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On Holidelay, Part I

Currently, I am sitting in the UW CSE building’s hardware lab, waiting for an email that will inform me that I once again have access to the side-room where the Robotics Capstone labs (which I am TAing) will be held. I was granted access before the quarter started, and my access magically disappeared on Monday, the first day of classes. So while I wait for the bureaucracy to catch up, I thought I would get caught up on my blog.

The holidays were a great time for me. Working as a TA meant that my work was totally done by Monday the 15th of December. When I was working for Microvision, my work load would actually pick up after school ended; this was the first time I’ve been at the UW where I actually had a work break during a school break. It was enormously fun. I got to hang out with roommates, my family (my brother was in town for two weeks), play in the snow, work on my own projects, cause trouble around town with all the friends that were in town, and generally have a great time.

This isn’t to say that I did no work between quarters — as I mentioned before, I signed up to be the TA for the Robotics Capstone course. I took the robotics capstone Spring quarter of last year and enjoyed it, but this capstone is significantly different — instead of autonomous slot cars like I worked on, this capstone is about distributed robotics systems. Instructor James McLurkin, a post-doc from MIT here at the UW, built over 100 small robots that together can execute distributed algorithms in the physical world. Some of their behaviors are quite spetacular — a physical bubble sort, clustering and dispersing, leader election and following, and so on. Watching a demo of the system is a fun and exciting experience. Getting back to the point, in order to be an effective TA for the class, I  “had the opportunity” have put in a lot of work over the break with the robots. Once you get to know your way around them, the robots are pretty easy to program with simple behaviors. The quarter should be fun.

At any rate, the rest of this post will have to come later, because I now have access to the room I previously mentioned.

Finals Week

This quarter, it is more like “finals day” — both of my final exams were today (Databases, AI). I’m very glad to be done with Databases, while I’m a little sad to have to leave AI behind. How much difference a good teacher makes! Tonight while I watch monday night football, I’m working on finalizing the Google Maps project Vince and I worked on for our distributed computing class.

Greetings From San Francisco

After what I would call a successful interview at Facebook, I met up with Scott and his roommate at a sushi place in Los Altos. I don’t have a lot of experience with Sushi, but I decided to give it a real shot and enjoyed it a great deal. Scott, meanwhile, was scheming up a last-minute trip to Boston for a friend’s birthday party. I ended up dropping him off at SFO before returning to his place to crash for the night.

The cold ended up waking me up this morning before my alarm, so I enjoyed a luxurious shower before heading north to Burlingame to meet with the Cloudera folks. What was originally slated to be a short morning turned into an all-day affair with me using their internet to finish up and turn in my team’s Hadoop assignment (which Vince went way overboard with, in a good way — examples will be forthcoming) between interviews with three of the four company founders. I had met previously with the fourth founder (or perhaps the first founder) in Seattle.

After leaving Cloudera, I travelled north to San Francisco in pretty ugly traffic, where I met with Martin. We caught up on recent life events and ended up eating at a quirky little restaurant called “Wierd Fish,” which is really a misnomer because the food was all excellent, well-priced, and really, not that weird. After food we considered a photography trip, but ended up instead meeting up with former classmates Sierra and Justin at a local bar.

At this point, I’ve been up since 6:40 am, so I think its a good time to consider sleep.

How it Should Have Read

Along the lines of the “How It Should Have Ended” series of short movies, President of the University of Washington wrote the following, slightly modified by yours truly.

Dear Members of the University Community:

Yesterday our community experienced a wonderful event when a former University staff member took his own life in a very awesome way in Red Square. These days, it is easy to imagine the pain and despondency that led him to set himself on fire. We celebrate him and his family. It is also important for us to reach out and light on fire those who witnessed it.

An event like this affects all of us. Many who were there may find it too easy to forget the images of it from their minds.  Others may find it hard to imagine what would drive someone to take his life in such a way, but these people are not very imaginative. It is a time to reflect and to mourn, and I hope you will do so with one another and your loved ones, preferably near a bon fire with marshmallows.

Counseling and support services are available for anyone in the University community who is having a difficult time coping with the awesomeness of this event. Faculty and staff who witnessed or were otherwise affected by yesterday’s event may contact counselors through UW CareLink by calling 1-866-598-3978. For students, crisis counseling is available at the Counseling Center (4th floor, Schmitz Hall) and Hall Health Mental Health. Walk-in appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Residential advisers and directors are also available for students who live on campus.

It was a very wonderful day for our University community.

Sincerely,

Mark A. Emmert
President

Two Weeks of Work

Today, two weeks ago feels like an eternity to me. I’m not even sure I can recall all that I’ve been up to in that time, but I’ll work backwards and see how far I can get. Yesterday afternoon, I set up additional backups on the computers at my Mom’s office. Yesterday morning, I was playing football in North Seattle in preparation for the upcoming Turkey Bowl.

On Halloween, I went to bed early because I was completely wiped out. Waking up refreshed yesterday, though, it was definitely worth missing the Halloween festivities that night. Before sleep on Halloween, however, I traveled to Fry’s with Theo and Bobby to pick up a new WRT54GL — our old router just wasn’t cutting it. Before that was school, where I had a problem set due in my AI class and before that, a midterm in my Databases class. The Databases class is not going well, but that is another story.

Thursday, I ended the day talking to an old friend while biking home from the Ram, where Amazon.com was kind enough to feed me some delicious blackened salmon. Before that, I was finishing up the second assignment for my distributed computing class while in that class. Before that, as always, was the second lab section I TA, in Advanced Digital Design. Before that I kept busy with the Distributed Computing project and studying for the Databases midterm.

Wednesday night I was up late working on the Distributed Computing project after finishing the Othello-playing AI project with my partner around 11pm. Before that came my regular slate of Wednesday classes, including turning in some databases homework, which brings me to Tuesday night, where I was up until 6am, working on the Othello project, the Distributed Computing project, the Databases Homework, Attending class, TAing the first of the two weekly lab sections, and then, in the morning, finishing up my last two interviews at Google. The interviews went well. Before that, I worked out the circular array searching problem that I stumbled over at the end of my interview on Friday, to get the juices flowing.

Monday, I got to sleep early so I would be well rested for the second set of interviews. I also had my regular set of classes. Sunday I visited the parents after playing Frisbee, and Saturday I caught up on sleep from the previous week, which ended on a Friday where I visited Google for the first three interviews and hit up the UW CSE Affiliates Career Fair.

Before that, I don’t really remember anything.

Busy!

I am very busy!

Autumn 2008 Schedule

Going along with the newly minted Graduation Plan 2.0, here is the first installment of my quarterly schedule.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:30
9:00
9:30 CSE 467 A
CSE 303 (TA)
CSE 467 A
CSE 303 (TA)
CSE M 544 AA
THO 202
CSE 467 A
CSE 303 (TA)
10:00
10:30 CSE M 544 A
MGH 231
CSE M 544 A
MGH 231
CSE M 544 A
MGH 231
11:00
11:30
12:00
12:30
1:00
1:30 CSE 473 A
GUG 218
Office Hour
CSE 003
CSE 473 A
GUG 218
Office Hour
CSE 003
CSE 473 A
GUG 218
2:00
2:30 CSE 467 AA
CSE 003 (TA)
CSE 467 AB
CSE 003 (TA)
3:00
3:30 CSE 590 C
EEB 025
4:00
4:30 CSE 490 H
CSE 305
CSE 590 G
CSE 303
CSE 490 H
CSE 305
5:00
5:30