Tuesday, February 28, 2006

first group presentation

i had my first group presentation today. it went well. i got some good feedback from the group and some motivation as people actually understood where my (with the help of my advisor) thought process was going. so, onward i go with my ideas/thoughts as planned. we'll see where we get!!! gonna call it a day earlier than normal today. catch me tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2006

i think i figured it out...

i have been doing a bit of thinking lately, and i think i know why i feel so strained and exhausted her. *drum roll* i have not been able to be myself. if u think playing the "corporate" role for 8 hours a day is hard, try playing it all day everyday. it seems that i have been stuck in this character since i have gotten here. it DEFINITELY has not been by choice, but for the mere sake of the communication barrier between myself and everyone here. there is no way that i could communicate to people here like i do with my friends. i do not believe that it has anything to do with the fact that i am in a different country, but i feel that it is more of an issue of "exposure." here we go.....walk with me a bit...it seems that most of the students here are not from urban environments (or anything that slightly resembles an urban environment) and are totally disconnected from any sort of urban culture or urban awareness (strike 1). also, a majority of the people i have come into contact with are living in an "academic" bubble. what does that mean? people really don't listen to u but just wait till its their turn to talk so they can impress you with how smart they are, how they saved the world during their "gap year" (once u finish high school, you take the year off and typically go to another country before starting college), how they have so much work to and are ALWAYS busy (meanwhile, they don't have exams until april/may and assigned work is OPTIONAL), etc (i could go on for days but u get the picture-----strike 2). and (strike 3) the only social activity that most people seem to have is going to the pub. what's wrong with this? ok so you have strike 1 against you. so you have to force conversation which probably winds up being about school and you find yourself in the strike 2 category. after a bit of this "fake" conversation, you realize what you are doing and you just feel like leaving......hence ending communication (if you are not in the same place with other people, then you can't communicate with them).

i keep looking at myself to see if i am giving a fair and accurate assessment, but i have honestly tried. people here (cambridge) just like different things. i am confident that it is not just me because the few people that i can communicate with have felt the same way and see what i have just described (or tried my best to describe). i just want to be myself. *HUGE sigh of relief*

thanks for listening

writer's block

no interesting thoughts to share today. it's been a productive but "ho-hum" week. the weather definitely is not helping. check back tomorrow for a more detailed synopsis.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

it's not how you start, but how you finish

things were pretty slow and boring this morning, but somehow, i was able to maintain some focus and keep pressing forward. i had three papers ready to read, but i only made it through one of them. i knew that if i tried to read them all, i would be sound asleep at my desk. one was enough. i turned my focus then to my processor design. i was really stumped for a few hours but was able to fix a few mistakes that were a real pain. i feel pretty confident that what i have now is solid, but there is one more instruction i want to add (right now) and some more testing to really show the true colors of the design. the last instruction should be fairly straightforward (*fingers crossed and knocking on wood*). i just have to check for inequality as opposed to equality. but, you never know sometimes. things always seem easier than they are. yes, it is 15 minutes after seven pm, but i am really glad i stayed late to get to this point.

p.s. - thanks for the advice Plez. it really helped me to see things differently.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

berkeley, here i come.......hopefully

i made a bit more progress today with my processor design, but there are still some malfunctions that i need to account for. i am also in the process of securing an internship this summer at berkeley. i would be working with David Patterson and many other academic and industry leaders on a multicore hardware project. if the work is anything like i envision, this internship would be a dream come true for my phd work. i pulled some more papers to read off of the web. after meeting with my supervisor yesterday, i need to look at the xen project here in the computer lab. this is work being done by the systems research group downstairs. the xen project is a way to "virtualize" hardware resources. as of right now, i see this as a way to dynamically allocate and manage a multicore/multi-server environment with the aims of energy efficiency.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

working out the bugs

still on the motivational high from friday, i came into the office today with the intentions of making more progress on my design. there were a few bugs with my basic operations that i was able to work out, and then i began to introduce more common hazard-producing instructions (i.e. - branches and jumps). i have introduced the instructions, but there is still some more work that i need to do to prevent malfunctions depending on arithmetic results. i hope to be done with the entire design by the week's end if this pace continues. as for the basketball varsity match this past sunday, well.......................we lost, but oxford (the school and the city) are beautiful. it has a much more "city-like" feel than cambridge. there is also a much more lively nightlife as well. one of my friends from georgia tech (a marshall scholar) was at the match, so i will definitely have to get back and visit when i have more time to get a formal tour.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

end of a good week

wow, things sure can come together nicely sometimes. the first phase of my processor is complete!!! i need to test more on monday, but it seems to be working as designed/expected. i also need to introduced more functionality and hazard detection once i know it works properly for this simplified instruction set. i was very pleased to be able to finish this this week (anticipated a 2-3 week job). i finally received my altera development board today (after about 4 months of waiting). the timing is perfect because once i finish my processor design, i can download it onto the altera chip and begin working on my long-term project for this year. my short-range location project is coming along well too. i am still testing battery life, but i am hoping that the test will provide some good results to continue working from. i am very pleased at how things seem to be falling into place at the moment. let's hope this lasts a bit longer. we (the basketball team) play oxford in the varsity match this weekend. hopefully, a thorough thrashing of them will cap off what has been a great week so far. i hope to get some good pictures of their campus as well. stay tuned. things are getting exciting.

p.s. - happy birthday g (i am one of the few people that knew your birthday without the assistance of the facebook reminder........lol)

Friday, February 17, 2006

ideas, ideas, ideas

i had a good meeting with Quentin Stafford-Fraser today, and i came away with some ideas that i feel could lead to some interesting work/projects, if not a phd, for me. it's hard not to get too excited after meetings and talks like this where you feel so positive and energetic about a particular topic, but you have to look past the personal bias/interest and really decide (or find out) whether the work is relevent, novel, already been done, or worth the time and effort. my biggest fear is that i waste time researching and workiing on a project that will not have anything to do with my phd. that waste of time (although the knowledge and research experience is good) is a pothole i would like to avoid. however, it is different types of projects along your phd that can "enlighten" you to a wonderful phd topic that you would have never thought of without the so-called "wasted" project in the first place. it can be so confusing juggling what you think/want to do for a phd with all these ideas and projects that may help you reach your goal. the wierd part about it is that you never know how, or if, things will tie into what you really want to do.

p.s. - happy birthday JJ (Ace Klub, Krimson T.K.O.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

back on the progress train

it's amazing how having purpose each day gives you energy. one would think that having nothing to do would create more joy and energy. my project and my processor are coming along just fine. i made a great deal of progress today on my processor, but i am still a few days away from having a working model. i am eager to see where my work takes me once i finish this initial design, and then incorporate more functionality later on. i think at this point i need to really sit and think before continuing on my processor to make sure that i don't forget anything that would cause me more headache in the end. i guess this is what engineering/computer science is all about - thinking of ALL possible worst-case scenarios and preventing them from crashing everything. as an undergrad, partial credit was rewards you for almost getting everything right. as a postgrad, partial credit exposes all of the extra work that you still have to do (or conveniently "forgot" because of time or difficulties in the solution).

p.s. - for all you waffle house lovers out there, check this out:


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

my own processor

today, i began the tedious process of creating a software/hardware model of a standard 32-bit processor. this is not a terribly exciting process, but it is needed for me to continue my research further. i did some similar work in undergrad, but this is my first time creating the processor from scratch. at the same time, it is my own design, so i am having to really take my time and think ahead to make sure i account for/incorporate all the things that i would like to have in a finished product. i am interested to see how things turn out and how long it will take to have a working processor.

Monday, February 13, 2006


after a few days (or maybe even a few weeks) of being discouraged, unmotivated, and homesick, i have finally refocused my energies back on my work/research thanks to some awesome friends and research colleagues. i am still in the testing phase of my short-range location project. I hope to finalize this by the end of the month. today, i have begun designing (in verilog) the processor that i would like to start testing from once the altera development board comes in. i feel pretty good and excited about this, as this is the real work that i enjoy. so, hopefully things will continue on in this manner. as you know, you will be the first to know if it does or does not.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

it's thursday......that's about all i have to say

slow day today. i contacted Quentin Stafford-Fraser (http://www.qandr.org/quentin) in order to setup a meeting with him to see if he can be of some assistance to me in firming up a phd topic and some research i would like to do for the remainder of this term. things seem to be stagnant right now, but i am trying to work through it as best i can. i cannot seem to find any interesting papers to read either. maybe i am looking in the wrong places? maybe i am looking for the wrong topics/types of research? i think this is the reason that i am pressing so hard to find a topic. it is extremely difficult to know what to read when you don't know what you need to be looking for.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


today, i had a meeting with some of the creators/innovators of VNC at the headquarters here in cambridge. i got some positive feedback on some research ideas that i have been thinking about, and the guys also gave me a lot of ideas to look into. this was a much better meeting than those that i had on last week. i felt motivated after speaking with these guys. i may not be able to get a phd from my current ideas on projects to work on, but i can definitely use the research and knowledge in my phd (once i figure out a final topic). once in the office, i continued on my short-range location project with small progress, but i was able to discover a major issue with the batteries that i am using. i need to find some more papers to read. i haven't looked or read in a few days now. it was not a bad day.

new week, new attitude

last week ended pretty ugly, but i have tried to think positively and turn things around today. been a pretty good day. i had a late night watching the super bowl and talking on the telephone afterwards into the wee hours of the morning. so, you can imagine that i slept in this morning. made every minute i was here in the office count though. finally have the program i have been working on for about a week working properly (thanks to microchip tech support). turns out, there were some things that i needed to do that were not in the documentation, that i would have NEVER figured out on my own. thanks microchip *in a sarcastic voice*. now that this is done, i can continue testing my project and working towards writing it up.

p.s. - happy anniversary to my Fraternity Brothers at the Low Down Lambda Delta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. i didn't forget. i wish i could have celebrated with you all this past weekend.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

finally calmed back down

after a few days of pure frustration, i have regained my composure and focus. one of the RAs (research assistants) basically told me to relax about the phd topic because i am still very new. he also gave some other encouraging advice that helped to settle my thoughts and raise my spirits. today was a slow day, but i was able to setup another important meeting for tuesday that, hopefully, will provide me with an excellent look into some cool research. i read an interesting paper as well that has got me motivated again. sorry for the anger the last couple of days, but i really needed to get the frustration out. more positive things to come...................

Thursday, February 02, 2006

welcome to research

just as easy as research can excite you, it can make you absolutely mad too. on monday when i started writing this VERY simple program for a microcontroller, i had no idea, it would still be in progress 3 days later. and even worse, i could not figure out why the program wouldn't work, and had to submit a request to microchip themselves. this has thoroughly frustrated me. to top things all off, my potential phd research work that i spoke to my advisor about a few weeks ago, and again on this past tuesday, may not come to pass as expected. i spoke to a more knowledgeable researcher in hardware, and he did not have too many positives to say about my ideas. i was more depressed than angry simply because things seem so overwhelming at this point. the topic i thought i had, may not be. there are so many other researchers and phd students with everything rolling along, and here i am with nothing........not even an idea. i try and keep reminding myself that this is a 3 to 4 year process, but i still feel that i should be more sure of my work and ideas by now. maybe i am wrong. maybe i am just trying to rush things. or, maybe i am just ready to get started, do some great research, and finish school. whatever it is, i have to learn to not allow this weigh on me so much. when things are going well, it is very easy to come into the office, and when things aren't going so well, it can be a nearly impossible task to get up and come into work. it was extremely hard for me to come in today.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

very angry man

i have spent 2 whole days trying to figure out why my code is not working. i have no answers and no clue as to why it is not working properly. yesterday, i was close, and the longer i have worked on the issue, the further i seem to get away from a solution. hopefully, i can figure this out tomorrow or thursday. i doubt i will come in tomorrow.