The Captain’s Log at HackIllinois

Friday, February 19, 2016
1:05 PM — Hit the road
2:27 PM — Quick pit stop.
        “Flannery stay in the car and don’t get arrested.”
2:35 PM — Realization that Champaign-Urbana is on central time, which means we are going to get there an hour early
2:50 PM — “Did you know that taking a dead body is technically not classified         as theft?”
        “Chau, this fun fact had better not end with ‘So guys, I was
2:34 PM — Crossed Illinois state line, changed to central time
3:15 PM — Stopped to buy ethernet cables (that we never even used)
3:40 PM — Arrived
        “How will we know where the room is?”
        “Just follow the trail of ethernet cables.”
3:45 PM — Pee break because registration wasn’t open yet, and we’ve been driving for 4 hours straight
3:46 PM — Idea for a pee-related app
5:00 PM — “We should make sure that app doesn’t already exist.”
        “I mean, if it does we can always make a better version of it.”
        “No we can’t.”
5:05 PM — Stood in line to register
5:20 PM — Career fair
unknown copy
9:45 PM — “Why don’t we work on researching the model and you look into
        being the actual computer science person?”
10:30 PM — Microsoft Azure workshop
11:30 PM — “I don’t have enough hands to hold all the snacks I want.”
        “It’s a rough life.”
11:45 PM — Brought in a designer from Georgia Tech

Saturday, February 20, 2016
1:30 AM — Found out confusing issue was just browser related
2:20 AM — Realization that machine learning is the way to go
2:30 AM — “I’m going to go change pants.”
        “That sounds so good right now.”
2:57 AM — Nap time!
10:30 AM — “You look like a teenage girl at a slumber party, which is such an
        interesting juxtaposition to coding an app about pee.”
12:15 PM — “Paint me like one of your French girls.”
12:40 PM — 10 minutes of this:
1:45 PM — Blue Waters Supercomputer!
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unknown (3)
unknown (2)
4:00 PM — *hides in blanket and cries silently*
4:30 PM — “Soylent tastes kind of like liquid oatmeal.”
5:15 PM — “So I’ve decided to switch to objective-C.”
        “I feel like this affects me.”
7:15 PM — Finally got swipe recognition to work
7:42 PM — “Fight me! Just kidding. I’m real weak right now.”
8:06 PM — “Ok, this fortune reveals the key to the rest of this Hackathon…
        I tore it in half. That pretty much says it all.”
9:15 PM — “I still don’t get how to do the thing.”
        “I just told you.”
        “Yeah but I don’t get it.”
10:01 PM — “So this backend isn’t going to happen.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016
3:16 AM — App was finished, everybody was stunned
9:30 AM — App was submitted

10:07 AM — “So if I’m 1000 years old and drink 400 mL, I will have to pee in
        30 minutes.”
11:00 AM — Microsoft interview
        “You guys can just talk naturally, like, keep pissing on Scott for
        getting the most sleep.”
12:00 PM — Projects Expo
        “Oh you guys were the team talking about pee on the fourth floor!”
1:30 PM — Apple guy dragged his friend over to find out when he would need to pee
3:45 PM — Hit the road again
8:00 PM — return “Earlham College”

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Grass-sledding in Costa Rica

When you say “gracias” to a Tico, they don’t reply with “de nada”, but instead with “con gusto”, with pleasure. That exactly sums up the hospitality of this beautiful country.

It was everywhere I went, from the Monteverde campus of the University of Georgia, to the beautiful beach town of Nosara, where hustling tourists in the scorching heat bound to make someone grumpy and wishing for a nap more than anything else.


And it was in the phrase: “We invited you here, you ARE one of us.”

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12 Tips on Geocaching

This film has won the following accolades:
– Best Daisy Duke (short shorts – under 3 minutes) at the Traveling Shorts Film Festival 2015, presented at Romantso Cultural Center and Incubator in Athens, Greece.
– Finalist in the Geocaching International Film Festival 2015 in Seattle, WA, USA.

I think I’ve developed a geocaching addiction. I have a constant urge to get out and play (a lot of walking, hiking and scootering involved).

Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt using coordinates to hide and seek containers called “geocaches”. The hunt is happening everywhere around us, so next time you see a hiker looking around bushes, staring at a handheld device, you know what they are doing.

Footage shot in Hokianga, Northland, NZ (October 2014).

12 Tips on Geocaching from Chau Pham on Vimeo.

The Coming of Kahutia Te Rangi

I had the chance to meet Witi Ihimaera, author of The Whale Rider, in Auckland in October 2014, and also attended a writing workshop led by him. In the workshop, Ihimaera talked about reshaping myths for a contemporary audience, and how that can be used to draw parallels and tell powerful stories like The Whale Rider. The fact that I met the author of one of the pieces I would probably be writing about in my final IB Language & Literature exam is simply mind-blowing, and provided so much more context and insights on this wonderful book.

The video below is based on Chapter One of the novel, about the ancient story of the origin of the Māori people. The text of The Whale Rider is quite rich visually, and I chose specific elements from the chapter that highlight this.

Original art by Chau Pham.
Original text by Witi Ihimaera.
Music recorded during a walk through the Waipoua Forest, Northland, New Zealand. Many thanks to our amazing tour guides who led us through the magnificent giant kāuri trees and shared many aspects of Māori culture with us.

6 Things To Learn From Bilbo Baggins

During my trip to the Bay of Plenty in North Island, New Zealand, one of my ultimate geeky dreams came true when I visited Hobbiton in Matamata. It was as if I got transported straight into Tolkien’s fantasy world. At 1.6 meters tall (5’2” for imperial system barbarians), running around shouting “I’m going on an adventure!”, I felt right at home.

While at Hobbiton, the peacefulness and the hobbit way of life really got me thinking and reevaluating my own lifestyle. So here are six life lessons from Bilbo Baggins, everyone’s beloved hairy feet shorty.

1. Explore the world

“I’m going on an adventure!”


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