Sunday, September 10, 2006

Life Update (mostly school and work)

Tomorrow marks the fourth week of fall semester. For some reason that I have yet to understand fall is always harder for me than spring. Maybe it has to do with the changing weather from warm to cold, or that somehow over the summer I forget how much work school is, or maybe it is just that I psych myself out. Regardless of the cause, it is just hard. I don’t think that the homework burden is any different, but it just seems like it is a real challenge. Four weeks ago I wrote that I would talk about my classes.

I am enrolled in three classes Operating Systems, Networking, and Database Systems. All of the classes are on the 5000 level, taught concurrently as a 6000 level course for first year graduate students. So far, the homework load hasn’t been too heavy, just two written assignments, but that promises to remedy its self this coming week. One thing I have noticed about these quasi-graduate courses is that many more assumptions are made about the base knowledge of the student. Also, there seems to me much more reading to do than what I’ve seen in the CS program over the past three years. Operating Systems and Database Systems both have term projects. The latter is a web-based application that uses a database; the requirements were left vague on purpose. In that class I’ll be working with friends that I have done projects with before. We haven’t solidified our project idea yet, but that will probably happen in the next week or so. The term project in the OS class is to write a simple kernel. It sounds simple, but I don’t think that it will be so in practice.

Work continues to stretch and challenge me. I am learning a lot, and getting more and more comfortable with the J2EE way of writing web applications. I got to work some AJAX into an app that I have been working on. It was pretty exciting as I was the first person on our team to get AJAX code out and running in the live environment. As one would expect, projects in the “real world” are much more complex and time consuming than those found in the classroom. I am having a good time, and that should count for something.

Schooling and working full time has put a real crunch on my free time. Most days, I am up by 5:30 AM, and am at work by 6. From that point on, I could either be at work, or at school depending on the day. It is usually a mix of the two, and results in me getting home somewhere between 6 and 8 PM. The paychecks are nice and the experience I am gaining is too. It does however mean that I have to be quite diligent about using what free time I do have to do my homework.

I have some other projects brewing along on the side, but I am finding that giving them the time that they deserve is really challenging. I may need to cut them out entirely, or just realize that they might not get done on the timeframe that I had expected. When these things frustrate me, I have to remind myself that there are lots of things that are going well. I’ll graduate in the spring. I won’t have any debt. I am having good experiences at school and work. I get to do what I love. There may be stresses there, but there’s a lot to be grateful for too.

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