Eric Tendian

Innovating in EdTech, building Packback and Plannr. Undergrad at Illinois Tech. Aviation nerd. Cares about urban social problems (Chicago crime, etc).

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Injustice of a justice system

Some thoughts I wanted to write down:

I’ve been following the news coming out of Ferguson, NYC, and other areas where police have killed unarmed individuals, almost of all of them minorities. Without a doubt, more needs to be done to ensure police are policed themselves. These last two weeks have made the need even more apparent and the disparities between races very visible. With the lack of indictment in the Eric Garner case, myself (and many others) realized that footage of an officer’s accused wrongdoing is not enough.

There are many police officers who do their jobs well, often unrecognized as they are simply doing their job. However, still vast groups of people do not trust the police, and have good reason to do so. We’ve seen the statistics already, even some first-hand accounts on Twitter and elsewhere. Like many others I’m outraged at this string of verdicts, cases where...

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Ivory Tower: Is college worth the cost?

Looking at TechCrunch and other successful entrepreneurs, I ask myself: “Why go to high school?” “Why go to college?”

“If I’m learning something i will never use, why learn it?”

Today I watched a documentary called Ivory Tower (recommended by one of my professors), addressing these very questions. Is education worth all the cost? This documentary really hit home for me, so I wrote up a tweetstorm about my thoughts and observations on the topic. That tweetstorm is as follows:

  1. Student loans have become insane. Schools give more financial aid, but doesn’t solve the problem of tuition rising. #IvoryTower
  2. This extreme cost of higher education makes people rightfully question the worth of going to college. #IvoryTower
  3. In Silicon Valley, some think they can use economies of scale to do more with less, while making a profit (MOOCs). #IvoryTower
  4. I’ve tried some of these MOOCs; it is very...

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Leading From The Rear

Over a year has passed since I first joined a student organization at the Illinois Institute of Technology and since then I have been on three leadership teams at different organizations. As I transition away from them and bring focus back to what I am truly passionate about, I wanted to share what I’ve learned from my experiences to help the next set of leaders make their organizations even more successful.

Among many of the organizations I have been a part of, both on and off campus, the biggest contributing factor to their shortcomings has been a lack of motivation. This lack of motivation among the leadership team could cause relationships to fail, events to have low turnouts, and many other effects. I can testify to experiencing the pain firsthand.

However, this does not have to happen.

There are leadership strategies you can use today to motivate others in your organization,...

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Why I love learning but hate school

I love learning but hate school. Why?

In school, you’re forced to put in effort into something which has no direct meaning apart from words on a piece of paper. Learning is much more purpose-driven, you learn something because it drives success. You learn because you need that knowledge or experience.

There are no classes on how to learn to walk. You just try it once, fall over, and get back up to try again. You don’t get a multiple-choice test on how to swim. The most long-lasting learning does not come from a classroom. It comes from putting in effort, failing almost all the time, and finally making a breakthrough to burn that experience into your head.

When someone asks me how I “got so good at computers” I think of every time I wiped all the data off my hard drive. All the times my program crashed or gave an error. All the times software didn’t install as documented. Trial and...

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“We are not terminating this chase!” #ChicagoScanner

Passed 6,000 tweets on Twitter tonight, so thought I’d do a little bit of reflection of my journey coming to this point. For those of you unaware, the majority of my tweets now come from the police scanner where I share notable tidbits I hear. The title comes from this police chase audio but I recorded another police chase tonight which is also worth listening to.

It’s been a wild ride since March when I first bought a little USB stick that allowed me to listen to a vast radio frequency spectrum. Since that March 16th day when I placed the order, I have met some great people along the way who are making sure each victim of crime gets coverage. Some interesting anonymous characters too who stay up night and day to provide journalists with the information they need. Now I am one of the people who provides information, and I hope to one day play a part in reducing the amount of “shots...

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Bus Ride To The Second City

With thick smoke billowing into the air a block away, I stepped back into the safety of the train station. As a young white male out on the streets, on Chicago’s West Side, you can feel you’re an outsider. People look at you differently, they talk to you differently, and wearing more business-like clothes often results in being the target of panhandling. The entire atmosphere can be unsettling to someone who’s never set foot a mile from their quiet, peaceful home.

Later that day, I waited as cars rode by with music blasting, a group of young men hung out on the corner next to the auto repair shop and liquor store. Police drove through the intersection with an air of caution and suspicion, seeing the men gathering.

Standing at California Avenue and Harrison Street waiting for the bus to arrive, I quickly remembered I wasn’t in the Chicago shown in old postcards or glamorized in movies....

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CrimeIsDown.com: Changing the signal-to-noise ratio

“Simulcast currently unavailable. Units in 7…” The air is hot and sticky on a July summer night, and the radio crackles to life once again. A person has just been shot. I type furiously trying to keep up with the tempo of the dispatcher as she reads out the ticket. A few more keystrokes and I tweet one more time.

These sounds are an all-too-common occurrence on some nights. We hear tallies like “3 killed, 20 wounded”, “1 killed, 5 wounded”, “2 stabbed”, and more. For those in communities far from the usual centers of violence, it can be easy to simply ignore it with a “not in my backyard” attitude. It’s become something we know to skip through when reading the morning news report.

I used to ignore the crime and violence going on in Chicago. Why read about something that just involves death and pain? That’s not any encouragement I need to get through the day. Thus it got pushed back,...

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E.T. phone home: finding himself

“One day you could be president,” the parent tells their child; an overused cliche, with the statement going more untrue as the years go by. Another cliche is for parents to tell their children to be doctors or lawyers, timeless professions which often garner lots of wealth. I have been fortunate enough to have my path in life be left open-ended, no stereotypes or career cliches imposed on myself.

However, with that open-endedness comes great uncertainty and ambition. Over the last 18 years of my life, I have had many aspirations. Some of them far-fetched, some of them within reach, and some achieved by luck and determination. Thus, I am very thankful for those who gave me a chance to go far beyond the limits of my imagination. Alas, when one appears to do well at a motley of roles and tasks, it is difficult for oneself to find the true magnetic North and go in that direction.

For me,...

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Enough Flappy Bird. Solve real problems.

Exactly one week ago, the hit mobile game Flappy Bird was removed from the App Store. It had become a viral hit, gaining millions of downloads and hundreds of thousands of reviews. So what is Flappy Bird exactly? It is a remake of the very old helicopter game where you tap to keep the bird afloat, and have to get it through a series of narrow openings in pipes.

Since it was taken down, I have seen numerous clones of the game pop up on GitHub and other sites. The question I have is: WHY? If the game has caused so much aggravation and hate for players, then why are we still trying to keep the meme alive?

There are so many social problems that need solving. Real, hard problems that do not have simple solutions (e.g. homelessness, gang violence, education, poverty). There are also many talented developers, entrepreneurs, and others in the industry - many more than there were ten years...

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Never Stop Shipping

Going to one of top high schools and colleges in Illinois in terms of technology curriculum, I’ve been very lucky to have so many classmates who are not only interested in the same areas I’m interested in, but also are very talented at it. However, for all the great talent that’s out there, I am not seeing all of it.

One issue I see is that those who may be really talented choose to keep their ideas/code/product secret instead of publish it to the world. With tools like Github available, one of the best actions a young developer can take is to publish all their code on the web. It is a very empowering feeling when you can work on something that you show to the world (and being proud of what you’ve accomplished is a nice bonus). Companies are even starting to replace resumes with Github profiles.

The other pressing issue is that those who want to get better aren’t putting enough effort...

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