Eric Tendian

Co-founder of Clarify ( Interested in the intersection of tech & education, urban issues. Studies at Illinois Tech, works at Packback. Only 19 but coding since ‘05.

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Studying Computer Science - UIC or IIT?

The following is an excerpt from a conversation I had with a junior in high school, looking for advice on studying Computer Science at a Chicago university. I thought it would be useful for other students to see, especially as the deadline for choosing colleges is May 1st. Obligatory disclaimer: I do not speak on behalf of any of these schools. My opinions only.

I see that you’re attending IIT. I’m currently deciding whether to go to UIC, IIT, or DePaul for undergraduate for Computer Science. Right now, my current plan is to go UIC. IIT is a little bit more expensive. What would you recommend?

I’ve got friends that go to all three schools, although only know people at IIT and UIC in Comp Sci, so can’t speak for DePaul. The benefit to IIT is that it’s more focused on CS and engineering than other schools, smaller class sizes, and we’ve got a big emphasis on innovation - e.g. through

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Status Report

What projects is Eric working on, and what is the status of each? Find out here. Will list in order of importance.


Takes up about 75% of my time most days. Enjoying my time here, feeling more and more like a real software engineer every day. Being the only one working on the backend full-time, I get the chance to make a lot of architectural decisions - with much feedback of course. We’re hiring someone senior to help distribute the workload and also teach the rest of the team lots of new things, so check out working for Packback.

 Illinois Institute of Technology

Still in school, though part-time - taking two classes, both online. One’s a project management class tailored towards IT projects, and the other one is a web design/HCI class. Both are relatively easy, though now group projects are starting and that can be difficult to manage. Will be taking classes over the

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Eric: I am pretty sure the world is going insane. Who is the crazy one?

Krisztián: The world’s always been insane. Life could be as simple as just getting food, water, and shelter, but we humans choose to make it harder for ourselves.

Recent events have made me consider the fate of humanity even more than I have in the past. I am not confident we are moving in the right direction as a whole, and the Internet amplifies reasons for concern. After having this exchange with a good friend, it made me think yet again about the effects of technology and our modern society.

At Packback, one of our values is “We take time to fully understand a problem, and then work to create the simplest solution.” I feel we could do better at this on a global scale. Don’t start jumping into solutions before you fully understand the problem, and don’t create unnecessarily complex solutions. Simple words

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The Stack

As a full-stack engineer, I use a lot of different technologies, from the highest level to the lowest level.

Here’s some of the technologies I prefer for work and play:

Besides software, I use the following hardware:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad T430 - My workhorse computer. Gets the job done. Somewhat heavy, worn-down battery life around 4hrs. Computer of choice for any code I’m writing. Dual-booting Ubuntu 15.10 and Windows 8.1, both on an SSD.
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 - I bring this wherever I go. Has got free 4G LTE service (thanks Freedompop) and enough space to store a couple dozen apps, no music. Has a pretty good camera too. Custom Android ROM.
  • iPad Mini (1st gen) - For watching videos or doing other tasks that need a screen larger than a phone. Pretty slow, can only have 2-3 apps open max.
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip - The computer I bring to school and

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The world is a very tumultuous place right now. Violence is rampant, intolerance is becoming more widespread, and emotions are winning over the voice of reason. Rhetoric is flooding the airwaves and social media. It’s all very chaotic. How do you escape it?


Take a break. Stop trying to drink from the firehose of Twitter. Forget Facebook for a bit. Turn off the TV and talk radio.

There’s a lot of negativity right now. We’re not designed to cope with this much. So step away; disconnect. The negativity will dissipate.

Be calm. Enjoy simple pleasures.

Write to yourself if you need to get something off your chest. Let the chaos flow out, onto the page.

When you are finished, tranquility will have arrived.

It has for me. This is my pause.

- FIN -

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Halloween Hacks

Happy Halloween! The following was originally posted on Facebook.

Important information regarding recent security breach

Got this email from 000webhost this morning. Apparently they just found out they got hacked, and everything was taken. This is my first time hearing about the breach.

I did some research and found this blog post, from a security researcher trying to inform the company of the breach: Breaches, traders, plain text passwords, ethical disclosure and 000webhost

It’s horrifying that people still store passwords in plain text at this scale. Even more horrifying that the hack was done in March and it took this long for 000webhost to become aware of it.

The outrageous part is that it took almost an entire week before the author could find a way to disclose the breach to the company. Goes to show that if your organization doesn’t have a secure and easy way to disclose security risks, you won’t find out that you’re hacked until

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I’ve found myself drifting away from many people, far too often. I don’t enjoy this, as there are many wonderful people I wish I could interact with. Former classmates from all my years of schooling, old colleagues who have moved onto other adventures, and even random people on the internet who shared a common interest. All of these people I seem to lose touch with, and I don’t have the effort or time to bring them back into my circle. Social media helps, and I can interact with them if I wish, but still it is odd to have someone on my “Friends” list who I haven’t talked to in five years.

There have been at least a couple different studies done about what is the cognitive limit for which people can have stable social relationships. One anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, estimated the limit to be 150 relationships. Two others, H. Russell Bernard and Peter Killworth, had their own estimate

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The Professor Gets Tenure

I firmly believe that the best learning happens outside the classroom. Over the past few years my work experiences have proved this to be true, particularly in the last year and a half with my internship at Packback. Today I’m excited to announce that I will be joining Packback full-time as a Software Engineer, starting December 14. In this new role, I will continue to do full-stack development on our various products and internal tools, tacking exciting new challenges and increasing the pace of work. Reaching this career milestone much earlier than I had planned, I had to make some adjustments - thus I will be transitioning to a part-time student at Illinois Tech for the remainder of my undergraduate studies, with an expected graduation date of Spring 2017. I’ve got to step up my game to succeed both in the workplace and school, but as very few people get this opportunity I am going to

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Resonance Disaster

Two years ago today, 13 people were shot in Cornell Square Park. Violence in Chicago before and after that date has been unrelenting.

One year ago today, I announced the launch of The mission of the website was to (1) “give people the raw, unfiltered picture of crime in Chicago” and (2) provide avenues for those motivated to help stop the violence to do so, via linking to various community organizations.

Today, though continues to serve dozens of scanner listeners with a variety of tools, it is far from achieving the original mission. My heart and mind are no longer aligned as they once were.

This year-long journey has made me incredibly proud of the work first responders do, as well as the audience who seeks out the dreadful news, but incredibly disappointed upon listening to violence occur daily. Unlike the consistent anguish and horror that those

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Startup resources

Here’s a few of the bookmarks I have which relate to some aspects of startups. This is by no means a finished list, and titles are copied as-is from my bookmarks. I’ll do my best to update this, but will probably forget in a couple months. Contact me via email or Twitter if you want me to update this post.

 What is a startup?

  • Startup = Growth
  • Zero to One summary — Medium
  • Ask HN: Successful one-person online businesses? | Hacker News

 Working at a startup

  • Runtime Era: My Interview Questions for Potential Employers
  • How to Land a Job at a Startup (Even if you life in the middle of nowhere) | Luke Thomas
  • Optimize for Happiness
  • Alex Payne — Letter To A Young Programmer Considering A Startup
  • The Intern Project
  • Forget the resume, kill on the cover letter by David of 37signals
  • The Only Interview Question That Matters |
  • Lessons from a Silicon Valley job search | Robert Heaton

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