Summer of Work 2017

Every year of my graduate school career I’ve waited for the summer, like a kid does. Ask any graduate student worth her salt and she will tell you that summer is when a lot of proper work gets done. Summer is that time when you’re not teaching a class, you’re not taking a class, and your responsibilities are comparatively relaxed. That is, summer is the most magnificent bit of freedom that graduate school can offer (provided you’re not making some decent money at Google or whatever). Which also means you can drive out and look at things like this (I live in the Bay Area):

Protip to anyone just starting in a PhD program: finding places where you have no responsibility and where time stays still rather than rush from one deadline to the next is crucial to your happiness and your happiness is crucial to getting good work done. When things aren’t well, don’t pull an all-nighter, go get lost in the woods instead. Trust me on this.

My summers at Berkeley were therefore “Summers of Work.” The summer of 2012 was mostly occupied with moving my family to Bay Area, developing some perceptual dissonance code and lots of hacking DSP things in Max/MSP. In 2013, I rewrote Daniel Shiffman’s Nature of Code book in C++, using Cinder. Because of Cinder, I did a bit of mobile programming, a bit of networking, and a lot of graphics. In 2014, I got my second master’s degree and was hired as a Graduate Student Researcher at CNMAT. During that summer, I was on the “odot 1.0 release” team, which meant lots of C programming and seeing just how many features can be mercilessly killed as the shipping deadline approaches. In addition to helping deliver odot 1.0, I also wrote proof-of-concept bindings for our odot language in Node.js, wrote some Python classes for making odot API a bit less C-like, used odot as a scripting language for graphics, and wrote the first iteration of the class materials for Music 158A, a course I taught for 4 years at Berkeley. In 2015, we migrated our CNMAT Max Externals (see the non-odot links) to 64-bit machines, I single-handedly wrote odot Reference pages, polished the odot Python bindings, all the while thinking about a new language for designing music controllers and playing around with embedded programming for IoT. 2016 Summer of Work was work of paid variety: most of it was spent in Los Angeles working on Bohemian Rhapsody Experience. (Note: this app should disappear from the Google Play / App Store in a day or two because of reasons I’m not at liberty to disclose.)

This is the last summer I get to have as a graduate student. I have no idea if I’ll get another Summer of Work after getting a job, so to celebrate I’m going to try to figure out how to make it a Summer of Writing also. The goal is to do 3 small articles a week: Monday / Wednesday / Friday. The first few will show off my work on odot and my current tooling that I wrote specifically for my dissertation. Since I’m working on Audio In the IoT research project over the summer, I’m also hoping to write some things about the challenges of doing audio on the web and in Node.js. So first couple of weeks I expect to be quite easy.

The hope is that the Monday / Wednesday / Friday schedule is going to require me to write about my other interests. So maybe I’ll get into programming languages, or machine learning / deep learning, or whatever else pertains to computing, aesthetics, and aesthetics of computing.

It’s kind of weird knowing this is my last summer as a PhD student. Maybe if I play my cards right, this summer can exist in perpetuity… Or not. Whatever happens in August, let the good times roll!

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