Archive for the ‘ Me ’ Category

New domain name!

I finally have my own domain name, iterativecode.com! My blog at wordpress.com will no longer be updated.

At first I tried to register iterativeco.de, but they didn’t let me because I don’t live in Germany (.de). Oh well.

After some research, I decided to go with Namecheap as my registrar. They’ve reasonable prices and the UI isn’t horrible. I just tried their online live support—immediate response, and problem solved in 15 minutes! I’m happy so far.

I spent hours last night trying to get the domain name to point to my home server (i.e., my laptop). Only after the live support session did I find out that I had to enter my IP for both the www and @ fields in the host records. Additionally, changing host records is not an immediate process. The domain name will actually go down for a few minutes with each change.

Until I get a dedicated server set up at home (sometime this summer), I will host my website on the same server used by the robotics team.

Things to do

In short, I’m not dead.

My job as co-captain of the team ended up being much more demanding than I presumed. I spent in excess of 600 hours during build season and several days away at two regionals.

Add to that the stress caused by college letters, changes in majors, AP testing, and a relentlessly growing list of unfinished tasks; I didn’t have the ease of mind to write anything.

My tasks in progress/on hold:

  • Kiwi drive robot
  • Tricopter
  • Mozart solo (concert in 10 days!)
  • Senior thesis project
  • Fix robot for OSU Engineering Expo and Roboshock next weekend
  • Two or three big emails I want to write to the robotics team
  • Robotics summer projects brainstorming/organization
  • Domain name registration/server setup
  • Job search

I took two AP tests last week and will take three more in the next two days. Tennis districts tournament runs from this Wednesday through Friday and orchestra state contest is this Friday. AP French make-up test this Thursday. AP Government make-up test this Friday. Concert next Tuesday.

Maybe I am dead.

Mr. X

ATRIAS poster

Note the resemblance of ATRIAS to the ostrich. The long middle rectangle shows how the software works together. Models were created in SolidWorks by Jesse Grimes and converted and rendered in Blender 3D by me.


Last Saturday, I participated in a 3-hour poster session about my summer internship experience with the running robot ATRIAS at the OSU Dynamic Robotics Lab at the OMSI Science Fair.

There was a man (Mr. X) who visited my poster. He looked about 40 years old and wore a cap and a black shirt that indicated his employment at some programming firm, though I only remember that it had a weird name and regret that I never wrote it down or asked him about it. Anyway, he asked me about the robot controller code and the math behind it. In a foolish attempt to maintain my aura of invincibility, I said something vague about how ATRIAS was designed to be a simple mathematical model, though I really didn’t know what I was talking about (Disclaimer: it was my co-intern, not I, who programmed the controller code, so it was not my area of expertise). Mr. X frowned, shook his head, and replied that the system actually must be really complex, pointing to the diagram of angles and vectors one of my labmates had given me to represent the robot simulator code. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. In my quandary, I even forgot to ask his name.

Mr. X was probably right; the robot was complex, and I didn’t know what I was talking about. But what was he thinking? It’s not that I am put off by his criticism. Criticisms are refreshing, but not just because they are rare; receiving the same, cliché compliments, nods, and smiles of admiration and approval quickly gets old. “This is amazing!” they exclaim. “How do you do it? That must have been hard! Keep up the great work!”

They are probably genuine comments, and I appreciate them. However, such comments do to my mind what eating too many sweets would do to my body: my ego gets fatter and rises higher and higher up into the clouds, my mind glazes over, and I subconsciously develop an illusion that I am good enough. This is dangerous because although I consciously know that I am not good enough, an unconscious sense of security can be like years of undetected drops of poison in my tea. A focused, deliberate comment like Mr. X’s is a necessary and welcome slap of reality, and it is from people like Mr. X that I learn the most and often come to admire.

Again, what was Mr. X thinking? What does anyone think of me? Does he take pity in me, knowing that I am smothered by these honey-sweet comments and become bogged down in my own ego? Does he think I am another self-important, socially-inept nerd/programmer lacking depth of thought and self-evaluation? Does he frown at enrichment programs like this, suspecting the recognition only serves to inflate ego and glorify something foolishly insignificant? Does he assume that I, like so many others, fail to realize how much I don’t know? Does he think I will never write this blog post? Can he imagine how much I do know?

Is it bad to seek recognition? For whom or what should I live? Am I gutsy enough to risk paying it forward? I used to proudly believe that I was completely self-motivated, but my detour in Japan has taught me otherwise, that I actually rely very much on my peers for praise and motivation. My isolation also helped me realize how much other people know. Not that I became humble, no—with this unquenchable thirst for recognition, I don’t think I can ever be genuinely humble.

Darn it, I did it again; I’ve forgotten what I had originally intended to say and am getting sidetracked. At least I’ve said something.

Why physics appeals to me

I really love space. Physics really takes one closer to space than does programming, which is why I considered myself a candidate for physics for most of the past year. Astrophysics; there’s an awesome field. It’s like the elegance of math played out by physics, the instrument.

Haha, I’m trying and failing to be profound.

I want to visit Titan.

And Enceladus.

I want to live on mars and other worlds. Although it’s not as concrete as my other passions, I think my desire to explore space and my fascination of it is more sincere than any of my other interests. It’s a strange, deep-down thing. Programming is a more conscious interest, but my interest in space is.. heartfelt, intuitive? I think it has to do with the fact that I am frustrated that I will not live to see the world any more than a century from now. Of course, I can hope that sometime soon they will come up with ways to prolong life indefinitely, but I think this is what they mean when they say they want to know everything there is to know. To me, exploring space comes very close to that, and physics is one of the tools with which to achieve it.

Math Club

My (regionally) high (they’re not high) AMC and AIME scores caught the attention of a group of students at Canadian Academy, where I took the tests. One of them contacted me a few weeks ago, and I’ve been joining them in their unofficial 3-hour meetings every Saturday since.

Actually, I will probably not be going anymore, as the Purple Comet! Math Meet contest was today, and it takes me nearly three hours just to get there and back. With summer break approaching, they are adjourning until next year.

But verily, what they did was great. Canadian Academy currently does not have an official math club, but they have been getting together every weekend, three hours at a time without an adult supervisor, for seven months. I think the persistence is admirable.

I put together a practice Purple Comet test for them last Saturday using problems from the AMCs and some that I made myself. Fortunately, they liked it. I’ve always wanted to help teach math in some way (and I respect and admire many, many AoPS users for doing just that). It’s a start. Maybe I’ll start my own club when I get back to the states?

Anyway, thanks for inviting me to join your club, guys!

Swimming Tips?

Pay attention to arms, hands, and fingertips. They lead. Try this with the butterfly.

Bending at the knees a little can help with propulsion and efficiency.

eh this is an old post that I obviously never finished but now that I am cleaning up, I don’t really want to delete. Posting anyway.

Back Pain

I have had chronic back pain for almost ten years. It’s not severe, but lately it’s been bothering me so much that I can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time. That, and a throbbing headache.

My mom took me to a doctor. After a two-hour wait and a few X-rays, he stretched my legs, tapped a few tendons, and pressed on some vertebrae to test for neurological problems or stress fractures. To my relief, he found none and explained that back pain was common among growing kids whose bones grow too fast for other organs to keep pace. The result is tight muscles and stretched nerves, both of which can cause pain.

I learned that my hamstring is too tight, which apparently is why my back curves forward so much when I sit; it’s actually normal! The doctor also explained that many swimmers suffer from back pain and told me to slow down. (My coach is currently pushing me hard to beat my record, which isn’t that great anyway.)

But when he pressed on my shoulders—OUCH. My headache is due to tight shoulders. I should stretch and rest up a bit. Maybe I should relax my head in the water when I swim.

Surprisingly, my back isn’t twisted like it used to be back in grade school. Whew. Anyway, no surgery for me. :)