HDD failure

While I had a post all ready to go on the topic of my excursion across the pond to our Spanish brethren the summer before last, I discovered MUCH to my dismay that the 20GB IDE hard drive that previously contained all my study abroad photos has succumbed to the Click of Death.

Crack of Death might be more accurate from an onomatopoeia perspective.

I do still plan on recounting that experience.  There is quite a bit I could say on the topic.  But pictures would be incalculably value-add, so I think I will yet again delay that discourse until I have more significant hard evidence of my endeavors.  Instead, I want to mention a few things about my academic life.

It’s kicking my ass.  Pardon the French.

The circumstances surrounding my uncharacteristically slow start are a bit complicated and delve into a more personal realm of my life than is probably wise to splatter over the globally public domain that is teh intartubules, but I think that about sums it up right there.  Not that difficulty wasn’t expected; I’m in my first semester at graduate school in a city I’d only visited once before in my life, to say nothing of the fact that my current area of study, while not a complete departure from my previous, is a significant shift away from the familiar.  And, of course, the unexpected is always to be expected.

Bottom line, I’ve had to put on my architect hat (not my robe and wizard hat, that’s later) and rebuild my day-to-day infrastructure.  There’s a good foundation there for balancing work and play that had been honed in five grueling years at Georgia Tech, but somewhere in the last year I slowly began deviating.  And as we all know, minor deviations over a long period of time eventually equate to big deviations.

(speaking of limits, it hit me recently that life is one big normally distributed random variable: after all, its subset of events is infinite, and therefore by applying the central limit theorem, we can deduce with no small amount of uncertainty that over billions of years and incalculably large numbers of all the chemical reactions within the sphere of existence we call the known universe, everything averages out.  to what…I haven’t the foggiest!)

As it stands, I’m getting the hang of my Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry courses.  I fully expect to at least make Bs across those three.  It’s the last course, Statistics, that is making me nervous.  My professor is FANTASTIC, but the course material is, without a doubt, the most challenging I have ever encountered.  It’s theoretical to the point of absurdity; I’m having the hardest time applying the concepts we learn, in spite of grasping the overall concept.

Next semester, though, should be even more exciting.  I’m registered for two of the three core computational biology courses, and am currently in Machine Learning.  While the latter sounds extremely exciting, what I’m really hoping for is getting off the waitlist of Algorithm Design & Analysis (I’m number 8!) and taking that instead.  We’ll see how the waitlists pan out.

Meanwhile, I have my last regular Biochemistry and Chemistry exams tomorrow morning, and the following Tuesday is my technical interview with the extremeblue folks of IBM.  Please wish me luck for the exams and the interview.  The interview is going to last about two hours, make use of the phone and instant messenger, and will involve some sort of programming case study as well as in-depth explorations of C++ and Java concepts.  Any suggestions anyone might have for preparing would be MUCH appreciated.

By the way, anyone think it’s strange that in the first week of this month, my alarm clock was playing the theme to Charlie Brown’s Christmas?  Maybe it’s just me.


About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
This entry was posted in Academics, Graduate School, Holidays, random, Real Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to HDD failure

  1. eksith says:

    Good luck!

    I’m sure you’ll do fine in your exams.

    As for the interview…

    If you’re allowed Internet, then Google is still your friend. While that might sound lame, there are times where your memory centers may not be as quick as your fingers. If it gives you a hint or reminder, then it’s well worth to keep the browser window open. But don’t show that you’re using it and don’t depend on that alone.

    Be confident above all else. And be sure to have enough rest the night before.

    Just remember, you’re not facing a firing squad. No matter how hard or grueling you think it is, countless others have already made it through. So it’s obviously not impossible.

    As for the technicals, they will be more interested in your ability to understand the problem than an immediate solution (of course they would also want the solution). Often times, problems are exacerbated by misunderstanding the situation and they will look for awareness more than anything.

    On a side note…
    Because you’ve taken numerous classes on these topics, you already know more about CS than I do.

    But keep that a secret OK? 😉

  2. magsol says:

    Thanks! As it turns out, I did very well on my exams. Good things apparently happen when you prepare for them more than a day in advance 😛

    I’m assuming I am allowed internet access, since apparently part of the interview will take place over AIM for what I can only guess implies a little bit of actual coding. The trick, as you indeed mentioned, is to use it as a quick reference and not a crutch.

    As simple a concept as it might be, your point about not viewing the interview as facing the firing squad is a good one; I had to admit to myself while reading that that is indeed the perspective I had built up. This is an incredibly competitive position (they said they get something on the order of 10,000 applicants for 24 spots each year), but obviously folks have nailed down the positions.

    Haha, if that secret is indeed true, it’s kept even from me quite often 😉 Thank you for all your input! (and also your invaluable assistance with the CSS design)

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