Archive for December 2007

In Copenhagen

It’s been a comedy of errors getting here. But hopefully I’ll be able to get to my hostel and still have time to see the city. I dunno how soon I’ll have next access again – Moday at the latest I suppose.

Anyways, the interviews went well – though there’s a lot more analysis to do.

Made it to my hotel room safe and sound

…not much more than that. I had a very nice dinner with one of the professors here. Now sleep!

Not quite sure where I am

…but it’s either Sweden or Denmark. It’s a train station called Malmo C….wasn’t that the name of the evil island in Lodoss war? Girm portent that.

Hopefully I’ll find my way to Ronneby somehow, where is where I’m supposed to go. Plane trip was completely uneventful and I did absolutely no work.

Semester in brief

Ben has requested some more details of the result of my semester, and seeing as I’ll be sleeping on his couch in not too long I feel I’d best not disappoint him. But I’m downloading bioshock right this second – so don’t expect too much.

3 main projects:

  • Bluetooth Twiddler – This was the one handed keyboard I designed the circuit board for. In the end it more-or-less worked. But the firmware was a little bit too funky for me to really actually consider using it as a real keyboard device. Not for a lack of trying on my part – this project overall took an insane amount of time.

    But hey, if anybody needs some custom built PCBs designed, I know how to do it now. Just say the word. If printing was a little less expensive everybody on the Buffalo Christmas list would be getting custom made boards this year.

  • CS Autobiography Surveys – Recruiting people to do my surveys proved problematical, even with the $10 Starbucks gift certificate enticement. At once point I even considered dressing in a clown suit and standing on the quad with a bicycle horn. In the end, posting flyers across campus (we have a lot of cool buildings around here by the way – there’s one material’s engineering building that really looks like the engineering section of a Startreck style spaceship on the inside) plus begging people at various classes across campus got me most of the way there. We’ve got 25 – we were hoping for 30 – but maybe I’ll do a little more pushing at the beginning of next semester.

    As to results, I haven’t really done the sort of formal analysis to say anything even semi-official yet. There are some interesting things, some obvious things. We can chat about it when I visit if you’re interested.

  • Wearable Prototype for Girlscouts – my most traditional class was CS7001 – Introduction to the Ph.D. program. By “traditional” I mean forcing you to do a lot of work for no reason. Mostly, this class helped me revive all the old Buffalo bullshitting skills that I had forgotten since industry. The final project of this course was a six page (10pt single spaced) paper on your main research project. I took a half-done study with no results that likely had about 1 page of interesting stuff that could be said about it, and in 6 hours I made 5 pages of pure smoke-and-mirrors happen. I’ve got no concerns about my grade but I think if I actually read what I wrote I’ll cry.

    Maybe the only interesting part of this course was working on a mini-project with Barbra Ericson – she’s part of the Broadening Participation in Computer Science initiative and does a lot of work with Girl Scouts. These Girl Scouts get to live the life your 7 year old nerd self always dreamed of. Mindstorms, Alice, crickets – every neato toy you can imagine. And now a new one – I built a prototype led/microprocessor fabric swatch for them using conductive thread and the Arduino Lilypad stuff. It’s programmable using scratch (and the use of some truly ugly Buffalo hacking).

    So yes, even more hardware hacking. I’m a regular EE major these days. But no more – next semester it’s AI and learning sciences. I’m not touching a soldering iron.

Woo. Ok, that’s the breakdown. Maybe I’ll post more. Or maybe I’ll kill more technological zombies. We’ll see.

Oh BTW, if anybody has any good ideas of a place I could keep my cat while I’m visiting Seattle, let me know.

Semester done. Brain is healing.

Finally everything is filed away and there’s nothing left to do. I’m off to Sweden tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps a few bazillion hours of enforced solitude on the plane will give me some time to update this blog for your amusement. Then again, there should be a crate of scifi novels waiting on my front porch. And what have you all done to amuse me lately?