BIL Lab Week 1

Exciting, daunting and pretty hectic. I have a lot to learn.

My initial goal is to learn Rust, a strongly and statically typed language some people call the new C++. As part of learning Rust I plan to implement the Crypto Pals cryptography challenges. Thanks, Solomon for the recommendation. I also plan to implement a lot of the cryptography in Bill’s A Security Site, currently implemented using Python, in Rust. Through these coding exercises, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how the cryptography works. Bill does keep referring to me as the crypto genius in waiting, which seems like a lot to live up to.

Ideally, I also aim to learn Golang through this PhD. Both Rust and Go have been on my radar for a while and are both heavily used in the crypto world. Liam reckons he knows it pretty well, so hopefully I can pick it up off him. Ensuring we have efficient sharing of knowledge is going to have a big impact on the success of the lab. We already have different skill sets, as we each begin to explore our own areas these gaps will only become wider. I am hoping adopting an agile workflow in the lab can help foster this important collaboration and bridge these gaps.

The most challenging part of my first week at the lab was to focus on a single task. There is so much to do and so much to think about, I struggled to prioritise or focus on any task for a concentrated period of time. This often lead me to do a little of everything but not very much of anything. It is something I am conscious of and will be aiming to improve. Hopefully, over time I can develop a pattern that enables me to complete Deep Work consistently.

This week I am pleased to announce our lab will be supporting the setting up of the Edinburgh local hub for MyData. MyData is a movement looking at ways individuals and communities can assert more rights over their data. I was hugely impressed by their recent conference and am pleased the lab is supporting the MyData community in Scotland. I believe there are massive opportunities for a country like Scotland to harness the power of their data and use it to fuel innovation. Look at Barcelona’s approach.

Our first event will be to participate virtually in the founding meeting of the international NGO that MyData has been working to set up. Please, anyone interested feel free to come along. The location is in Room D7 of Merchiston Campus at 1 pm. Hopefully, we will get some lunch in!

In other news, I got a flat! In fact, I ended up getting two. One which I was going to rent the whole place and sublet a room, the other from SpareRoom which I viewed last Sunday. Both were nice 2 bed flats, very spacious. I decided to go for the SpareRoom because the location, Bruntsfield, is prime.

I also ordered my laptop, finally matriculated and have booked my travel down to the Sovrin meetup in London on the 18th of October. Looking forward to that!

I am well on my way to getting settled here in Edinburgh. Next challenge will be to build up an effective routine.

Next week I plan to continue ploughing through the Rust documentation. I tried to implement those challenges and actually managed the first two but I realised I wasn’t understanding all of the errors and was writing some pretty shabby code. So I went back to basics and started working my way through TheBook. I am on chapter five now and hopefully can finish it off next week.

By the end of the year, I aim to be a full-blooded Rustacean.


By the way, Edinburgh is gorgeous. Plenty of greenery, easily walkable, lots of history and some decent pubs. It seems like a cracking little city.

Thanks for reading