Tag Archive | Computer Science

BCS Accreditation

I’ve become a tad forgetful recently and forgot to post about the meeting that took place between University of Hull Computer Scientists and the BCS a few weeks ago.

For those who don’t know, The British Computer Society are the Chartered Institute for IT and according to their website they:

promote wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice.

In addition to this they also accredit degree courses in subjects such as Computer Science, Information Technology and Information Systems. According to the Department of Computing Science at Imperial College London:

If you are studying a degree that is “accredited” it means that it contributes either fully or partially to the academic requirements required for you to register for “Chartered” status. In other words you will be exempted from some or all the professional exams required to achieve this title.

Unfortunately you wont get “Chartered” status straight away as usually you will need to become a member of the BCS or IET and do at least two years relevant work experience before you can be considered. You may also need to provide evidence that you have sufficient competences to justify this status and could have to sit a peer review panel before it is granted.

To become a full member of these institutions you have to meet their professional requirements and pay an annual fee but once enrolled you are entitled to use the initials MBCS or MIET behind your name. It is possible to get student and associate membership of these institutions.

Having these initials after your name is a good way to show to potential employers or customers that you are a trustworthy, competent and capable computer scientist and know more than just how to code: i.e. you know how to behave in a professional and socially responsible manner. Coming from an accredited degree is much better than coming from a non accredited one.

In order to validate how good the Computer Sciences courses are at UoH they wanted to meet a few students from each year on each course (e.g. A few people from MEng Computer Science, a few from BSc Computer Science with Games Development etc.) I was chosen to be one of these people based on lecturer feedback, so 9am on the Wednesday morning I went to the Robert Blackburn building to meet with the BCS Secretariat as well as two board memebers, one from Birmingham University and one from Manchester Metropolitan, all three of which seemed impressed with the department.

After asking us questions about how the courses and department are run for about 30 minutes the BCS were happy with the information they had retrieved, their final question was “Is there anything you would change about your department or course?” Everyone went silent. After what felt like a few minutes of silence I jokingly replied “I’d put the computer science books somewhere other than the top floor of the library”, which got a laugh. But in all seriousness it was great to see that everyone felt that everything was going great in the department.

The next day Warren Viant, head of department, emailed everyone involved thanking them for their help and telling us that every course had been accredited at the level the university was aiming for. Well done Warren and team! 🙂

Danny

Computer Science Welcome Party

Scalextric is cool! Especially when you mix it up with Computers! Thanks to Rob Miles for all the images in this post

After our presentation on Thursday morning we were conscripted to help out at the Freshers welcome party, not being one to turn down an afternoon of computer games and free alcohol the rest of the Hull CS Blogs team and I turned up early to help set things up 🙂

Our first job was to move some tables around to make a play area for the Skalextrics set that was going to be the centerpiece of the party, we then wen’t apart fitting the pieces of track — including a bridge — together and doing so was just as much fun as I remember from when I was a kid.

What isn’t the same as I remember things is pretty much everything else about the car racing game, now your cars are partially controlled by a computer — you can set up proper races rather than arguing over who won, interdependently change the acceleration speed and max speed of each car, and even assign virtual fuel limits forcing your cars to take pit stops every few laps or run out of gas and stop working! It’s more like a computer game than a real game!

Exciting Racing Action

Exciting Racing Action

Race Control Software Showing Race Leaderboard

Race Control Software Showing Race Leaderboard

I spent a lot of the party by the Rob’s laptop which was controlling the cars as well as meeting new freshers and talking about the Hull CS Blogs platform. There were however lots of other things to do such as playing rock band with computer science lecturers, or wii tennis with freshers! 😛

After a while I claimed my two free kopparbergs and a few sandwiches. At the end of the evening there was a quiz, which we took part in but were not allowed to win 😛 It was good fun anyway and featured classic Rob Miles questions such as:

Q: Which cheese is made backwards?

A: Edam

Turns out we actually got the high score of 41, shame I wasn’t allowed to win 2 years in a row 😉 It was great fun to go to the party and as always it was brilliant to meet more people passionate about the course and hopefully some future bloggers!

Danny.

Year 1 Results

Hull MyAdmin Results

Yesterday I got my module results for my First Year in Computer Science at the University of Hull. I got a first class in all 6 modules and 82.3% average grade for the year — I couldn’t be happier. Below is a breakdown of my module grades:

  • Computer Systems – 72% – First Class
  • Information Technology and Professional Skills – 77% – First Class
  • Programming 2 – 95% – First Class
  • Programming 1 – 94% – First Class
  • Quantitative Methods for Computing – 74% – First Class
  • Software Engineering and Human Computer Interaction – 82% – First Class

I’d like to thank my lecturers and fellow students for such a great year! In particular to those whom I learnt and revised with, we tend to learn together in Computer Science at Hull, and its been a great help! I’d also like to congratulate my fellow first years who have done very well on the whole (hull?! :P)

Danny

Why the Budget was Great News for Computer Science in the UK

Little Big Planet Money

I don’t pretend to be a political person, though I do take an active interest in the subject as I think it affects us all and we should all have some knowledge of it, but I can tell you that the 2012 budget was great news for me, everyone on my course and every software engineer (particularly game developers) in the country.

You can see an overall view of the budget on the BBC News Website, but the most important things as far as Computer Science is concerned are “Super-Connected” cities and Tax breaks for game designers and developers.

Super-Connected Cities may have a somewhat weird and meaningless name, but the idea is very much important to the development of the “digital economy” the government is trying to build. As all computer scientists know, a system is only as fast as its slowest component. I use a resonably powerful laptop, with a dual core second generation Intel i3 processor, but you could go and make yourself a cup of tea in the time it takes to boot up, this is because it’s slowest component, in this case the hard drive, is limiting the entire system.

In this country the internet is holding back not only Computer Systems but the digital economy itself. So many people, even in realitely populated area’s, have to deal with speeds of ~2mb and some people in more rural areas are still stuck on dial-up, how are these people supposed to be expected to want to take part in online-shopping, e-learning, working from home and perhaps more importantly access online government services including NHS Direct? They can’t be, and thats why we need more bandwidth on the network. Well, all that stuff and less laggy games on Counter Strike: Source.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the budget that London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and “10 smaller cities” will have £100 million poured into improving their networking infrastructure, providing up to 100mb/s internet connections. The BBC states “By 2015 it is hoped the investments in cities will provide ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and high-speed wireless broadband for three million residents.” This will mean 4.7 million more people who can enjoy instaneous on-demand video, allowing video conferencing for businesses, instantly music album downloads and good access to Government services, and that can’t be a bad thing for anyone, especially those of us in the IT industry.

I hope Hull sees some of that money, its a “smaller city” and has one of the worst networks in the country due to the fact that BT never laid cables here, and therefore competitors like Virgin Media cannot provide their services either. At the moment there are only two ISP’s in Hull, KC and The University of Hull and that doesn’t promote competition on speed or cost.

The second important annoucment of the Budget for Computer Scientists was that the government will be giving tax breaks to the games industry. According to the video games industry trade body Tiga “tax relief for the video games sector should generate and safeguard 4,661 direct and indirect jobs, offer £188m in investment expenditure by studios, increase the games development sector’s contribution to UK GDP by £283m and generate £172m for the Treasury.” Again, this can’t be bad for anyone, it will actually make a profit for the country as a whole, so even if you dont like games or have anything to do with them you will, in some way, benifit.

However, I don’t think that the finances are the whole story. What this initiative will do is retain jobs, and more importantly, retain the clever people responsible for making games such as The Grand Theft Auto Series, LittleBigPlanet and RuneScape, all of which and many more were made in the UK.

Though I have my own ideals and ideas, and therefore don’t subscribe to the idea of supporting any particular political party I must say I think the conservatives did well on this one.

Danny

Three Thing Game – Things and Brainstorming

Three Thing Game - All The Teams Holding Up Their Things

All The Teams Holding Up Their Things – Nick, Rob, Sean and I are somewhere near the back.

 Today everyone got their 3 “Things” around which their game would be themed. It was an impressive turnout with 33 teams, consisting of 111 Computer Science Students and was a jolly event with a fun atmosphere, its clear to see everyone is excited about the competition!

Each team was given 530 Thing “Bank of Thingland” pounds in order to bid for items they wanted upon entering Lecture Theatre 1 of the Robert Blackburn building.

We were then told we would need to have one thing from each “thing section”; green, blue and pink. This roughly translated to an object, a place and an event. Each team would have one thing from each section by default, but then other teams could bid to take it off them, obviously some things were going to be more popular than others.

Each team name was read out in often, followed by what item they had by default. When our team name, “Uncle Mikes Recursive Prolog Party”, was read out there was a howl of laughter and applause. 😛 Fortunately it seems the other CS students found the in-joke funny rather than weird. I’m quite proud of coming up with that.

In the green section we we’re awarded with “Granddad”, which seemed to fit in well with our name, which is fortunate as no-one else bid for it and so it became ours.

In the blue section we recieved “Gas Works” which again no one else seemed to want, and with good reason, we’ve found that the gas works has limited us somewhat in what we could achieve with our two other things.

In the final section, pink, we out bid everyone else in the room by spending all 530 of our Thing pounds to buy a special thing, a blank thing. A blank thing is a piece of paper with nothing on it. Sounds rubbish doesn’t it? But its not, its probably the best thing you can have, because you can write any word you like on it (subject to a profanity check by Rob Miles). In the end, after a long discussion, the team agreed on writing the word “Invasion” on the pink paper.

So, we ended up with the words “Granddad”, “Gasworks” and “Invasion” and I think we’re pretty happy with that. Weird ideas to have together, weirder still to make a game out of, but its always the quirky ideas that win these sort of things and we’re pretty sure that we have a great idea after an hour of brainstorming in the pub this lunchtime.

I don’t want to give too much away but I think we’re going to do alright with this idea, I can say that it will be on Windows Phone, so look out for “GRANDDAD INVASION: Battle for the Gas Works” on the Marketplace in the days and weeks to come.

You can see more information from my team mate Nick Case at his website here.

Rob Miles has pictures of all the contestants and some analysis of the event here.

And of course plenty of my course mates have posted their own blogs which you can see on Hull Comp Sci Blogs.

Best of Luck to everyone with their development, I can’t wait  to see you all at the Saturday – Sunday code-a-thon.

Danny

Randomization on a Logical System

Short version of this post: Randomization on a computer system is totally impossible, any “Randomization” you do see is purely clever deception.

Today I’ve been writing the Start Game logic for Sweepy Cleaner. One of the things I have to do during the start of a game is randomize the position of 5 pieces of dirt, and I have spent some of the night tinkering with getting things as random as possible. I say as random as possible because making random numbers is impossible, a number is selected based off of the exact time of the System clock in your PC or on your mobile device. You can prove this with the following C# code:


for(int i = 0; i < 1000; i++)

{

Random r = new Random();

int randomInt = r.Next(0, 3000);

Console.WriteLine("Random Number: " + randomInt);
}

For me this outputted “Random Number:  1742” around 500 times and “Random Number: 2818” around 500 times. This is because this entire loop takes place in just a few milliseconds, not allowing for much change in the System clocks time.  Producing lots of identical numbers in a short space of time can be a pain, especially if you want to initialize a game quickly but want random locations for dirt like I do.  The solution I found is simple, pause the thread for a “Random” amount of time as well before each pass.


Random RandomX = new Random();

System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(new System.TimeSpan(RandomX.Next(0,7)));
x = RandomX.NextDouble() * (RandomX.Next(0, 800));

System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(new System.TimeSpan(RandomX.Next(0,8)));
Random RandomY = new Random();
y = RandomY.NextDouble() * (RandomY.Next(0, 480));

This makes things a little more random but as I said at the beginning Randomization on a computer system is totally impossible. If this makes little sense to you think about what a computer is (an arithmetical and logical processor), there is no such thing as random in Logic, hence there can’t be in a logic system. 🙂

Danny.

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.

Oracle ThinkQuest

Today was pretty good, and set me off on hopefully a very fruitful project!

The day started as most days do for me, with a mad rush to catch the bus to get to my first period lecture on time, which today was an IT and Professionalism Module Test, unfortunately that proved to be a waste of time as a design fault in the IT system (somewhat ironically…) stopped us from being able to log into the test page we needed on eBridge, so after 30 minutes of twiddling our thumbs the test was abandoned.

I then had an hours wait till an entertaining programming lecture with Rob Miles, followed by a Operating Systems lectures, followed by IT and professionalism — a busy 3 hour stretch.

After another hours wait in Sanctuary (the Hull Student Union bar) I headed to meeting room 4 of Student House for a seminar provided by the Oracle Education Foundation. Oracle is a huge multinational software company which owns a 42% share of the database market around the world. It is estimated that 80% of working people will have used at least 1 Oracle product today, a massive figure!

I don’t usually look favourably upon Oracle for the issues that have occurred with MySQL since Oracle aquired MySQL AB, however this seminar was absolutely fantastic and gave great insight into the technology sector job market and globalisation as a whole. Essentially due to previously undeveloped countries, such as India, suddenly becoming big in the technology coupled with remote employment (people working from home, anywhere in the world, with some “teams” spanning multiple continents) the amount of people applying for each Computer Science role has increased, meaning more competition — because of this each of us has to have as strong a list of skills and CV as possible.

Oracle therefore offer a competition to allow people to acquire and hone their skills and add to their CV, its called ThinkQuest as you may have assumed from the title. The outline of the competition is that you have a team of 1 – 6 as well as an adult (usually lecturer) team leader to guide you and you outline an issue that you feel needs solving, e.g. “children’s rights” and then develop a solution (either an application or website). The team who last year chose “children’s rights” as an issue created a website and games to raise awareness of the issue and came in second place.

Its a competition so it has prizes! These include

  • Trips to San Francisco to meet top Oracle Developers for a week
  • Laptops
  • Money for your uni
  • Chance to apply for a PAID internship
Pretty good!
Tonight I arranged a team by sending a Facebook message to some of my fellow CS students and we asked Rob Miles to be our team leader, so hopefully I’m on my way to a cool prize! Even if it doesn’t work out that way it’ll be an awesome experiance to add to the CV.
Thanks for Reading
Danny

Professionalism, Operating System Structure & My First ComSoc Fragfest

ComSoc 1st Fragfest 2011/12

Back to 9.15 starts as of today I’m afraid, but at least its a day closer to see Jess and The Specials! The day started with a professionalism lecture which essentially gave us an overview of who and what a professional is and gave us some information on what chartered & professional bodies are: the ones of particular interest to Computer Science being the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and the BCS (British Computer Society) of which I, like all Hull CS Students, am a member.

After this lecture Rob and I had 2 hours to kill, so naturally we went and got some food, once we were done I thought it would be a good idea to go and have our second goes on Diagnosys (the maths diagnostics test). One of my issues with diagnosys is that it isn’t ever very clear how it wants its answers and often it will mark you wrong for an answer which is technically right but not set out how it expects it, but even bearing this in mind both Rob and I improved our scores — In just over a week I’d improved by 6%. Good progress I think, thanks in part to excellent tuition for the girlfriend!

As 12:15 rolled in we made our way over to Applied Sciences 3 for a lecture on the structure of an Operating System which was very interesting, particularly the bit about how process queues are managed.

After this I headed over to the Robert Blackburn building to take part in the Computer Societies first Fragfest of the year — essentially a bi-weekly opportunity to play games with like-minded people and shout abuse at each other whilst doing so. Great fun, as you can imagine! Whilst there it was nice to meet up with Adam (aka Insomnia) and have a chat about many things including the viability of Linux ever overtaking Windows in terms of market and mindshare, he also told me some things I didn’t know about or were simply misinformed about. (I thought you could only release open source software for Linux – this is false, though Canonical cannot package closed source components with its Ubuntu Operating System). It was also great to have a chat to the ComSoc organisers as well as fellow gamers, hopefully I’ve made some new friends! You can see some of the attendees in the photo above showing just some of the lab.

I spent much of the evening talking to Jess, which was nice, before heading off out to meet up with some friends at the pub.

All in all its been a great day and I can’t wait for the weekend!

Thanks for Reading,
Danny

A visit to the Brynmor Jones Library and meeting Freeside

Today was another enjoyable, yet incredibly long day — I left my flat at 8:40am and didn’t get back to it until 7pm this evening! As with any other day it all started with me dragging myself out of bed and attempting to get ready for a full day of computer science before the bus left without me, fortunately as I woke up a bit earlier than usual today and my bag was already packed from the previous evening i managed it.

From 9:15 – 10:05 in Lecture Theatre A of the Robert Blackburn Building I had a Quantitive Methods for Computing Lecture with Dr. Gordon — thankfully I think I am finally starting to get some of the more advanced parts of the module and I am hopeful of not only passing but hopefully doing well! From 10:15 – 11:05 we had an induction follow up lecture ran by Dr. Gordon, Amanda the Administrator and the head of computer science (who’s name totally escapes me) — this essentially was a question and answer session to work out any issues we had and was full of sarcastic banter from some of the students in the row in front of me — very funny indeed.

After an hours bacon bap break we return to AS3-LLT — where the induction follow up had been held — for a fascinating Computer Systems lecture on “The Nature of Computers Today & the Launch of the Home Computer” which detailed how computers scaled down from being massive room sized machines which several users connected to with “dumb terminals” and automated much of the computing process to the personal computing at home. The irony of course being that the move to the cloud is a move back to mainframe style systems, its weird how such concepts come round again.

After this Rob and I has 2 hours to fill before our QMfC tutorial so we decided to venture into the MASSIVE Brynmor Jones Library — which was formerly the library of Philip Larkin, one of the most famous poet laureates of all time and the namesake of one of the buildings at the university — its pictured above. Its 7 floors tall and thanks to Murphy’s law all of the Computer Science and Maths books are on the top floor — however we were pleasantly surprised by the views presented to us once we’d got to the top. Some of the pictures I took are below:

View of Faculty of Business from the Brynmor Jones Library

View of Faculty of Business from the Brynmor Jones Library

View of Chemistry Building from Brynmor Jones Library

View of Chemistry Building from Brynmor Jones Library

View of Venn Building from the Brynmor Jones Library

View of Venn Building from the Brynmor Jones Library

Rob Checking out some of the Computer Science Books in the Brynmor Jones Library

Rob Checking out some of the Computer Science Books in the Brynmor Jones Library

After the brief visit to the library we waited in the Sanctuary bar in the Student union for our 3rd Lecture of the day with Dr. Gordon — a tutorial to support the earlier lecture for QMfC. This was excellent and helped me finally get my head round equations with fractions of x in — which I’m sure will be vital in my day to day life 😉

After that we had a one hour Programming Lecture which consisted of learning about Programming languages and our jobs as programmers. We learnt a few very important things, 1) If you don’t keep the specification of a contract your customer wont pay you. 2) 66% of IT projects fail — mainly due to miscommunication of what the end result should be and perhaps most interestingly

English would make a terrible programming language as a lot of its words are ambiguous and could mean any number of things given the situation its used in. Computers are too thick to understand this and require a precise language where one word or phrase can only have one meaning.

That’s the sole reason we have languages such as C#, Java and BASIC.

After this I went to Freeside‘s first meeting of the year in which they installed Linux onto the attendees computers for them — in this case it was the brand new 10.10 distro of Ubuntu. It was lovely to speak to all the people there, especially “TastyWithPasta” — the executive of the ComSoc at hull as well as to have some free fairy cakes and Pepsi Max, I can’t wait to see what’s going on n the future with the Department of Computer Scientists FOSS group.

Well, it seems I’ve written far too much for anyone to bother reading again so i’ll leave it there!

If you’ve gotten this far well done!

Thanks,
Danny

BTW: If you like reading stories that make no sense whats-so-ever you may be interested in Jess’ blog about her really weird dreams which no-one (including herself) understand — you can find it at http://luciddreamerjess.wordpress.com/