Web Assembly, Automation and Cooking With Noonies Nominee Stanley Lim

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Hey Hackers! I’m Stanley Lim and I’m a Software Engineer at Snap.

First of all, a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community and staff for nominating me for a 2021 Noonies award! I’ve been nominated in the following categories please do check out these award pages and vote:

As someone in the software development industry, I believe that the most exciting technology of the present is Web Assembly (WASM) because it is a technology with huge implications for the future of the web. WASM is a low-level assembly-like language that allows modern browsers to run wasm web apps at near-native performance. Not to mention, it enables anyone to take programs previously written in C, C++, Rust, etc. to run on the web with interoperability with JavaScript. Although the technology is in its early stages, I’m excited for what’s to come in the following years.

Learn more about my thoughts and opinions on front-end, back-end, and security and my journey in the tech industry via the interview below.

1. What do you do and why do you do it? (tell us your story)

I’m currently a software engineer working at Snap. Although much of the work I did in the past while learning how to code was with front-end/Windows applications, I now primarily work with back-end technologies building scalable services that power Snapchat. I decided to switch to doing back-end since it was a new and challenging part of software development.

At university, I took a cloud computing course that taught us distributed systems, the web as a whole, and what cloud technologies are out there. Our capstone project was to build a scalable Stack Overflow clone. After completing that project, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.

I’m quite early in my career, but that does not mean I don’t get chances to set standards, shape architectural decisions, and lead cross-team initiatives. And yes, the prior front-end experience I have is a lot more useful than I thought especially working with front-end engineers.

2. Tell us more about the things you create / write / manage / build!

Outside my work at Snap, I also spend time on a few personal projects that can be found on my Github. The main project I actively develop is Cirrus - a component and utility-centric SCSS framework designed for rapid prototyping with over 800 stars! Another large project I maintain is Polarity - a fast, secure, and highly customizable web browser that supports the latest web standards.

A few other projects I’ve launched in the past few years I’m proud to include are:

  • Coronavirus-us-api - a fast (< 400ms) microservice for live statistics on Coronavirus/Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 impact on the US.
  • Spottr - your Spotify stats all in one place.
  • Smores Underflow - a scalable StackOverflow clone powered by microservices.

And last but not least, my blog that contains random bits and pieces of tech that I find interesting.

3. How did you end up on your current career path? Do you like it?

As a kid, I was a huge fan of online Flash games. I wasn’t allowed to have the gaming consoles that my friends had at the time, so I typically played games on websites like AddictingGames to keep myself entertained. Unfortunately (or fortunately for that matter), I was also introduced to the concept of computer viruses. I have, not once, but twice, infected my parent’s laptop due to drive-by downloads and social engineering attacks that I wouldn’t know any better to avoid as a kid.

After that, I vowed to never get any machine infected ever again. I became invested in studying malware, trojan horses, XSS, and other attack vectors which eventually led me to become interested in programming. My first ever project was Polarity and that became something I worked on in my spare time as a high schooler to learn about Windows and web development.

4. What tech are you most excited or passionate about right now and why?

I’m currently most excited about Web Assembly. Although I’m no expert at it and I’ve only really done one demo project to check it out, I see that there is a lot of potential of becoming a new standard that coexists with the current JavaScript-based stacks that dominate the web today. As the technology matures, I believe that future web apps will use Web Assembly to push what we think is possible that can be run on the browser today.

5. What tech are you most worried about right now and why?

Automation to me is a huge asset but can also be a huge liability. There are many examples of tech today that automate existing jobs such as self-checkout at stores, robotic packaging and logistics, and soon driverless vehicles. Robots that automate these jobs make current occupations obsolete. The question now is that will the number of new jobs that automation creates (e.g. robot maintenance, software, etc.) be enough to replace the roles that were lost?

6. If we gave you 10 million dollars to invest in something today, what would you invest in and why?

I am a strong believer in giving more students access to learning computer science at any level of schooling. Everyone should have the ability to try learning about it (even if they dislike it later on) because it gives people a better understanding of technology and logical thinking. I think that the Grace Hoppers and Dennis Ritchies of the future may already exist and can fundamentally change computer science and technology as a whole if they were given a chance to learn about it.

7. What are you currently learning?

Being in the software engineering field often means spending some time outside to learn new technologies, frameworks, etc. to keep up with new trends. A couple of things I am focusing on are:

  • Improving my understanding of how to build complex, maintainable, and scalable systems.
  • Improving my product understanding. It is one of the hardest things to learn as an engineer since we tend to focus on how we are building something, but necessarily why. How well engineered your product/service is won’t be as important if there are no users to use it.
  • Improving my ability to cook. This is very much underrated and can help save you lots of money from having to go out for food all the time.

8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

Consistency is crucial to improving on anything. You can spend 15 minutes to an hour a day focusing on just that one thing you want to work on and you can definitely see results over time.

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.”

About HackerNoon’s 2021 Noonie Awards

The annual Noonie Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the tech industry, bringing together all who are making the Internet and the world of tech what it is today. Please be sure to check out our award categories, nominate, and vote for the people and companies who you think are making the biggest impact on the tech industry today.

The 2021 Noonies are sponsored by: bybit, Dottech Domains, and Avast. Thank you so much to these sponsors who are helping us celebrate the accomplishments of all our nominees.