A little bit about me and my family
I was born on October 5, 1977 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have
lived in New Jersey for most of my life. I lived in Fords, New Jersey until I
was around 4 or 5 years old. Then I moved to Edison, New Jersey and lived
there until I was 13. I went to a local nursery school called ABZ and I don't
have too many memories of it except that at snacktime everyday we ate graham
crackers and drank milk. I attended a Catholic School called St. Matthews
from kindergarten to third grade. I would often climb over our backyard fence
to play around in the big field behind St. Matthews. I later on went to
public school and was faced with one of the biggest shocks of my life. Before,
I had been in a Catholic school and people weren't considered nerds, if
anything the people who went there were just going to be different, whether it
be that their parents were very religious or whatever. I had the hardest time
adjusting to public school life with all its cliques. Living in Edison was a
rather difficult part of my life.
I moved to Neshanic Station, New Jersey in 8th grade. This was such a complete
change compared to living in Edison. In high school, my extra curriculars were
Cross Country (X-Country), Fencing, and Spring Track. I was also in a bunch of
little clubs such as Spanish Club, Academic Club (sort of like College Bowl...
but for high school students), Amnesty International, Math League (6 question
tests every month), and National Honors Society (NHS). I also sang in choir
and was a soprano II. I did fairly well in high school which is why I went to
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Carnegie Mellon University.
I have a Bachelors Degree in CS from CMU, May 1999.
Most of my family lives in Taiwan. The only relatives I have that live in the United States are my uncle, aunt, and four cousins. Recently, in two weeks of January/February 2008, I was in Taiwan for Chinese New Year's and Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai) and to see my relatives some of which I hadn't seen for over 10 years.
Here's a picture of my brother and I taken sometime in 1981:
The Story Behind My Interest in Computer Science
I still remember the day when my father bought that AT&T computer. I had no concept of what a computer was, what it did, and how you used it. I remember that night that my brother called over his friend, Brian, to help him set up the computer. I remember hearing the buzzwords DOS, autoexec.bat, operating system, and others the whole time. This wasn't much of a computer let me tell you! It was a 286 with little memory, a 20 megabyte hard drive, a 5 1/4" floppy drive, a 16 color EGA monitor, and not much else.
My brother was the one who used the computer the most. I remember watching in awe as my brother took the computer apart, fiddled around with it or took it all apart, and then put it back together again. The most amazing part was that he got it to work again :). Very soon after we got the computer, we got into games as well. Not much farther down the line came the modem and BBSs. Back in Edison, NJ, I didn't use the computer that much. I remember my brother spending massive amounts of time on it however.
The summer that our family moved to Neshanic Station, we took a vacation in Taiwan. If I had behaved a little bit better, perhaps I would have gotten a decent computer, but I didn't (being the annoying little sister that I was). What had happened before we left for vacation, was that the power supply in the AT&T computer broke. The cost to replace it was ridiculously high and we decided to get a better computer. Well instead of getting something fast (486 at the time) I got a pieced together computer. The new parts were an all new chassis, a 286-12 motherboard (actually faster than the old one), a SVGA monitor, an SVGA video card (not much memory however), a mouse, and a 3 1/2" floppy drive. We reused the old 20 MB hard drive, 5 1/4" floppy drive, and 2400 Baud modem from the old computer.
Basically it was during high school that I became interested in BBSs. I called a whole bunch of local ones and it took up a lot of my time. Mind you, I used a 2400 baud modem to call these places up for many years. During that time, I got inspired to try and start some meetings at the mall. Generally people would post an idea about meeting some place, but the plans would never gel. Well I also had to put up with a lot of "Maybe I'll go" (which I quickly learned should be translated as "no") people. But I got a few together, and some people are better friends from it now. The idea fascinated me. It tells a lot about a person (IMHO) whether or not they choose to go. I started it, and other people continue it. I still go to meetings even when I go back home. There is a local BBS (many aren't local to Neshanic :( ) called The Sorcery Board which had around 4 lines at the time. It was planning on getting the internet. Well I had subscribed before it got internet access and so I got unlimited time and no ratio for $10 for 6 months. That is an unbelievably low price...and I used it to my full advantage. I was online *so* much during my senior year. Sometime also during my senior year I got a 9600 modem (much faster! but still not that fast).
So there is my story. It really has nothing to do with computer science or programming. It's strange then that I would pick CS as my major with having little to no background in it and no knowledge of its applications. In high school, I didn't take any computer programming courses, because I didn't really think that this would be my major.
gripes about that old computer
that stupid old computer!
when the fan broke, my brother called AT&T about it. Basically we would have to buy a whole new chassis. The cost to replace the chassis was way too much. All the parts were too integrated. Meaning the video card and other stuff from that computer were incompatible with most other IBM-compatible machines. The motherboard was huge (I'm not kidding I still have it at home and I could show it to you). It was slow as heck and EGA really sucks.
I used to play #chaos on irc (inter relay chat) a lot. If you are ever on irc you might see me as either jade2 (usually on undernet as myself), MsGrey (usually on effnet from my tsb account), harpin, tears, tribeca, oranges, alluria, choo, InSearch, sherbert, etc. :) Be sure to look for me on both effnet and undernet.
Sid Meier's Civilization and Civ2
I love this game! This is one of the best computer games ever made.
tribute to old computer games
Hmmm...I can't remember most of the old games that I've played over the years. I remember Archon and Larn however. Archon had a game board on it that reminded me of chess. There were basilisks in it and other strange creatures that had specific attack strategies. Larn was almost like rogue, but I played it more often than I did rogue. Let's see. I've played a few different versions of 3-d chess, although personally I'm not good at playing chess. I would like to find a good old copy of the game that I used to play, but I can't find one. Ultima II was pretty neat. :) Okay all of you out there groaning! I liked it a lot better than the Ultima games that are out now. Anybody out there remember marble madness? That was an awesome game! 2/3/97 here's an update on my taste in games. I play Quake (capture the flag) quite a bit now. It gives me a damn good adrenaline rush :). Before Windows died on me, I played minesweeper a lot. Another favorite game of mine is Warcraft II.
my opinions on computer science
So now that I've survived college how do I feel about my major? Well if you knew me in college then you knew that ever since freshman year I bitched and complained about how I didn't like my major anymore. This was true for a number of reasons. There was a lot of math that I had to learn and math like I had never learned before. I had to prove theorems, etc, but I always considered proofs to be comprised of BS and hand-waving. I mean theorems look wonderful on paper, but I'm more interested in the real-life application of something. I have to admit that part of my gripes about computer science have to do with the fact that with a 3.12 GPA, I was still about 2/3rds of the way down the GPA list for CS majors in my graduating year. That was pretty humbling and a little bit of an ego-shatter. I guess that's what I get for wanting to go to one of the top CS schools in the country. Perhaps I really love CS deep down inside, but I haven't found any applications of CS that I would like. Ideally I had thought that computers could change the world and that I would make my way in this world by helping everyone communicate better. But that soon changed after I got to college and fellow classmates/younger classmates would say behind my back "what? she never even programmed and they let her into the top CS undergrad program in the US? she must have gotten in because of the quota." I mean...guys...please wake up. I worked damn hard in high school to get where I have gotten to at this point. When you keep saying crap like that..it's little wonder that few females want to become computer programmers (Just think...they inherit the bad reputation of not showering even though they really do?). I suppose I haven't really helped out the females in CS movement by complaining to everybody that I knew how much I hated CS and complaining about how horrible my grades were in my CS classes (I did really really well in my humanities classes).
So It's more than a year after I graduated from CMU. A CS degree pays.
That's about all that I can say.