Year in Review: 2018


I continued looking into data science and machine learning this year. In March, I completed all five courses of the Deep Learning Specialization from, and also spent time playing around with ML Kit for Firebase:

At the beginning of the year, I also started planning a career shift, from Android mobile development to something within the broad discipline of data science. I collected advice from attendees at the Toronto Machine Learning 'Micro-Summit', pored over countless blogs and forums, had discussions with many colleagues, and did some serious thinking about whether I would have the time and energy to pursue a part-time graduate degree.

To find the right fit, I spent time messaging and chatting with various department heads, having lunch with various leads, spending several Hack Days with people from data teams, and even shadowing a colleague for a few hours. In the end, I was fortunate enough to be able to make a transition into a Data Scientist role within Shopify's Data Science & Engineering organization. One of the benefits of working in an organization that is supportive of your personal growth, is the possibility of such "internal movement".

I look forward to a year filled with learning, and being able to start making contributions.


I spoke at a number of Android conferences in 2018:

  • Android Summit (Washington, DC): How the Command-Line Can Give You Superpowers (video) (slides)
  • Ohio DevFest (Cincinnati, OH): Not Har Gow: Using Custom Models with ML Kit (video) (slides)
  • AndroidTO (Toronto, CA): How the Command-Line Can Give You Superpowers (video) (slides)

I got a lot of mileage out of the command-line talk as I had opportunities to incorporate feedback from our meetup and from work. Each time I presented for an outside audience, I continued to refine and polish it. I even gave it as a webinar!

Speaking of the meetup, we grew our membership to over 900 people, and hosted 8 events this past year. The most exciting news was our inclusion into Google's GDG Platform, so we are now known as GDG Toronto Android.

I'd like to continue giving talks in 2019, and will be looking at more non-Android focused conferences.


Sadly, I don't have much to show in this area. Despite indicating an interest in previous years to practise writing more, I suffer from such severe writer's block, that it takes me weeks to write a few hundred words. Even submitting something for CfPs and then editing my talk drafts takes me weeks.

Perhaps I should try to write a short blog post every month, to practise the craft of writing and figure out how I can get words down faster.


Another area where I expressed a desire to devote more time to, but did not succeed at. Discounting some fiction I read while I was on vacation, I spent my reading time on The New Yorker, and the weekend New York Times and Globe and Mail.


Running my own websites allows me to keep a toe dipped in the worlds of web development and system administration. In particular:

  • This blog lets me play around with managing DNS records with Hover, running a droplet on DigitalOcean, administering an Ubuntu Linux virtual machine, configuring nginx, securing connections with Let's Encrypt, checking uptime with Uptime Robot, and publishing with the wonderful Ghost blog platform.
  • My baking blog is a static site hosted on GitHub Pages, built with Jekyll. This means tinkering with Ruby, HTML and Sass to make the site look the way I want.


I don't usually make them, but this year, I want to. I will try to:

  • Read one book per month
  • Write one technical blog post per month
Eric Fung

Eric Fung