Dream 2 Meme

idk how to explain this

My friend Neha asked me what would happen if you replaced the word dream in all those “deep” internet quotes with the word meme and we spent the next half hour laughing about this. I laughed harder about this than I have about anything all year.

So I made an extension to do the replacement:



GHC Thoughts

I was fortunate enough to go to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration– the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Here are some random thoughts I had throughout my experience:

On travelling: 
Travelling can be pretty annoying. Planning an itinerary, packing the right amount of stuff, waiting in line, standing at the airport, sitting in a plane–and as someone with absurdly long legs, airplanes are an extra pain.
However, this time was definitely slightly better. It was a different experience travelling with a big group of girls my age. I’ve never been on, say, a travelling sports team, or something of the like, so this was a first time thing for me. There’s a nice sense of comradery as we slug through bag claim, navigating the airport and planning rides together.

On Wifi:
Our hotel did not have wifi (it also had a few critters and crawlies around, but that’s a different story), but I couldn’t really complain since I was lucky enough to have my school pay for my stay anyways. I will note that for future reference, it may be worth it to invest in some kind of Mobile Wifi hotspot. There’s just so much to do online–whether it be confirming travel details, connecting with that new person you met at a speaker event, looking up event and activity details, or trying to cram in the work you are missing by attending the conference. Not having easily accessible wifi will greatly hinder productivity. 
On meeting people both new and old:
I met a lot of new amazing women at Grace Hopper, but I surprisingly also met a few people I knew from high school. Since I moved across the country for college, I don’t get to see my west coast friends very often, so it was nice to reconnect. 

Pieces of advice that stuck with me:
The closing Keynote speaker, Dr. Vivienne Ming gave a speech about courage that I really liked. 
This was just a little nugget of advice from Professor Anna Gommerstadt that I thought was kind of funny. 
Final Thoughts:
If you are thinking of attending–I highly recommend it. There’s tons of information online about Grace Hopper on everything from companies attending to what to pack.  

Summer of Stuff (Photo Journal!)

Many summers, I regret not doing as many activities or going to as many places as I could have. I think part of that is because at the start of summer it feels like you have an infinite amount of time so “why not go somewhere next weekend?”
As sad as it sounds I was indeed procrastinating having fun–or rather, I was procrastinating putting in the effort to have fun. It’s really easy to “have fun” watching Netflix: you can just start it immediately. It’s a bit more difficult to “have fun” with friends at an amusement park: you have to find a time that works for everyone, buy tickets, arrange rides, etc.
To get over that hurdle, I made a list of activities I wanted to do over summer and which weekend I would do each one, filling up pretty much every weekend. The plan was flexible since I could switch activities around to accommodate other people’s schedules, but still packed enough that I couldn’t simply skip an activity. That helped motivate my butt out of the couch and out the door to do something that was not only fun, but also more meaningful to me.

Here are some highlights by location:

San Francisco 
1) Pier 39 to watch 4th of July Fireworks 
San Francisco has so much fog so very often that it has lovingly dubbed it “Karl.” And Karl showed up bigtime on the 4th of July. Not sure whether I recommend or discourage going to a foggy place for fireworks. On the one hand, you can’t really see any fireworks. On the other hand, the entire fog lights up like the inside of a lava lamp which is also pretty cool.

2) Salesforce Tower
I had a friend interning at Salesforce, and was able to visit them at the Ohana Floor at the Salesforce Tower! This tower is huuugeeee.

Though not the tallest tower in the world, it is the tallest tower in SF at 1,070 feet and 61 floors (the top-most one is called the Ohana floor)

For reference of what that feels like–this is the tower with a helicopter flying by it.
It has the most stunning views–these pictures definitely do not do it justice. 

Added bonus: the 5th floor roof is a gorgeous park!

3) SF MOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) 

I’ve been here a few times before, but it’s still always a great spot for taking artsy pics and twice as fun with a friend!

4) Metreon 
The Metreon is a nice place to grab dinner, ice cream, and watch a movie all in one spot.

5) Orpheum Theater 

I was lucky enough to win the Hamilton ticket lottery which I wrote about here (x) and it’s at the wonderful Orpheum Theater in SF.

San Jose Area

1) Stanford Shopping Center 

Though this is probably the priciest shopping mall I’ve ever been to (and thus couldn’t buy anything 😥 rip) the outdoor setting and beautiful decor still made it a fun place to walk through and window shop though.

2) California’s Great America
One of my summer favorites for all of its epic rides! Drop Tower is definitely my favorite one 🙂

3) Santana Row
I came here multiple times! Amazing food, shopping, and lots of cute places to take photos! 
Santa Cruz
1) Natural Bridges
Though our pics may not have been as fancy as the ones from the Natural Bridges brochure thumbnail, Santa Cruz is full of boundless places to take photos. 
2) Beach Boardwalk
This is one of my favorite summer spots! The Boardwalk has a little something for everyone in such a small area–whether it be kiddy rides, thrilling roller coasters, making sandcastles, playing in an arcade, surfing, or chilling on the beach. 

3) Mystery Spot
This tourist hotspot was worth going to 1 time. (maybe not worth the $8 + parking fee for a second 10 minute tour) But the novelty and silly pics I could take with friends were super fun! 

1) 17 Mile Drive

And while we were in Monterey, we checked out the 17-mile drive. It’s basically a loop with 17 scenic stops. It was also very good parking practice cause I had to park and unpark my 8-seater van 17 times in very dense parking spaces.

2) Monterey Bay Aquarium 
Though tickets can be a bit pricey, one of my friends got free aquarium tickets from her internship! It’s a beautiful place to check out with friends.

1) Berkeley Kite Festival 
The Berkeley Kite Festival is a super fun family-friendly event. Also, admission is free! (But parking is not, so you can be like us and take an Uber to the location 😉 )

2) UC Berkeley 
I‘ve visited UC Berkeley once before and what can I say…it’s a lot like other college campus visits–pretty buildings and lots of activities (even in the summer apparently!) 
Image result for UC Berkeley
Yosemite National Park 
The beauty of Yosemite speaks for itself. And none of the photos we took could do these views justice. Check out other photos here (x)

BONUS ROUND: Fun Hiking Places

I also hiked at a ton of different places:

 – Fremont Older
 – San Antonio Ranch Preserve
 – PG&E Trail 
 – Mission Peak

 – Castle Rock
 – Picchetti Ranch Preserve

Final Thoughts: 
 – Many fun places are only worth visiting with friends to share it with! 
 – Pack a phone charger battery pack (if you don’t need it, someone else will) 
 – Insulated bottles that keep your water cool even after leaving it in a hot car are amazing

Google Science Fair!

As a Technovation Alumn, I was invited to attend the Google Science Fair this year!

It was so amazing and inspiring to see the world-shaping inventions these young people are creating.

Dianna Cowern aka Physics Girl was MCing the awards ceremony

And I was soooo excited because she has had such a huge impact on my life! She was one of the first YouTubers I ever subscribed to and introduced me to the amazing world of educational YouTube videos (it’s not just for cat videos, you say!?!?) 

Getting to meet her, talk about some of my interests, and thank her for her impact on my life was definitely a highlight! 😀

Splunk Summer Internship

This summer I got the incredible experience of interning at Splunk!!!

There are so many different things I could write about from my experience, but lemme just big a couple main ones:

1) Big vs Small
(or more accurately mid-sized company vs startup, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it)

2) CI/CD + CL!
(Continuous Integration and Development   +   Continuous Learning!)

Part 1: Big Company vs Small Company 

My last internship was at a startup (see more about it here), and the onboarding process was many miles away from the way it was at Splunk. To introduce myself at the startup, I could literally just say “Hi!” loud enough and everyone in the 1-floor office would hear me. But Splunk has close to 5 thousand employees across the world!

Understandably this leads to quite a different experience. Everyday, I have the opportunity to meet someone new. I have the chance to meet people with so many different interests. Almost like a college, there are also different special-interest clubs and organizations and even an online hub for announcements for special events.

For reference, here are just a few of the Slack channels for meeting fun people:

To introduce myself here, I basically had to create an online internal profile/introduction page on Confluence so other employees could look me up!

Confluence was just one of the many internal tools l got to work with. With a bigger company, there are a lot more moving parts and thus, new tools used to manage them. As of 2019 pretty much every company uses Slack, which I used last year. But I didn’t work with all of its features until now. For every company task, there is a tool to learn and take advantage of:
Meetings: Outlook calendar, Zoom video conferencing, Bookem room bookings
Sharing content: Bitbucket, GitLab, Confluence, Google Drive 
Engaging: DRIVE Goals (keep track of personal career goals), Pwny Portal (like a Splunk-specific social media), Benevity (volunteer tracking)
Travel: Nexonia, Egencia 
Some of them get especially important since Splunk is a multinational company. Pretty much all meetings I had as part of the Machine Learning team are done over Zoom to coordinate between offices in Vancouver, San Francisco, and the Bay Area. Not to mention other teams which also coordinate between offices in Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Seattle, Amsterdam, London, Dubai, and so many more which you can see here: https://www.splunk.com/en_us/careers/where-we-work.html
This also means the opportunity to travel! I got to visit Vancouver, Canada (making good use of the tools like Nexonia and Egencia!) for a week! I loved the trip for quite a few reasons. 
  • I got to meet all the colleagues I had spent time talking to only over Zoom calls before, face to face
  • I loved the feeling of independence I got from going through the process of international travel on my own for the first time 
  • After work, I was free to explore the city–trying out cool new places to eat and visiting some of Vancouver’s famous parks and nature destinations 

This trip was really amazing and I wrote all about it here (link)
Big events like the HackWeek are amazing, but there were also a ton of cooler, more low-key events like Pil-Am Pyesta, ConteCon, and multiple guest speaker events. 

Summary: At a larger/midsized company you…
  • Meet sooooo many more new people (including those with your niche interests!)
  • Have a lot more office-related tools to learn 
  • Get the opportunity to travel 
  • Fun events!

Part 2: CI/CD + CL!
Continuous Integration and Development   +   Continuous Learning
CI/CD is a common term at a lot of companies for Continuous Integration and Development. Instead of having just one release of a product, many companies are adapting a policy of continuous updating and improving their product as they go, aiming for a faster turnaround. 
But what I wanna talk about is CL–Continuous Learning (to my knowledge this is not a legit term, but bear with me here) I absolutely love the culture of continuous learning here. 
I think there’s this false perception that you just learn a bunch in college and then apply it all without needing to learn more after you graduate. That is dead wrong. 
The world is evolving so fast–there are new skill sets required for the job market every single year. Splunk gets that (as I’m sure many other companies do) and provided time, space, and tools for me to keep learning. On top of the formal fact that we have free access to Lynda/LinkedIn learning, there’s also an informal culture which is many ways is much more valuable. 
The Machine Learning team organized a weekly study group where we would decide on a research paper for the week and get together every Thursday to discuss it as a group.  

I found this to be particularly effective, especially in the specific context of ML research.

If you get stuck understanding an ML paper, you normally can’t just Google it or look to other resources. Simply by the nature of it being cutting-edge material, the original paper is often the only explanation on that particular topic. Having other people invested in learning with you is invaluable. You can answer each others questions, but also pose new questions and bring attention to parts others may have overlooked or interpreted differently.

Summary: Keep Learning and Learn Together!

Hamilton Lottery!!!!!

I have been obsessed with Hamilton for a while now. 

My friends know it:

I’ve drawn my favorite characters and made too many comics about them to count. 
I’ve listened to the 2 hours and 23 minute soundtrack so many times…
…that my music suggestions are definitely skewed:

(all these singers are from the Original Broadway Cast Album recording of Hamilton)
and I can sing pretty much every part (or at least attempt to–I never said I was a good singer) 
And that screenshot is from the official Hamiton app, which I have been religiously checking every single day since I came back to San Francisco for the summer. Why? Hamilton is playing in SF, and I figured, why not apply for the ticket lottery?

Basically, I’d apply for the next day’s lottery at 11 am every day and 
every day at around 9 am I would see

It just became a habit. I didn’t even think about it. I could locate the “Try Again” notification and reapply for the next lottery the moment it came out entirely on autopilot

Then one day I was involuntarily going through the motions as usual. And I couldn’t find the notification! Where was it! Did I forget to apply yesterday!?
And that’s when I realized 
I couldn’t find the “Try Again” notification…
because there wasn’t one

The rush I felt right then was incredible. Not gonna lie, I can see why the actual lottery for money can be addicting to people (be warned!). 

I immediately confirmed my tickets and got more and more excited every single second. I didn’t get to know what my seat would be until the day of and the added mystery added to my excitement. 

Watching a live show is very different from watching a movie. The energy from the actors and from the audience is contagious. And distance truly makes a difference. I’ve only attended 2 live shows outside of school in my entire life before this. The first was a show by the official San Francisco Ballet and the second was a middle school production. For the SF Ballet production, I was seated wayyy in the back. To be perfectly honest…it was not super memorable despite it being my first live show. It felt kinda like watching a movie on my cell phone. I honestly could not tell you what happened, because I just don’t remember. At the middle school performance, I was in the second row and really felt close to the actors. That show blew me away. I was totally captivated by the performance. Despite the unprofessional level of you know…12-year-olds, I still remember it to this day. The energy from proximity to a show is hard to explain, but very prominent. (Side note: This is also why I always choose to sit in the front rows of the lecture hall!)

Anyways, back to Hamilton. I finally saw my seat number, and it was…A101. I did a double-take. NO WAY 
That’s front and center!!!! The closest I could ever hope to be to the actors!!!! 
The energy I got from this experience was unbeatable!!!! At one point, Aaron Burr (Donald Webber Jr.) made eye-contact with me, and I literally felt my heart stop. When Thomas Jefferson (Simon Longnight) hands the Reynolds Pamphlet to the conductor, I was 1 foot away from the conductor. It almost felt like he had handed it to me! When Eliza Schyuler (Julie K. Harriman) burns the letters Hamilton wrote to her…I could smell the smoke. 
I was there. I was in the room where it happened. 

Despite having listened to the music literally countless times, knowing all the emotional lyrics, and never actually crying while listening to the soundtrack, I found myself tearing up at the live performance. 

Live shows also have this funny aspect to them that they naturally must have subtle differences between them and the official soundtrack. Each performance is slightly different. 
It was kind of funny—I knew every beat by heart and the way each word sounded in the Original Broadway Cast recording, but this performance still surprised me with these actor’s interpretations of the lines. 

An example:
Though they ultimately give the same message (Burr asking Hamilton to vote for him) they found 2 very different ways of conveying that same message.

Also, slight stumbles over lines and mics tripping up actually somehow made me like it more–which I know sounds wild, but hear me out. It just made it seem so much more real. Not in the way movies try to be real (if the sound system tripped up during a movie, it definitely would not make the movie seem more authentic), but that’s the thing about live shows–they are purposefully limiting themselves to only things that can be done live in order to give you that experience. Any “mess-ups” like this make me feel more like I’m in the middle of this performance. It’s more…human
I can see the actual humans involved. And especially with my seat, I could actually see the conductor the whole time and her notes. 
The whole thing was just so much more immersive than a movie could ever be. 

I feel sooo lucky to have won this experience, but for full disclosure, I did apply over 60 times to win once 4 years after the show hype died down ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
Overall, though I’m still so grateful that I got this experience and still feel super lucky! 

VentureBeat Transform AI Conference

I was sponsored to attend VentureBeat’s Transform AI Conference!

It was my very first time going to a conference like that and I learned a lot! I’m also super grateful to my manager, Medha, who not only gave me the time to go attend, but also encouraged me to go and share what I learned with the team.

Here’s the presentation I made for my team recapping what happened (link)

And few screenshots (cause we all know no one is gonna be bothered to click that link 😛 )

Vancouver Trip: Sense of Direction

Since there are Splunk offices are all over the world, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit one of the remote offices in Vancouver!

This was a big experience for me for many reasons. There was the obvious reason of being able to work with my team members who I had only ever seen as tiny pixels on a Zoom meeting screen and finally get to see them in real life.
But for me honestly, the biggest thing I got was a huge sense of independence. For one, I had never traveled internationally before. That was kind of cool (managing passports and international papers on my own for the first time), but really not too different from whenever I travel across the US for school. But most importantly (and most ironically) was independence from technology. I realize just how dependent I am on technology during travel, but I was about to get a rude awakening on arriving to Vancouver. Think about it. If you are about to travel somewhere new what do you do to prepare? Well, the answer to this question may actually vary a lot depending on when you were born. But quite frankly…I don’t think I ever planned enough until now.
Before this trip, here’s what I would have done:

  • I would just land at the airport–using my phone to look up the flight/gate numbers. 
  • Then check my hotel address online and honestly, not even have to read the address because I could just click on it and directly call an Uber or Lyft to take me straight to hotel. 
  • Then use Google Maps blindly to get around town. 

Does it sound super cringey and reliant on my phone? …yes. But my mentality then was that “hey! I’m only here for a week–why bother learning about the area?”

But my ultra-cringey plan (or I guess non-plan) was thwarted by a couple of things:

  • My cellphone’s data plan did not cover Canada
  • Unlike certain areas in the Bay Area, free public wifi was not a common thing–I had 3 wifi spots (the airport, the hotel, and at work) 
  • Uber/Lyft/any rideshare service does not exist in Vancouver! 

At first I was frustrated, and to be honest, a little scared. But when I really think about it, this could not have been any better. My new plan became:

  • Actually learn the address of my hotel
  • Use public transportation (Canada Line train) to get from the airport to the nearest stop
  • Walk through the city to get from the bus stop to my hotel 
  • Ask for directions is necessary 
  • Build a mental map of the area 

Despite the fact that I will mostly likely not be going to Vancouver anytime soon, building that mental map was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I’ve always told people “oh! I have a bad sense of direction” and used that as an excuse to blindly follow Google Maps. But the truth is…I don’t really have a bad sense of direction. I just…never bothered. After all, why put in mental effort into knowing your location when you can just…you know…not do that. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy: I said I had a bad sense of direction, so I never tried getting around on my own, which led to a lack of practice, which led to…a seemingly bad sense of direction.

It may seem like I’m exaggerating the extent to which this affected me–-but bear with me! Not having Google maps truly changed my life for the better! It gave me this freedom to know where I was at all times. Have a sense of the places around me. It pushed me to LOOK UP, to actively search for street signs and landmarks instead of glancing at them exactly when they would be there. I asked strangers for directions which just gave me more confidence overall. And one time in conversation with someone, I missed my turn. But! I knew approximately where I was. So I was able to find my way back using streets I hadn’t even used before simple because I understood the layout of the city! I understand that for some people…I may just be stating some obvious life experiences. But I know for a fact that there are quite a few people out there who haven’t experienced this. So I hope this convinces you to please try it!

I’m not saying Google Maps is evil or anything. I did use it during my trip: I’d come to my hotel and plan out my route. But then as soon as I stepped out the door–I was on my own. That was the new feeling of freedom and independence I hadn’t had before.

I liked that feeling so much–I didn’t want to get rid of it. So stopped using Google Maps as much as possible when I got home. It’s so wonderful to have this mental idea of where everything is and I’m glad I was able to carry that lesson back from Vancouver to my daily life.

Also! I got to visit Stanley Park which was gorgeous:

SCS Day (Part 2!)

I was featured in SCS Day again!!! Last year (link) I had a small display with a handful of my comics. It was a lot of fun being featured as well as attending and seeing everyone else’s diverse range of talents.

 This year, I got the opportunity to be featured again and had a lot more art to share. I got an entire wall of my art and comics and to be honest it was almost overwhelming!

I’ve openly shared my art online to thousands of people, but that has never really been nerve-wracking since I don’t actually know those people. But here, my work was blown up and put on the walls of the Gates computer science building–the same building I practically live in and seen by all the people I work with and respect. That has a completely different feeling to it and while I was proud of my work I also felt a little scared. Would they like it? What if my students saw it? Will people see me differently? Would people think of me as less of a serious computer scientist if they saw this silly part of me?

 It’s a work in progress, but I’m learning to let go of those doubts and just try to own the person I am–someone who is serious and studious, but also likes to goof around and draw silly comics.

I’m super glad I participated again and I can’t wait to see what next year’s SCS Day will be like!

Artist Alley

I’ve been making fun comic strips and fanart for as long as I can remember. This has mostly been a solo activity since I didn’t know any other people who were interested in making them too. But then last year at CMU’s Activity Fair I came across Artist Alley–a club dedicated to people making fanart like I do! Of course, I immediately joined and it has been so much fun. And this year, I even tabled at the Activity Fair myself! Some of the art pieces are mine 🙂

It has been such a great experience being with a community of people who enjoy the same niche things that I do. One of the biggest benefits has been the structured improvement of my art skills. I have never actually taken an art class, so everything I’ve learned about art has been through online tutorials and just looking at a lot of other artist’s work.
But at Artist Alley, I joined a mentor-mentee program where I get weekly assignments and critique from a more experienced artist. Until now, I never really had the opportunity to improve my art this kind of structured, dedicated way and I’m already seeing rapid growth.

Another great thing has been the introduction to the concept of Artist Alley itself–not the club, but rather the event held at Conventions (Cons, like San Diego Comic Con for example) and next month I will be attending Tekko–Pittsburgh’s convention! I also got the chance to create some buttons–a staple item sold at conventions.

Overall, I’m just super glad that coming to CMU has given me the opportunity to expand on my personal hobbies through fun clubs like this one!