July 15, 2008

I was looking through some photos from Spring semester. Last semester I had a fun time at school because there were a lot of good spirited people hanging out at the Computer Science Club. Pauline Wang and Neil Tong organized a couple of outdoor activities and invited all of the CS Club. You can see below the picture of many of the club members and friends at the barbeque we had. This was right after we finished playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Just finished playing ultimate frisbee.  SJSU CS Club poses.

We also went to the beach and there was pretty much something fun and interesting going on all the time. A lot of the pictures I’m looking at were taken by Neil. You can get an idea of what people of what CS students are like by checking out his pictures. Here is Neil’s flickr page.

Rancho San Antonio Park

March 18, 2008

I went to Rancho San Antonio Park. This park is near my Grandmother’s house so I have been going there for years and enjoy it very much. I took a small mile and a half walk out to Deer Hollow Farm. I didn’t want to work to hard because I have a strained muscle and I’d like it to heal. There is an easy to follow loop that goes up one hill but otherwise is all flat. It is hard to figure it out the route I took on the map but if you just follow everyone else chances are you’ll end up going the way I did. I got that map from which has some cool information about the history of the park I hadn’t seen before.

Rancho San Antonio Park

Even walking up the small hill you end up getting some good views of the valley. If you walk further up you get spectacular views. I found this great blog, Two Heel Drive, while researching for this post, which has nice pictures of the view and talks about those longer trails.

Rancho San Antonio Park

Lots of Oak trees up here. If I remember right, further up there are less trees.

Rancho San Antonio Park

The grass is so green and beautiful right now.

Rancho San Antonio Park

Applying to SJSU Grad School

February 5, 2008

Many of my peers at SJSU have asked me about the process of applying to grad school in the Computer Science department. When I was going through this process I was very nervous that I might accidently miss something so I spent a lot of time thinking and reading about it. There are two things I had to worry about, the university procedures and the department rules. I had to meet both standards to be accepted, but the department ultimately decides if a student will be accepted into their program or not.

Here is an outline of what I did to get accepted. I am sure this is not the best way to do it, so please do not take this as a how to guide but hopefully as a stepping stone in how to do it better. The best thing to do is read all of the information at the SJSU Graduate Studies page and read the information from the CS Department web site, and be sure to check out their great FAQ.

First I started to make sure I was going to be able to get letters of recommendation from my teachers. I did this by taking challenging courses during my last semester and ensuring that I got A’s in those classes. I made sure to visit the office hours of those teachers so that they could get to know me, and at the end of the semester I had no problem getting two good letters of recommendation. I actually got both of my letters of recommendations from math professors, which I assume is fine since math is very important to computer science. By the way, the FAQ I pointed out earlier mentions that submitting letters of recommendation is highly recommended.

Meanwhile I had started the online application at CSUMentor which as it turns out is fairly straightforward. The main thing you do there is enter the classes you most recently took along with the grades you received. There is a 50 dollar application fee that you need to pay in order to submit the application, but you can start the application and save it so that you can come back and work on it later. I ending up postponing submitting the application because I wanted the statement of purpose that is required with it to put me in the best light possible. I had until the end of May to submit this application and the current deadlines for Fall 2008 applicants can be found here.

So then I just checked to make sure that the SJSU Department of Graduate Studies had all of my transcripts. This was very easy for me because I already had all of my transcripts sent to SJSU so that I could graduate with my Bachelors degree. The Graduate Department was able to use the same copies of my transcript.

I finally submitted my online application only a couple of weeks before the deadline. The Computer Science department had told me that turning in my application early wouldn’t matter because all of the applications would be reviewed at once sometime after the deadline. However my friend turned in his application months early and was accepted before the application deadline. I didn’t find out I was accepted until mid summer. The annoying thing is that they don’t email you when you get accepted. You have to check your application status on MySJSU. I was checking this status several times a week and then one day it just said “Accepted” and I was very happy.

Good luck with your application process!


January 18, 2008

I’ve been picking some oranges from my Dad’s orchard and I got his permission to take as many bags as I can transport to San Jose. I will be selling them for $5 per fifteen pound bag. All of the proceeds will go to the Computer Science Club at SJSU. If anyone is interested let me know and I will reserve a bag.

Oranges Getting Sorted

The oranges are very delicious and they make great juice. Here is a picture of what the fifteen pound bags look like:

Orange bags

What I’ve been up to

January 16, 2008

Last semester was my first as a grad student at SJSU. It was pretty fun. I only had to take three classes so I really had time to concentrate on each and I ended up getting the grades I wanted.

I spent most of my break in Winters at my parents house doing some work for my Dad here and there. We’ve had some interesting weather and it has been relaxing. I feel ready to get back to school now.

Oak Trees

I also got a camera for Christmas. I forgot how much fun it is to take pictures. I left my last camera in my car over the summer and it was stolen so I had no camera for a while. Anyways my parents live out in the country and these are some pictures of the area.



October 31, 2007

Everyone at SJSU should have felt the earthquake tonight. It was pretty exciting but I hope no one got hurt. I was in the middle of class, Math 271a with Dr. Stanley, when it hit. The whole building was shaking pretty hard and at one point it got worse and jerked my desk around. We all just sat there and waited to see if it would get much worse. Afterward the class ran over to our professors office to check out the USGS website to see how big and close the quake was. When I finally left the building I realized that everyone had already evacuated and there were hundreds of people waiting around outside. It looked like there were a few accidents on the streets around SJSU and on Highway 280.
Intensity Map
I sent text messages to my parents about ten minutes after the quake and then made a cell phone call with no problems. For some reason a lot of people were able to make phone calls from their cells while other weren’t. It might have something to do with the carriers they had, I have Verizon.

It turns out the quake was close by on the Calaveras fault. Hopefully no one go hurt and this event will help people get prepared for larger earthquakes to come. Just last week I was reading about how the Hayward fault is ripe for a large quake in the Mercury News.

Other accounts of the quake from SJSU:
Steve Sloan
Lindsay Bryant
Chris Hockett
Edris Amin
Andrew Venegas
Robert Scoble

Computer Science Club

October 15, 2007

One of the best parts about the CS Department here at SJSU is the Computer Science Club. Studying Computer Science can naturally be a very lonely activity, spending most of the time reading books about algorithms and mathematics, and staring at computer screens. That is why having our own club is so important. It gives us a place to get to know each other and share ideas. The CS Club has its own room and other amenities that you can read about here.

SJSU CS Club Room

I think the CS Club is really important, and I wanted to make more of a difference, so I ran for Club Secretary when the position opened up earlier this month. I was elected and so far it has been a lot of fun. I have always wanted to get to know more of my peers and so far being secretary has helped me do that. First of all I had to introduce myself to everyone and explain why I was running for secretary. After that a lot more people seemed to know me all of the sudden, which is a nice feeling.

So I look forward to serving the club in the future and if anyone has any suggestions for me or the club, please let me know. I also encourage new students to stop by and check out the club.

Epocrates Presentation at SJSU

October 4, 2007

Glenn and Tom, from Epocrates, gave a presentation at MacQuarrie Hall (the CS/Math building at SJSU) today. Glenn comes from a Computer Science background and developed one of the original versions of the Epocrates software and Tom is the Main Manager at Epocrates. They both started working at Epocrates in 1999 so they know a lot about the company and are full of great information.

Epocrates is a company that provides a suite of PDA applications that are designed for use by health care professionals. They have some pretty cool tools that are helping doctors make fewer mistakes. For instance, doctors can add a list of drugs to be prescribed, and the Epocrates software can help determine if any of those drugs conflict with each other. Apparently their software is very widely used, and they have subscribers around the world.

During the presentation I learned about how Epocrates started, how their products developed, and the development process they use, among other things. I was expecting them to talk a lot about their products from an end user perspective which I have seen from many other presenters. Instead they talked much more about how the company started and how they develop software. This was a nice surprise because I’m not that interested in health care software but I am very interested in how an idea can become reality and how an entire business can be built around it. These guys are really smart so it was fun to hear about all the types of solutions they used to make their products better. Glenn and Tom were both very honest and open and had a lot of information to share with us. I appreciated the approach they took.

Dr. Louden, the Computer Science Department Chair, specifically pointed out that Epocrates was started by Stanford business students. He expressed that he would like to see more collaboration between Computer Science and Business students which is why he is asking CS students to get involved in the Entrepreneur Club.

One cool thing Glenn and Tom talked about is the fact that the developers at Epocrates developed their own PDA abstraction layer called XPlat that makes it easier for them to create software that will work on both Palm OS and Pocket PC. We were actually shown some of the XPlat code so we could see how it is used by the Epocrates software. I was also interested to know that they use Perforce for version control. In conclusion Glenn and Tom gave a great presentation and I’m glad they took the time to come talk to us.

Saving Electricity

September 26, 2007

There was an article about saving electricity in the The Spartan Daily today and I had a personal interest in the section about turning off computers when they’re not being used. I was interested in this because it reminded me of an issue I had with my last employer.

The company I used to work for requested that employees not turn off their computers because the IT department did system wide maintenance at night. That angered me because the practice seemed to be a horrible waste of electricity. Think about it, thousands of computers running idly for 14-15 hours per day, not to mention weekends, and just sucking up energy. What’s worse is that my managers (I worked in the IT department) actually laughed at the idea of turning off computers at the end of the day because it would make their jobs harder. I think that all organizations and individuals should put hard thought into wasteful practices they participate in, if not for the bottom line (wasted money on electricity bills), then for our communities, our country, and our world, all of which are negatively affected by waste. Even if turning off computers turns out to be something that isn’t practical, I think it is worthwhile to consider it seriously.

Reading the article in the Spartan Daily inspired me to learn more about how much energy computers use. I did a Google search and found .”How much electricity do computers use?” as part of a great overall webpage about saving electricity. It turns out that most new computers are setup to go into sleep mode automatically which saves a lot of electricity. That put my mind at ease somewhat. So if possible, don’t disable the energy saving settings on new computers because they can make a big difference in helping the environment. Another thing the website explained, which I found confusing in The Spartan Daily article, is that turning on a computer does not use extra energy so it saves more energy to turn off a computer versus letting it go into power saving mode.

I encourage everyone to check the website out anyway. It goes into detail explaining how much electricity we use, what the environmental effects are, and the most important things we can do to save.

Why I Write

September 20, 2007

I have not written any posts over the summer, but I’m ready to start writing about my time at SJSU again. I still believe in the reasons I started writing in the first place. When people search for SJSU on Google I want them to find more than just I want them to be able to “hear” what real students find interesting and exciting about our campus and our community.

Writing this type of blog has had its own rewards. First, I’ve made connections with other students at SJSU whom I otherwise never would have met. It is always fun to meet people who are studying in other areas and learn about the cool things they are doing. I have also become more attentive to the happenings on campus. For the sake of having something to write about, I find myself going to events I might otherwise tell myself I was too busy to attend. This is great, because almost all of the clubs and activities I’ve participated in at SJSU have been very rewarding.

Most importantly, writing on this blog gives me a voice which I am able to use in a positive way. Having that voice helps put into context my place at SJSU as someone who can affect change. That is a feeling that everyone should have. So if any of this stuff sounds cool to any readers out there, it is easy to start a free blog like this one. Leave a comment or email me and I’d be happy to read what you have to say or even point you in the direction of where to start.