Saturday, February 28, 2009

Academic Battle

I have been trying to learn a brand new professional skill for the past 12 months. It's called Digital Signal Processing. About this time last year I made the decision to focus my Master's Degree on Electrical Engineering as opposed to Computer Science. Ironically, that decision was based on the assumption that a degree in C.S. would be too much work (because of the programming assignments) and that DSP would be easier because it's math based, after all, how hard can the math be?

Well my friends, on retrospect I could welcome programming projects, I have been reviewing and learning math, math, math for the past 12 months. I think I am finally getting it, but only because of rote determination, by the sheer power of my fear of failure, I have been spending my evenings and weekends trying to know, and understand the material in the books pictured above.

From Calculus I am reviewing Integrals: Integration by parts, the number e and its properties, logarithms and logarithmic functions, Taylor Series, Fourier Series, Power Series, Trig identities.

From Signals and Systems I had to teach myself the Convolution Integral, something that I never saw my undergrad and something that was truly meant for computers to calculate, I don't know how on earth mathematicians knew these things before the age of electronics. Kudos to them.

From Probability and Random processes I realized that I am a math chump, an inferior being who can't grasp the simple concepts of combinations and permutations, who has trouble setting up probability densities and distributions. Random variables, Random functions, Random sequences and Random processes nearly took my sanity away last semester.

This semester looks more promising, since we use all the math in the foundation subjects to apply them and come up with working systems that transmit and receive information using electromagnetic fields, binary or M-ary signals. We learn about the signal to Noise ratio necessary to have a low probability of error. It's kind of rewarding to see how all the material comes together to make something do useful work. I never thought so much about something we take for granted on a daily basis. We expect cell phones to work, our laptops to get flawless wi-fi signals, our long distance phone calls to sound crisp and instantaneous. Behind all these things there were industrious engineers making things happen.

So I have been studying. I take a break every now and then, but I can't think of much else, just the family, the job, and the math.

I am glad I took this break though, after this a little more work and then put the kids to bed, and watch a movie with my lady.

Be good to each other guys.


Monday, February 16, 2009


Venezuela is going to be the next Cuba. It's really upsetting. Well, they chose that path, let's see where it leads them. Oh well. I am glad our family is here.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Busy Week

Last week was non-stop craziness. Hopefully things will get back to a slower pace now. School is finally picking up, Work has been ramped up for a while now. I've also made new commitments that I feel are important. So as a result, now new post this week. No worries, I'll be back soon. I always come back.

Take care. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

25 Random Things about me

I got hit by the meme in facebook, and, I don't know, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I thought I'd reproduce it here.

1. Deep down, I am just a curious person. I love to learn things just for the fun of it.
2. I am the definition of a nerd, dork, etc. etc.
3. When I was a kid, I was very shy.
4. I love books, baseball and science.
5. I used to think I was good a Math until I got to Calculus.
6. Computers fascinate me.
7. I have an awesome family
8. I never thought I could love my kids as much as I do.
9. I still feel like a kid.
10. I love Spanish food.
11. I must have spent 20% of my childhood riding a bicycle.
12. At the age of 12, I started reading Stephen King novels.
13. I was born and raised in Venezuela, lived there until I was 13.
14. I learned English by watching T.V.
15. My middle name is Ali.
16. I don't like Sea Food.
17. I love Italian food. Specially lasagna.
18. I put my foot in my mouth a lot.
19. I still drive my first car, and after ten years, can't find a reason to get rid of it.
20. Thanks to the Marines, I have been to more countries than states.
21. I have been to 14 states.
22. I love to travel.
23. I honestly and silently admire my son's courage (At 3, he has more balls than most adults I know)
24. I love math, but math doesn't love me back.
25. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a baseball player and a Pastor/Missionary in the off season.