Changelog 2017

written on 31 Dec 2017 by Andrew Dai

Short-form, semi-structured thoughts and observations about the past year and plans for the year to come. A sort of second attempt/follow-up to Reflection on 2017.

This website (


  • Lifestyle creep
    • Slightly higher income, ready to graduate, interning/living in San Francisco
    • Starting paying (or almost paying) for subscription services - NYTimes (student discount), Spotify/Hulu (student package), Amazon Prime (trial)
    • Going out to more restaurants, bars (incidentally, I also turned 21)
    • Started buying (more) stuff - new wallet, phone, clothes, shoes, (fun!) socks, Sony Studio monitor headphones (following last year’s purchase of mechanical keyboard)
  • Finished semester #7, one more semester to go, May 2018 is coming up fast
  • Increased content creation (questionable accuracy, very anectodal)
    • More Instagram posts (35 in 2017 vs 15 in 2016)
    • Trying to (and actually) writing more, especially on this blog, also in my notebooks etc.
    • Learned more about art (took an Art History class in the Spring, went to a lot more museums and saw more art)
  • Lived on the West Coast - saw a lot, learned a lot, had a ton of fun, met amazing new people.
  • HackGT!
    • It happened! No one died!
    • There is so much more to say here. It was an incredibly rewarding, painful, wonderful learning and growing experience. There are also some pretty epic fails, huge achievements, and lingering regrets that all deserve some attention (probably in another place at another time).
  • Invested Gambled small amounts in the cryptocurrency (fad), mostly a wash. It was shocking how intense and pervasive the Kool Aid is in San Francisco and Silicon Valley for cryptocurrency.
  • I’ve read, thought, and debated a lot about what I want to do in the (near) future and some idea about what I want to accomplish in both professional and personal capacities. I am curious and very excited to see how the next couple years play out.
  • I have a growing sense of technical competence and confidence.
    • This past year, I took Jacob Eisenstein’s Natural Language Processing class in the spring and Computational Social Science class in the fall. By the end of the fall semester, it was my 4th-ish time learning the statistics and theory behind basic machine learning and data analysis techniques. At this point, I feel comfortable with most of the basic theoretical underpinnings and with using Stanford CoreNLP, numpy, and other ML/NLP/data science-y tools.
    • Another summer, another internship, another language/domain/codebase.
    • I feel very comfortable with full stack web development using a variety of stacks and languages.
    • Through my internship and projects for class, I’ve had much more practice using the bash shell (especially to do basic NLP) and I have a much better working knowledge of regular expressions.
  • Other accomplishments, events, and other things of note:
    • Started running (semi-)regularly. Still too early to say for sure if this is a well-formed habit but I’ve definitely ran more than in years past. Seriously inspired by Angela’s participation in the San Francisco marathon this summer.
    • Interned at Square, lived in SF
      • Learn[ed|ing] to use emacs (spacemacs) - thanks rudle!
    • Finished job search, signed offer (with Heap!), excited for the future
      • Total 20+ interviews with 8 companies
      • Met a lot of interesting people and had some great conversations about technical topics, career choices, and life philosophies.
    • Controlled descent down the GPA slope, still good for graduation/cords (my GPA is on my resume which is on this website which is version controlled - see the slide for yourself)

(Near) Future: Goals, Exciting Plans

In broad strokes, my 2018 timeline is as follows:

Date Where What
January - May Georgia Tech Last semester
March 18 Atlanta Publix Half Marathon(!!!)
Spring break? ??? Roadtrip?
May 5 Georgia Tech Graduation
May - July Home -> Europe -> Home Spending time with family, traveling
July - ??? San Francisco Working at Heap
??? Seattle Visiting friends and family
~1 week at end of 2018 Home Spending time with family
??? maybe 2019 ??? China Visit family, go to China/Asia for the first time!

I aim to…

  • Give back and contribute meaningfully to society (in a professional capacity and otherwise)
    • Volunteer in government, education areas
    • Contribute to open source
    • Be an engaged citizen, advocate for unheard voices
  • (Continued) lifestyle improvements
    • Better sleep schedule (failing horrifically right now - being home on break isn’t helping)
    • Continued regular running - training for Publix Half Marathon in March(?!)
    • More vegetable-centered cooking (after all, I am moving to California soon),
    • Be more self-aware and look for areas of growth.
  • Cooking - try new techniques (including fermentation) and cuisines, batch cooking, more vegetables
  • Technical goals
    • Learn more low-level/systems stuff (slowly writing bad RDBMS or shitty cryptocurrency in Rust)
    • Improve emacs/spacemacs skills and customization ability (Lisp?!) 2
    • Start some long-term personal projects. I’ve been thinking about several of these recently - all centered around the idea of owning your own personal data. They include:
    • Flex some social science and data science skills? I want to build something with liberal usage of Jupyter Notebooks similar to my (incomplete) paper replication project for this past fall’s Computational Social Science class. 3
    • Clearly document and share the process behind creating one of these projects, possibly in a tutorial-style format (similar to my blog post series documenting the BeagleCar from high school). 4
    • Figure out how to “fix” some of the issues I have with emacs/spacemacs (occasional tab width mismatch, improperly configured autocomplete, occasional fistfights with auto-indent)
  • Buy a project car?! This is a combination time and money pit waiting to happen.
  • Travel! I have always enjoyed exploring new places and have more plans to travel in the New Year. Unlike in years past, I should have many more opportunities to travel as my studies wind down (with only gen-ed requirements standing between me and that fancy piece of paper). I have no plans to remain or return to the South in my near future so I intend to make the most of my last 4 months in Atlanta. Additionally, I am fortunate to have the resources and circumstances to be able to take a 2 month long break between graduation and my first day at the office. My current plan is to spend over a month exploring Europe by train, camera in tow. I am actively soliciting suggestions and tips for this trip! In order of decreasing immediacy:
    • Take pictures along the way! (especially sunrise and sunset)
    • Explore Atlanta
    • Travel via hackathon (and also participate in a couple more hackathons)
    • Visit and explore nearby areas in the South (roadtrip?)
    • Post-graduation travel to Europe (actively soliciting suggestions)
    • ??? on the West Coast after relocating to San Francisco in July
      • Roadtrips with aforementioned car
      • Take the Coast Starlight to Seattle (visit Brian and friends living/working there)
  • Read more! (super clich‌é)
    • Learn more about art!
    • and many other things
    • Also read intentionally with the goal of improving my writing
  • Make more art! Mostly landscape photography, maybe some more portraits.
    • Go to more art museums and learn more about art!
  • Continue to write more - hopefully Changelog 2018 exists and is in a long-form essay format.
    • This, combined with data and pretty visualizations from lifelogging could create an interesting project. I recently re-discovered that I’ve had Google Location History enabled since I got my first Android phone right before I started college. <insert idea for interesting college retrospective here>
    • Write periodically throughout important “milestones” (last semester, graduation, traveling abroad, moving permanently to San Francisco, starting career) to document observations, lessons learned, expectations, and assumptions (predictions?)

2018 will be an interesting year of new experiences, transitions, and the start of life-after-school. Here’s to hoping that I write some of it down.

  1. I am overly excited about this ability. It doesn’t really make sense. 

  2. I read Hackers and Painters this summer and my main lesson-learned was that I should learn Lisp 

  3. Coincidentally, I’ve also noticed that a not-insignificant number of winning hackathon projects are just implementations of research papers. 

  4. These posts still drive well over 80% of the (small number of) pageviews to my site.