The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

2Mar/102

The best examples stem from food or money

SarcasticSteven: there exist many different kinds of [data structure] trees
SarcasticSteven: some of which end up having very complicated insertion and deletion methods
SarcasticSteven: but which ensure that the tree is balanced, which ends up being a very important quality
SarcasticSteven: it's like if you had the choice between two burrito lines at warren [dining hall]
SarcasticSteven: one line goes moves slightly faster than the other one, but has a chance of giving you food poisoning
SarcasticSteven: it doesn't matter that that line is slightly faster
SarcasticSteven: you're never going to pick the food poisoning line
SarcasticSteven: a tree that can ensure that it is balanced doesn't suffer from worst-case search times
SarcasticSteven: and so the extra overhead of insertion and deletion (for example, the rotation you do) is worth that guarantee

26Apr/089

Two months of making perfection perfect

Microsoft came to campus some time ago for a recruiting drive. I knew that my odds were low but I wanted the experience, and no matter what the odds are, there is still a chance. Talking to the recruiter went very smoothly; I liked talking to him and he liked talking to me. He made notes on my resume before dropping it in and I walked away happy.

The actual first-round interview was not so smooth. It was not so much an interview as an interrogation. To be fair, the interviewer single-handedly had to deal with two dozen people over the course of two days, and as I was the penultimate, I was going to get the short end of the cordiality stick. I tried to establish a casual talking environment, picked up on every cue that was dropped in order to promote talking and build a rapport, but he was not interested in a rapport. He was there to weed out candidates and that is exactly what he did.

I felt confident that I did well where it counted, but it was not enough. I was not invited to a second-round interview, the multi-day affair where Microsoft flies you over to Washington and pays for everything so that they can subject you to a day-long interview gauntlet.

However, I am completely fine with not moving onto the second round. And that is because I already have plans.

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The plans looked a bit like this, hastily scribbled onto a piece of paper with an old Spanish homework. They was spurred into being by Chris, and dreamed up and laid out during one of my classes. It was the roadmap to an essay that, with Shelly's help, won me a scholarship.

My benefactor was a UK-based software testing company that was moving into Burlington, Massachusetts. They recently started a program that offered scholarships to BU computer science students, the winners receiving a lump sum as well as an internship.

The money was definitely enticing, but the internship was the much more valuable prize. Being very young and having so little experience, I would cherish any opportunity to build up my resume and gain momentum. The internship was originally scheduled to be in Burlington. Its actual status was up in the air for a few months until I was notified that no, there was in fact no place for me at their Burlington office, but they would remain true to their word and offer me an internship.

In England.

Exeter, England to be more specific. For two months I am going to be staying at the University of Exeter and working for a company generous enough to provide me this opportunity. I'll have two months to see whether the sky looks any different in Europe than it does in America and whether cars driving on the wrong side will faze me. Two months to collect as much foreign currency as I can, since it seems to be the most popular souvenir requested so far. Two months of a five-hour time difference from my friends. Two months alone being somewhere I never thought I would be compelled to be by myself.

But for you, my readers, it will be two months of posts and pictures, of pining and preaching. And for me, at the very least, two months of preparing for off-campus life next school year.

21Nov/072

Any changes above this line will be discarded by mipsmark. Put your answer between the dashed lines.

If anyone was curious, the stack you use when coding in MIPS is indeed finite. Possibly the only question my buggy code will answer, rather than create.

9Sep/073

Soñando, deseando, haciendo

Rising Stuyvesant sophmores used to be required to take Drafting 1, and were then required to take either Drafting 2/Honors Drafting or Introduction to Computer Science.

For once in my life, I went past the call of duty by not only taking Honors Drafting, but Intro to Compsci at the same time. To top it off, I took an optional compsci course at the same time, and followed both drafting and compsci course paths to full completion in later years. AP Compsci, both of the senior-level compsci courses, Technical Drawing, and Architecture were what padded out my remaining years at Stuy. Choosing to do the extra work and stick it out with both course paths turned out to be one of the smartest things I've ever done, because despite my major being computer science, I was totally prepared for both of my internships, especially my current one at JDP Mechanical.

Transitioning from CADKEY to AutoCAD was easier than I expected. I was already familiar with how CAD drawings are handled and manipulated, so all it took was a little experimentation and direction to find out which command I needed to enter to do what I wanted. CAD work is actually quite fun, and while I'm very efficient, I'm still amazed at how fast my dad can mold his drawings to what he sees in his mind.

Unfortunately, drafting is only half the battle, and the lower-paying half at that. The reason my father gets paid the big bucks (big = only slightly more) is because he is able to solve problems. The primary problem is that New York City is brimming with people, Manhattan in particular, and every cubic foot of space is precious. Given the choice between making the machine room comfortably big and squeezing out a couple extra hundred thousand dollars isn't really a choice at all. Landlords will always choose to make the extra money and hope that their AC and heating units will fit in the little niche carved out in the basement. And therefore, landlords will always need companies like the one my father works for. He coordinates with all the other contractors, trying to make sure that his water pipes can fit alongside the gnarled masses of the electrician's cables and the plumber's sewage lines, while making sure he isn't getting in the way of the gigantic ducts strewn across the ceiling.

My father is paid well because it is difficult to compensate for human error while minimizing costs and working on a deadline. It's a difficult job that requires an intimate knowledge of the industry and its conventions. From a purely practical standpoint, it's the best career for me to jump into. It is such a niche field that experienced, dedicated workers are far and few, which means companies are more willing to train and cultivate workers. I already have a great foundation of CAD knowledge, and I found that my mind easily warped to decipher schematics and reconstruct them in my mind. To top it off, I have one of the best draftsmen in the industry as a personal mentor.

But the best worker and father I've known also gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard: "Do something you love, because if you like it, you won't mind putting in the hours to become great at it." It summarizes very well the key to his success, but it also summarizes why I'm so hesitant to take up what would otherwise be a great opportunity. I know I could be good at it, but I don't know if I would be willing to put in the effort to become great. I remember happily spending hours coding up my first programming project, making a freakish monstrosity easily two or three times the size of everyone else's projects. At least a third had been handwritten during my free time between classes and on the train, without ever wondering or worrying about the amount of time I was putting into the project. Programming was fun, and still is. Debugging is frustrating but ultimately rewarding. Difficulties are exciting challenges, not hinderances.

That's the attitude my dad wants me to have, because while he would love for me to follow in his footsteps, he wants me to be happy most of all. My job is going to be somewhere I spend 8+ hours a day, so given the chance, I ought to spend all that time doing something I love. I want to keep being able to say that I love my life and have never regretted the choices I've made.

So I'm going to go for it. I'm not going to settle; I'm going to keep dreaming and desiring, so that one day I'll be able to do. If I fail, it is not going to be for lack of dedication. But if I succeed, it will be.

15Feb/072

Compulsive Research – 2U

Sometimes I wonder whether I made the right choice by majoring in computer science. There are definitely parts about the subject that I don't like: the algorithm analysis, the complex math, the debugging, the snowball effect that results from misunderstanding a concept...

But there are flashes of insight and revelation that completely reassure me that I made a good choice. They make me feel elated and ecstatic, turning my mind into a clairvoyant machine bristling with implications and inferences. My emotions snowball, but this time they gather understanding rather than confusion. Even when I'm doing math that seems way over my head, and that I've been struggling with for days, all it takes is that one moment of clarity to completely turn things around.

The most telling sign that computer science is a good fit? When I make those discoveries, I feel really, really geeky. And I love it.

21Jul/067

BU Schedule – Semester 1, Freshman Year

I plan to major in Computer Science with a possible minor in Psychology. I have dropped Spanish and will be studying Japanese.

I elected to follow the Divisional Studies track rather than the Core Curriculum track. With DS, all of BU's introductory courses (Psych 101, Bio 101, etc) are put into one of four categories: Math and Compsci, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. I must take two classes in every field that is not where my major resides. Even if I decide to switch majors, thus requiring me to take two classes in Math and Compsci, I will have covered my Divisional Studies requirements for it anyway by the end of my first term.

I'll reserve my opinion on how good my schedule is until a few weeks after school starts, when the fatigue starts setting in. We aren't allowed to take more than four courses the first term (and never more than six) so I'll use this term to determine next term's courseload.

MA127 – This is the calculus class for those who have already taken calculus in high school. It condenses two terms of material into a single term. I already took calculus in Stuyvesant, so I shouldn't have to struggle too much with learning, just remembering. Getting a 720 on the Math SAT II exempted me from BU's math requirement, and as a compsci major I don't need to take any math courses to fill the DS requirements, but many of the mandatory compsci classes require calc, so I might as well take it while it's still fresh and get it over with.

CS112 (C++) – I'm skipping CS111 (which was easy to do, considering my AP score and my programming experience) and heading onto CS112, with a focus on C++ since I'm much weaker in it than Java. I've already set up my laptop with Ubuntu and installed emacs and gcc (and the JDE since I do prefer Java), so I should be able to program without constantly being confused by a GUI compiler like Eclipse. Old habits die hard; I instinctively type gcc -Wall after Ctrl-X-C. I'll have to pick up a good book to help me out; I was able to do so well in AP Compsci because the Java textbook was very good, and helped me understand concepts and syntax that I didn't pick up while sleeping. Any recommendations?

WR100 – I did not qualify for WR150 (so I don't get to skip a class!) but English classes have never been a problem for me aside from procrastinating on papers, so I'm not worried. There were many different types of writing classes, from scifi to children's books to Asian literature, but since I did want to experiment with the field of pscyhology, I took the class that was focused on readings in psychology and psychoanalysis. I plan to have the same class synergy when I fill another DS requirement by taking an Anthropology course focusing on the study and evolution of human behavior.

LJ101 – I've gotten past the notion of becoming fluent enough to read manga and understand anime. After all, I've spent god knows how many years studying Spanish, and I can just barely read the signs in the subway (much less understand soap operas!). Hopefully a little of my otaku enthusiasm will still be present, so that I have motivation for learning a complex language while coping with a new environment.

10Sep/0517

“There are 8000 Yiddish words for penis. There’s a volume of the dictionary with the words Penis through Penis.”

Period listings taken from my Sconex profile.

PERIOD 1: Pre-porn warmup (Mr. Quagmire)
Giggity.

PERIOD 2: Architecture (Mr. Rothenberg)
Rothenberg is one of the craziest teachers ever, but that's why we love him. Tons of corny jokes, random references, and random tangents make me stay awake during his lessons. Not to mention I'm considering architecture as a minor/hobby, so the lessons themselves hold interest for me.

PERIOD 3: Architecture (Mr. Rothenberg)
Stuyvesant mandates a type of class called a "10 Tech" during your senior year. These are in the same suit as the 5 Tech classes required in junior year (photography, advanced CAD, robotics, etc) but take up two periods a day instead of one. I don't mind, and in fact I like it, especially because I do well in the class and since the teacher is writing a recommendation for me, I want to shine as much as possible.

PERIOD 4: Electronics (Dr. Majewski)
This is the slacker 10 Tech for the nonartistic. The artistic slackers take Acrylic Painting, the nonartistic slackers take Electronics. Hence Acrylic Painting is mostly girls, and Electronics is mostly guys. But despite exams only being 5% of the grade and being guaranteed a 99 if I simply showed up to class, I'm actually interested in Electronics. Especially because we're using this cool electronics kit, and I love to play around with stuff.

PERIOD 5: Lunch (Mr. Thepersonthatmakesmylunch)
I'm so alooooooone. Except for you, Joanna. And Kimberly and Paul, but I don't even know if they go to lunch.

PERIOD 6: Ap english literature (Mr. Gern)
I'm going to sleep. But I'm going to sleep with friends. Wait, that doesn't sound right...

PERIOD 7: System level programming (Mr. Zamansky)
Everyone loves Zamansky. I think I will too. The computer room we're in got a major overhaul, so it's on par with the computers we were using for AP Computer Science. Which is to say, not as good as the ones we'd play Quake III Arena on, but better than the ones that ran DOS.

PERIOD 8: Calculus applications (Ms. Rubin)
For what I thought would be a class full of jocks, I'm on comfortable terms with more people in this class than any other. And the teacher seems nice as far as math teachers go, so I think it won't be that bad.

PERIOD 9: American government (Ms. Feldman)
I have the opposite feeling about this class. She seems evil. I want Plafker back.

PERIOD 10: Post-porn wrapup (Mr. Quagmire)
Giggity.