Monday, August 21, 2006

Paid to play...

Love your work and you will never have to work again.
Fortunately I always get to work with what I love...computers/technology. For the past one year, I have been working under Dr Howard, Dept of Psychology. It is really fun working on computational neuroscience. Specifically, I am into cognitive modelling. The work is great and I enjoy the *umph* element that i get from people when I mention Cognitive Science. Currently I am putting together a simulation tester (model fitter for the leets) based on Genetic Algorithm. The only sensible library available for free is GAUL, which is unfortunately in C. Well... its truly a nightmare to develop a high level application on a low level language. Past one year I was almost exclusively using C++, the STL made life a lot easier. After using C++, using C is like using assembly language with just 4 registers to play with. Anyway it took me a damn day to get the C based XML parser (libXML2) to work satisfactorily with the rest of the scratch pad code. Hopefully I will get the thing running pretty soon.

On a related note, Dr Du offered me RA'ship(which I obviously accepted). This fall I am taking Internet Security course under him. I will be paid to discover, exploit and patch vulnerabilities (SQL injection attacks, buffer overflow attacks, integer overflow attacks etc etc)... the stuff i like to do in my free time!! (but grad school never gives much of that) I will be paid for it. Since I cannot accept two employments, I will be doing an independent study under Dr Howard... so I will still be working with him, but as a student not an employee.

So this fall (and hopefully spring), I will be a Research Assistant... working on computer security and doing a study on cognitive science simulacra... and be paid for it.
Can life get any better??


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Small step man, a giant leap for Mankind

I stumbled upon this video through digg. Its a legendary 1984 keynote speech by Steve Jobs when he unveiled the Macintosh for the first time. Without doubt, this is the best keynote I have ever seen... it is so different and was so much ahead of its time. The audience went ecstatic when Steve Jobs let the computer "do the talking"(see the video to believe it). I am certainly not an apple user, but it did make my eyes watery.

Yes... Xerox made it, but it was Apple who gave it to the people, and since Microsoft just made a ripoff and was responsible to mass marketing the product, I think the credit goes to Apple for starting the chain reaction. Here's the video... If you are a technologist, get a tissue.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Memlab.. in Vancouver

I attended the annual conference of the Society of Mathematical psychology. It was held in Vancouver, Canada. A chance to visit the beautiful city for free was motivating enough to push me to attend it. We chose to fly to Seattle and drive to Vancouver... the drive was supposedly scenic (I would never know as I slept all the way :P)

The meeting was three day long. The talks were short but they really challenged the limits of my mathematical knowledge (which when compared to that of a Cognitive psychologist, is quite low). I totally blacked out in a few talks and some talks were so intriguing that my minds lingered onto them for the rest of the day rendering it useless for other talks. Queuing Network modeling of Behavioral an Psychophysiological measurements in Multitasking by C.Wu and The Neural Basis for categorization Expertise by Ashby were two such talks which piqued my curiosity. There was a symposium on problem solving on Tuesday which was really fun.. mostly because the talks were given by Computer Scientists rather than Cognitive Psychologists, so they seemed more clearer and cleaner.

Leaving academics aside, Vancouver is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It has mountains, oceans and GREAT food... what more can one ask for. The mountains and the ocean are pretty much free :P and since all expenses were paid by the department.. food was also free. I had Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Greek and Indonesian specialty cuisines during my stay... man !! i was in heaven. But I must say, all cuisines (except Indian) suck when it comes to vegetarian food. I didn't have many choices.
The weather was really pleasant. Being back at Syracuse, with a temperature of 100F sucks... I wanna go back :(
I along with Vijay, Vinayak and Jennifer, took a walk along the coast to an aquarium. It was only a couple of blocks away from the hotel where we were put up. We were relishing the beauty at our own pace. The aquarium was not all that great ( I find seattle's better).. although I did get to see beluga whales, sharks and dolphins.

The return journey was an adventure in its own sense. Vijay was the Navigator Extra Ordinaire and we were supposed to visit Mt Glacier. We got lost and ended up in a rustic city of Sedro Wooly. It seemed to be scrapped straight out of a Clint Eastwood movie.. For a moment I thought that I got zapped in a time warp zone.

Anyway, we ditched the idea and got back to Seattle to catch the flight back.

PS: Click any photograph to check out my entire album of the trip.