So, I forgot to write about this back in April when it happened, but I got my annual review letter from the department program department program. It reads:
Your progress appears to be satisfactory. Upon return from your internship, you must proceed towards filing for Ph.D. candidacy and forming a research committee that will guide you towards thesis proposal. You are likely to be offered an AI position in the coming year.
In 2010 and 2009, the letters started with some variation on "We are pleased with your progress," so "Your progress appears to be satisfactory" feels like a bit of a downgrade. On the other hand, last year's letter, as Monica keystricken aptly put it, was more or less, "Congratulations on your accomplishments! We would like to remind you that you are on the brink of disaster," like something out of Portal. Compared to that, this is a step up! I'm working on filing for candidacy and forming my research committee now.
The "brink of disaster" that I was on when I got my spring 2010 letter was that my last chance to pass written quals was approaching, and I hadn't started preparing for oral quals yet. Between spring 2010 and spring 2011, not only did I pass written quals and oral quals, but I also did an internship at GrammaTech and put out my first tech report; made a lot of progress on my project with Amal and gave my first invited talk; and started working on Rust at Mozilla. So I'm pleased with my progress, regardless of whether anyone else is!