Wow, where has the time gone? In my absence a great deal has happened in my life so I’m going to break it up into a few chunks starting with stuff prior to the summer.
As I briefly mentioned in Flat Stanley’s Adventures, winter quarter I TAed the Compilers course for Tim Sherwood, one of my favorite Professors. As a TA I was primarily responsible for the course projects. I decided to write automatic grading utilities, which despite the occasional bug were quite beneficial to the students as they received immediate feedback when submitting their project. Additionally they were able to submit projects multiple times, thus allowing them to fix problems they might have overlooked. As my end of quarter reviews were pretty good, I was selected as one of four Outstanding TAs for the quarter in our department.
In addition to TAing winter quarter, I took two courses. One was a security related course on malware and reverse engineering lead by my soon to be adviser Chris Kruegel. The projects in the course had us write a simple Windows root kit, a ELF virus, a crack and a keygen for contrived programs, among a few others.
The second course I took was taught by Klaus Schauser and was on scalable web services. Klaus previously was a Computer Science professor at UCSB however, he left to found Expert City which later was bought by Citrix thus becoming Citrix Online. He now is the Chief Strategist for Appfolio a Santa Barbara company that provides an online solution to Property Management. This particular course interested me as it is seldom offered and web related topics fascinate me. A group consisting of myself, Adam, Jeff, Jon, Krithika, and Shashank created the website torrentphobe which was a torrent tracking service that utilized social networks. It worked wonderfully, however after the course ended, and the money for the servers was no more, we decided to shutdown our service.
During winter quarter I applied for summer internships. Naturally I reapplied with Google, applied to Microsoft and a few other companies, however I never would have thought of applying to AppFolio if I hadn’t taken Klaus’s scalable web services class. I had little knowledge of AppFolio prior to interviewing, however I wanted to interview simply to catch a glimpse of a pair programming company in addition to gaining interview experience. The interview went quite well, and to my surprise I was given an offer equivalent to that which Google would offer. After careful consideration and discussion about finding an appropriately challenging project, I was sold, and accepted before Google even got back to me on my application. I must quickly say that I’m over halfway through my internship and Appfolio is a fantastic company to work for. I only have a few weeks left; it will be sad to leave.
Spring quarter I took a single course, Advanced Computer Architecture with the same Tim Sherwood I TAed for. On a quick side note Tim is the Professor that held the Programming Battle Adam and I won in the spring quarter of our freshmen year in addition to taking us to Riverside for the ACM Programming Competition the following four falls. Thus I knew this class would be amazing even if the material weren’t the most enticing. The papers were definitely dense but I learned some damn cool stuff. Therefore I’m glad I took the class.
My main focus spring quarter was with my TA responsibilities for the Operating Systems course. I again gained a great deal of valuable experience, however grading for these projects was not as straightforward as the grading the previous quarter. The projects had very little area between doesn’t work at all, and works perfectly. Thus in attempt to accurately grade the students’ understanding of material the projects were designed to convey, I had the groups demo their projects. I think it worked out quite well, however as one student pointed out in their written review it, the demoing process is not a perfect method. They wrote, “[P]lease grade more harshly. People who BS’d the assignments got the same grade as people who did them right.” Nonetheless whomever they were comparing against must have done a good job at BSing.
Toward the end of the quarter notification came out that the graduating seniors elected me as the Computer Science Outstanding TA of the year. That quickly became a topic of toast when I was out with friends at a bar. I recall a few times Adam or Scott would introduce me as Bryce, the TA of the year. I attempted to not let it go to my head; sometimes I succeeded and others I failed. Such is life.
On the Scotty and Adam topic I attended their Master’s graduation ceremony, which was oh so boring. However, as with our undergraduate graduation, this one naturally came the mimosas in the morning and much other celebration so it was worth the hours in the sun. As all good things must come to an end, the celebrations didn’t last too much longer. A few days later we all moved out of our place on Sesame Tree. I moved down the road to Storke Ranch, and Adam and Scott temporarily moved home to Sacramento prior to their big move to Washington to work for Microsoft. The move marked the end of an era: the end of the Three Musketeers. However, the move also marked the start of a new life for me, which has been great so far. Nonetheless Scotty and Adam are missed.