Thursday, February 28, 2008

Snow Day!!! Mother Nature must love me.

It's now in the middle of the semester. And suddenly, all my classes are in 6th gear, going 100 miles per hour on a winding road with full of bumps. Indeed the pace is now more erratic unlike a few weeks ago, where everybody was cruising on a beach road with birds chirping and flamingo birds dancing. I may have underestimated the extend of graduate courses. No more books, no more notes, just research papers that took hours to understand and very dull to read, especially if it is not of your interest area.

Last Tuesday was the day that I was suppose to meet my future Supervisor to discuss on a new setup for a new experiment. I am expected to read a few papers and specification of the new device and various hardware interfaces for the experiment. At the same time, I had 2 papers to present, which was heavily referenced. And when I got the email about weather alert, I was so damn happy. Snow day.....Yes, a declared emergency day due to heavy snow. Thank god, ader one more day to relax.

To be sure, I emailed my Supervisor, and he told me the meeting is still on. Apparently, he's in campus and expects me to be there anyways. So I quickly got ready to drive to campus. It wasn't like I was tired, but it's so cold. And the amount of work I have to do just to drive my car. Buried under 9-10 inches of snow, I have to scrape the snow of my windshield and dig snow out of my path, cause the snow was too high for me to reverse out without the snow getting into my exhaust.

Well, after the meeting, I was tired and cant wait to get back home, eat and sleep. But as I was driving home, I saw Kak Shima's kids playing in the snow. So I figured why not. I'm going to be a kid, be silly for a bit and just enjoy the snow day. After all, it's not like it snows this heavy everyday. I got out of my car, ran in the snow and lay down in the soft smooth icy cool snow. I was glad that I took the time to loosen up some stress and just watch the clouds rolling over the skies.

Anyhow, what I thought was 5 minutes, end up to be almost an hour. The kids and I spent some time playing snowball wars. We also spent some time making a snow man. It was a small snowman, but cute nonetheless, just like me....hehehe

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bootstrapping into Wireless Sensor Network Lab

About one week after classes started, I was assigned to my would be supervisor, Dr. Mikhail Nesterenko, who is an expert here in WSN (Wireless Sensor Networks). This is the closest thing I can get into embedded systems stuff, and it sits in my domain of interest. Dr. Mikhail Nesterenko was nice to show me his lab and help me find a place to sit in the lab. He also made sure I had a table and chair for me ready, and a pc for me to work on.

So my first task was to bootstrap myself into the lab. First thing I did was delete the windows on my computer, and installed debby(debian) on my computer. Then, tweak around with it, and after it was running, tried to get my alpine--formerly pine--working on my workstation. Our email is on IMAP and I just wanted to be geeky and access my email from a text-based client like pine. Anyhow, the technical details are taken out, if you are interested about getting to use your pine over SSL, then you should go here.

The lab is the place I hang out a lot. Since there is no other place to hang out for a graduate student. Plus, I imagine, after I get a hang of WSN, I would probably spend most of my time here in the lab, doing experiments and what not. So looks like this lab is going to be my second home soon.

In the lab, there is a grid of wireless sensor networks. This grid is to experiment on a variety of network conditions. But I guess, most of the work going to be configuring and reprogramming of the t-motes wireless devices. It runs on tiny-OS, so I will have to learn how to use tiny-OS soon and start hacking on the embedded device.

The wireless device we get to play with are small and tiny. They are embedded devices meant for sensors. So it is supposed to be that small. The problem is, it will also have limited power as well as limited memory to keep your program and data. Not to mention the irregularity in transmission of wireless signals. I'm not sure what kind of research I will do first. I think I will just use up this whole semester to learn about tiny-OS, reprogramming of the embedded device as well as learn more about previous research being done. Maybe later, I will be enlighten about what to do with my research in WSN.

The WSN lab seems to be a lonely place where most of the time it is empty. There are 4 people in our group with Dr. Nesterenko as the supervisor. Good thing is, Mike, a research group member, sometimes hang out in the lab too. Occasionally, we have Tom and Najla come in and out the lab. The embedded devices can be access remotely through ssh, so we don't really need to be in the lab. Unless we want to stay in a quiet place to study. Anyhow, wish me luck in finding a research topic soon in WSN.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A little snow is a hassle, a lot of snow is hurray!!!

Recently, I have not been able to find the time to write something on my blog.
I have been busy reading journals about network protocols for P2P, mainly,
the PASTRY protocol and MADPASTRY and papers about WSN (Wireless
Sensor Networks), aside from hacking alpine(or pine) to connect to the IMAP
server at my work station while doing hw for Advance Computer Architecture
and Algorithms Design classes. It has been over bearing, and I have hardly any
time to eat, what more to blog.

What I hate most is the snow. Not that because it is cold, cause I like the cold
weather, but it is such a hassle. It makes me late to go to class and the driving
conditions can be nasty.

Since yesterday it started snowing. And last night, I was busy trying to
finish up my work due today. I was terribly tired and what I thought was
a short break shutting my eyes for 5 minutes, was an unexpected sleep for
a few hours.

I woke up at 8.45 am, and my class suppose to start at 9.15 am. With my work
only half done, i was bitching and angry for falling asleep. So I quickly dressed up
and packed my stuff to class. Here is why the snow is such a hassle. In a moment
of haste, I still need to scrape the snow off my windshield, and wait for my car to
heat up before i start moving. The whole ordeal takes about 15 minutes, and so I
only have 10 minutes to drive to class. I want to drive fast, but, with the snow,
everybody was cruising at about 15 miles per hour. I too am a bit cautious with
driving in the snow.

I reached my parking lot, just about 9.15 am. I parked my car and run fast towards
the CS building. By the time I reach my class, i was sleepy, tired and wet. During
class I even fell asleep snoring. Luckily kak Shima woke me up.

After the 9.15 am class, I gave up about finishing my work. It was still snowing.
I checked my email and there was an email for weather alert. Apparently, classes
after 12.30 pm is all cancelled. Yeeeee...hhaaaa.....So a little snow is a hassle, but
a lot of it, can be a blessing. So I have another day to finish my work. Had I known,
I would just sleep soundly last night.

Kak Shima and myself were very happy. We took some pictures besides the heavy snow. Yeah, we are old people above 30, but we still like kids and happy to skip some classes:)

And so, you have that big smile, i'm going back and have a good sleep.