Archive for May, 2007

Week 2 and Weekend 2 – Whitewater Rafting on the Wentachee

May 20, 2007

The weekdays went as usual, on the project. The projects are kind of confidential and so I am not supposed to write about them in detail. I slowly became familiar with all the buildings. I implemented the protocol in C#. I hadn’t coded much in C# before but it is pretty easy to pick up  and so I didn’t read any tutorial, I just started coding with the help of the Autocomplete feature.

During the week, I went to get a cellphone. Unlike India, here cellphones tend to be tied to the service provider (like the Reliance hansets). I got a Tmobile connection with about 480 minutes of talk time for $80.

On Saturday, I went with the other IITK guys, exploring Bellevue. Sunday, I went river rafting with some other US interns. It was a nice experience… 6 of us in a boat down the Wentachee river over class 3 rapids. All of of got wet but it was fun. Then there was a dare from someone on the other boat wherin a person had to stand on the edge of the boat, tilting outward, holding a  rope tied to the inside of the boat for support while the people in the boat paddled, with those on one side paddling forward and those on the other side paddling backward, causing the boat to rotate clockwise. I went for it…I didn’t fall the first two times but the third time I fell into the water. It was cold and the current was strong but I managed to get back on the boat in one piece.

Week 1 – Summer’s here

May 13, 2007

I arrived at Seattle on May 7th, a Sunday. My relative had come to the airport to pick me up. I reached home, wrote a few mails and slept of in an hour and woke up in the evening. Then I had lunch-dinner and was on the comp again.

The next day I was on the comp most of the time and also keeping my documents ready for the orientation on Tuesday.

Tuesday was when we had our NEO (new employee orientation).  It was about 4 hours long and we basically got our account created and then had a 3 hr lecture on Microsoft, policies, legal issues, benefits and so on.

After lunch, I went to the new intern lunch at Microsoft Research. I met my mentor there and talked to him over linch. The VP of MSR gave a short talk on how MSR has progressed in the past 15 years. After lunch my mentor took me to my office and gave me my login and password. Then we went to Startbucks and discussed about the projects. He talked about 5 projects and asked me to choose from them. We talked for quite some time after which I narrowed it down to two projects, both related to the web : one on page ranking and another on a protocol design problem.

I then had to go back home, so I tried to find the bus stop where my bus stopped but in the end couldn’t find it after walking around for an hour and so I called my relative who came and picked me up. Anyhow, from the next day onwards, I was able to find the bus stop.

At the office we get an unlimited supply of cold an hot drinks and also popcorn. I tried making popcorn but as soon as I finished, the smoke alarm went off and they evacuated the building….I am not sure if my popcorn making had anything to do with it or if it was a routine fire drill 😛

The rest of the days were typically like this : I would wake up at 630, check mail etc till 745, then have breakfast, get dressed and come to the office either by catching a direct metro bus or by going with my relative to his office which is in Microsoft’s Sammamish campus and then taking a shuttle from there.

I would reach work at between 930 and 10 and then spend 2 hours checking mail, chatting etc. Then for lunch I either would go to the cafeteria or microwave something in the office and eat. The cafeteria food was nice but there weren’t that many dishes that I liked. An average meal comes to $5.

After lunch usually I feel a little sleepy and so, I generally am not that productive. In the end, I generally end up doing work from 2 to 4:30 and somehow I am able to do quite a bit of work in this time when I am able to focus.

Then to go back home I either take the bus at 6:30 or I take the shuttle to the other Microsoft campus at 5pm, sit in the library there and come off with my relative.

I didn’t do that much in the first weekend…on Saturday I went to the house where the other IITK guys were staying since there were planning on going to Seattle but thanks to all the procrastination, by the time we were ready it was 4pm and eventually reached the bus station at 4:40. I decided to drop out since it would be late by the time they got back from Seattle but then my relatives were planning to go to Seattle that evening and so I also went with them. I went to the top of the Space Needle. It is a high tower like place from where you can see the whole of Seattle. There are binoculars to zoom in quite a bit. The breeze was nice and cool since it was close to the coast.

On Sunday I went to church. It was similar to the churches in Muscat/India.

In the evening, I had dinner with a friend who was a year senior to me in school and now is working at MS.

Sem 6

May 3, 2007

Once again, it’s been a long time since I blogged. No real reason, just the inertia.
The sem was reasonably okay…looking back, it has been the heaviest sem so far but per se I won’t say it was difficult.

I had taken the usual CS courses (compilers, algorithms, AI, distibuted algorithms) and Psychology as my HSS. I really enjoyed psychology…easily one the most interesting courses I have had. The course projects in general were pretty intensive but still enjoyable. Outside acads, I wasn’t involved in too much…there was the usual senate duties till February end and the development of an internship management system (an extension of my databases project that I did 2 sems ago) that the placement office is using.

On the whole I would give this sem a 9/10 in terms of satisfaction… a lot of things surpassed expectations but at the same time there were disappointments. But I guess that’s how life is. Now, I have a summer to look forward to…an internship at Microsoft Research at Redmond, near Seattle, in Washington.

Packing up my room was something that really was a headache but in the end I managed to pack everything. Somehow during the packing I felt a bit down since except for me, almost everyone’s parents seem to be there to help them pack/plan their trip, what to take etc/see them off at Delhi…well once upon a time I wanted to be independent…I suppose this is what it means.