What do software engineers do in their spare time to get away from the hectic life of coding? In the case of Kloudless Senior Engineer, Chih-Hung Chen, the answer is code competitively! In this follow up to last week’s post on Chih-Hung, we go deeper into his passion for helping the world through these coding events and press him on his preferences for coding languages and non-coding activities.
What have been some of your favorite hackathons?
I have participated in over 10 hackathons so far. Among all the hackathons I’ve attended, I would say I like the ones hosted by the National Taiwan University (NTU) the most. NTU has always been the most resourceful university in Taiwan. Hackathons that are organized by NTU are usually for competition purposes. Winners leave with a prize after a two or three-day long event which leads to a great sense of accomplishment.
Large scale hackathons generally mean it’s easier for most people to find interesting topics among a variety of projects they might want to spend their time on. The categories can range from finance to agriculture. Bigger events usually translate to more prizes for those who are gift hunters. I always have fun at NTU hackathons. The scale can vary from year to year, but no matter what, this annual event is still my favorite hackathon in Taiwan in my perspective.
Do you have any exciting stories you’d like to share about your experience at hackathons?
I was once grouped with a European engineer for a Hackathon and it was my first time working with a foreigner and speaking English for a project. There were three other Taiwanese engineers in my group, but this experience was impressive to me because of my new foreign collaborator.
I love participating in hackathons that are organized by NTU because they always host the most scalable events in Taiwan. There was a year that NTU held the event in their own stadium with thousands of attendees in that space. As a result, NTU needed to open extra classrooms for all the seminars. At NTU hackathons, attendees don’t need to worry about food and drinks for these two days in the stadium since it was all sponsored and free of charge. There were also rooms and space for video games and even laser tag games for all the attendees. For those who loved to code overnight and didn’t live in Taipei, NTU even prepared sleeping bags with a spacious area so people can rest. There are so many different things to do at a hackathon, it’s very hard to ever get bored at the event.
I also joined the NTU hackathon for the second time in 2017. It was slightly smaller than the year before, but they still rented a pavilion from the Taipei Expo Park. Attendees could even play soccer inside the pavilion if they wanted to take a break from coding. So you can imagine how big the event actually was and how many exciting activities we could participate in. We didn’t only concentrate on coding but also did some fun social activities too. The 2017 NTU hackathon at Taipei Expo Park was the year I won the second grand prize, which was a great experience.
Where is your next hackathon? Why are you attending it, and what are you looking to gain from this event?
Besides competition style hackathons, I have been involved as a volunteer for the g0v movement online community hackathon since 2017. I often go to their Meetups which are held regularly every two months.
The g0v is a community that promotes the transparency of government information and is committed to developing information platforms and tools for citizens to participate in. The project I’m currently working on at g0v is to collect and build a complete contact list for all 113 legislators in Taiwan. What’s challenging in this project isn’t building the list, but collecting all the office contact information from each legislator in every city in Taiwan.
This project has now been published for a while. What we’re doing at the moment is just maintaining the website and regularly meeting with the project leader to see if there are any updates or new ideas for other projects.
I love participating in this type of Hackathon because we believe that we are doing something beneficial for society. If I can use my expertise to make this world a bit better, that would mean a lot to me. So I love to keep participating in this particular hackathon when I am available.
“If I can use my expertise to make this world a bit better, that would mean a lot to me.”
What are your favorite programming language, framework, and development tools?
I like Laravel which is a PHP framework because I have been using it for a long time so I’m very familiar with it. For tools, there are so many to choose from but I’ll go with PyCharm since that is what I use more often now.
What is your favorite Kloudless perk and why?
Flexible work hours for sure! We can use our time wisely. If I feel like working on the weekend, we are able to do so in exchange for a weekday. We have the flexibility to manage our time productively. Kloudless values autonomy and self-discipline a lot, and trusts its employees which is very rare in many Taiwanese companies.
What do you outside of work for fun?
I love reading fantasy novels and I read quite often during my spare time. My favorite author of all is an American author named Brandon Sanderson. I’ve read all his works, and in my opinion, his ‘Mistborn’ series is epic. I highly recommend this series to people who would like to try to step into the fantasy novel world for the first time.
Aside from reading fantasy novels, I also enjoy longboarding and sometimes sketching. I mainly focus on drawing urban architectures. Last year, after our company team retreat, I spent some time in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park to do some sketching.