Bernie's brain dump as of September 2009

The Yard

I've not been blogging much lately... at least not here! Now I'm supposed to blog weekly for my Educational Technologies class:

Sep 15th: Yet another geek party

I'm really too busy to go to parties... but the parties come to me all the time! (see all photos)

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Let's party arriba!

Sep 9th: XO-1.5 unveiling

"I void warranties"

I joined the XO-1.5 unveiling ceremony in DC... and got the opportunity to rip one of the prototypes apart. Wayan of OLPCNews was next to me, so this enjoyable operation made the news!

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Sep 7th: Class Acts

I'm in DC for a sprint called Class Acts (Flickr coverage).

First day meeting
First day meeting
Dinner event
Dinner event

Sep 5th: Goodbye Aids

Our housemate Adelaida (aka Aids for reasons we don't care to know) is going back to Hampshire college tomorrow so we organized a great party at the Acetarium.

The usual bunch of weirdos
The usual bunch of weirdos

Photos here: 20090905-goodbye-aids

Sep 3rd: Calculus

Hannenberg Hall @ Harvard
Hannenberg Hall @ Harvard

Ok, today it was precalculus. I arrived on time, but I still had no paper with me, so I had to ask to someone next to me for a bunch of sheets. Quickly filling up a dozen of pages with notes after so many years of little hand-writing practice has been a bit challenging. My calligraphy still sucks the same way it did back when I was enrolled in Florence.

I'm starting to build some confidence that this crazy idea of going to school is actually feasible. This Calculus A may even be too easy, but I'm still afraid I'd be unable to keep up with Calculus B considering my many little handicaps which include lack of practice for many years and being unable to keep my concentration for long spans of time.

The dilemma is: should I take it easy and aim for the rewarding satisfaction of being good at maths for a change? Or would Calculus B be a better use of my time and money, even if there's a high risk of failing the tests?

I have one week left to change my course plan without loosing any money.

Sep 1st: Back to school

The Harvard Yard
The Harvard Yard

Today I attended my first class of discrete matematics (E-104). I was too optimistic in estimating the time it takes to bike from the FSF to the Harvard Science Center, and as a result I arrived 5 minutes too late. Next, I entered the wrong classroom, and it took me another 5 minutes to figure out that kinetic laws had nothing to do with my course.

When I finally got seated in the correct classroom, I realized I had no paper! So I started taking notes on my laptop, but I was really the only one doing so. Not much because it's not customary for Harvard, but mostly because ASCII is not very well suited for writing math. Luckily, the first class was about logic operations, whose notation is very easy to transcribe on computers. To make things worse, the battery ran out near the end of the class, producing an embarrassing alarm sound that everybody could hear.

My #1 fear, being unable to follow the professor in English, dispelled almost immediately. Besides, this first lesson wasn't very hard in itself. I noticed that the professor accompanies the explanations with several small questions directed at the audience. These days this is one of the few reasons left to prefer a real university over a set of videos on You Tube.