mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

ChuckPad in Copenhagen

ChuckPad went to Copenhagen! Last week, Spencer and I attended the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference at Aalborg University in Copenhagen and showed off ChuckPad to other conference attendees. We got the opportunity to hang out with old friends, make new ones, and check out cool stuff other people are working on around the world.

While in Copenhagen I also got to do plenty of sight-seeing. Copenhagen, as I see it, in a nutshell: lots of beer, lots of water, lots of sunlight (there was sunlight from 4 AM to 10 PM), and lots of bicycles! All in all, a great time!

Tips on Getting a Job

I recently held a small fireside chat (sans the fire) at General Assembly with some of their iOS programming graduates. We focused on job hunting for technical positions. I brought a single slide to keep the discussion open and to avoid giving overcomplicated advice.

Let’s take a dive into each of these!

  1. Leverage your network. One of the biggest hurdles to getting a job is really early on in the process: getting a recruiter to review your resume and reach out. Applying through a jobs website can work but you may get lost in the deluge of other resumes. Internal referrals are a great way to get around this hurdle. Ask (don’t demand) if a friend can refer you or introduce you to a contact they know that works somewhere you’re interested in applying for.

  2. Have a resume. It’s 2017, but you’ll still need a resume when applying for jobs. Preparing a resume is a great exercise in reviewing what you’ve done in the past; at all stages of interviewing you will likely be asked to discuss previous work and projects.

  3. Post your code on Github. This is especially important if you don’t have any “professional” work experience. Having a previous job or some code samples to look at quickly addresses any questions about your basic ability to code. You don’t need to write perfect code to put it on Github. Pick a problem, solve it, and put it up there. A nice README file will explain what the code does and include some screenshots.

  4. Write! Writing is not valued enough for technical roles but it’s an incredibly helpful thing to do. Writing is an exercise in gathering your thoughts and outputting a set of coherent, fluid words. That helps with lots of things you’ll be doing day-to-day as an engineer: understanding and fleshing out problems, discussing solutions, and implementing clean, readable solutions. Start a blog! Write about whatever you want; it doesn’t have to be technical. I always advise people new to coding to write about their experience coding through new challenges: discuss hiccups you run into and how you went about solving them.

  5. Prepare for technical interviews. Doing well in interviews takes lots of preparation and a little bit of luck. You need to have an absolute firm command of data structures (especially sets, lists, maps). Practice whiteboarding because coding on a whiteboard is different from coding on a computer.

And that’s all there’s to it! Getting a job isn’t easy but you should have confidence in yourself and be proud of the work you’ve done. Good luck!

Time to Kill Silent Protagonists

I just wrapped up Persona 5. I loved Persona 4 and I am even more impressed by Persona 5. If you’ve got any love for JRPGs or grandiose stories, go play it now. But there’s one thing I think story-heavy series like Persona need to do soon: kill silent protagonists.

Give this man a voice!

Persona 5 weaved an intricate story in a rich and interesting world. As the protagonist, you interacted with tons of people and helped them grow by learning more about them and helping them solve their problems. But a lot of this world-building and character development was done without any significant input from you. You get to pick how the protagonist responds during certain situations but this input is a drop in the bucket of all that is said during the game. The silent protagonist, by definition, lacks a voice. Great stories are not built by introducing a character who plays a central role and then simply having that character listen to everyone else.

Giving the protagonist a name goes hand-in-hand with the killing off silent protagonists. I don’t care much about having my name in the game and I’d much prefer having characters say a name for voice-acted lines as opposed to “him” and “our leader.”

All this said, Persona 5 is an amazing game and I can’t recommend it enough. Atlus knocked this one out of the park. But I do hope they’ll consider adding a protagonist with a voice to their arsenal of story-telling tools in the future.

Shipping Now on Twitch Android!

It’s already been a month since I joined the Twitch family and I’m happy to announce you can already enjoy the fruits of my labor on Twitch’s Android app. You can now view Clips by broadcaster! I think this feature is particularly cool because:

  • Clips are mobile-friendly since they’re short. You can plow through a bunch of clips in a few minutes.
  • I watch a lot of StarCraft 2 streams but I definitely have a list of go-to broadcasters (e.g. MCanning).
  • I built it.

Clips by MCanning

And that’s only the beginning! I’m busy working on other stuff and excited to make the Twitch experience on Android even better. Stay tuned!

Tetra Blogiversary

It’s the first of May again! Today I celebrate the birthday of my amazing friend Josh Wu who I married… to his wife, and four years of blogging on! 52 posts were published so I just eeked out last year’s resolution of one post per week but definitely came up short on the aggressive resolution of 1.5 posts per week. The past year has been an exciting year as I changed jobs from Evernote to Twitch, am learning Chinese, and will be going to Copenhagen to present ChuckPad at New Interfaces for Musical Expression 2017. Here’s to another exciting one!