Friday, April 28, 2006

Five Days To Go

And this semester will be over, putting me squarely on summer vacation, and yes, I have a lot that I would like to do.

Today’s final in Algorithms that was promised to be 2/3 multiple choice 1/3 short answer ended up being 100% short answer, and was a total pain. I just hope I passed, because I really don’t have a lot of desire to take the class again next spring.

After the exam, I went to work where I had to take care of a lot of the stuff that I wasn’t been taken care of because I was out of the office from Tuesday to today. I guess that it’s nice to know that I am needed, yet at the same time, it was somewhat frustrating that most of my afternoon was spent taking care of things that others certainly could have done in my absence.

I also signed up for a photography course today. Still feeling somewhat photographically dead, I have decided that I need to see what I can do to remedy the problem this summer. A good friend is teaching a seven week course titled, Visual Awareness and Creative Seeing. Hopefully it will get me out of my slump. It will be something nice to do on Tuesday nights for a while once school lets out. I have also decided that I would like to buy a new camera. I have wanted a digital SLR for a while now, and this may as well be as good of a time as any to bite the bullet and go for it. I am looking at the Canon Rebel XT or the Canon D30, if anyone has any experience with either I would be interested in hearing what you have to say before I make the investment.

This evening I went on a nice bike ride with my dad. It was a good way to spend the last few minutest that it was light outside. You could say that today was the first real bike ride that I have been on with the new bicycle. I actually got farther away from home than a couple of blocks. As soon as school is out, I will have more time for it. I need to spend more time on it if I plan on riding the Salt Lake Marathon bike tour in a month or so.

Anyway, things are ok. I still have an exam in compilers next Wednesday, and a project demo after that, but those two should be much happier than today’s exam. Just a few more days, if only I could speed up the clock and get it over with.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's Nice Outside

Pink Tulips
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.
It is a really good think that school is done in a week. If I had to keep going to school when the weather is like it is right now, I think that I would go crazy. Though this picture was taken almost a year ago, the weather is like this, and these very pink tulips are blooming in my yard right now.

When things are so nice, it makes it very difficult to pay attention to things like Algorithms and Compilers, this is the time of year that you want to be in love, you want to enjoy evening walks, anything but sit in front of a computer and a text book.

How I ever went to school in the summer is beyond me at this point. One more week and I'm home free. Just need to stay on target, even if there are other temptations all around.

Monday, April 24, 2006

ATOM Feeds and Blogger - A Bug, or Not

Allow me to digress into something of a geek post for a moment. As you may have noticed if you visit this blog via visiting the page rather than reading it through a reader, since January I have been running this link blog in my side bar. I figured that it would be a great way for me to be able to post links to things on the net that I found interesting without having to write a whole bunch, or claim it as a post here on my main blog. No, the idea was not uniquely mine, but I where I had seen it I liked it, so I thought to give it a try. For the most part I have enjoyed it, and it has allowed me to feel like I have been doing something to keep presence here on my main page, even if I haven’t been dedicated to writing full-length blog posts here.

So, the way that I get those ‘elsewhere’ entries to cross over and post here on my main page is by using some JavaScript trickery. Well not really trickery, just use of the ever now ever-popular XMLHTTPRequest, which allows me to harvest from the ATOM feed of the other blog, and post the ‘syndicated’ contents however and wherever I choose. Great you say, didn’t you already post about this in January? Yes, I did. But in recent weeks something funky has been going on with the ATOM feed, and I find it quite perplexing as I can’t get an answer from anyone about it.

I realize that the ATOM has gone through some revisions, and many feed providers have been slowly upgrading from ATOM 0.3 to 1.0. Of particular interest to me is the idea that post contents are now appearing in a <summary> node rather than a lt;div> node. (Note that if I am miss-informed here, please correct me, as this is where I am so confused.) When my ‘elsewhere harvesting’ script first broke, I noticed that I was searching for a <div> tag, and that it needed to be changed to a <summary> tag. That was all fine and dandy, until a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that Blogger was creating feeds were the first <entry> node had a <summary> node, but all of the rest of the <entry> nodes had <div> nodes for the summaries instead of the <summary> nodes. What gives? What make the whole thing even stranger is that it is not consistent.

Today, I posted to my elsewhere blog about a review that someone had done on the new Intel based apple computers. When I came back to my main blog to see how the feed had published, I noticed again one of those funky feeds with both the first entry having a <summary> node, and all of the rest having <div> nodes. Then five minutes later, I check again, and the feed has changed now so that all of the contents are in <summary> nodes, as I would expect them to be.

Last week I posted in the Blogger Help, Something Is Broken group about this, and didn’t get any responses. Maybe I am just hallucinating this whole thing, but I can’t seem to find any information about this discrepancy anywhere in the blogger help files, or in the blogger group. At least the problem eventually “fixes itself”, but I would really like to know what is causing it to be this way, and if it is by design, or if it is actually a bug.

Any ideas?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Almost There

It’s crunch time boys and girls. There are less than two weeks in this semester, and provided that all things go as planned (and I’m confident that they will), I will be able to close the door on my junior year of computer science. Yes, summer is on its way and thankfully it doesn’t include school classes. Not that I don’t like the learning environment and the challenges that come with learning, it’s just that I am feeling somewhat burned out and am looking forward to a break.

In the past 16 weeks I’ve covered a lot of ground. It has been a lot of good fun. I just have to stay focused for a few more days and finish out the semester. Still on the to-do list are a short write-up about the last phase of our compiler, a written assignment, and a final in compilers; a final in algorithms; and a final project in team software practice, it actually is quite a bit of fun as we’re programming a game of steal the flag to be played with PDA’s on an ad-hoc wireless network.

I haven’t been on my bike since last Saturday. Things have just been that busy. Things for this weekend aren’t looking much better, but after spring semester is out of the way, I should be able to focus on some of those things that I haven’t given much attention to in recent weeks.

I have done quite a bit of reading on the web, and I am quite impressed with the number of excellent essays target at the pedagogy of computer science in recent weeks. I hope to be able to write more about this in the summer, not that I am one of the scholars whose opinion really counts on the matter, but I do have a lot of opinions to share.

A friend shared a poem with me a couple of days ago; I’ll leave you with my favorite lines:
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Rainy Day"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Impulsive Buy... Possibly

But however impulsive it may have been I am now the proud owner of a new Specialized Allez Sport Triple.

Pretty darn exciting. So I have been telling people for a long while now that I wanted to get into cycling. I guess this makes it official. Now I have to get in shape. I decided to take it for a short spin after I brought it home, and I can say that I have some serious work ahead of me. I think that once the semester is over, I will ride every day to work, but before I let it become my major mode of transport, I really need to get my lungs and heart back into working. It appears that the last year or so have really taken a toll on my fitness. Though my brain can write some pretty impressive code, and my fingers can fly over the keyboard, my legs can't quite make the bike go as fast as I would hope.

Just to throw in a quick plug for the folks at Bingham Cyclery. They were knowledgeable, professional, and friendly.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Miles to go before I sleep...

Mountain Daylight Time – It’s pretty nice once you get used to it, but the getting used to it part isn’t so trivial. Once again, it is dark in the mornings on the drive to work, but on the flip side, it is light outside until six or seven. I suppose that it becomes a good trade when all is said and done, but my body is quite opposed to getting up at what it still thinks is four-thirty in the morning. Given another week or so, I should be accustomed to the change, and all things will get back to normal.

I have decided that I really enjoy being a morning person. I can get more accomplished at work between the hours of six-thirty and nine-thirty than I can the rest of the working day. Surely it has something to do with the number of interruptions that occur throughout the rest of the day. There have been studies about the damage that interruptions cause to one’s “flow” when working on a task, but I don’t think that I had ever really considered how drastically they cut into my day. Certainly some of my best thinking comes out of those early morning hours sitting in my cubicle at work, solving one problem or another.

It has been tempting to take some of those early mornings off from work, and give some focused, rested attention to my school work. Not surprisingly, when I do this, I find that my perceptions of my class work are much clearer than they are when I do the study late at night thing. Unfortunately, part of my lot in life is to work and go to school. Not that I have a severe distaste for either, actually I enjoy both my education, and my employment, it’s just that the consistent 18-20 hour days, are really taking a toll on my sanity and health.

Spring break may have just been a few short weeks ago, but I am already longing for the end of the semester in four more weeks. Surely that time will pass quickly, it’s just that there’s so much to do. I am reminded of a line in one of Robert Frost’s poems, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This isn’t an English paper, and I am sure that if I tried to analyze this passage, my English major sister would have something to say. The poem has a very religious tone when read by my eyes, but the last passage I like to interpret as a want to rest and enjoy the beauty around, but there are promises to keep, and things to do, before it’s time to go back to live with Him who gives us life. Perhaps, in some small way, there are things that I would like to sit and enjoy, but my current commitments have me completely taken at the moment. In four weeks, things will be slightly simpler, but I am sure that there will be other things to fill my days and nights with thoughts for tomorrow.

I have said it before, but maybe life isn’t so much about looking for tomorrow, (something that I do all the time) but about enjoying what we can while we can, just like the man in the poem. Indeed the woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but we do all have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep. He saw, enjoyed, and then got back to work. Could anyone ask for much more than that?

Monday, April 03, 2006

An Open Letter

To the person(s) that thought it would be profitable, entertaining, or otherwise to break into my car:

I really hope that you enjoy the three CD’s you stole. The classical piano interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story by Richard Bayless has been one of my favorites for many years.

As you might also be able to tell from that which you stole, I am a big fan of classical music from the Romantic era. Certainly, you are now the proud owner of some very fine music. I hope that it brings you as much joy and happiness as it brought me. However, I must say your job was somewhat sloppy, as the best CD in the collection was still in the CD player. Shame on you for not checking.

As for the parking/ID cards that get me into my workplace, that was just mean. I do not think those cards will be of much value to you, as they will not be active here in an hour or two. Besides, there are not very many pawnshops near to my workplace, so you would have a ways to walk even if you did decide to use my parking pass.

May the golf clubs that you stole out of my trunk, bring you many hours of enjoyment on some of Salt Lake’s finest greens. Perhaps your life is less busy, and you will find more time to use them than I did. I found that golf was a great stress reliever, and a way to ‘vent’ when frustrated. I did not hit the course as much as I would have liked to, but I did find the driving range quite therapeutic when I did not have time to actually play the game.

After you got the CD’s, my work ID cards, and my golf clubs, I think that you should have been quite satisfied. I am not sure how much loose change was in my ashtray, but did you really need what was there. I am sure it amounted to less than anything else that you took last night. Besides, I usually use that as money to give to beggars. Had you asked, it certainly could have been yours.

This whole thing has been a bigger inconvenience for me than anything else. I am more pissed about the work Id cards, and the golf clubs than the music. I sure hope you use them, as if it is all for drug money you really are (a) looser(s).

Thanks for not breaking the windows on my car, that would have been even worse. I am curious however to know how you got in without setting off the alarm, as I know the car was armed. Some time, you will have to share your trick.

Peace Out,

the ornery car owner