Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Job

I got a phone call tonight that I've been anxiously awaiting. My oldest daughter called from New York City to share happy news: She accepted an offer for her first full-time job. She'll be working for a small firm in New York City that advises clients on how to preserve and archive audio-visual collections.

I'm so proud of her. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from a small liberal arts college in May 2008 as the economy in the United States came to a crashing halt. Friends who graduated one year earlier had several offers to choose from, but months of applications and pounding the sidewalks turned up nothing. She had to come back home to live while she continued her search.

She hustled. She was a tutor at the high school in town. She coached her beloved cross-country and track teams. The girls loved her for it, but she was biding her time until the economy improved. She lived frugally, saved her money, and made plans for two years. She went to New York City to get a Masters degree from Queens College, completing it just a few weeks ago in December.

I've worried that her efforts might not be rewarded. We've always believed in the promise of education. What would happen if a second degree, paid for out of the money she squirreled away for two years, failed to deliver a job that could provide independence? All that dissolved when the phone call came at 6:20 pm. She was asked to come in at 6 pm tonight for a second interview to meet the founder of the company. It wasn't a long conversation. They liked her. I imagine a scene that looked something like this:

I saw a great link "14 Do's and Don'ts Upon Taking A New Job", with advice for anyone starting a new job, be it their first or one in a long line. I think it's spot on, worth keeping in mind.

I've had a lot of first days on new jobs. I can't wait to hear how her first of first days goes.

Congratulations, my love. Well done; well deserved.

profile for duffymo at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Sunday, January 8, 2012


That new computer that I assembled in 2011 (read here and there) is screaming along now.

My original idea was to install the operating system on my first SSD. When I placed my order at, only a 40GB SSD was available in my price range. I found that the disk was almost full after installing Windows 7. Not good! I put the OS up on the 1TB mechanical hard drive so I could get the machine up and running.

But my delay and procrastination had one benefit: it gave Moore's Law time to work its magic. The size of SSDs has been going up while the prices have come down. I see rough prices of $1.50 per GB for SSDs now; I can get 120 or 240GB disks without too much trouble.

I decided to spring for a 120GB SSD and start again. I had invested in a lovely two-disk tray that makes installing a new one as easy as inserting it into the drawer and snapping it into place. Now I have two: the operating system is installed on the 120GB SSD, while the 40GB drive houses data and software projects.

It's amazing to see how responsive this machine is. I have 6 CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and a Nvidia video card. I still have a 1TB internal hard drive and an external 1TB drive that connects via USB. I use the external drive as a backup.

What to do with that 1TB internal drive?

I decided to install Ubuntu on the mechanical hard drive and set it up to dual boot with Windows 7. Now I have a Unix machine with gcc available to me. I'd love to install the CUDA SDK and start writing C++ to exercise their linear algebra and FFT libraries. It's one of the projects that I have in mind for 2012.

I've installed R and Tinn-R. I've begun working my way through "Doing Bayesian Data Analysis" by John Kruschke. It's been a revelation; I'll be writing more about that soon. That's another project for 2012.

2011 was a decent year for technical learning, but I need to step things up quite a bit. This new machine will be a great platform for doing so.

profile for duffymo at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers