Friday, April 28, 2006

finally, some sense of accomplishment

after a rough start to the week, i feel REALLY good about how things turned out. i had many things to get done this week in preparation for a week off and an end-of-june deadline, but i was able to manage my time and not let any one project fall by the wayside. today was kind of like the icing on the cake because i forced myself to sit down and learn some things that i normally would have gone to ask for help on. between getting the benchmark environment setup calibrating my monitoring hardware, and writing some small programs to collect my power consumption data, i learned a lot. i feel good about where i am at the moment and hope things continue to progress this well on monday and tuesday. i still feel like there is still a lot going on at the moment, but today definitely helped to ease these feelings a bit.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

preparing for ny

i get to head to new york wednesday for a week, and i am frantically trying to get things finished so i can get some tests running while i am gone. i made some significant strides today with the great help of the brilliant minds that surround me. a few colleagues and i have finally prototyped a power monitor that we should be able to use for data collection. there is a bit more software to write, but for the most part, it is finished. this is a MAJOR step in providing me with the results that would be the backbone of my initial research and any papers in the near future. it's a very busy but exciting time. i have a lot going on and it is hard at times to know where to focus my energy, but i think i am doing alright.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

trying to get back on track

after a day off, i still feel "displaced" here in cambridge, but once again my research has saved the day. things turned up today as i (along with the infinite wisdom and help from awesome colleagues) was able to make some progress toward setting up some more tests. i made good progress, and, at the same time, i made a lot more work for myself. i still feel as if i have a million things going on all at once. to a certain extent, this is the case, as i am working on a couple projects in parallel. there is still a GOOD bit of reading for me to do, and i am still learning linux. i am trying to find time to devote to preparing for my summer in berkeley, but i have not had the time to set aside to do anything..........that's a big lie. i have had time. i just have chosen to do other things. i'll start cracking the whip more once some of these other projects are up and running.

p.s. - thanks to all my friends that reached out to provide words of encouragement after my post monday.

Monday, April 24, 2006

there's no place like home

i have a lot to say.....i know i do. i can feel it. i just can't express it in words right now. it is weighing on me heavily. whatever it is, it is sitting in the back of my brain just waiting to be let go. last night and during the day today, i thought that i knew what words would embody this feeling, but as soon as i began to speak, i lost any knowledge of what in the world to say that would accurately describe how i felt. everything seems EXTREMELY bland right now, and i can't wait to go home. i am just at a point right now where i am confused, nothing nor ANYBODY here makes me happy (other than sad is that), and life is just a strain. i have 2+ years here, so i am going to have to do something. i am definitely open to feasible suggestions. i think i finally know why i am sleeping so much. subconciously, i know that my dreams and my thoughts are the only things that can make me happy in my current situation, so i am trying to hold onto those as much as possible. only if i could be doing work while i was asleep. maybe in the near future i can truly express how i feel right now. until then, i just have to be strong.

Friday, April 21, 2006

i really don't know anything yet

since starting my phd, i have (1) realized how little i REALLY know and (2) experienced the difference between the UK education system and that of the US. i am not second guessing my abilities or whether or not i deserve to be here, but i am having difficulties getting out of the US frame of mind as it concerns education. as an undergrad (and for a few years as a postgrad) in the US, you get grades, take tests, have periodic evaluations regarding certain material, etc. having just left undergrad, i still have a tendency to reach out for that type of measuring stick. but, it doesn't exist. here, i have found it very difficult at times to stay focused because you feel all alone and have no direction. while one is feeling like this, you are surrounded by other students that "seem" to have the ball rolling much faster than you, are more knowledgeable about certain things, and better researchers. time and time again i mention this in my posts because this is a re-occurring feeling that i have when i look at others in my lab. for someone as competitive as i am, feeling like second best is a big NO-NO. i am gonna drive myself insane if i don't hurry up and get things going. i know i am comparing apples and oranges when placing myself in the same pot as the other students and researchers here, BUT i am a competitor regardless of my situation or circumstances and i will keep trying to compete with these guys until i surpass them.

today, i realized that i am not an expert in ANYTHING and am FAR from being an expert. that is my goal once i finish my phd. i want to be an expert in my research area (and hopefully, many other areas i come across). when i say expert, i am talking about professor-level knowledge of a topic. where a student (or anybody) can ask me a random question, and i can answer the question and give scientific backing if needed. although i did well as an undergrad, i would not consider myself an expert an any area. to be totally honest, since i graduated and have gotten out of the "do these problems, take these notes, listen to this lecture, take this exam" type of education, i know i probably have lost a step or two. but to be totally fair, i am sure i have learned a lot here in this different education system. i really don't know what i have learned though. i definitely do not feel that i have supplemented my engineering knowledge much. yea, i kind of feel like crap right now. like i don't know anything.'s time to put in some overtime and harder work and learn some things and become more knowledgeable about those things that i thought i "knew."

p.s. - sorry this post seems a bit disconnected. i just dumped my feelings.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

thinkers' (as opposed to writers') block

the last two days have been really dry as far as thoughts and ideas go. i have been making positive strides still, but the flurry of possibilities has slowed to a crawl...........and that's an overstatement. right now, my mind seems to be slow as "pond water" as one of my junior high coaches used to say. i meet with a couple of guys in my lab tomorrow and maybe i can get some inspiration from our conversation. i think i have some interesting data (in it's preliminary stages) to present, but we'll see. i am still shooting for having a paper, at least in rough draft form, by the end of june. i feel that it is time to start shifting gears and moving into the next stages of my research. however, i still have much more "preliminary" work to do/data to collect before i can move forward with a strong sense of where to go from here. this is just my impatience kicking in again. slow down young grasshopper. there is plenty of time left on this phd train.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ordinary day

nothing exciting or thought provoking to talk about today. it was a pretty boring day, but i got a good bit of work done. still trucking along collecting data and running these tests. maybe tomorrow will be a bit more interesting.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


i have a good bit of things going on at the moment. all of which is very instrumental to research topic. i feel like i am beginning to make progress and transforming into a productive student. if i continue on this track and my data turns out in a beneficial manner, i should be able to submit a paper by the end of june. this would be perfect time as i will be preparing to head to berkeley for the summer and turning in my first year report/phd outline. this paper would be a REALLY big step for me personally, seeing how most first-years do not get any publications (some not even until mid-second year). this paper would also help me solidify my phd research topic and give me some direction on how to proceed. there is still MUCH data to be collected and work to be done before i get there though. BUT, finally, i have something tangible to strive for and motivate me. bring it on!!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

quiet day in the office

although today was a holiday, i came in to work anyway. i needed to check on some tests and start some new tests for tomorrow. i still have not had that breakthrough idea that will pull all my data and research thus far together, but i continue to think on ways to make this happen. i feel confident that i can right my results up. i just need to make sure i come up with the most concrete and effective way to give my research the most credibility.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

why am i so tired?

for some strange reason, i am finding it harder and harder to wake up in the mornings. it has been a chore to wake up for the last week and a half. i get more 6 hours sleep, which was my max for my years in undergrad. maybe this is why i am tired. am i sleeping TOO MUCH? this is really odd to me because i have something to look forward to each day now. i am making progress at work AND enjoying what i am working on. so, why is this the case? the last time i experienced this, it was a bit of depression that was causing the fatigue. this time, i really don't know what is going on.

after i finally made it in to work, i continued collecting data and running some more benchmarks. i finally had a chance to sit down and think of a plan of action for the next couple of weeks. things seem to be falling into place. there's much more data to be collected, more tests to be run, and more thought on the best ways to present the data so it is seen as valid. think, think, think. i am still in the infant stage of my research thought process, but i am getting better.

i am heading to the base tonight, so i will not be in tomorrow. i will return monday. have a happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

things look to be coming together

although i am still in the early stages of my testing and data collection, i feel good that things are coming together. it feels nice to have things to do on a semi-consistent basis. i do need to get back on the linux learning curve, but this will come in the next few weeks as i begin new tests/experiments. i did not get to sit down and brainstorm like i wanted to today because i had quite a bit of running around to do in order to get some things going. but, tomorrow, i definitely need to get this done.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

just keep fighting

after a miserable day yesterday, i had to find some way of motivating myself to come in today with a positive attitude. it was simple. i know that i am not a quitter nor will i ever let something whip me without a fight. so, i got up - got showered - ate breakfast - and came to work with every intention of having a good day, AND IT WORKED!!!

it is funny how people know exactly what you need. i had the best meeting ever with my supervisor. he shared some advice and thoughts to ease my spirits. one of my colleagues shared invaluable insight into this whole phd thing that comforted me beyond imagination. and, another colleague spent practically the whole afternoon helping me get some tests setup. thanks to all of you.

i sat in on a very motivational talk by Andy Stanford-Clark of IBM's Hursley Research Lab. he presented some information that could be extremely useful to me. and to think, i almost chose not to go to the talk.

i still feel a bit scatter-brained at the moment with so much going on in parallel. i still need to sit down and think of what my plan of action will be. i know what i need to do (or what would be good to do). i just need to sit down and think of the best way to do it and how to go about getting the results that would benefit my research the most.

Monday, April 10, 2006

one of those days

nothing seemed to go right for me today. in particular, i am in a POINTLESS email conversation with one of the computing officers. i asked for a small favor, and instead of just answering yes or no, he somehow got the impression that i cared to hear his opinion. i emailed another gentleman a week ago about sending me some information, and i had to follow up today in order to get a response. it came less than 5 minutes after i mailed him. so, it is obvious that he just forgot. and finally, i need to ask some of my colleagues for some help, but i am tired of bothering others for today. the few times that i have asked for help, the helpers were in a "point me in the right direction" mood as opposed to really helping me. i could see if i was asking for help on how to solve a problem that deals with my phd, but i need help with getting a tool to work. why do i have to spend time figuring this out when this has nothing to do with my phd. it's a waste of time. and there are people around that can get me going in less than 10 minutes. i think i'll cut my losses before my blood-pressure rises anymore. i'm calling it a day, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Friday, April 07, 2006

the duke lacrosse team made headlines over here

Duke Lacrosse Team Article in The Independent

after many months of waiting, the parts for my short-range location system came in. i had to order them from the company in the US and send them to my parents' house, and then, have them sent to me here. now, i can test the battery life more accurately now that the transmitter is actually talking to the receiver. before, the battery was just powering the microcontroller. the entire setup is in place and running now.

it seems that i have many parallel projects going on now: the short-range location system is back in action, power consumption data collection is in full swing, understanding and identifying pc usage, and collecting location data of users in pc zones. there are a few other areas that i am exploring at the moment, but it is too early to begin focusing on those areas, as there is A LOT for me to do before those projects will begin to make sense. it seems that i finally am getting to a point where my research/work seems meaningful in a phd sense. i am gonna keep my fingers crossed with hopes that things continue on and progress for the better.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

will the brainstorming be in vain?

i spent a good bit of today talking and thinking about the whole power consumption issue and my data collection approach. the feedback i got was excellent, and it sparked a lot of ideas. however, i need to get to a point where i am confident in my own approaches enough to be able to take in ideas from other people and use them to mold my own thoughts/plans/ideas instead of abandoning mine and adopting someone else's. i know this will all come with time and confidence that i will develop as i progress, but right now it can be difficult to let the ideas of others only be food for thought and not become my thoughts. don't get me wrong......the ideas that others are providing have been great, and most of the time, better than my own. so, it is not like i am giving up steak and eggs for ham sandwiches...but, it's the other way around at this point. i will just feel better when i am at a point where my ham sandwiches become steak and eggs. this is why i spent all afternoon writing down my own ideas and trying to understand where i wanted to take things next with my research. that's why i say that i hope it was not all in vain because i am long overdue for some steak!!!

p.s. - a major right hook for evolutionists in the evolution vs. creationism saga

did Judas betray Jesus at his request?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

now...............................i wait

i got a good bit done today thanks to an awesome officemate. data collection is still going as planned. tomorrow, i will start collecting computer usage data. nothin' extremely exciting at the moment, but all this work will come in handy down the road as my comparison parameter space.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

where does electric power come from and how do you sell it?

today was a slow day in the office. i am waiting on a researcher downstairs and the head system administrator (or computing officer as they call them here) for the building to return. with all honesty, i could have gotten more done today, but i was lazy and not trying very hard to focus on what i needed to get done. i did search the web for some data similar to that that i am collecting at the moment. as i was searching, i came back to some concepts that i have always had difficulty wrapping my mind around: where does electric power come from? and how do you distribute/sell it? of course i know the textbook answers that power comes from coal, water, biomass, etc., but it is amazing to me. i guess this is one of those topics that i will need answered more than once or twice before i really understand it all. since i have been investigating power consumption, i have come to realize how much power we actually use......A LOT. how are there enough resources to provide the entire world with power? AND, once the power is created, how is it "boxed up" and delivered to my house in a manner that the power company can charge me for it? these were just a few thoughts running around in my head as i procrastinated today. maybe i'll just call my brother and ask him. he works for georgia power.

Monday, April 03, 2006

it's lookin' pretty good

so far, things are still looking pretty good for my research topic. there are a couple of 4th year students that have taken interest in it and have been very helpful in these early stages (ideas, advice, encouragement, mentorship, etc.). these two guys seem to always be in the right place at the right time.......well, maybe it's the other way around, and it's me that is in the right place at the right time. if the feedback so far has not been enough reassurance, i needed to go downstairs to the systems research group to try and find some benchmarks to run, and one of the researchers there though the topic was promising. i am in the process of collecting some data at the moment, and i would love to have some preliminary results put together before my next meeting with my advisor. i think he would be impressed (*fingers crossed*). either way, there is a good bit of "low-hanging fruit" in the near future and some significant strides to be made long-term if things continue to go well.