Over the last week, I've been working feverishly to get my various environments set up so I can start writing code, running experiments, gathering data and analyzing results. So far, it seems I've made little progress. Namely, I've barely started to do the first of those four, and haven't even yet touched the other three.
Starting always slow. There's a lot to learn, a lot to understand, and seemingly endless issues that appear that impede progress. I've been down this path before – I know that eventually the fog will start to lift and things will start to make sense. There are of course still moments of intense frustration and confusion, though I know that eventually – not necessarily tomorrow, or even next week, but eventually – it will become clear.
What I find fascinating about these new problems is that they can virtually all, with the exception of a small few, be solved with the same approach: methodical trial and error, a keen eye and lots of patience. Still, as much as I love tackling difficult problems head on, it's been a long week, and I'm ready for a few easy wins to take the edge off!
It's particularly difficult when getting started to feel unsatisfied with the progress you make. Setting up environments, learning tools, understanding processes. They all feel like overhead; time spent on uninteresting and unimportant tasks that don't make any impact. Even more so when you have a boss or supervisor who is pushing you to produce.
I think, more than anything, it's important to set realistic expectations. Getting set up takes time, and trying to rush it is only going to make what is already unpleasant that much worse. In the end, it will take as long as it takes, and sometimes things are out of your control. Hopefully you get to work with people who understand that.
On my end, the good news is that after struggling for approximately 5 hours with multiple hardware and OS installation issues, I finally got my machine set up in the lab. I even had a chance to run a demo of the analysis tool I'll hopefully be using for some benchmarking over the coming months. I'm no stranger to assembling computers, but today was one of those special days where nothing wanted to go right. With enough trial and error, a keen eye and lots of patience (not to mention a little help from my labmates), I managed to complete the setup phase. Now onto the real work... learning tools!