Stupid Course Rant
This past weekend brought about a fridge replacement for the ailing one
controlled via cron job. That one also had a failing compressor. The new
one is a huge stainless steel Kitchenaid monstrosity. But it works.
While working outside on Sunday I came across this little green guy.
Actually, it's the largest insect of this type I've ever seen. Though
not apparent from the photo, it was about 8cm in length, it basically
had the same dimensions as my index finger. Happy little fellow... even
has a little tail.
The weekend also saw me getting Multi Theft Auto, a
client-server system that uses the already-present network hooks in
GTA: Vice City to make network play possible. It's quite unstable
and scoring is very unfair. Bullets that should hit do not. It's still
fun, but it's too bad that Rockstar Games could not make an official
version that is better integrated with the game.
Now the rant. My university program requires me to take a Software
Engineering class. The professor (with a heavy French accent) won't shot
up about the Unified Modeling Language, including its subset,
Object Constraint Language. He sounds like he truly believes it's
the best thing in the world (next to Java, of course!). Today, he
introduced us to how the labs will be run in the course. It will be a
week-by-week exercise in micromanagement. Basically, every lab will be a
stack of short answer questions that have to be entered into a
retardedly designed online form. We are not allowed to listen to music
or participate in online chatting while we work; that will cost us
marks. Coming in a few minutes late will also deduct marks. We cannot
close the browser in which said script is running, or hit the back
button. After questions are answered, a special button has to be hit so
that the database is left in a consistent state, or we lose hours of
work. There is no session management whatsoever. For a software
engineering course where "professionalism" is equated with marks, this
system looks like it requires a few more Use Cases. The professor blames
the fact that the back-end is "a free database, MySQL, so there is no
session management." Like that has anything to do with it. A friend who
took it last year summarized this man very nicely: "You know that
saying: '...those who cannot, teach.' He's a living example of that." I
am beginning to agree.
] | posted @ 23:57 | link
What a nice weekend. The weather was perfect, the body well rested. I
got a lot of chores done. Also, many paint chips on the car were filled.
I discovered a nice technique of applying touch-up paint, sanding down
with fine sandpaper, removing sandpaper marks with polishing compound,
and then applying Turtle Wax. It works surprisingly well. Initial
testing was done on the hood, which is all dented up anyway. It's good
to own an older car; it really lets one play and learn things that no
sane person would do on a new vehicle.
Today's accomplishment was building a USB<->Xbox cable. The Xbox end
was purchased as part of a controller extension cord. The USB end used
to be a Logitech USB<->PS/2 adaptor. It works really well with a 64M
IntelligentStick. The Xbox thinks it is its proprietary storage unit.
Copying the MechAssault Linux Installer to it actually shows nice Tux
icons in the built-in file browser. Now I need to go out and get
MechAssault to really get going in the 4th-year project by installing Linux.
This Thursday will be the semester's first quiz. Everyone is dreading
it, seeing as it's from the impossible Quantum Mechanics class.
Tuesday night, 18:00-21:00, is my Baroque Music elective. The lecture is
long, albeit interesting. I've never had an arts course, so I've made
several observations about arts courses thus far:
- Much higher female-to-male ratio
- Coursework involves more reading and writing
- Notes are provided orally (I have to write?!)
- People don't get computers
Regarding that last point, the course outline was posted as a
WordPerfect document. When people started complaining "But the file
doesn't open!" the instructor said "Oh, I didn't know that for it
to work on the internet I had to post it as a Word file." This,
in turn, led to a comment by one of the students, "Well, I've
found a way to open it. Just save the link and double-click on it and
Word will open it just fine." Man, those arts people.
Being stuck on the top floor of the Loeb building isn't all bad.
First of all, the music I'm getting is entertaining and informative. The
view of the sunset tonight was phenomenal. On the other hand, I would
have rather seen the sunset from the pond (it was boat night!)... all I
have to show is a blurry photo of the sunset reflected from Dunton
] | posted @ 23:50 | link
Eventful First Week
The first week of classes was eventful. I didn't have any free time at
all, catching up with people, classes, grand EngSoc projects. On Tuesday
I came down with a terrible sickness (commonly known as The EngFrosh
disease) that is still eating away at me. Wednesday night I actually
slept from 1800-0800.
I must have passed the disease on to the EngSoc mail server, seeing
as Saturday at noon both drives on its data RAID array died
simultaneously. Those are astronomical odds. After ten hours of coaxing,
only one of the drives in the array came up, but one is better than
none. It was a very stressful day.
Today was finally a day of relaxation. The major project was to
finish up with the car, so I did. First, a good rub-down with rubbing
compound over the previously painted window frame evened out the paint.
Then a nice thick coat of acrylic lacquer finished the job. At some
point in the next short while I might rub it down a notch, the thing
reflects like a mirror now!
The photo is the result (dusty already!), with the inset from six
weeks ago. The inset shows the previous patch from two years ago.
Clearly this did not work, so this time around, steel was removed all
the way through the frame (the resulting hole was the size of my thumb),
and what was left was treated with all sorts of anti-rust agents. Then
it was filled, sanded, glazed, sanded, primed, sanded, painted.
Hopefully it will work better this time around. It certainly looks better.
] | posted @ 23:07 | link
Back To Normal Life
Frosh week turned out very well. I'm extremely tired and glad to have
life get back to the normal flow of things. On the other hand, a
schedule as busy as last week's does have a certain appeal to it. I made
sure to save the Yukon's OnStar number so that I can prank call the
rental truck frequently.
Course-wise, I can see that some courses will be crazily hard or keep
me crazily busy. I'm looking forward to Electronic Materials as
well as Integrated Circuit Design & Fabrication, and maybe the
Music elective I'm taking, though I haven't had the first class of that
yet. The two Systems courses are much less exciting.
On the EngSoc side, fantastic improvements have been made to how
EngSoc can handle wireless connections via WPA with user-specific
certificates. I've gotten wpa_supplicant to work smoothly, meaning that
it should be a lot more sane getting a wireless connection with the
laptop. It should also be hugely beneficial to Windows users, who can
just double-click on the certificate file to connect. Finally, it should
allow a properly configured access point to be plugged in anywhere and
just work against our server, which saves a lot of cabling.
On a side note, we now officially have the coolest fridge hack. Over
the weekend, the temperature-sensing circuitry died (though the
individual components on the PCB appear to work), and the fridge was
getting very warm. As a temporary fix, my dad rigged the compressor into
an always-on configuration, and the whole thing is plugged into an X-10
appliance cube. Our NetWinder cron daemon now controls the fridge from
the basement; less on-time in the evening, more during the day. Who
needs a computer inside the fridge anyway?!
] | posted @ 23:45 | link
Frosh Week Madness
With EngFrosh this week, time has been extremely limited, and sleeping
patterns have been quite erratic.
The frosh are, as usual, a lively bunch. Today was white water rafting
day at Wilderness Tours and I finally went. It was fun, though when I fell
out, I got a painful scrape on one of the ankles.
Throughout the week I get to drive one of the EngFrosh rentals, a GMC
Yukon. This is the most ridiculous vehicle ever. I hate it, at least
the way it drives. Being fully loaded, it has fancy electronics, and the
console display goes as far as to show oil viscosity, as well as individual
tire pressure. If it were not for the size and terrible handling, I might
like this thing. Being as it is, my fourth year project should cover a lot
of the electronic gizmos in a saner car.
This evening CUSA put on a Billy Talent concert. It sucked. The cover
band was even worse than my to-date least favourite group, Big Jeezus
Truck. Billy Talent himself was hardly better. He sounded like my mother
when she's pissed off and makes babies cry.
Tomorrow's the first day of classes. Yikes!
] | posted @ 23:50 | link
Last Day of Work
Last night's boat cruise was pretty fun. It dragged on a little, since
the oragnizers decided to extend it an extra 45 minutes. I realize now
that taking one-second-long exposures on a moving boat is difficult.
Most of my photos are blurry whenever something is less than a few
hundred metres away. This phenomenon did produce a nifty shot of the
very clear Museum of Civilization framed by a blurry Alexandria Bridge.
The museum is clear enough to see the totem poles inside.
I cursed upon getting home, and, upon inserting RAM, getting cryptic
overclocking messages spoken at me by my new motherboard. Yes,
the POST speaks error messages. No, they don't always make sense. In
this case, a little bit of Googling showed that it was because the RAM
wasn't Registered ECC and anything with a Socket940 needs that. I cursed
further at the extra $150 expenditure.
Today's the last day of work. I will miss the freedom...
] | posted @ 13:14 | link
It's September! That's crazy! I suppose it's due to my general business, but
August flew by much more quickly than June or July. School starts way too
The big news of the week is that I spent small fortune to get parts for
the AMD Athlon64 FX-51 chip that was given to me by Greg KH back at OLS. The
processor itself is tiny, but sports an amazing 940 pins. Makes for a cool
depth-of-field shot. The system consists of the following:
- AMD Athlon FX-51 Processor
- Asus SK8V Motherboard
- 1 GB OCZ PC3200 Dual Channel DDR Memory
- 128 MB ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Dual Head Video Card
- 200 GB 7200rpm Seagate Serial-ATA Hard Drive
- Cooler Master Centurion 5 Case with 350W Power Supply
I just got the last components today, so I'll be putting this stuff to
use later tonight. Right now, I'm a little disappointed with the
motherboard, because it came in a very badly beaten up box and has a broken
corner. I'll be exchanging that after I play a little, seeing as it still
works. The RAM, however, is amazing: completely covered in thick, shiny
copper heatsink, the two sticks weigh almost as much as my new hard drive.
The case is really sweet too.
In other news, the car doorframe is nearly done. I'm just applying the
last coats of primer, and I got the finishing paint at lunch today. It's
getting pretty smooth, only a little more sanding...
Tonight, CUSA is throwing a fundraiser, and so I've been invited on a
boat cruise. It should be a cool evening, but the sky is beautifully clear.
Finally, I can sleep well now that my fourth-year project to use the Xbox
as an integrated car computer got approved. It will be a fun project, too.
] | posted @ 17:09 | link
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