Thales Grilo


Google Summer of Code

June 2020: Social movements arise across north and south america in response to police brutality, while a quarantine is adopted to contain a pandemic outbreak, and also a far-right, corrupt and unethical government is on power. It’s hard to even keep track of what’s happening, it’s a Charlie Foxtrot.

What have I been up to? dude…

It’s been a hot minute now, and since the last post was pretty technical, I wanted this one to be a more personal one.

What I’ve been doing

It feels very weird to not be either working a full-time job or coursing regular classes. It’s been tough to keep routines and motivation, or really finding a sense of purpose and focus. Regardless, I think I’ve been improving on time management, and I’m thrilled about the (overwhelming amount of) projects I’m working on:

✨ GSoC ‘20 - Processing Foundation

Clearly one of my biggest achievements to date! Google Summer of Code is a program that connects university tech students to large open-source companies for a 3-month summer stipendiary project. It’s a very strategic program for young techies: a great way to build curriculum, create networking, learn some pretty valuable skills, and raise some cash.

Project: This summer, I applied for the Processing Foundation - the Foundation, largely comprised of New York University staff, have created some of the most acclaimed tools for creative coding today, like Processing (a Java creative coding environment) and p5 (a Javascript port of processing). My project is directed towards the p5.js Web Editor, a brilliant tool developed by Cassie Tarakajian (super fly, badass art technologist), my mentor. I’ve used the editor quite a lot (for instance developing that trippy background on the index page) and I love it, which is why I chose to work with it.

Currently, the editor is pretty challenging to use on mobile devices, and coding some sketches / sharing them with people through my phone would be very useful. So that’s what I set out to do!

Progress: GSoC’20 officially started on early May, with the Community Bonding period, in which I had the opportunity of meeting some of the awesome folks from the Foundation, and some of the other GSoC mentees. They’re all very cool people, it’s amazing!

The project involves a lot of design work: so far I’ve been doing some UX research, investigating the problem (coding on mobile), current solutions, sketching UIs, creating prototypes and interviewing users. I had never done any of this, so it’s being a very fun challenge! As it turns out, we got an actual layout as a result, and it even looks hella cute! Of course, there is more work to be done and it’ll definitely change.

Right now I just began coding the screens, and given there are still three months to go, this is some pretty impressive progress.

💻 Bring

Legend has it folks of the ancient lore have developed a language far beyond human comprehension. Its glyphs were so arcane and mystical, it drove mad those few brave ones who tried to decypher it. They called it PHP ⚡💥

So, as much as I love Bring as a project, I really don’t enjoy Wordpress or PHP in general - they’re really not the technologies I look forward to working with, but were the best suited for this case.

I’ve been working on their new website for a couple of months now, and it does look great! (thanks Caio), but at this point I’m just taking longer than I should to finish it. It’s been a tough, but awesome journey, I’ve learned a ton of cool stuff on the way, which I didn’t think was possible (I learned some mean css too 💄), but right now, completing Bring is my priority (above Zelo and everything else), and I really want to call this project done. We’re pretty damn close!

🥥 Zelo (aka. next album)

Now, more than ever, is the time to remind ourselves that people are magical. Zelo is a short album about love towards oneself and others: it’s mostly some atmospheric music with a bit of bossa nova blended in. I’m aiming for a gentle and honest sound, and I think it’s getting there. I began sketching out melodies for zelo on ‘16, and try no to think about this too much.

It weighs me a lot how much time I spend in creating and making music which doesn’t ultimately push my career forwards. Lately I’ve been asking why am I even writing a lot more than how the music should sound. This time I hope to make something different, hopefully with a better release strategy.

Given the current situation, I decided to donate all the money I make from this album to a social impact NGO. This makes it specially important to get it properly released. I planned five tracks: four are ready, but that last one is giving me trouble.

It should be out soon, though, and I hope everyone gets to hear it 🌈

🐉 Graduation Project

This is my greatest dragon right now, by far, and I’m very low on mana potions. I (finally) have plans for after my graduation, but they do require that I slay this mighty beast. My problem right now is actually stepping into its lair: I have a couple of project ideas which would be meaningful to me, but none of them seem promising for a CS graduation project. Alas, it’s making me sick right now to not have done it already, so I might just pick a random subject and start sharpening my axe.

Fun fact: Dragons eat gold (and humans who come after it)

🎶 Music

Apart from Zelo, there are some things happening, too, but slowly. I’ve been trying to engage with the algorave community a bit more, and NomadeLab has decided to resume rehearsals through the web, using ninjam. I was skeptical, because of how latency affects playback, but since it’s all sequenced, it actually makes no friggin difference (also, ninjam is a fucking cool technology, too)

I’m sitting on some mixes I have to finish too, from a project with my friends Kim and Nomura. I LOVE the sounds we made together, and I’m so happy to be able to share it, but I really need a bit of time to finish the tracks. And since Zelo is around the corner, too, I want to focus on it and prepare a better release.

About Opportunities

Getting accepted to GSoC is kind of a dream come true, really. I forget that sometimes. But most of all, it’s a relief: last year I felt bitter towards myself for not being selected, after a great friend made it in, as much as I felt very happy for him. I must admit this has been a ghost to me for some time, like maybe I wouldn’t get accepted because I’m not set out to become a successful developer or something like that. (By the way, if you feel this way, I’m reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck, and it’s a hell of a book) I have this terrible habit of comparing myself to others, and felt that I had the obligation to succeed as well on the same path. At the same time, it’s important to practice persistence. I don’t have to feel defeated because of this rejection - if it’s a good opportunity, I can still push forward and make it, and this is the real meaning for me.

In a sense, I had given up on myself a long time ago. I spent a lot of time just not bothering to pursue anything, which is why I wasn’t looking for opportunities (such as GSoC) to explore my potential. But today I’ve decided to un-give up, and sure it’s challenging, and the thought of the setback (and constant comparison) can mine your motivation, but they have to be put aside. This is really the only way forward, and it’s about time I take it. For me.

On the flipside, I feel incredibly lucky (and unproudly priviledged, too), to be able to work on my career in a time like this, when many are not given the choice. I feel terrible thinking about it, and how this whole situation depicts inherent flaws in our society in painful clarity.

About Writing

I really missed writing. It’s easy to forget with all that’s been going on, and I have to remember it’s something I do for myself, and it feels so liberating. Thanks to the friends who’ve been encouraging me to keep going, I might not have done it without you ❤️