A legend dies!

This is my last blog post!  My legendary prose ceases today…  how tragic!

Let’s get right to it.

Throughout the semester, you have all seen Guthub grow into a semi-finished product.  I say semi-finished because I’m only comfortable saying it’s “done” when the image in my head materializes onto the screen.  This has benefits and drawbacks.  The benefit is Guthub will always be improving, but the drawback is far more serious:  I will never be satisfied.

While I’ll be motivated to add features related to emailing suggestions, bug reporting, and improving the user experience, there’s no solid finish line.  This non-existent finish line is the relief I want to feel at finally creating a finished website that I feel comfortable listing on LinkedIn or my grad school applications.  The problem is that I have no idea when that’ll happen.  Because this is a website that is designed to be interactive with users, I have no idea when optimization will be done, let alone how to do it in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong:  I see how impressive the website looks.  I really am proud of what I’ve accomplished this semester and everyone’s input has made it infinitely better.  But I’d be lying if I said I was satisfied.  I guess I don’t know when it’s okay to step away from the computer and press submit.  I mean, I know I can do that now, but this goes beyond the classroom.  In other words, I want to advertise this site for side income and most importantly, to grad admission boards.

The website isn’t ready.  Yes, for this class, I’ve reached beyond the point that I needed to get to.  But for the actual purpose of this site? Not even close. The apps are polluted with bad user experience and are still missing the major features that are needed to make the app actually usable and a website that people would pay for.

The thing is, I enjoy this dissatisfaction.  I like making a hobby out of improving my site.  But it’s getting to the point that the features I want to change require more time than a traditional hobby would allow.  I have school, albeit only for a few more weeks, I have work, I have friends, I have cats, I have a boyfriend, not to mention my plans to start grad school next year.  In order to truly create the website I want, I can’t have most of my time taken up by other responsibilities, the progress would be so slow I wouldn’t be able to release the site for years.  This doesn’t even touch on how much work would be required to actually address any bugs or issues users are facing in a timely manner.

I hate working on someone else’s schedule.  So much so, I’m hesitant about grad school, which will inevitably lead to being under someone’s wing in their lab when I’m a postdoc.  Do I want this?  I’m finding myself more and more attracted to the idea of self-employment and getting most of my money from this site.  But that’s a risk.  A huge risk.  Risk doesn’t even begin to encapsulate how much of a risk it actually is.

Some days I want to take that jump.

Some days I don’t.

Regardless, I’m excited to see where I land.

Logo Olympics: Guthub v. Apple

I have news!

pic of me with my news

So after dealing with workshopping a half-ready website and prepping for a big presentation (in another class), I’ve taken a break from this project.  This was a much needed break.  I was obsessed with adding email functionality to my website, and in the process, broke it minutes before presenting it to the class.

Thankfully, this is in the past.  After realizing just how much time I was spending on the email/bug issue, I realized I wasn’t going to make any overall progress on my website if I kept hitting my head against the wall.

The evening after my workshop day, I got everything back online (i.e. Guthub.org and all the Shiny apps).  The only dead links are for Shiny apps I haven’t built yet.  After having my website full functional again (and a few celebratory gin and tonics),  I put /email and /bug on hold.

But, even though my website was working, I needed a break.  After a lot of candy, too many hours of playing Minecraft, and, like, three Netflix shows*, I was ready to start making more progress on the website and to revisit the (amazing!) suggestions from class that I’ve been pretending where just figments of my imagination.

So I have some updates!


  1. I’ve added content to /bibliography and /about.  (It’s crazy how much better I felt just adding a paragraph to these pages.)
  2. I’ve downloaded a snapshot of my website.  This means that while my website was fully functional, I downloaded a working version of my website in case of emergency (i.e. WHEN THE SITE CRASHES TWO MINUTES BEFORE CLASS STARTS)
  3. I’ve updated the footer on each page so the text “Connect with us/me.” is in black, and I’ve linked to my WordPress, LinkedIn, and Github account on my /about page.
  4. And most excitingly…. I have a logo!  It’s been added in place of the “Home” link on each page’s navigation bar and there’s a larger version on the main page.  I have a black version, a white version, a white version with grey borders, and a blue gradient version!


Logo in Navigation Bar & Gradient Logo Full Size:


Updated Footer:




*:  The Netflix Shows were Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (really good, so many queers!), Schitt’s Creek (SO GOOD, more fully dimensional queers!), GLOW (Good, but no queers… YET, but Allison Brie so it’s ok), and The Haunting of Hill House (So so so good, queers stay winning!)


TDLR:  Made a logo also queers


For me this project started out slow. I honestly didn’t know where I was going to go with the topic on bilingualism and at one point I didn’t think that I should stick with it Now, i’m at the interview stage of my project and I must say I’ve learned a lot about my bilingual friends. Some of their experiences of being bilingual are very synonymous to my experiences on bilingualism and some aren’t.

Recent break throughs:

  • emailed more people to interview (thanks T for asking around. You’re amazing)
  • i’m interviewing Fatima soon. Wooo!!
  • started typing up the interview transcripts
  • started outlining how my platform will look like

I think that as of now my only concern is trying to get enough people to interview. I plan on having about 6 t0 8 people to interview and so far I’ve only interviewed 3 people.

looking forward i hope to start creating my platform to present my project on. I can’t wait!!

i feel like everyone had a picture on their blog post so i think i’m going to follow suit and leave this here:     




The worst part about being a visionary is having too many visions. Too many ideas, too many hopes, not enough time. When I began this project I envisioned a small site, but as time went on I realized that my community needed so much more. I started to feel as though I would be failing my peers and those who will come after us if I didn’t put forth all of the knowledge and experience that I have. However, with that feeling came great responsibility and at this point in the project I think that it’s time to go at my draft with a big, red, ballpoint pen (it’s actually not a pen, it’s just the strikeout feature on Google Docs) and decide what should stay and what should go.

As we workshopped today I got so much great input on the wonderful places this project could go, but I also sought out input on what things should be eliminated to ensure that the project is as practical and useful as possible. Just from hearing people’s excitement about the video portion of the project, I was able to decide that I would like for this part to take a “front seat” and be a part of the project that the viewers see very early on. I think that I have a voice and perspective that will captivate my audience. As I reflect on today’s workshop and think about the things that I want to see in the project I think about young Sydni. What would freshman Sydni want? What questions did freshman Sydni go wrong? What does Freshman Sydni want to save the mini-Sydnis from?

The truth is, freshman Sydni needed guidance and direction and she needed it from someone who she could trust to lead her in the right direction. She needed someone to instill confidence and power in her so that when the journey got difficult her, her believe in her purpose would’ve waver. This is what I want to give to my audience. I want make this project more intimate than I previously envisioned, allowing the watchers to get to know me for who I am. My hope is that after hearing about my struggles and the struggles of those around me, they will be inspired to continue their journey!

I also received another piece of great advice: to consider taking out things that are not specific to the pre-medical community. This is an idea that I am greatly struggling with because I fear that doing so will exclude a large chunk of my audience seeing as the resources that are specific to pre-medical students (AMCAS, MCAT, application process) may not be as relevant to underclassman (because they likely aren’t thinking about these things yet). However, on the other hand I think that would make the project similar to one of my models, the Career Center’s Med App Ctools page, because although the information may not apply to everyone, it would encourage underclassman to look ahead to the future.  What do you guys think about this?




Read this to learn how to make a million dollars TODAY



But now that you’re here, I guess you have no choice but to read about my struggles so far in writing my novella for capstone. Darn!

My first struggle is that the middle of my manuscript has no plot. That’s because I had such a clear idea of what I wanted in the beginning and end of the novella. And now, I’m stuck in the middle.


I’m too ashamed to workshop what I have so far, mainly because I think it’s so cheesy that it’s not yet worthy of your minor-in-writing eyes. I know we’ve all felt that, so feel free to mentally snap in commiseration.

Image result for snap gif poetry applause

What I realized would be helpful is if I wrote out a summary of my novella so far. That way, everyone in class will at least know what’s happening each time I bring in my 35-page draft, and I will no longer be forced into an awkward state of dishing out vague, unhelpful descriptions.

Zach got me thinking more about what kind of character I want Death to be, which is awesome, because I’m not sure yet myself. Also, Sydney got me thinking about what illustration I’ll have on the cover, which is also awesome, because I’m also not sure yet. Note to self: think about these things later.

I’m going to be honest; I’m struggling to make this blog post longer. I think it’s because I always hated blogging, so I’m trying to get better at it. So I’m going to tell you about my Halloween costume.

I’m going to be Princess Jasmine, because the live-action for Aladdin is coming out this summer (which, if you haven’t seen the trailer, what are you doing still reading this?!
Go watch it-bye: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g5knnlF7Zo).

My boyfriend is going to be Aladdin, but we’re struggling to find him a stuffed animal monkey to borrow for his costume. Every Aladdin needs an Abu, so if you have an Abu you would like to donate to me for a day, I promise I’ll take good care of it (seriously, my email is fshaidar@umich.edu, help a girl out):

Image result for funny abu aladdin

So many things to think about, so much more to write. Even though the draft was due yesterday.

Good luck everyone!

How is this already my 4th blog post?

Retrieved from https://thefinancialbrand.com/29263/bank-credit-union-outdoor-billboards-reviewed/

When I started developing this project I had a very clear vision: it would be divided into 3 parts (my intro, works I’ve used as inspiration, and my own work) and that would be it. But, as with pretty much everything in life, thing’s didn’t quite go as planned.

I started writing my introductory piece, but something felt off. I realized that in order to talk about the things I had outlined, I actually had to go back further – I couldn’t just talk about writing commercial storylines on long car rides without talking about the ad that ever inspired me to start writing them in the first place, and I definitely couldn’t talk about the significance of that ad in my life without giving deeper context. In short, I ended up writing a lot more than I expected.

Even more surprising, this project, which was originally pretty straight forward and relatively dry, has completely taken a new form. Rather than having three distinct yet related parts, I think I’m going to write one long personal essay in which all of the elements I wanted to touch on flow into each other. I’m still going to include a section which showcases my work, but I’ve realized that I want to put a greater emphasis on this personal essay.

I really have to thank Eva for this revelation; she shared her course pack with me from a previous writing class, and suggested I read a work called “Confluences.” I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the author’s writing, and was inspired to rewrite my original piece. While my first draft was fairly dry and filled with cliches — something I’m really striving to overcome in my writing — my second draft is a piece I am much more proud of. Although it’s unfinished, I feel reinvigorated about my project, and am excited to see where it goes as I read more works from the course pack. Thank you again, Eva.

Additionally, I have to thank Sydni for her advice today because she helped me imagine what my final site will actually look like. The issue with my project, since I’m only planning to write out the storylines rather than produce them, is that there aren’t a ton of opportunities for me to include pictures or artwork. I am planning to imbed the video that inspired me to start writing, and I’m going to hyperlink any other videos I mention as well, but beyond that I was worried my page would seem pretty bland. Sydni suggested, however, that I include images of my work over the years. Even if these are pictures of abandoned projects or scribbled notes, it would be interesting to see my progression over time, and would provide the visual element I feared I would lack.

Beyond that, I don’t really have any more updates, but I’m interested to see how my project continues to change over the next couple of weeks.

P.S. I know the images I’ve been including in these posts may seem random, but I’ve just picked a couple of the ones I’ve stumbled upon through my research that I thought were interesting, so hopefully you guys appreciate them too.

A very rough cut

I’ve found that my unedited podcasts are a mess of tangents, mistakes, and attempting to figure out what Hanna and I are going to talk about next. So, deep in editing I don’t feel like I can see the big picture anymore–and didn’t feel prepared to constructively discuss what i’ve been working on and where i’m going next. The most useful parts of our meetings today was hearing about and feeling excited about Natalie and Brynn’s projects.

The rough cut for episode 2 is a mess, but the rough cut for episode 1 is much more workable and I would say is moving along nicely. I’ve been listening to a lot of other podcasts looking for a breakthrough (or maybe just excusing my own procrastination).


  1. The Daily
  2. Criminal
  3. Nancy
  4. A Piece of Work
  5. Song Exploder
  6. This American Life
  7. AND too many more to count…

photo sourced from: http://blog.leithbmw.com/make-roads-trips-bearable-with-podcasts/

But back to the episodes/my work…I’m trying to decide if our recording of episode 2 is worth salvaging or if we should give up and re-record it. Hanna and I are going to be recording episode 3 on Sunday, November 4th, so hopefully that episode is more cohesive and requires less editing! I’m thinking we might look at art books together during episode 3 and that might be helpful for grounding it a little more than our outline did in episode 2. I also think that our start and stop approach in recoding episode 2 caused more problems than it fixed. This might be a terrible idea, but I was exhausted when we recorded episode 2 and I’m considering drinking a bunch of coffee beforehand? My only concern is that I don’t want to end up so jittery that I talk too fast (although it would be fun to acknowledge my over-caffeinated state and I get really happy when i’m caffeinated haha).

picking a font is difficult

Over the past two weeks, Mia the turtle has gone from trying to clean up mud off of her floor to filtering through investor profiles for the perfect business partner. Today, I had the opportunity to speak with Eva and Zach to figure out how I can make this journey insightful for Mia and (hopefully) her future fans.

One of these developments was the use of different colors and styles of fonts to indicate vocabulary words or dialogue between individuals. I wanted to help definitions stand out on the page so readers could refer to the back of the book for further explanation. For example, the term patent might be explained briefly in a dialogue between Mia and the investment banker, Heather, but it would be discussed with more examples and specific in a glossary at the end.

However, I felt that simply bolding the term would remind students of their textbooks and make reading less enjoyable. So, based upon Geronimo Stilton (below) I will be using fun, descriptive fonts to introduce each new term.

The use of changing fonts can also help in explaining the dialogue between a few individuals, as each person will speak with their own color or font style (TBD which one will be used to define the speaker). Students can know who is speaking whether it is explicitly stated before or after the quotation, or skim a page to understand the main contributors in a conversation.

Image result for piece of writing geronimo stilton

I plan to have the complete draft finished by the end of the week (I am about 2/3 the way there), and then begin going back through to simplify language, create consistency in each character’s voice and add in the fun changes in font / color. After that, I will start finalizing the character drawings and scanning them into the draft.

My main concern is the drawings themselves. I find that as my story gets more complicated, there is greater need for illustrations which I might not be able to do perfectly. I might have to sacrifice some of the details on my characters so more obscure drawings (like the invention itself) do not seem out of place. I also need to figure out how / if I will still be adding backgrounds to each drawing as this might prove too time consuming.

One of my model texts, Mochi Queen, uses a style similar to how I draw cartoons right now, adding a little bit of shading to the brief illustration of what is happening instead of painting an entire background. Her art is seen below.


Image result for drawings mochi queen

I’ve Fallen In Love With My Teacher!

Yes, it’s true.

I’ve fallen madly in love.

I didn’t believe it at first. I couldn’t.

But here I am, entralled.

Who, might you ask?

Well, isn’t it obvious?

The one. The only.


That’s right.  Filip.

Who is Filip?  Filip is the video instructor on a few courses on DataCamp.com, a website I’ve recently subscribed to in order to learn more advanced R for my website and career.  He’s been there for me when I didn’t know the answer, he’s been there for me when I did.  And most importantly?  He’s been there when no one else was.

Oh, Filip


His charm, his wit, his DataCamp fitted polo T-shirt…

(NOTE:  I will not admit to stalking his linkedin.  How would I even find him?  It’s not like I know his name is Filip Schouwenaars…)

Read More

Yet Another Blog Post

Retrieved from: The Inspiration Room

I’m back…again! I’m starting to think that I’m using these blog posts as an excuse to avoid working on my actual project but it’s fine, everything’s fine. We’ll get there one day…

I actually really need some help right now – as I’m starting to think about (finally) writing the storylines for my own ads, I’m stuck on what to write about, so I need some inspiration. I’m definitely going to include the car mats commercial I told you guys about in class, and I have a few others in the back of my mind, but I’d really love some other suggestions. I know originally I said I was going to pick obscure objects that aren’t typically the center of marketing/advertising materials (i.e. paper bags or paper clips), but I’m willing to broaden my focus.

Zach and Sydni gave me some really great suggestions yesterday like Q-tips or straws — thank you again — but I’d really love some more! Or, if you’ve seen an ad that you really liked (or didn’t like), I’d love to hear / see those too because it’s really useful for my research and inspiration.