In elementary school, my dad brought home a Tandy 1000. It was a curious machine that allowed me to escape and play in a new way. "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego" on floppy disk was my jam, but "Jordan vs. Bird" was also pretty great. I loved it.
While technology has always had a place in my heart, much of my working life has consisted of fulfilling, creative work in the arts field. My drive for acting took me to New York, and my knack for taking photos kept me fed and gave me access to lots of my favorite musicians. It's been a charmed life, but it's time for a change of pace, so now I've come back around to combine my track record of creating beautiful things with my first love of computing.
Problem: I do the New York Times Mini Crossword every day, alongside several good friends. While we could see who won every day, the leaderboard disappears when the puzzle turns over to the next day. In addition, without a cumulative leaderboard, it's a lot harder to talk smack.
Solution: I built a web scraper using Python and Beautiful Soup. It logs into my New York Times account every night, one minute before the puzzle turns over (scheduled with cron on my server), and scrapes and saves the solve times to a Mongo DB database. Then I built a Node/Express server with a React frontend, using Nivo for some visualizations.
I really love Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. When I lived in Brooklyn, I had a problem. I ate them all the time. But one of the things about living somewhere like New York and being a freelancer is that you're always in different places. Where to find a good banh mi???
Well, now there's an app for that. I built a MERN app using the Yelp API and geolocation to find the best, closest (and open) banh mi to you - immediately. Press a button, find a sandwich. Delicious.
There are a few things I do frequently that require some very simple busywork: opening tabs for my morning reading, and downloading torrents. How annoying is it to have to open the same tabs every morning - or to manually open and connect your VPN, open a torrent browser tab, and open Deluge? Well, let's just make some scripts.
So I built a couple of Linux dock items with the help of Python and bash. Now with one click, I'm all set!
I love new music, but sometimes it's hard to keep up. Who do you turn to for a good playlist? Spotify? No, your kid is obsessed with Trolls and now your algorithm is f***ed. The blogs all have their own taste and it's really hard to find one you like. And the "new music" you're listening to is from grey-haired bands that were all the rage in 2006.
I was tired of that, and there's a really great record store by my house - one of the best in the country, actually: Grimey's. I trust their taste. I want to buy music from them. But first, I want to listen. So I built a Python scraper that looks at their new releases page every Friday, scrapes the record names, and then using SpotiPy, dynamically creates a new playlist from it.