Sunday, July 31, 2005

How is it Going at IBM?

Last week was my 8th week working as an intern at IBM. I must say that I am tough on myself when evaluating my progress. Even though I could give a bunch of excuses and explanations, truth is I have not been delivering like I think I should. There is a steep learning curve for Engineers, it takes months before a new hire starts delivering, and years before an engineer can say that he knows what he's doing. That is why getting an internship is important for us. Few companies are willing to train people right out of school.
I have not been delivering yet, and interesting enough, it took me having an excellent day at work to realize how little I have been performing. I have to say that IBM is awesome when it comes to managing their people, I have one on one meetings with my Manager once a week and I have a Mentor outside of the Department that I meet every two weeks.
On Friday my mentor showed me the 4 stages of learning for new hires:

1. Unconcioulsy Incompetent
2. Conciously Incompetent
3. Concioulsly Competent
4. Unconciously Competent

Every new hire starts at level one, that person doesn't know what he's doing and doesn't know he doesn't know what he's doing. he or she is given small assigments to get them familiar with the system.
Once a new engineer realizes how much he needs to learn, he becomes concious of his ignorance, but the key is that he knows exactly what areas he needs to work on. He sees what skills are essential and what are not.
Level 3 is for an engineer that knows what he's doing but needs to make a concious effort and 4 is for the experienced engineer who is so good he can do his job in his sleep.

I figured I just reached level 2. I realized that I have so much to learn, the hard part is that finding bugs in the hardware is not easy. I write a program that produces test cases, I run those tests, when they fail I try to find out why they failed, I have to figure out if they failed because there is something wrong with the code in the test case, the testing enviroment or if it is a hardware bug. In order to know if something is wrong I have to know how everything works, the problem is that there are thousands of lines of code to look through, so knowing where to look is important, this knowledge comes with experience, once it has been determined what kind of error I have.I look for the cause and fix it. So far I can fix an error in the test case, but I can't find or fix a testing eviroment of a hardware bug.

On Thusday I found my first hardware bug. One of the test cases I wrote and ran found an error in the logic of the chip. I did not know, my supervisor debugged it and to his surprise found it. My testcase gave the error message but my supervisor looked at the original code and found the Bug. A good tester not only knows how to find a bug but how to fix it. I still know neither. I had no clue about the complexity of a computer chip. There are millions of transistors, MILLIONS! people say that number all the time, but can you picture how big of number a million is? If in one of those little logic gates a single bit gets corrupted, 0000000000000000 becomes 0000000000000001 the system breaks, then a debugger has to look for the error, to me that is like finding a microscopic needle in a galactic haystack. It takes a lot to design and test a system that is complex in functionallity and yet works every single time. I don't know how the hell they do it. But that's why they get paid the big bucks. Oh man, I have a long way to go.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Streets of Minnesota Teem with Strangeness.

There is another Floridian that's enjoying charm of the Mysterious North. You can see his blog here

Dave Barry is in Minnesota, and apparently I just missed him, he was at the Mall of America the other day, I would have liked to meet him.

Stephen King was cool.
The latest news

Well, I finally finished my Research Paper on Linux Security, All I have left is the final, which is on August 10, I've been reading Ultimate Questions: Thinking about Philosophy by Nils Rauhut and The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. The Ultimate questions is a very easy read, nothing too complex, it deals with some basic questions that Philosophers have been trying to answer for centuries. I liked the first chapter because it answered questions like: What is Philosophy? what is the relationship between philosophy and science, and the Main branches of Philosophy, The Methodology of Philosophers and How philosophers make arguments. The rest of the book is a list of questions that have been hard to answer. They are:

1. How do we know what we know?

2. The problem of Free Will

3. The Problem of Personal Identity

4. The Mind/Body problem

5. Does God Exist?

6. What ought We to Do?

This book left me with the desire to know more, I think everyone should do the same. I have been asking questions like those since I was little. But in those days Religion filled up all my unanswered questions,back then I believed it all. But now I am not so sure anymore, I don't like to believe in something without a proof, or without knowing how it works, I like to know the how's and the why's. That's why I like Computer Engineering. We deal with abstract objects and make them do work. If something goes wrong, there is always a way to find out why and how, it may not always be easy, but there is always an answer. Our universe is not like that. Sometimes the Universe seems like a design crafted by a Superior being with the Laws of Nature, other times it looks like this is a chaotic place and we are here by accident. I realize that Philosophy will not answer the big questions but I completely agree with Socrates when he said (according to Plato) that:

"The unexamined life is not worth living"

I am in this world to live it, explore it, and learn from it. There is so much to learn, so little time.

By the way, the other book, the Consolations, looks like a self-help book, I have not finished it yet, but I already have some books in my pending queue.

1. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
2.The Demons of Eden by Carl Sagan
3. The Nietzsche Reader, a compilation of his best works.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My wife created her own space with pics and stuff, it's pretty popular, it has scored about 3o times the amount of hits my blog gets in just a couple of days, you can see it here. Don't ask why she calls me stinky.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

view of the Euphrates from the bridge Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Confessions from the War part III

This is taking too long, I want to say what I have to say and get it over with. I really don't like talking or writing about the war that much but there are a few things I want to "confess" before moving on with my life, I want nothing more than to move on with my life and forget Iraq. It seems egoistical but it really hurts me to think about the whole thing. When I was there I thought of nothing but the day that I would finally come home. But I feel like I left unfinished business there. The first months back I could not see any news about it because I would feel guilty about not being there helping. I feel like I went there but got nothing done. There are so many things I would like to say, but words are not freaking enough. Or rather my words are not enough, I can't put together how I feel toward the Iraqis, I love them and I hate them both at the same time. Iraqi people, I met you, I talked to you, I saw you, I learned about you, I learned words in Arabic, I shook hands with you, I gave you food, I was compasionate, I spared some of your lifes.

One day. In Iraq. I had been given an order to shoot a man I thought did not deserve to die.
It is not quite that simple, what happened was that there was a sentry post on a bridge on the Euphrates River. Some dumb iraqis used to go to the middle of that river and throw granades or explosives in order to collect the dead fish that surfaced afterwards, well obviously that did not sit well with us. Specially the sentries on the bridge. Warnings were given, Patience was running short. Days later the Captain frustated ordered that the next time fisherman used explosives on the river to shoot them. Sure enough, we got the call to go over and shoot at the poor bastards.
My section was on duty that day so we went over there, my Platoon Sgt who is wiser than most told us not to shoot at them but to shoot near them so we only scare them away, but when we called it on the Radio we heard back orders to shoot them because they were running away from us. I had this man in my sights, his back was to me and I had a good shot to the back of his head. I intentionally shot away from him, I did not think he deserved to die. But I felt very shitty afterwards, what if he, the same guy that I spared were to come back and kill one of us?
I don't know if i was being weak, or scared, but i did not want to kill an unarmed person.
If that guy went to kill Americans, I am truly sorry. I failed my brothers in Arms. I'd have to live with that the rest of my life. But, I'd like to think I spared a life.Maybe he really was an innocent civilian, it is impossible to tell. I wanted to come back with a clean concience. Killing people is fucked up business. Even though you Iraqis threw everything you could at me, from rocks to rocketts. including bullets and IEDs. I did what i could to be fair. After the incident I told no one, until now.

There is no stereotype that fits all of the soldiers and all of the Iraqis. Just one thing, I don't want to talk about Iraq ever again. The more I remember the worse I feel. There are more things that I wish I could say, but I am done for now. I forced myself to let this out because I've had it with me for months, but writing about it is not really helping.

I was starting to forget this whole thing, it is better to be ignorant, to be in a bliss. If you didn't have to go to Iraq see and live those things, good for you. You don't need to, just be grateful you live in America where you can write anything that comes to your mind in a stupid blog. Yeah the system is screwed up, but all the others systems are worse. And if you find a better place to live, America is so good you are also free to leave it.

I am going to carry on with this blog writing about other important things like my son who is due in September, IBM, the meaning of life or whether the Marlins are going to the playoffs. It doesn't matter. Maybe sometime later I will write more crap about the war. I would rather not, but sometimes i am not in charge of my own head.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Confessions from the War part II

To be brutally honest, I am confused. I am completely and hopeless torn in half with this issue. On one hand, I'd like to think of our actions in the war as something good, honorable, a quest to get rid of a tyrant ruler, we brought freedom to an opressed country, We provided aid, we built schools, roads, restored power, (of course this won't make the evening news) The American Servicemen over there do a lot more than just sit there waiting for the enemy to do his next move. But Damn, there is a littel voice in me that likes to question everything, it cannot rest quiet. Is it in our best interest to be over there? What exactly are we accomplishing? This brings me yet to another dilema, I completely despise wiht all of my heart, those anti-war liberals that want us to be weak. I am NOT a war protester. But I do not want us to be in a military operation without a clear objective.

If you were to ask 10 different soldiers in my company what the "mission" was, they'd give you 10 different answers. Hell, our actual mission statement was the definition of vague, "To secure the city of Ramadi and to reconstruct the goverment infrastructure of the local goverment" In order to secure the city we had be secure ourselves, and we spent a lot of our time reacting to IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) instead of doing more beneficial activities for the Iraquis.

Now, here's the thing. The Iraqi resitance is so fucking stupid, they have to think, what do we really want? Do we want those dirty infidel Americans out of our beloved country? Well, let's let them be and eventually most of them will be out! But no, they want to fight, They don't want our presence there, they don't want our way of life, they don't want to have Wal-Marts, summer BBQs, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, They want to live the way they'd been living for hundreds of years, they wish that we lived in the days of Mohammed, they don't like capitalism, free trade, none of that. They don't want us over there. Here we were American soldiers thinking that everyone likes our freedom and our way of life, but those people are either very fucking stupid and they think that by killing Americans they will go to Allah, or they are smart enough to figure out that the way to kill the big giant is by acting like little germs, little tiny creatures that paralyze the big giant. I have seen them, I have captured them at Traffic Check points with a car-load of explosives, I was not impressed with them, most of them cry when they are captured, they swear of their innocence like the 20 RPGs that were in their car was to go camel-hunting. But once I saw this guy, he must have been like 17, I do not remember who he was, All I can tell you was that my section was in charge of securing them right after we did a raid and before we turned them over to the Military Police, What struck me about this kid was that he was not whining about his plastic handcuffs were too tight like his older peers, but instead he looked at us with this deep hate, this stare that I will never forget, this look that said that no matter what we do to his body his mind will never be touched, then I realized the power of fighting for an idea, a pretty reasonable person will realize that is a dumb idea strap himself with a bunch of C4 to kill 20 people, 18 of them iraqi, but not to a fanatical, not a person that firmly believes in what they are doing. If you think there is power in that, well, go ahead. I think it is pathetically stupid to die for an idea, or is it? If I were to die myself, would I have died a stupid death? I would like to think not, because I died "defending freedom" so isn't this similar to the death of the stupid iraqi who died for his ideas? You see, this is the type of thing that kills me, whenever I try to demonize the enemy and make our side the good guys I fail, at the end I could justify my actions as self defense, go after them before they get to me, anyone who is trying to harm me or my guys is my sworn enemy. But the fact that are trying to kill me in my mind justifies me shooting them but does not make them the side that is "wrong", actually yes it does, because if they were to stop shooting, placing IEDs, and all forms of resistance, then they wouldn't be shot at. They always started with the attacks, we were the reactive end for the most part. So that would make them "bad guys' and us the good guys. right? Right?

If this is in your rearview mirror... watch your back!  Posted by Picasa
Cofessions From The War part I

Last night I had a dream about Iraq, again. Once in a while I revisit Iraq in my dreams, it's not a big deal, it doesn't bother me, sometimes I remember the good momments of comradery other times I am not, last night was the former. I was at a Chow hall and the people in the line with me were all soldiers I went to war with. So, how do I feel about going over there? That's a question I get somewhat often by people that know that I was there, the answer depends on how I am feeling that day. Sometimes I say how it was crazy over there, all the unexpected turn of events that ocurred, I can talk about the funny things that happened, also about the drama that was going on at home, there's a love story between my wife and I, also there are the good ol' war stories, about how it feels to be shot at, to wake up in the middle of the night while the post is being mortared, how it feels to patrol the streets daily at a place where anything can blow up at any time, (as it often did), I can tell you about the ugly things, the ugly sights, the shitty smell of Iraq, The way one feels when the day is over, clothes covered in sweat, dead tired, no mail that day, not knowing what day we are coming back home, and the only thing for sure is that the next day will be more of the same thing. I could go on about that, but I don't want to. Rather i would like to answer a question that was there since day one.
Did we do something good over there?
It all depends on who you ask, I must start by saying that I come from a family of Republicans that are very Conservative and Right-Wing Christians, personally I vote for whoever I think is best, not necessarily from one party or the other, I voted for Bush last election, not because I thought he was the best, but because I thought John Kerry was worse than him. I do not think of myself as a liberal, in fact I think politics is ..... well,I don't want to get into that right now.
Back to the question, Did we do something good?
This questions bothers me so much, What is good anyway? I guess that is defined by who wins,
History is written by the winners, just ask the Native Americans.
But we went there to liberate, to take out a very bad person from power, to look for WMD's and becuase we were ordered to go. But something still bothers me ( A lot ) and I will get back to that the next time, I have to finish writing my research paper, Good bye Iraq for now, and hello Research Paper on Linux Security.

I promise I will explain more later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm so tired

I worked 12 hours today, I am trying to get this Perl Script to work properly and have been unsuccessful so far. I started writing this program that "reads" a file and generates TestCases to test the Logic of the chip, the problem is, teaching the computer how to "read", it is more complicated that it seems,(at least to me) but it is an interesting challenge, the only thing is that I am mentally exhousted. It is a good feeling seeing progress in my programming skills, I am doing in one hour what was taking me a day two weeks ago, and given that two months ago I did not know what a Perl Script was, I'd say I am making good Progress.

The matter of free will has been debated by philosophor for many years, yet any married guy with a pregnant wife will tell you, there is no free will, I would have argued that yes, I am responsible for my actions and that there is always a choice, but given my choices now, there is really no contest. A happy wife is a happy life, especially a pregnant one.

I say an interesting post here, but I did not have the mental energy left to make a good argument with kamran, I would like to say that there is a point when doing an abortion is ilegal, however I do not know all the facts right on top of my head, but I think that after 12 weeks you can't have one. So, what is the difference before and after? Can you say that having an abortion a week after conception is the same as one done after 25 weeks? Technically, the only difference is that the fetus is more developed, but anyone "feels" there's something "morally" wrong with doing an abortion that late in the term. But is there a difference? According to some, the fetus is not a person yet, but, something is not right with thinking that a late pregnancy fetus isn't, I am probably not making much sense, so I'll let that go, I'll get back to that when I know what I'm talking about.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Hmm, this is a good question, at first it was a way for me to get in touch with friends and family, but that has not really happened. Most of my family is not in here so they don't really read that much English. That leaves the rest to my friends, and you people read it but don't leave any freaking comments, so that leaves just the random people who read stranger's blogs, and I doubt I have too many of those. So, it's just me, I am selfishly going to write whatever the hell comes to my Mind, I have picked out some topics I wish to bring up. I will do a series of Posts titled "Confessions from the War" in which I will say a bunch of stuff I have been meaning to say about that part of my life. So this will be my personal place to make a mental dump everytyme I think it is necessary. I doubt that many people out there actually give a $%^& if I start ranting about x, so I think my thoughts are pretty safe here. More to follow....

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hmm, I like museums, why can't he? Posted by Picasa

he's going to like going to museums Posted by Picasa

Hey!! What about your son!! Posted by Picasa
Sorry about my absence

I haven't posted anything in a little while. I had an interesting couple of weeks since the last post. I meant to put pictures of the Fireworks here in Rochester last 4th of July, that didn't happen, my computer almost completely crashed (don't ask), and I found out there was more stuff to take care of for my mortgage Loan, oh what a pain in the ass that is. There's also this research paper I have to write for school, and God knows I am not much of writer,( as you can tell by this blog).

Someone made a comment about me not writing about my unborn son (thanks babe!)
Well, that was a fair comment. I am at a loss for words when it comes to that. I am so extremely excited about it, I don't know where to start. I mean, I really want to be a good Dad. But what the hell is a good Dad? Where is the manual? The way I see it there are two extremes when it comes to parenthood: The obssesive parents who want to control everything about their kids and the ones who don't seem to care much about what their kids do. Hmm, I want to be a balanced between those two. But how will I accomplish this without giving myselft a heart attack? I don't know at this point. One thing is true though, I never thought I would be capable of loving someone as much as I do my unborn son. I have not met him yet and I love him to death. So shoot me if I'm being corny ok? what are you going to do, beat me up? huh? Ok...that's what I thought.

Monday, July 04, 2005

caminando en N.Y Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

batting practice at the Metrodome Posted by Picasa
Trip to Minneapolis

Ok Folks, in case you were wondering how my 4th of July weekend is going, let me give you a little update. Friday, went to Minneapolis, Suturday did nothing! Sunday, went to church, cleaned up my apartment (long overdue) and started working on my research paper. I am convinced I chosed the wrong topic as I barely know how to use Linux, I am supposed to write a paper about how to make it more secure, I am having trouble figuiring out how to connect to the internet with Linux, but that's my favorite way of learning, the straight forward way.

Anyway, I can't complain about Minneapolis. It's a big city with a small-town mentality as far as I can see.

I went to the Metrodome to see the Twins play, I saw them beat Tampa, Johan Santana won the game.

Finished reading Paulo Coelho's El Zahir, HATED the ending...even though I liked the book, the ending left me disturbed, I will let you read it for yourself.

That's it for now, just a quick update, for my family and friends.