Things I’m Learning
- Programming Languages: In a broad sense, I’m currently interested in languages that are good for systems programming, while providing strong type safety guarantees. To that end, I’ve started learning about Rust, and will likely explore using the language to implement a few projects. Otherwise, I’m interested in going deeper into the world of functional programming, including areas of computer science that make use of applied category theory to solve real-world problems. For that, I’m learning some more about Haskell, in addition to the more functional side of Scala.
- Software Design and Architecture: This is a pretty broad area. I’m not looking to learn basic patterns, principles, and techniques, which I’m already quite familiar with. Rather, I’m interested in the slightly more human-oriented aspects of software engineering involved in defining high-level architectural goals for a team to work towards, along with the process of improving existing codebases to be conducive to writing robust, modular, performant, and scalable code.
- Distributed Computing: During my undergrad, some of my favourite courses have been about distributed computing. However, these courses have tended to be more theoretical in nature. This includes algorithms in various synchronous and asynchronous models of distributed computation, along with lots of really cool lower bounds and impossibility results (e.g. variations on Consensus problems). A lot of my current work involves a fair amount of solving problems in a distributed setting, and I’m looking to take a more focused approach to learning the details of solving real-world problems in large-scale distributed systems. This can involve both applying some of the algorithms I’ve studied previously in practice, as well as learning techniques in new problem domains, which relax some of the constraints of theoretical models (e.g. CRDTs).
- Bike Maintenance: This one should be relatively straightforward. Right now I’m pretty clueless about anything related to bicycles beyond simply riding them. I figure if I can keep my bike in good condition, and take care of basic repairs on my own, I’ll be much more inclined to get more use out of it.
A Few Things I’ve Worked On (So Far)
Outside of my current job, I’ve also worked on several other things, especially while I was a student at the University of Toronto. Here’s a few of them:
- auction-algos: Implementation and visualization for an auction algorithm for assignment and network flow problems, initially proposed by Dimitri Bertsekas. The algorithm is implemented in Python, with step-by-step visualizations implemented using D3.js in a Jupyter notebook.
- The Tree Evaluation Problem: While I was at UofT, I dabbled in a bit of undergraduate research, including some research in the field of computational complexity theory. My research focused on studying the complexity of the Tree Evaluation Problem, a computational problem that tells us about the relationship between time complexity (the number of steps required to solve a problem) and space complexity (the number of bits of memory needed to solve a problem), by studying the branching program complexity of a class of closely-related problems.
- hasp: An interpreter for a variant of Lisp written in Haskell. This includes a custom implementation of a tokenizer and parser, in addition to logic for evaluating parsed lisp expressions. I wrote a blog post about it, which goes into a bit more detail about the design and implementation of hasp.
- Paper2LaTeX: A PenApps hackathon project, applying computer vision models to transcribe hand-drawn graph and diagram images and generate output in TikZ format for use in LaTeX documents.
- lip-reading: Models for performing visual speech recognition, i.e. lip reading from video. This was built as a final project for the course CSC412: Probabilistic Learning and Reasoning at the University of Toronto. Our implementation combines computer vision techniques with hidden semi-Markov models for predicting sequences of words using only video.
- SyncOnSave: Sublime Text 2 plugin that automatically syncs directories with a remote server when saving. This is a small but useful wrapper around
rsyncI had put together at UofT, for when I wanted to edit code for assignments locally on my laptop, but needed to build and run them on the school’s remote CDF servers.
Places to Find Good Coffee
San Francisco & Bay Area
- Verve: Excellent coffee, great food, and aesthetic cafes. While I tend to prefer single origin coffees, Verve is also able to produce a lot of really interesting blends to brew at home.
- Backyard Brew: A really cool and super friendly outdoor cafe on Cal Ave in Palo Alto. It’s been great seeing them expand their cafe and roasting operation over the past few years.
- Equator Coffees: A great source for light roasted single origin coffee from around the world. There’s always a lot of coffees to choose from to brew at home, including the option to splurge on fancier Gesha coffee every once in a while.
- Cat & Cloud: I’ve never actually been to their cafe in Santa Cruz, however their beans always feature prominently in my regular rotation.
- Saint Frank: A nice place to sip a tasty espresso while waiting for the train, at least on days when I wake up early enough.
- Hole in the Wall: A coffee window in north beach, good for cold brew on a warm summer day.
Vancouver is a great city for specialty coffee, especially if you’re not too far from downtown. If you’re looking for good coffee in Vancouver, check out Vancouver Coffee Snob. That site is one of the main ways I find out about new coffee places to check out whenever I’m in town.
- Aubade Coffee: I’m sad to hear that the Aubade cafe in Chinatown (inside of an antique store on Pender street) is closed, and that I only got to go there once. It’s quite a spectacle to watch the owner meticulously prepare his championship Aeropress recipe, in which he presses coffee into three different containers at different points in the extraction, and mixes them to a particular ratio.
- Iktsuarpok: Not really a coffee shop, but more of a window. Great place to grab an espresso from some really friendly folks.
- Nemesis: Great cafe that makes an excellent pour over.
- Prototype: Really cool roaster on East Hastings, with lots of fascinating equipment. Their steamed cold brew is unlike any other coffee I’ve had.
- Revolver: Super popular cafe when I went there, with beans from a rotating (or, revolving) set of roasters.
- 49th Parallel: A very well-known roaster and cafe chain in Vancouver, which is also known for Lucky’s Doughnuts. I’m a fan of the Peanut Butter and Jelly doughnut.
- Matchstick Coffee: They have a few locations around the city, which are great for doing some work while sipping a nice pour over.
- Anchorhead: Great for both espresso and pour over. I’m a big fan of their Burundi Muruta coffee.
- Espresso Vivace: A classic Seattle coffee roaster, whose owner—according to Wikipedia—is supposedly credited with popularizing latte art in the US.
- Pilot Coffee Roasters: I first tried coffee roasted by Pilot at Wisey’s Pies, when they were on Eglinton. They also have a shop in Union Station.
- Hot Black Coffee: A great shop for espresso on Queen & University. This was my top go-to cafe when I lived downtown.
- Coffee Lab: This used to be a tiny coffee shop that was really easy to miss: it was basically just a counter tucked away inside a used bookstore on Bloor street, on the edge of UofT’s campus. That bookstore no longer exists, but I suspect that Coffee Lab may have moved elsewhere (though I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet).
- Sam James Coffee Bar: They have a bunch of locations around the city; I remember going to one somewhere in the PATH, under King Street, where I got what the barista called a “perfect” espresso. (Perfect shot time?)
Los Angeles County
- Menotti’s: Get up early, grab a sandwich from Eggslut, a latte from Menotti’s, and enjoy your coffee and breakfast on Venice Beach.
- Happy Goat Coffee
- Parlor Coffee Roasters: Great coffee roaster based in Brooklyn. While they don’t seem to have an actual cafe anymore, they do have a tasting room that’s open for a few hours every Sunday. It’s a great place to enjoy delicious coffee while being surrounded by roasting equipment and giant stacks of coffee bags.
- Hi-Collar: A tiny Japanese cafe by day (and bar by night) that specializes in pour over, Aeropress, and siphon coffee, with delicious omurice, katsu, and mentai cream pasta. This place is worth waiting in line (out in the cold) for.