Reactathon 2018

React Native, AWS, GraphQL | 24 - 25 March 2018 | Github HQ, San Francisco, CA

NoTow is the result of the remarkable effort of Chris McDermut, Maria Nguyen, Taylor Harwood , Mariia Rudenko, Gabe Levasseur, with a sprinkling of assistance from yours truly. The app, written in React Native, prompts the user to take a picture of a street sign, and will tell them whether or not one can park there worry-free!

How does it work, you ask? It’s pretty straightforward!

The user’s GPS coordinates, along with a timestamp, are stored with GraphQL, which was a dream to set up using an amazing new service, Hasura. This information is captured in our MVP with the intent to eventually build out a feature which alerts the user when they should head back to their vehicle so they don’t get a ticket.

Next, the image is sent to a text-parsing lambda, which communicates the image to Amazon’s Rekognition API, does a bit of data massaging/sanitization, and forwards some of the freshly-parsed image text along to another lambda, which serves as a “rules engine.” Separating this first step from the “rules engine” gave us the opportunity to tell the user that we were unable to parse text from the image before we even attempt to process anything, shortening the wait time for users, and preventing us from running data through our second lambda unnecessarily.

Finally, assuming we were able to get text from the user’s image, our “rules engine” lambda parses through the sign’s text, and pretty much just spits out two pieces of information:

  1. a boolean representing whether or not the user is able to park there right now, and
  2. a string stating approximately how much time they are able to park there before they might get a ticket.

This information is passed back to the original lambda, which then responds to the front end of our application with the information it needs to help the user make the right choice.

Ultimately, we placed second among a total of 21 submissions, something I am immensely proud of, especially considering it was the first competitive hackathon in which my work played a nontrivial part (I wrote that rules engine I mentioned earlier.) I am also extremely proud of my team; for many of them, this was their first hackathon experience, and despite it they all made significant contributions to the project.

Adventure Assistant

ES6 with React, Node, Karma, others | February 2016 - Present

Adventure Assistant is an ongoing, multipurpose personal project. One goal of this currently-web-based tool is, for tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, to reduce the amount of time spent pausing gameplay to handle necessary bookkeeping with pencil and paper. Based on my experience and expectations of these kinds of games, I feel that a primary objective is immersive storytelling. I plan to eventually add a section of my website dedicated to explaining Adventure Assistant in greater detail.

In the meantime, check out Adventure Assistant on Gtihub

An Hour of Code

Scratch, Python | December 2015 | Apple Store, Berkeley, CA

An Hour of Code is an annual worldwide event encouraging young people to dive into the world of coding. Promoted by many companies and individuals in the tech industry, the event’s origins lie in a relatively new organzation, In 2013 I was inspired enough to host my own hour of code via YouTube streaming, but shortly after posting the video to my channel I removed it, realizing only afterward that I had not downloaded a copy of the video.

Luckily, I got another shot, as I had the opportunity in the 2015 Hour of Code to teach kids the fundamentals of programming on behalf of Apple! It was an incredibly fulfilling experience. Children as young as three (with surprisingly minimal guidance from their nearby parents/guardians) seemed not only to understand the concepts in the carefully crafted form in which the information was presented, but also deeply enjoy the activities provided by

Some of the older children had participated in similar events in the past, and with them my co-instructors and I were able to dive a little deeper, breaking down more complex analytical problems while learning the fundamentals of Python.

BattleHack Los Angeles

HTML5, JavaScript, JSON | 28 February 2015 - 1 March 2015 | Santa Monica, CA

This event, organized by Braintree, was a blast. Going into the hackathon without a team, I knew that I would face challenges. After forming a team with some colleagues from school (who I was not expecting to be there) we got to work hashing out ideas. Eventually, we decided on building a web platform designed to assist non-profits in connecting with their target audience.

Despite deciding to axe our project at the very end of the competition, I had a great time and learned tons. Ultimately, this project was a great learning experience, and I came away from the event with an idea I hope to pursue and build upon in the future.

Conway’s Game of Life

Java | 10 January 2015 - 14 January 2015

The Game of Life is one I had been meaning to get around to for a while. Naturally I decided my birthday would be a great day to start a new project. Day one included very little productivity, however by day two I had a functioning game which relied on the command line to convey game data, with a poorly-constructed ASCII universe. Day three brought a GUI into the mix, and day four brought significant optimization to the game. Conway’s Game of Life, while relatively simple, was a fun problem to solve!

Introduction to Computer Science

Swift | 4 January 2015 | Apple Store, Berkeley, CA

A lecture taught by yours truly, to a few dozen Apple employees! My primary goal was to provide both a deeper understanding of computer hardware and software, and give an overview of the programming process, with a brief live demonstration of some simple scripting in Swift. Overall an awesome experience, this opportunity strengthened my own existing knowledge of the topics discussed, and helped to improve my public speaking skills. Despite having two years of experience with improv, from a club in high school, and despite spending the second year as president of said group, I don’t consider public speaking one of my strong suits.

Feel free to download the slides from my personal Dropbox!

Ludum Dare 30

C# | 22 August 2014 - 25 August 2014

My first experience with a game jam, Ludum Dare was an awesome adventure. A 48-hour (competitive, solo) or 72-hour (relaxed, group) game development hackathon, I viewed Ludum Dare as a great way to put my rapid development skills to the test.

Teaming up with the invaluable Anthony Becker (@b_cker) and the indispensable Bethany Barker (@BethhhJB), Earth<->Krethys was born. A 2-D platformer with a twist; as Kale you have the ability to traverse between two parallel but vastly differing worlds, and use this unique skill to complete each level.

I learned tons, had a blast, and did so with great company. I can’t wait to do this again.

Check out Earth<->Krethys on Gtihub!

Machine Learning Research Project

Python, C++, MatLab, Java | April 2014 - March 2015

With oversight and mentoring from Dr. Ehsan Kamalinejad, Professor of Mathematics at CSU East Bay, and alongside Anthony Becker (@b_cker), the purpose of this research work is to explore the realm of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and their real-world applications.

I worked primarily with Dr. Kamalinejad on a utility which gathers data from Rate My Professors and tries to predict whether or not you will enjoy taking a course with a professor. The technologies utilized include Python, Beautiful Soup, and SQLite for data collection and storage.

GameGame, the Game

C++ | August 2013 - December 2013

One of my first large-scale* personal projects, my objective with this oh-so-creatively-named text-based adventure game was to familiarize myself with the language. Having moved from Southern California, and a community college which favored Java, to Northern California and CSU East Bay (which favors C++) I deemed it necessary to give myself a self-driven primer of the latter of the languages. This project was a valuable introduction to both the importance of personal projects, and the C++ language.

*large-scale, at the time, meant over 2000 lines of handwritten code

Check out GameGame, the Game on Github!

Hack for Change 2012

Tiny amounts of Objective-C | July 2012 | San Francisco, California

As a programming newbie, with more textbook knowledge than practical knowledge or experience, I dove into this headfirst knowing all too well that I would probably be completely overwhelmed. All the same, I decided rather on a whim that this was going to be my first hackathon. I was hungry for experience, and figured that it would be an amazing opportunity, even if it meant just watching over the shoulders of the experts I was certain would be present for such an event.

Hack for Change, hosted by did not disappoint, and thanks to the endless patience of Frederic Jacobs (@FredericJacobs), I didn’t feel completely useless. Working with a team of a little over half a dozen extremely talented people, we managed to put together a mobile application called LivePort, an instant, live reporting tool designed to help people in conflict areas stay safe.

Our submission took home an API award from tokbox, for best use of their OpenTok API!

Check out LivePort on Gtihub!

Last updated June 2016