aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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arch enemy
Posted by dav at 2004 January 26 07:36 PM
File under: Geek

Back when I was earning my B.S. in Computer Science at an "obscure East-coast university" I had an arch enemy, although he probably never knew it. In fact he probably didn't even know who I was. His name was Scott, and throughout my entire time in college, he was the only ComSci student I thought might be a better coder than myself. Honestly, that's not saying much; we didn't exactly have a top notch ComSci program if you know what I mean. I imagine Scott was there for much the same reason I was, it was the university closest to our hometowns. I never actually had any classes with him, but I knew him by reputation because I worked in the school's main computer lab and was always looking to identify the competition.

One year there was a programming contest. It was structured so that teams of up to four people competed in solving as many programming problems from a list as they could in a set period of time. I was so cocky I didn't bother forming a team, I was going to just compete by myself. But at game time the professor running the contest insisted I join a team that only had two members (all the other teams had the full four).

Scott was on a team with three other good coders, and they took first place by completing five successful programs. I consoled myself by noting that Scott had completed two and the rest of his team one each and my team managed to come in second by virtue of my three successful programs and one from one of my teammates. But I lost the contest, so I didn't get much consolation from my rationalization.

Today I learned what became of Scott. After graduation he went to UIUC for a master's degree and then moved to southern California where he's.... well, I'll let Scott tell you:

For MER's development phase, I wrote a piece of software called the Rover Sequence Editor (RoSE). We've used RoSE to command both spacecraft throughout their seven-month cruise to Mars, and (in conjunction with RoSE's sister application, HyperDrive), we'll use RoSE to drive the rovers on the surface as well.

During surface operations, I'll be one of the rover drivers. So I get to be one of the users of my own software (always a humbling experience). More importantly, I get to actually build the commands to drive the rovers where the scientists want them to go, and maneuver the robotic arms so that the science instruments get the data they want.

Full details here: Mars Exploration: Zip Code Mars

Damn you Scott! You win! You win!

Comments:

That is hillarious! But I don't remember any reference to this arch enemy during that time? Maybe it was more than you could bear to talk about. You should send him an email....

Posted by: Ele on July 30, 2000 06:43 PM

Crap, that IS a hard one to top!! Geez, the whole world knows about it. (thinks rapidly for something better to say) But who knows, maybe the communications with the first Rover stopped last week because -his- portion of the program f'ed up. He could be close to getting fired right now!

BTW, I have no idea who Scott Maxwell is, but I always thought you and Eric were the top two coders. And seeing as how Eric, in lieu of a car radio, has a freaking computer with Windows XP installed in his dashboard, I think he has a slight edge. For crying out loud, he's got a freaking wireless network IN HIS CAR! That's some serious geekness there. (oh, gotta love it.)

Posted by: Laura on January 29, 2004 08:37 PM

Oh come on, what self-respecting geek would put Windows XP in their dashboard? It's gotta be *nix, baby. Besides, anyone can buy one of those wifi dashboard mp3 players these days

Posted by: Dav on January 30, 2004 05:47 PM

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