for my YouTube channel using a picture I took of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans and edited it with this app called Fragment. That is one of my favorite pictures that I've ever taken, so I thought it would make great channel art. I felt like it represented me well because it depicts where I was from and what I've been around my whole life. It's been my channel art since I started posting videos again (I stopped for a while as stated in my "Thank You, Casey Neistat" vlog).

I had a YouTube Intro and Outro for a while that was an acorn with animated text. However, I always felt that no one understood what that meant because it's an acorn, so I started thinking I needed to change it. I used the Fragment app again for this and paired the result of that with an app called Adobe Spark Post. Fragment provided the acorn and Post provided the animated text. I picked its colors based on how I edited my original YouTube channel art. I inverted the colors and stayed consistent with that colorway.

I don't have a powerful enough computer to do anything graphics intensive; therefore, I wanted to find an iOS app that I could use to make my new Intro and Outro. I found Adobe Spark Video. Within 10 minutes of downloading the app, I had figured out how I was going to utilize its creative tools for my purposes. I was very excited about this change, but it no longer matched my channel art. I wanted to change it several times, but I kept procrastinating. This weekend I finally tackled the task.

I have a banner on my website that I decided to make the same as my channel art. I had originally based my website's colors on this picture. I liked its layout, but I always felt like it wasn't fully complete because of its colors; so I began revamping my website alongside  my YouTube channel.

I love primary colors, and the theme that I have for my website had some presets of the primary colors that were quite close to the pure colors. I had some trouble with theming certain parts of my site such as the footer, but I eventually fixed everything. The final touch was the banner. I decided to make it by directly taking from my YouTube Intro. I just took screenshots of each aspect and combined them in GIMP to achieve my final product.

I felt extremely productive this weekend. My YouTube channel art matches my Intro and Outro, and so does my website. Everything matches now, conversely comparing how they "kinda" matched before. I feel so much better about both. Overall, I feel like my site is a lot cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. Same goes for my channel art. I'm really excited to see what the future holds for both of these.

I plan on uploading more content on each. My mindset and ideas are frequently  evolving, and I constantly think about the kind of content I want to put up. I'm so excited to challenge myself creatively and output what I come up with to the world.

Thank You, Casey Neistat

2 years ago

I started my YouTube channel early 2013. My first video involved using an Arduino bread board for one of my classes. My next video was a vocal and ukulele cover of "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. I made a few more Arduino videos and two more covers--one a vocal and ukulele and the other a drum--that year. After that, I didn't post for 2 and a half years. I started wanting to post again, so I started thinking about what I wanted to do--covers again. I waited until I got the iPhone 6S Plus. I planned on posting a cover a week. I was following that plan for a little while. Then one day I was watching an MKBHD video, and he referenced the way a YouTuber named Casey Neistat opened boxes. So naturally, since MKBHD watched him, I thought I should at least check him out. So I did. And my YouTube world was changed forever. In the first vlog I watched of his, he said even though it's a vlog, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be high quality. That had a resounding effect on me. He inspired me to start vlogging myself. And not only vlogging--daily vlogging. I was so excited about the idea. My first vlog was one I've never posted. It was a Friday spent with my daughter after school. I never posted it because of a point I made in a previous vlog. Since then, I've made 76 vlogs. He inspired me to stay committed to vlogging and my channel in general. He inspired me to be as creative as I could be. I have him to thank for all the content I've put out on my channel. I don't know if I would've ever started vlogging, let alone watching vlogs, if I wouldn't have found him. I was never interested in vlogs until I saw his. Now I love watching them. I have him to thank for my desire to upload as much as I have. He said to just keep uploading. That's stayed with me. I wish him the best of luck in the new content he's decided to make. I look forward to it. I respect his decision to stop vlogging, and I can 100% understand why he's stopping. I appreciate the impact you've had on all of YouTube and my own channel. Your vlogs will be missed. Thank you, Casey Neistat. For everything.