Category Archives: review

Week past, week next

Last week was a week of thresholds. I’ve started doing my usability
tests, and I’m not going to stop until I finish them. Then I’m going
to write them up into my thesis, and then I’ll be done.


Last week, I went through my first ever behavioral interview. An IBM
HR person asked me those job-interview-type questions that start with
“Tell me a story about a time you…”.

Last week, I scheduled my first job interview.

Things are moving faster and faster. I’m walking through so many doors.

Goals for this week:

  • Revise my paper according to Mark Chignell’s comments.
  • Finish all my usability tests.
  • Write that Emacs mail productivity article.
  • Attend and learn from a few seminars offered by the University of Toronto.

I also *really* need to explore my goals this week, because my job
interview is coming up and I had better have a good idea of what I’m
getting myself into. Can I stand a job with high travel and lots of
stress if it means learning a lot?

Decisions, decisions…

Random Emacs symbol: browse-url-mozilla-arguments – Variable: *A list of strings to pass to Mozilla as arguments.

Week in review: May 6 to May 13

My major achievement this week was collecting enough data for my
thesis. The usability tests weren’t as scary as I thought they would
be, and starting with friendlies certainly helped my confidence. It
may not have been the best of experiment designs and I might get raked
over the coals by my thesis committee later, but at least it’s done.
I’m thrilled about that!

I’m also thrilled about the interest interview I had this week with a
team from IBM. We’ll see how that works out. =D

And I still managed to find time to write an article on Emacs mail
productivity tips for LinuxWorld! Not bad. It took me a total of two
and a half hours to write the article. I don’t remember how much time
it took me to develop the configuration I described, though. It was
tons of fun!

I attended a money management seminar and found that I was on the
right track. I’ve read so many personal finance books that the usual
advice is, well, usual, but it was great hearing all sorts of useful
tips from the other students.

On the personal note, I met W’s extended family at a birthday party. I
had a wonderful conversation with his brother’s father-in-law about
technology and then about finance. I’m still a little shy around them.
They’re probably also wondering how to relate to me. Hmm.

I also reconnected with my mom and dad, and might be flying to the
Philippines soon. That may mean cancelling my Mesh session and missing
Toronto Technology Week, but family comes first.

Life is good. This week was very productive, but I also had time to
connect with people and pursue my interests. Being able to talk to
people about stuff—my interest interview, thoughts about life—made
everything much more fun, and even a difficult conversation resulted
in some useful insights.

Next week, I plan to:

  • Analyze my data
  • Do more interest and job interviews, figure out my options
  • Schedule my trip to the Philippines
  • … and for my creative side, I want to shoot and upload some portraits.

Random Emacs symbol: sacha/planner-markup-tasks – Function: Mark up tasks as a table.

Week in review

  • Back in Canada to work on my thesis.
  • Outlined my thesis and started panicking about timing of work. Have
    decided to adjust my expected finish date in order to preserve sanity.
  • Finished notes from screen captures.
  • Found my keys, yay!
  • Got a new SIM and a new charger. My phone’s okay now.
  • Finally unpacked and settled in.
  • Found a little time to breathe. Wrote my family a long message. Replied to my sister, too.
  • Still sorting out my schedule for the next few weeks. Will squeeze speaking engagements into weekends.

Next week:

  • Write results section of thesis.
  • Get the paperwork started for extension of study permit.
  • Ping people in job search process once I get a more reasonable estimate of finishing time.

Random Emacs symbol: pgg-display-error-buffer – Function: Pop up an
error buffer indicating the reason for an en/decryption failure.

Weekly review

I really enjoyed the Ottawa Linux Symposium because of the hallway conversations and the afterparties that I attended. The conference itself wasn’t a good fit with my interests because I haven’t done low-level programming in a while, but the people were awesome. Again, special thanks go to Don Marti and Simon Law for introducing me to such interesting people!

The OLS may have made me realize that I’m probably not going to be a
kernel hacker in this lifetime, but it did inspire me to check out a
fresh tree of Emacs and re-subscribe to the mailing lists. I also
checked out a Ruby on Rails open-source contact relationship
management system, and I’m looking forward to figuring out its design
and either contributing to that project or using it as a launchpad for
my own. Hooray open source!

I’ve decided to keep hacking on Emacs for a number of reasons. First,
it’s fun. Second, it’s what everyone else mentions when they introduce
me, so it still has some geek cachet. Third, it exposes me to the
crazy things power users do in the userspace, and maybe I can take
those ideas and spread them to a wider audience by writing about the
hacks that people have made for their Emacs. So yes, I am going to
keep being an Emacs hacker. I might even work on becoming more of one.

I did the touristy thing too, of course. I took pictures of the guards
in their bright red uniforms and funky hats, and of the architecture
and statues around the National Gallery. The pics are all on my
Facebook account under pictures. (One of these days, I’ll get Flickr
export working again.)

Somehow I managed to still find time to work on my thesis. I talked to
my supervisor (finally!) on Friday morning, and he gave me advice on
how to handle some of the sections that had been challenging me. My
first draft is up on the wiki and I’ve put it together in a linear
document. The next thing I have to do is to add to my review of
related literature, and I can do that while my supervisor reviews the
first draft. The end is in sight!

I also spent some of the week planning an upcoming trip to Somers, New
York, for an IBM conference on collaboration. A long, hard look at my
schedule and my budget showed me that it probably wasn’t the best
thing to do at the time. Figuring out how to get around Somers without
a car and paying for everything out of my own budget—more stress than
I need right now! I was frustrated, but I channelled that frustration
into looking for brilliant ways to make the most of the situation. I
came up with terrific ideas! =) I can’t wait to make those ideas
reality. I love my life! Being able to tap my frustration and use it
to drive creativity totally rocks.

I picked up a Table Topics game, too, and I’m looking forward to using
that at tea. =)

Next week, I plan to read and review at least 20 additional papers and
to write 15 more pages for my review of related research. For my
personal geeking out, I want to deploy and modify that CRM on Rails
system I just downloaded. As for other people – I want to catch up
with some people who pinged me while I was away in Ottawa. A good
friend’s birthday is coming up soon, and I’m looking forward to
celebrating it with him and with our other friends!

Random Emacs symbol: gnus-methods-using – Function: Find all methods that have FEATURE.

Week in review

This week’s main accomplishment was the compilation of my first draft,
which is currently being reviewed by my supervisor. While waiting for
his comments, I’m reading tons of research papers so that I can expand
my review of related literature. My research paper got accepted to
CASCON 2007. I’ll need to edit it down to four pages and include my
updates resultes. We’ll probably schedule my defense for early
September at the latest. I think we’ll manage it. It feels doable now.

I’ve mailed my application for an extension of my study permit. I’m
not too worried about getting denied. I think I have a good case for
it, and it would be silly to cancel my studies *now.* <laugh>

I’ve moved to Dreamhost for both web and mail hosting, so my
outgoing e-mail should properly reflect my e-mail address:
[email protected] .

Personally, it’s been an eventful week. My mom called me, concerned
about a doctor’s visit that turned up on my TODO list. It was actually
just a chat with the doctor, as I wanted to ask about some things I’d
read about. Understandably concerned because of the lack of detail on
my blog, my mom called me up and we talked for around two hours about
various issues.

One of the main issues is that I don’t keep in touch with my family
enough. I almost never initiate conversations. My family is half a
world away and I don’t keep instant messaging on (interruptions are
evil!), so we don’t have that many opportunities to “run into” each
other or do things together. I need to figure out what kind of
relationship I have and want to have with my family. Close and happy
beats distant and stressed, for sure.

Fortunately, my mom and I have practiced enough emotion-fu to be able
to make progress even during emotionally-charged conversations. One
thing that will make her happier is if I start the conversation more
often. Let’s try maybe two weeks of putting a secret family-related
task on my TODO list…

Next week: Update review of related literature.

Random Emacs symbol: gnus-agent-read-servers – Function: Read the alist of covered servers.

Weekly review: 2007.07.16 – 2007.07.21

Last week

  • After six revisions this week, my thesis is almost in a defensible form. Yay!
  • Will defend my thesis on August 8. The end is in sight!
  • Took information processing aptitude exam. Need more practice in word problems, I think.
  • Declined a formal job offer after much deliberation. Intuition tells me to go into technical sales.
  • Debriefed after declining job offer.
  • Awesome cooking and eating. Have decided to “live rich”, and good food is part of that.
  • Read five books. More on this later.
  • Sewed a pair of Thai pants for Alice as a going-away present. Used too much material. It was fun, though. Thinking of next project…
  • Attended VizThink4. That was fun.
  • Attended Alice’s going away party. Will miss her!
  • Caught up with Jed.
  • Talked to research supervisor on the phone. On track.
  • Installed shopping cart on my website. Still looking into PDF delivery systems.
  • Ordered books from Amazon.
  • Changed my Fido plan from $10 for 1000 text messages to $3 for 50.
  • Mailed care package to sister’s boyfriend’s dad.
  • Looked for virtual assistants in the Philippines following advice in book “4-Hour Work Week”.
  • Could not find a single shirt I liked in Eaton Centre during the sale. May invest in tailoring.
  • Ordered another bucketload of books from library. Have hit limit and should return some books soon.
  • Made Greasemonkey script for my use of Toronto Public Library.
  • Skin clearing up, probably thanks to Clinique acne kit.

Next week

  • Finish and print thesis draft
  • Book room for defense
  • Meet manager re declined offer
  • Ping tech sales
  • Read more books
  • Start booksnake blog
  • Do core exercises 3x week
  • Revise CASCON paper
  • Build cooking vocabulary
  • Finish 6 more sessions of Cantonese study
  • Swim
  • Outsource a task
  • Plan birthday event – LifeCamp
  • Fri: Attend drop-in circus class

Random Emacs symbol: muse-project-alist-set – Function: Turn customized version of `muse-project-alist’ into something