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Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

Last month, my entire phone screen suddenly turned bright green. Of course, I promptly tried turning it on and off again to see if that would fix the problem. After several attempts, I had to reluctantly admit that rebooting is not always the ultimate solution and decided to take it to the repair shop. Turns out the whole screen needs a replacement and it would cost around $120 and two weeks to get it fixed.

Ugh. I was hesitant about fixing an old phone for $120. …

I’m an avid note-taker. I was initially doubtful about digital notes.

After testing out various digital handwritten note-taking apps out there in the market — Goodnotes, Notability, and Evernote — I have settled on Goodnotes. Goodnotes is an iOS note-taking app and its suite of nifty features makes note-taking a whole lot easier. While some of these features can seem obvious, they really add up to a smooth and efficient experience.

These are the ways I found to leverage the features of Goodnotes on the iPad for my work as a software engineer and student. …

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Image source: Author

Bitesize Machine Learning — Bite #1

There are lots of algorithms out there for image compression, but this article is going to focus on Rank-K approximation. The concepts covered in this article will serve as a foundation for other common machine learning problems such as PCA (principal component analysis), matrix completion, and noise reduction. (See the last paragraph for more details.)

It’s easier to understand Rank-K approximation through images. For simplicity, let’s assume we are only dealing with grayscaled images, so each data point lies within 0 and 1, with white as 0 and black as 1.

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Wait a Second. What Do We Mean by Compression?

Before digging into the algorithm and math, let’s get an intuition for the problem we are solving. What does it mean to compress a matrix? Or in this case, what does it mean to compress an image? …

Cozy Minimalist v.s. Extreme Minimalist

Personally, minimalism is never about limiting myself to own only X number of items and depriving myself of materialism. I have come across extreme minimalists who insisted on owning just one object of each functionality: One cup, one chair, one desk. No, thank you, I think I would like to drink my coffee from an actual coffee mug and not a glass jar.

The reason that I have chosen to live a minimalist life is not that I want to deprive myself of physical items, but I want to spend less time on objects that don’t matter and focus more on the people that I love and experience life. …

Woman laughing while sitting at a table
Woman laughing while sitting at a table
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

Teamwork behavioral interview questions are tricky to answer, mainly because people react differently in varying scenarios and it is difficult to figure out what the interviewer is looking for. Throughout the years, I have been on both sides of interviews for different teams and different positions, and I definitely sensed a pattern.

Disclaimer: Most of the people I interview are applying for either software engineering- or product manager-related positions. Other positions may have slightly different questions regarding team communication.

1. Resolve a Disagreement on Implementation

Question: How would you resolve a disagreement on implementation?

I’m quite surprised at how many “Do whatever the boss says,” “Do whatever the product manager says,” or “Do whatever <insert a higher position> says” answers I get from interviewees. …

GitLab dash
GitLab dash
Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash.

1. Run git lola to Visualize Commit History

When working with Git versioning, it is crucial to be able to visualize your Git branches.

Git commands can be long and tedious to type out. To save yourself some effort in the future, let’s set up one useful Git command that helps you visualize your Git branching history.

In the terminal:

vim ~/.gitconfig

And then in the gitconfig file, add in the following snippet:

[alias] lola = log --graph --decorate --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit --all --date=local

I just cloned a brand new project that only has the initial commit to it. …

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Last year, I invited our newcome colleague to get lunch together. He just moved from New York to Austin and we started talking about his moving experience. Turns out that he had hired a moving company to pack and move his belongings and the boxes were arriving 2 weeks after so he had to make do with limited personal items and no furniture.

2 weeks after, he came to my desk and said he is going to take the afternoon off. The moving truck has arrived at the gate of their apartment complex but they won’t be able to move those boxes into the apartment. My colleague asked them to leave the boxes outside of the gate and he’ll move them into his apartment. “How many boxes?” I asked. “20”. I almost fell out of my chair. …

2 months ago, I came up with this system to get my family to work out every day. Spoiler alert: it worked. No one skipped even one day of work out.

Step 1: Decide on daily workout goals

Cater sets of workout plans for each individual. What works for me might not work out for my brothers. In the chart below, each row represents a “set”. Each person needs to choose and complete at least one set of tasks from their workout plans each day.

Ensure that there is a variety of workout sets to choose from. For those who get bored from doing the same workout every day, add in a couple of choices that you can choose from. If you are interested in a balanced workout, consider adding separate daily sets for each body group or workout type. …

The choice to live a minimalist life is not just a switch. It is a journey of communicating with and understanding yourself. Here are the top 3 items that took me a while to set my mindset and remove them.

Printed Pictures

Let’s start with the toughest one on the list — printed pictures. Before storing digital photos on hard drives or the cloud became widespread, people would print out the nice shots to store them in a photobook. …


Jenn Greene

software engineer (web full-stack) + Machine Learning grad student at UT Austin. I write about studying tips, productivity, and minimalism.

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