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!

DAMN

Well, I wrote my software engineering final today. It was both good and very bad. For me, the exam seemed to be divided into two distinctly different portions.

As I started the exam, I was cruising. The first couple of sections were extremely easy, at least for me. It was smooth sailing for about an hour and ten minutes. After I finished a particular section, I paused to count up how many marks of the exam I had done. Flipping through the pages, I counted 65 marks to this point. Since the exam was out of 100 marks, I had completed 65% of the exam.

Maybe I was confident, but I was pretty sure I had aced every question up until this point. I was pleased that all I needed was 15 out of the next 35 marks to get an overall A in the course. That was less 50% for the remaining three questions of the exam. No problem right?

Oh there was a problem alright. The next question I came up against was a doozy. I froze mentally, I just didn’t know how to answer it. I was confounded. I wanted to scribble anything down to get some part marks. However, I was just so confused, I didn’t even know what to scribble down. I was clueless.

I decided to move on to the next question, hoping it would be better than the last. No such luck. Again, the same thing happened. I was just clueless. I knew what the question was asking, the concepts were familiar to me, but I just didn’t know what to answer. My brain had stalled. I scribbled some crap down and moved on. There was no way this could happen for three question in a row, especially after the great start I had.

So, on to the last question I went. I read it and I knew I was in trouble again. Fuck. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Three straight question and three straight brain cramps. How could this happen? Again, I wrote some crap that didn’t make any sense at all.

I had reached the end of the exam. I went over the last three questions and looked at what I had written. It was total garbage. I knew if I was the prof, I’d give maybe a mark or two for each answer I wrote. It was that bad.

I looked up at my watch and there was still 30 minutes left. I was tempted to leave. However, I stayed behind, hoping that I might have a revelation or three and somehow I could rescue this exam out of the fire. I spent the next 25 minutes staring at the ceiling of Obsborne Gym G. Screw it, I thought, with five minutes left, I handed in my paper and left.

I’m back now and I’m still amazed how well I did for the first 65% exam of how bad the last 35% was.

I decided to graph out how badly everything went after 65%.

CHECK THAT YOU HAVE ALL THE PAGES OF THE EXAM

More than five years removed from my last final exam, I write another one tomorrow. Am I nervous? I sure am, but not the most nervous I’ve been before.

During my undergrad years, I wrote approximately 56 final exams (the minimum required by mechanical engineering), and I think anyone would have learned a thing or two about finals after that.

One thing to realize is that a final exam situation can be different depending on the circumstances. Two common siutations are: “the A is for you to lose” and “the A is for you to get”.

The former situation is more rare, though admittedly more desirable. Here, two things are true when entering the final exam: you have 80% or more in the class and the final exam is worth less than 50%. In this case, it is not necessary to even get an A on the final to maintain an A on the final grade. For example, say you have 87% in the class when the term ends and the final exam is only worth 40%. When you write the final, you only need to get 69.5% to maintain the A. If you were able to get 87% during the term and you can’t even get 70% on the final, then you deserve to lose your A. On the flip side, it can be a nice feeling knowing that three-quarters through an exam, you’ve written enough to get an A.

The latter situation is the one that’s more common. Here, you’re hovering around 80%, perhaps one or two points below an A. The final exam is worth more than 50%. In this situation, you have to get at least an A on the exam, but not much more than that. An overall A is just within your grasp, it’d be crazy to let up now. It’s a far cry from those mathematically impossible situations where you need like 150% on the exam to get an overall A. The problem is you’re so tantalizingly close to your goal, it can be maddening if something goes wrong and you wind up losing the A.

I’ve been in both situations. For ELEC 263, everything was going right for me in that class. In the final, I had an hour to go and I knew I had done enough to get at least 80%. I was tempted to leave just to get something to eat or to study for another final, but I stayed and wrote the whole thing. For MATH 254, some very bad things happened on the day of the final. I had like 77% or something going into the final, and I was pretty confident I could pull out an A. I had plenty of time to study, I understood the material, and I got lots of sleep. During the exam though, it just went poorly. I didn’t freeze up which I know people do, I was able to remember all the material and steps to solving the problems. Things just didn’t calculate properly. I was like, “that answer can’t be right”, and “I know my steps are correct, but this number isn’t round like it should be”. The whole thing wound up being a mess and I think I got 70% on the exam. Needless to say, I did not get an A for multi-variable integral calculus. Those damn Navier-Stokes equations!

STRAIGHT TO VIDEO

I spent most of the day attending the group presentations for my CPSC 544 class. There were four groups and each presentation was about half an hour. Earlier, I had spent the morning with my group putting the finishing touches on our video. Each group had to include a video with our presentation. I had a lot of fun editing our video and knew it was going to be good.

I actually didn’t have to say anything for our presentation as Doug and Reid took over the speaking duties themselves. That left Tim and myself to just listen. Alright by me!

As I expected, our video ruled! We were the only ones to include music, titles with an edge, and humour. Everyone else took a serious approach to their video, which was ok, but certainly didn’t have the entertainment value ours did.

The video has been encoded for online viewing, but I’m still working out the hosting issues. I’d think it might be neat for everyone to see what a few hours of work can get you. In the meantime, there’s a screenshot above.

I’ll let you know when the whole thing will be available for download.

I’M FAMOUS x2

I’m sure everyone has seen the Internet Movie Database, where you can type in a name of someone and get a list of movies and tv shows they’ve worked on. This goes for anyone associated with the production, including assistants and other lower stature people, not just the stars.

Well, there’s a similar (albeit less complete) web site for the world of video games. MobyGames.com has taken it upon themselves to document the names of people who have worked on a game.

Surprisingly, given my short time in the industry, even I have an entry on the site. Click here to see my entry. As I said before, the site is incomplete, and my listing is missing NHL 2001 PSX and NHL 2002 PS2, which were two projects I had the pleasure of being on.

It’s amazing that sitting in front of a video game for four months can get you a little credit on a web site. Want to see some other interesting entries? Click here, here, and here.

END OF TERM

Friday was the end of term and I was too busy even to notice it. In the morning I had a 30 minute presentation to give. Two days and two presentations.

When I got to the classroom to ready my slides, there was hardly anyone in class… even five minutes before class was supposed to start. Half the class wasn’t even there. At the start of class, I asked the prof if I should proceed, but she told me to wait another five minutes. We wait and no one else showed up.

The presentation itself went really well from my point of view. All my words flowed smoothly and I didn’t stumble at all during any portion of my talk. I think everyone liked my slides and it appeared my audience was quite engaged. The whole thing was a lot of fun really. I’m not sure why people are so scared of talking in front of groups.

Anyways, when I was finished and I sat back in my seat, a classmate of mine turned to me and said, “That was good, you’re a really good speaker”. I was flattered.

The day didn’t end there though. My group members and I grabbed another subject for our experiment when we bribed him with a chocolate bar. We all went down to the lab, did the experiment and taped the whole thing. For the project presentation (on Monday), we have to show a video of users working with our system.

Next, we had to edit the videotape we already had. We were using Adobe Premiere, which none of us had experience with. I had to leave for class, but I came back at 4pm to help Tim with the editing. He had to leave for class too, but he showed me the robes. For three hours, I learned how to edit digital video. It was a lot of fun. I got to cut clips, make transitions (star wipes!), make titles, and put in music. If I had the money, I’d get a digital video camera and make my own movies (non-porn of course).

I wish I could put our video in Quicktime so everyone could see it.

By the time I left for dinner, I realized this was the last day of class for the term.

Wow, three months have passed since school started. While it flew by, I have learned a lot, which I’m quite happy about. I also know a lot more people now as well. For that, I’m extremely thankful.

Now, I have to go study again… lol.

I’M FAMOUS

When I wrote about Dev0n’s blog, I never thought she’d read it. After all, we don’t have common friends… or do we? Plus, her site probably has 100x more visitors than mine, who’d tell her about my little dog and pony show?

Lo and behold, Dev0n has left a comment on my site. I feel she has graced me with her presence. Not only did she leave a comment, she mentioned me in one of her posts. She even left a link to my site. With the number of visitors she gets, even more people will be looking at my site and saying, “Damn, that’s an ugly site.”

Here’s to Dev0n and more increased web traffic! Woo-hoo!