Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Exit November

November is almost gone, and there is only one more week of classes, and a week of finals left here in fall semester. There are a lot of projects on the table right now, but the comforting thing is that in two weeks it will all be over. I am quite sure that I won’t be able to claim that I got out of this semester unharmed, but it will be over, and as always I will have learned some good lessons.

Before finals I have one more assignment to complete in each of my four classes, not too bad all things considered. The project that is going to take most of my time in the next couple of days has to do with writing my own MALLOC / FREE / and REALLOC functions. Thankfully it is a group project and I don’t have to do it all alone. I am however anxious about it, because we are being graded by our efficiency against the GNU versions of the same functions. I am not sure that I care to think about managing segregated free lists in order to gain constant time efficiency. It sounds like it would be more work than I have time to complete the project.

I have severely neglected my employer this semester. I think that I have been averaging 8-14 hours a week, and it is really quite amazing that I still have a job there. I think I bit off a bit more than I should have this semester. Three upper division CS classes are more than enough to keep any self-respecting person out of trouble. Throw in an upper division math class, and you are just shy of insanity. The best course of action seems to be putting the math minor on the back burner, and finishing the major by taking three classes each semester between now and the spring of 2007. This way I should be able to give adequate attention to my classes, and my employer.

Things at work have the potential to get quite fun in the months to come, as they are going to have me start developing rather than testing. I am excited by this prospect, and know that the experience gained in this venture is in some ways equally as important as my class work. They wanted me to start before Thanksgiving, but with my school commitment it hasn’t been logistically possible. In a few short weeks, I should be able to talk about getting paid to write code.

My desktop computer has decided that it doesn’t like me very much. I am not sure what the problem really is, but after discussing the problem with some friends (and having hosed my windows install by miss-diagnosing the problem and trying to repair the installation, which is something I know better than to do but did it anyway) we think that it may be the power supply that has decided to not work all the time. I don’t have the time or money to fix it right now, but maybe sometime in December after classes are out, I will be able to look more closely at it. I promise you here and now though, if it is more than a power supply that needs buying to fix it, I will be replacing it with a mac mini.

I think that does it for this update. I hope that I haven’t bored you to tears. I’ll catch you up on things again in a few days.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I am Grateful

Gratitude is an important virtue that is perhaps relegated to the back of our minds as we go through our lives. One of the reasons I enjoy Thanksgiving is because it gives me the opportunity to think about Gratitude more than I would on a normal day.

Today was a most excellent day in which I didn't do anything that related to my educational pursuit. I started reading Christopher Paolini's sequel to Eragon, titled Eldest, hopefully I will finish it up tonight. I finally made it to the movie theater to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; and finally enjoyed a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving dinner that had been lovingly prepared by my mother with my family. It was nice to be able to put aside school, even if just for a day. There are a lot of schoolish things that need tending to, but that can happen tomorrow. Today is a day for rest and thanks.

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to slow things down for a bit, and realize that life is a bit larger than type systems, low level operating system code, and the theory of Turing Machines. I am grateful for a loving family, and for supportive friends. I am grateful for the privilege that it is to be pursuing a degree at a university. I am grateful for music, and fine art, and the way that it expresses the human condition. I am grateful for the opportunity that each of us has to learn and grow in this wonderful experience called life. It is easy to loose perspective, and yes, there are lots of horrible things happening in this world, but there is also a lot of good. Certainly, God is watching over us, and that is one of the greatest blessings we have all been given.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Quick Rest

I had the opportunity to spend some time with family tonight. A cousin who lives in California is in town with his wife and son, so we had a little get together. It was fun to catch up, eat some excellent food, and enjoy time with loved ones. Getting away from the keyboard every now and again is really great for mental health. Not to say that I don’t love coding stuff up, but after a 14 hour Saturday of code, and several hours logged before tonight’s dinner, it was definitely time for a break.

I hope to finish up my version of a type checker tonight. That will let me context switch and prepare for my Analysis exam on Wednesday. Heaven only knows I need that study time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

3 AM - And Still More To Do

Yes, it is really me at three!
Thank goodness, I just finished my programming languages assignment.

Ocaml still hasn't won my heart as a programming language.

I have a math assignment to do that is due at 8:30 in the morning. Perhaps I will catch a nap and get up and get that done too.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Four Weeks More

It isn't that I don't care about this blog, it is just that justifying the time to sit down and write something worthwhile is a bit more challenging than it has been in the past. This week marks four weeks to get to the end of Fall Semester 2005. I just need to keep my whit about me while pressing forward.

    As a brief review of the past week or so in an itemized list

  • Still plugging away at Analysis, and thinking that perhaps a math minor isn't worth finishing.

  • Learning about type systems in my programming languages class, we switched languages from Scheme to Caml. Though Caml has some nice constructs that make writing a typed language easier, I am not totally sold on it yet. This lack of happiness probably has something to do with the fact that there are a lot of other things to do, and learning a new programming language at the end of the semester feels like something of a hassle.

  • My Systems class is quite interesting right now. We just finished a particularly interesting lab in which we wrote our own simple shell with job control. Really it was a learning assignment about signals and interaction with the operating system. I think I finished 75% of the lab before I ran out of time. As Bilbo Baggins said in the Lord of the Rings movie (I can't remember if it was in the book), he felt like too little butter spread over a large piece of bread. Between now and shortly after Thanksgiving, I have to write my own MALLOC and FREE functions. I learned my lesson on the last lab, and will be starting early this time.

  • I am very glad that my employer and family understand my scholastic goals, if I had to be at work every day, I would be a total mess by now. As I keep telling everyone, only four more weeks to go.

  • The study sessions have been long and all over the place. That winter recess is looking better every day

  • I am thinking I need to get ready for this photo show in January, but haven't had the time to think much about it. Hopefully it will come together when it needs to.

  • Big Band Jazz rocks my world.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Same Place

An entry from close to a year ago, would show you that I am pretty much up to the same things. Well, not really the same things, but sort of the same things. If anything you could say that the game is more interesting, and by more interesting, I mean both more interesting and more challenging.

Rather than trying to get Java classes to talk together, it is learning about type systems, push-down automatons and more things Linux than maybe I would care to know. This weekend, I need to get a simple shell program running. I am taking the night off, except for maybe some math analysis. Tomorrow will be entirely dedicated to the development of the shell.

I don't know what it is about Fall semesters, but they are always more difficult than Spring. November is always the hardest point. The classes are all into their most interesting material, which while being interesting, also means that they are difficult and that homework is generally not trivial. With something like six weeks left in the semester, I must ask how on earth it will all get done, but I have learned by now that I just have to put in the chair time and work hard.

I saw a little bit of payoff for my studying this week as I read about the Sony/BMG DRM snafu. These articles by Mark Russinovich, the man who discovered the problem were very interesting. It is amazing how much of it I understood thanks to my school work. I am by no means at his level with regard to the ability to diagnose and treat the problem, but I could follow his work. Fun stuff. As an editorial comment, I am very glad that I no longer purchase CD's. I know a lot of people have issues with Apple's DRM as well, but iTunes was one of the best things to happen to my PC.