About

Welcome to the about page, where you can find more information about who I am, why I'm interested in CS, and what I can do. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and thank you for spending time getting to know me better!

About
 

Profile image of me
Profile image of me

Hi! My name is Wolf Mermelstein, and I'm a CS major at Case Western. I recently started Case Western and graduated from from Bard HS Early College. Last summer I finished a Recurse Center programming retreat. This website was created initially as an excuse to teach myself fullstack, but has morphed into a space for me to dump useful information about techy encounters, projects, and myself. Hopefully this page, in conjunction with my resume gives you more insight into my interests, skills, personality, and abilities.

In general, I consider myself to be very meticulous and curious. I love taking copious notes, even on subjects that I may not return to, and care deeply about the open-source movement and contemporary issues surrounding data monopolization and privacy. One of my greatest fears is heavily relying on a software tool day-to-day only to have the service go down unexpectedly in the future, so I'm a huge proponent of open-source solutions and file standards. When I code, I aim for style as much as I do precision, and, generally, I enjoy tackling larger projects over developing simple scripts. I'm a peanut-powder-yogurt fanatic who also loves anything with caffeine, and am also really into strategy board games and occasionally RPGs. But I've also perennially been interested in all things tech.

To put it briefly, it stemmed from my love of problem-solving and figuring things out. I enjoy learning through doing and tinkering, and it has led me to undertake multifarious personal projects. I've always liked hands-on things like crafts, and used to be interested in acrylic painting and sowing. For a while, I undertook many experimental pursuits like yogurt culturing (which I still do!), or bulk kombucha brewing. And, for a while I was very interested in design: I went through a phase of 3D modeling (including designing a collection of avocados), Adobe Illustrator, and cinematography with Premiere. Through various different design projects, I grew to learn that though I did and still do enjoy design, it was the design software itself that interested me most. I love learning about advanced program features and messing with configurations. Throughout my earlier, exploratory stages of life, this interest in innerworkings and tech in general has persisted. Whether it be messing with my dad's antiquated iMac, toying around with 3D printers, or making robots at a local robotics camp, it was always an area of interest. But interacting with interfaces was never enough; I'd always wanted to learn more about the actual underpinnings of apps. And since I didn't have any proper coding classes in elementary school or middle school, I decided early on in high school that, like for various other interests, I'd just have to take it on myself. So, as usual, I began the journey with small-scale eclectic projects.

While I started off with Python-learner projects like a Pig-Latin translator or terminal-based tic-tac-toe game, I quickly grew bored of copying project ideas from other people and decided to adventure off into more advanced endeavors further beyond the scopes of my knowledge (at the time). One of my first personal coding projects was a D&D character sheet viewing tool. I also designed some simple scripts to move around and organize my computer's windows, and contrived various other automation tools. But it was over 10th grade summer when I began my first larger-scale personal project: Minecraft username sniping. It was a very simple concept that was, in practice, extremely complicated and fun to implement. I coded systems to automatically attempt to grab desirable usernames (like real-world usernames) at the exact millisecond they were to free up (after users changed their username), and then held auctions to resell the accounts with the valuable names that my bots automatically claimed. It was exhilarating to work on such a time-sensitive and large scale project: I sharpened my understanding of OOP and Python while learning how to automate server deployment, a bit about SFTP, integrating with APIs, how to write async Python to implement concurrent requests and more. While by the end of that summer, Mojang ended up making many breaking changes to their API and I sold the project, it was then clearer than ever that software was my ultimate passion and one that I'd need to further explore.

In 12th grade I first began formally advancing my passion, but still in a very self-led way. In my senior year, I set up a custom data-structures tutorial-course with another student and our CS professor, where I got to learn the basics of some CS concepts that I missed during my more informal project-based experiences. In the 'course,' since I and a peer were the first to undergo it, we worked to design a curriculum for us, but also for future students, since the plan is to eventually make it a regular class at my former school. Around the same time, I also began working on a DNA-Nanotech design tool, which took the form of a research project with my physics professor. It let me more meaningfully apply the skills I picked up informally, and was a great opportunity to learn more about the issues accompanying UI/UX design and maintainability. Integrating CS into a completely unfamiliar field was really fun and rewarding. Via the project I was able to create a design tool of my own, which was something I'd always wanted to do, and towards the end of the year, I had a great experience attending the Nadrian Seeman Memorial at NYU, learning more about the field and its frontiers. Currently, we're working on writing up a paper, which hopefully we'll submit sometime this year to a peer-reviewed journal. During my time in high school, most of my experience had been in Python, not just because of my love for the crisp syntax, but also because of its multitudinous libraries. It was inspiring to see how this paradigm of extend-ability is one that is not unique to just CS.

However, since graduating, I've shifted my focus to explore additional new CS areas. When working on my Minecraft sniping service I was quite engrossed in the idea of backend API design and wanted to look further into webdev. To start, I decided to self-teach the fundamentals of HTML/CSS, to create a basic about-me page for myself. I loved architecting APIs, but I also found it super satisfying to design and slot the logic into a UI for end users. At around the same time, I decided that it'd be best to put the knowledge to use building a personal website, since I've found that my favorite way to learn is through implementing into projects with actual utility, and it was through this initial dive into front-end, along with being surrounded by many other amazing techies at Recurse, where I (perhaps as usual) spiraled down a chain of rabbit-holes that led me to spend significant time learning javascript/typescript, react and nextjs, and various other fullstack tools like postgress and S3. I came to once again find a love working with the tooling of the field, just like tinkering with design software when I was younger. Often the process of getting things to work as intended is one consistent of many headaches and grueling hours, but the payoff is immeasurable and for me well worth the effort. And while I do like digging into figuring out how frameworks work, I find there to be a beauty to abstractions, and especially love creating my own. Based off all my prior experience with CS, though I'm still exploring various areas of CS, and am not fully certain which tech area most interests me, I've come to find that this novel realm of fullstack most enticing. It's a infinite array of tools to explore, and an enticing mechanism to rapidly reify my ideas.

Now, at Case, I've started diving further into the weeds of CS through formal courses. Towards the end of the summer, I taught myself Java so that I could skip past intro CS and take on Data Structures, and I decided to explore lower-level and even circuit design in a Logic Design course. It has been very enlightening to see what happens 'under the hood,' and to understand some of the math behind computer systems. Now, I'm taking many intro level prerequisite courses, but am also taking a Linux Scripting and Tools class, which has been amazing. Learning about so many super cool hacky tools like vim, grep, and awk has been sublime. Recently I've started using remote desktop for everything, and have been using docker and VMs much more often. I'm currently looking for internships that'll allow me to further explore my interest vocationally, while actually making an impact with my code.

Skills

This is where I try to list some things I think I'm good at. Obviously it's not a comprehensive list, but it's what comes to mind.

Fast Typist

I love typing! Last I checked, I'm able to consistently type over 100WPM. Being able to spit out information as I think it is something I've always wanted to be able to do, and a skill I began working on consistently since middle school. Dictation is neat, but in my opinion one of the most important skills in modern society is touch typing (and Vim - but we're still working on that one). Of course, I'm still improving!

Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator

I first began working with Illustrator all the way back in elementary school, and I played a major part in my year's yearbook design. In middle school I used it for various personal projects, and for editing documents. Since then, I've used it to design marketing graphics at one of my jobs, and have tinkered with it to contrive art, create posters, and more. I also have a bit of experience with Premiere Pro and Audition too.

Python 3 & Java

Since 9th grade I've been self-teaching Python through countless projects, articles, videos, and experiments. At this point, I'm quite adept in the language, and have some experience with UI design with PyQt6. I've also worked with asyncio/aiohttp/django/flask in the past for backend API development. I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the OOP concepts and more advanced features surrounding the language. Also, I taught myself Java over the past summer for university courses so, while it's not my most fluent language, I am comfortable coding in it.

Fullstack Stuff

Over the past few months, as part of building out this personal website I've been self teaching typescript and react. Since, as usual, I've gone very far over-engineering my website, I've learned next.js, prisma, and a bit about s3 too as I've built out a backend and integrated a database to allow for a WYSIWYG automated post editing system (which I hope to write a blog about soon!). Most of my react experience has been with next, but I'm eager to try out Vite at some point.

English & Latin Language

I'm a fluent English speaker, and believe that I have a very good grasp on the language. I've also just completed four years of Latin, which I've loved specifically because of how it's let me strengthen my grasp of English grammar and come to better understand how various words have come to be. Lingua Latina fortasse optima lingua est!

Math to Calculus (2)

At this point I've taken math courses up to Calculus 2, but am currently in Calc2 because my credits for it weren't able to transfer. Hopefully next semester I'll get to move on to Calc3, and then I look forward to taking Linear Algebra and exploring statistics. I love how calculus compiles and applies all prior math knowledge. In addition to calc, I have a firm grasp of Algebra, Trig, and Geometry. I'm in Calculus 3 and discrete math right now.

GSUIT, Office, Git, LaTeX, etc.

The tools of the trade: I've been using Office and Google Workspace tools for years, and am very proficient with them. I also have picked up some LaTeX over the past few years, mostly during my time working on NATuG. And, of course, I've been using Git for years to manage my various coding projects. I have less experience with the collaborative Git process, but am keen to learn.

Qualities

  • I love problem-solving, and do think I'm good at deriving creative solutions to complex problems, but believe that my real uniqueness stems from my desire to fully comprehend solutions, and my ability to learn from past problems.

  • When it comes to code, I care as much about form as I do function. So while yes, this does sometimes lead to long deliberations over variable naming, it also fosters clarity and comprehensively, and not just blind conformity to style guides.

  • I am very detail-oriented. Though I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist, but, when I have the time and opportunity, I'll go out of my way to spend time figuring out how to do things the right way, even if it's convoluted and tedious.

  • Through Ancient Latin experience, along with my eclectic english vocab flashcard deck project and a public speaking course in high school, I've come to be quite good at conveying ideas and information.

  • I'm very computer-literate, and am able to intuit software very readily. I've been tinkering with computers since I was little and am good at learning from documentation and experimentation.

  • I am good at managing time, though I prefer working on one thing at a time rather than trying to spread myself too thin multitasking. I'm also quite organized, when it comes to life, but also code and projects digitally.

  • I'm generally a very curious person who likes tackling things that interest me without external influence. Chasing down interests has been something I've always been inclined to do, and is, in my opinion, an important core quality.