Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Math Lab



In subdued light they sit, heads bowed toward their books.
In the background one can hear faint conversations of mathematical principles
Integral of this, derivative of that, laws of sines and cosines, much the same
But different

Problems are solved meticulously with patience and care
Sometimes it helps to be in the presence of others
For the common battle gives us all strength

At times one wonders why they must learn math
But then he is reminded of its sublime power
For math is the language of science

While the students pay homage to their precious math tombs
There is determination in their brows
And yet, while one watches the sublime spectacle
He can’t but help think that he too must get to work

For to understand math
Is to understand the world
It is ever so useful
If one will just
Try.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Monday after Holiday

Returning to regular life after a holiday weekend is a challenge for most normal people. Thankfully, the return to school and work today hasn’t been too terrible. The thanksgiving holiday provided me with adequate time to prepare for the upcoming week, and get some needed rest. It was very cold this morning; winter has finally arrived in the Salt Lake valley. I usually listen to the radio on my way to school, but today opted for silence. It was nice to have a moment to put the day into perspective.

On Monday’s I only have one class, it begins at seven thirty in the morning. It was very encouraging to see the professor outline the next three weeks of class leading up to our final. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Though the topics in the ordinary differential equation class are getting advanced, with some perseverance, it is possible to learn. Getting out of class, I started off toward work, again without the company of the radio.

Today is one of those days that I am grateful that I work downtown. Every day I walk through a mall on my way to the elevator that will take me up to work. Today upon entering the mall, I noticed that the music was louder than normal. When I got up the escalator, I found that the music was live (and thus louder). One of the local radio stations has decided to put on live “mini-concerts” for the holiday season. It was great to start the workday to some live Christmas music. I noticed that several of my co-workers were also enjoying the concert, before we headed up into the office tower.

Feeling the end of the semester, accompanied by a wonderful mini concert would have been completely sufficient to get my Monday of to a terrific start, but the day got even better. Monday morning my work team always has staff meeting. We have recently been involved in a large consolidation project, which we finally finished last week. Today, our supervisor told us that we needed to watch a compliance video, but when she turned it on, the video turned out to be “A Christmas Story”. We all had a good laugh together this morning. What a great way to start off a busy week.

There is still a lot that needs to be done, but I am beginning to think that will be a constant. Onward and upward we go!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Leadership

A Mr. Rogers thought:

“It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out. It’s easy to take a gun and annihilate your opposition, but what is really exciting to me is to see people with differing views come together and finally respect each other.”

What a wonderful thought. I grew up watching Fred Rodgers on television, and while I can’t give Mr. Rogers credit for everything that I am today, I do think that he had an effect upon a small boy who was curious about the world around him. Mr. Rogers reinforced good solid principles taught by parents, and Sunday school teachers. Looking back on it now, I wonder how Fred Rodgers was able to be so good, so loving, and so tolerant. On his show we talked about happy things, and sad things, at times people were even angry, but there always was an undercurrent of love and understanding.

Sometimes, I find myself in situations where I am supposed to be a leader, in moments like those; I should be the person on the moral high ground. I should really study out the issues, and make sure that the things that I do and say will not hurt others. I once read a book that claimed that to be a leader that there was no room for compassion if you were to reach your goals. To whoever it was that wrote that book, I emphatically disagree. It may take more work, and you as the leader may have to be more creative, but if those you lead know that you love them, and understand that you want them to love each other, wouldn’t things like assuming good intent, having mutual respect, and overall productivity increase?

In the last week or so, I may not have been the best leader in all aspects of my life. Metaphorically speaking, I may have thrown out the baby with the bath water. Interactions with different people are always so intricate, there is so much always going on in the background. The question of today’s post has to do with the opening quote. Yes, working things out is dramatic, and it is exciting and wonderful to see two people with different views respect each other, but something I have learned the hard way is that I can only directly control myself. How do you foster the understanding and respect that it takes to get two third parties to agree to disagree, and yet respect each other and have a good working relationship from there on out. From a leadership perspective I would find this very interesting, because it may not be the Leader can not force anything, but he may very well have to clean up some of the mess. Unfortunately, sometimes the decisions we make have a ripple effect, and thereby, a dispute at one end of the pool very well could disrupt the whole thing.

Maybe we all just need to be a little more conscious of our actions. Certainly, no one is perfect, and I really believe that few in this world set out to cause trouble, most people are inherently good. The trick is that we need to see the good in each other.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Crayons?


04_11_26c 011
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.

Feeling too lazy to write a longer, more substantive blog entry today, I have opted to share a photo with you. I have wanted to do a photographic object study on crayons for quite a while now. I think that it is probably because as a child in grade school I always loved our coloring projects. Crayons remind me of a simpler time. Not that today is bad, but there was something truly wonderful about coloring a bright outside scene with a sun, blue sky that touched the green green grass.

Christmas is up in my home.
I checked off a speech that I had to write for an upcoming meeting today.
I also managed to read one chapter on Graph theory for discrete math. One down, one more to go.


I also revisited some of the programming assignment that I completed on Wednesday. It seems that I had left out some case analysis that I never would have thought of on my own. Thank goodness for classmates. Incidentally, he said that he came across the cases by accident. Which helps me not to feel so badly abut missing it in the first place.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving

Ah yes, a promised turkey day post. Today was nice and relaxing. It has been a very long while since I last had the opportunity to sleep in. Today I was afforded that luxury, and though by many standards nine isn’t the longest to sleep in, when you are used to waking up between 5:30 and 6:30, nine seems very nice. Thankfully I got my laundry done, and I also had some time to just relax and think this morning. Everyone needs time to themselves sometimes; it seems that finding it is really the challenge. In my personal time today I was able to do some non school related studying, and also spent a few minutes contemplating thanksgiving in general. All things considered, I there are many things for which I am profoundly grateful. Though this probably isn’t the place to get into it, suffice it to say that I am grateful for the life that I have.

Thanksgiving dinner was held this afternoon at the grandparent’s home. A very classic thanksgiving meal by menu, excellently prepared, and well presented. It is always nice to break bread with those you love and respect. We ate well, and had some good conversations. I was pleased to see how helpful everyone was in putting on the event as dinner for 23 is a suitable task for anyone.

I am watching my “thanksgiving holiday” evaporate before my eyes, and am just now wondering how on earth I am going to accomplish the to-do list. I guess it will be like everything else, one small task at a time. Only three more weeks to the end of fall semester, at that point some well deserved R&R is in order, until then, I must muster the strength and stamina to finish the race. One lesson I learned today is that perhaps I should try to widen my focus a bit more to take in more than school and work. Most of the rest of the world manages to do this, and tunnel vision over anything may not be the healthiest of characteristics. I will have to give that idea some more thought.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

1/3 Done

Well I finished my programming assignment. It took me a little longer than I had anticipated, but thank goodness it is done now. This way, I don’t have to worry about it all weekend. With CS2020 out of the way, that leaves me plenty of room to work on other things… like graph theory, ODE’s, and maybe, just maybe having some “me” time. I am too tired to say lots tonight. There will be time tomorrow, so I will be sure to get a turkey day blog in. Here’s to having one third of the homework I must complete this weekend done!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Build Versus Buy

Software development is an interesting thing, I love thinking about business processes and how technology can improve them. There is a great satisfaction to be found in studying business processes, and then designing software that helps to complete that process plan. It is interesting to note trends in IT, some fly in one day and are gone the next, others have a more lasting, permanent effect upon the way that we do business. I think that the trick for any manager would be to determine which technologies are cost-effective to develop, easy for the end user, and powerful enough to hold up in the competitive market place of today. Is the solution to buy third party products, or to develop in house? With the amount of information thrown at IT professionals today, how is it possible for them to know what will pass the test?

Yesterday in the evening I had a discussion with my bosses boss about this very topic. He posed some questions that certainly were not easy to answer, especially when it comes to deciding on various technologies that a company can pursue. The company that I work for prides its self with being on the cutting edge of technology in our field. If I were an IT manager, it isn’t clear to me how I would stay up on all of the technologies. I suppose some of it would have to be reliant upon hiring smart people who did their best to stay up with the latest. I seriously doubt that any one person could learn it all. It is all very interesting, but highly technical. Have you ever visited The World Wide Web Consortium? If you haven’t, you are in for a treat; they bring all new meaning to the words white paper.

Today I have been doing some research on enterprise document management. We have already heavily invested in a solution, but it we want more from it that it is willing to give us. Spending some time on this vendor’s website, I have learned that they have some solutions, but they come at a very high price. Because we are storing documents on a database that they designed, we would have to pay a heavy license fee to be able to retrieve documents to our own applications. Additionally, with this given vendor, you are welcome to do such things for the fee, but you also have to develop within the constraints of an API that they have developed. This is where this post comes full circle. Though we are already heavily invested in this company, is it worth the money requested to use their development kit, or would it me simpler to just abandon this document storage system and create our own?

Sometimes there just are not simple answers to be found.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Top Five Lists

I was reading a blog yesterday in the afternoon, and the writer was talking about how you could learn a lot about a person by reading a list of their "favorites." I am typically a person who holds that sort of information close to the breast, not really for fear of sharing, but I am not the type to have many strong convictions in the area of favorite media. For the most part, this was an experiment for me, to list things that I enjoy. I am still not totally convinced that I could say that they are my all time favorites, but what is listed is what came to mind. The lists are in no particular order, and of course are subject to mood changes.

One thing I learned about me is that the event of Napster and iTunes has really changed my music purchasing habits. As I listed my favorite songs, that wasn’t too difficult, except distilling a list of thousands of songs down to five was somewhat arduous. When it came to listing albums my tastes seemed to change immediately. I guess that I just haven’t purchased many full albums in recent years. The ones I listed are a few that I really could enjoy listening to the entire thing over and over.

It was an interesting experiment anyway. It also makes for a reasonable blog entry. So without further ado, here is a sampling of my top fives:

Top Fives:

Movies:
1. Star Wars – Episode Six
2. Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King
3. Sabrina (1995)
4. Twelfth Night (1996)
5. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Albums:
1. When I look in your eyes – Diana Krall
2. In Pieces – Garth Brooks
3. John Williams Greatest Hits 1969-1999
4. The Melody At Night, With You – Keith Jarrett
5. Jimmy Eat World

Songs:
1. O Magnum Mysterium – Robert Shaw
2. Cadillac of the Skys – John Williams
3. Float On – Modest Mouse
4. Tiny Dancer – Elton John
5. Somebody Told Me – The Killers

TV Shows:
1. ALIAS
2. 30 Minute Meals – Food Network
3. Seventh Heaven
4. Everwood
5. Summerland

Books:
1. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
2. Eragon – Christopher Paolini
3. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
4. Core Java volumes I and II – Horstmann, Cornell
5. Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

Restaurants:
1. Friday’s
2. Chili’s
3. The Rivers
4. The Boulevard
5. Tony Roma’s

I am sure that were I to sit and think about it longer there would be more, but the above represents a good survey.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

GO UTES!

ESPN College Game Day has come to visit the University of Utah this weekend.

A nice picture from the UofU website.




Today represents a big game for the Utes. We are still hoping that we can win a BCS bowl game, and well, punishing BYU would just add more joy to it.


Friday, November 19, 2004

A Step in the Right Direction

Well, it is officially out of my hands now. I finally turned in my application for full major status to the University of Utah School of Computing. I need to keep working hard on my current classes as part of my admission counts on the classes that I am taking this semester, but the work of it is all done. I won’t have an official answer until mid-late December, and that makes me a bit nervous as I can’t register for any more classes until receive full major status, so I get to wait, study and pray it all works out between now and then.

Computer Science feels like it will be a good fit for me. I enjoy the topic, and have a thirst to learn all I can about computers, software, and how they work. I have been quite lucky in the last year to have had some good mentors, and professors who love what they do, and love to share their knowledge of the topic. While I always tease about working for a big company like Microsoft, Apple, Google, or EAGames, part of me also thinks that it would be a thrill to teach introductory CS courses, and work at a university as a professor. If I could influence other peoples’ lives for good the way some key professors have influenced mine, working as a professor would be an awesome experience. I have time yet ahead of me, and the first step is getting full major status. The future may be uncertain, but it looks bright!

And now a story of Ordinary Differential Equations:

Last night never ended. I got so worked up over some ODE's that I didn’t quickly fall asleep. My mind just wouldn't quit on them. Over, and over, and over again I saw the problems in my mind. It wasn’t surprising to find out that I wasn’t wrong, and that it was just an issue of me being with it enough to actually see and understand what my answers meant. The problems were really quite simple, but last night as I sat in front of maple, after having hand worked the problems over and over, I couldn’t understand why maple and I were agreeing, but the back of the book was not. I did as best I could to explain the answer that maple and I were getting, and said that I would have to work on reconciling the book later. I arrived at home close to eleven last night, and couldn’t get my brain to shut down until around 2 AM. As a happy ending, at least the professor helped me to reconcile my answe4rs this morning.

Today in a rather sleep deprived way; I managed to attend my classes and learn a few things. New topics in ODE’s, preparation for the next quiz in Discrete Math and in CS2020 a nice lab on Binary Search Tree’s. Thank goodness for the weekend. There is a fair share of homework to be done, but like all other tasks that are worthwhile in this life, I just need to set aside some time to do it. When I am done with my blog, I think I will try and catch a nap, then this evening I should get to work on the whole programming assignment thing.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Study Session

Well I managed to survive Wednesday, and it actually felt like a good day. I was exhausted when all was said and done, but I felt like I actually accomplished some stuff. I learned some new things at work, made a tiny bit of progress towards some of the projects on my list, actually was able to follow the ODE lecture in the morning, and had a study group. Well, maybe we should call it more of a tutoring lesson for me, the purpose was supposed to be a study group.

I have forgotten how nice it is to work on an assignment in a group, especially if there is someone around who understands the material. On Tuesday night, I sent out an email to some of my Discrete Math classmates inviting them to have a study group last night. One of the guys was willing to do it, and I am so very grateful. We worked on the assignment last night from seven to ten in the evening. I thought that I had understood the information presented in class, but I was totally wrong. Thanks to this friend, I can actually say that I understand what is going on in that class right now. To make a long story short, I am really grateful to this classmate for taking time out of his busy schedule to help me better understand the concepts presented in class.

Had I been more on top of things, I think that it would have been wise to start a study group at the very beginning of the semester rather than waiting until there were only three weeks remaining. None the less, I will make use of it while I can. One of the greatest things about a study group is that the participants are all in the class together, so everyone knows what is being discussed. We all experienced the lecture, and we should all have some of the basic knowledge. The other thing that is nice about study groups is that you don’t have to pay for them, like you do with tutoring sessions.

The long and short of today’s entry is that I am grateful for smart kind people who are willing to help their classmates.

There is also a story to tell about the end of the study session, when we couldn’t figure out the answer to the last problem. It was 9:30ish so we decided to try our luck at finding the TA in his office. We sat there and watched him scribble on paper for the next 30 minutes to solve a “simple” problem. It didn’t help. I couldn’t reproduce what was written on those pages last night had my life depended on it. Figuring out that problem will be the challenge for the day. Maybe some other time, I shall have to write about this TA’s office. I am learning that the office of an academic can tell you volumes about him or her.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Three Quarters

I am really in the mood for a good technical blog about programming or some aspect of computer science. However, it seems that given my current state of business it just won’t be happening. I had this great idea that I would share some of the more salient points of recursive programming with you all today, but it will just have to wait. Suffice it to say that recursion is pretty dang cool, and it is absolutely amazing what you can do with it. As a concept it may be slightly challenging to grab at first, but after one spends some time with it, they come to understand how wonderfully simple it can be. Recursion is a very powerful tool, and hopefully someday I will get some time to write up some cool little examples to illustrate it.

Being on week 12 of a 16-week semester, things are really cooking right now. There are assignments due almost every day, and the time commitment seems to have been increased, as each professor tries to cram everything he can into his last four weeks of class. Twelve weeks ago I referred to this experience as a marathon. I am feeling exhausted. It is all I can do right now to try and keep all of the balls in the air. I keep focusing on the reward. I have worked hard, and so far am doing well in these classes. I just need to keep concentrating and putting the effort into learning everything that is placed before me.

Won’t the holiday break be nice? I already have a long list of things that I want to do. Some of it computer related, and some of it just decompress related. But until then… HOMEWORK HOMEWORK HOMEWORK!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Random Variable

I am one.

A thought from my Discrete Math text:

“The term random variable is, perhaps, one of the greatest misnomers in all of mathematics: A random variable is neither random nor variable! It is a function defined on a sample space. Random variables are used to model quantities whose value is random.”

Don’t you feel enlightened today? I knew that you would. You see that thought just made my day. Well, not really, but I can pretend can’t I? Yes, pretending is what we do in discrete math. I am still subscribing to the “fake it till you make it” model. This class is seriously one of the greatest academic challenges I have faced yet in this experience we call college. What makes random variables even more entertaining is that I can almost understand them. If I were to be a professional gambler, some of this discrete probability theory stuff would be wonderfully interesting, as half of the problems that we are working in class have to do with dice and cards. Maybe they do it this way to teach students how terrible your chances really are when engaging in a game of poker or craps.

Monday, November 15, 2004

One Foot in Front of the Other

I fight against my friend apathy every day. When a task gets difficult and starts to command more of me than I am wanting to give, this little switch flips in my head and I then begin to justify why I will not give my attention to said task. Note the following example.

Self: I really should write a blog entry today.

Apathy: You don’t have to. No one reads it anyway. Besides, you have been OH SO BUSY doing OTHER THINGS.

Self: But have those other things haven't been important since Thursday.

Apathy: Of course they were.

Self: Not really. You see, I should be furthering my education, reading, ironing, anything but wasting time watching movies and playing computer games.

Apathy: You worked hard last week and earned a break. Don’t worry about blogging or any such silly thing. The homework will still be there next week.

Self: But maybe it would be nice to get ahead.

Apathy: Then you would never get any rest.

Yes, I actually had a conversation with myself like that this weekend. Perhaps it says something about my mental state. The motivated type A side says that I really have a million things to do and that I do not have time to play. Mr. Apathy thinks that I don’t have enough fun, and that I really need to stop to smell the roses. At any rate, I went full bore through the two exams that I took last Thursday, and then pretty much let Mr. Apathy rule my life for the next three days, doing only that which I absolutely had to. As a result, I had a nice weekend, it was restful, and I did enjoy some guilt-laden time for myself. However, now I have to face the music that I will be done with fall semester in just about a month, and my classes will not be doing any letting up between now and then. One day at a time, and with some diligent effort, and it will all end nicely. It is all about fighting the Apathy, and making our normal selves do spectacular things.

A thought from C.S. Lewis:
“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The "Kid"

Was today only Tuesday? A sabbatical would feel really good about now. I can not believe that we are still at the beginning of the week. Believe it or not, I actually have a story to tell today. I should probably be working on homework or studying, as I have two exams on Thursday, but the story is of interest.

Setting: Shortly after CS2020, walking in to the classroom where the CS2100 (discrete structures) discussion section would be held. We had about 20 minutes to go before the session would start, so my 2020 classmates and I kept talking.

Me: So what do you think will be on the exam on Thursday?

Friend in CS2020: It will be a fun one, you KNOW he will test the memory model.

Me: I kind of figured as much. I really don’t fancy implementing a linked list on the exam. I hope that doesn’t come up.

Annoying kid from CS2100: Linked lists are easy, I could implement one of those in five minutes.

Me: (to the kid) I am afraid you don’t understand, I am not talking about using the collection linked list, I am talking about building it from scratch.

Kid: Yes, I could do it in 5 minutes it is easy.

Friend: (dripping with sarcasm) I must be an idiot then, because it took me five hours to do it the first time.

Kid: It would be way easy in C++, it might take time in Java, but in C++ it would be a cinch.

Me: From what I know of C++, I think it would actually be more difficult.

Kid: Java isn’t a real language; I don’t know why they bother teaching that to you in those classes.

Friend: You had better get used to it. That is what you are going to be expected to learn

Kid: I didn’t have to take the 2010/2020 series I was able to skip right to 2100.

I will kill the conversation at this point to tell you that people that I have SO LITTLE PATIENCE for people like the “kid” in the above conversation. Perhaps I am low on self confidence; perhaps I just expect people to listen to me and at least pretend to understand my point of view. Arrogance won’t buy you any credit with me. This kid then goes on to tell me that C++ works on any platform more easily than the Java bite code, or the C# CRL. I was totally befuddled.

After class began the kid then proceeded to talk the whole time, interrupting the TA at every turn. I just wanted to lean over and tell him to SHUT UP. However, the civilized me just sat in my chair three rows behind, took some deep breaths, and tried to make sense of the gibberish on the chalkboard. The difficulty of discrete math, along with the frustration of the kid, was just about all I could take today.

Moral of the Story:
If you are smart and think you know it all, you probably don’t know anything. Discretion truly is the better part of valor.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Eclipse Running Java 1.5

For those of you who don’t particularly appreciate the technical blogs, this may be one that you would want to opt out on. On the other hand, if you are into nerdy computer programming stuff like I am, you may want to read the next short paragraph.

In September I wrote a blog entry about IDE’s, and was specifically talking about which ones my classmates and I liked to use. I still like to argue with my classmates about how I feel eclipse is superior to many of the other free IDE’s that are out there.

Eclipse has been great except for one small thing. If you are programming with J2SE 1.5 (the newest version of the Java SDK), eclipse hasn’t been upgraded to support all of the 1.5 goodness. So, as an unfortunate result, I have had to resort to using text-pad or another IDE like bluej – UNTIL TODAY!
I got this nice little email from one of my classmates this afternoon…

“By the way, I am in the process of installing the new java 1.5 plug-in for eclipse. You may want to check it out.....-> http://www.3plus4.de/eclipse/cheetah.html

How totally wonderful that someone spent the time to work on this little project, it has totally made my day. Anyway, you may want to check it out, if you are the eclipse programmer type.

If none of that made sense, I am sorry. This blog will return to something normal, and easy to read tomorrow (I hope). I uploaded some new pictures this evening to flickr! You may want to check that out.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Ready to Do It Again


fall plumb
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.

Most of the homework is done. I feel rejuvenated and ready to face another week. It was a good weekend. There was time allowed for discussions with family and friends. There was time to prepare for the duties of the upcoming week. There was time to rest and relax.

It was a beautiful day outside today. The quality of the light was just amazing. For November in Utah, I really can not complain. This morning though there was frost on the ground, the light was balmy and plentiful. The plum tree in the back yard does not loose its leaves, and the picture above highlights the light on a single branch.

May the Lord bless us all in our endeavors this week. There are tests to be taken, work assignments to be completed, and visits to make. With some hard work the week will not only be survived, but perhaps we may thrive on those things we must do.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Writing and Blogging: Why?

Sometimes it feels like inspiration will never hit. Sometimes I wonder if blogging actually helps or hurts my writing. Sometimes I wish that I had the ability to craft a sentence that has the power to stand up to those of my colleagues. The blogosphere is an interesting place. I can’t say that I read a lot of blogs, but the ones that I do read are well written. One woman is an author, and her novel will be debut early next year. Another is the blog of my father, who got his degree in mass communication. I enjoy reading the technical blogs of programmers. I convinced an older gentleman, who used to be a sports-writer for the local paper to start blogging. Most recently, one of my best friends from back in high school has taken to blog writing. All of the aforementioned bloggers have a unique voice and whit about them. None of them are the same, but all of them know how to craft a line that reads well. Maybe if I keep this writing thing up long enough, I might figure out the strange art of writing.

Why is it that people are so compelled to sit in front of their computers and write blogs? My answer is that it is a method of self expression to the world. Never before in history has man been able to impart of his philosophies to the world so simply. The fact that in a few minutes, anyone with access to the internet could read my writings is truly a wonder. Perhaps the reason blogging is so popular is that it brings publishing power to the common man. Heaven knows I am not a writer, but here in my corner of the World Wide Web, I can be. Presumably it is the idea that I can pretend to know something that makes blogging so appealing. I don’t know who really reads this stuff, but in some little corner of my soul, I dream that lots of people read it, and that what I say is important – that probably has something to do with the idea that my siblings and I call “the family desire to fame.” Who wouldn’t want to feel important, and noticed? That is a deep thought, and one that I will attack at some later date. Regardless, blogging I think that blogging is good for the soul. It brings people together, allows one to vent, and allows one to be a star in their own universe.

I am going to credit this break from my usual banter about school to my friend Sam; you might want to drop by his little corner of the web by following this link. He has a wit about him, and not much gets past his careful eyes.

A thought from another hero, Fred Rodgers:“I must be an emotional archaeologist because I keep looking for the roots of things, particularly the roots of behavior and why I feel certain ways about certain things.”

Friday, November 05, 2004

Homework? Yes.

I know, it gets terribly borring to read about my homework every day, but it seems that homework is about all I am getting around to right now. If I am not at school then I am at work, and when I am not doing either of those, the probability is good that I am working on homework.

I spent most of this evening working on my latest CS assginment (due next Tuesday), thankfully I have most of it done. I have some bugs in one class, and I wrote the skeleton for the other class, now I just need to flesh it out. Both projects sound like good Saturday afternoon tasks. The IDE that the school wants us to use has this feature that does a UML schematic automatically as you make the classes. This one looked kindof interesting, so I thought that I would share it with you all.




Isn't that cool? Yes, I know it is really small, but I just wanted to show all of the lines. This would be a good introduction to the object oriented style of java programming. However, I am really too exhausted to start with that right now. We will see when I get some time.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Office East


Office East
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.

Wednesdays are hard, long days. They start with a seven thirty class, then work for eight hours, then back to school for a study session, and a tutoring lesson. Work may not always be the funnest of places to be, but a look out the window reminds me of how lucky I am to live and work where I do. The Wasatch Mountains are beautiful year round. The above picture is how they looked on Monday.

Wednesday may indeed mark the week as half way done, but come wednesday, I am always reminded of how much I have to accomplish before the next Monday. It is times like these that I remember the addage from What About Bob, "Baby Steps." Sometimes, they are all one can take, but when regularly put one foot in front of the other, you just might amaze yourself with where you end up.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Voting: A Right and a Responsibility

Maybe an aspiring computer scientist really shouldn’t have anything to say about politics, political processes, or voting, but I do have an opinion, and I have the platform of this corner on the Internet to say express it, so I will.

After class this morning, I drove over to the local Junior High to go and cast my vote. There was a line, and I waited for about twenty minutes, it was good to see people showing up to voice their opinions, and let their voices be heard. Whether you agree with the Electoral College or not, it behooves every eligible American citizen to cast a ballot for the men or women whom the voter thinks will represent him or her and his values. Because of the criticality of the decisions being made in the voting booth, it is also of paramount importance that each person makes the effort to be informed of the issues. Listening to the radio, reading local and national newspapers/magazines, reading the voter guide, and just making sure that they have spent the time so that they can make an educated decision is important. If I am to elect someone to represent me, then I had better make sure that I know what I am getting into when I make my vote.

After voting today, I got into work and quickly checked a few of the message boards that I read daily. Usually these boards are not a place where politics are discussed, because of the varying backgrounds of the participants. However, for a change of pace someone had posted an “off topic” discussion where he stated that he was not going to vote and why. This man is highly educated, and respected in this particular online community, and all I can say is that though it is his right to say what he said, I completely disagree. Voting may indeed be a right, but it is also a responsibility. For whatever reason, I find it very sad that this person, who has opinions, and has studied the issues, feels that for whatever reason, the apathetic way is the best. Maybe said person feels he can’t support any of the candidates, is that a reason not to vote? Is there a way to find the lowest common denominator, and vote for the person that most closely matches what you feel is correct and good?

In the opinion section of the campus newspaper, the paper’s editorial staff says:

“Skip a class if you have to. Go ahead and walk those 10 miles uphill both ways in the snow without shoes and a little brother on your back to that voting booth (your grandparents apparently did it every day, you can do it for one).

And expect your neighbors to be doing the same. Let's go out there and live the dreams of everyone who gave their lives so we could walk into that little booth and check a name.

There's no way to know for certain what tomorrow or the next four years will hold. Some things are out of our control.

But one thing left entirely up to us is the ability to wear that little white sticker that says, "I voted."”

I whole-heartedly agree.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Of Finished Homework and Ice


Ice2
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.

The first signs of winter were upon us today. Because of the time change, when I went out to my car this morning, at least it was light outside again. I will be able to enjoy the beauty of morning light for a few more weeks, until the days shorten and it is again dark when I make my journey to school. There was a chilly bite to the air this morning, and I had to scrape ice off of the car. I am sure that if I lived in a warmer place, like sunny California, that I would not miss scraping the ice off of my car in the morning. But, where I live it is cold in the winter, and I do have to scrape the ice off of my car, so it is just something that I must get used to. One would think that after nearly ten years of winter driving, that cleaning off the car would become routine; but I still dislike it.

As promised in my last entry, when I returned I would be caught up with my schooling again. Thanks to a slower day at work, and the generosity of a professor, finishing up the homework wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In ODE's this morning, the professor lead a question and answer session in which most of use were able to get the help that we needed to be able to finish things up. It was just a matter of getting home and making 'presentation copies'. The programming assignment just took a fresh brain, and a new outlook on the problem. My version of a linked list compiled, and I was able to use it in a simple implementation, however, I am not feeling totally comfortable with all of the methods that we were asked to implement. For starters, I am not sure if I covered all of the cases when an exception could be thrown, and I am also not feeling too great about the methods that use an index rather than an object comparison. It was harder than some of our other assignments. If the object was to help us to better understand the concept of the linked list abstract data type then the assignment was a success. Additionally, it also served as a tool to help me better appreciate the Java Collections Framework. As I said earlier, I don't know how I will have done on the assignment, but at least I got it to compile, and run a simple test scenario.

Tomorrow is a big day; Americans will decide the leadership of their country for the next four years. Whether you agree with the Electoral College or not, if you are a citizen it becomes your civic duty to vote. Much blood has been spilt to give us this privilege.