2015 Resolutions - 1 Month Review

01 Feb 2015

Wow! I can't believe it's February already! As I stated in my New Year Resolutions post, I wrote down my resolutions so that I could be held accountable for them. Reviewing my resolutions after a year seemed like I would easily lose touch/sight of them. I decided a good idea would be to review my progress month-by-month, so here it goes:

Read more (and not programming/technical books)

I believe I've been doing a good job of this! My previous post was a review on Ready Player One, which was a fantastic book. I'm still reading technical books (Clojure In Actions) As I've taking a liking to Clojure, but I'm still making time for other books as well. A close friend of mine recommended reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Martin Gladwell. From what he's told me, the book sounds incredibly interesting and very motivational. I hope to begin reading this as soon as tomorrow night (02/02/15), so keep an eye out for that review!

Continue to shoot (photograph) more often and update my blog with some of my favorite pictures!

I've been shooting and posting my favorite pictures to my Instagram, but I haven't done a good job of posting the pictures to my blog. Be ready for an influx of pictures soon. I'm not sure if I just want to have one post/picture or if I want to setup a sort of gallery. Regardless, release fast and release often, so I'll have some pictures up this week. I do have a couple of shots that I have in mind and I'd like to be able to get more pictures of activities with my friends, so I'll hopefully put those in motion this month!

Graduate and complete my M.S. in Computer Science!

I've enrolled in my final thesis class, which is a step forward towards the path of graduation. I have to proof-read my thesis and practice my defense.

Try to really help one person a week.

I don't know how much I've been sticking to this one and it's probably the thing that bothers me the most. I feel like lately my friends have been helping me out a lot lately, but I don't know if I'm recipricating that back to them or towards other people. I don't exactly have a plan for this one, but hopefully I can put something together soon.

Talk to/meet new people.

I also feel that I've been dropping the ball on this. This may partially be due to me getting a new phone (and wanting to play around with it), but also just me shying away in general.

Continue to swim at least 3x/week!

I think if there is one resolution I've excelled at, it's been this one. Since Christmas, I've been swimming about 5x/week and exercising 6x/week. I've been attending Masters workouts at least once a week. I feel that my swim game has been improving tremendously. My strokes still need a lot of work, but they're getting better! Despite my hardwork, I have a plan to improve. Masters workouts are hard for me to make since they're right in the middle of the day (12-1) and having to get there early, then eat lunch, and go back to work, I lose a big chunk of my day which is why I've only been going once a week. I plan to start attending the 6AM-7AM swim workouts, that way I can get my workout out of the way early in the morning and be available for my team/coworkers when it counts!

To summarize, the things I need to work on for the month of February:

  • Read Outliers (and learn Clojure :P)
  • Post my favorite pictures here
  • Proofread my thesis and practice my defense
  • Figure out a plan to help people
  • Get off my phone when I'm out alone
  • Start swimming the morning masters workouts

Accountability.

One last thing, I realized my "talk to/meet new people" and "try to really help one person a week" goals aren't SMART goals which may be why they're so difficult to identify. Maybe my plan for achieving these resolutions should be to identify them as SMART goals and then execute.


New Year Resolutions

31 Dec 2014

Well I hope I'm not too late to get my new year resolutions in. I've been thinking about this post for a while, but was only finally inspired after my last cup of coffee of 2014. In fact, this day included a lot of lasts. The last swim of the year, the last time I'd visit my brother in 2014, the last time I'd accidentally cut myself in 2014 (I hope), the last..well, I think we all get it. In all seriousness, I don't usually subscribe to the new year resolution thing, I believe that if you want to change something about your life or self, why wait? But, I also understand the nice things of having a clean slate. In addition, new year resolutions are slightly cliche, but I believe that writing them down will force some accountability. I'd like to review them a year from now and see reflect on how much I've kept to them.

Anyways, enough jibber jabber, below are my new year resolutions:

  • Read more (and not programming/technical books)
  • Continue to shoot (photograph) more often and update my blog with some of my favorite pictures!
  • Graduate and complete my M.S. in Computer Science! My thesis is complete, I need to practice defending it and actually defend!
  • Try to really help one person a week. I don't mean holding the door open or letting them in, I mean really help someone.
  • Talk to/meet new people. Ideally, one new person a day. (I'll elaborate on this further down)
  • Continue to swim at least 3x/week! In addition, participate in masters swimming classes as much as possible!

To elaborate on the point about talking to and meeting new people, it has to do with me noticing that when I'm somewhere, typically alone, I tend to shy off (into my phone) to not really have to interact with people I don't know. I'd like to work on breaking that kind of awkward barrier when either waiting around for a cup of coffee or something of that nature.

May everyone have a happy and safe new year! Let's leave the bad in 2014 and only take the best moments and continue them forward.


25 Years, 5 Months, and 14 days

02 Oct 2014

Today I am 25 years, 5 months, and 14 days old, the exact same age my brother was when he passed away. This day has been on my mind everyday for the past year. I've spent long car rides, sleepness nights, and countless laps swimming thinking about today, asking my self what should I do, what should I say. After wrestling with my thoughts, I thought it may be best to write out my thoughts and reflect.

My brother, Harel, had an incredible abillity to touch everyone that he came in contact with. I remember when I was younger it felt like he knew everyone. There was not a place I would go with my brother where we wouldn't randomly bump into someone he knew. Even more so, the respect and excitement that was shown to my brother by everyone around him was incredible. When my brother would walk into a room, it was as if all the attention just shifted to him and regardless of what the mood was before, it immediately got better.

Despite many of the hardships my brother had growing up, from not having much growing up to losing friends as a teenager, he had this incredible ability to flip a situation and look at the bright side. He was always positive and knew how to make the best of any situation. His smile was contagious, his stories were great, and just hearing his laugh could brighten up your day.

I think, to me, what may have cemented who my brother was, was shown on the day of his funeral. The sheer amount of people from such a wide array of groups who came to pay my brother respect was incredible. In such a short lifetime, my brother was able to touch the lives of so many, something I truly admire him for.

A quote that I came across a few years ago has stuck with me.

There are moments in each of our lives when something so dramatic happens that one can barely remember what life was like before. These moments reshape the prism through which we can see everything that follows. These moments define the chapters in our lives, and how we react to them defines who we are.

For me, this moment is when my brother passed away. I feel as if a hard line was drawn through my life on the day of his passing. Coping with my brother's death has been the single most difficult thing I have had to do. Bad days become worse and no matter how much time passed, it didn't feel like the pain was going away. Some days, I hate the world for what it has taken from me. It seems like there are days when I can't remember ever truly being happy.

But, I refuse to let these bad days get the best of me. I refuse to forget the good times I had with my brother and everything he taught me. My whole life, my brother has been my role model, inspiration, and motivation. Until this day, I still want to be like Harel when I grow up. I realize now, if I truly want to be like my brother when I grow up, then I cannot forget what my brother stood for.

So my brother, wherever you may be, I hope you can read this, see this, or hear this and I hope that I've made you proud. I hope that one day I can positively influence the lives of as many people you did throughout your lifetime. Hopefully. one day, HK, I'll be like my big brother.

Harel and Barak


Why Barakyo?

12 Nov 2013

Over this past weekend I was asked, twice, "Why Barakyo?" While the explanation is simple enough, I sometimes get the response that my Barakyo nickname isn't professional. I've even been told I should consider choosing another domain name. While I understand that my nickname isn't professional and even though I share my blog with companies that I am interested in, I didn't want to strip my blog of me, hence the reason for the personal category. One of my goals for my blog was that it would still express me, without having to be techincal. One way of doing that is through the use of my domain name, to me it's fun, expressive, and short! It's also pretty easy to spell over the phone :)

Legality

One tangent before I do jump into my nickname. There is some slight confusion on the spelling of my actual name (Barak or Barack). Legally, my name is spelled Barack. According to my parents, somewhere in my childhood, I, myself, decided that the correct spelling for my name was Barak. I don't personally remember when I made the switch, but from what I can remember I've been spelling my name Barak my whole life. Eventually, I'll get around to changing my name legally so I have a uniform spelling.

History: AOL Instant Messanger

It seems like now is a better time than ever to actually introduce the history of my nickname, Barakyo. When my friends and I were in middle school and high school, AOL Instant Messanger (AIM) was the hip messenger to be on, EVERYONE was on it. Cool nicknames and aliases were rampant, but my friends and I had a different idea in mind. Young rebels at heart, we went against the grain, we decided to actually INCLUDE our names in our AIM screen names. Originally our screen names started out as, quack its robert and woof its barak. But this level of rebelling wasn't enough for us, we need moreMOAR.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2004, I was having a discussion over AIM with my friend Ryan. We had the incredibly clever idea of making screen names that literally told people who we were. This dawned my previous screen name and Ryan's current screen name, its me barak and itsa me uh ryan. Again, I was not satisfied, something was missing from my screen name. Finally, a few days later, it hit me, its barak yo would be my screen name, who wouldn't like that?!

Birth of Barakyo

With the creation of my screen name, Barakyo was born! It wasn't until later on in high school that my nickname really started catching on. It seemed my screen name grew popular amongst my friends as whenever they would see me, they'd always say something along the lines of, "Hey! It's Barak, yo." Somehow through the recitement of my screen name, the comma was dropped and my name just became, Barakyo.

In addition to my popular screen name, my away messages, which were stolen from popular rap songs, seem to also aid my nickname. Some of my more catchy away messages included:

It's Barakyo commin' out yo stereo

and

But I ain't 5-0, yall know its Barakyo!

Barakyo today

Present day Barakyo is a simpler man. One who does not refer to himself in the third person :P I often still get phone calls where the minute I answer the phone the person on the other line will yell, "Barakyo comin' out my stereo!" I love these phone calls, they put a smile on my face the second I hear them. In addition, I still use my nickname Barakyo whenever something calls for a more personalized touch, hence my blog :)

Now you know all there is to know about Barakyo...


Weekly Report 10/13-10/19

21 Oct 2013

Good:

  • Team meeting with good discussions and thoughts
  • Completed usability requests (Thanks DUDE!)
  • Discussions with various people regarding my thesis and some ideas
  • Was able to find an answer to one of the problems I was having with my thesis
  • Swam 4 times and swam my fastest 50m so far! (35 seconds)
  • Big picture discussions about web services, API keys, improving the API
  • Completed and demoed my project for Comp595.
  • Began the path to more focused test driven development in our latest sprint planning
  • Planning Poker at the sprint planning
Areas for Improvement:
  • More efficient planning
  • Prioritization and organization
  • Patience
    • Hard work does not go unnoticed (I hope!)
Thoughts:
  • Made some big decisions over the weekend testing my ability to be more decisive and I think I'm doing well.


Weekly Report 9/15-9/21

22 Sep 2013

My boss emails out a weekly report of all his activities every week and I thoroughly enjoy them. I'd thought I'd start writing them myself to help reflect. Good:

  • Completed notifications for RP
  • Started working on a small email wrapper class for RP
  • Progress on my thesis
  • Completed section on Phoenix database's layer.
  • Completed section on the Neo4J equivalent of EAS's database.
  • Swam 4 times this past week!
  • Completed and submitted Comp429's Project 1 - Yak
  • Completed, submitted, and demoed Comp595's Project 2 - Sensor Information
  • Discussions with coworkers
    • Compilers, Interpreters, JIT compilers
    • C
      • Pointers/Arrays and Buffers
      • Re-entrant functions
      • Man pages
  • RP pre-meeting and role reviews
  • Revised/updated my resume
  • Got RP running on saga28
  • Will be helping out with my friend's robotics team at his old high school, Team4Element!
  • Completed 2 Project Euler problems in Python!
Areas for Improvement:
  • Communicating efficiently
  • Saga28 server maintenance
    • Messed up existing SSL configuration when updating Apache :/
  • Need to get back on my scheduled 1-on-1s
  • Have to get back to updating my blog
  • Organization, scheduling, and Agile
  • Lost touch of the Agile approach since I've moved back to RP.
  • Thesis proof-reading and progress updates with my thesis committee.
  • Wasn't so active on IRC this past week.
Thoughts:
  • Team Building
    • Team4Element - Need to learn the kids and how I can help
    • Family - Need to figure out how to help out here as well
  • Python-Eve Neo4J driver
    • Reviewed what I could do to possibly develop a Neo4J driver for the Eve framework built on top of Flask.