Meeting an idol

Yesterday was “scare tactics” day I think. Staff and graduating student had a good time telling us how hard our program was going to be. The guy from Psychological Services offered us 12 free counseling sessions, acting like we would all break down and need them eventually :D.

Well, I guess that a warning can sometimes be a very good thing. Anyway, the good thing is that 17 students graduated full-time last year, so it is at least possible. :)

Today was much better, in that respect. First up was a campus tour by Julian and Andy. They showed us where we would have our classes and where to find other facilities. You pay a lot of money to study at CMU, but they spare no costs on facilities and services. There’s even a free shuttle service that drives you home when you’ve been “working on your project through the night”.

We had a good lunch at a place called Mad Mex (hey, they even had healthy food!), and then I was up for my advisory appointment with Bonnie John!!!

Now, you probably don’t understand my use of three exclamation marks in the last sentence. Bonnie John is my advisor, and she’s also my idol. She’s awesome. I wrote a 100-paged report on her work. She plays Dance Dance Revolution. Need I say more?

(The) Bonnie John had found my report (it’s about CogTool, a cognitive modeling tool for user-interface design) via Google. It was actually enlisted above her original project for a while. She read it, and liked it. She actually made everyone in the department read it! Of course, it was a pleasant surprise and a big honor for me to hear this. She couldn’t wait for me to see the new version of CogTool and criticize it. I told her that Mark and Steven are currently doing another study on CogTool, and she promised me she’d help them with source code and everything.

Totally happy (almost euphoric), I went to see some presentations given by current PhD-students. One was on “Control and the Smart Home”, and it explained how flexible scheduling devices could help double-income parents keep track of the activities of themselves and their children. The other was on “A Storytelling Robot: Modeling and Evaluation of Human-like Gaze”, where they taught a storytelling ASIMO-robot how to gaze like a human-being, and used this to evaluate the effect of gaze attention on task performance and likeability.

After that, I plugged in my iPod and went home. Oh that’s right; I bought a 30-gig video-iPod. I really like the device because the design is so perfect. For instance, the device pauses automatically when you (purposefully) unplug your earpieces.

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