Summer 2016

The Usual

I didn't do anything new or interesting, just kept it together with businessing and dadhood.

Spring 2016


... an experiment in. (A toddler that don't sleep through the night.)

Winter 2016

MealSquare Feast

Since MealSquares released their individually packaged version, I've been ordering 4 boxes a month instead of 2, which is 4 MealSquares per day. I'm not eating quite that many, but it's most of my food, now. More on the blog.

Fall 2015


We raised some money for CodeCombat, and now I'm doing CEO stuff instead of coding most of the time as our team grows. Will I manage to manage?

Caloric Restriction

I started getting slightly larger as I turned 30, so I decided to eat as few calories as possible for a while to get really lean, then spend a year focusing on exercise and diet to see how buff I can get by the time I turn 31.

Summer 2015


I need to get a sweet EEG cap with active electrodes that can be comfortably worn by baby Max for hours per day so that he can start learning to control robots, lights, sounds, and more with his plastic baby brain while he's learning to control his limbs anyway.

Spring 2015

Baby Infant

Chloe and I got a demon munchkin bairn offspringing it up on or around April 27. Well, I haven't met it yet, so maybe it isn't a demon. But it could be!

Update: he's a demon. But we love him anyway.

Winter 2015

Bantling: Infant Name Generator

A good infant name is easily pronounceable and spellable, isn't too long, isn't too old-fashioned or too trendy, and so on. I wrote a simple web app to rank the 92,600 names that have been used in the US at least five times in one year since 1880 across 16 dimensions so that Chloe and I could have a sane order to review candidate names and decide whether we, you know, actually liked them. Check it out.

Fall 2014

Hour of Code Marathon

We spent 4.5 months straight working like maniacs to get ready for this year's Hour of Code with a brand new CodeCombat beginner campaign and new hero-based gameplay. It worked out: over a million kids played in one week in December. But we sure didn't have time to do anything else!

Summer 2014


You know Soylent, the drink where you don't have to worry about food any more? It's good, I've tried it. Probably healthier than an average meal. But I think nutrition is a terrible and difficult science, so a convenient meal replacement that's actually made of food would be even more interesting. Enter MealSquares, a solid version of Soylent which is made of actual things you'd buy at Whole Foods. I'm helping beta test these, and so far, they're great.

Spring 2014


Chloe finally got me to join her CrossFit gym. I had done CrossFit exercises before, but not as part of a gym. My impression was that they're intolerably exhausting, which is why I wasn't doing it before, but every time Chloe comes home from one, she's euphoric, so it's time I see for myself why.

Update: I have no idea. Every time I went, I corpsed out. Not doing that any more.

Winter 2014

The Most Productive Month

Leading up to Y Combinator's Demo Day on March 25, I'm going to spend 30 days (from February 24) trying to be as productive as possible. I previously did the 120-hour workweek, but that's a sprint, whereas this is more of a 5K. It'll be interesting to see how focused I can be and how much I can get done (as opposed to how long I can work). Forgive me if I'm unresponsive until April.

CodeCombat in Y Combinator

We surprisingly got into Y Combinator's W2014 batch on stage at Startup School, so now it's time to hack to the max until Demo Day to make this into the mindblowing programming game we want the world to have.

I've started a Beeminder to see just how much work I can sustain. (The 120-hour week was fun, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.) Follow my daily progress on Beeminder or check out my real-time percentile feedback graph on my site.

Fall 2013

Time-Lapse Maniac Work Week

I previously made a time lapse video of me working for 70 hours in a week as a fun way to motivate myself. Another week, I tried to see how many hours of development I could do (90.3). This fall, I thought, why not combine the two and make a time lapse video of me working as much as I can in one week? Can I get to 100 hours? In order to make it more interesting, I developed an open source self-tracking HUD app that captures my screen, my face, and interesting metrics as I work.

The week was awesome beyond expectation, as detailed in this blog post: The 120-Hour Workweek - Epic Coding Time-Lapse

Summer 2013

Cold Showers

People are raving about what hormetic opponent process magic silver bullet it is to take cold showers. A little research gave supposed benefits of increasing circulation, mood, immunity, fertility, energy, exercise recovery, fat loss, mental alertness, pain and stress tolerance, cold tolerance, and skin and hair health. They're even supposed to stop depression and hair loss and tumors. I'm going to alternate two weeks of cold showers with two weeks of hot showers for the next two months and see what actually happens.

Vegging Out

Chloe and I decided, while in China, to eat way more vegetables. She got a Vitamix blender and we've started making tons of smoothies, salads, and steamed-vegetable-as-main-course dinners, such that most of what we're eating is vegetables. Previously we'd eaten mostly meat with a few veggies, and now we're swapping it. (Still skipping grains and dairy and such.)

Getting Married

What an awesome wedding! I experimented with totally disconnecting for a week leading up to the wedding, doing email once, then disconnecting for two more weeks on honeymoon in China. Turned out I didn't miss anything. I did have 671 emails penetrate my filters and lurk for my return, though.

Spring 2013

Being Social Online

One of the many things I realized at the March CFAR workshop was that I have had strange beliefs about having to be social without actually trying to be social, leading to things like spurning social networks like Facebook. Then I realized that this is silly and that lots of the people I want to stay close to are online, so I posted my first personal Facebook status and was amazed at this other world of human interaction I'd been missing. Now I'm seeing what else is out there.


Like many geeks, my fashion sense is weak. Like many guys with huge thighs and tiny waists, it's almost impossible to find clothes that fit me. This led to me wearing bad clothes--until now. I hired a personal style consultant to shop with me, and it was like the ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A of shopping--literally cheatingly easy. Whoa. Now I'm experimenting with the way people react to the new clothes vs. the old clothes.


A multiplayer livecoding tower defense game for learning to program!


Chloe and I moved to a sweet pad in San Francisco in SoMa. We have dubbed it Bearbox. It has a life-size bear standup in the window where there appears to be a brick wall in Street View. An extra standing desk for each normal standing desk for double hacking.

Winter 2013

Throwing Cards

I've been learning how to throw playing cards. Finally, something I can finally duel with! I'll teach you and we can battle. They can cut fruit and cactus, but not skin (unless you're way better than I am).

The Path of No Path

Usually I make a three- or four-month plan bursting with goals, then follow the plan, then come back and make a new one. Works great. But am I missing out on spontaneity with all these goals and planning? Let's see. I plan to not plan for January and to see how it feels to face thirty-one totally free days.

Update: that sucked.

Single-Dessert Year

What's it like to always say no to desserts? Do you ever need them? Let's find out. I am only going to eat one dessert in 2013: the French macarons that will serve as the wedding cake at my wedding in June. No ice cream, cake, cookies, brownies, candy, pie, pudding, cupcakes, donuts, fried dough, fudge, marshmallows, sweet yogurts, other macaroons, or any other sort of dessert. 85%+ dark chocolate doesn't count as a dessert.

Cognitive Aging Testing

Once a month on the fourth, I take a 17-minute, comprehensive Quantified Mind battery designed to efficiently measure my all-around cognition. This one isn't to measure the effects of any particular interventions, but rather just the passage of time. I'll do this indefinitely. Come out where I can see you, foul Cognitive Decline!

Fall, Winter 2012

The Skritter iPad app

Time to take the app too sensational to use in public to the big screen. Flights will never be peaceful again.

The Telepath project

I don't know what you're thinking, but soon your MacBook will.

Digging a hole

Human: "Why are you digging a hole?"
Nick: "... I, er... to dig it?"
Human: "You cray."

[the next day]
Nick: "Why are you digging the hole?"
Human: "I... uh... I dunno, I just started digging..."

Sometimes you just gotta dig a hole. I dug a hole in 2006 and this conversation happened a dozen times. The hole was 22 feet deep. I have commenced digging another hole.

Longboard knife throwing

I invented a great sport. It's like Yabusame but without having to be Tim Ferriss to do it. You longboard past targets as you throw knives at them, and if you hit, you are the coolest human. Come by the Human Hacker House and we'll sport.

Random missions

Challenge: do something novel and a little crazy every two weeks. Resulting missions: tent camping with housemates in the yard; making grapes wrapped wrapped in cherry tomatoes wrapped in brie wrapped in strawberries wrapped in hard-boiled eggs wrapped in meatballs; coding for 16 hours straight; starting a once-a-year personal inventory day; working out blindfolded; proposing to Chloe using a surprise five years in the making; hitting the Google Research holiday party; firing a sniper rifle; and dangerboarding (longboarding while being towed by an electric longboard and towing a skateboard at 20 mph).

Faraway thinking

I focus too much. I have to force myself to think about things distance in time, in space, or in possibility from what I'm currently doing. Starting that fall, I challenged myself to do this, in writing, five times a week. Everything you see, I owe to faraway thinking.

Kick-ass movies

It's been a decade since I picked the movies that I watched. Result: I haven't watch many movies that stirred me. Well, now I pick the movies! Bring to me that kung fu and darkness which I require.


I'm making this site for myself. I started improving it once a week in fall 2012.

3000 汉字

I finished my seven-year goal of learning to write 3000 Chinese characters on December 31, 2012. Yes!


Yoni and I started working on the Telepath project, which aimed to learn, from your computer usage patterns, your emotional and mental state. Automatically.

Summer 2012

The Motivation Hacker

I wrote a book about hacking motivation to do things that are arbitrarily hard and using that to do a ton of awesome things I'd always wanted to do, all at once in three months. It has its own page here. Most of my other Summer 2012 projects are detailed in the book.

The Skritter iPhone app

I worked ferociously on the Skritter Chinese iOS app for 19 months, and then launched it in June to drool tsunamis. The Japanese version then launched in September. It's pretty much a masterpiece.

33 Chinese words a day

Learned 3000 word writings (up to 7268) in 41 hours over 3 months. 49 seconds per word, 27 minutes per day. +353 字, too (2958).

Marathon from scratch

I wanted to be able to run fast for a long time. I realized that I sucked at running and couldn't go more than five slow miles. I thought, well, how long can it take to be able to run a marathon in under four hours? Three months should do it, right? Read the book to find out my fate.

Learning to longboard

And I thought it was "skateboarding" when I started. I never realized how much fun this would be.

Public speaking

I used to be so shy, I couldn't even order my own burritos at Taco Bell. This summer I gave two best man speeches, a meetup talk, and a conference talk to, total, over 700 people. And it was fun.

Increasing bench press by 60 lbs

In May, I was outbenched by a 71-year-old! With Coach Janet's help, I stopped fooling around and set out to buckle down and man up. Well, I got +40 lbs, from 150 to 190.

Reading 20 books

What does it feel like to force yourself to make time to read a book every 4.5 days? Superlative!


It's easy to face even the strongest fear when you precommit to paying $7290 if you chicken out. I didn't quite throw up or pass out, either!

The Human Hacker House

Six of us discovered the ritual of human hacking, and I was able to split my soul amongst their bodies in an attempt to cheat death. We threw a few parties, too. I lived happily in H3 until March 2013.

Learning to throw knives

Why don't we all throw knives, like all the time? There's no reason. So I learned how to do it from my friend Alton.

5K speed

I didn't want to just run far, but fast. From snail pre-test time of 28:15, I wanted to drop it by five minutes to 23:15. I got to 23:32 by end of summer.

Lucid dreaming

With a little practice, I went from one a month to one a week. In one dream, I teleported, shot myself as a bullet around the world, flew, burrowed through the earth, crashed a fancy party, and pulled the moon to Earth and destroyed it in a duel.

Happiness manipulation

If I just work and listen to music all the time, I can hit an average happiness of 6.3 / 10. If I explicitly pursued happiness by doing activities I've identified through experiential sampling as rewarding (the book project), how well could I do?



Putting more older stuff here go: the pit, pyromania stuff, street art stuff, Skritter startup stuff, Costa Rica, being mega social, RBC, triple majoring, EQ, China, Mexico & Guatemala, ...

Street Art

In junior year at Oberlin College, George and I founded the Oberlin Street Art student "organization". We would run out in the middle of the night and construct anonymous, absurd, temporary street art chaos. Sometimes, we would enlist some friends; sometimes, we would deny all responsibility; always, we would add magic to the world. Behold the gallery.