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Year 2012 in Review

January 29, 2013 10:00 am by

Most awesome year ever

Would be the shortest way to describe 2012.  It has been a while since the last post, which was an analysis of how the launch of my first Android app InstaWifi went.  For 2013, my resolution is to post more content than in 2012, and to continue to write meaningful and helpful content for android developers as well as some other various random thoughts I may have specifically on tech, entrepreneurship, or on life after college.

In the year 2012, I wrote six posts:

  1. Getting out of the Consumer Mindset – I thought about how much information I consume on a daily basis and it made me aware that I no longer want to solely be a consumer of information but to also be a producer of information.  Since then, I have stopped my addiction with Google Reader, and over the course of the year have become more productive by attending a lot of competitions/hackathons, building cool stuff, and in general, doing a lot more write actions instead of reads.
  2. Protip: Bash Autocomplete for Android ADB – Android development can be a little frustrating at times, but finding little gems such as autocompletion of adb commands, or debugging your app without a cable makes it much better.

  3. Playing the Student Card – I got so much free crap because I was a student that it would be wrong not to share.  Getting a free github micro plan, amazon prime, and discounted Google I/O tickets are some of the most notable ones.

  4. Protip: How to be a Good Boss – This was a more personal post of mine that I wrote to reflect on my experiences being a lead for 3 years for a small technical team.  It’s possible that I don’t actually really know what it’s like to be a good boss, but it’s out there for people to digest.

  5. Freeing Your Online Graduation Pictures – This was a fun tutorial that I co-wrote with Jonathan Tien.  The both of us being CS nerds having just graduated, we wanted to save our grad pictures only to find out they disabled right-click > save as, and put an ugly watermark all over our beautiful bodies.  We weren’t going to have any of that, so we wrote this lengthy, but ultimately useful, tutorial on how to nab those pictures, and to use photoshop to remove the watermark.  It went viral on Facebook and was a huge hit among our class.

  6. Post-hoc Analysis of InstaWifi’s Launch – InstaWifi was my first Android app ever released to the market, and I remember being blown away by the positive reception that I received from the online community. I decided to share with other developers the hard numbers of my launch and some of the reasoning that I put into the app and what worked and what didn’t.

Looking back, I’m happy with the blog posts I’ve written.  My goal for 2013 is to force myself to write more and be more comfortable in my voice in writing.  Also, possibly time to do an entire redesign of this website.


Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 10:00 AM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.

Playing the Student Card

March 8, 2012 9:48 pm by


One memorable quote I remember from being in Ken Singer’s Mobile Entrepreneurship class is him telling us to always “play the student card”. People enjoy helping students because of a combination of a) its less pressure for them since we don’t work yet (not trying to use them to get a job, or for any other obvious personal gains) and b) they want to help younger folks because they once were in the same situation before as a student. For companies, they want to help us because they want to invest in their brand loyalty toward younger audiences, so that once we have a job and money, we are aware of their company and will continue to use their products.

Turning in my student card

As my years of being a student comes to an end, its time to take a look back and acknowledge the different people and companies that helped me get to where I am now.

  • GitHub
    • As a student studying CS, having a Micros plan on GitHub is invaluable.  A free Micros plan allows you to have up to 5 private repositories with unlimited collaborators.  A must-have for your CS projects and hackathons.
  • Adobe Creative Suite 5
    • Starting in August 2011, all UC Berkeley students gets a free copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5.  Normal price is 379$ for a license (which is out of reach for the 99% of students), so this is a great opportunity for people to learn how to use Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator and etc. for their class and personal work.
  • Microsoft Software
    • UC Berkeley students get MS Office and MS operating systems like Windows 7 and XP for free.  Students can barely afford food to eat, who in their right mind would cough up 100$ for a Windows 7 license?  This is a strategic move by Microsoft to ensure that we continue to use their products rather than their competitors.
  • Amazon Prime
    • Back in my day (~2010), Amazon had a promotion for students to have 1-year of Amazon Prime for free (free two-day shipping on all eligible products).  Now, it’s only 6 months but it’s still great.  When my trial expired, I was so spoiled by Amazon Prime service that I renewed my service for 40$/year.
  • Google I/O
    • Every year, Google holds a developer conference to bring thousands of developers for a two (this year, three) day event to network, attend talks, and listen in on the newest products coming from Google. This is a great opportunity for students to get a taste of the real world.  When I first attended Google I/O in 2010, it showed me what computer science is outside of academia, and made me so excited to pursue programming.  That led to me going again in 2011 by the skin of my teeth.  They gave me my first smartphone (my current phone at that time was a Motorola Razr, remember those things?), and since then, I have wrote Android apps, tutorials of many sorts, and have brought me into my passion for mobile.

Now these are services or events that are discounted for students.  The next list is a list of competitions I attended where I played the student card to my advantage.  Younger students take note 🙂

  • Facebook Mobile Hack
    • Facebook’s Mobile Hack is where you learn how to integrate Facebook services into your mobile app.  At the end, there is a hackathon where you compete for prizes.  I find that when introducing ourselves as “students at UC Berkeley studying CS”, we tend to get more attention that way (since everybody else were working adults).  Take it for what it’s worth, but playing the student card when you are the minority seems to give you an edge.  Not to mention, winning this hackathon got me a job offer.
  • AnDevCon III
    • Playing the student card once again, to try to appeal to the contest organizers.  However, notice there are also several other students playing the student card.  I think perhaps why mine stood out some more was the fact that I was more clear on why I feel like I should go.  Winning a 1,245$ ticket for writing a comment?  Not bad!


Take advantage of the fact that you are a student.  You only have this liberty for 4 years in college before you become a working adult.  The companies, people, and events that you meet and go to love the fact that you are an ambitious student and often times are willing to help one way or another!  For me, I will always be grateful for my student card because it

  • got me my job
  • got me into my career/interest, mobile
  • got me into building apps and competing in more hackathons
  • got me into conferences that I would never be able to afford

The student card is only valid for 4 years.  Use it before it expires.


Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 9:48 PM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.

Getting Out of the Consumer Mindset

February 7, 2012 7:11 pm by

When you wake up, what is the first thing you do?  For me, its checking my email and Facebook.  During that small amount of free time after showering and brushing your teeth, I, probably like many others, like to sit down and ‘catch up’ on what’s been going on on the Internet since last night.  Now, usually this catching up tends to lead to me being late to my class (despite Berkeley time), and in general, putting me in a mood for the rest of the day where I am always looking for more interesting and cool stories/links on the web.

Ironically, 2 days ago I came across this particular comment on reddit, where people were sharing small lifestyle changes that impacted their lives.  Redditor accex brings up an interesting point on people being a producer or a consumer, and (s)he says that starting the morning as a ‘producer’ has made him/her much more productive by realizing how much of a distraction the web can be.  Specifically, this quote was really good:

This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied.

Damn.  I think this really hit home to me because I know that I pretty much live, breathe, and consume the web.  Every morning, email and Facebook.  Walking to/from class, reddit, fb and Google Reader.  On a computer, HN, Google Reader, reddit, fb, YouTube, and so forth.  To determine how bad of an addict I am to the web, I decided to check my Google Reader earlier to see how much posts I’ve read since I started using Google Reader (that would be September 21, 2008, right about when college started for me).

394,514 items.

That’s 320 posts every single day or 13 posts every hour since 9/28/08, which was almost 3 and a half years ago.  And no, I do not simply mark articles as read when it gets too much.  I just read all of them.  Assuming 30 seconds to read each post, that’s 140 full days of my life in the past 3.5 years that’s been devoted to just reading Google Reader.  This is not even taking into consideration the time spent on Facebook, reddit, HN, and YouTube.

I have a problem

Admittedly, this is hard for me say but its time for me to cut down on the amount of time spent on consuming data and information on the web.  Being a ‘consumer’ is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it becomes addictive where you are continually “trying to fill a void in yourself” and you feel like you have to read everything out there, that’s when it is bad.  Google Reader is an excellent tool to stay updated with multiple blogs/websites, and it has definitely made me more knowledgeable on topics such as technology, gadgets, and programming.  However, using our time every day to be more of a ‘producer’ would make all of us much more productive.  For me, that’s definitely working more on my personal projects, blogging, exercising, and preparing for the real world (personal finance, investments, retirement, real estate, ad nauseum).

In all, this was just me realizing that I have been spending a lot of time with things that are easy to consume and don’t benefit much.  It’s time to be more productive with the limited time that I have each day.  As a friend of mine always say, “the most precious resource you have is time”.  Use it with care, use that time for things that matter most to you.  Stop reading this and go do something productive!

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 7:11 PM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.