Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finals Stress Relief

Tillie is the silliest dog in the world. I like to confuse her by trying to look like a dog and chasing her around the yard. She likes to give kisses in return.

I have my EE 102 final at 8 am tomorrow. Can't wait until 11 am! I really don't like that class. Business final on Friday and then Hello, Spring Break (and new classes).

I can't believe another quarter has gone by. It seems like I was just taking last quarter's finals.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Pledge My Honor That I Will Never Forget You, CS 181

Formal Languages and Automata Theory is over, friends! This was my favorite and most difficult class this quarter. My only regret is missing the first two lectures while I was in Russia. Professor Sahai was awesome. I think he only teaches this class Winter quarter because it's the "advanced offering". (I'm not really sure I got my causality correct here. It could be that Winter quarter is advanced because it's the quarter Professor Sahai teaches is.)

Class description from Professor's syllabus:

This course deals with some of the most fundamental philosophical questions surrounding computers. Is there such a thing as a "generic" computer? How powerful are computers? Are there fundamental limitations on what computers can do? It turns out that these questions are also very important philosophical questions about mathematics. For instance, are there theorems that are true but cannot be proven? What is the nature of infinity? In this cause, we will embark on a systematic mathematical study of computation and try to get some answers to these and other questions.

Ahh. I get goosebumps. We used the Sipser textbook Theory of Computation. It is, hands down, the best CS book I have ever laid my eyes on. I usually don't even bother buying CS textbooks. This one was like bedtime reading. If you are interested in computers and their limitations you could probably just read the book and teach yourself. It's that awesome.

Over the course of 10 weeks we were assigned 6 homeworks and I am pretty sure I cried while stuck on a problem from each one of those. I don't know why it bothers me so much.

I just skated over to campus to turn in my take-home final exam. That, also, did not get done without tears. I got stuck on 1b. (1b!!) It was worth 10 points out of 175 and I could not get it. I still am not sure my solution is correct, but after spending literally 4.5 hours straight on a 10 point problem I felt pretty hopeless, like I didn't learn anything. Mind you, I was only supposed to spend 10 hours on the exam. By the time I finished 1b (25/175), I was already 6 hours into it. (I took longer than 10 hours to do the whole thing. I'm sorry, Professor Sahai.)

I typed one problem because my hand was tired from re-writing the solutions from my drafts. Just for the sake of having a picture I'm going to put up my solution.
The last lecture, Wednesday March 10th, was optional. Professor talked about a topic of his choice and it happened to be Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. We proved it using Turing Machines. It was so simple, yet the implications of the theory are mind-blowing.

My favorite quotes from this class:
"You're going to love this class" - JT after attending lecture for me while I was in Penza.
"What's a fudge factor" - An (asian) student from the class
"Let's call this machine SHT." - Professor
"We're going to be battling infinity here." - Professor
Professor enacting a conversation:
A: "You can only be in this club if you cannot be in this club."
B: "Can you tell me who is in this club?"
A: "Of course, not! What does that even mean?"

And last, but most certainly not least,
"I will never give up on soundness." - Professor Sahai

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strawberry Roll-Out Cookies

Check it. You can make cookies using cake mix. Whaaaaa?! I first saw this in the Y household, but apparently this is the new cool thing to do. You can find a million versions of drop cookies from cake mix, but for some reason nobody is doing roll-out ones. I think roll-out cookies are fun because you can cut out different shapes.

1 box of cake mix (strawberry!)
1/2 cup of softened butter
1 egg
Some vegetable oil

1. Incorporate butter into cake mix. (This is much easier when the butter is soft.)
2. Mix in an egg.
3. while (dough not sticky enough to roll out) {
4. Add a glug of vegetable oil.
5. Mix.}
6. Roll and cut!
7. Carefully put on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325F for 4-8 minutes depending on the cookie size.

These are some break points in my algorithm:

But, most importantly, my algorithm returned LOVE!


Monday, March 8, 2010

The Monster

It all started with this seemingly innocent burger. This puppy is stuffed with goat cheese (not my all-time favorite) and sauteed mushrooms. JT and I made this a few weeks back.
DSCN0122 DSCN0124

We froze the leftover ground beef in these tupperware burger-patty-maker things. I took those out today and unleashed THE MONSTER.

Whole wheat bun, ketchup, onions, tomatoes, avocado, jack cheese. I did not finish the whole thing.

Friday, March 5, 2010


"Frah-gee-lay. That must be Italian." - Ralphie's father in the film, A Christmas Story.

One evening, last August, Olga's iPhone 3G gravitated to a particularly hard patch of asphalt. The impact fractured the glass and bruised the LCD. For many weeks after it's unfortunate injury, it soldiered on, reading Atlas Shrugged to her, providing directions and placing calls.

The first attempt to restore it damaged the new LCD in the process. Below is what it looked like when she first gave it to me, three weeks ago. I assumed that was a hint, or maybe a challenge; can you fix this?

The second attempt has proved to be a partial success.

Seen here are the shielded communication and logic boards, then the gasket and LCD's chassis and some of my handy tools. The folks at Apple even numbered some of the connector locations with stickies for us.

Everything works but the normal earpiece speaker, because I accidentally severed a connecting ribbon. I do not know how to repair this, yet. Besides, there are at least two simple work-arounds: use loudspeaker mode (which uses a separate speaker) or plug in earphones to hear callers.
The front glass panel also needs to be fixed in place. A semi-permanent adhesive will be decided upon and applied soon. It came with a double-sided tape holding it down, flush with the bezel.
Gasket material can be seen still hanging out the cracks.
Note: I used a ball point pen for some of the important crowbar prying steps; not recommended.

It is back to life, for now. Neither Olga or I are willing to pay for a cellular data plan. It will have to settle for weakness, only a text message and a dial away from becoming it's less capable little brother, Touch. Much like Ralphie's father, the hard cussing furnace fighter, I feel proud that I fixed the existing problem, disappointed that I created a fresh one, but I will claim a tiny victory, regardless. Definitely not a Kobe, more like a MacGyver.

Guest Contributor, JTGuest Contributor, JT

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Got a Haircut

Here are some other things I got:
  • A gnarly sore throat
  • A headache
  • CS M152A {not}
Uhhhh. Is it Friday yet?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

White Fish is Boss

It's a beautiful morning in Southern California. Today we are going over to Simi Valley to attend the unveiling of the stone for Grandma Rose. I can't believe it has almost been a year.

Barry made us all eggs this morning. Grandma Rose would never pass up an opportunity for a scrambled egg or two. I am having a bagel with smoked white fish in honor of Rose. She liked smoked fish and so do I.
Sue's sister, Sharon, is here. I think we are also going to get to see Wendy, Rich and Zoe today. This is nice.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy 200th, Chopin!

Dear Frederic Chopin,

Today was supposed to be your 200th birthday. Unfortunately you died over 160 years ago. It's a real shame you can't be here to celebrate. I wish we had invented some kind of a miracle potion that would make you live forever and create beautiful music. But mostly I wish you could read this Wikipedia article. You were quite a playa.

Anyway, I've been trying to learn this Nocturne of yours.

I know you are most likely turning in your grave at the sound of this atrocity. You probably can't even recognize your own composition, but I'm really trying. Maybe don't make it in this stupid key next time. (Chill. I'm only kidding, it's perfect.) With any luck by the time you are 201 I'll be able to play the whole thing well. (Don't hold your breath.)

I wish I could shake your hand,

PS. You know they found this piece on your desk after you died? You break my heart, Fred, you break my heart.