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Coding

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

1 year 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.


Unemployment

1 year 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.


Post-Election Violence

2 years ago

The riots that are happening aren't good. At all. People are vandalizing and destroying property. That's not what citizens should do if they disagree with the outcome of an election. Instead, they should band together and organize in a way that's focused on changing what they want changed. I understand why these protests/riots are happening. I don't agree with the extreme degree to which some of them have been carried out.

But this election has also birthed even greater hate than there was before the actual election. People are scared for their lives. If you think that the people that are scared don't need to be, you're straight up wrong. All over the internet there are people posting things happening directly to them. You probably don't see too much of what I'm talking about on here, but go hop on Twitter for a quick sec if you're curious. If not I'm sure they're posted other places too.

The hate on both sides needs to stop. The rioting (not protests) need to stop. The sexual, cultural/ethnic, and lifestyle assaults (I didn't know how to word this, but I wanted to cover everything) need to stop. If we want something changed--and I know our system is really messed up--we need to change it by however we (legally) can.

Donald Trump is president. I know a lot of people don't like that. But there are other aspects of our government that are ruining this country. The fact that the electoral college doesn't have term limits is astounding. These elected officials just stay in office, a lot of the time not accomplishing anything or making things worse. You can protest Trump as president, but also give consideration to protesting this aspect as well.

To end, we need to stop hating and disrespecting one another. Kids I went to highschool with are attacking each other. Family members are attacking each other. Don't let this election enable you to forget about what's important in life. Love will prevail. It needs to.


I Bought a Manfrotto PIXI

2 years ago

I just bought a Manfrotto PIXI Mini tripod. I got it because the Innovapod I asked Sarah to get me keeps falling apart. To be clear it's not her fault she got that particular tripod for me. I specifically asked for that one because I thought it was going to be good. It was, but the legs and the balls of the design are prone to falling apart or coming off. I really like that tripod because I can angle my phone pretty much any way I want. However, I cannot really deal with its unreliability anymore. I decided to get the Manfrotto because it has overall great reviews and seemed a lot sturdier than my current tripod.

I've been thinking about minimalizing my vlogging setup ever since I went to Houston to visit my brother. I used to use the Innovapod along with this all-metal ball head. The ball head was **very** heavy. That compromised the Innovapod's rigidity. I understand that I didn't need to use the ball head, but it was for the aesthetic and functionality. Currently I'm using an external lavalier mic with multiple windscreens to block the wind and a smartphone mount. I'm no longer using the ball head; only the Manfrotto. It's working very well so far. I like the angle I can get with it because of the tripod's ability to rotate at the top and its light weight. I don't mind holding it as much as I did the other setup. I know I won't be able to wrap this tripod around any branches or rails, but I never did that in the first place. So far, I think this tripod is fitting my needs, and I couldn't be happier about it.


My iPhone

2 years ago

I love my iPhone. I've never enjoyed using a phone more in my whole life. I had Android phones before I had this one. I tried being a loyal Nexus user, but I kept feeling the pressure of getting an iPhone. All the famous people had them, my family and friends had them. I tried being different, but deep down I knew I wanted one.

My first iPhone was given to me by my girlfriend's PawPaw. It was an iPhone 5. My Google Nexus 5's motherboard had just breathed its last breath. I needed a phone, and he was kind enough to let me have it.

I was so excited about this phone. I wanted to set it up and download all the apps I had on my previous phones. I knew some of the apps in the Google Play Store weren't in the App Store, but I found their equivalents. The App Store came first in history, so I knew I wouldn't have difficulty finding those replacement apps.

Eventually I got my phone all set up. It was my iPhone now. I liked using that phone. It was a nice introduction into iOS. I was considering getting either the iPhone 6S Plus or the Google Nexus 6P when I could afford it. However, using this phone solidified my decision to purchase the best iPhone yet. I'm so glad I did. I've never used a phone this much.

I've never felt like a phone could be as immersive as this one is. I do more with my iPhone now than I ever have with any other phone. It helps me stay more organized. It helps me stay more connected. I love picking up this phone and using it. It doesn't just feel like a phone. It feels like a necessary tool for my everyday life. I have all my reminders on it. I have ideas on it. I have my life on it. It kind of isn't good how much we depend on something. However, the other side of that is that this device can do so much for you. I'm trying to use it to its full potential. I'm glad this is the approach I'm taking. I believe I'm getting my money's worth.