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Showing posts from 2014

Touring the "City of Pearls"

In my last full day at India, I signed up for a day-long tour to explore the City of Hyderabad with a group of other ICSE attendees. We spent the day touring nearby palaces, ruins, monuments, and slums. I cannot state enough how crowded the streets were with people. I actually got lost from my travel crew for a bit because the crowd separated us from yelling distance. Luckily, I’m pretty good with tracking down a group and reunited with them to do some last minute souvenir shopping (60 INR ~ 1 USD at the time of this writing). I created a quick teaser video to show some of my favorite areas of Hyderabad.

Overall, I had a great week in India and hope I get to visit other parts of the country in the future. I was able to network with numerous researchers and scientists, make new friends (shout out to Gautham and Hari for driving me around the city), and explore a culture so different from my own. Namastē for now, India.

Riding rickshaw

I almost died in India. Numerous times on the road, actually. But I donned the biggest smile on my face with every nearby vehicle collision because I was having such a great time. Auto rickshaws (see those yellow vehicles in the above picture) are a common means of public transportation in many countries in the developing world, especially in India. The fare for riding on these petite, three-wheeled vehicles is cheaper than a public bus and significantly more cheap than a taxi. After missing the shuttle from the Hyderabad International Convention Center to my hotel after dusk, I decided to ride one for the thrill. There are no seat belts on a rickshaw. And law enforcement? Ha! Nonexistent. My driver yielded for no pedestrians and dangerously weaved his way through busses and motorcycles around busy intersections. The honking and yelling—every other three seconds—added to the roadrage fun. I lost track of how many times we nearly crashed into something else, but I have to give credit to…

Who’s the fairest of them all?

I had very little downtime throughout the week because I wanted to attend as many workshops and keynotes to make my stay worthwhile. However, I did have some time to relax in the middle of the week, and I spent it catching up on rest in my hotel room. While flipping through numerous channels, I couldn’t help but notice the complexion of every Indian actor either on a television show, news broadcasting service, or commercial. All of the Indians on screen were fairly white. How could I not notice the subliminal obsession with being light skinned when it seemed that nearly every other television advertisement bombarded me with produced that claimed to “make your skin more fair.” Ugh. No thank you. 

Now this was completely different from my interactions with local Indians on the streets. And I’m referring to the authentic locals with darker skin tones. Usually in America, I’m one of the darkest people in any given room given my rich, brown skin. But in India, it felt different; I was liter…

ICSE 2014

I’m excited to travel to Hyderabad, India this week to present a paper at the International Conference on Software Engineering that I co-authored with Professor Andrew Ko and Neeraja Duriseti while I was an undergraduate at the University of Washington Information School. We sought to understand how consequences of software problems changed over the past 30 years. I will be sharing our findings at the 7th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE 2014) via both a poster and oral presentation.

The online proceedings have already been archived in the ACM Digital Library. My contributions to this work have been funded by the National Science Foundation through a summer undergraduate research experience opportunity. I’d also like to thank all of the researchers I’ve interacted with through the USE Research Group for getting me involved with interdisciplinary research.

Abstract: How have the consequences of software problems changed over the pas…

To India: Bumpy beginnings with Murphy’s Law

I have not been to Asia since I was eight years old on a family trip to the Philippines, so I was pretty excited to represent the work of my research team at a conference abroad in India. Aside from traveling across Europe throughout college, this experience became my first foray alone into the Far East. As a frequent flyer, I came prepared for the 15-hour plane ride across Europe and Asia—reading the “Divergent” series kept me somewhat entertained for a good chunk of the time.

The moments between landing in India and getting to my hotel were utter chaos. I landed in Mumbai learning that my negligent air carrier left my luggage back in Newark, NJ, so I was forced to live a week carrying only what I had in my laptop messenger bag. At first, I became incredibly irate with the travel agents who were filing my claim, but realized that this misfortune gave me the opportunity to learn to live with less for the time being. Side note: toilets in the airport were nonexistent—the bowel was rep…

A spring break well spent

I find that the best way to explore a city is to get lost within it. Once all the iConference workshops and presentations ended, I spent my last couple of days in Berlin wandering apart from my group. In addition to "people watching" at the local cafe and getting souvenirs for family and friends, I also took self-guided walks in several of the tourist attractions on my bucket list—most notably, the Pergamon Museum (their version of the Smithsonian) and the Reichstag (their version of The White House, pictured above). These two visits in tandem painted a holistic picture of Germany's past and provided a contemporary outlook on the country's current affairs. The historian within me drew interesting parallels between Germany and the United States, as these two countries actually have much more in common than meets the eye.

One week flew by way too quickly. I wish I could have stayed in Germany longer, but I really feel that I made the most out of my time here. Fortunat…

A week in a hostel

Traveling on a budget? Hostels are the way to go. For those who’ve never stayed in one, it’s surprisingly inexpensive. Seven nights in a hostel roughly equates to one night in a nice hotel. The catch is that you’ll be sharing quarters in a 4-6 person, but if you’re a social person and not afraid of meeting people, this shouldn’t be a problem for you at all. Think about it: why waste time paying for a five-star hotel if you’re going to be exploring the city, anyway? Plus, there’s still added amenities included, such as Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.

I stayed at Berlin One 80 and I really valued my hostel experience in Germany. I roomed with two college students from Afghanistan, and I learned a tremendous amount of their culture and customs in a short amount of time. Since they’ve been in Berlin for half a year already, they took me through a typical nightlife scene for people our age. Had I roomed by myself in a regular hotel, I probably would have spent the night watching YouTube—…

iConference 2014

As a first-year doctoral student in information science and technology, it was important for me to attend the iConference to share my research with scholars across across varied disciplines (e.g., education, public administration, sociology). This conference allowed me to see the emerging research topics relevant to the information science study, as well as interact with program directors from other iSchools who are actively sharing employment opportunities that can further my development. My attendance positively contributed to Syracuse University’s overall presence in the iConference as one of the premiere and leading information schools of its kind.

This year, the iConference received 113 papers and accepted 39, which accounted for a 34.5% acceptance rate for papers. The 2014 iConference was my first peer-reviewed venue where I not only presented the findings of my paper ("Digital Inclusion for Migrant Millennials: Improving the ICT Landscape of Yakima Valley Schools"), …

Slytherin vibes: Feeling smart and dangerous

I like structure. And that’s why I like traveling in groups. Not only is there safety in numbers, but people generally have an idea of what the collective should do when exploring the city. My Syracuse contingent and I took a walking tour of Berlin on the first day of arrival, which I thought was a smart decision. Our tour group was predominantly English-speaking (we had Brits, Aussies, New Zealanders, the works), and since our tour guide was from the United States, we had an easy time communicating with everyone. And the best part of it all? The tour was free! We were able to see:
Brandenburg GateAldon Hotel (where Michael Jackson dangled a baby over its balcony)Memorial of the Murdered JewsThe place where Hitler died (we stood on top of the underground fortress)Some tax office Berlin WallBerlin Square
Berlin is a city that’s aware of its dark history. Following the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, much of the city went through restoration, and the city was rebuilt by its…

Off to Berlin!

I haven’t been back to Europe since I was 20 years old. That’s the equivalent of a leap year ago from where I am now. Back then, I was still exploring my sense of place in the world as a young college student. What I liked most about traveling was that it made me feel unrestricted—I could put my current life on standstill and do something entirely different than my routine.

There’s a part of me that comes alive in Europe. I’ve missed listening to jazz on the banks of the Seine River in Paris with the locals, indulging in gelato during those hot summer nights in Rome alongside friends, surviving a one-on-one altercation alone at knifepoint in the bazaars of Istanbul, and wandering around the Red Light District in Amsterdam with a group of complete strangers. Fortunately for me, all these excursions were made possible through UW’s great study abroad programs—and I never had to pay a penny out of my pocket for these experiences because of financial aid.

The travel bug in me has reawaken…