Van Life and Raspberry Pi’s

Juliana Mei
3 min readNov 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all! This thanksgiving is going to the first that I will NOT participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, I’m going to go off the grid and live in a van for the weekend to try living life as a Digital Nomad.

I’m packing my laptop, an external monitor, two raspberry pi’s, one ESP 8266, one ESP 32, a ton of internet, and less important things like my dog, food and gear.

I’ve learned a lot from digitalcrafts and there’s still so much to learn. We just started React and soon we will finish up the course with Django. Then there are two projects: an individual and a capstone project. I’ve been thinking of the kind of project I want to take on.

First, I asked myself, what is interesting to me?

Second, how can I be useful?

Third, what is going to be a challenge?

I truly feel like I’ve made enough web apps. They’re cool and I can string a million API’s together to do something. But I don’t want to make a web app for my individual nor my capstone project.

Progressive Web Apps

I’m interested in learning about how local storage and redis will create progressive web apps (PWA) for places with slow or little internet like third world countries. PWA’s are not only practical, they’re also “speed demons.” Having a site cached right at the first load means all following pages are already pre-loaded.


  • Memcache
  • Redis
  • React
  • Local Storage

Data Visualization

It’s kind of ‘meta’, I want to be able to visualize the information I’m generating. Turning a metric ton of boring alphanumeric values into useful, easy-to-understand graphs — it’s kinda like magic.


  • Kibana
  • ds.js

Internet of Things

PyTexas was by far the best conference I’d ever been to. The community genuinely wanted to share their stories and pass their lessons-learned. One of the talks was on a microcontroller called the ESP8266 which is like a tiny Raspberry Pi without an OS. The presenter use it in an LED light-up outfit for his 4 yr old child that can be controlled via wifi. This module stood out because it’s inexpensive ($4.50) it comes with wifi capability, and you can use micropython with it! That day I purchased both the ESP8266 and it’s more powerful version the ESP32. As well as two Raspberry Pi’s (each $35). Because I’m tired of making web apps.

Given enough time, I can see myself starting projects on everything that catches my whim. If you leave me to decide on my projects myself, I have a bad case of ADHD and I’m highly unstable. There’s no guarantee that I will finish a project before I start another one! That’s why I need to follow a system.

So the next question is, how can I be useful? And will the project challenge me?

I don’t want to create a food app that returns the nearest taco stand. I want to create something that others will want, there’s a million problems in this world and I’ll be damned if I don’t find a solution to one of them. Before I can solve problems, I need to hone and develop my skill. I pictured myself choosing a project via two routes. Either I choose the problem I want to solve or I choose the stack of technology I want to learn. What if I list all the cool things I want to learn and string a silly project together just to see if I can work with them…. for example, a camera pointed at a crowd that’s running real-time recognition like YOLO. It counts how many people and logs a running tab. The information is visualized dynamically in a graph. It’ll prove to myself that I can handle this stack, but how am I different a hotdog/not hotdog app?



Juliana Mei

Software Engineer — Blockchain, Cybersecurity, and Commercial Space