Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Hi. It's currently a very strange time right now. I left New York a few weeks ago, between the time that most companies began instituting work from home and before Governor Cuomo's stay home order.

I didn't seriously consider leaving New York until my dad called me, panicked about NYC hospitals running out of beds, and declared that he was driving to my apartment that night to pick me up and take me home to Maryland. 

The first 14 days I was home, I self-isolated in the master bedroom to be sure I wasn't asymptomatic while my parents brought food to the door. I have a desk in the room where I'm staying where I can work. During weekdays, I have a divider set up so that I've got a more professional background when I'm video conferencing with coworkers.

I feel like my interactions these days are much more personal, with people sharing much more of what's going on in their lives. I'm grateful that I'm no longer in New York and that I'm able to be with my mom, dad, and much younger twin brothers at this time. I'm also grateful to the people who have asked about how I've been.

This is a very strange time, but I'm well, and I hope all is well with you too. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grace Hopper 2015: Hardware Hackathon Workshop

On the last day of the Grace Hopper Celebration, I attended Come Hack With Us: A Hardware Hackathon at GHC which was presented by Stacie Hibino and Anna Billstrom. The workshop was sponsored in part by Chibitronics, and we spent much of the workshop learning how we could use Chibitronics materials to combine paper crafts and hardware. It was pretty cool, and I share some of my thoughts as part of my vlog series covering the conference. For more information about the workshop, you can view the conference notes or official description in the online conference schedule or read a summary from Anna Billstrom herself.

Friday, October 16, 2015

GHC15: Networking Events

Thursday, October 15, 2015

GHC15: Crucial Conversations in Your Career

"Crucial Conversations"

Defined as having:
  • High stakes
  • Differing opinions
  • High emotions
Tactics for dealing with difficult teammates:
  • Be inclusive while you escalate
  • Put them in the position of asking for guidance:
    • How do you think x process should go?
    • I'm having problems with x step in the process
General tactics for approaching the conversation:
  • Be your own advocate (have solutions in mind)
  • Prepare examples
  • Don't minimize your feelings
  • Have goals you want to achieve
  • Determine specific action items to resolve issues 

Speakers from the GHC15 Session:
  • Jennifer Wang
  • Susanne Lehmann
  • Wei Wu
Wiki Summary
Official Description

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Grace Hopper 2015

I'm so excited to be going to the Grace Hopper Conference for the first time in October with Harvard Women in Computer Science!

The Grace Hopper Conference, which celebrates women technologists, is a 3-day conference is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront, so it's not just a celebration but an opportunity to learn from women in the field of computing. 

I heard about this conference because one of my friends went last year, and I also knew a ton of people going this year. I will also be vlogging about my experiences at the conferences and about any panels/sessions that I attend.

Stayed tuned for more later this month!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


A recap and a return

Here are some things that I've done in the last two years, in mostly chronological order.

Join Harvard

I made a webapp with a group of friends that would help undergrads at Harvard discover new extracurricular activities to join. It's called Join Harvard, and it's now on the Harvard University IT's Student App Spotlight, which is the homepage of every computer in the Science Center. I later wrote Building Join Harvard, a blog post detailing the development and design process my team and I went through for making this app.

I made this with some friends over the course of a week.

Summertime Radness

In the summer, I interned at AmerisourceBergen on the mobility team and worked a lot with mobile apps, iPods, Androids, and mobile device management. I convinced my manager to send me to Vegas with the rest of the mobility team to work a company trade show and had a blast. This was also the summer I learned to ballroom dance. I took dance lessons covering waltz, foxtrot, club swing, salsa, and merengue.

At the end of the summer, I visited Peru for a month as part of the Harvard-UTEC collaborative field project. We learned about air filters, and we made water filters in Lima, Peru. We also visited a shanty town in San Juan de Lurigancho and several tourist stops, Cuzco, on the way to and back from the Pallancata silver mines in mountains 4700 meters above sea level.

Shanty Towns in San Juan de Lurigancho

Sleep No More

When school started again, I started experimenting with my sleep patterns, trying out the Dual-Core Sleep cycle, which involves four hours of sleep at night, a 1.5 hour nap in the morning, and a 30 min nap in the afternoon. I also accidentally slept through my four person seminar several times... possibly related to my sleep schedule, I'm not sure. Incidentally, this was also the best I did academically at Harvard, so I'm going to say that my crazy sleep schedule totally worked.

Either that, or it was the semester that I discovered my love of sociology, primarily though an amazing sociology course called Class and Culture. It was the the scrapbook/journal assignment that made me realize how seemingly dense sociological concepts apply to every day life. 

When I came back from winter break, I began the Campaign for a Nap Space. I started a petition, sent out a survey to research people's thoughts on napping and getting a campus nap room, made a nap map, and got a lot of press in the process. Here's a selection:

Thought Catalog

Some time after this, I had my first piece of submitted writing published by Thought Catalog! Yes, another listicle. 8 Ways To Beat Loneliness! Yes, they really work!

Time Out

At some point I accepted a co-op position at Akamai Technologies and began working there full-time. It meant that I had to take time off from school, but I met one of my closest friends to this day during my co-op, so I would say that it was worth it.

Taking time off from school allowed me to be introspective and write without worrying about papers or problem sets. I wrote a few pieces on finding a mission statement, and focusing on specific projects instead of taking on too much at once, while also giving yourself a space to explore every idea that interests you.

I wrote a personal mission statement to guide me during my time off.
I also interned as a user experience design intern in New York for a while. It was fun, I met cool people, and I lived in East Village. Here's a guest post that I wrote for Let's Go Travel Guide on finding summer housing in NYC.


The last two years have been eventful, and I wrote a lot, but now that I'm back at Harvard, I want to return to this blog and continue reflecting on my adventures here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hello World

The first page I ever customized was my user page on Neopets, a virtual pet game, that was popular when I was in elementary school. It was straight copy-paste, though I had a general idea that div elements somehow separated my content from one another and it was not a good idea to edit anything between style tags unless I had a good idea of what I was doing. I learned some CSS after a while (check out that opacity yo), but eventually I grew out of Neopets and moved on to other things like drawing and surviving middle school.

Fast forward to college, when I enrolled in my first computer science class freshman fall and learned the languages I use now for web development (HTML/CSS, PHP, and JavaScript). My second computer science class was about user experience design and though the class was poorly organized and my teaching fellow stopped giving my team feedback on our assignments halfway through the course, I still loved what I learned.

It inspired me to finally take action on the website ideas that had been crowding my thoughts for the better part of a year. 2013 was the year that I made Join Harvard with Sharon Zhou, George Lok, and Annie Wei. It was also the year that I installed Linux Mint on my Windows machine to make development easier. I've since started to document all the issues I've run into, especially since nothing ever seems to work out of the box for me on my linux machine. At some point, I'll make my problem/solution log public, in case people run into the same issues as I did. 

I've also set up a personal website to track my learning and progress towards all the initiatives, projects, and websites I've started.
© Yuqi Hou
Maira Gall