A new Quarter

This post is primarily a status update of some stuff that’s been going on in my life. It’s main purpose is to alleviate the personal guilt that I feel for neglecting my post frequency.

Over the summer, I had the free time to make a few additions to my social life. I was able to attend more of the Atheist and Freethinking groups in the area, as well as make some special friends (more on this topic later; hopefully during the holidays). I was also able to finish (and submit) the XSS Survey paper, but have yet to get back the reviews.

I’m now a second year grad at UCI, and we’re in our 3rd week of Fall Qtr. Summer’s past, and I miss it sorely. The campus is now swarming with undergrads that get in my way, whenever I want to go somewhere. There are now line as the eateries; it’s horrible. My workload this quarter is, I fear, too much to bear, and will probably zombify me by the end of the quarter.

I’m TA’ing CompSci 141: Concepts and Techniques in Programming Languages; It’s a 120 student class this time. Though I’m new, the (awesome) lecturer is relatively seasoned, and things have been going fairly smoothly so far. Answering questions from students can be a bit repetitive; but I like communicating my knowledge so much that the repetition has not caused the education part to lose its charm. Not only do I have to solve the assignments myself (without any helping hand), but I also have to be there, ready and able to guide them through the solution too. Methinks my students doth protest too much about the workload.

I’m also taking my advisors course: CompSci 241: Advanced Compiler Construction. It’s the most difficult grad course offered at UCI, both in terms of coursework and material covered. Of course, there’s no way out of this class, but I’ve fortunately got a partner in lab that’s doing a great job of writing the code; letting me help out with the design. Soon, it’ll get to the point where he expects me to pull my weight in code too. By the end of the course, we’ll have implemented an optimizing compiler for a small toy language. The other difficulty in this course, is that most of the material is so new, that there aren’t any reference books that contain the algorithms and techniques. It’s still bundled up in research papers. And what is available in books, is in a couple cases, an incorrect implementation.

I’ve also been elected Secretary of AAR@UCI. That’s the Atheist, Agnostic, Rationalist club on campus. There are actually about 50 registered religious groups (predominately christian) on campus, 25 of which are active. So our group is special in that we’re the only one explicitly on the other side of that fence. One of my more interesting duties, which I gladly participate in, is representing the club at the various atheist, freethinking, and skeptic groups in the Orange County area. It’s been quite fun hanging out with like-minded folks.

Of course, research must still get done. I was in a planning session nearly all day, concerning how we shall be adding security labels to Mozilla’s SpiderMonkey. So the design work is fortunately mapped out. but I still need to go through the tedium of implementation. In practice this usually throws you back to the drawing board before too long, but I’ll still have to see how far I can get with our current approach.