Zeus, let all this madness be over. My sleep schedule is SO hosed right now.
Friday night/Saturday morning was a total lunar eclipse. I woke up at 04:00 and watched part of it from my bed and part of it from my balcony. I tried taking pictures - since I didn't have access to a telescope like I did last year, I instead tried setting my point-and-shoot on stable surfaces and doing long exposures. The results:
Me watching from the warmth of my bed. This was a 15-second exposure, and my room is actually illuminated by my monitor with the backlight on but all pixels black. I had another picture that was with some of the pixels white, and it looked like daylight. Long exposures are crazy!
There wasn't really time to sleep much after the eclipse, since Saturday was the rerun of the Spring 2011 Berkeley Mystery Hunt (for a wider Bay Area audience). I packed my dual laptops up and set up shop in our headquarters. Ankur arrived, and then Josiah and Annelise and I fetched a bunch of food (muffins, croissants, bagels, clementines, milk/juice) from Josiah's cubicle for all the attendees.
Kickoff was a little worrisome - we had more interested teams than available rooms to give out. It's troublesome that student groups aren't allowed to reserve rooms on campus during R&R week.
The hunt itself started off slowly, but got more hectic as time went on. Some of the submissions were hilarious, particularly for the Mario Savio puzzle.
When it came time to set up the runaround, things got a little frantic - Ankur went to the start of the runaround to meet the team there and follow them around on the runaround, while Annelise watched from one stop ahead and Josiah ran ahead deploying envelopes at each of the stops. This was fine until a second team reached the runaround and Annelise had to go join them, at which point we had no more margin of safety, should a third team reach the runaround. Since we only had three people left at HQ (myself as coordinator and email-answerer and two people running the answer queue), I became nervous as a third team completed every remaining puzzle in the game. Fortunately, half of their team was driving in from San Francisco, so Josiah was able to finish the deployments in time for us to make it back to the runaround start before the team arrived.
One of the teams figured out the final puzzle minutes before the hunt ended at 10PM, which was perfect. All in all, the hunt ran fairly smoothly, and I had a lot of fun seeing things from the other side. It was great hearing from the puzzlers what they liked and wished was different about the hunt, as well as advice from seasoned puzzle-writers on how to plan such things. Good times.
Soon, the Campus League of Puzzlers will flesh out our plans for the Spring 2012 hunt. I am excited!
So that was Saturday. Sunday consisted of going into lab and tooling away for the entire day at our CS262 project - a flexible distributed architecture for computing similarity matrices with fast partial availability of results - with Luke and Pablo. An all-nighter was involved. We produced useful results some time around 7AM on Monday. We finished our poster at 9AM. The poster session started at noon, so we each went home and slept for something like one hour, changed clothes, and came back.
Somewhat surprisingly, the poster session was a bring-your-own-posterboard-and-stand affair. Our presentation to Eric Brewer was something like third-from last, and didn't happen until 14:30 (at which point we'd been manning our poster for two and a half hours). On the upside, that meant we'd gotten a lot of practice at explaining our system. It was well-received by both faculty and grad students alike, and a lot of people had useful ideas to improve our system.
After the session, I went with Luke, Pablo, Shiry, and Shaddi to Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers (which are amazing, for the record). We decided on the location by using the Paxos protocols to reach consensus. If you know what Paxos is (and how complex it is, and the implications of using it in the real world between people), you should be laughing right now. Because we sure were.
After dinner, I went home and slept. My schedule now aligns more closely with those of people living in England. I woke up around 02:00, and then started my take-home IP law final, which was due at 9AM. There was much quoting of the US Code and explaining why various scenarios would probably turn out in particular ways.
That was this morning. I'm grading lots of final papers for CS260. I am very ready for this to all be over.