Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Homework at 3 AM

We all have body clocks. You know the thing that tells you when it is time to go to sleep, and when it is time to wake up? Mine doesn’t work very well. I was so very tired last night by 7:00 PM that it was all I could do to stay up until 8:30, so I gave in and drifted happily off to sleepy land. Only to wake up this morning, ready to go at 3:00AM. Life is not fair, I know, but playing with the body clock is just cruelty. Because there was no use in lying in bed until six or so I decided that I may as well get up and do something productive.

Homework.

At least I got a good start on the day. I had plenty of time to read my math book, and try to further understand the black magic of proof writing. Yes, writing proofs is black magic. I am beginning to understand, but it has not been without a fight for it. I suppose that is a good thing. When I am done with this discrete mathematics class, which should probably be known as discrete hell, at least I will know more math speak than I ever thought possible.

Java and I got along much better today. I think that the more you think about it, the easier it gets. Today in class we were discussing the basics of the Java memory model; it was a condensed review of what we went over in spring semester. However, it really helped to jog my thoughts on the process. I agree that if one understands the memory model, they will have a better idea of how to program.

One thing that I found very interesting today was the number of students in my classes that weren’t up on the reading and homework problems. This happened in all three of my classes. This seems to be a surefire way to burn your grade early in the game.

It seems I never run out of things to do now, the question is do I want to do them. It is all part of the marathon. Maybe tonight, I will be lucky and get a “normal” night’s sleep.

Monday, August 30, 2004

CircleClub.java

This Class has been the bane of my existence today, and I am still not sure if I am done with it. However, I think that it has come a long way today. It is one of the Class files that I was to program for this week's programming assignment in CS 2020. The professor really didn't skip a beat between where we left off last April, and where he picked up last Thursday. So far the assignment has been a review assignment built to jog the rusty memory. The last problem (that I haven't done yet) looks like it will involve something new, but we will see.

Anyway, the point of this lovely Class is to demonstrate that we understand the basics of the java memory model, and that we understand the idea of OOP programming. This brings me to the story of the day. Work was slow today, so I was tinkering with this assignment and everything seemed to be working great except for this little statement which now works:

public String toString () {
String output = new String();
for (int i=0; i<= club.length; i++){
output = output + "Member " + i + ":" + club[i] +", ";
}
return output;
}

I had to get some help to get it to look like that, because I was having a major mental block and I am rather embarrassed about the whole thing. I was trying to make this work:

public String toString () {
return for (int i=0; i<= club.length; i++) { "Member " + i ":" + club[i] +", ";
}
}

So, I had spent a while last night thinking about this one, and was still struggling with it while I was at work. So the genius in me decided that I should just go and ask one of the Java programmers to take a look at it, and tell me where I had gone wrong. Well, they have an open cubicle area, and are all best friends. I don't know what I was thinking when I went over there and asked them for help. They were all friendly, and helped me realize that I was just expecting way too much from my return statement, but I wonder how they have judged me now. Really, you would think that putting the string into a variable BEFORE returning it wouldn't be too hard. Oh well. Those guys are really great, maybe it was humiliating because I want to be like them.

One of the things I love about programming is the thinking one has to go through to solve the problem. It is like doing puzzles. I wonder if I had stared at my toString method long enough that I would have figured out that as long as I was returning a String that it didn't matter what other kind of processing I did in the method. It was a valuable lesson. I learned something, and was again reminded of how powerful the Java programming language is.

At least when I go to class tomorrow, I can honestly say that I have started the assignment. ODE's/Linear Algebra went well. I actually comprehend it so far. Hopefully the first real lecture on Discrete Mathematics will help it to make more sense.

Cheers to Monday!





Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Weekend Goes

and so does the old template. This is also a supplied template for our enjoyment. If I had an ounce of creativity, I might be able to come up with something original soon. I am waiting on two things:

1. For inspiration to hit.
2. For a good day (or at least afternoon) to be able to play with the style sheet.

Hopefully both of the above will happen sooner rather than later.

The weekend was good. I got a really good start on my first programming assignment for CS 2020. I really like the process of solving programming problems. It is a good mental exercise. Also, I built a simple website for a friend, finished a math assignment, and worked on the discrete stuff... though probably not as much as I should have.

Well it is time to think about bed. 6:00 AM comes early around here, and I want to be awake in my 7:30 class.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Discrete What?

Friday is almost always a good thing; it invites the weekend which gives one time for rest and relaxation. Oh, and if you are a student, it also gives you time to catch up. This week at school was only a half week, and if it is any inkling of what school will be like this semester, heaven help me. The one good thing that I can say about it all is that I am actually enjoying my classes. Some more than others, but I think the sign of finally having found the right major is that you don’t necessarily mind spending hours on the homework.

Discrete Structures.

I am scared of this class. It is interesting, and after reading the first four sections of the book I can understand why they make it a requirement for all computer science majors, but at the same time, this is going to tax me in ways that I have never before experienced. I was instant messaging with a friend earlier this afternoon the conversation went something like this:

Me: I am not quite sure how I will survive my Discrete Mathematics course this semester.

Friend: Mathematics should never be prefaced by any adjective, especially that one.

Me: I totally agree… well… what if the adjective were something like easy, or elementary? I think I would be ok with it then.

Friend: But it isn’t followed by those words, discrete doesn’t imply easy.

The conversation gave me a smile this afternoon, and also gave me yet another thing to talk about here in the blog. As I sat in the discussion section for the class today the TA made a statement that Discrete math isn’t smooth like continuous math (calculus for example), that sounds pretty good. In fact, discrete math feels pretty rocky right now, but I will spend the seat time and hopefully learn how to write mathematical proofs. Which somewhat helps us get to the evenings next topic, right-brain versus left-brain.

In my childhood, I would have told you that I was very right-brained. I would have said that I loved creative things, and that I was a very creative person. Just ask one of my siblings. I went through one phase where I wanted to paint and emboss every object that I owned (and even objects that I didn’t own). I fancied myself an artist. Even in recent years, I would have said that I was more right-brained than left brained. I love photography, and was even the photo editor for a campus magazine in my early college career. I worked as a darkroom technician/photographer for the campus photography department for a while as well. I love to sing, and have been in choirs for a very long time. Until recently, I really hated mathematics, and anything that seemed heavily dependant upon science was just hard to understand and grasp (why I originally majored in Biology with that sentiment is beyond me).

So here we are almost to the last quarter of 2004, and I am majoring in computer science and loving it! Really truly loving it! When I started taking the classes I came at it again from the side of creativity. “Programming is an art, a place to be expressive and imaginative.” I would tell people. I still believe that it is. And now that you have heard my long story about why I think I am creative and right-brained. I take both of those tests out of the blog that I linked to yesterday, and the tests don’t say that I am slightly left-brained, but that I am TOTALLY left-brain dominant. Go figure. Maybe I work so hard at the left-brain stuff that I over compensate. Who knows? Though, I can say that being in this Discrete Mathematics course that I can use all of the left-brain goodness that the gray matter has to offer me.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

CS 2020 Day 1

It sounds really crazy, but I just love that class. The environment was comfortable, exciting, and encouraging. We reviewed some of the concepts that we discussed spring semester, and went over the details/policies of the course. Not terribly exiting stuff, but the professor has a great excitement for teaching and helping us learn. It was good to be able to meet up with some of my classmates from the spring. We caught up on our summer doings, and picked up right where we left off. I will get to start a programming assignment this weekend, among other things. I am really quite exhausted today so I will just leave you with a sneak peak of what is to come.

- Windows XP Service Pack 2
- Issues with cygwin/X
- Not being the Freshman on Campus
- Right-Brained or Left-Brained

Not sure when I will get to them, but at least now I have a list, and you have something to look forward to.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

To School and Work

I really have a mesh of things that I would like to discuss today, though I really have no way of organizing it into something full of intelligence and whit for you all. I think about blogging just about everything that happens, maybe this is an unhealthy habit. In my family we like to analyze things, some would say we over-analyze, maybe that is why this whole blogging thing feels so appealing. It gives me the chance to analyze on a stage for you all to read and enjoy.

This entry started in my head early this morning as I dreamed about deleting registry keys all night. I like to pride myself on running a clean computer. I don’t like lots of garbage in the system tray; I despise the idea of having tasks running in the background that I did not will be there. So when my second computer (the one that I share with my sister) mysteriously got infected with noxious pop-ups it became something of an obsession to get rid of them. Sadly, this took more of my evening than I had counted on. I swear to you when I finished a recording session on the machine Sunday night, I hadn’t seen a single popup. However, when I got from work on Monday, my sister informed me that the machine was possessed. And possessed it was. When I went to bed last night there was still a pesky .dll that I was having trouble removing. I found some info on the web about it, and hopefully will get it cleaned up tonight. What does this mean to you? Probably nothing, but after manually deleting hundreds of registry keys last night, it explains two things: (1) Why I dreamed about registry editing last night. (2) Why when the alarm went off at 5:50AM that I hit snooze until 6:20AM and suddently decided that taking a 7:30 class was an insane idea.

7:30 class wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though. The professor is an older gentleman, who would certainly belong to the “old school” of professorships. That sounds negative, but it really isn’t. His course webpage felt cold and uninviting, but his classroom manner was inviting, understanding, and exciting. I hope that it stays this way and that my perceptions weren’t those induced by my RedBull forced alertness. The class will be a challenge, there will be a lot of homework, but if I believe what I am told the class will be a good learning experience. Heaven only knows that I need to get a better grip on my calculus. When I was in high school, I would have told you that calculus would be the last class that I would be taking in college. Isn’t it interesting how people change with time? I guess that subject could be a blog of its own, so I will leave it at that.

I am still very excited for my CS classes tomorrow. I have been excited about that all summer. More Java experience! Not only is it super cool, but also it is also very relevant to work (another topic to discuss at a later date). Discrete Structures will be interesting, I gather from the introduction to the book that it is a class about mathematical proofs, yep there’s the M word again. It seems to follow me like a puppy, if only it were as cuddly and fun.

Sometime we need to have a discussion about QA standards. Why is it that no one loves the QA people? The programmers hate us; the users hate us, why? I think that being a QA tester studying computer science I have an interesting perspective of the development cycle. I am sure it isn’t unique, but it is interesting nonetheless. In school a great amount of time is spent placing emphasis on designing software. In my assignments I loose points for things such as “bad documentation” or “code that doesn’t meet specifications”. Somewhere in the business world there seems to be a breakdown when it comes to certain aspects of design. I understand the importance of cost benefit analysis, and have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly of ROI. Yet through it all, QA nearly always seems to take the brunt of it all. If we put it out and there is a bug, we aren’t thorough enough. If we don’t release it because we know there are issues, we are too slow. When we return a program to the programmer because it doesn’t meet “standards”, all too often we have to battle with them to get them to understand that: “Yes it works, but it doesn’t do what we expected it to.” Oh dear… see I got going, and now you are all worried about this poor CS student who has rambled on about more than he probably should have in one blog entry. If you got to the bottom of this alive and still comprehending my ramblings, congrats! OH, and please, hug your local friendly QA tester!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The 16 Week Marathon

begins tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow Fall semester begins at the University of Utah. It is somewhat exciting, but at the same time makes me feel nervous. My class load isn't too heavy hour wise, but I know that there will be a lot of studying to do. Tomorrow I only have one class, Math 2250, Ordinary Differential Equations/Linear Algebra. Doesn't it sound fantastically exciting? I am sure that there will be more stories to tell tomorrow after I have experienced it. The class begins at 7:30 in the morning and meets for an hour each day excepting Thursdays. I always end up spending a lot of time on math courses, so we will see how this one goes. On Thursday I will get to see my other two classes for the first time CS2020, and CS2100, I am actually excited for those two, but I won't have much to say about that until Thursday night. So until then here's to having the stamina to run the race well!


Monday, August 23, 2004

Hello World

This would be my very first blog entry. I opened up my blogger account early this afternoon, and have spent most of my time learning about template creation. Obviously this template is not my own work, in fact, it is one of the default blogger templates. Hopefully in the coming months I will get brave enough to attempt a template of my own, but before I can do that it seems that I still have a lot of CSS to learn. Maybe in a couple of days I will share with you some of my first attempts at creating my own template.