Category Archives: weekly

Weekly report

This week was more intense than most in terms of personal drama, but I
think that’s subsiding now as I’ve gotten the hang of things. I felt
as if I slowed down a lot in terms of research, but looking back, I
see this week as paying a short-term cost in order to gain long-term
improvement. This week I also came to appreciate my friends even more,
and I look forward to being even more a part of their lives as well as
reawakening and expanding my other friendships.

I usually advocate focusing on the positive, but this time I made
myself focus on the negative. It was an interesting exercise, and I
ended up filling a small slip of paper front and back with reasons why
it’s better this way. That makes it so much easier to focus on other
things, too… =)

Next week is going to be intense. I have an important meeting on
Monday. On Wednesday, I’m skipping a symposium on sustainability in
order to do a day of service, volunteering to help the hungry and
homeless. I cancelled my ski trip for Friday in order to spend more
time on paperwork and thesis, and to catch up with other friends. I
also hope to propose the ethics protocols for my experiment and hook
up the back end to the front end of my prototype.

Good week behind me, good week ahead… Life is good.

Random Emacs symbol: mail-extr-disable-voodoo – Variable: *If it is a
regexp, names matching it will never be modified.

Week in review

This week, I realized that I’m working on something pretty cool. I had
previously focused on how my prototype fell short of what I really
wanted to build, and I forgot to keep checking against what was
currently being used. I’m excited about the opportunity to try it out
and maybe get a few of the ideas from it into IBM’s culture (and then
the world)!

This week, I set up a wiki for my research lab. I’m going to be the
guinea pig. I’ll write my thesis online. Password-protected, though!

This week, I wrote about falling in love with reading and thinking
about how to help J learn how to appreciate it too. (Quick, while
she’s young and impressionable! Repeat after me:
Science/art/math/crafts/everything is wonderful. Reading rocks. Life
is good.) I got so many insights and tips from my mom and other
readers, which I should write up and post here soon. =) Thanks!

This week, I filed my taxes. I hope this is the last year I’m getting
a refund! I do actually believe in taxes, and I probably will still
keep believing in them even after they take away a third of my pay or
something like that.

This week, I met with a usability expert at IBM who might be able to
help me conduct my summative study. Yay!

This week, I talked to someone from IBM HR who helped me take a look
at my job and immigration paperwork requirements.

This week, W decided to try out GTD. This has also incidentally
resulted in a rise in my productivity. <grin>

This week’s tea party was also lots of fun. Good conversation,
particularly with Mike Tsang’s questions. =)

Next week, I’ll take the plunge and do a pilot usability test. I’m
running a little behind schedule, I think, but we’ll make it all work.
I may have to be anti-social and focus almost entirely on writing if
I’m going to write a hundred-page thesis in a month and a half, but I
really want to finish the darn thing already.

Life is great! I’m glad to get back to my weekly reviews…

Random Emacs symbol: lm – Command: Start or resume an Lm game.

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.