Categories
Programming University

Second Year Starts

Yesterday I officially started back at The University of Hull for my second year in my Masters of Engineering Degree in Computer Science. This came as a bit of a shock to the system after a very long summer without education and a fantastic freshers week, but I’ve been enjoying every second ūüôā

Advanced Programming

The first lecture I had on Monday afternoon was for the Advanced Programming module and was very interesting, C++ looks similar to C# on the surface but there’s a lot of differences.

The lecturer for the module and head of Department, Warren Viant, even said that a year was long enough only to make us “OK C++ programmers, not great ones” because its a hard language to learn with lots of intricacies.

Right from the offset there was a totally different attitude than last years Programming lectures in which we focused on getting things working well with very readable code even if it wasn’t the most¬†efficient¬†way of doing things — this year Warren wants us to focus on optimization and getting code to run as fast as possible because the requirement for real-time programs is the main reason for using C++.

Artificial Intelligence

Next up was artificial intelligence, a module I’m not actually enrolled on and therefore a module I won’t get a grade for but one I’m attending because I find it interesting and want to further my knowledge as much as possible whilst at university.

We started off by discussing what exactly intelligence is and weather or not it would be wrong to turn off (i.e. Kill) a computer which asked you not to because it was intelligent. We then went on to talk about Prolog and how AI programming is a totally different paradigm to any other programming we’ve done before.

The only transferable skill you have from any other form of programming is the ability to touch type

I’m looking forward to learning a totally different way of thinking ūüôā

System Analysis, Design and Process

System Analysis, Design and Process is about the business approach behind creating software. We started off the module by talking about how we would work out how long a project would take us to do, how much it would cost us and how much we would charge the custom based on a certain specification. It’s actually quite a difficult thing to do.

We also spoke about how and why so many software projects fail and only 37% were successful last year.

Although this module seems very similar to last years Software Engineering module I’m looking forward to learning more of the skills required to make a business out of building software ūüôā

Electronics and Interfacing

Electronics and Interfacing is all about how we connect software to the actual hardware, and how better to start off a module like that then to learn about how¬†electricity¬†works? ūüôā We spent most of the lecture doing that but we started off with a brief overview of what is to come: Infrared Wirelessly Controlled Robots. I can’t wait to get started properly!

2D Graphics and User Interface Design

Finally in 2D graphics and user interface design we had an introduction to the history of computer graphics, which started with a great video about the cold war and nuclear bombs, and then thought about all the use cases for 2D graphics — ranging from CAD and Data Modelling to Games and CGI for Movies.

I’ve said it a lot in this post but I’m really looking forward to learning more about each module this year and am having a great time so far ūüėÄ

Danny

Categories
Life University

Choosing Modules for Year 2

The Lovely peice of code I just spent an hour “debugging” because my phones accelerometer had stopped working and it hadn’t told me and was¬†actually¬†fine all along

It’s hard to¬†believe¬†but we’re almost at the end of the first year of Computer Science at the University of Hull. That doesn’t mean we can stop thinking about university, our education and the future in general though — quite the opposite in fact. In about 2 weeks time we have to have finalized our module choices for next year.

Choosing what we want to specialize in is quite difficult, especially as so much is left down to us, we have one core module and have to choose 5 ourselves. Some of the modules we cannot take together because they clash and we have to choose a certain amount of semester 1, semester 2 and year long courses.

I’m making choices based on what I want to be doing in the future, as well as what I feel will give me a more rounded education and will ultimately teach me the most — we’re here to learn right? ;).

Today I read this excellent blog post by James Croft¬†which describes the Electronics and Interfacing Module in which you program little robots. It looks like great fun, and because so few people do it its a great skill to have, oh and its taught by Rob Miles, who is one of the best lecturers at the University¬†in my opinion.¬†James describes it as “one of the most interesting modules I‚Äôve done so far at uni.” What more could you ask for? If something interests me I tend to do well at it.

Its interesting that I’m so interested by this unit now, as I previously hadn’t even considered it. Below is a list of what I think I’ll be doing next year:

  1. Semester 1 only – 08220 Systems Analysis Design and Process (Core – We have to do this)
  2. Semester 1 only Р08240 2D Computer Graphics and User Interface Design
  3. Semester 1 and 2 – 08227 Advanced Programming
  4. Semester 1 and 2 Р08249 Electronics and Interfacing OR 08226 Artificial Intelligence (Undecided so far :()
  5. Semester 2 only –¬†08246 Networking and Web Technologies
  6. Semester 2 only –¬†08214 Simulation and 3D Computer Graphics

Interestingly the only module I’ve chosen which people on the far more popular Computer Science with Games Development BSC course don’t take is Networking and Web Technologies. and Electronics and Interfacing if I eventually choose that over AI (I’m on the Masters of Engineering Computer Science course, and I can choose their modules)

Anyway, I have coursework for the current year to get on with now so thats all for now,

Danny

Categories
University

Very, very, very Busy

A bit early for this I think, but my opinion is meaningless and, as you can see Christmas lights are up in the St. Stephens shopping centre as well as Cottingham village centre as early as the 1 November.

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last week or so — as is the life of a student I’ve been stupidly busy the last week or so, with coursework, lectures, Exams and odds and ends. Last week we had two exams which count towards our modules, one for Computer Systems (Operating Systems) and one for IT and Professionalism, so I spent a lot of time revising for this — which I think paid off, I got 82.5% in the Operating Systems exam, which I think is a pretty good grade! We’re yet to get our results for IT and Professionalism.

I have also been working on adding in “Artificial¬†Intelligence” into Evil Squash as well as the normal lecture/labs routine. Friday night Jess came up to stay until¬†Sunday and we had a great weekend. On¬†Friday¬†we went to¬†¬†“Bang Tidy Frid’ys” at the Sanctuary Bar in the Student Union, on Saturday we went to Spiders for their usual alternative music saturday and on Sunday we took advantage of the “Free Pool All Day Sunday” deal on offer at the Sanctuary Bar.

Spiders Nightclub Saturday Night
Spiders Nightclub Saturday Night

Today I’ve been writing up about Logic Gates on modern CPU’s as well as checking over my ACW2 for Quantitative Methods for Computing before I hand it in, hopefully I’ll do quite well in that as well (fingers crossed). Speaking of maths, I’ve also spent a lot of time going through the notes lovingly prepared by Jess which make maths seem so simple — a lot of the problems I was having with the Diagnosys Test were that I’d never heard of the types of equations and thus didn’t know what to do. Now I do, so I plan to (hopefully) go and get myself over 40% tomorrow.

As well as the above we learn about Structures in C# today in our Programming 1 Lecture.

Anyway, Having finished going through my Maths notes in¬†preparation¬†for tomorrow I’m off to sleep, I’ll post again tomorrow!

Night.

Categories
University

More Orientations, Meeting my Supervisor and The Computer Science Welcome

(The XBOX Kinect Set Up at¬†Today’s¬†Computer Science Welcome)

Today was my second day of Orientations. Today’s first was all about the different¬†opportunities¬†each sub-department in the Computer Science Department offers. Of particular interest to me was SEED Software, a software development company owned and run by the Computer Science Department. The company has designed and¬†developed a multitude of software from iPhone applications to perhaps most importantly BRIGID. BRIGID is a software system used by many fire¬†brigades¬†around the world (Including Australia and every¬†brigade¬†in¬†Humberside)¬†which helps to dispatch appliances and allows Emergency operators to see in real time the position of said Appliances, its simply amazing that students — alongside full time paid developers — have helped to create such an important piece of software.

The reason SEED is of such interest to me is because as a MEng Computer Scientist in my 4th year I will be spending one day a week working at SEED with real customers and developing real code for real applications. This is exciting as it will give me a real edge in the jobs market as well as allowing me to get stuck in to some real work.

Talks were also given by the Artificial (Alien?!)¬†Intelligence department, showcasing a ¬£2,500 robot which simply navigated itself around the Lecture Theatre and made annoying noises when it located something it couldn’t drive around. The scientific¬†visualization¬†department treated us to¬†a model of a toilet and explained to us how people go about working out the speed of water flow in code rather than making and wasting money on a prototype toilet. Dr. Lee taught us what is actually meant by the term Computer Generated Graphics and explained how it is applied in more different areas than ever before.

Another introductory talk I found particularly fascinating was one provided by the resident expert in computer languages. Once you think about it it is amazing that people can actually communicate and understand each other so easily and its even more interesting — if not more so — that we now understand this enough to be able to teach computers to do it to a greater or lesser extent.

The second Orientation was provided by Rob Miles, who by some¬†miracle¬†managed to mention his blog only 3 times in an hour! ūüėČ The talk was all about how the course will work, the systems the department use and about communicating with the staff. Each section of work will start with some lectures, there will then be some tutorials and practices to follow this up and make sure everyone is up to speed and understand what is going on.

The CS department uses several systems on campus to get work done, allow for electronic handing in of code and allow for student – lecturer communication. The main system is powered by Microsoft Sharepoint, a system which I have used previously at Manshead Upper School and I find to be quite reliable and feature rich, using share point we can check timetables, lab times, download powerpoints and update our personal development files, unfortunately one gaping hole in the version of sharepoint the unversity uses is that it doesn’t allow for uploading of computer code to have marked — for this the department uses the bespoke eBridge university web application.

After the joke filled session had finished I went to see the O2 people in the student union, with whom I have signed a new 24 month contract to get a HTC 7 Mozart, 500Mb internet a month (unlimited in reality, but it is slowed down after 500Mb — no overage charges), unlimited texts and 300 minutes. Unfortunately the evil O2 people had forgotten to bring my phone (which I¬†ordered¬†yesterday) with them.

This left me with a few hours to kill before I met my supervisor, Dr Gordon. During this time I visited the SU and my flat at the lawns. The meeting with Dr Gordon was pretty good as it provided insight into how to get pastoral support should I require it at any time in the next 4 years and also provided me with someone to get a decent reference from once I leave in search of a job.

The highlight of the day however was the Computer Science Welcome which was held in the grand Staff Building in the centre of the campus. On entering we found 4 gaming systems set up, at the front was an XBOX with Kinect — which was very amusing to watch and somewhat¬†embarrassing¬†to play, especially as i couldn’t work it out due to its unresponsiveness. In the centre of the room on one side was Rock Band and on the other a Playstation 3 with Move and next to that 5 LAN connected Ubuntu Bsced PC’s running some indie games provided by FreeSide — who also provided a talk and I signed up to. Even further down the massive hall was a Wii running the classic Wii Tennis, which I won 3 games of!

FreeSide are a student run association who provide the student population of the university a free as in beer & speech open source system including web servers and beastly PC’s with up to 8GBs of RAM. The entire system now works on a 1GB connection and so I will certainly be checking out any¬†opportunities¬†which arise with the organisation!

After the Freeside talk Rob Miles led a quiz which my team eventually won by 2 points! The prize was a photograph to be posted on Rob Miles blog and a big box of Celebrations which went down very well!

All in all it was a good day, and I cant wait for my first¬†practical lab session¬†tomorrow as well as getting my new Windows Phone, which I’m sure I will get round to reviewing at some point!

Thanks for Reading,
Danny