(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! 😉 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,