Starting the new year off right

January 3, 2011

So here’s the first post of 2011. It’s been about two weeks since my last post. Since my last post, finals came to an end and I came back to New Jersey. The semester ended well and it’s been a great vacation. Christmas was a lot of fun with the family, and I got to see my favorite band, Third Eye Blind, in concert on Saturday night at the House of Blues in Atlantic City. I haven’t seen them in concert since my junior year of high school and they were even better the second time around. I went with my girlfriend Meghan who hasn’t see them before, but we both enjoyed the concert and definitely plan on trying to see them whenever we can.

Third Eye Blind - House of Blues - Joe Martella

Celebrating the new year was great, but it also came with a resolution. About two years ago, I lost like 35 pounds. Last semester, some of it came back and I really plan on trying to drop some of it again. However, this time around, I’m really trying to incorporate exercise into my routine. I’ve never been an avid runner, but with the help of another blogger, Running on Empty, and a running plan he suggests, I’m trying to run. I’ve completed week one of the program, and so far, so good. Only a week into the program and I’m starting to find it easier. I definitely recommend it if you have similar goals for 2011.

What’s to come
With the dawn of the new year, I’m also pursuing some new interests. I bought a book last week, Hacking for Dummies. I’ve been leaning towards a career in Software Engineering, but having really no experience yet in any advanced Computer Science topics, I’m exploring. Something about being paid to infiltrate systems and hacking companies for their benefit just seems appealing to me. So I’ll keep a record of what  I’m trying out and post anything interesting.

Also exciting, I start my first job next week when I head back to West Lafayette! My first day at Delphi Labs will be in a week from today, so I’m sure I’ll have a new post in a week. Thanks for reading and happy new year!

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Monster Addiction

December 16, 2010

For those who have read my blog so far, know that I’m still in the midst of Hell week, eh, finals week. Three more to go, one CS, one math, and one psychology. But this post is not about studying or taking finals.

Caffeine is a Hell of a drug. I started drinking coffee on occasion when I was a junior in high school. I didn’t like the stuff, but it grew on me. I often drink coffee on days where I have a lot going on, just to give me a little boost to make it through the day. However, I don’t really drink it for pleasure, nor do I drink it everyday.

I got acquainted with energy drinks last year about this time. Had a physics final that needed to be studied for, but I was burnt out. My brother has always been a fan of energy drinks, so I figure I’d pick myself up one to help me through the night. So, at around 8pm, I went and got one (Java Monster – Mean Bean). I legitimately studied nonstop, no breaks, for a good three and a half hours. A feat, mind you, considering I was studying for a physics final.

Let me just say here, I think taking Adderall is stupid. It’s for people who don’t care about school and are too lazy to study, but if taking a pill makes them think they can suddenly concentrate, go for it. Besides, the risks of getting caught with it just isn’t worth it. However, I will say that energy drinks do give me a similar feeling. I’m alert and have the energy to stay focused for longer periods of time. I’ll buy a Mean Bean every now and then because I honestly really like the taste. But this week, I used it like a fool.

I thought back to last year and the focus I was able to maintain after drinking that Mean Bean. I figured I’d just buy one to start studying off of. It worked well, so I did the same thing the next day. After some very mild research (give me a break, I have two finals tomorrow), I found that Java Monster drinks have about 160 mg of caffeine. Mind you, I’ve had an average of two a day for the last week. And going from the occasional coffee drinker to this has done a toll on me.

Unfortunately, I’ve found myself addicted to the drug. I’ve drank them daily for the last two days and will continue until Monday, not for energy, but to make the headaches go away. I was a fool. I’m writing this post as a warning for those who may want to go down a similar path. Tread lightly, the road is a dangerous one.

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Finals week

December 12, 2010

So if you didn’t read my last post, I have finals this week. I have 5 finals. My last post was about how to make finals easy. It’s good theory, but I suppose there’s a corollary to it: “Not so successful if you take hard classes.” I’ve spent a good 12+ hours a day studying since my last post and I still don’t feel great about these exams. Albeit, I’d be worried no matter what.

Let’s run through my exam schedule really quickly. My first exam is tomorrow morning at 8:00am, it’s Mythology. I’m predicting the 75 question test will take me approximately 20 minutes. If you go to Purdue, take CLCS 335 if you need an elective. If you don’t go to Purdue, take a mythology class; it’s very interesting stuff.

Next exam after that is CS 182, Foundations of Computer Science. It’s essentially a discrete mathematics class. It’s an open book, open notes test, and the project average is still a 50 (based off the midterm). Take a look at an example of what I get to do…

Let’s see… third one is Psychology. Another exam I’m not worried about. It’s my first of two exams on Friday and shouldn’t be a problem. My second exam on Friday is for my other CS class, which is C programming. Basically, we get two hours to write 5 programs by hand and hope they work… Here’s the link to my final exam preparation, example questions my professor gave us to work on.

My last exam, which is next Monday based off some awful scheduling done by Purdue, is Calculus III. Nothing to say about this; it won’t be fun studying for, but it shouldn’t be a problem.

So those are the exams that have been taking up all my time since I published my last post. Not else much to say in this post. Just keeping a record of what I’ve been doing and what my week will entail. Good luck to those who haven’t taken finals yet!


Oh yeah, back to Jersey in a week!


How to make final exams easy

December 8, 2010

Like most people in college, finals are happening or will be happening in the next couple of weeks. This is the time of the semester when people should be simply reviewing all they learned during the semester so they can pass a couple of tests. But instead, I find that people are scrambling to cram every minute of the day full of studying because they realize they haven’t learned anything yet. That is, if they’ve stopped procrastinating…

People pack the dorm lobbies, study rooms, and libraries with a million and one books opened and frantically reading everything they possibly can. It’s a shame, because it shouldn’t really be that hard.

It’s too late for this semester, but if you find yourself worried or just completely up the creek now, follow these tips and maybe you’ll fare better next semester.

1. Pay attention in class.
Simple, yes. Obvious, yes. But do people do it? Not the ones who feel they need to read these tips. First off, it’s important to go to class. It’s hard to pay attention if you’re not there. Second, put the cell phone and iPod away. It’s unreal how many people sit in lectures just to have their iPods in or playing Doodle Jump or Angry Birds. Third, take notes in a notebook, not your laptop. Too much temptation to go on Facebook or play a game if you’re laptop is accessible… I’m a victim myself… Oh, Introduction to Psych…

2. Do the homework.
Often times, homework is barely worth anything towards your final grade, so people tend to ignore it. But even if it’s not worth many points, it’s worth your time. Homework is the perfect practice. And even if you don’t have homework, crack open your book, do some problems, read a bit more; do anything to help you practice!

3. Review each day.
Practicing a bit each day will benefit you way more than just cramming the last week of the semester. Those notes you’re taking each class and homework you’re doing can be re-used! Take some time each day, even if it’s just 20 minutes, to review your notes and look over that homework you did the week before. Keeping the information fresh will help ingrain it into your brain!

4. Study efficiently.
When the times rolls around in April/May for finals again, take everything you compiled during the semester and put it to good use. Study your notes, then redo some old homework, and then work on practice tests (usually always available if you just ask).

5. Leave some time for fun!
Essential, really. I study hard and I study a lot, but I make sure to plan some breaks for Xbox or basketball or something that isn’t studying. I see people in the lobby for hours and hours and I don’t know how they do it. I’ve done it a few times, but it always ends up with me getting burnt out and ultimately achieving less than I would have if I just took a break.

That’s my advice. These things work for me and I’m confident they can help most people. Try it out and enjoy those 4.0’s. Finals are a week away, so I’m going to go study.

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Hello world!

December 6, 2010

So my name is Joe Martella. This is my first attempt at a blog ever. I came across one of my friend’s blogs on Facebook and it just seemed like an interesting thing to try.

First, I’m keeping the title of this post the default title because it speaks a little bit to who I am. Every programmer or anyone who has taken a programming class knows the first thing you do is to write that famous “Hello, world!” program. My goal with this blog is pretty unclear at the moment; really just having something that allows me to write down my thoughts and look back at them in the future seems interesting enough to me. However, I also hope to give people a glimpse, if they care enough to look, into the life of a programmer.

I’m currently just a Computer Science major at Purdue University, but will soon take on a role as a Programmer at Delphi Labs next semester, and then move onto an internship as a Software Engineer at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City next summer. Also, I’d like to shed light on the title of my blog. It seems a little silly, but it’s a variation of a line in Purdue’s new marketing campaign: “I write poetically in an abundance of languages (including code).” Yeah, it’s dorky, but I’ve loved it since the first time that I read it.

To sum up, this blog is just about me. I’ll give you some insight what’s happening in my life, what projects I’m working on, pretty much anything I think that’s worth sharing and probably some stuff that isn’t.

I’ll update a lot probably, but it’s a week until my 5 finals, so I’ll be studying my life away for a while. Anyone who came across this from Facebook and decided to read this to procrastinate, good luck on your finals, too. I’m going to go ahead and steal this from the girl’s blog I read that gave me the idea of making my own (Mackenzi Flannery http://actingsweet.com/)…

Events of the week:
- studying my life away for 5 finals next week (Calculus III, C Programming,
Discrete Math, Psychology, Classical Mythology)
- possibly tweaking a chat room project for CS 240 for some extra credit

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