Summer 2023

no school,
i can relax,
hang with friends,
oh and restart that hobby!
and i could also start learning an instrument and...
Shit its over.

Heyoo TubbDoose fans, lovers, haters, stalkers, stans, obsessives, sworn killers, and admirers!!! The summer is almost over so its time for me to blog about it!


The top thing about the summer is being able to see friends again. We did a lot of epic things!

Dungeons and Dragons

I've tried running a different roleplaying game a long time ago (Cogent Roleplay), and I've played a few sessions of Dnd, but this is the first time I'm seriously running a campaign. I got a membership to the naddpod patreon and for the first few months of the summer I had been relistening to campaign 1 non-stop. The constant Dnd in my ears pushed me over the fence I had been sitting on for years and I couldn't stop myself from picking up my copy of The Dungeon Master's Guide and planning a story.

We've had three sessions so far. I'm no Lee Mulligan, Murphy, or Mercer but I think my two players are having fun. In the first session I made the mistake of giving the starting town zero theming. I wanted it to be mundane so that when the mysterious inciting incident occurred it would feel even more mysterious and significant. Maybe it did have that effect - I'm not sure - but it definitely made the time in the town less fun. Obviously there's the problem that zero theming meant less interesting people and architecture, but it also meant that I had almost nothing to improvise off of. Another mistake I feel I've made is starting the players off at level 1. Their characters were so weak that their first foe was rats and their second was homunculi. In the second session a player took a D4 of damage from being hit by cutlery and thought the Unseen Servant who threw it was terrifying powerful.

If I'm not lazy or busy I might post recaps of the sessions on this website. If I do it I wanna do it narrative style which means it'll take a lot of time and is less likely to happen. I'll try though! (maybe)


I worked my first job that involved programming!!! There was an older "senior developer" but all the programming work was done by me and another second year. Its been pretty cool being paid to do a thing I enjoy. I had wayyyy more freedom than I expected so I added a lot of epic features (rss feed, visual essay, infinite feed, helped with darkmode, mastodon bot coming soon...) and I pretty much did a full front-end redesign.

This was the home page before I started

And this is it after my redesign

I think the design and user experience is pretty good. It's definitely better than the previous one. The previous design made it very difficult to decide what order to look at things. There was also way too much text. In my redesign I tried to give an obvious visual hierarchy for the content on the page. I also moved the ads to less invasive locations.

While making mockups I searched for inspiration from other news websites and found that almost all of them were extremely shit. The only news website that I like the design of is The Verge's.

The Verge is also the only news website that I check regularly. The design is obviously very good. Just looking at the colour palette makes me feel cool and smart in a sci-fi way. The fonts are exciting but readable. The thumbnail images are very well made. But I don't think that's what differentiates The Verge from other news websites in terms of building the habit of checking it regularly.

This is CBC News's homepage

If I was checking this site, what exactly would I be checking it for? To see if the text at the top changed? The video? The small text in the top left? Any of those small text boxes shoved tightly around those items?

The Verge's homepage has an unquestionable centrepiece: The cover story image. I check The Verge to see if this cover story image has changed. If it has I'll read the title, if the title interests me I might read the article. If it doesn't then I'll read through the "Top stories" list to see if any of those interest me. If they don't, well I'm already here - why not scroll down their feed?

CBC News gives me no clear singular reason to visit their homepage. And even if I do, what am I supposed to look at?

Most news websites seem to cram as many article titles into a space as they can, as if including as many as possible will guarantee that at least one will interest me. Even if that is true, the logic is flawed. It assumes that not only will someone visit your walls of text, but that they will read through it until they find something that interests them. That simply isn't true. If I don't immediately find something to look at, I'll leave almost instantly. If I don't get a consistent and immediate pay off when visiting your website, then why would I visit it?

The Verge's very simple hierarchy of articles means you always know what to look at. The obvious centrepiece (the cover story) changing regularly provides the payoff for developing a habit of checking the homepage.

You've probably already noticed that I used this exact "big cover story - left, top stories list - right" layout for The Ubyssey. I hope it doesn't come off as an unimaginative replica or something. The reason I kept to it so closely is that I honestly believe The Verge has arrived upon the optimum design for a news homepage. My design definitely looks worse than The Verge's however.

A lot of that is obviously because I'm less skilled and experienced than their designers. The Verge does have an advantage in its tighter focus though. The Verge is for a specific type of "nerdy techy internet person who might also play video games". You can afford to go hard targeting these individuals with darkmode, monospaced programming fonts, minimalist vector graphics, and sci-fi colour schemes. The Ubyssey on the other hand is for "University of British Columbia students." Despite being a much smaller group, the aesthetics and topics they collectively appreciate is much more broad. You can see the range in sections from the Ubyssey (going from Science, to Sports, to Humour) as a result of this. It's difficult to have a strong design without also having a strong idea of who is supposed to enjoy it. I think I did pretty well though. Others have said they like it! (hopefully they weren't just being polite).


On top of improving the Ubyssey's website, over the summer I lifted the Knowledge Grapher program I mentioned in past blogs from a locally run personal tool to a real hosted live website that anyone can use!!! Its at if you want to check it out. Its not in a polished promotable state right now so if you are seeing this just as this blog is being posted, consider yourself a cool beta tester or something and don't get mad at me if something sucks (do send me requests through mastodon DM or email though!).

My plan is to polish the site during first term and then promote it to people during and after the Winter break. One of my methods of promotion will be taking notes for all my classes with it and then sharing a link to the notes at the end of the term. I'm honestly feeling optimistic about getting users once it's polished. A tool for creating knowledge graph based notes just seems so obviously useful to me.

Back at UBC

So now I'm back on campus for year 2.

Math Major

I didn't get into computer science so I'm technically majoring in math. I'm doing all the courses I would have done anyway though so really the only difference is that when people ask my major I now feel a sharp ping of shame and an ugly desperation to explain myself. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to transfer to computer science for third year. If I fail again though, it's not the end of the world. I've already secured developer experience and I'm pretty sure I could get a graduate degree in computer science with a Bsc in Math anyway. I mostly want to transfer for pride reasons.


Housing is only guaranteed for first years so I had to sublet an apartment. The apartment is pretty nice. It's also height up which is cool. At night you can sit on the balcony and watch the blinking lights of aeroplanes arrive and depart from the airport. I have two roommates. One is second year engineering and the other is a masters student - also engineering. They are nice and pretty clean.


Another thing that ended with first year was the meal plan. Now I have to go to the store and actually buy the food I eat. I was pretty excited for this because I ended last year DESPISING the meal plan. I've decided that I'm going to try only bringing back vegetarian foods to the apartment. I love some meats and meat dishes too much to fully give it up but I also recognize the fucked up inhumane ways we've industrialized agriculture. I have a lot of respect for people who don't eat meat so when the opportunity came, why shouldn't I at least partially try it out for myself? I've only been doing it for a few days but I've really enjoyed the novelty of a restricted diet. If I wasn't doing this then the only meat I'd probably be eating in the apartment is the shitty meat you find in instant noodle packets or inside canned raviolis, so I don't think I'm really missing anything. Also if I really want meat then I just have to eat out which means I now have an incentive for even more fun and novelty!

I was scared about this decision before making it because I thought it would be difficult to get the proper nutrition. Right now I feel pretty healthy though so hopefully that lasts and I can continue it!

What will make this year different?

According to pretty much every measure - last year didn't go so well. What will make this year better than the last?

This year is gonna be better than last I promise! See you next blog post!!!