July 4, 2009

Score and Four To Go

That's right - 24 days left. Current status:

Raytracer's almost finished. I just have to put a flag in to render bounding boxes, speed things up a little, and render a custom scene (unlike the one at top, which was provided by the TAs as a test.) I'll also put a bit more effort into stamping out numerical instability - especially for ray-polygon intersection - and I'll perform random supersampling to smooth things out a bit. Once I get that done, I can finally get back to my end-of-term project!

We've hit a snag in Real-Time land. System call parameters occasionally get corrupted, and it's somehow related to timer interrupts. (For full details, see here.) So far, the bug has proven itself to be highly resistant to our debugging efforts. Not all is lost, however; I'm planning to branch the repo, pare down the system to only those parts necessary to reproduce it, and tweak around until this thing is fixed. While it might cost us some short-term assignment marks, we still have time to rewrite the thing from scratch - and I'm fully prepared to do so in the absence of effective alternatives. (It's worth noting that at least one other group has followed this precipitous path!)

On a more personal note, this is the most demanding sustained workload I've ever faced. Until this month is over, weekends and holidays mean nothing to me. I'm holding up so far; the Real-Time bug brought me close to the breaking point, but I've since regained my self-confidence. The bottom line is this: I enjoy what I do. I like the challenge of it, the reward of writing something abstract to get a very concrete result. If I didn't, I would have ditched CS long ago for less silicon-encrusted pastures. If I have to remind myself of that when I'm chugging away another 10-hour stint in the Trains Lab, so be it. I'll make it through these 24 days one way or another - Evan will prevail!

That said, I'm always open to receiving words of encouragement, advice, or anything else positive.

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