Archive for July, 2004

A vast but relatively quick update

It’s been a damn long time since I last posted, and a hell of a lot has happened. In fact, it was arguably the most eventful spring of my life. Let’s review:

  1. Kate and I visited Berkeley.
  2. Kate and I got engaged!
  3. I was very disappointed not to get an NSF fellowship.
  4. The same afternoon, I discovered that I received an NDSEG fellowship, which grants me $27,500/year plus tuition for 3 years.
  5. I went to visit Carnegie Mellon University, which had waitlisted me, to see if I could talk them around, and to see if I wanted to go there if I did manage to talk them around. While there, I also got to participate in my family’s Passover seder.
  6. Carnegie Mellon University did not accept me, so I decided to attend Berkeley.
  7. I had a classical guitar concert that went awfully well. I was unable to get a good audio recording, but I have a DVD of the event. Attendance was good: most of my family, most of Kate’s family, and plenty of students for a total of about 60.
  8. Kate’s parents got her a new used Honda as a graduation present. (I later bought half of it.)
  9. Kate and I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.
  10. The day after our graduation was my brother Sam’s graduation from high school, so we drove back to see it. It went about as well as a high school graduation can.
  11. Kate and I moved to Berkeley. Kate’s parents helped to defray the moving costs and also helped with the heavy cleaning and carrying, but still it set us back a great deal.
  12. Kate got a job! That’s the most recent big event. She’s working for Ask Jeeves as a Content Evaluator. The pay is decent, but it’s only a temporary position (at least 3 months, but not forever). Still, it looks like a good job she’ll be good at in a good environment, and there’s potential for long-term work if she proves herself.

Now, I’m headed to Johnson City for James’s and Jeremy’s weddings. Charlie got married in May, at such a time that I couldn’t attend. So many people from high school are getting married! Well, so am I, but I’m doing it a bit later than they are. Admittedly, Charlie and Jeremy are marrying their high school girlfriends, so they’ve evidently given it plenty of time and thought. Still, James gave it less time than me. It’s just crazy. A lot of Kate’s friends from high school are getting married, too, while very few WashU students are doing that now. It might well be a small-town-local-university thing. I’m not sure. In any case, I leave first thing in the morning. Hooray for the BART.

Oh. UC Berkeley is giving me $2000 for getting the fellowship, and they give a laptop to all incoming graduate students. It’s an IBM Thinkpad, which means it’s well-made, though somebody said something negative about their battery lifetimes. Still, I’m excited. It won’t be used or anything; brand new, baby! Unfortunately, that means I won’t buy a new desktop. Fortunately, that saves me several hundred dollars. And I need it, after the move expenses and buying half the Honda, and with our wedding coming up. At least with both of us in salaries, we should have enough to afford the wedding. Just not too many savings this year, I guess.

I’ve gone in to meet my faculty advisor and meet some fellow grad students. They all seem to assume I’ll be working on Natural Language Processing, but I’m not so sure. It seems like an interesting project, but I’m not so sure that’s what I’m really interested in. I’ll try to take some general classes this semester so that I don’t bind myself into one thing too early. There are just so many options that I’ve investigated so little.

Lately, I’ve been working remotely on finishing up my WashU research. I’ve gotten some very promising results for my graphics research with Cindy Grimm. By using a point and 3 vectors to specify a camera, we’ve been able to simplify solving for a camera to a surprising degree. We can solve iteratively, rather than with a standard nonlinear solver. Also, the method can be used in a more restricted way on other camera parameterizations. We have more to do, such as doing fancy camera interpolation stuff. I am heartened by the fact that Cindy thinks we’ve done enough to resubmit the paper to SIGGRAPH. SIGGRAPH is quite well respected, and I would be very glad to have a paper published there.

Also, I’ve been finishing up my physics research. Unfortunately, it isn’t closing up quite as smoothly. We need good errorbars on our results, which means we have to recalculate some results and then attempt to calculate error bars. I’ve been working on getting decent results we can do this with, but it’s not as smooth as I’d have expected. I am hampered by the slowness of the solver/optimizer I wrote. I don’t think I could have done it much better, but each run taking several days makes the whole process very unweildy. (Note: I just found some bad code that may have been holding me up the whole time. Apparently I was setting the baseline value to 0, which is a bad thing to do. I mean, I knew that it was a bad thing to do, just not that I was doing it. Maybe this will fix it all.)

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