Categories
University

Applying for Masters Degrees

This would be a silly reason to do a masters degree

I’ve spent much of tonight reading about myself, which has been kind of strange.¬†No, surprisingly enough its not been some sort of ego-boosting session, but has instead been about rediscovering information about myself to put into my applications for masters degrees.

In the second semester of last year, over dinner, a few of my friends and I were discussing what we wanted to do in the future. What I want to do is continue with the academic route which I am on, doing a masters degree and then hopefully moving on to PhD.

At the moment I am enrolled on a Masters of Engineering course, which is what is referred as an Undergraduate masters. This means that rather than getting a Bachelors degree after three years, then doing a seperate year to get a Masters degree, I skip the Bachelors step entirely and come out of the 4 years with just an MEng. To sum it up in another way rather than have the post-nominal letters (letters after my name) “BSc(Hons), MSc”, I would simply have “MEng”.

Having learned that some academic institutions and employers prefer a potential student or employee to have gone through the traditional route of a bachelors followed by a masters, I thought I would look into the possibility of changing to do this myself. One option is to do a BSc and then an MSc at my current university, Hull, but I thought that I might as well look elsewhere too. Why not? ūüôā

So over the next few weeks I expect to be very busy researching academic institutions, writing up research proposals and filling in online application forms. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and of course I’ll let you know right here on the blog!

Danny

Categories
Life

Danny on BBC Radio Humberside

Yesterday John, Nick and I were on the BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show to talk about the advent of the game development industry in Hull and Humberside. This was particularly relevant yesterday because there was a huge release party for Assassins Creed 3 at the Prospect Shopping Center in the City Center, including a guest apperence from one of the lead programmers on the hit game.

We were asked questions about the game itself, the game development and computer science industry and general and what it might do for the local area. ūüôā I think we were professional, sounded like we knew what we were on about and answered the questions well. I should hope so anyway as there was between 200,000 and 300,000 people listening!

The three of us were particularly pleased because at the end of the show one of the producers said that if we ever had any games that we had made we could go back and plug them on the show! Maybe you’ll be hearing about TOAST live on air in the near future ūüėČ For now you can listen to us by clicking here.

Thanks to everyone at BBC Radio Humberside for having us on and Rob Miles for setting up the opportunity for us.

Danny

Categories
Life University

Back in Hull

I’ve just got back to the Lawns after an eventful, fun 3 weeks at home in Dunstable. I did loads of cool stuff whilst at home — from climbing up The Clock tower of the Houses of Parliament (commonly, but incorrectly known as Big Ben) to going jousting and most important seeing my friends and family who I’ve missed.

I’m glad to be back though, It means I have 4 distraction-free days to get on with the work I’ve wanted to do over the holiday.

I’ll keep the blog up to date with what I’m doing over the remainder of this semester and of course the dreaded exam period!

Danny.

Categories
Life

Olympic Games “Games Maker” Interview

Today was an long, yet exciting day. It could almost have ended in disaster several times, but in the end I felt it was a massive success.

It all started at 9:00 am with me getting up and dressed in my suit (got to look professional after all!) about 20 minutes later I was on the bus heading to the Hull Paragon Interchange Train Station for my 10:30 Hull Trains train to London Kings Cross.

Unfortunately¬†I’m currently in the middle of a long spell of… issues with train companies and today was no different. Upon arriving at the interchange I was told it was shut for an¬†indeterminate¬†amount of time due to a gas leak, I was a bit annoyed by this but I took the¬†opportunity¬†for a Burger King break, almost as soon as I’d finished my burger the train station had re-opened and my train left only 25 minutes late, so alls well that ends well!

The train journey was uneventful, but I was¬†pleasantly¬†surprised to find that First Hull Trains offer free wi-fi for the duration of a journey — and I thought East Coasts offer of 15 minutes for free was good!

To get to ExCel, where the interview was taking place, I had to take 3 more trains, The Northern Line Tube from Kings Cross to Bank, a Driverless Docklands Light Railway train from Bank to Canning Tow, and another DLR train from Canning Town to Custom House for ExCel.

The feature image of this Blog Post is the Western Entrance to ExCel but it doesn’t quite show you just how massive the building is — it took me about 25 minutes to walk from the west end to the east end! After doing this and looking around for a bit I turned up to the Olympic Committee¬†section of the ExCel building, still an hour early. Fortunately I was seen an hour early.

Whilst waiting around for my interview I was somewhat perplexed by the sheer amount of McDonalds advertising for what is supposed to be an event which encourages exercise and living well (and some people would argue fast food was counter-active to this). The “informal interview process” is outlined in the below picture:

The Structure of the Interview Process
The Structure of the Interview Process

Essentially:

  1. You check in by providing your name and a form of ID. You then get your picture taken for any further Olympic ID
  2. You are then held in the “Explore” area where you can read some information on the running of the Olympics and view some more fast food ads before being given a talk about possible jobs roles, ranging from camera operator to web design
  3. Once the interview group before you has finished you then go to the “Cinema” to watch some adverts telling you how Cadbury is the treat sponsor of the¬†Olympic¬†games (again, counter productive some would argue) before being given interview advice by some comedians and dames.
  4.  You have your interview where they ask questions about why you feel you would make a good volunteer.

I felt the whole process felt well and the interviewer said that it was “Great to see someone with ambition, who is so well spoken” and that they had “Enjoyed interviewing” me ūüôā So that can’t be bad.

After the interview I had to wait around for a few hours so I treated myself to a Nandos and a walk around London, including having a look at the brand new Skyscraper, the Shard before catching my train home. A great day all round, even if around 9 hours of it was spent on Public Transport. Below are some more images which I took throughout the day:

Categories
Live Music

The Specials & Jess Visit

(A Video of the Awesome Specials Introduction at Hull Arena Last Night)

Missed a few days of blogging again, I’ve been rather busy! I’ve had a great weekend up in Cottingham and Hull as Jess came to visit Friday night and stayed till this evening. Friday night I had a programming practical which I had completed the previous night, and then a Tutorial session. ¬†Around 5pm I met Jess at the Hull Interchange and we set off on our way back to Cottingham to do a food shop and get settled in. During the evening we went to Spectrum club in Hull City Centre for their punk night, which was awesome with lots of great music! Below is a picture of a poster showing what sort of stuff they were playing;

Spectrum Pop Club Punk Night
Spectrum Pop Club Punk Night

Saturday night we were torn between doing to Brassik – The University Union Cheap night, or Spiders — a local rockers club, so we opted to do neither and had a great time playing FIFA 12 on the PlayStation 3’s in the Lawns Centre, which is the bar on my Halls Campus.

Sunday night we went to see The Specials, below is a gallery of pictures I took;

As you may be able to tell from the video we were on the front row, right in the centre literally staring straight at Lead Singer Terry Hall. It was the best seat (standing place?!) in the house, we couldn’t have got better! Shown in the picture gallery is our signed set list. Neville Staples picked Jess out of the crowd, handed a security guard a slip of paper to pass on and when Jess opened it up show was delighted to see it was a signed set list! It was a¬†truly¬†amazing gig, especially as it was only 30 mins on a bus from where I live.

After the show we thought it would be a good idea to see how far we could walk back without having to stop and call a cab — we made it the whole way home from the Hull Arena to The Lawns. Below you can see a map of our route (click to zoom out) — its quite a way, but was worth it for the frequent pizza and fried chicken stops. ūüėČ

Today Jess and I went attended my lectures — she assures me she is fascinated by the¬†intricacies of Process queueing at an operating system level and will be continuing her research at home :P. In the evening we attempted to get Jess home on the train — I say attempted because it was a bit of a hardship.

Jess realised once she reached the station she had forgotten her ticket. It was far too late to go back to the flat to retrieve it and so we tried to get her on the train using a ticket reference number, which we would have got by asking someone I trust to go in my room and read it to us. However we were informed by the trains guard (whom we had tracked down) that this would not be possible. He referred us to the trains conductor, who was a very friendly woman who said she would allow Jess to travel all the way to Sheffield without her ticket but could not guarantee she would get any further along her way home due to the fact the other trains she would have needed were operated by other companies. First trains were excellent in their attempts to help us.

I said I would pay for Jess to buy another ticket after we found that her ticket that she had forgotten would no longer be valid anyway due to the fact she turned the¬†Sheffield¬†train offer down. At this point I realised I had no money on my debit card so would need to make a bank transfer from one of my other accounts… then both our phones refused to connect to the internet even though that had previously. You can see how this quickly became a nightmare. In the end I stormed into a 3 store and just started using one of their PCs without asking, when question I explained the situation and said hows Jess’s 3 phone wasn’t connecting so we’d be using their PCs. The woman in the 3 shop in Hull was a fantastic help :).

Eventually I transferred enough money to myself to withdraw ¬£30 from my card to pay for Jess’s train ticket and so we commenced the mad dash to the train, which was unnecessary¬†— we still by some¬†miracle¬†had 10 minutes to spare. I saw Jess off, came home (whilst listening to the Specials on the bus ofcouse) got some food, cleaned my room and now I’m writing this.

And that finishes a great weekend ūüôā

Thanks for Reading,
Danny

Categories
Tech Reviews University

Spiders, Sunday & Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review

Spiders

Last night as I mentioned in my previous post I went to spiders with the Rock Society of the Hull University Union and Jess. It was totally different to any club or venue I’ve been to before. Its essentially a big house and garden in the middle of an industrial estate with 3 rooms, each dedicated to a different genre of rock, our favourite of which was the 60’s-80’s room which played classic bands such as Madness, The¬†Selecter¬†and The Ramones. We were also happy with the great variety of cheap drinks¬†available¬†—¬†notably¬†a special called The JUGular — a 6 drink jug containing two shots of your choice, two liquors and loads of soft drink — in our case Coke! It was so tasty, but also¬†incredibly¬†alcoholic! Yum.

Today

Today I spent most of my time in Cottingham and Hull City¬†Centre — with Jess — finding a¬†reasonably¬†priced place we could both eat which with her being vegetarian that was somewhat difficult. Eventually we settled on a small pub which offered a Sunday Roast Carvery for me and a Veggie burger for her. After that we spent a lot of time enjoying the compact, yet full city centre in hull which offers many shops, resturants and facilities. After only being here a week I can¬†safely¬†say Hull doesn’t deserve the reputation it gets, its an enjoyable place to live with great night life, friendly locals and a buzzing atmosphere.¬†Unfortunately¬†Jess also left tonight at 6:30 after a fun filled weekend of clubbing and student life! Fortunately ill be able to see her soon when she comes back to see the amazing Specials in just under two weeks!

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango running on the HTC 7 Mozart

As I posted yesterday I bought a HTC 7 Mozart, originally running Windows Phone 7, on O2 as part of a 24 month contract. Since then I have upgraded the phone to Windows Phone 7.5 using the slightly hacky method documented on WinRumours. The update has bought a lot of functionality that was missing from the original 7.0 release of the OS. Most notably custom ringtone support and multi-tasking, all of which are very well explained and reviewed on Ars Technica, so I wont delve into those so much — however I would like to bring to peoples attention some of the lesser of the 500 updates which I feel have a great impact!

Messaging Improvements

The first thing I noticed when changing from 7.0 to 7.5 was perhaps one of the smallest changes to the OS —¬†Emotions¬†in text messages, whereas before the operating literally showed a string of symbols such as “:-)” if you selected a smiley face from the emotions keyboard it now shows some cool, single colour mango styled faces or icons depending on what you typed. Here is a collation of all the emotions produced by 1800PocketPC;

Windows Phone 7 Mango Text Emotions
Windows Phone 7 Mango Text Emotions

Another small but notable improvement was the fact that the phone now uses two different tones of your accent colour to differentiate between incoming and outgoing messages, rather than just using left and right. This is excellent UI design and makes reading texts a much more enjoyable experiance.

Other Aesthetic Changes

Another small aesthetic change is the improvement of the XBOX Live logo, which is now a lot more suited to the Metro Design the OS uses, before it felt ugly and out of place, but now it feels like a 1st rate application on the device. Yet another UI design change I like is the fact that Internet Explorers UI is now all at the bottom of the screen, rather than the top — this allows for a larger viewing area and in my opinion looks better. (IE also went from being based off of IE6/7 to IE9, a massive HTML5 powered difference ūüėČ

Overall Feeling

Windows Phone 7.5 feels complete. In a nutshell it is what 7.0 should have been and is easily my favourite Phone OS due to its simple yet pretty look, mass of features and future potential (due to hopefully an influx of customers when Nokia release their device, and therefore an Influx of money hungry developers). I would definately¬†recommend¬†this OS to anyone — from tech savvy to¬†totally¬†technophobic — because it is simple enough for normal use (internet browsing, sending texts, making calls) but also extremely flexible for those who want a little more from their mobile device.

Thanks for Reading
Danny

Categories
Web Design

Welcome to Danny – Computer Scientist

Hello,

Welcome to my small portion of the internet, I’ve been intending to start¬†blogging¬†for a¬†reasonable¬†time now – and during this time of change I thought it was as good a time as any. The time of change is of course the change from living at home with my parents in Dunstable to starting university in Hull.

I was inspired to start writing — hopefully daily — ¬†by the film ‘The Social Network’ in which Mark Zuckerberg blogs almost¬†compulsively during his time studying computer science (the same course as me!) at¬†Harvard during the initial stages of the creation of Facebook.

I intend to post mainly about my Computer Science studies but also about some web design work I will be doing in order to make a bit of money on the side. Speaking of web design work, today¬†I¬†managed to find a new customer – a local bee keeper who wants to sell his honey¬†on-line¬†and modernize his website, this may result in two websites and a nice bit of money for me. I can’t wait to get on with it!

Thanks for reading!

Danny.