Back in Oregon. It’s strange here. People look at you on the street and I notice the air every time I go outside (it’s delicious; I breathe in and sigh and exclaim) and we only took a few hours to get back in our house (key excitement) and our friends are lovely and it gets so, so much colder at night here.
Today’s day one of Algorithm Study Time (I didn’t start on the road, we got home last Friday, and I gave myself Monday & Tuesday to take care of pressing home needs). Or maybe I’m calling it Autumn Bridge Term. I feel like I need a name for this.
Sonali at RC told me that for the next three weeks, it’s algorithms in the morning, building stuff in the afternoon, with lunch or a bike ride or whatever in the middle, and also I don’t have friends for now. Okay! I’m finding it comically freeing to have this much structure. Also that this feels like structure after the vast open fields of RC.
Cracking into the apparently-infamous CLRS algorithms book on Sonali’s recommendation. It is a beast, and it is a self-aware beast (it has already made references to its enormous size two times outside of the introduction, and I’m only in the first chapter). It is also the first time that I am doing highlighters to a book (perhaps ever), and I’m starting to find my way with this. It doesn’t hurt that I have magic windowed highlighters from Muji, so I can see through the pen as I’m highlighting (!). I continue to find ways to do small, personally meaningful rebellions, like writing “WTF” in the margin when appropriate. This continues to alarm and delight me.
I’m writing all my questions in a notebook, and typing out my exercise answers in a brand new repo. It seems like the kind of thing I should keep to myself, so I’m sharing it, because this is the kind of thing that seems reasonable now, after RC. Just. Share all the things. I like this feeling.
I got through Chapter 1, just not all the exercises or the problem yet. My brain is full, so now it’s time to give my stomach the same treatment. I’m talking, of course, about lunch. We will represent lunch here as a horizontal bar:
I either snuck into or went to the Concordia University library after lunch. The whole third floor, to my delight, is a quiet zone. No music. No talking. Just big beautiful windows and books and study corrals (in case you are a study horse or other study livestock) and wooden chairs and squishy chairs. There IS a “community library card” available here, but I don’t know if that means I’m also allowed to, like, come do stuff here. The existence of a Guest wifi network suggests that yes, however.
As mentioned above, the second half of my days for the next few weeks is (are?) Building Something. I ended up deep in the mud of “interesting datasets” and then tried to scale back and think about datasets I have on myself, which might be more interesting to me. Handily enough, I’ve been tracking my sleep and steps nearly every day for almost three years now (with some gaps due to technology or human errors of one kind or another).
Haven’t been using my Jawbone UP24 to track sleep lately, but I’ll figure out if that matters. The Mi Band I got after learning about Xiaomi from the Keyboard.io Kickstarter [whew!] is so so so much easier for sleep tracking, and has stellar battery life…but also a pretty bare-bones app. But also it was $15. In any case, the UP should have excellent coverage as far as steps go. (And also non-labeled “workout” sessions that are mostly bike commutes!)
So! I’m thinking I’d like to do stuff with that data, even if I’d had a rocky relationship with Jawbone products. I had a semi-original UP (not the very first generation, but the second gen, IIRC, which still plugged into the phone’s headphone jack to transmit information). I’ve had a series of misadventures with my original UP and UP24:
- Original UP (headphone jack sync) stopped working entirely. Just. Blinked out of existence in a way no charging could fix. I eventually received a replacement (through a convoluted return process that almost turned me off of Jawbone entirely), AND, some time later, what I believe is the original defective bracelet. Hmm.
- Next one stopped vibrating entirely (the vibrations partially confirm mode changes, give alerts, and function as the alarm). Since one of the reasons I am gleefully fond of this band is the little buzzing smart alarm, this was pesky/removed a functionality I had come to depend on.
- Not wanting to deal with the return process again, and ready to leverage Bluetooth technology to be lazier (programmer’s mantra!), I got a new UP24 (which syncs via BT). It eventually became filthy (fine) and stopped functioning completely, except for secret flashing error codes (not fine). After a series of emails, I eventually had to call (on the telephone!) and go over all the information again to convince them that the thing was really really broken, and there was really really no way for me to fix it, and yes I know how to soft- and hard-reset my band now. It was a new kind of miserable, but the return process was much much easier.
- And then there’s this one…the rubber has detached at both ends, eventually splitting on the cap side, and it can’t be slid back down to where it should reside. So it is eating itself at both ends, like some sort of Ouroboros.
But! Jawbone continues to make, as far as I can tell, incremental improvements in their support experience. Went to the FAQ, found something about Rubber Warping (sounds about right), filled out a tiny amount of information…and they’re sending me a warranty replacement (!) and it’ll have a return shipping label included (!!). A+, Jawbone.
Anyway now I’ve got five CSV files, each of which was just a click away once I found what I was looking for (thanks, Quora), one for each year from 2011-2015, including one from a year where there shouldn’t be any information (2011 — I got my first UP in November 2012).
Don’t know quite what I’m doing with it yet, but when building something, it helps to have literally any clue about what you are doing. And unless I find something wicked compelling, it’s Data On Myself which I am Finally Using For Something.
I eventually threw up my hands in frustration and headed back to the Udacity Relational Databases course, which I’d really like to finish up (and maybe review a bit). It is, after all, exactly what I am wanting to do with my project (Python + DB == BFF). And I finished lesson 4 of 5!
I also found a bilingual copy of Rainer Maria Rilke’s French poems in this library (yes! he wrote some French poems!) and anyway I guess I DO need to find out about this community library card business.
I can’t get Postgres to start, but fortunately I’m not even sure I’m doing the right thing (something may be broken, and if so, I just found one of those quintessentially lovely StackOverflow pages so I can piece through why and solve it).
Also, my Pomodoro timer went off again, and that makes 10 half-hour ticks or tocks or whatever today, and that’s about three hours of morning & three hours of afternoon and I am happy with that.