So I realize that I’m the only one who has posted since May, but I plan on continuing this blog since I have good news: I’m starting back up at Avirtek!! I’ve also completed a semester of college and am just beginning a second. I’m at the U of A Honors College. There have been SO many changes since I last updated, varying from the fact that I completed and presented my SRP to the fact that I am now a completely independent adult, though I’ve discovered that the term “adult” is very relative and that I’m at best a fledgling adult. From here on, the blog is going to be a bit more freeform (since it is or will very soon be less BASIS affiliated) and I plan to make another site and either move the content there or just post my new weekly updates there. The focus will definitely still be on Avirtek and the work I do there, though.
Walking back through the front door of Avirtek was a bit strange. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t recognize a single car. By the end of my internship last year, I could recognize who was there just by which cars were parked in the lot. There were two new cars and no familiar ones. I had coordinated this new job with Fabian, however, and he was the one who greeted me as I walked in the door. I don’t know if it was my subconscious or if it was just a lack of time, but I never did return the key to the company after my internship ended last year. Dr. Hariri said I could keep it in good faith that I would return. I hadn’t actually been planning on returning as of late, believe it or not, but I re-entered the job market this semester (this semester I have a lot more time than I did last semester, which is a very long story) and this was the best, most productive prospect I had. It sure beats flipping burgers, and I would get some professional job experience, so I thought why not apply?
I am SO glad I did. I got a raise and we’re working on a really cool new project, which I’ll get to in a second.
As I walked in the door, I passed by a bearded guy wearing jeans and a green-and-white plaid shirt. We both gave each other a brief look of confusion, then continued walking. Once I had greeted Fabian and he had explained to me what I was doing, I realized something: Dr. Hariri, Fabian, and the Turkish guy who stole my sandwich were the only employees that had stayed at the company since I left. Chintan, who last semester I actually ran into on campus, is pursuing an MIS degree, and Shubha’s visa expired. The new guy, I learned today, is named Eric and he seems friendly enough. I think it was just odd for both of us that the other seemed so at ease at the company and yet at the same time we were completely foreign to each other. I had been there before him, and in a sense, he was there before me. It wasn’t only the people that were new, either.
The XML project I had been working on is now completed and was apparently pretty successful. Once one project is done, a new one begins, and I happened to start in the early phases of the newest project, which deals with AI and voice recognition. The first thing Fabian asked me to do was make four Raspberry Pis. For those of you confused, no I was not baking. Raspberry Pis are foundational computers with a variety of attachable components that can be utilized right out of the box. Basically what Fabian had me do is unwrap each component, assemble the computer, and make sure that they were all working.
That ^^ is a Raspberry Pi, or at least the motherboard. My first task was essentially putting that in a case, inserting the MicroSD card with the OS on it, attaching the mouse, monitor, and power cable, and turning it on. I worked on constructing the next one while the OS of the previous loaded because it takes about ten minutes for the OS to load. If you don’t know, an OS is basically the software on which the device runs. Think Windows, Linux, whatever Apple uses in place of Windows on its computers, etc. Raspberry Pis run on Linux, the same OS I used for software development last year. Today I was reminded today of just how awful Windows is for that.
So my first day was essentially constructing Raspberry Pis and making sure they work. After that, I went to work on settling into a work computer again. I don’t know where the old one went. It was briefly mentioned by Fabian at one point, but I’m using a different computer now, even though I sit in the exact same spot I used to. Old habits die hard.
That was last Thursday: I assembled the Raspberry Pis, which took me about two hours, then went to work settling into a new computer, i.e. installing the software I needed to actually start programming. For the programmers out there, that meant installing the two languages I know best, Java and Python, and installing the respective IDE’s I use for them, Eclipse and PyCharm. I will say this: when it comes to programming, I hate Windows. I spent WAY too long installing the JREs and JVMs and JDKs required to run Eclipse. It yelled at me WAY too many times for not having all three installed when I HAD LITERALLY JUST INSTALLED ALL THREE. Salt.
Anyway, today was my second day at work and my first task was still getting my stupid IDEs up and running. An IDE is basically the setup in which you write your code, and there are a variety for each language and can be customized. Which one you use is a preference thing, but you definitely need a functioning one to code smoothly. Today I realized oh hey, Windows is being annoying, so why don’t I just use Linux? Brilliant idea! Linux runs Python automatically anyway so I wouldn’t have to install the language and Linux makes manipulating the packages in the OS (kind of like Python libraries) SO much easier. It still took me a solid chunk of time to install both Python and Eclipse, but for the most part, the command line made installation much easier, and then I could finally start the project.
Sooooo the project: from what I understand, we’re essentially creating every Black Mirror fan’s nightmare/dream. You know what Alexa is, right? Here’s the idea because yet again I’m not sure what exactly I can disclose: Imagine if Alexa was upgraded with AI to become a pseudo-version of you. Yup. I’m sure there’s a Black Mirror episode explaining why that could be terrifying but in reality, it’s SO cool! The project is in its very first stages though, so, for now, I’ve just been working on finding and implementing the best open-source (ie publicly available) voice recognition and text-to-speech options I could find. I got a working demo done today, and I’ll work on further functionality tomorrow.
Hope the new year is treating you well,