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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.

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