Thought Repository


The last two weeks have been really tough. So much happened but I haven't had a moment to relax, well, not exactly. Here's the recap.

Going Home

I don't mean home in the literal sense, but mentally. Last monday classes were cancelled so I decided to take an esaver and visit Pittsburgh for the weekend. I had to fly out of Providence which meant I was dependant on the train schedule which doesn't always go all the way to Providence. Therefore, I ended up spending the night with Jackie at Brown. It was nice to see and spend some time with her, since we can't do that often.

It was really great to be back at CMU. Possibly it was just because I was on a trip and there wasn't anything I had to do, but the whole time I was there was very relaxing. Just sitting in these familiar rooms on familiar couches with my best friends was really comforting.

Mike Weiss was also in that weekend. He flew in to take his stuff from storage and drive it back to New York in a U-Haul. Nate and I helped him load things up. The U-Haul he was given, old-faithful we called it, seemed a bit beat up, but we didn't quite know how bad it was when we first set up. When we got to the storage facility we noticed that the radiator was leaking. Instead of packing up storage we just had to wait around for a while. After U-Haul determined they weren't going to do anything for us, we had to walk and take two busses home. Then we had to return the next day with a better truck and do the actual packing.

Except the amount of time spent on that ordeal, instead of seeing people, the weekend was good. There were a few things I would have wanted to do that I didn't get to. I wanted desperately to go to Denny's. Given that I haven't been there since the end of June and that Weiss was back too, it should have been the perfect thing to do, but it didn't happen because we didn't have a car. The other thing I wanted to do was stop by the ETC, say hi to some people, meet the new first years, and see how BVW was going. I didn't get a chance to do this due to the ETC being at the PTC. Without a ride, and not knowing the details of the shuttle, I didn't end up making it.


The main thing I did last week was rearranging the Pond space, where I work. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I spend the day moving heavy monitors, desks, and other stuff. I got the main section of the room done. There were tons of old monitors to get rid off, as well a lot of furniture, but it is a nice open space and working environment now. The other half of the room is where we want to set up our projects. I really need to clean this area now, but I hesitate because it is going to be a pain.


The other major improvement in my life this week was TV. On Wednesday was the premier of the West Wing, my favorite show. This was the first real use of the projector. I had a few people come over and watch on it, even though we had to use my computer as a tuner and my computer speakers for sound.

On Thursday, however, my dad came to visit. It was nice to see him, although I would have liked to be able to spend more time. One of the things we did was go out and get my graduation present. We went to Cambridge Soundworks and bought a stereo system. Friday I spent setting it up and getting other things I needed. The one thing I still didn't have was tuner so I went out and bought a Tivo. Tivo is awesome, it is the future. On the one hand I've been watching more TV since I finally can again. On the other hand, it is very enticing because now there is always something good on. Even though we get so few channels here at MIT, the Tivo is proactively recording things it things I might like. I like to watch what it picks for me and I really want to get it trained to do it well.


I've also been working on two class projects that were just due. The first is my fab class project. We had to make some kind of small pressfit (no fasteners or adhesives) object from pieces we cut out on the laser cutter or the water jet cutter. By the way, these two machines are awesome. The water jet is more powerful and will cut anything. The laser cutter is more limited but it is really easy to use, and does fine quality work. I decided to make a version of the greycode puzzle that I bought recently. I spent many hours in the shop, tweaking the drawing, testing diffrent fittings, and printing parts. It was empty there late at night, I had my music playing, and the whole experience was very relaxing and enjoyable. A bit of the prefectionist, I redid several parts multiple times to get just the right fit and look. I am actually very impressed that my puzzle looks better than the original, and works pretty well. I didn't think it would actually be playable. I thought it would function correctly, but be delicate or sticky and not easy to use. I was very surprised how well it turned out.

The other project was the curse from hell. For Context Aware Computing, we had to enhance the functionality of a web browsing experience using a new web oriented computer language called Water. My idea was pretty simple, turning the back/forward button-style browsing into a tree. However, Water made it terrible. I was determined to get it to work in Water. Water in theory could do the stuff I needed it to, and there were good things about it. There were problems. First of all, learning a new languages is hard. My major complaint is that its documentation was not very good. There were multiple different sources of documentation, it was not easily browsable, it wasn't in a format that made it easy to understand, and worst of all, parts of it were just plain wrong. There were features in the documentation that were missing from the language! Furthermore, several of these features were crucial, both to my project and to a language like this period. I finally gave up and did the whole things in PHP. After maybe 15 hours in Water, I did the whole thing in about 3 of PHP. I couldn't be more glad to be done with that project.

Break time

I am by no means without stuff to do. I have plenty I need to do for my research group. I need to finish the rearrangement, set up shadow gnomes, and get down to work with trying to make the grafitti idea. I already do have other assignements for my class too. However, having these two big projects done, makes me much less stressed. I think this would be a good time to take a real break and do something fun and enjoy myself. I really wish that I had a regular job. I'll feel bad if I leave work early today when I have things I need to do. If I had a real job where I know that I have every evening (more or less) free I wouldn't mind staying until 5 or 6 or whenever. Knowing that tomorrow will probably be filled with work no matter what, I kind of want to take time off now when I think I could get away with it, even if I will feel bad. That's the thing I really don't like about being back in school. It is always feeling bad about doing something fun, and thus never really being able to enjoy anything.