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.

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