WEEKEND WRAPUP

I was entering this weekend with the intention of using the time to help me make an important decision. I guess subconsciously I didn’t want to make the decision since I didn’t do anything thinking about it until late Sunday night.

Instead, I went out to dinner on Friday night with Patrick and Jeff. We went to Sushi Aoki, which I wrote about in an earlier post. It was a outing with good conversation. Patrick is wise beyond his 26 years. Some may call him “grandpa” but I think it’s term he should wear with pride.

On Saturday, hockey finally got back into its former glory. Everyone who went on holiday had returned and the turnout was impressive even though not all the regulars were there. I believe we were playing 6 on 5 at one point. It was so crowded we had to move the nets out and re-configure our playing surface. There was a ton of room out there and it also meant more running. I appreciated extra required effort since I’m trying to lose some holiday weight. Afterwards, more than one person exclaimed this was one of the best hockey outings in several months.

After hockey, the plan called for Adam, Tyson, and I to have a low-key dinner at Cactus Club. They were going to pick me up at my place. I arrived at the corner outside my apartment at the appointed time and waited. They were late by ten minutes and I began to wonder what the hell was going on. They eventually arrived and when I went to get in the back seat, Adam told me to get comfy. There were two other people in the back seat. One of them was even a girl! Joel and Kathleen were going to join us. I was pleasantly surprised that for at least this night, the sausage train was not going to leave the station.

The snow was coming down pretty good at this point so we decided to stay closer to campus and wound up at Swiss Chalet. Mmmmm… that’s good eatin’!!! We waited a long time to get a table because of some miscommunication. I will say one thing, if you have a lawyer and a computer scientist in your party, don’t send Urkel to handle the talking to the hostess… right Adam?

Anyways, when we eventually got our table and food everything was alright. Kathleen got introduced to the Canadian icon that is the quarter-chicken dinner. She’s from California, so it was a new experience for her. Someone in our party also got a new nickname of Clear Coat, but I won’t go any further than that.

So you’re probably wondering what the hell this decision is. Alright, so this is my last semester of school. I need two more classes to graduate. I’ve already decided on one, a software testing class. I’m struggling to pick the other one. I’ve narrowed it down to two. One is a machine learning course. Apparently, one of the new challenges in video games now is to develop what’s called emergent learning, games that learn to produce new behaviours. This machine learning course might be useful in that respect. I say might because there’s no guarantee that if I take this course it will help me get a job at EA. Often, only a very narrow subset of what you learn in CS and EE is directly applicable to video games. Also, the software for video games isn’t geared towards experimental techniques that are usually found at the graduate level. Game software usually uses methods which have matured for a while. Machine learning is still relatively new. Another reason this course is scaring me is that it looks really, really hard. It uses mathematics which I have forgotten or have never seen before. The guy teaching the class is a genius. I don’t want to stumble and fail the last class I needed to graduate.

The other alternative is a physical interfaces course. It’s a project course where I get to build things that interface people with computers, like joysticks. This class is less applicable to my career (I think), but most certainly easier. With my mechanical engineering background, I’ll be able to hit the ground running. It is the only CS grad course where you actually get to build something with your hands.

I am currently leaning towards taking the physical interfaces course because I don’t want to screw up my last term. I really want to finish my degree this term. There’s nothing to stop me from reading about machine learning on my own. I also know some machine learning techniques because of the neural networks course last term, so it’s not like I’ll leave UBC with no AI knowledge. I’ll need to make my final decision soon.

Sometimes, you have to take a chance and ask the pretty lady for her phone number. Other times, it’s better to finish your drink, settle your tab, and go home.

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