One Day at a Time
Last month, I established a few quarterly goals for myself. Now I am happy to say that I have achieved them.
The first goal I had set was to pass Senior Design. While the class is not over yet, my team is currently on track to succeed. My team ran into a bit of a conundrum earlier this semester when we found that it would take an infeasible amount of time to perform all the data processing that our project requires. We had managed to reduce the processing time required to just 60 days, but this was still too long as our project presentation is at the end of April. We decided to address this issue by renting more servers to process our data in parallel (We opted for the VPS XL SSD offered by Contabo, and will be using four of them). Now, we should finish our data processing in 25 days, just in time for the presentation! This morning I set up the first of our rented servers, and while it took a bit longer than I had hoped, this was mainly due to unforeseen connection errors. I fixed these issues however, and compiled a list of instructions to set up the remaining servers so that it should be smooth sailing to get the rest up and running.
My second goal was to do well in my research into improving 3C. As a reminder, 3C is a tool for automating the refactoring of plain C code to Checked C, a dialect of C that offers provisions for ensuring C code has spatial memory safety. This goal is on-going, and I feel like I have not made as much progress on it as I would have liked to this past month. I don’t think this is for lack of trying: I have finished most of the LLVM sample project tutorial and brushed up on my C++ skills to prepare. My main issue is that it’s hard for me to prioritize what topics to study in order to effectively contribute to this project. Plus, I’ve been a bit short on free time lately due to other projects, so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to just focus on this project. For now, I plan to focus on reading the source code and reviewing relevant research papers. Later this month I will be having a meeting with some other individuals involved on this project, so if I still have questions then my hope is that they may be able to assist me.
My last goal was a secret one, and I am now ready to unveil it! This past month I wrote an API for the card game Cardfight!! Vanguard. I don’t play this game but have a friend who does. On a whim, I checked if there were any APIs available for players of the game to access card information. Finding none, I decided to build one. I scraped all the data using Python, and built the API in Go. I originally intended to build it in Rust, but the data I had initially scraped was sorely lacking in detail, and I found Actix and Diesel a bit difficult to work with. In contrast, I found Go to be a pleasure to work with and was able to learn the language and write this API in less than 2 months using the Gin web framework. This idea has been germinating in my mind for almost a year now, so I am glad to have finally finished it.
Speaking of Go, I also recently released a Go package for parsing 2D graphs on GitHub. I have called it Flagon (FLuid Ascii Graph Object Notation - not the best acronym, but it’s somewhat fitting and also contains the word “go” in it so I figured it would suffice), and made it to improve my skills in language parsing and Go. Basically, it converts text structured like this:
[D] | | B D | | [A]---AB---[B] | | | AC | | | [C]
Into a Go object that represents a 2D graph. It’s mainly just a pet project made for fun, but it could be useful for creating diagrams, designing game levels, and mapping out business requirements.
Finally, I have been doing a bit of reading this month. I finished the Idea Factory, and while the ending was admittedly dark, I found it to be an enjoyable read. Next I read Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. I found the latter half of the book to be a bit strange, though I think I can see what the author is trying to say. Also, while Hill pitches the book as a guide on how to become wealthy, I found it to be more like a guide on how to be generally successful in life. Sometimes it felt Hill was just trying proselytize me into a cult of self-improvement (centered around his book, of course), but at other times I found his advice to be profound. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in self-improvement and willing to bring an open-mind (and perhaps a grain of salt) to the subject. The last thing of note that I read this month was not a book, but an essay by George Orwell - Politics and the English Language. I was amazed at how insightful this essay was, especially since Orwell wrote it in 1946. This has somewhat altered the way I judge writing quality, and I was startled to realize that I often make many of the mistakes that Orwell outlines in this essay. I am glad that I read this now before starting grad school, and hope that the writing rules Orwell proposes will help me write clear research papers in the future. Additionally, I have just started The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and so far have found it more entertaining than I thought it would be. By the time I write my next post I should have finished it, and will provide more thoughts on it then.
That’s all for now. Next month I should be almost done with the semester, and ready for summer break!