Just a few weeks ago, I graduated from college! I don't begin working until August 12, so I decided that I would need something to occupy my time. I did consider using my free time, of which there is a lot, exclusively for catching up on movies and TV shows I have been wanting to see (I have a 500 line txt file full of titles). I decided that this wouldn't be so great for my physical and mental development. In any case, I still definitely plan to make a small dent in that list.
I also began picking up a few books that I've been meaning to read. I started with Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. A friend of mine read it a while ago for school and recommended it to me. It seemed pretty interesting, since I knew there were some sci-fi undertones, but with the focus on the character development and relationships. I just finished last week, and thought it was reasonably good. My favorite aspect is the way the structure of the first-person narrative created suspense. Next, I'll probably read Neuromancer by William Gibson, or Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The major activity that occupied me for the beginning of my summer was building my new computer. You can see the parts I used at PCPartPicker. I built it with gaming in mind, and I'm very excited to start getting more into PC gaming after using a general-purpose laptop for the past few years. I've been playing Crusader Kings II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Alan Wake, Planetside 2, and Battlefield 3. With all these FPSs, I finally decided that I would get a mechanical keyboard. Many people from the internet swear they are incredibly superior to others, so it should be nice to try out.
And finally, the last thing I committed myself to was trying to learn through Coursera. These are the courses I'm taking:
- A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology: A fairly introductory course about how nuclear power works. So far I think I already know most of the physics being taught. I'm mostly interested in seeing the economics of nuclear power and the way power plants scale.
- Malicious Software and its Underground Economy: Two Sides to Every Story: This is mostly about how malware works. The lectures don't seem that great, but again, I want to see how the economics of this issue work.
- Startup Engineering: Essentially, this explains the technologies commonly used in startups. I think I might know much of the material already, but I want to gain more familiarity with it and actually make something that works using these technologies that I have a reasonable familiarity with.
- Discrete Optimization: This will probably be one of the harder ones, but luckily the schedule is very flexible. It covers approaches to tackling NP-Hard problems in practice using constraint programming, local search, and mixed integer programming. As long as I pace myself, I think I can get through it.
- Software Defined Networking: The material is fairly self-evident from the title. Basically, it's a way of managing computer networks by separating all of the control logic from the hardware that actually moves bits around. The control logic is in software and is usually centralized. It seems like this might be a tough class.
- Introduction to Public Speaking: I haven't started the lectures, but I think it's a good idea to expand my skills in this area. The course will have a lot of case studies and encourages students to record their own speaking and share it. I'm not yet sure if I'll do the hands-on aspect of the course.
I'll try to write updates on how the courses are going!