Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Don't call it a comeback!

Hello everyone in web world!!

It's been a while huh? Yeah, been super busy with school, research and just LIFE. But here I am to give some updates on my progress with my research, coursework. Hopefully I will at some point get into the habit of regularly updating this thing instead of every once in a while giving a "dump post" of everything I've been doing...

So to start, I'm taking 2 courses this semester (and research credits of course); CSC 791 (Software Engineering as a Human Activity) and CSC 512 (Compiler Construction). For anyone who has visited my website or knows my research interests they know that I LOOOVEEE the 791 class. This class reminds me a lot of a seminar on computing course I took in undergrad; each student has an individual and group presentation to give throughout the semester on an assigned reading for the class. Not only are the papers great but I can't recall one presentation that has been given that I can't say was at least borderline awesome. We also are required to conduct a human study of some sort and present tangible deliverables (mine will be a paper that I hope I will be able to submit to a conference or workshop). And it ties in nicely with my research I'm already doing, which is even better! Now, compilers on the other hand...not so much of a cake walk. This is the class that I NEED being that I will eventually be implementing a static analysis tool. The problem I'm having is the fact that this course is very work heavy (there's a lot of work involved in getting the material and completing the homework) and definitely not trivial. I enjoy the material theoretically but implementation wise there were quite a few barriers I had to overcome (and am still working to fully overcome). For example, the homework assignments have implementation parts (which were supposed to be collaborative ... tell you something?) which are written in C which I have little to no experience using. To make matters worse, I also have been teaching myself to use the technologies we're required to use (as the professor focused more on theoretical things in class than implementation and tools). So far I"m not feeling too optimistic about this class; we've had two homeworks so far, neither of which I've been able to finish. We had our midterm in the class the other day and I feel much more confident about it than I did with the homeworks but now we have a new homework assignment out and due and of course it includes more implementation stuff :/ . I'm trying to hang in there because I'm not a quitter and I know this is an extremely beneficial class to take ... it just stinks right now because all it's doing is making me question my abilities/qualifications as a programmer/software engineer...

On a more positive note, research has been going quite well (and as usual I love doing it so it makes things that much better :D ). I recently passed my qualifying exam (yay!) so that's very exciting! The next step in the process for me now is to complete my coursework and get started on my thesis for my oral prelim and then eventually my final defense. The paper that I used for my exam is currently being gutted and re-vamped to submit to SPLASH at the end of March so that's slowly but surely trucking along. In the nearer future, however, I have two camera-ready paper deadlines (yes, camera-ready meaning they've already been accepted somewhere). I will actually be presenting two papers at ICSE this year (if anyone recalls I presented a paper at ICSE last year for the Student Research Competition[SRC]); one for the SRC this year and the other is my first full technical paper! :D The final submissions of these are due over the next couple weeks so that's what I have been and will be focusing on but fortunately neither needed major modifications so the process has not been too stressful. The stress will come into play when I am working on the actual presentations (poster and powerpoints) and have to prepare to present them! I've been told my presentation style is improving but that still doesn't help much with the nerves that sometimes interfere with my conveying my data the way I intended to. I'm most nervous because ICSE is a pretty big deal and to be giving a full talk on a paper feels like a big thing -- I really don't want to mess up or disappoint the people that have been so supportive and helpful through all of this. That's the only thing that sucks about success - once you get it you want to strive to find that next big thing...and for me, the next big thing is knocking these presentations out the park. Particularly the SRC paper as last year I made it to the finals and did not place. I am determined to show what I can do and how much I love what I do. In the meantime, however, all I can do is practice and pray.

Well, those are the major updates that come to mind right now but of course I will be doing my best to keep this up to date as I think of things to write about. There are probably more tidbits I"m forgetting but I'll just have to create a new blog post for that (so maybe they can shrink a little).

Until next time... ;)