Late September update

So I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog recently. I also deleted social media apps except Reddit off my phone. At the beginning of September, I was mostly not on the computer after work. I was in a weird phase where I wasn’t interested in anything after work. Maybe it was my obsession with Handmaid’s Tale or maybe I was just feeling burnt out from work. Last week, about 3-4 days ago actually, I decided to open up my computer at home. And for the first time, it actually felt different.  I didn’t feel like I was working at home, or just on social media wasting time, reading some Q&A sites for something new to learn about, or even just browsing Wikipedia which for me ends up being a big drain on productive things at home. I sometimes sit and read Wikipedia articles for hours and what I mean by that is after about 30 mins of reading them, I’ll get up, get something to eat, come back and start reading again. At this, you might be thinking, well that’s not so bad, you’re learning something but that’s not really learning. It’s not expanding my horizon of thoughts, it’s just more information or fact gathering that will not come into play at all for anything useful.

So after these random thoughts, I’d like to point to my recent want or need to start writing code for fun again. I have been pleasantly able to sit and work on a problem for a good 2-3 hours in one go (this again hours in the same manner as reading wikipedia). The biggest struggle I have now is figuring out where to focus my time on when I am writing code. Writing scaffolding code, boilerplate code, and reinventing the wheel will not keep me entertained or grow me as a programmer. The growth part is important to me now because I realize how often I’m not learning something new you spend more and more of your time doing the things you’ve done before to finally get to a limit of your understanding at which you can stretch your existing thought processes.

September has been a crucial month for me, I’ve become more introspective and in an actionable way instead of a mocking, regretful, depressing, or even plain negative way. Work has been a good kind of busy. At home, we started cleaning our house and getting rid of things. We had a garage sale, we donated things, we gave away things on craigslist, and finally we threw away the things we couldn’t really reuse. This led to the house being less messy, less noisy, and extremely more comfortable. 

I’ve been slowing down on reading and listening to audiobooks, this is not desired. It just hasn’t occurred to me. The amount of time I spend walking around has decreased (mostly b/c it has been replaced with cycling). Walking meant I would be listening to audiobooks about half the time. So the hope for October is to increase reading books and listening to audiobooks. Why do I care about this over just reading in general? I have a weird fascination with books, I believe learning from books usually is beneficial as it hones in on a topic (typical non-fiction books, not textbooks) and then gives you a lot of different things to reinforce the topic. 

I’ve started working on Bookends a bit more. I worked on getting the code on to Heroku instead of DigitalOcean. I was spending too much time on devops things instead of writing code. I got a rudimentary version of the search functionality working but the book info is not great yet. I’ll start working on getting more information to show up but I was just feeling lazy today after spending 2-3 hours debugging why my heroku deploys weren’t working and then I realized I was not copying the dist folder to heroku 🤦‍♂️.

The Handmaid’s Tale, wow so far!

Spoilers and plot reveals ahead. 

This past weekend, I finished watching the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale. If you don’t know anything about the show, I highly recommend watching the first episode at least. 

Before I started watching the show, I really thought it was similar to Downton Abbey because from the show’s photos and outfits on Hulu, it looks like a show set in pre-modern times. But I was very wrong. Well…not really, there is that “back to Puritanism” look but not how I expected it to be. I would describe the show as a religious dystopian drama. 

Elizabeth Moss is the star of the show and her acting is amazing throughout the series. 

I was hooked from the first episode. I think there is some grotesque sexual content that’s a bit too much for me but the rest of the show is what keeps me coming back. 

The part that makes it eerily powerful is the flashbacks. Each flashback usually shows a regular ole American daily life event or some conversation that people have everyday all the while there’s a religious group taking over the country. 

I’ve enjoyed the show so far and I hope that the third season is just as good as the first two seasons have been!

Deleting data.usmanity.com

Yesterday, I made the tough decision to get rid of my data.usmanity.com server, it’s been sitting idly for over 6 months and I haven’t really done much with it. I had been waiting for some time to rewrite some of the app code to handle sending different forms of data over and I just didn’t take the time to do so.

I also had data on there that was becoming stale if not useless for me since I didn’t have access to the mysql DB anymore.

Going forward, I’m planning on a different way to handle storing data and maybe something that’s more versatile.

In a conversation with a friend recently, he told me how his strategy is to not worry about creating complicated flows for personal projects, this wasn’t something I had thought about before and that’s why data has always been a neglected project because the deployment process has led me to stop using it.

Dividends as income

I wanted to write about this for awhile but I can find a good starting point so today I just sat down and decided to type out what my thoughts are about this topic.

What are dividends? 
In this post, I’m referring to the stock market’s term “dividends” which means an amount paid out to investors who hold shares of a company. Mostly larger companies do this when they’re big enough that their investors have been holding their stock for a long time and this might be a way to keep investors interested in holding it even longer plus it’s a way for investors to gain some money without selling shares.

What am I doing with dividends?
The past few years, I’ve been using 2 main ways of investing my money (outside of a 401k). First, I use Betterment, this holds most of my money since I don’t want to be playing with most of my long term savings. Second, I use Robinhood which holds what I call “experimental” money. I call it experimental instead of play or fun money because even though it’s all dependent on me how I invest this money, it’s still real money! I still want to make sane decisions and hold stock of companies that are valuable.
Robinhood makes it extremely easy to buy and sell stock and best of all, it’s always free! This means buying 1 share or 100 shares doesn’t cost a penny, traditional brokerages charge an insane amount no matter the number of shares being traded.

Dividend as income
Having no minimums or fees on trading, Robinhood makes it very easy to start buying shares of many companies and essentially allowing you to build an extremely well diversified portfolio. 
I started using Robinhood at the end of 2014, so about 3.5 years now. In the beginning, I was just buying a few shares of each company I just was interested in or had some familiarity with and this quickly turned out to be a mediocre strategy. If you ask most people “what is your goal with investing?” I’m sure most will say “make money.” And that’s really why it’s easy to say “well, that should be the strategy, to make money” but I think it’s more complicated than that. 
Seeing your shares rise in value is easy in a booming economy like the past few years but I believe this will start to slow down or some sort of a bubble bursting will happen soon. 
So to think about how to make an income using dividends, I started looking at companies that either pay dividends consistently or pay a high amount of their earnings as dividends. The latter are usually companies that are REITs (short for Real Estate Investment Trust, learn more). REITs pay high dividends and are usually pretty cheap to buy, but the problem is, the share price doesn’t see tech company gains and it’s dependent on the economy since infrastructure and real estate are pretty dependent on how the economy is doing. 
Examples of companies that pay well in dividends and are just household names are AT&T, Colgate-Palmolive, Coca-cola, and many more. These are called Dividend Aristocrats, they’re well-known and large companies that usually align very well with the economy. 

Current status
Right now, I’m able to get about $40 in dividends every month (not an average). The goal is to slowly move this number higher and higher and I’m not sure what the best way to go about this right now as I’m buying a mix of high growth companies as well as REITs which pay a high dividend. 
I’ll post more about this in the coming weeks, please let me know if you’d like to know more about any of this. 

Mid-year check-in, also I’m 28 now

Yesterday, I turned 28. This is the perfect time to reflect on the first half of 2018 and also my past year since I turned 27. When 2018 started, I decided not to start with any resolutions as they most often don’t get fulfilled. I wanted to mostly observe myself and get to know myself better. I guess that has been one of the main things for me this year in my personal life.

I’m happy to report that audiobooks have been a steady obsession over the past 6 months continuing from 2017 as well. This helps me learn about a topic or listen to a fictional story while doing things like commuting on the bus, mundane tasks around the house, and often times relax before going to bed. 

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, one thing I notice is that writing down things like notes, thoughts, opinions, and blog posts like this helps me recenter toward something I much prefer. A stabilizer of some sort.

This post isn’t as exciting as I’d like it to be but this is so far my 2018. 

Also, I got married in April ❤️.

Preview of Free Press

Below is a screenshot of the most recent changes I’ve made to free press to get a single post showing. It’s missing author, date, and other important links but I’m working on that next.

I’ve spent maybe 15-20 minutes just trying to get the line-height correct, but…it’s a tricky problem because I’m sure by now my eyes can’t discern what’s good and bad after looking at this screen. 

Getting started with local WordPress development and a log for free-press development

Over 2 months ago, I wrote about starting work on my own theme. This has been slow going but I have actually learned quite a bit even for being a thing put on the back-burner for awhile. 

First, local WordPress development is easily doable on OSX using MAMP. After installing MAMP, you’ll need to point your “Web server” to a clone of the wordpress download (found here).

MAMP preferences, access these by pressing ⌘+ , 

Once you have the document root set to the proper place, click “OK” and then “Start Servers” on the main MAMP window.

This will open a start page with some info about the local MAMP instance running. Click on “My Website” on the top nav, you’ll be taken to a screen that’ll start the WordPress setup.

After all this is done, you’ll have a local version of WordPress running. Now, to start developing a theme, you’ll need to create a theme inside the wordpress folder on your computer inside the wp-content/themes folder. Themes should not include numbers in the name (according to WordPress docs).


I’ve been very slowly working on the free press theme and today I was working on it and I decided that I should keep a log so I’m not making small posts about all the things I’m learning or running into while developing it.

You can see it updated in real time here: Free Press development log

Chrome console output notes

Below are some cool console.log tricks that I recently have been learning about.

Add CSS using %c

Change Styles: use the %c formatter to style everything that follows.

console.log('%c Hello World', 'color: blue;');
console.log('%c Hello %c World', 'color: blue;', 'font-weight: bold; color: red;');

Each %c acts as a delimiter which means everything following will take the styles added to the next param passed to console.log.

Clear the console

This one just happened for me one day since I use it so often in iTerm2, clearing the console makes it easier to read and digest the console log. To do this just press: Command + K on Mac and Control + K on Windows. Btw, this is the same shortcut for iTerm2.

You can also add it to your code and it’ll work by just adding in clear(). This will help debugging code a bit easier as you’ll only see what your code should be showing. 

Display objects or arrays

If you have an object like below:

user = {
  id: 123,
  twitter: '@usmanity',
  location: 'california'
}

You can print this in an easy to ready format by using console.table() like console.table(user) and it’ll display like this:

Same goes for arrays.

I’ll try to share more tips if I come across more! 😀

Mid-May update

In the past 2-3 months, I’ve been writing way more code and relatively more blog posts than I had before starting this blog. This has been mainly due to my goal of being consistent about things that interest me.

I’m writing this post because I haven’t posted in about 10 days and I was getting anxious to write something. This post is kind of like an intermittent update because I have been busy lately but I think most of those things are not very interesting to post about.

Cycling: I’ve started riding my bike again, after about 11 months of inactivity! My bike was hanging on its hook for so long that it had collected dust on all the components! I had forgotten where my pump was and took me awhile to find it. Below are my stats from Strava for cycling:

Strava stats as of May 16th, 2018

I don’t want to be unrealistic but I do want to ride a couple of hundred miles if I stay consistent.

Books: after finishing The Three-Body Problem, I wanted to read/listen to something non-fiction and I started listening to A Fine Mess by T.R. Reid. It’s a book on taxes and I did enjoy it. I have a draft post about it but I’ll talk more about it in that. I’m also reading a fiction book called Mattimeo by Brian Jacques, it’s a children’s fantasy novel about anthropomorphic mice, second in the Redwall series. After my experience with Watership Down by Richard Adams, I’ve been feeling many different things, like the whole story is so magical and profound yet so dark and simple that it kind of hurts to think about how real it made me feel. 

Code: I’ve been trying to stay consistent about learning Node.js and using it to build something. Also, I’m practicing things like python and javascript when I have some down time, this has been mostly for fun. I’m itching to build something big but I don’t want to misperceive my little bits of new information as newfound confidence.

The Joy of Tidying (and finances): I didn’t really know what to call this part but one thing that’s been part of my everyday thinking has been the notion of “less is more” and also using a recently learned problem solving principle called Occam’s razor to clearly focus on things. I remember when I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo last year, it really opened up a new way of looking at my possessions. It started with just the things I had and how many of them I wasn’t using or wanting yet they all were in my house, taking my room and requiring my time. 
Once I simplified my clothing, books, and other possessions, I started to think of abstract noises and complexities like finances, digital presences, online shopping, and even apps on my phone. This has been a topic of research for me as most people in my generation are dealing with this in various ways, I want to find an approach that’s not Draconian and still lets me enjoy my time with these things and without them. More on this later!