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After Code-in

Published 14 February 2021 at Yours, Kewbish. 1189 words. Subscribe via RSS.


Introduction

Yes, today is Valentine’s, and today is three days before something is due, but today is also exactly one year after I wrote the first post on Yours, Kewbish. (I think I thought the date would be funny, but that’s besides the point.) I know absolutely everyone says this, but it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already since then. The span of time between last February and now feels like ages ago, but it also feels extremely short. Quarantine and the endless routines of work have morphed time into some non-Newtonian fluid, and I can’t make sense of how it’s been an entire year since then.

In this past year, I genuinely feel like I’ve gained so much (yes, I know everyone says this as well): in terms of friendships, experiences, and skills, even though it’s mostly been behind a screen. Essentially living online has its challenges, but I honestly wouldn’t regret the past year. I never did a proper year in review, so maybe this might be a nice place to catalogue my progress over the last three hundred something days.

GCI

GCI stands for Google Code-in, one of Google’s sadly now terminated competitions, and the subject of my first YK post. In short, several thousand teenagers from across the world slaved away day and night for two months to make at least somewhat useful contributions to open source. It’s aimed to introduce the grand world of open source to a larger teen audience, and in that respect, I think it’s accomplished its goal excellently. Despite the slight dip in my grades and general impact to my mental health, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without the competition. Though I would hesitate to repeat the experience, I’m glad I participated: it’s served as an accelerator for my development in, well, development.

In retrospect, GCI may not have been the best at encouraging people to go in-depth into technologies, but it’s an excellent opportunity to explore a large amount of areas in open source. (It leans heavily on breadth, though to succeed, you’ve also got to balance in depth with more difficult tasks.) The list of areas GCI introduced me to includes, but is not limited to: bash scripting, Linux, VMs and trying to get those to network, KML + other Google Earth-specific features, Arduino, and a bunch of different languages and scripts. I’ve probably already forgot all the tasks and problems I puzzled through in my spare time those seven weeks, but I’m sure there’s much more that I’ve learned.

Experiences

Besides inspiring me to investigate these areas, GCI also prompted me to go discover a host of development opportunities and companies that offered internships and programs. I’ve had decent successes, and I can’t help but trace their inspirations and origins back to GCI.

I think one story particularly stands out: after GCI, through some mostly unrelated posts, I learned about Dev.to, another technical community, which was running a hackathon at the time. Originally, I had planned to participate just for the participation prizes, but I ended up surprisingly winning. I was in physics class when they announced the winners, and it took me approximately the duration of one practise problem to actually realize I was on the list. With the work from this hackathon, I continued to work on another smaller project, which became my CS50 project. I’m still regularly checking in on the Web Monetization proposal every so often, and I’m excited to see how the implementation and adoption of other WM ideas go in the future. I can see so many connections between the programs I’ve participated in in the past, and despite COVID, I’m grateful for where I’ve come to with these projects.

I genuinely credit GCI with rapidly accelerating my skills, as well as with letting me meet a bunch of amazing mentors, developers, and friends. There are too many to list and link (and I’d feel rather bad about missing people), so I’ll just leave this in as a very appreciative acknowledgement of everyone in the community - y’all know who you are. Without GCI, I don’t think I’d have applied to various fellowships, participated in a myriad of hackathons, started writing this very blog, or even switched to Linux1. It’s truly unfortunate that the program’s shut down - I would have had so much fun mentoring in later years. Oh well.

Writing

I also want to touch briefly on writing, and this blog in general. I started writing more frequently because of Dev.to (they had a badge for streaks that I may or may not have wanted as a cosmetic). I built a rhythm there, but continued it even as I drifted away from crossposting there. Though I cringe when I look back on older posts, I think Yours, Kewbish has still been a valuable way to keep track of what was in my mind and when last year. It’s only been a year, but keeping memories alive on my blog will be a fun way to look back when I’m a bit older.

Maybe it’s just my subjective opinion, but I also think my writing style and skills have slightly improved throughout this experience. I think that writing so often led me to begin to understand what my voice is, and I look forward to continuing to develop it as I grow. Part of it’ll come with time, I hope, but having regular posts to write also made me realize what ideas I had that I wanted to share with the, what, four people who read my blog the world. I’d like to continue writing here as frequently as I can - I’ve plotted out a bunch of ideas I have for things I’d like to share, if I have the time.

Conclusion

A lot has happened this year. I think 2020, while it was perhaps not the best year in other regards, was the first year I became more involved in programming, furthering not only my technical skills, but also introducing me to many experiences and opportunities. I’ve made a lot of friends, a lot of memories, and had a lot of fun this year despite everything that’s been going on in the world, and I’m grateful for that. There won’t be a GCI in 2021, but there’ll be other opportunities for me to have a go at. I don’t know what my GCI, or my yearly accelerator, will be this year, but I have a feeling it might be university.

I suppose this wouldn’t be complete without thanking whoever’s reading this: thank you for tolerating my overly nerdy, sometimes long and windy, very quirky writing, and thank you for following along as I try to figure out what I’m developing. I’d be writing this regardless, even if it were to an audience of none, but thanks for getting all the way here2.


  1. I also suppose GCI is therefore responsible for me being called ‘Linux kid’, but it’s tolerable and endearing enough. ↩︎

  2. Unless you’re reading this in voice, and I’m deafened in the corner, in which case I will rescind my thanks. ↩︎

- Yours, Kewbish


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