LOUGHEED MALL

I know a lot of people look forward to doing fun things over the holidays. Lame as it is, I’m looking forward to going to Lougheed Mall in Burnaby. Or I guess the proper name is Lougheed Town Centre.

My desire stems from years past when I’d be at UBC for months at a time. During Christmas and the summer, I’d come back for the first time in months and see how the mall has changed. Stores expand, others close, new come and take their place. I’m easily amused.

Well, this year is a special year my hometown mall. They’re been renovating and expanding. A new London Drugs, SportChek, and IHOP will be opening. I wonder if they’ll be done by the time I go back. I’m not really excited about London Drugs and SportChek. After all, you can find those elsewhere, but IHOP? Oh yeah, I can’t wait for that. I’ve discovered I have a fondness for breakfast served at restaurants. Everytime I go to Denny’s, I’m always getting breakfast. I’ve never been to IHOP before and I’m looking forward to it. I told Lindsay about my excitement for IHOP and she told me IHOP is great. A ringing endorsement!

I wonder if I have anyone to go with. I’d hate to go alone. Maybe I can take my sister.

Besides the new stores, the mall has also put in new decor, floors, escalators, and elevators. I wonder if it’ll still have the same Lougheed Mall feel.

Well, I leave you with a breakfast-related picture. It’s a picture of a pan of scrambled eggs and bacon I made a few weeks back. It was yummy!

LAZY DAYS

I’m still formulating my letter to Country Style. Two dollars is no laughing matter. When the stakes are this high, you want to choose your words carefully.

I can tell you it pretty nice to be on holidays. I don’t have to do anything all day. I woke up at noon today. I bummed around, played Medal of Honor : Spearhead, and ate what little food I had. At 4pm, I went and got a haircut. It was so pleasant to leave campus two days in a row! After the haircut, I went and met Arash and Lindsay at Swiss Chalet. Delightful!

As always, Swiss Chalet did not disappoint, though our server Earl did. Why is this guy so damn slow every single time?

We all returned to SJC afterwards. I played more Spearhead aided by Nic’s sharp eye. Later, I baked chocolate chip cookies and dispersed them to the deserving parties.

For the rest of the week, I’m lookng forward to watching some movies, buying some new shoes, some more shopping, and catching up with old friends! This holiday stuff isn’t too bad!

OVERCHARGED

Tonight, I was really, really hungry. I hadn’t eaten much all day and dinner wasn’t to my liking. Around 11pm, I took off to the Country Style in the village. I was going to get a sandwich and some doughnuts. As some of you know, I’m hypoglycemic, so my glucose levels can drop very low and very quickly. I was kinda in that state when I went, so I wasn’t mentally that sharp.

Anyways, I get my sandwich and doughnuts, pay, and leave the place. On the way home, I realized at I had just paid $8.71 for a club sandwich and three doughnuts. Holy crap, I thought. That’s gotta be wrong.

So, I checked the CS web site and sure enough, I’ve been overcharged almost $2! I didn’t get a receipt, so I don’t have any proof. Still, I’m going to e-mail Country Style HQ and tell them what kind of crap is going down on campus.

I’m on holidays so I can afford to waste an entire day over $2.

I’M DONE

Yes, I’m basically done the project that has plagued me for the last four days. In my estimation, what I’ve come up with is a steaming pile of crap. I’m not happy with it, but it’s outta my hands. I would need another two weeks and a complete change in topic to get it when I want it.

I made a critical error in choosing a non-traditional system to control. Oh, it was novel of me to try to use fuzzy logic to control the behaviour of a video game character, but in the end it wound up biting me in the ass.

For starters, I didn’t have nearly enough time to do what I wanted and to figure out all the problems. Learning Matlab at the same time didn’t help.

Oh well. Now all I have to do is proof-read it, print it out, and get it bound.

When I hand it into the office tomorrow, I’ll be done for the term. My holidays start tomorrow. I’m going to eat roast chicken and play video games. Oh, and get a haircut. I’ve had exam hair for almost a month now.

WHAT A DAY

I got up at noon and gave myself an hour before starting my project again. At 1pm I began using Matlab to enter all the rules and membership functions I had. It’s actually quite a nifty little near program. I can see why it’s a popular analysis/modeling/simulation tool. It’s unfortunate I don’t have any time to play around with it more right now.

Anyways, it took forever to get all the rules and membership functions in. I took a lot of care in not fucking up so that a little error would later cause me grief during simulation. I also had to eat lunch and I slacked near the end when I thought things might actually go ok. It was around 5pm when I started Simulink to build my simulation model. It took me another hour to figure out how the hell to draw models properly in Simulink. I was totally stumped at one point. In desperation, I called robotics lab and luckily Dana was there. She answered my question in two seconds and literally saved me hours of time. No wonder she’s going for her Ph.D and I’m dicking around with my Master’s.

Anyways, with my model and controller done I was ready to simulate everything. This represented a big monumental moment in the project. It’s like when you flip the switch for the first time on this complicated machine you’ve built. Usually, one of two things happen at this point: nothing happens or it totally blows up on you. When I pressed the Start button, it blew up on me.

The Matlab command window lit up like a Christmas tree. I got warnings and errors all over. I felt despair. It was around 6pm at this point. I didn’t know what to do and I was getting hungry. I decided I was going to get some food and come back and start again.

Half an hour later I was back at it. From 7pm to around 11pm was probably one of the most painful 4 hour blocks I’ve had all year. Nothing was working. At 10pm, I nearly reached a full-scale panic. I was busy calculating how much I needed to get on this project to just pass the course. I was convinced that I was not going to get this thing to run. I began to wonder if people ever survived failing a course in grad school.

Then, sometime around 11pm, I pessimistically tried to run the sim again, when something amazing happened. It didn’t spit out errors the second I pressed the button. The damn thing kept on running. I was afraid an error was going to pop up before the intended sim end was reached. It was like watching the end of a horse race. “Go you sonovabitch! Go!”, I yelled.

It made it. I clicked on the response curves. They looked reasonable though there were some pecularities near the end. I didn’t care. It was good enough. I began to whoop and holler in my room.

I’ve spent the last five hours fixing things up and writing up the results in my report. It still doesn’t run that great, but I don’t give a rat’s ass.

I’d like to think I’m done for the most part, but that would be erroneous. My prof wants us to also implement a conventional controller and make comparisons. I have no fucking clue how the hell I’m going to do that.

So, when I wake up tomorrow, I have to accomplish what I did today, but only this time in a different way. Excellent.

Honestly, this is all fucking stupid. Other people are having fun tonight, drinking, partying, watch Punky Brewster re-runs, having sex, and I’m running my crapping controller in Matlab. It’d be different if I was curing cancer or making ears grow on monkeys, but is just a project that will benefit no one. I’m not expressing my displeasure with school in general, but I’m saying there’s got to be a better way to learn or assess my learning other than making me a prisoner in my room 72 hours. No one adequately learns intelligent control in three lousy days.

I tell ya, come 4pm Monday, I’m going to be one happy bastard.

RULEBASE IS DONE… I THINK

I thought I’d keep track of the progress of my project so that I could go back one day and read exactly where the wheels fell off on this thing… ha ha ha.

Seriously folks, I just wrote down the rulebase for my controller on paper. The rulebase is what determines how the controller will behave when I run my simulation. So far, I’ve made rules so that my defenseman will rush up the ice to help his team in the offensive zone, he will rush back into the defensive zone if gets caught up the ice, and if he’ll pinch in if his team is losing and behind in the game. You know, I just realized I have no rules when no has the puck. Whoops. I also just realized I have no rules the defenseman’s team has the puck but not in the offensive zone. Aw crap, I knew these rules were going to just pile up.

Geez, the rules are still on paper. I haven’t even entered them in Matlab! This is going to take all night! 🙁

48 HOURS

It’s Friday evening, but I already know this weekend is going to be the crappiest one since I returned to school.

On Monday, my fuzzy logic controller project is due. It’s worth 50% of the course. I’ve barely started. We were given freedom to control any system we wanted to. Me, being an idiot, decided to use fuzzy logic to control the behaviour of a defenseman in a hockey video game. I thought I was being smart about it. In my proposal, I made several simplifications and cut out a ton of parameters.

There are several roadblocks to success this weekend. First, I have to implement the controller in Matlab. I’ve never used Matlab before in my entire life. Even if my control strategy is sound on paper (which I have my doubts right now), there’s a possibility Matlab might take up a huge chunk of time. You all know what I’m talking about, a piece of software is supposed to automate a task for you to save you time. In reality the software works against you and it takes you more time to get it to work than if you did it by hand. Given the time constraints and Murphy’s Law, I know how this is going to turn out.

Actually, it wouldn’t be so bad if I only had to design the fuzzy controller, but my prof wants us to compare the fuzzy controller to a conventional controller. What the hell is a conventional controller for a video game defenseman? I have no idea how the AI works in the NHL games. Even if I did, how could I re-create it in one weekend? I wish he had told us he wanted a conventional controller early on, instead of springing it on us at the last second.

I just had dinner and I think it will be the highlight of my weekend. Lemon grass chicken, a spring roll, and some rice. Yummy!

PROCRASTINATIN’ MOFO

Somewhat deservedly, I took last evening off. I did nothing related to school, well, unless you call burning a copy of Matlab school-related. I did laundry, which is why I’m wearing meadow-fresh underwear right now.

I also downloaded a copy of WinDVD 4.0. It sure took them long enough to put the “Always On Top” feature on. Now I can finally watch movies no matter what I’m doing.

The whole evening seemed completely foreign to me. I didn’t do any work, and I can’t say I’ve done that since before November. It felt really good.

I had planned on beginning my studies again today, but waking up at noon isn’t the best motivator for doing work. I went out and grabbed some lunch and got some Post-Its (TM). When I got back home, I did everything else other than school work. I checked e-mail, read some news, etc.

I think part of my brain believes we’re done school for the term. (Un)fortunately, other parts of my brain realize that I have a project due on Monday that’s worth 50% of the course and I haven’t started it yet. A more conventional person would be freaked out by this, but I’m not for some reason. Not that it’s going to be an easy project, but I think a lot of it has to do with me not caring. I’m kinda tired, and it’s been a long road trip.

Hopefully after this post I’ll start some work, but I might take a nap or play some games.

By the way, do I know anyone in Kingston, Ontario right now?

TURN THAT DOWN

I’ve noticed this for days and it’s been bugging me ever since. Has anyone been watching Sportsnet on cable 22 lately? Why is it that the audio for this channel seems to so much louder than the rest of the channels? The audio is deafening compared to the rest of the lineup. I bet someone at Shaw Cable turned a knob or something and didn’t realize it.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the Reverend Billy Graham. For a senior citizen spreading the faith, those are a pair of happening shades.



The Godfather of Soul Christianity

BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO

Hey, you know that video I was talking about? Yeah, it’s available for download now.

Just so the video doesn’t completely confuse you, let me explain the context. We had to do a group project for my Human Computer Interaction course. Myself and three others developed a new debugging interface/system for software development. We came up with three new features: a println/printf generator, a container visualizer, and a stack trace. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, the video still is kinda entertaining.

Anyways, the video shows two test subjects using our system and then I interview them afterwards.

Click here to download the video. You might want to right click and Save As. It’s in .avi format and weighs in at 39 Mb. It’s a bit hefty, but for you on corporate and school connections, what do you care? The video requires the codecs from DivX 5.0.2, so you might need to head over there before you can watch this digital masterpiece. Enjoy!

I was told the name of the movie would not appear on the hotel bill