Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Turkey Day and things!! :)

Mood: exhausted but excited :)

Hello again!

Sorry I didn't get to update this while in was truly and busy and WONDERFUL experience! :D For anyone who doesn't know, myself, my research advisor, and the student I've been working with went to Mountain View, CA last week (Wednesday - Saturday) to interview developers at the Google headquarters. Now before I get into how successful the interviews were, I would like to say that the Google in Mountain View is everything that I imagined Google to be and so much more! I can't discuss everything on here (some of it is confidentiality issues) but one of the coolest things that I can (and will) mention is that they have bikes (which you will see in my pictures) that they allow their employees to use in order to get around their HUGE campus. They also have their own bus (which is awesome, because traffic and the driving in Cali definitely leaves something to be desired). I think what made the trip was the awesome people we got to meet (and of course the day we got to spend sight-seeing in San Francisco waiting for our flight back home!). I knew that people in technology tend to be much more laid back than those in other areas, but the people are Google are just down right friendly. On top of the awesome people any and everything you could possibly need to do, you can do it right there...there's an eating establishment in EVERY building, there's recreational activities (such as volleyball), there's a fitness center, on site laundry facility...all that's missing is a shower (which I think may be there as well!!). As far as the reason we went, in my opinion it was a pretty huge success. We were able to get 10 Google interviews and 1 from a Mozilla office in Mountain View. The hard part now is going to be going back through these interviews and manually transcribing each... which I am honestly not super excited about. I am super excited, however, about getting to submit my first conference paper! We are writing and trying to submit a paper, based off the interviews we've conducted , to the European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP) 2012. The only downside is that the paper is due December 17, and because Robert--the guy we met with at Google-- and Google needs to approve our paper before we can try to publish, which means we actually need to have it done by about Dec. 9 (which is much closer than it seems!). Don't get me wrong, I love a challenge, but I think the biggest problem is going to be trying to get this stuff done while also preparing for my exams/finishing up projects and papers. I know I can do this...I'm just honestly really nervous about it. A part of me wishes we could have done this trip like 2 weeks earlier to give more time, but that's slightly irrelevant seeing as we can't go back in time to do so. I'm going to do the best I can (with the help of my awesome partner Yoonki Song) and we'll get something together...and then I'll enjoy the hell outta my Xmas break!

On a brighter note (again), here are some of the pictures from my CA trip (I'll post the OR ones in a separate post just so it's not too confusing)! Enjoy!

The Android building at Google

Android Building again

Me with the HUGE Android figure :D

Grapefruit salad at Xahn (Vietnamese) -- soo good (and pretty)!

Another entree from Xahn -- even more delicious!

on the way to Google...such a lovely view!

The Google bike!

Google main campus (filled with random head sculptures)

The Google T-Rex with flamingos (a Google tradition)

We went to this cool pet store -- I saw this HUGE fish...

And this AWESOME eel that I wish I could have taken with me

And this extra-terrestrial lookin thing :)

The view from the mountains...absolutely breathtaking

and again...


We went on a hike through the mountains...this is me with a Cali redwood

Banana slug..apparently popular on the west coast? (because I never seen on over here!)

A cool orange mushroom growing off a tree stump (it was even brighter in person)

Here I am with an even BIGGER redwood ( I could almost fit in that hole!)

We were driving and Dr. Murhpy-Hill screamed "NEWT" and pulled over...this newt was trying 
to cross the road and we stopped to help it out :)

The beautiful California coast

My favorite picture from my trip <3

City Hall/Center - the first stop on the 49 mile scenic drive

A HUGE Macy's with awesome Xmas decorations (this pic is for my mom)

Chinatown :)

A view of the bay

The Coit Tower

Another awesome view

Not a great shot, but the biggest Ghirardelli factory/restaurant/store thing I've ever seen!

Palace of Fine beautiful


and again

Inside the dome..

again angels

The Golden Gate Bridge :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grace Hopper Celebration -- Day 3 (Last Day; Who wants to be ordinary??)

So today was the last day of Grace's bitter sweet. I miss home and school so I'm ready to get back, but I've made so many connections and potential friendships that I can't help but be a little sad at it all being over. My roommate just left for the airport and I will be leaving in the next hour and a half. I took the opportunity today to get to see Portland (aka I didn't go to sessions for Grace Hopper)...don't be disappointed, there really weren't many and none caught my attention, so I took it as the perfect opportunity to get to visit the City. I got to go to Chinatown and Portland Place, which is a LARGE mall filled with stores with NO SALES TAX (a shopper's heaven)! Although it was gloomy/rainy/cold for the most part, Portland is so beautiful and part of me really hates to say good-bye. I absolutely love coming to this conference..I always leave with such a positive sense of self and motivation to do great things with my life. Who wants to be ordinary? The women at this conference inspire me (and hopefully others) to strive for nothing but extraordinary. Not only as women, but as people. I can't help but feel a connection with every single person at this conference, whether I met them or not. Now that's some powerful stuff.

Something interesting happened to me today, and although it's slightly random in a relevant way I want to share it with you...I was about to walk to conference center when I ran into an older man that I had spoken to the day before. We started talking, mainly about sports and things related to Portland and the he looked at me, and he said "You know, I don't know what you have going on in your life right now, but I can look at you and tell you are going to do big things with your life"...Although I have NO idea what this man's name is or much of anything else about him, this meant so much to me. I have such huge aspirations for myself it feels good to feel like others can sense that from me. He asked my age, and I told him I was 22 about to be 23...and he said "Yup, by the time you're 33 you're going to be set. Keep doing exactly what you're doing and it will pay off." Sometimes things mean the most when they come from someone that means nothing to you.

Time for me to prepare for the long flight home...Good-bye Portland. It's been wonderful, and hopefully I will see you again sometime soon! Grace Hopper Celebration, I WILL be seeing you next year in Baltimore, MD! :D

Until next time... <3

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grace Hopper Celebration -- Day 2

Mood: Tired, but satisfied :)

So, for some reason I didn't think being here was going to get any better....and then it did. Just to give some background...I've been talking with people at Intel about getting an internship this summer, and there was one person in particular whom I had been conversing with (Leai Rose) but we were never able to meet face to face. Earlier this evening, while in my room getting ready to go to the poster session/reception I got a phone call...answered it...and it was Leai Rose inviting me to the by invitation only Intel gathering to get to meet her and other recruiters/employees from Intel! :D Not only did I get to finally meet Leai, but I got to meet other people who seem more than eager to help me get an internship with their company. The more I hear, the more I like and the more interested I become in learning more about their company and the different opportunities they have. And the thing is, if it weren't for my AWESOME research advisor, I would never know who she was and probably would have never made it into that by invitation only section. This, as you can probably tell, was the highlight of my day. Despite this fact, I will also share what else I got to do today:

I think besides the meeting with Intel, I really enjoyed the seminar they had on choosing software processes. Although I'm not quite in industry yet so I don't to deal with the seriousness of it, I am quite interested in software processes and finding ways to improve the process of developing software so this session was very informative and helpful. There was someone from Google, HP, Microsoft, Facebook, and CA Technologies, all representing different roles in software development (which made it even more interesting, seeing how different roles/projects make you look what's important/not important differently).  I also enjoyed the HCI research session I attended...yes, I know I'm a software gal. But the research I'm currently doing involves some HCI concepts, so I figured it would be beneficial for me to check it out and see what it was about. I think what really caught my attention was the title of the session; What if Computer Science was not "just" about technology? <-- This exact concept is what got me into software engineering. Although coding and the techie stuff are still important, others things matter too. Just like with HCI. I think that's another reason why I'm so drawn to the field of HCI. There were so many sessions to choose from it wasn't easy to pick just one for each time slot, but I think I made the right choices, especially with these two.

I also got to talk to some more employers about internships (and hand out more resumes which I had to print at the hotel). I'm really hoping that I will be able to get an internship for this upcoming summer, particularly doing something that interests and will benefit me in the long run with what I want to do (or even help me decide what I want to do). Hopefully my passion for the field came through in my conversation and excitement about the different opportunities and someone will contact me. In the mean time, can't stop putting myself out (unfortunately) my work is not done. Follow ups are a must, and that's my next step. Don't we all wish life was that easy??

I would talk about school...but that would be such a buzz kill from the pretty fantastic day I had today. Maybe tomorrow will be horrible (doubt it) so I'll just want to talk about school but I can't do that right now. I've been watching my lectures and doing the best I can to balance getting work done and actually reaping the benefits of this great opportunity (attending Grace Hopper). My plane back home leaves out tomorrow night so come Saturday morning I will be back in NC -- so maayyybeee don't expect a blog post until Sunday, because Saturday is going to have to be rest catch-up time so I can prepare myself for the monster of a week I have ahead of me next week. 4 days to catch up and figure out my life...and then off to Mountain View, CA for 4 days. Some would say it's ridiculous and that I should be staying in NC focusing on school...and for those of you saying this, you don't know me or my goals very well. Research is my life; it's what I want to do....and I know there are things I have to do to be able to do what I want to do..but sometimes what you want to do is what you have to do. And, in my opinion, this one of those times. What is meant to be will be, and until what will be is...I'm living life :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grace Hopper Celebration -- Day 1

Woah what a day..and it's not even over yet! Yes, today was the first day of Grace Hopper and so far so GREAT! Despite the fact that I am not a morning person and dread being up before 10:00 am, I don't seem to have any issues with rising with the sun. Just for a slight recap of my day so far:

First, we had the welcoming session which was short, sweet and to the point (just the way I like it). After, the sessions began. My session of interest today was the CRA-W Workshop session for Graduates entitled "Publishing your Research". It seemed super relevant to me right now, especially since I'm sure we're hoping to get a publication out of the research we're doing now. I was a little disappointed because I didn't get to ask the question I had (even after waiting around after the session), but I got a lot of valuable information from what was presented and the questions other students asked. I also got to visit the booths that were set up (for the Career Fair) and get a head start on talking to companies about internships and passing out my resume. I actually ran out of resumes and had to go back to the hotel to print more! :) Now, I've just got to work on following up with the companies I spoke with by going online and watching to see when applications become available so I can get rolling on that (and maybe even contact some people I'd like to work with just to get my name out there). After speaking with Google today (all of whom seemed super interested in the research I'm doing), I think while I'm in California next week I'm going to try and get some sort of contact where I can let them know I'm interested in internships, maybe get a good recommendation while I'm at it! One company I am really interested in working with (especially since it's local to Raleigh) is Intuit, whom I also spoke with. I'm really hoping I will be able to get something close to home, but I'm at the point where I'm open to other options (as long as they're paying!) :)

On the school side of things, I am just as stressed as ever...I'm so afraid I'm going to come back to a whirlwind of things I've missed. My anxiety is trying to take over, but I'm trying my hardest to suppress it (which is SO much harder than people think)...but hopefully I'm making things bigger than they are and everything will work out fine. But whether this is actually the case, only time will tell (and hopefully it will tell me quickly because I can't handle all this anxiety!). I don't want to say I regret the decision to do research my first year because it is what I really want to be doing, or the decision to attend Grace Hopper ...but whether it was a wise choice or not is something I'm going to find out really soon. My professors seem understanding, but it still really worries me being absent from class so much--especially when I've never missed a day of any of them! I am just so scared that I won't succeed or let people that had so much faith in me down, and I don't think I could bare that. So....I guess I just gotta do what I gotta do to make it work. It's gonna be hard, but nothing in life worth having or doing is easy; which sucks!

I guess that's enough banter for now...I have to get myself together for the Opening Reception and Career Fair at 7:00 pm. Still got some booths to visit and hopefully more awesome swag to get! :D
Until next time...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Portland, Oregon!! :D

Mood: Super Excited!! :D

Hello followers!

For anyone who doesn't know (and if you've read my blogs or had any sort of conversation with me the past couple months you know), I am currently Portland, Oregon!! :) For some this may not be very exciting, but this is my first time in Portland...heck, it's my first time on the West coast. So this experience becomes even more exciting. If I can be even more exact for everyone, I am currently sitting in the visitor's lounge at Google in Portland, Oregon. My main purpose for being in Oregon, as I have mentioned before, is the Grace Hopper Celebration (yay!). I am also here to try and pick some of these Googlers brains and find out how they feel about static analysis tools. So far, I've only been able to get one person (our contact, Phil) to go through the interview with me, although we didn't get to fully do everything because he had some other things to work on). Even though the interview had to be cut a little short, I was able to get some REALLY valuable information from him, especially being that he's not only had experience using various tools, but he's also helped develop a static analysis tool. I got to meet some other Googlers, and hopefully they'll get some time to be interviewed -- at this point it seems like I'll have to take formal or informal interviews in order to get feedback. *** Just a side note, just from being in Portland 1 day I can tell you if you love food, come here. At the airport I had a "Gotta Have It" burger...and let me tell you.. I'm glad I got it! -- 1/3 lb beef, pulled bbq pork, bacon, an egg, and all the fixings. Then today, Phil and one of his co-workers (I believe his name is David?) took me to a food stand down the street from their office where I had my first Asian burrito, and let me tell will not be my last. Absolutely. Epic.***

On to other news...I'm a little worried about missing this week of school, especially since there is so much going on in the realm of team projects. I feel like I'm letting my teams down by being here (although they are not making it seem as if I am, I can't help but feel I am). I'm trying to do my best to keep in touch and work on assignments so I don't fall behind, but at the same time I'm here for a certain now I gotta figure out how to balance keeping up with the work/classes I'm missing and still being focused on the task(s) at hand. I will say this, it's so much easier said than done. I was so worried about my interviews today, I forgot I had an assignment due for software engineering...I got it submitted, but once I submitted it I realized one of the files were the wrong copy, so it's actually slightly incomplete.  And then, when I went to do the questionnaire, I realized that in Portland we are three hours BEHIND not I barely got to finish the questionnaire because my time ran out. Lesson learned: keep track of time differences!!

Also, my networks class has about 3 upcoming assignments due, so that's another focus I have to keep in mind: a HWK assignment due Thursday, part of a team project due Friday..and then a Lab due the following Tuesday (which isn't too bad except for the fact that if I wait until I get back to work on it I run the risk of having the same issues everyone else always has when trying to work on the lab a day or two before the lab is due, and that is not being able to get a reservation to use the software because so many people are trying to use it (which is why I usually try to get my labs done WAY in advance). The only problem is, the labs are time consuming, and I don't' know whether between my other assignments and watching lectures I will have the time to finish before I leave to go home Friday. But hopefully I'll be able to figure something out -- maybe extension?? :D very doubtful. Oh yes, and we can't forget that I have things to get done for my research as well. This is going to be a busy week indeed..

Anyways, that's enough ranting for now...time to get some more work done (and hopefully some more interviews will come my way). I'll try to post something on here everyday letting you guys know what's going on here in Portland.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's about to get serious!!

Mood: BUSY!  ':D <-- me smiling, but sweating from running around and doing so much HWK!

Hello again!

So, this week is about to be crazy...I have 2 projects and 1 paper that I'm in the process of working on..and then there's the intermediate HWK assignments give...oh and next week I'll be in PORTLAND, OREGON for the entire week! :D Yes, although I am stressing the school thing right now, I am too excited about going to Portland for Grace's going to be wonderful. I even got to submit my resume this year so I may just come back with an internship for the summer! :) And what makes this trip even better (and possibly more nerve-wracking) is the fact that I will also be conducting interviews for my research at the Google in Portland...alone (I'm usually with my partner Yoonki). I have confidence simply because of the fact that I have been the one actually asking the questions for the most part in the interviews, but I've never done one completely solo. And on top of that I'll be in a new place, by myself, meeting with contacts and arranging myself.. It should be interesting.

And then, the week AFTER Grace Hopper I will be going to Mountain View, CALIFORNIA to do more interviews at Google. This I am even more excited about because I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Florida and on top of that we're going to the Google of ALL Googles...and it's going to be epic. The only thing I really need to figure out is what our schedule's going to be looking like, which is a task for Yoonki and myself, because everything else has pretty much been taken care of. I should be getting more details on both of my upcoming trips tomorrow at our weekly meeting so I'll give more details later...and TUNE IN next week for (hopefully) day-by-day updates on what I'm doing and how things are going during my travels :)

On a not so wonderful note, I have been working on a project for Networks for the past 2 weeks and it is kicking my butt...I haven't programmed in a minute so I was a little rusty at first..but my logic seems to be correct but some of my numbers that are being produced are oh so wrong. Things have been so hectic, and with the weather changing my immune system has been freaking out (seems like everyone's getting sick and I REALLY don't want to!). I'm just glad this project is 3 parts and the last two parts are team assignments...hopefully I'll be able to learn this stuff a little better hearing it from students that are in the same boat as me; because although I do understand most of the material, the final exam counts for 40% of my final grade and I need to do better on that than anything. I got my eye on the prize and I refuse to let anything stand in the way (even if it's a class I have nearly 0 interest in, such as...Networks). So whatever I gotta do, I'm gonna do it...even if it means torture (like...Networks?). :)

You may notice that I use smiley faces a lot in my posts (and emails if we've ever spoken via email) ... I think I'm going to adopt this as somewhat of a trademark or identifier for myself. Smiling is such a good medicine, and I feel like the world need more "medicine" of this nature. So maybe, if I smile more, everyone else will smile more...maybe.

Well, now that I've stalled finishing up my Networks assignment, I'll go ahead and get back to what I was working on. I promise I'll try to update this thing more often...

Until next time... :)