Friday July 6th

GSoC Day 54 and the Day of Reckoning

It’s a joke really

  • But I had a meeting this morning, and decided to update my computer. So I restarted. Alas, it wouldn’t move past the Start screen. I scoured the Internets and found that that had in fact happened for some users on Ubuntu 18.04. So I attempted a fresh install from my USB.
  • I’ve done that before, so that’s not a problem, but it meant rebuilding my project, which runs with GHCJS, and takes hours the first time. Today was also supposedly up to 117 degrees where I’m currently located. times. I had to bring a fan in to my working area while working today. Or… death.

So that took me until around 6pm

  • Which was about the time Chris got on call with me to do some pair-programming. We tried screen-sharing, which actually worked out well, but there was a delay in sound. So we figured out…we could use one laptop for sound, and turn the sound down on the other one and screen-share from that one. And what do you know, it worked! Success!
  • So it looks like moving forward, that will be the case!
  • It was an excellent pairing session. I felt like understood things a lot more clearly, and it was a good pace for me, and very conversational. I really enjoyed it! And we got a fair amount done.
  • And oh snap, I used my first fold in production code. Wut?
  • So the slider drags, is constrained by the size of the slider box, is also thinner so it looks more like a slider, has snap points for integers 1 through 4 (the actual distance is 0 through 5) and the components work correctly together. They also drag over until you release the mouse button (so basically the logic for the dragging works as expected). The fence constraint was also added so the slider can’t move below 0 or above 5 ie outside of the slider box and value constraints.
  • I’m having a weird Exception Handling JS bug on my build that shows up shortly after my code compiles locally in the browser, but the build still runs. So that’s still a bit of a mystery. But everything else works. So I filed a bug for that one issue.

Over the weekend

  • I am tasked with looking at the Elm debugger, so I’ll be building a version of that Sat/ Sun and going to see how it works, and breaking that down. We’ll be trying to implement a similar type debugger for our slider in Haskell, which is really exciting. That should take me to the end of GSoC, essentially. And then I’ll be sad :(

In other news

  • I still can’t talk about my secret thing, but I told two people that I trust. You can trust programmers, right? LOL. Uh oh.

A thing about Sucking

  • One of the things I’ve been thinking about is being okay with sucking. I think I learned that earlier because my high school was really competitive, and I was distracted because I wanted to be well-rounded, and came back in 5th form realizing I had missed a chunk of work on Integrals in Mathematics. I wasn’t there; I think I was too busy representing the school in some events and painting backdrops in the all-boys school. And I felt stupid. So I remember what that feels like, and it was easier for me later on whenever I felt that way. It just meant I had to put in the time to work harder.
  • The funny part is some people (cough recruiters) assuming that I didn’t do a lot of Mathematics because I didn’t originally choose CS. But I could have gone into engineering school. I studied Maths, Physics and Art for 18 years, but decided I didn’t want to design petroleum-pipes for a living, and that’s what engineer was in my mind in my country. It was not until I came to California that I realized that engineers were creative. They could design space-ships and make real things. I didn’t have that growing up. In my mind, engineers were the opposite of creative growing up, even though I was strong in Physics and Maths. And I also had some talent in Art, so I was split, because I was both “left-brain” and “right-brain” (if you believe in that stuff). So I mostly felt out-of-place.
  • I didn’t realize in the US, people who didn’t study Maths at college-level did it consciously also because they often felt they weren’t good at Mathematics. I had made a conscious decision, in spite of being good at sciences, to move away from it, because engineering in my country was basically a left- over system from the days of British-colonialism and had zero inventiveness or room for creativity.
  • I remember my dad having a conversation with me years ago, telling me “Physics, Maths..Art…that’s perfect for Architecture. Are you sure you don’t want to study that?”. I guess they thought I was flushing down all the hard work I had put into learning Newtonian Physics and all that. But when I came to the US, people were continuously astounded that I’d do well at Mathematics. Doesn’t everyone?, I thought.
  • A senior girl in high school was also writing a newspaper arcticle and because I typed quickly, I was asked to transcribe. She said the word “juxtaposed”, and I didn’t know what it meant or how to spell it. She looked at me and said “Let me guess..sciences, huh”. I remember feeling stupid; here was this school treating us like we were special because we were in the smart class ie the sciences, but yet I didn’t know this word. I was missing out on a lot, I thought. Maybe that’s part of why I took the shift.
  • But I was forever frustrated that I couldn’t find the academic rigour I had enjoyed in the sciences. I was in a concept design class once, where people cared more about “shapes”. We were designing something or the other for some imaginary movie in the future, and I realized most of the class was blanking out because I’d want to describe what every pipe would do, if parts had rivets, what kind metal they’d use, if they had LEDs and research what sort of technology I was thinking of. Eventually, I became frustrated with that, and fell into programming.

…But back to Putting in Extra work…

  • But I missed Integrals in high school. My mom spent time with me, I stayed up until 4 in the morning, took extra lessons and got my A in Mathematics. At the end of the day, no one knew the difference. All they saw was my grade, but I had to bust my butt for it because I was behind. I think about moments like that when I feel stupid again; when I feel behind. I’ve done this before, I can do it again. Even if people say I’m a beginner right now…I won’t be forever. I’ll make sure of that. I can put in the work.
  • For some people, it’s more difficult, particularly if they’ve always been in a situation where things weren’t challenging, or school was too easy. That’s a dangerous thing because the later on in life you learn that lesson (it’s okay to suck), the later you learn about grit and relying less on “natural talent”. I had a professor who didn’t believe in natural talent at all. He said he always told himself “I may not be the most talented, but I can work the hardest”. In rowing, the captain would say “suck it up ladies..suck it up!”.
  • I was reading a Quora question today about the difference between a good PhD student and a great one, and one of the comparisons the person made was that you’re excited by not knowing or being wrong. You go from someone who always thinks they have to know the answer and freaking out if this isn’t the case, to accepting that you don’t always know the answer, and treating it as a challenge to learn something new. And that’s okay.

## That’s all I have for today

Written on July 6, 2018